Note: Because most of the 'Xander is Snape's son' stories I've been following are WIPs and aren't looking like they're going to be finished, I've decided I was going to write my own. Also, Storm asked for one where Xander could do a bit of counseling for a disillusioned Harry. Set after Glory. Didn't read book six of HP. Shouldn't be any spoilers for it. Up to book five there are.
A New Knight In An Old War.
Xander looked around the bar he was in, then shook his head. This was not where he expected to be. Then again, when he had been sent away to safety after his birth, he had no choice in where he went. Why his father hid him *there*, on the hellmouth, he wasn't sure. No one was. Of course, his father had made a critical error in trusting him to a young woman who didn't want to join the death eaters. She had been hell to live with until he was eighteen. Now though, he was free. Free to live his life. Free to do a bit of traveling and smack his father around. Free to get away from the 'loyalty curse' that Willow had done on him so he'd have to come back after his aborted road trip - and he still wasn't sure that wasn't the reason it had been aborted. He sipped the strange tasting beer, then looked at the glass. "What the hell?" he muttered.
A nearby patron looked at him. "Never had butterbeer, boy?"
"Not exactly the standard bar fare back in Sunnydale," he said with a small shrug. The man and the ones in near hearing all stared. "Yes, I'm from there," he said patiently. "Go me, I helped win and survived against a hell goddess." They turned back around. He shook his head and took another sip. It wasn't bad. Less alcoholic than he was used to but it tasted okay enough. He saw a slumped, cloaked form wander in and get his own butterbeer and a shot. He watched him. He knew that posture. He'd had it the first time he'd went into a bar. Also the last time he'd went into the bar. Hell, most of the times he'd went into a bar he had that same defeated, slumped shoulders look. He took another sip and got up, going over to buy the guy a drink. "Hey." The face that looked up at him was much too young to be in here. He knew him though. "Xander, from Sunnydale."
"Buffy's Xander?" he asked quietly, his voice nearly hoarse. Xander nodded. "What are you doing over here?"
Xander stared into his eyes, then nodded at his table. "C'mon, I'll buy this round, kid." The guy stiffened. "I'm retreating for some personal time after helping defeat Glorificus." The boy shuddered. "I'm also having a bad case of the been there-done that's." The boy looked at him again. "If you know who I am, and I do know you, then you know why."
"Let's go sit and talk. I've got a corner booth." The boy nodded and took his drinks, and the next round, to follow him. "Do a concealing charm," he said quietly. "Block them out so we can talk." The boy did that then Xander looked at him. "Harry, what happened?"
"You know me?"
"Of course I do. I have ties over here and Giles has others." He leaned on the table. "Let me see if I can guess. You lost someone. The war's getting wearing. You're starting to see that they see you as a tool. Everyone expects the greatest of great miracles out of you but they're not willing to help you achieve it. Those who are are mostly assholes." Harry slumped again and nodded. "Who was it?"
"My Godfather. I can't sleep."
Xander nodded. "Been there done that too." He took a sip of his butterbeer. "My first time into a bar, I couldn't shake the image of staking my best friend ever." Harry looked at him again. "I couldn't. It was during the Harvest. I'd known him since before I could talk. His mother has pictures of us nibbling on each other's thumbs in a playpen," he said gently. "And I did it to save a woman who hated me because it was the right thing to do." Harry nodded at that, swallowing hard. "How long since you lost him?"
"Last year," he admitted. "I lost him, got the time to recover, then took my end of the year tests," he said bitterly. "Then I went back to the hellhole that's my aunt's house." He took a drink. "To be picked on, ignored, and treated like a house elf."
Xander nodded. "My father's one of you. He sent me to Sunnydale with a young woman who didn't want to join the bad guy's movement. She can't cook. She randomly curses me and my step-father, who's an alcoholic, and things were bad even before I met Buffy. Before Willow discovered magic and cursed me with a fealty curse so I'd have to come back to help more after we graduated high school."
Harry blinked. "Mine kept me locked in a cupboard under the stairs. I got fed scraps."
Xander nodded. "I lived on takeout and the remains of whatever my father brought home to drink with." He took another drink. Harry saluted him and took the first shot. "Then you start losing people and it's like the world starts to collapse around you, even though you're holding on as hard as you can. Even if some of the bad guys come over to join your side for a bit." Harry nodded at that, leaning back. "And it only gets worse, Harry. One war ends and another one starts to gather power. If you're lucky you can hold it off until there's others to fight that battle. This isn't like the hellmouth where we get one bad one and four or five minor apocalypses a year. You've got a war. We get the military building demon lords and hell gods."
Harry looked at him. "How did you keep going?"
"The fealty curse." Harry blinked at him. "Heard of Willow?" He nodded slowly. "Right after the medium apocalypse that was graduation, I went on a road trip. I was tired of the death. I wanted to find others and other ways of life. I wanted to experience the act of living, not of dying slowly and watching others die. So she cast a fealty curse on me so I'd have to come back. I ended up washing dishes in a strip club when my car exploded." Harry cracked a smile at that. "Seriously. About three hours away from Sunnydale even." He finished his first butterbeer and started on his second one. "There were times when all I wanted to do was to slit my wrists. I knew if I was eaten I'd be turned as a weapon against the others. Kept as a plaything by a more powerful vampire until I could break free, sent after Buffy and Willow to distract or destroy them. I nearly succeeded once but as I was cutting Giles called to have me come over and research something trivial that Buffy wasn't about to do herself."
"Hermione says that about me."
"You have other things to do. She had her nails. Not like she was doing homework. All she was doing was dating one of the military thugs and making our lives miserable." Harry blinked at him. "Seriously. I was her Zeppo. Snack, laughter, and relief squad. Even though I did the same job I was the trained monkey they had. I was the expendable one."
"So they sent you against the lesser bad things?"
Xander let out a bitter laugh. "No, Harry, they decided after three years I was too worthless to fight." He saluted him with mug. "Kept trying to send me away but needed me there to research, make snacks, and things. Until something like a doorway needed to be fixed." Harry shuddered. "Your people are setting you up to do a suicide run, aren't they?" Harry blinked at him. "Talking you up to the act of fighting him, not giving you enough information, giving you just what you need to know to do the job and nothing else?"
Harry nodded. "They are. My first year there was a major threat in the school. I told them my scar was aching and nothing got done. I got told not to worry about it. I was eleven, Xander."
Xander nodded. "I heard. Your friends are following you why, Harry?" he asked.
"Because they believe in the cause I guess." He looked miserable. "Half the time my best friends hate me for being who I am. The other they love me. It's like I'm not supposed to have anything good in my life. Not during the holidays. Not with them. Any little rumor that I'm evil and they go with it. I have a skill from the taint that got me the scar and I'm evil because of it."
"Until it came in handy," Xander agreed. Harry nodded, slumping again. "Harry, they'll stand with you if they're there for the cause. The other could be that they're teenagers. All teenagers are assholes." He nodded at that, taking a sip of his butterbeer. "Some more than others," he said, glaring at the one who just walked in like he owned the place. "Malfoy," he sneered.
"You know him?"
"Yup. His daddy came to the hellmouth looking for something and managed to abandon him in the middle of the night in a cemetery. The kid was clueless. Following along with what daddy said. And then Willow babied him and handed him back, even though his daddy sneered at her for being a wandless witch." He looked at Harry again. "He only had to decide which side he was riding on. You have to decide if you're going to be there at all, Harry."
"If I don't, more will suffer."
"Quite probably," he agreed. "No one ever said either choice was a good one. There is the added benefit of you're not learning what you need." Harry nodded at that. "Do you study on your own?"
"Every time I try Ron interrupts, classes interrupt, or I'm stopped by someone. Last year we had this bitchy Defense teacher." He rubbed his arm. Xander looked at it and nodded. "Do you think I did?"
"I know you didn't, Harry. Glory bragged about how weak he was." Harry swallowed at that. "She had a bit of an ego problem. Being a hell goddess can be that way I guess." He watched Harry take another shot. "If you do decide to fight, you've got to get around the restrictions."
"You can. There are ways around it. I had to use them to study magic at all."
"Your father's a wizard?"
"Yup. My mother was too." Harry gaped. "Like I said, my father sent me away from the first war, Harry." Harry slumped at that again. "It's not your fault he decided the hellmouth would mask me. I wasn't the only one put there either. Most of them went to an American school and it was all right. My stepmother refused to let me go." Harry looked at him. "Told me I was a squib and there was no reason to humiliate my family. Until the night I came home and asked why speaking Latin to the Watcher's book made it burst into flame. She got very drunk that night. She hadn't even realized we had a Watcher in town or a new slayer. Or that I was helping them. After that she found a new topic to pick on me about."
"Did she ever stop?"
"I moved out." He smirked. "I did leave a huge, horrible mess for her with the demon I put into my former room in the basement."
"Yup, basement that I was paying for. She wanted my old room for her practice area instead of the attic." He finished that butterbeer and looked at the kid. "Harry, it sucks. Majorly. If you do fight you'll have people behind you. Ones who're there for you and not. In any war there's casualties. We just lost Buffy." Harry gave him a pitiful look. "It was her time. She died to protect her sister. It's as noble as you can get. She's still dead."
"She is," he agreed.
"If there was one thing she'd tell you it would be to avoid that problem for as long as you could." Harry cracked a small smile at that. "That and to dress better or to quip better at the bad guys." He gave him a small grin back. "What do you need to do to win, Harry? That's what you need to figure out. Then you can figure out how to get around the restrictions being placed on you."
Harry nodded at that. "I'll think on it. I snuck out tonight."
"Sometimes you gotta wallow. Some people ride roller coasters to get the momentary feeling of their blood and heart moving, to feel that they're alive. Some of us go watch kids on a playground to make sure we know why we're doing this. Some of us need a drink to help with the nightmares. Because for one night you can drink enough to pass out and not see them. All you need is that one night away from it." Harry nodded, taking his second shot. "Will your relatives mind?"
"They're already in bed."
"Think they don't know?"
"No, I put down a sleep potion I had made last term. It was in their dinner. They're dreaming deeply and contentedly about their muggle lives and how satisfied they are being average and uncaring about everything else," he said bitterly.
"Let it go, Harry. People like that exist all over. Everyone's more worried about their lives than yours. Even if you are famous and they want to know what sort of underwear you're wearing." A waitress came over and he got up, ordering another round. She nodded and went to get it. He put it on the table with a wink, going to stop Draco from drinking himself to death. "Malfoy," he said quietly. Draco gave him a heated look. "Hi. Fancy meeting you here."
"Why are you here?" he sneered.
"I came to see my father, beat him up a little bit. That sort of thing. Are you all right?"
"Does it look like it?"
"It looks like someone's going to be dragging you home," he admitted. "Subtlety, Draco. That's the only way to get around him if you want to do so. Getting drunk in public will only get you more attention that you may not want."
"Why are you so wise?" he sneered.
"Hmm. Six years fighting on the hellmouth, Draco. Two and a half of that under a fealty curse." Draco lost his sneer at that. "Subtlety."
"What happens if I make the choice I want to make and it pleases him?"
"Then you'll get rewarded and have to live with the consequences of your actions," he said, sitting down across from him. "Knowing what your father does for fun, can you say that you'll be able to sleep after watching people die by your wand?" he asked quietly.
Draco took another drink. "I can't now."
"Then you can unmake your decision, Draco. Even if he got you tied into the group it doesn't mean you've got to stay. You can always hide."
"Where? Nowhere's safe from him," he said, slamming his glass down. "Nothing will stop my father from getting me."
Xander leaned closer. "Draco, there's a reason I was put onto the hellmouth," he said quietly. Draco looked at him. "I wouldn't advise it since Buffy died during the last battle with a hell goddess. I might not look for you over that way though. LA's full of pretty people. Some like you, some not. There's other points of power in the world. If you're looking for a vacation it's not them, but it's safer. If that's what you're looking for."
Draco stared at him. "If I did that he'd have me disowned."
"That is the downside of that decision. The point is that you have the right to choose. You know the consequences of each choice."
Draco considered it then nodded. "I do." He looked at him. "She died?" Xander nodded. "The irritating chippy?"
"Still alive. Guarding Buffy's little sister Dawn with Giles and Spike." Draco shuddered at that. "That's an option as well."
"Not one I'd favor."
"Not one I'd favor either," he agreed with a small grin. "But it's still an option."
"Of last resort." He finished his drink and waved for another one. "They'll be looking for me soon."
"It happens." He stood up. "I'll be around for a bit if you need a wall to thump your head against."
"Thank you, Xander."
"Welcome. Hell, your father and my stepmother could've been twins, Draco." He headed back to the table, sliding behind the shield again. "Sorry."
"It's all right. I'm sure you and he bonded or something when he got used as a sacrifice."
"That's a real possibility with his father," Xander agreed. Harry gaped at him. "Reality, Harry. No one's the mask they present. At his level of society, nothing is as it seems to outsiders. They can't afford for it to be." Harry slumped again. "It could be that he envied you, that's why he picked on you."
"Yeah. It's widely reported and we do get the papers over there too." Harry took the other shot and shook his head, chasing it with a long drink of butterbeer. "Think, Harry. That's what you need to do, think." Harry nodded, looking at him. "Now, head home before they wake up." Harry nodded, pulling something out of his pocket. "I got that round. Head. Don't let anyone see you." He pulled the cloak down further and disappeared out of the bar. Xander lowered the shield, leaving his wand on the table. The waitress came back to get the empties. "Thank you. Who would I talk to about getting to Hogwarts tomorrow?"
"The new defense teacher?" she teased.
"No, I've got family near there, on the other side of the school."
"Oh. You could take the Knight Bus."
He smiled. "How very appropriate. Thank you. Can I rent a room here?"
"Talk to Tom at the bar." She walked off and he carried his last drink and the wand up there.
"Can I get a room for the night?"
"You can. Seven sickles, sir."
"Xander," he said quietly. He handed over a galleon. "Use it for the last round we had too." That got a nod and he took the key, heading upstairs. He had a choice to make. To let the kid be like him until he died or to help him. He settled on his bed, laying back to stare at the ceiling. "At least I'm not under that stupid curse again," he whispered. "But the kid needs help. And hey, I could talk to my father, see why he's fucking the kid up worse than Giles did me." He finished the butterbeer and put the glass down, then kicked off his sneakers and got comfortable. His wand was in his hand, just in case. Someone tapped on the door. "Occupied."
"Breezy take glass?"
"Sure." The house elf came in and got the glass then left, closing and locking the door behind her. Xander reinforced it then let himself fall asleep.
Xander looked over Hogsmeade, wondering what the big deal was. It was a small village. Even if it was only magical people, it was still a small village. Then again, when you're trapped at a boarding school, even a small village must have some thrills he guessed. He cast a tracing spell, finding his father up at the school. "Wonderful." He went to find a soda. No luck. He settled for a tea to go and headed up there, not liking the hike. "It's not even fortified and it's surrounded by things that are going to endanger the school," he said in awe. "How fucking stupid." He shook his head, walking up to the front door, sipping his tea. He nodded politely at the man outside watering some plants. "Hey, how are you?"
"School's not in session," he sneered.
Xander punched him. "Good. I'm not here to enroll. A bit too old for that and I learned it all already. I'm here to visit family." He walked past the bitter old man. His father had described him perfectly the night he had gotten him to talk about the school and his world. He followed the tracking spell down the halls and past an older, pinch faced woman. He nodded at her. "Looking for family."
"Can I draw you a map?" she asked sharply.
"Nope. That's what tracking spells are for. Maps waste paper, ma'am." He finally found the right staircase down and kept going down, ending up in front of a door. He tapped then walked in. "Could you not get somewhere that has fresh air?" he asked dryly.
His father stared at him. "Alexander. Why are you here? Is something wrong back at home?" he demanded, standing up.
"Well, Buffy's dead so probably." His father gaped. "She died to protect her sister from the hell goddess, dad. Shit like that happens in Sunnydale." His father sat down, just staring at him. "What? Did the tea turn me funny colored?"
"No," he said, smiling slightly. "So you're finally getting to do some traveling?"
"Yeah, well, had to break the fealty curse Willow put on me before my last one to do it, but yeah." His father gaped in horror. He smiled sweetly. "And you still didn't want to listen."
"Don't. Just don't. You can't make up for it."
"You had a privileged upbringing," he said firmly.
"I don't call being cursed to dance for hours on end for not liking lima beans to be privileged," he said dryly. "Or cursed for not being able to stomach plain milk without cramps and diarrhea. If you do, maybe you need a new dictionary, father."
"I did so. You didn't want to listen," Xander said firmly. "So don't even go there. Now, I'm in for a visit. Do you want to make the most of this or not?" He finished his tea and threw out the paper cup, looking at him again.
"I do," he decided. "I've got to take a few days off."
"Father, we get the news over in Sunnydale. I know *exactly* what's going on here." His father went paler. "Yeah, well, doesn't take much to decode the bullshit when you're in the middle of your own battlezone." He leaned against a table after checking it for slimy things. His father looked tired. "Nightmares?"
"Now and then," he admitted. "How would you know?"
"I don't know, dad, how would I, who backed up Buffy, know about nightmares?" he asked dryly. His father scowled at that. He shrugged. "I did for six years. Only two and a half were under that curse thanks to Willow panicking about me not coming back because I needed to see life instead of death."
"Are you staying?"
"I don't know. Haven't decided yet."
"I see." He considered him. "You know we're moving into a war."
"Gee, what a shock. I did see that, yes." His father slumped. "Not like I'm not experienced in it, father."
"Point. Are you going to volunteer to work for the good guys?" he asked, slight sneer in place.
"Since, from what I've heard, the head of the good guys is only being prepared for a suicide run? I'm not sure yet." His father sat up suddenly. Xander stared him down. "Cut the crap, father."
"Kinda easy to spot. Are you actually teaching him *defense*?"
"I have tried. He doesn't listen."
"I wouldn't listen to you either. You're a bastard."
"He was a spoiled brat with attention...."
Xander held up a hand. "I talked to Harry once. I don't call being tortured, starved, denied fresh air and sunlight, decent clothing, medical check ups, love, affection, and positive attention to be spoiled. Besides, he runs from the attention. He hates it. I see a lot of myself in Harry," he said quietly. "If Buffy and I had kids, it'd be him." Snape shuddered at that thought. "So yeah, if I'm staying I'll be working with the kid. I'll be teaching him how to do it like we did. Surviving."
"It would be appreciated by some."
"It happens." He stood up again. "Lunch?"
"I have to finish my preparations. Get a room and we'll have dinner?"
"As long as I don't see your boss."
"Agreed." Xander nodded and headed out again. Snape sighed, leaning back again. Things had just gotten more complicated.
Xander found the tavern again and smiled at the barmistress. "Might you know where I can rent a room for a few days?"
"We have a few," she admitted. "Nothing fancy."
"I wouldn't expect fancy this far up country," he admitted. She gave him a look. "I'm from a small town in America in the middle of nowhere. Only big places that get a lot of tourists get fancy rooms." She nodded at that wisdom, taking his money and giving him the key. He headed up there and settled in again, then summoned his bags from the airport. He took a bath and cleaned up, then came out to find an old man standing in his room. "Headmaster," he said dryly. "I could've sworn I asked my father not to tell you I was here."
"You being here unbalances things, Alexander."
"Yay me. What's wrong? Afraid I'll teach the kid to survive?" He sat down to work the water out of his hair. "You can't stop me from seeing my father, Headmaster. I'm an adult." He looked at him. "I can also pull rank as a hero of many battles. My father's asked me if I'd consider helping."
"We don't need help from the Hellmouth."
"Really? Because Willow's not strong enough to destroy the world?" he suggested dryly. "You don't need power and experience on your side to help you win this war you find yourself in against the reanimated ghoul? By the way," he said at the horrified look, "Giles still takes the Prophet. He said to tell you that when he sent me over here."
"G..Giles?" he stuttered. "Rupert?"
"Yes, the last slayer's watcher." Dumbledore went incredibly pale at that. "Guess who helped me train, Headmaster." He backed up a step. "Now, is there anything else you'd like to discuss about me seeing my father for dinner tonight? If not, I probably should get dressed." He walked off, slamming the door. "Putz." He pulled on underwear and pants, then a nicer shirt, answering the door at the knock. "He had me stored away during the first war somewhere unpleasant," he told the bar mistress. "He and I aren't on good terms for it."
"He had me sent to the hellmouth." She blinked at that. He nodded and shrugged. "It happens or so I'm told by my father."
"Professor Snape was looking for you."
"That would be my father," he said dryly. "Let me put on shoes. Thank you." She nodded, heading off again to consider what he had said. He found his better shoes and his wand, plus his emergency kit he usually wore. He stuffed most of it into his pockets and headed down there, locking the door after himself. He came off the last step. "Father." Snape glared at him. "Not like I'm going to hide it this trip," he said dryly. "Own up to it, dad. It's a boy!" he said mock-cheerfully. "How long did it take you to tell him?"
"He heard from one of the people you walked past."
"Pity." He looked around. "Are we eating here?"
"We should. It's the only place in town." Xander nodded and led them to a back table, settling in with his back against the wall. His father gave him an odd look. "Old habits?"
"Mean I die harder."
"Ah. How is Rupert?"
"Miserable and probably drunk. He does a lot of that."
"I see." He considered it. "Why are you really here, son?"
"I came to see you while I was doing some traveling. Unfortunately I'm feeling the first effects of some higher authority sucking at the straw attached to my spine."
Snape slumped. "You cannot interfere."
"I can and I will if I deem it necessary, Father. It's not like six years of combat didn't make me a stubborn bastard."
"It has, and not in good ways."
"Yay me." He leaned on the table. "Now then." His father groaned. "What can I do for you while I'm here?"
"What are you doing in your private life?"
"Construction. Dating a former vengeance demon."
"We just won against Glory! It's not like I had time to do more than work and hunt!"
"Calm yourself," he hissed.
"No." Snape gave him a bitter look. "Not like Dumbledore won't tell them I'm from Sunnydale, Dad." The waitress nearly dropped the plates but he caught them. "I fought with Buffy. I'm her Xander friend." She smiled and relaxed at that. He handed over the plates and she went to get them drinks, then left them alone. He looked at him. "That's why I'll have to be myself."
"You could be more discreet."
"I lost that skill somewhere along the lines. Sneaking is for getting into warrens to wipe out the vampires in them. Or into a military base to stop them and rescue others." His father gave him a horrified look. "I take it you heard about the Initiative?"
"Oz was a friend. They had him."
"Yeah, and then we had to deal with Adam. So yeah." He dug into the stew, eating slowly. "This is really good. Nearly as good as Buffy's mom did." He paused to drink his water then ate another bite, pushing down the bad memories again. His father stared at him. "Sudden brain tumor."
"You couldn't help her?"
"I offered. She went muggle medicine. She died a few weeks later," he said quietly. "Leaving Buffy and her younger sister."
"Since when does she have a sister?"
"Since she has one." He gave him a look. He would be protecting Dawn one way or another. Dumbledore would like her too much as a pawn. "Did Draco get into trouble for going out to drink last night?"
"I guess the answer to that is no then. He was at the same place I sheltered and drank at last night." He ate another bite and looked at him. "It looked like he was having a heavy think."
"I'll write him and see if he needs assistance with that." He ate a bite and looked at his son. "You're different."
"You haven't seen me since I was seventeen, father. Of course I am. That was three years ago. Almost four really." His father sighed at that. "You could have come."
"I had other things that took my time and attention."
"I heard." He ate another bite and leaned on the table, sipping his water then putting down the mug. "What is more important than your flesh and blood?" he asked quietly. "Being here to do what?"
"We were managing the situation we're now in."
"You're not managing it. You let them raise him. That could have been stopped but you and the old man were too stubborn to do that," he said quietly. "Too over-confident that a kid with almost no training could do it for you." Snape flinched at that. "Been there, done that." His father stared at him. "What? You think she had training or we did? Even if I wasn't doing much magical support over there it was all on-the-job training."
"Are you staying?"
"I'm still deciding that."
"I see." Snape ate another bite then leaned back again, studying his son. "You are much different than I would have expected."
"Because I'm alive?"
"I never wanted you in danger."
"So you sent me to the *hellmouth*?" he asked dryly. "The one that was *open*?" His father shuddered. "No, you wanted me perfectly safe."
"Albus said it would mask you from HIM."
"It did it beautifully. And now he has to take the consequences of sticking me there. Not like I couldn't have lived without jumping in."
"Probably true," he admitted. "She may not have been able to save you if you hadn't been fighting with her."
"No maybes about it, Father. The stepmother tried to give me away a few times to some of them. Including to the mayor. I didn't know why at the time but she tried really hard."
"Before school started." He moaned lightly at that. "Sorry but yay. You left me in that hellhole even after you realized the hellmouth was open and active. You made sure she could deny me a decent education so Rupert had to teach me. By the way," he said, leaning closer. "That does mean I got a decent education but I had to do a lot of it myself." His father's eyes widened so he leaned back. "So, yes, I'm in for a visit. If I feel I'm needed here for more than a visit, yay."
"I'll let the proper people know."
"People knocking on my door in the middle of the night would piss me off," he pointed out dryly. "Then again, that would depend on them finding me." His father nodded. "Now, eat. You're almost as much of a skeleton as the asshole." His father ate some more and he smiled. "You did miss the last battle we had and meeting Buffy's little sister."
"Glory was going to use her as a sacrifice. Buffy went in her place." Snape shuddered. "Exactly." He scraped his plate and looked at his father. "I do need a small favor."
"Money?" he asked dryly.
"No, to take me to someone I can sell something to."
Xander went upstairs and came back down with the small vial, putting it in front of his father. His father looked at it then at him. "That."
"What is that?" He opened it and sniffed, then his eyes went wide. He recapped it and carefully handed it back. "You got that to work?"
"Very easy really. I've got that and another pint. That should give me more than enough money to live off of for a while. Plus to buy some new clothes because I kinda stick out around here."
"Indeed. I was wondering if you had never heard of a robe, son."
"Of course I have. But it covers up my ass and it's cute. I want people to see it." His father groaned and stuffed his mouth. Xander just smiled. "I do. Maybe then I won't be dating someone demonic or formerly demonic."
"Vengeance demon?" he remembered.
His father's eyes went wide and he shuddered. "You do need better taste, son."
"Gee, Dad, Giles would want me to take a protege and get sex from that."
"Please don't," he moaned.
"Fine, I won't but I'm staying, possibly for a while." He smiled sweetly. His father just nodded. "So, gee, we can have more father/son dinners where you'll eat next time." His father ate another bite. "Or else I'm going to call her shade back to pester you *forever*."
Snape cleaned his plate for the first time in years. Having Buffy haunt him was a fate worse than Voldemort sleeping with him.
Xander smiled at the man inside the shop, handing over the small tester bottle. "Snape opened it last night. Not enough fumes at the moment but more than enough for a field test." The man opened it and sniffed, then gaped at him. Xander smirked. "I'm Xander."
"Xander?" he asked.
"Oh!" He backed up and bowed a few times. "Let me go test this. How much do you have?" He put the larger bottle on the counter, making his eyes go wide. "Must've been useful. I'm sorry to hear your Slayer died, sir." He ran into the back and within moments there was a small explosion. He came out. "It works!"
"It does," Xander agreed. "I'm traveling and I need cash. I'm visiting family." The man nodded and went to call someone over the floo. A gnarled old wizard rolled out of the floo and went to see the test piece in the back, then came out and nodded, handing over a slip. The salesman looked at it. Then he let Xander see it. "More than fair," Xander agreed. That got a nod and the money was exchanged for the larger bottle. "Remember, the potion does have an intent clause. It's written into it. That's why most can't get it to work." The gnarled old man smirked and nodded, taking the bottles off. Xander looked at the money as they walked out. "Hey, I can go shopping." His father moaned. "One more stop," he soothed, handing over something. "From the hellmouth."
"It's cemetery dirt from the hellmouth."
His father blinked, then led him into a less than legal herbalist shop. "Cemetery dirt from the hellmouth?"
The man blinked and reached for it to test it. "How did you get this?" he demanded. Xander walked in and he gaped. "Sunnydale," he said in awe. Xander nodded. "Which cemetery?"
"Hill Rest. By the college. I've got one from within a block, one from Sunny View, and one pile from the wreckage of the high school, the front and side lawns. Has some grass in it though."
The man blinked and kissed him. "Thank you. I've had a call for that."
"I figured you had. We do have someone over there who gets the Prophet." He pulled them out of his pocket, laying them out. "I'm traveling."
"I understand. Things over there are going to hell."
"I heard." That got a nod and he took them to test them. He came back with a bag of money. "Sorry about the grass but California is a bright and sunny spot."
"I understand. Thank you, sir."
"Welcome. If I come up with more, should I bring it here?"
"That should be more than enough but if not, I'll let you know."
"Sure." He walked out, weighing this bag. He looked inside then at his father. "Thanks."
"What are you planning?"
"Setting up a shelter." He smiled sweetly and strolled off, heading to the shops. He walked into the clothier. "Madam." She smiled at him. "I'm traveling so I need something simple to wear. I'm used to jeans and t-shirts plus combat."
"Who are you, dear? You look familiar."
He smiled and held out a hand. "Alexander Snape. Professor Snape's son."
"Oh!" She hugged him and smiled. "Welcome home, Alexander. Let's see what we can find you. How big is your budget?"
"Not very. I've just had to get rid of some things that I found laying around at home."
"I can understand that." She led him to the racks he'd need, picking out some of the goods for him.
Xander looked at the house, nodding. "I like this," he agreed. He looked at the auctioneer. "How much?"
"It used to belong to someone that got killed in a raid."
"Death Eater or not?"
"I'm from Sunnydale," he said quietly. "I've seen worse. It doesn't bother me."
"Death Eater. His family kicked him out."
"Three thousand galleons."
Xander nodded and handed him most of what he had. "I can get the rest in four days."
He counted it and nodded. "That's more than enough for a down payment."
Xander smiled. "Can I move in today?"
"I'll have to check." He went to floo his office, getting a 'discount it, it's an embarrassment'. He came back after telling him how much the man had been willing to pay, getting a nod and the paperwork thrown through. "That would be fine. "It's been priced to sell. I hadn't realized we had discounted it." Xander smiled and signed the paperwork, getting an odd look for his name. He pulled out his ID and showed it to him. "He's your father?"
"He is. I got sent away for safety on orders of Dumbledore."
"The old man's barmy," he assured him. "Thank you, sir." He handed over the keys and left.
Xander looked at the forms. He didn't owe any more. "Must've been an embarrassment." He went to look around the house, nodding at the rooms. He went to get his bags from the inn, smiling at the innkeeper. "I've found a place to rent for a longer term basis," he said, kissing her cheek. "Thank you for putting up with me." He took them and gave her a tip before leaving to go home. The first thing he did was charm his cellphone so he could call home. "It's Xander," he said, smirking at the squealing going on in the background. "Tell Dawn it's me." He leaned against a wall. "Tell Willow to send me the rest of the stuff and her. Yes, Giles, I'm sure. I'm setting up somewhere right now. If you want to. I'm near my father's place of employment and no, they're not going to know she's here." He smiled. "Thank you, Giles. Sure. Send some groceries and furniture too if you want. Thanks." He hung up and went to pick out his room. His clothes were easily put away since there was a crappy dresser in there. He took his wand to do cleaning charms. So much easier without any furniture. A broom suddenly landed beside him so he shrugged and used it on the kitchen since it was the last room, sending the dirt out the back door.
Giles opened the portal and stepped through. "Here." He looked around then at the boy. "You could have used my house, Xander."
"I can't, Giles. They're not teaching anyone self defense." Giles gave him a horrified look. "Including their savior."
"Oh, bloody hell," he moaned. "Are you staying?"
"It's a nice place to retire, tutor in potions, things like that," he said with a smirk. "But I'm reserving rights to borrow books from your house."
"I can have the Council set you up a set, Xander. You are a researcher," he said blandly. Xander grinned at that. "I'll also see if they can get you a chemistry set." He turned. "Dawn?" She came through the portal, looking around. "It's comfortable here."
"There's a school within traveling distance," Xander told her. "We're halfway between the normal and magical world. But no one will know you're here. You can study at home."
"I'll have Willow give you the other computer," Giles agreed, going to make arrangements. The portal closed behind him.
Xander looked at her. Then he gave her a gentle hug. "You're safe, Dawn. You'll stay safe." She nodded, pulling away to look at the rest of the house. "I've already picked out my room. Drop things off in yours and we'll work on the furniture stuff later."
"Sure, Xander." She found her room and looked around it. It was nice. She came out. "Can I have my stuff from the house in Sunnydale?"
"Of course. Bed and all if you want." She smiled and looked around. "Electric will take me another day to set up."
She looked around then walked outside and found the meter. A long time ago there had been electric running out here. She looked it over. "Xander?" He came out. "Can we break it?" He looked then nodded and used his knife to get into the case and flip the cutoff switch. They heard the refrigerator turn on. He put it back together and went back inside. "Good job, Xander." She gave him a hug and took his phone to call Giles. "I need my room from home. We have electric now. Well, no, not legally," she admitted. "Do I care at the moment?" She smiled and hung up. "They'll be back in two hours."
"That'll work." She went to look at the view and then the front lawn. She could do something with this.
Xander came home from grocery shopping two days later. There was now flowers around the border. In full bloom out of season. The house was a lot neater looking. He could smell food cooking, and hear rock music. He walked inside and looked at her. "Cute flowers, Dawn," he called.
"Thank you. Not my doing. The stupid Watcher bastards brought them up for a housewarming." She came out to get a bag and brought it back to the kitchen. "No milk?"
"None there unless you want to drink dragon or unicorn."
"Um, no thanks. I'll stick with cow." She put things away, giving him a look. "Your chemistry set is in the other room."
Xander nodded and went to look at it, finding it set up for him and books piles against the other wall. He barely had room to walk at the moment. "Bookshelves. Definitely bookshelves," he muttered, looking at the setup. "Need a cauldron and things," he muttered. "Plus herbs." He went to find the stuff he had been sent by his father. His father was trying. It was a nice change. He looked at Dawn, who was humming along with the radio. "Anyone stop by?"
"Not yet." She looked at him. "Do I get a kitty?"
"And an owl." She squealed and pounced to hug him. "Thanks, sweetie. Is your stuff here?"
"All here. They brought it. Giles had them move it for you. Plus the rest of your stuff is in the basement. Also, Travers didn't like being blackmailed."
"Then maybe he shouldn't have been playing with the cat's balls." He smiled and headed to look at his bedroom. He nodded and changed clothes. When he came out he found the Watcher bringing in another truck of stuff. "Oooh, more? Like bookshelves?"
"They're in the back of this truck, sir."
"Xander. Don't sir me."
"Xander." He stopped then blinked at him. "Like Buffy's Xander?" Xander nodded. "Oh, bloody hell!" he said, staring in awe. "You're retiring then?"
"I've got family over here."
"Understood, Xander. Let us finish this." He went to get the other things. Dawn bounced out to help, leaving Xander to check on dinner. He looked at Dawn. "I had wondered why we were bringing the scooter and the car," he said. "Are you his girlfriend?"
"Oh!" He hugged her. "I'm sorry, love." They finished bringing things in, including the bookshelves. Dawn moved the books with magic and then settled in to shelve them. He looked at Xander. "I was told by Travers to give you this letter, Xander." Xander took it and opened it with the end of the spoon he was using. He smiled at it. "Good news?"
"He's going to leave me alone before I kick him and bite him this time." He looked at him. "Thank you."
"Welcome, sir. Need anything else?"
"Nearest normal town?"
"Two miles that way, sir," he said with a point. "Sorry, Xander." Xander hugged him and slapped him on the back. "Have a good day, Xander. I hope retirement suits you." He left, going back to the truck to check it. Then he left. It was an honor to help someone so well known, even if they did drive the council nuts.
Xander called Giles. "I'm here and Travers said if I ever try to blackmail him again he's going to have me shot." He smiled. "Yeah, it's all here, and then some. Dawn, I've got Giles." He listened. Then he nodded. "Move it back two feet so it's on the doorframe, that'll help." He hung up and watched the portal form, smiling at it. "That'll work. What didn't come?" A sword and his usual crossbow was handed over. "Ah, the occasionally necessary things." He went to put them in the living room. Giles walked in something else and put it down, then a carpet bag. He walked back through the portal and came out with a trunk. Xander smiled at him. "Thank you, Giles."
"You're welcome." He gave him a hug then one to Dawn. "I hope you'll be good here, Dawn. I've had Willow email you the first assignments. You should have enough books here to do anything you want or need." He stroked some of her hair down with a gentle smile. "We will miss your infectious enthusiasm. You brought more life and light than Anya ever did." He let her go and smiled. "Now, I've left you keys for my house in case you need it or something in it. In the carpet bag are the herbs Xander will need to brew things. In the trunk are my old school things, Xander." That got a nod. "Plus what I used to get into back then." He smiled at him. "Are you sure?"
"Yeah, I am. The bastard is a headmaster, still," he said dryly.
"Agreed. Let me get one last thing." He walked through the portal and came back with a card and Spike. He handed him over. "Here, everyone should have a vampire in their basement." Xander gave him a shove that way and took the card to look over. He opened it then looked at him. "I did the same for Buffy once, Xander. You'll need help for the first little while. Do not protest."
"Thank you, Giles." He gave him another hug. "Go ahead and close it. We can reopen it from this side." Giles nodded and let the portal go, letting Dawn show him around the house.
Xander put the check safely away in his room. Along with the remaining money and the check from the Watcher's Council. They could definitely do something with that. Maybe even a satellite dish.
Xander looked up when someone knocked on the front door. "Dawn, go read," he called. He walked that way, opening it slightly. "Yes?"
"Sir, who are you?"
"I didn't know Professor Snape had relatives. May I step in?"
"I grew up in Sunnydale. Fat chance I'm *inviting* anyone in." The man gave him a horrified look. He got his wallet and found the man inside the house. He looked at him and showed him his ID. "Snape is my natal name."
The wizard looked at him then his ID. "You're from Sunnydale?"
"As in the one who backed up Slayer Summers."
He nodded at that, looking calm. "Why are you here, sir?"
"I was traveling. She died. Things went to hell over there. So now I'm here. My father's here."
"Snape is your *father*?"
"No shit. He's the only one alive." The wizard glared. Xander glared back. He stepped back. "Anything else?"
"No, sir. Only the warning that this area is dangerous." Xander burst out laughing. "I'm sure it's a different sort of danger."
"Spike, can you please come up here?" he called. He came up the stairs and paused in the doorway. The wizard gaped and whimpered, pointing. "That's Spike. He's a friend. He lives in the basement. Do you really think I'm worried about *Voldemort*? After we fought a hell god?" The man took off running. "Good. Can you get me the owl?" The cage was handed over. "Thanks. Think of anything we need?"
"Not really. Why am I here?"
"You annoyed Giles one too many times by drinking blood out of his mug," Xander said dryly. He finished writing out the note and sent it off. Then he put the cage back on the stand. "Ah. Now that we've upset the Ministry and others, it's all good again. They're gone, Dawn."
She came out. "Who was it?"
"The local governmental group over the wizarding world."
"Ah." She shrugged and went back to her lessons and shelving books.
Xander looked at Spike. "You can go to London with me but I'm going tomorrow during the day. An umbrella might help for a few minutes."
"I'll think about it."
"If not it's a good seven hour train trip," Xander said dryly.
"Sounding better then. Gonna kick me out?"
"Not if you behave," Xander said with a sweet smile. He had an evil thought. "You know, I know a place that needs a good Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher." Spike gave him an amused look. "Teaching kids to deal with things that go bump. They're at war too. You can tell however many stories you want about the Hellmouth too."
"Sounds interesting. What's the requirements?"
"I think you're pretty well got it solved, Spike. You are one of the subjects they teach."
"Point." He went to write it on the computer. When he got it the way he wanted it he printed it and signed it then handed it to Xander, who sent it off with the owl since it was back. "Nearby?"
"About thirty miles away." He smiled. "My father's probably your only competition this year."
"What is your father?" Xander pulled his wand and Spike gaped. "Hogwarts!"
"My father's Severus Snape."
"No! No, no, no!" he said, slapping himself on the head. "Should've known." He walked off, then he came back. "They're really needing a defense teacher?"
"Get the owl back." Xander let him have his wand so he summoned it back and took the letter, ripping it up and going to write a different one with better qualifications. That one got sent once Xander had calmed down the little beast. He sent it off again and looked at Xander. "How did you end up over there?"
"Dumbledore." He smiled sweetly. "So you'll be helping the kids but I'd consider it a personal favor if you annoyed the shit outta him and dad."
Spike smirked. "Mayhem and telling stories. I could like that job." He went back to his basement and the stored boxes. "Know there's herbs down here, right?"
"Yup," Xander called. "I'll get them soon. Thanks, Spike." He looked in the fridge and got an orange, going to peel it while he researched something in the books Giles had sent. There had to be a solution to the problems Harry was facing.
Spike got an answer and blinked. "I've got an interview." He smiled at Dawn. "I've got to the school tomorrow at dusk." Dawn came out of Xander's room and handed him a shirt. "Thanks, bit."
"Welcome, Spike." She kissed him on the cheek. "Knock 'em down and make them hire you. Think of all the kids you can scare," she teased, playing with his hair. "Be a good boy, Spike, and then we'll celebrate." He smirked and nodded, going to change clothes and get things together.
Xander made and handed him a portkey for the interview. Then he went back to his potion. He had a long time brewing tonight. "Dawn, I'm going to be in here all night. Behave. No sudden loud noises please."
"Sure, Xander." She looked at Spike, then sighed and helped him pack a few of Xander's new shirts. Spike smiled at that. "You need it. You can't wear the same outfit every day. The kids will start to pick on you."
"True, bit. Very true." He kissed her on the head. "When you're an adult, come see me. 'Kay? We'll raise some pretty hell."
She smiled. "Sure, Spike. Be a good vampire." He nodded and disappeared once it was dark. She went to putter around and make herself dinner, then to write Willow a few emails. By the time she was tired, Xander was involved in the stupid potion, but she didn't mind. He was a really cool not-quite-a-parent. He let her do nearly anything she wanted to. She went to sleep and woke up to find Xander looking at her with a camera. "Don't take pictures of the bed hair!" she complained.
Xander smiled. "He got the job and they're putting him up already." She smiled at that. "I've got real milk and cereal. Then we're going to go herb and clothes shopping since you gave him all my new ones." She squealed and hopped up, going into the bathroom. Where she saw her hair and squealed. "I'm sending the picture to Giles and Willow," he called. "Also, Tara might come over to visit." He went to get his own breakfast. She came out once she was dressed, slurping hers as fast as she could. He gave her an amused look. "Slow down and chew, Dawn." She gave him a look. "It'll be a fun day, I promise." She shrugged and let him go get dressed. Then she clung to his arm, letting out small, subvocal squealing noises. He smiled down at her and sent them to Diagon. He took the checks up to the bank, signing them up for a new vault. She stared around in awe. "It's normal for wizards, little sister." The goblin gave him an odd look. "This is my little sister."
"Does she need authorization?"
"I'll send her with a letter." That got a nod and Xander finished signing forms. He was given a key and a small amount of the checks so the rest could be changed over and deposited for them. Xander looked at Dawn. "We need to hit one place because the clothier isn't open yet."
"Okay." She walked out with him, still holding onto his arm. She looked at the bookstore then at him. "Willow was always the nerd."
He smiled. "I'm searching for something specific, Dawn." She sighed and let him lead the way inside and to the section he wanted. He cast a 'find it' charm and two books lit up. He pulled them down to find what he wanted. One got put back and the other went with him. "Comics?" She grimaced. "Fashion mags?" She went to look and he got a few new comics plus another potion's book. He didn't have this one. He gathered her and paid for it. They hit the herb store since it was open and Madam Malkin wasn't. He let her into the store. "Madam, this is my little sister Dawn."
"Welcome back, dears. You're lucky you came early to avoid all the students."
"Today is the day they get their letters for needed equipment," Xander explained. "So they come in for new uniforms and all that stuff."
"Oh." She nodded and let the older woman lead her around the store. "I kinda let a vampire have all his new shirts too. Plus he's ruined a t-shirt brewing stinky crap."
"I can help with that." She smiled at Xander. "All of them to a vampire?"
"Spike." She gaped in horror. "He got sent from Sunnydale with Dawn." She nodded at that. He grinned. "You may be seeing him soon." He found a robe and held it up. "What do you think for her?"
"I like that. What's your budget?"
"About what it was last time," he admitted.
"That one's fairly expensive, but I do have something pretty." He found something for Dawn. "Do you know how to sew, dear?"
"A lot of us in this community do. It's one of those homey tasks most of our women enjoy."
"She's going to go into the world and do great things," Xander told her gently. That got a nod and she got Dawn fitted. It was a bit more this time but that was fine. He left a note there. "Hand this to Draco Malfoy if you would please?"
She nodded. "I can do that. Will he know why?"
"No, but his father won't be pleased. He managed to lose his son on the hellmouth and I'm saying hi." He smiled and led Dawn off to let her see what else was around. They got more cat food and magical litter, plus owl food. Their bags were sent home and Xander treated to ice cream for lunch. They watched the students troop up and down the alley. Dawn gaped at some of the fashions going past. Xander smirked at her. "Aren't you glad I'm keeping you out of that school?"
"Very. I couldn't stand to wear something that...massive. She's got a collar, cuffs, and a hat!" Xander nodded. "Wow. So my belly shirts...."
"You're the slutty princess looking one," he agreed. She hit him on the arm and he grinned. "It'll be fine. I'm fully expecting you to have a normal career and do normal things that will be great for someone. I don't want you to become Willow unless it can be hidden in normal life." She nodded at that. He looked at her again. "There's another very good reason, Dawn. There's a problem going on in this world. A war with someone like Hitler." She shuddered. "So I do not want you involved and that is why you're learning Willow's way." She nodded. "Now, you are not allowed to tell Willow but I will be instructing you in the other way as well."
"Are you sure?"
"Good. I could use it. Does that mean I'm going to be brewing nasty smelling things with you?"
"Nope. Not for a long time." She smiled at that. "So finish up an we'll go to the wand shop." He finished his ice cream, letting her finish up and curl into his side with his arm over her shoulders. "Now, remember, this is for self defense and you are not to be known about."
"Good girl, Dawn." He walked into the wand maker and looked around the empty store. The old man who ran it looked at them. "We need privacy." The door was locked by Dawn. Xander pulled his wand and cast the privacy charms. Then he led Dawn closer. "We're bringing her over for the day to get this done. She is not to be known about. She is in protective custody."
"Who is she?"
Dawn stepped forward and touched his hand. He looked at her, then blinked a few times. "You're not safe."
"That's why she's in protective custody," Xander said firmly. "Why we need permanent privacy, Mr. Ollivander."
"Of course. I understand." He led her to the wands and found her a few to try. "Do let the others in and we'll test her in the back." Xander nodded and undid the charms, then watched as he led her back there. It was a chance he'd have to take. He unlocked the door at the knock, smiling at the happy mother. "Hi. He's in the back, he'll be right out. My sister's needed fixed. She fused it to her hand," he lied.
"That's fine." She smiled at her son. "This was my first stop too, Brian." She smiled as Dawn came back. "Oooh, he was able to fix the fusing problem."
"Yup." She looked at him. "Money?" He handed over a handful of change. She counted it out and handed the rest back, then paid the man. "Thank you, Mr. Ollivander."
"Welcome, dear. Have a good day."
She smiled and walked out, her wand in her hand. She saw a blond boy that looked a bit familiar. "Who's he?"
"Draco Malfoy. His father's a bad guy," he said quietly, walking her in the other direction. He caught Draco's evil glare and smiled. "We'll be fine, Dawn."
"Good." She let him take her home but looked around. "I, um, could use some bras and stuff, Xander."
"Huh." He nodded and handed her two fifties. Then he made a portkey. "Activate it when you want to come back." He took her wand and sent her off. She was more than good enough to handle a muggle mall by herself for a few hours so he could relax and make some plans. Besides he hated bra shopping. It was right up there with shoe shopping to give him migraines.
Draco found the note in his pocket a few minutes later and looked at it. "You can't scream the defense teacher's name on sight. Let him have some fun." He crumpled it up and tossed it away like it had been an inspection ticket. This did not bode well for his next year of classes.
Harry accepted the note Xander had left for him at the bookstore, smiling at the address and directions to come over whenever he was ready and had made his decision. He tucked it into one of his books then went back to his shopping. It was a good feeling to have someone who was behind him if he wanted them to.
Draco walked into the Great Hall the first night and smirked at the empty defense spot. He took his normal one and sat down regally, surveying the others in the school. Potter looked happier. Like he was more confident and sure of himself. He'd have to help erode that soon. Once the sorting was done, he watched as the headmaster stood up.
"I have an announcement to make and it is a fairly serious one," he announced calmly. "You do have a new defense teacher but I did want to warn you all first. Your new teacher is a part of the dark arts. To him it is as personal as your wand is to you. I do not want you to pounce him. Make fun of him. Torment him. Or anything else that would give him the desire to get you back," he ordered. "Should you, the other teachers may not be able to keep him from getting you back. Also, you should know that your Defense teacher is a prankster." He looked at the doors and they opened, admitting his new teacher.
Draco nearly stood up and shouted. Now he understood! That bloody git!
Dumbledore smiled. "Let me introduce your new Defense teacher. His name is Spike."
Spike came up and looked around the great hall, then smirked and vamped up. Most of the students shrieked. "Good. That's a good start," he agreed with an evil smirk. "At least you'll learn from me."
"I can promise he's not going to attack anyone and his need for blood is being met," Dumbledore assured everyone. "If you do decide to taunt him I cannot promise hew won't make you miserable but he will not attack you physically. So do take the opportunity to learn from him. He has seen very many creatures. He has lived and survived on a hellmouth, one with a slayer. He has helped her and not. He is over a hundred years old." He sat down. "Welcome to Hogwarts, Spike."
"Thank you, Albus." He returned to his human guise. "I wouldn't try to prank me, kiddies. I've just spent four years on the Hellmouth." He walked up to his seat and nodded at Snape since he was next to him. "I believe I know a relative of yours."
Snape's groan was the sweetest thing ever heard. "My son," he growled.
Spike smirked at him. "He did say you needed help, mate."
"I am not your mate, Spike."
"You could be. You'd make a good vampire."
"No thank you." He looked at his plate, noticing the food was there. He dug in, stuffing his mouth so he wouldn't start swearing about what his son had cursed him to endure for a year.
Draco sat and seethed in his seat. How dare that git send that thing here! Especially since he looked like a Malfoy! His father would be hearing of this! The vampire looked at him, stared directly at him. He knew that there was a reason he had been warned, beyond Harris' fun. Their meeting in the bar came back to him and he suddenly smirked back at the vampire. Let's see him deal with Slytherins. He looked at the others in his house. "I saw him there," he said. They all gaped at him. "My father went there with me. He was helping a slayer. Of course, he's not a wizard," he said smugly.
"Yes I was," Spike called. "Sorry to offend, Malfoy, but not only was I, I graduated from here way back when." Draco gaped in horror. He smirked. "Don't need it now, do I?"
Draco stared at him. "You graduated from here?"
He nodded. "I was even a Prefect. Too bad I got turned by Angelus and them. Then again, bloody fun wandering around the world causing pretty hell." That got a swallow from Draco. "We'll see who's got it to match me."
Draco nodded. "Won't we though." He was seeing a subtle hand to help him make a decision about the direction of his life. He saw Granger hissing at Potter and sneered in their direction. Let them worry, he knew why Spike was harmless.
Spike looked at Harry before breakfast the next morning. It was barely dawn and fortunately his room was shielded from the sun. "Why are you here?" Harry asked.
"Heard you needed skills and I've got 'em. Like telling stories," he admitted with a grin. "Plus, I get to annoy some people until they break. Gets me away from Harris too."
"So you do know him?"
"Too well. Stayed in his basement a few times, tied to a chair mostly. That and the Watcher sent me over with nibblet."
"Little sister. Sweet bint. Not like us."
"Not a witch?"
"Not that way," Spike cautioned. "She's safe."
"Good." He frowned. "He and I talked over the summer."
"Good. Sounded like you could use it." Harry nodded. "He told me what's going on here, little bit. One of the reasons I'm here is to share what it took Buffy too long ta learn."
"Sure. I could use that." He blinked at him. "Do I know you?"
He smirked. "Remind you of Malfoy do I?"
"A bit yeah." He nodded. "Can I take special defense lessons?"
"You got the address, little bit. Go see him. I don't do defense that way. That's him."
Harry relaxed and nodded. "Thank you, Professor."
"Spike, bit. Spike. Professor gives me hives." He lit up and blew some smoke into the air, then smirked at him. "I'm here to have fun."
"Good. Are you going to torture his father?"
"Of course! Bastard left him over there in danger." Harry smiled and left to go to breakfast. Spike put on his special cloak and went to get his morning blood so he could scare the kiddies some more. The screams when they saw him was like a drug. He hadn't been feared this way since it was the four Scourges wandering around the world. He walked in and most of the children screamed again, making him smirk in pleasure. "Thanks, loves. Good morning to you lot too." He hopped up onto the dias and took his seat, looking at the table. "Pass down the cereal, wench?" he asked McGonagall. She glared at him. "Need it for the blood. Needs texture now and then." She slid it down with a grimace of distaste. He poured some in and then smooshed it around with a spoon before drinking. The others around the room shuddered and looked away. He took another drink and saluted Snape. "How's the boy?"
"I haven't heard from him in days," he admitted.
"Pity." He went back to his breakfast. "I missed Wheatabix. Shredded Wheat isn't the same. But the frosted stuff's nice." Snape shuddered but finished his breakfast before disappearing. Spike grinned at Harry then at Draco's table. He took another drink. "Any marshmallows?"
"No!" Madam Sprout said, giving him an odd look. "Why would you put those in blood, Spike?"
"Tastes good it does."
"Oh. I see." She turned a bit paler but finished eating and went to her office as well. It looked like this year she might keep her resolution to lose a bit of weight around her middle.
Xander smiled happily at the note he got, reading it over his morning coffee. Dawn wandered out. "Go back to bed. You can do your history paper when you wake up." She nodded and trudged back that way. Her sister had the same sleeping issue when she was having her cycle. It was good he could predict those things for his sanity. And that he had remembered to buy some tampons for her. He finished his coffee and got up to make sure he had everything in place for whenever Harry or Draco showed up. He knew what they needed the cemetery dirt for. There were only two choices and one wasn't very likely. As far as he knew no one there knew Willow magic. The other one was a lot more likely. It used wanded magic and that's what these bad guys did. He heard the knock and looked at the door from the table, waving a hand to tell them to come in. The witch out there walked in. How did he know she was a witch? She was wearing a Weird Sisters t-shirt, had purple hair, and was clearly not a trendoid teenager like Dawn could be. "What did we need?"
"I was sent to see what you were planning to do, Mr. Harris."
Xander grinned. "Tutoring. I'm very good in potions."
"I heard your explosive one didn't work."
"I warned him it's got an intention clause. If you intend to do harm it won't work." He grinned sweetly. "That's written in the potion."
"Yeah, they figured that out later that night," she agreed, sitting across from him. "The girl with you?"
"My little sister and if any of you come near her I'm going to have to kill. Again."
"We'd never hurt her."
Xander snorted. "Please," he said dryly.
"I didn't know your father had other children."
"He doesn't. Her sister died and she's in my care."
"Oh. All right then. Who has legal custody?"
Dawn came out and smacked her on the back of the head. "He does, why are you interrupting my sleep?" The woman looked at her and Dawn glared. "I'm not in a happy mood, lady. Now, Xander has full custody of me. I'm doing my diploma through the mail. That way I don't have to worry about people. Is there anything else you absolutely must know today?"
"Um, no," she said, looking a bit taken aback.
"Her mother and sister only died a few months ago," Xander said calmly, pulling Dawn onto his lap. "I'm the best big brother she's ever had."
"That's fine then. I'm sure you'll make sure she's well tutored as well."
"Uh-huh. I am. Though she doesn't use a wand."
"Oh. Pity. Could use some new blood at the school and she's pretty." Dawn waved a hand at that. "Fine, no plans for boys?"
"I'll let her date if she finds one she likes. Right now it's more important that she grieve and learn to cope," Xander said quietly, giving Dawn a squeeze. "Anything else?"
"If we come to you about the war, will you help?"
"Depends on which idiot is in charge, doesn't it?"
"Point. You definitely aren't joining the other side, right?"
"I have a thing against bad guys," Xander assured her patiently. "Even yours." She smiled at that. "But I'm also more than experienced enough to note and see when problems in the command structure are going to bugger the war before it begins." She shuddered and nodded. "Like right now, who's chasing him down?"
"We have no idea where he is."
"How hard is it to get someone to take something of his or one of his people and trace them?" Dawn asked. "I know Willow could. She's done it to Spike in the past. Hell, Tara has!"
"True," Xander agreed. "She tracked me that one night that way." He looked at her. "It's not that hard. I can find a reference if you want, or Spike might now how they do it."
"Are you a squib?"
"I got missed for schooling on purpose so I got tutored by a former student."
"Oh." She stood up. "That's understandable really with where you were sent. Whose idea was that?"
"No wonder you're wary of working with us then."
Xander gave her a look. "I did get the paper over there, ma'am." She went pale. "Exactly. I'm more than experienced enough to know when there's an idiot in charge who won't listen to the people who have a clue. As of right now, consider me retired and tutoring. If some of the students up there need my help, Spike knows where I am and so do a few others."
"That's fine then. How are you getting electric?"
"We signed up for service," Dawn told her, fully lying.
"Oh. Okay." She shrugged. "Works for me, kids. I'll leave you two alone."
"Thank you and please do take the person sitting in the tree across from my bedroom as well," Dawn said dryly. "Before I have to hurt him for watching me sleep." She nodded and went to gather her coworker, taking him back to the office by force since he was clearly so bad at being spotted.
Xander looked at her. "Just that one, not the other two?"
"I don't care about the other two, Xander. That one was keeping me from sleeping. The one in the grass and the one pretending to be a frog or whatever can stay out there." She got up and went to the bathroom then back to bed.
Xander nodded. "That is true." He got up and got some vinegar, going to pour it on the frog to shut him up. "You make more noise than ten normal frogs," he complained when the guy changed to quit the stinging sensation. "You need practice staying hidden and quiet. And the guy in the grass? You snore!" he called. He looked at that one, shaking his head. "Shoddy. Absolutely shoddy. Get someone in the military to show you how to do that properly, before someone more important than me sees you." He went back inside, going back to his now very cold coffee and breakfast. But that's what microwaves were for and he would've checked the new boy on the block too if he had been a threat. He had expected it earlier but then again that was the sign of an idiot being in charge and not listening to the people who had a clue.
Xander looked up as someone tapped on the door that weekend. "S'open," he called, feeling who it was. The kid on the other side walked in. "Hey, Harry."
"Spike is an asshole."
"Could've told you that," he agreed, looking up from his reading. "He is. He's really good at it too. Annoys Angel all to hell and back most of the time. Then again he did sleep with Buffy." He shrugged and put down his book. "What can I do for you?"
"Spike said I'm pitiful."
"Well, you're pouting but he's used to girls doing that around him. Why are you pitiful?"
"Because my shield collapsed earlier. I'm exhausted."
Xander looked at him. "It might help if you could drop that stupid shield. It's not helping and it's wearing you out. Otherwise, well...." He considered the boy. "Huh." He got up and went to call. "Wills, come here please? Yes, now. Because we've got a kid with a mind link to someone and I don't know how to break it. Thanks." He hung up. "Harry, blue binder on the shelf behind you. Take that back with you. That's what they're using the cemetery dirt for and why they needed Hellmouth dirt."
"So you helped them?"
Xander grinned. "After having it blessed?" Harry grinned at that. Tara appeared, head tipped down. "Tara." He gave her a hug, lifting her up to spin her around. "I've missed you."
"I've missed you too but put me down?" she squeaked. She saw Harry and blushed. "H..hi."
"Hi. I'm Harry." He smiled at her. "I'm not the mean one here. We're hearing rumors that it's Xander here who's mean."
"On...only when he..he takes Spike's cd's," she stuttered. She looked at him. "Him?"
"Him. The bastard who tried to kill him as a baby buggered it and he's linked in his head. His shielding is wearing him out. Also, tell Willow I did let them have the dirt since she heard the correct rumors." Tara nodded, coming over to look at Harry more closely. "Tara, I've got veggies, want a salad? Harry?"
"Please," she agreed while she worked on Harry. "Dawnie?"
"Doing a history paper. Tara's here and so's Harry," he called.
"I'll put back on my pants then," Dawn called. She came out a few minutes later and squealed, hugging Tara so hard she gasped for air. "Hi, I missed you." Tara smiled at her and brushed a hair off her face. "So, this is Harry?" He nodded. "Why are you here?"
"Because he's in the same spot as your sister but with a teacher who doesn't have a great desire to see him as more than a weapon," Xander called. He came out with bowls of salad. "The least we can do is help him research, Dawn. Spike's doing his defense training."
"I've done a lot for myself," Harry told them.
"Damn," Dawn sighed, looking at Xander. "Are we involved?"
"I only tutor. I'm retired unless they come here. And then they're going to die."
She smiled and hugged him. "I'm sure you'll pull out scary things with your little wand."
He kissed her on the head. "You have no idea what I can do, Dawnie. Just because I couldn't do it in Sunnydale doesn't mean I didn't learn." She gave him an awed look. "If they come here, they're toast."
She smiled and sat down to dig in. "So, Harry, what's up with the call today? Spike being mean again?"
"Fairly so. He likes to pick on Malfoy."
"I saw him the day we went shopping," she admitted. "They could be family but Spike dyes his hair."
Harry shook his head. "I've never understood that urge."
"Sometimes it's nice not to be yourself," Dawn told him.
"That I do understand but I can't get rid of the scar."
She smirked. "Stage makeup, Harry. You can fill that sucker in and then smooth it over."
She nodded, getting up to get something, then came back with a zippered bag. "This is just regular makeup. Stage makeup is better but you can use this to cover smaller scars." She got to work on his forehead, applying foundation to the spot. "Now, mine won't match your skin very well but it's not hard to find some in your own skin tone." She finished and opened her compact, letting him look. He smiled at her, beaming really. "See, much less noticeable once we get you some to match your skin tone."
Tara smiled. "Dawnie's good at that," she said quietly.
"She's tops in my book at the moment." She beamed. "Thank you, Dawn."
"Welcome, but you still can't tell anyone you saw me."
"That's fine. You can be invisible and mythical for all I care." She smiled and kissed him on the cheek then Tara, then settled in to watch Tara work. Harry suddenly sat up straighter. "What're you doing?"
"You're a seer," Tara said, looking at him. "That's why it's so deep, Harry. By freeing that gift, it'll let you move the other link back to the back of your mind."
"Will I be able to tell when he's there and block him?"
"With practice," she agreed, smiling at him while she stroked his forehead. "It'll be easier to block him out or eavesdrop." He smiled and relaxed at that. She finished working on him and he was nearly asleep by then. Dawn came over to help her with the final chant, one to help him in battles. Xander smiled at the girls. Tara smiled back and let him go, getting up to cover him. She kissed Xander on the cheek. "I should rest before I go home."
"Go for it. Her room, my room, pick a spot and settle, Tara." She smiled and took Dawn back to her room to catch up with her. Xander finished his salad and got the blue binder, putting it in Harry's cloak so he couldn't forget it. Then he got back to his fun reading. Because it was his day off. Harry finally woke up with a yawn, making him smile. "Finish your lunch, Harry. Tara's a good mommy."
"Welcome. Just watch out for the first few visions. They hurt like hell," Xander advised. "But maybe you'll be lucky and get slayer dreams like Buffy did."
"Anything''s better than the screaming visions I get when he's gloating."
Xander looked at him. "Spike knows about visions. His Dru was a seer. Insane but a seer."
"I'll talk to him about them then. You're sure he'll help?"
"If he doesn't, write me. I'll nag until he does or I'll let Dawn pout at him. He's usually pretty reasonable when he's got an incentive to be. Since I helped him get a job that not only pays him but lets him indulge his kicks to tell stories and scare you guys, he might be more than reasonable."
Harry smiled and finished his salad. Then he got into the binder. "Okay, they're doing what?"
"They're going to rob some former people of the powers that are stored in their cells. Wizards and witches like us store the magic in every cell of our body. But it's got a half- life. It can only last so long before starting to bleed back into the Earth. Even with concrete vaults and things around it. So depending on how the body is buried and with what, as long as they were relatively recent he could steal the power that their cells hold."
"Why can't he just sacrifice someone for power."
"Harry, he can do both. Taking the sacrifice will only drain their reserves, not the cell storage areas. Only death and time can do that." Harry blinked at him. "If he's not as stupid as some, he's going to do both. Now, depending on what he's doing means that there's different times. Spike may or may not know anything about that but Snape may be able to tell you which tradition he'd use for a human sacrifice." Harry nodded. "The only other possibility I've found is something like what Tara would use. So unless he can use that sort of magic, that's what he's looking at."
Harry stood up and nodded. "I can take this back?"
"Take it back, get Snape and Spike both into this." He smiled gently at the young man. "The more time you have to plan the better off the final issue will be, Harry. We've had to do plans within days and it never went as smoothly as we would've wanted. Also, Spike can plan. So if he says a plan is crap listen to the vampire."
"I will. What's his connection to Malfoy?"
"There but for the grace of Angelus goes him," Xander said with a grin.
"I can see how that could happen but Malfoy's being less of a blight than usual with him around."
"Hey, if it helps."
He smiled again. "Thank you, Xander."
"I'm here most days, Harry, and you can come in and wait if I'm not." Harry nodded and pulled back on his cloak, taking the binder with him when he apparated back to the school. "He's gone, ladies."
Dawn peeked around the corner. "Any more salad?"
"No more lettuce but there's other veggies. Do some." She nodded and got Tara some more to eat, going back to chatting with the woman who was like another big sister to her. Xander went back to his reading. It was a nice few hours work and if their plan went through it'd be easier to stop them. Now if only they didn't change plans it'd be a good thing.
Harry walked down to the defense classroom, tapping gently.
"What?" a cranky voice called.
"Spike, may I have a few moments?" The door opened. "I just came from Xander's."
"How's the bint?"
"Good. She and a pretty and charming young lady named Tara helped me with some things and I was advised to come to you for further assistance in a few things."
"She said I'm a natural seer. That's why my link to Voldemort went so deep and I got such graphic images of what he's doing." Spike nodded slowly at that. "Tara activated it and moved the link some." Spike let him inside. "Also, Xander heard rumors that the other side was looking for cemetery dirt."
"Power stealing or raising?"
"He thinks power stealing because he doesn't think anyone over there can use magic like Tara did."
"It's a point to think about," he agreed. "So he sent you back ta me ta help you with the vision stuff, going back to how ta block the arse out, and then to walk you through the first few visions?"
"Plus to help with this matter so you can provide a voice of reason and common sense if we have to plan something. He did say to ask Professor Snape questions to make sure we can rule out the other option and other things."
"Do you trust him?"
"He hates me but he's never lied to me. He's tried to quash me emotionally but never physically so far."
"Do you trust the headmaster?"
"I'm not sure," he admitted honestly. "There's been some things I've been realizing. There's information I need that's being held back from me." Spike nodded. "It was told to me that I'm being used as a disposable weapon," he said quietly.
"Do you feel that way?"
"When I'm frustrated because something pops out that others knew and never told me."
Spike nodded. "Know that feeling well. We'll go over that next. Your shields?"
"We didn't get past what Tara did today. He said me holding up my shield against Voldemort was what was tiring me out."
"That and the pretty curse on you."
Spike shrugged. "Not a clue. Need to ask someone like Flitwick about that."
"Would Snape be able to tell?"
"Think he'd help?"
"Maybe. Depends on what's in it for him."
"Me not making his life a living hell," Harry said dryly. "Because I could." He smiled sweetly. "I'm sure we can do that."
"Probably. Still probably better to get Flitwick. At least you know he'll be impartial."
"Yes but he'll tell the codger."
"True but it might not be a bad thing if it was another student, Harry."
"True." He shrugged. "I'll go find him. Should I ask Snape?"
"Nah. I'lll get the blighter," he said with a smirk.
"Xander said he thought you might like feeling really useful and getting kicks from scaring others at the same time."
"Oh, it's like wine soaked blood." He got up. "Run and do that. We'll go over this before you get back." Harry nodded and went do that while he went to see Snape, with the binder so it couldn't conveniently disappear. He agreed with the boy, he was a disposable tool to too many. He tapped on the potion's door, smirking at the master of that domain. "Need a few questions answered."
"Why?" he sneered. "Unable to grade essays?"
"No, cemetery dirt." Snape stiffened at that. "'Nother one of us found it for the boy. We need information and a planning moment so if you've got some time free..."
"Not at the moment but soon."
"S'fine. The boy's off getting a curse removed that was draining him." Snape quirked an eyebrow up. "I sent him ta Flitwick."
"A good choice even though he'll do the right thing and inform others."
"Sometimes it has ta happen, Snapey." He strolled off. "We're in my classroom when you're done."
"Fine." He walked back into his classroom, slamming the door. He didn't have anyone in detention tonight but he did have a test coming up and he needed to finish writing it. By the time he was done, Harry was back and going over the information someone had gathered for him. He closed the door behind himself. "Cemetery dirt?"
"Xander said he had it blessed before he sold it," Harry said absently. He looked at him. "He also called a different sort of witch about the vision problem. She's moved it so it's not as direct but I can spy easier and block him easier."
"She said I'm a natural seer. That's why the link formed the way it did. She activated that and then knocked me out to move it to the back of my head as she put it. It'll make it harder for him to get in and easier for me to know."
Spike nodded. "Would," he agreed. "We had to do that to Dru once or twice when she forced a connection with someone and got stuck."
"Who is this Dru?" Snape sneered, coming in to sit down.
"His former princess. Druscilla. Xander said she was a seer as well but a bit barmy."
"Like the sun's a bit hot," Spike said dryly. "Angelus tortured her before turning her. Drove her nuts because she believed she was bad for having the skills. Had the stars talk to her and her doll but never wrong."
Snape looked at him. "Never?"
"A bit cryptic now and then but never wrong in over a hundred years."
"Is she alive?" Snape demanded.
"Somewhere. S'far as I know." He shrugged. "I took care of her while she was sick but she cheated with a slime demon. Couldn't stand her after that. Got me a different skirt after that but she was a stupid cow. Had no thoughts at all so I abandoned her." He smirked. "Sleeping with Buffy was so much better."
"Buffy? The slayer Buffy?" Snape demanded. Harry nodded. "How would you know?"
"Your son told me," Harry said dryly. "He's also the one who did the research before you can sneer at Hermione again."
"Because he wasn't sure if anyone over there used the same sort of magic as Tara and someone named Willow does."
"Not as far as I know," Snape admitted.
"If they can't that means they're going to steal power," Spike said, considering it.
"He thinks that they'll sacrifice someone for power and then steal the residual afterward."
"Could," Spike agreed, nodding at that. "Anything about a tradition?"
"He said the timing would depend on which one he uses for power sacrifices," Harry said, looking at Snape. "Which means we need some information I've never heard."
"We're not keeping it from you," he sneered.
"Like you weren't keeping it from me during my first or second year?" he asked dryly. "Or last year?" Snape stiffened at that. "I know it's not you specifically. Those orders and ideas are coming from higher up."
"He's trying to protect you, Potter."
"From what? Realizing there's a war and a bounty on my head? I've known the first since my third year and the other since my first, Professor Snape. All it's doing is making me a less effective fighter."
"Do you think you're ready?" he sneered.
"No, I don't. I'm not being taught half the stuff I need to be ready. It's pitiful that I had to teach myself defense," he spat back. "He stopped Lupin from helping me more than he did."
"He complained about how much he taught you," Snape agreed. "You're going years ahead of your age."
"If it means myself and most of those I love continue to live, good. I'll gladly end up burned out and magicless if I must. But I'm going to work my arse off to make sure I'm ready when it's time, not just get it sprung on me one day with a sudden new spell that'll lead to my death." Snape looked taken aback. "Yes, I've figured out that it would be easier if I did die in the war. If I do I do. If I don't, I'm not looking forward to ducking hit squads. Now, can we get back to figuring out how to stop the blighter this year? Because if this is a backup plan or a side to the real attack this year, starting to gather information now instead of in March might help. I'd like to have some advanced warning and time to plan."
Spike clapped slowly. "Nice overreacting."
"The last attack I lost my godfather because I didn't know any better because people were keeping things from me. I got fooled by a vision Voldemort sent me. He died because I got fooled. It won't happen this year."
Spike looked at him. "That's nearly as stubborn as the brat Xander." Snape glared at him. "He is. Always in the way too."
"It let him survive," Snape said firmly.
"True, but he might've left if not for Red." He went back to the binder of things. "He laid it out well. Any idea which tradition he uses to bloodlet." Snape took the binder and pointed at one. "Okay, so he could do it on those dates. Can we find 'im? Or track him? Red does it to me all the time."
Harry looked at him. "I don't know. Professor?"
"He moves fairly often."
"I'll write Red, see how she tracks me. Maybe it'll help," Spike said, making a note of that. "Any particular way he'd pick victims?"
"Wouldn't he either pick a lower level death eater for something pure or would he go for some of the victims, Professor?" Harry asked.
"That may depend on his purpose for taking the power. He isn't taking it for his own use, he's taking it to use in something, Potter."
"Okay," Harry agreed. "Any idea what he'd need it for?"
"Not yet but I will start listening harder to the rumors."
"That could help," Spike agreed. "Anyone who'd definitely know?"
"Might Lucius know?" Harry asked. "He's his right hand."
"He doesn't always explain things, Potter," he said, sneering at him.
"Trying to see if we have a lesser person we can get the information out of somehow."
"How would you like to do that? It's not like anything would make him tell you." Harry pointed at Spike, making him gape. "You can't think he'd be scared of him," he laughed.
"Why not? I'm one of the four Scourges of Europe," Spike said dryly. Snape flinched at that. He gave him a smug look. "Of course there's worse'n me." He looked at Harry again. "I could get behind that bit'a fun."
Harry grinned. "I think you'd make a very good intimidation. I'm sure Xander will use you again if Dawn ever decides to date."
Spike burst out laughing. "Oh, I'm sure he will too, Harry." He patted him on the head like he would a dog. "Anything else?"
"Not so far. Can you think of anything else we can do right now?" Harry asked Spike, who shook his head. He stood up. "Then I'm going to go upstairs to shower and then read over this new information."
"Do not give it to Granger," Snape noted. "She is a bit loud."
"I know. Not an issue. Thank you, professors." He headed out with the binder clutched to his chest.
Snape looked at Spike. "Do you really think you can get him that worked up?"
Spike smirked. "I'm an expert on torture, Snapey. Had it done to me and done it to others for fun. Even your bad guy don't have much on me." He lit another cigarette and took a long drag, thinking about it. "Would he share all of it or just parts?"
"Probably just parts." He stood up. "I'll see what I can hear around. We'll meet next week?"
"Unless something comes to us, yeah. Sounds good." Snape nodded and left. Spike kicked back and considered the position he was in. Then he suddenly sat up, looking horrified. "I'm a bloody Watcher!" he realized. "The whelp set me up!" He let out a shriek and stormed up to the owlry to write the bastard a letter complaining about how he had set him up!
Downstairs, Snape looked up at the scream. "Apparently he's just realized that my son set him up to be the next Watcher." He got back to work on his test, making mental notes. Because if Voldemort did that ritual, he could do nearly anything with the power.
Xander looked up from his reading when Dawn slid into his lap. "What's up?"
"What can I do to help?"
"It's a real war, Dawn, not just an apocalypse."
"I know that but it'll be safer if he's gone, right?" Xander nodded. "Then you and your dad can finally start to talk like normal people."
"We're fine, Dawn. We're never going to be good friends or that close. He's not one to get close to. I tried when I first found out but he's like a block of ice."
"Maybe he had to block it off to stay safe."
"No, I think he was always like that." He gave her a squeeze. "We'll see what you can do without exposing you. Until this is done I don't want you exposed as having any powers."
"Sure. I can understand that. I don't want to be taken advantage of either." He smiled. "I'm stuck in charms. Can you help?" He nodded, making her stand up and following her back to his lab to go over the charm with her. Then a potions lesson. Because she needed to learn more to be safer.
Snape tapped on his son's door, looking at him when he opened it with a confused look. "You summoned me?"
"No," he said slowly, still looking confused. He got out of the way so he could walk in. "How did I summon you?"
"A letter." He handed it over. Xander looked at it then at him, shaking his head. "Is that your handwriting?"
"No. It's not. It's not Dawn's either. Dawn?" She came out of the back area of the house, looking confused. "Is that a handwriting we know?"
She looked at it then nodded. "It's Willow's." She handed it back and smiled at him. "So I guess you're about as close to a grandfather as I get. I'm Dawn."
"Dawn, this is my father, Severus. Dad, this is Dawn."
"Charmed," he said quietly. She smiled at him. "Who is this Willow person?"
"Dad, redhead. Bouncy, babbling? Hanging off your sleeve?" Xander prompted. He gave him a horrified look. "Rosenburg, dad."
"Yup," Dawn agreed with a smirk. Snape glared at her so she grinned back. "She loves Xander like a brother and wants him happy. She said she was going to promote some closeness. So, can I call you granddad?"
She laughed and hugged him then went back to her lessons. "Xander, I'm still not getting this potion."
"Crap," he muttered. "You did not hear that, father."
"You're teaching her?" he asked dryly.
Xander looked at him. "The sister of the slayer? Yeah," he said dryly. Snape suddenly shuddered. "Exactly. Yes, she's like Willow." He went to look. "You're not chopping it with the grain. Chop it with the grain of the meat," he ordered, showing her. She nodded and did that, making it less of a shred and more of a chop. "Good. Now, smaller." He grinned and turned to find his father standing there. "She's learning the basics."
"It's always a wise place to start." He looked at the rest. "That's too chunky."
"This is only my third potion lesson," she said patiently. She glared at him. "Move before I stab you." He moved. "Thank you." She went back to working. "Like that?" Xander nodded. "Will it being too chunky matter? Or could I maybe whiz it in the food processor later?"
"You could," Xander admitted. "It shouldn't matter while it cooks, right, dad?"
"It shouldn't," he agreed. "What is a food processor?"
Xander led him into the kitchen and turned theirs on, making his eyes go wide. He turned it off to look at him. "A very good way to make sure you've got pure liquid when needed."
"I see. That would be a handy thing when you're making some potions." He looked at his son. "What else have you been doing? Besides helping that brat Potter."
Xander patted him on the shoulder. "He's no more a brat than I am, father. Lay off him. Now." His father stepped back, giving him a horrified look. "You can't be a spoiled brat if you don't know what a hug is. Or when you're being used as a tool."
"You're the one who pointed that out."
"No. He and I had a lot of drinks one night and compared situations," he said honestly. "I confirmed what he was thinking and showed him other signs of it." His father scowled. "Sorry but sometimes I need it to get rid of the memories for a night."
"Why was he there?"
"Gee, dad. Let's think. An eleven-year-old boy fighting. Then every year since then. Along with rumors saying he's the very evil he's predestined to stop, and he's the only one who can stop it. Friends who aren't that supportive because they believed the rumors. Information that could help him and save his life not being given to him. Some of it being withheld on purpose. Losing the one person who actually gave a *damn* about the boy because you couldn't teach him something that he never should have been doing anyway. By the way, he did tell you Tara fixed that, right?" Snape nodded quickly. "Good. You should have seen that. She did within minutes because she *looked*. You're not looking, dad. You haven't in years because you want to be mad at him for his father's actions."
"How did you know?"
"Stupid, you told me." He glared at his father. "You're being willfully blind, father. You're using the boy just as much as the bastard who told you to put me on the hellmouth. You may not be totally on the side of good but you've made your allegiances very clear in this case. By the way, the 'each man for himself' stuff isn't going to work this time. You're going to need a more cohesive force. Not a group of people who're in it for their own gain."
"Xander, quit browbeating," Dawn called. "If he can't see it he will when people start to drop around him again."
"I know that but it's fucking hell to watch," he called back, staring his father down.
"How would you know?"
"Who do you think planned the battles in Sunnydale? Giles? He can't plan anything beyond a picnic. He's said so. I took his one for graduation and added and changed it. All he planned was luring the demon into the library and blowing it up." Snape shuddered. "I'm the one who handled the external assault. I'm the one who got us people to be in the external assault. I've planned almost every major battle we've been in. That's my skill. It's why they kept me around when they thought all I was good for was donut retrieval."
"I see. This time...."
"This time it's a war. That means it's not just *a* battle. You're fighting a guerilla war against a larger, more covert force that's trying to act in the open without exposing members. Right now you've got three tasks. To actually form a cohesive fighting force. You're going to need it. There's going to be real battles not just the sneaking around behind the scenes to stop them. You're going to need to have someone with some fucking clue plan things so you have a plan for the *whole* war. Going battle to battle means you're missing out on some of the side actions he's got going. You're not stopping his recruitment. You're not stopping him going in other areas to learn other things. This is more than him. He's got people in a lot of places they shouldn't be. Including in the Ministry and learning from wizards in other places. They're learning some fairly damaging things if he's got any brains at all. My first thing would be to learn how to use the muggle weapons and change them to work for magical uses. Because we don't expect a bomb." His father's eyes went wide. "Also, you've got to step up your training. You've got a fairly older fighting force at the moment and not much new blood. Unless this is going to be solved within a year, or less really, you're losing people you're not replacing. All he has to do is defend his lair and people and you've already lost your whole side to attrition."
"Will you help?"
"I'm tutoring where I need to."
"If we came to you for battle help?"
"Go find someone who understands how an army will roll through this world, father. There's got to be someone among the aurors or maybe the unmentionables. You have what you need but someone's stopping it from coming together as it needs to. If they're admitting he's back, then integrate and accept more help. You can test them to make sure they're yours and staying yours."
"We can." He gave his son a long stare. "You have grown up," he said finally.
"Duh. Kinda had to. Time didn't stop over there more than a few times." His father snorted at that. "Who's kidding?" Snape smirked at that. "I do have one favor to ask. No one must know that Dawn is here. I do mean no one. On either side. Being Buffy's little sister means that they could want her and I want to keep her safe."
"I can agree to that. You're going to tutor Potter?"
"Someone's got to. Not like you've done it," he said dryly. Snape grimaced. "Dad, he's not his father. Even if he's a mirror image, he's not his father. Have you seen him bullying others?" His father shook his head. "Then he's not like him. Put the past behind you so you can go into the future. Living in the past means you miss a hell of a lot of the present and have nothing to look forward to in the future."
"I could have real grandchildren."
"You could but being there made my ass sterile," Xander said dryly. "So don't get your hopes up, father. Accept Dawn as it." That got a nod. "Now, anything else? If not, I'm brewing invisibility potions."
"Because no one listens to me anyway."
"Point. I'll pass on the advice, Xander." He moved closer again. "There are others who could benefit by your knowledge."
"I know. Malfoy Junior and I have had a talk too when his father brought him to the hellmouth to intentionally lose him." Snape gave him a horrified look. "Anything else?"
"No," he agreed quietly. "I'll not tell anyone of Dawn's existence." He gave him a perfunctory hug then left.
Xander sighed and slumped against the counter. Dawn peeked out. "I hate having to kick ass verbally. It wears me out."
"Take a nap in your chair, Xander." She smiled. "Hopefully he listened more than Giles did."
"I hope so." He gave her a small grin and went to take the good advice.
She grabbed the food processor and headed back to the lab to whir her potion down to a smoother consistency. Modern appliances made potions so much easier.
Snape looked at his sixth year class, studying the two students in particular. Potter wasn't concentrating on this, but he was concentrating on something. He gave him a scathing look and Harry rubbed his forehead then shrugged. He quirked an eyebrow up and Harry shook his head. He moved closer, hissing next to him. "Is it an intrusion?"
"Gloating and dancing feelings, he found something he's been looking for," Harry said quietly. "Then being pissed because he can't get in." Snape nodded at that. "It is much easier to hear him now but the vision last night wasn't much better."
"What did you see, Potter?"
Harry looked at him. "The Knight Bus is going to be attacked some day soon. I've already told the Headmaster, McGonagall, and Spike."
"Good. Get back to work."
"I didn't know he could dance."
Snape shuddered. He knew that mood of his former boss's and he wanted to be far away from it. Things always went very bad for him when Voldemort was in that sort of mood. He went to scare and threaten the other students, finding Malfoy reading under his desk. "You're not working today?" Draco handed over a vial. "This is commercially done, Mr. Malfoy."
Draco looked at him. "No, I ran out of bottles. The rest is in my cauldron simmering." He pointed. "I had to start over due to someone's ineptitude." He glared at the girl sitting next to him.
Snape checked his potion then sneered at them both. "You need to do so again, Mr. Malfoy. It's already wrong, unless you were going to be doing a vanishing potion?"
Draco raised an eyebrow. "Can I?"
"No." He checked the sample and sneered, handing it back. "That's wrong as well." He went back to his desk. "By now you should be putting in the bark," he announced. Most of the students did that even though it wasn't quite time yet. The ones who knew what they were doing checked the time and then prepared it. A few of them just tossed in handfuls, no measuring, no weighing, no chopping up. Well, more could flunk. He had no idea how they had passed their Potions OWLs. He really didn't. Harry suddenly grabbed his forehead and his stomach. "Potter!"
"Sorry." He got up and walked out, heading for the bathroom to be sick. He heard someone come in while he was throwing up but at that moment he didn't really care. He got done and leaned against the toilet for a few minutes to catch his breath and found his most hated teacher standing there. "Sorry. He tried to intrude with an attack. Didn't but he tried really hard." He leaned against the stall wall, flushing the toilet, but leaving his eyes shut for a few minutes while he checked his shields. "My grades are going to go to hell if he keeps this up."
Snape snorted. "I think that's the least of your worries, Potter."
"Maybe." Harry felt another surge and beat it back again, this time attacking back, giving Voldemort the headache. "He's not as happy now. No more dancing after he tortured one of his death eaters with a whip." He waited and watched, but nothing else happened for a minute. He calmed himself and his stomach again, then it came back. This time it wasn't so bad. He didn't lose what was left of his breakfast. He did have a headache but he didn't let the big asshole in either. He smiled at his teacher, his eyes watering. "He can't get in." Snape just nodded once. "I'm liking it when he's frustrated. Feel a bit sorry for that one death eater though; he went after that same one again."
"He probably couldn't get away fast enough," Snape said bitterly. "Are you finished?"
"I hope so." He stood up and went to rinse out his mouth and straighten himself up. He looked at him. "Can I head to the infirmary, just in case? I don't think vomit would go well in that potion."
"It won't, it might make it explosive."
"Eww." He shook his head and went to get his books, heading up to have a nice lie down to cure the headache. The nurse gave him an odd look. "Just puked in potions. Have a headache now."
"Lie down on your usual bed, Harry." He nodded and curled up on top of the covers, his shoes underneath and out of the way. She made a note to send down to Professor Snape, getting one back that he had indeed gotten ill. Fortunately he had made it to the bathroom first.
Xander finished the last bottle and smiled at his good work. He boxed them together and put them in his bedroom, leaving one in Dawn's room. Then he went to check her homework.
"What's that stuff?"
"Vanishing potion. If we're attacked, you swallow two mouthfuls and hide in the closet."
"Okay." She came out to look over his shoulder. "I'm sucking at doing the home schooling stuff, Xander. I'm never doing anything."
"You're ahead, Dawn. I promise. You'll see that when I give you a test next week in History." He grinned at her.
"But what about the other classes? All I've done is history."
"See, there's a neat university that I always wanted to attend. What they do is you take class for four weeks. Four hours a day but you only take one class." She gave him an awed look. "You still get the same amount of classes during the year, mostly, unless you're like Willow and taking 24 credit hours a semester, but you can concentrate on that one class."
"Which is what I'm doing now," she agreed, smiling at him. "So when do I switch?"
"When you've done this year's assignments. Which should be in another few weeks. Remember, you've only got six classes you have to take."
"True." She went back to her history homework. She came back out. "The training and sparring we do most nights is my PE?" He nodded, smirking at her. "My English?"
"You're taking a literature year. Start writing book reports on the books you're reading for fun."
"One a month, Dawn."
"Even better." She went back to her history homework. The sooner she got through the workbook, the sooner she could move onto something more fun. "Can we hit the village tomorrow?" she called.
"Yup. Need more milk anyway," he agreed.
She beamed. He was spoiling her horribly!
Harry showed up again that weekend, giving Xander a sheepish look. "It's easier to fight him off but the visions are worse."
"Not your fault the buggerer's doing bad things." He gave him a punch on the arm. "Can you help me with defense stuff?"
"I've never done it magically, Harry."
"So? I don't think he's willing to go for muggle weapons but the more I know the more I can use 'em."
"True." He let him into the house and shut the door, waving at the auror blatantly watching them. "Your bodyguard?"
Harry looked then opened the door. "Hi, Tonks." He waved at her then shut it again. "She's on our side."
"Charming." He shrugged. "She showed up to ask me my intentions." He led him into the kitchen. "Food?"
"No thanks, I ate at the tables this morning." Xander smiled at that. "Your group didn't use magical defenses?"
"Wands don't work on the hellmouth."
"Ah. No wonder. So things like Tara can do were done?"
"Mostly. Now and then Willow screwed around with stuff too. Some of her accidents were very interesting." Harry grinned at that. "Willow's powerful but not always having common sense. Her emotions override her common sense now and then."
"That's putting it mildly," Dawn agreed as she came out of her bedroom. "Hi, Harry." She gave him a hug. "You're between me and the fridge." He smiled and moved, letting her get something to eat. "Did I pass the history test?"
"I sent it back to Giles to grade."
"Sure. Then I'll know later." She smiled at Harry. "Food?"
"No thanks. I ate this morning."
She chuckled. "We're not early risers."
"Yeah, well, I'd never get up in the morning if I didn't have to. Kinda goes against the whole 'patrolling half the night' thing we had going, Dawn."
"Hell, I'm impressed. You were patrolling, working full time, and then doing Anya every night." She noticed Harry's blush. "We need to introduce the two so he quits blushing."
"No thanks," Harry said sheepishly. He looked at Xander. "You've seen the castle. What's the best defense we can help me learn for that and battles?"
"Assassination and tree cutting."
"Tree cutting?" Dawn asked.
"They've got a dark magic-loaded forest around the school."
"It's supposed to protect the school if something happens," Harry admitted. "Doesn't mean I believe it at the moment."
Xander looked at him. "Good, because if he's smart he's got some of them on his side." Harry nodded. "Other than that, assassination."
"That's not very good guyish," Dawn pointed out, "but it works. Getting them before they can get you or others."
Harry looked at her. "The headmaster would never agree to that."
"Pity. It'd save a lot of lives," Dawn pointed out. "Stopping them before they get too strong or coordinated. Before they pull a victim out to sacrifice too." Xander gave her a hug. "I'm fine."
"I know you are. If we could've stopped her sooner we would have. Hell I was all for sending you over here to my father but Giles vetoed it because she'd follow and he didn't think the school could stand up to her."
"She was a hell god," she agreed bitterly. She smiled at him. "I'm fine. Even though you do cuddle very well." Xander grinned and let her go. "Thanks, big brother." She looked at Harry. "Need one?"
"No thanks. I'm lucky I managed to free myself when he had me a few years back." She stared at him. "I did."
"No one came after you?"
"He portkeyed me out."
"They can't track those things?" Xander asked. Harry gave him a horrified look. "I'd check on that. Really." He just nodded. "But for today, I wanted to see something. Dawn, take him and teach him something simple to see if he's got both." She nodded, leading him back to the lab to do that with him. Xander sat down with his book on portkeys to look that fact up. He was right, you could. He got up and walked outside with the book, looking at the auror. "He was taken and you guys didn't track him?"
"We weren't sure how," she defended.
"Wasn't it obviously a portkey?"
"Could've been an apparation." Xander stared at her until she fidgeted. "Well..." He held open the book so she could see it. "Some of us suggested it, Xander."
"Tonks, pick a side," he sighed. "I've dated women who're demons who're nicer to me than you are to your hero." He walked off again, not slamming the door. No wonder the kid needed help. He sent that factoid to Spike with his owl then settled in to read more on that subject. It was getting more and more clear that someone here needed the foot of experience up their asses. Maybe a few of them.
Spike looked at the owl when it flew into his classroom, taking the message. "Thanks, bird." It hooted and flew off, heading for home. He looked at it then growled. "What the bloody hell!" He got up and stormed down to the potion's dungeon, pounding on the door. "They took him and you didn't trace your own hero?"
"It was a portkey. How obvious was it?"
"We weren't allowed," he said more quietly. Spike glared at him. "Those who suggested it got told they weren't sure how he was taken."
"He would've died if he wasn't so fast on his feet."
"Probably true," he agreed. "Where is he?"
"With your son."
"Good. The more I see how my son is changing him the better I like it."
Spike gave him a look. "Uh-huh. No wonder Giles sent me over ta help the whelp." He walked off shaking his head. The more he saw the more he knew that Buffy would've kicked asses and made fun of the clothes. Angel would've tortured most of the good guys for being such blighters too. He ran into the headmaster, glaring at him. "You didn't track the portkey?"
"We weren't sure that's how he was taken."
"Uh-huh," Spike said dryly. "Two boys can't apparate together, Albus." He looked horrified. "You can't reach over and grab something to apparate it that way either, or at least you couldn't when I was taught here." The headmaster stepped back. "You know I fought with the slayer. The same as you know Snape's son did. If we've got to step in, we will. Even though the whelp's claiming he's retired and tutoring others in potions."
"Is that where Harry is?"
"Snape said he needed the tutoring. Sent him to his boy."
"I see. What else might he be teaching him?"
"Well, first we severed the old link in his head and moved it so it's not killing him. Now he can control it." Dumbledore looked horrified. "He's a seer, Albus," he sneered. "Had to do it before to Druscilla." The headmaster shuddered and walked off. "At least you know the boy's safe there."
"Thank you, Spike."
Spike smirked at his back. "No, thank you for confirming some things," he said quietly, going back to his rooms to think and pace. He finally made a decision and headed through the floo and back to the house, making Xander wave from his reading. "You knew?"
"About the portkey? Today. Dawn let slip that she had been taken and Harry told her he had to get himself free." He looked at him. "I'm feeling the looming weight of 'we have to do something', Spike. I'm all for helping the boy, and Malfoy if he needs it."
"I agree," he sighed. "But we'll need help."
"Tara was here last weekend to work on him. Willow said she'd come help if we need it to. The boy's got good instincts. He asked what was the best defense I could teach him. I told him assassination." Spike's face split in a grin. "I did." He smirked back. "It might help too. Either that or whittling down their forces."
"Could be handy, yeah. It's the silent supporters you'll need to watch out for."
"I know. There's probably a lot of those." He shrugged and shifted. "Phone?"
"Yeah. Could use some stuff from the poof."
"Behind you on the table. Giles wanted a call too to pick on you about teaching."
"We're clear on helping the bit?"
"She's got a vanishing potion in her room. She can hide if they come here until she can get away."
"Good." He took the phone and went to the basement to call in private. The rest of the house was too sunny. "Bitchy, put on the poof please? Yes it is on Xander's phone. Because I'm helping him protect Dawn and the world over here." The phone was handed over with a screamed 'Angel, Spike needs help saving the world and Dawn' on that end. He listened to the tired voice. "I'm in Scotland. Been keeping up with the news outta the old school?" He smirked. "Exactly. The whelp is. No, I'm teaching Defense and could use a good model or two," he teased. "Plus that. They didn't track the portkey when their hero was stolen," he sneered. He listened then smirked. "The boy asked the best defense. Whelp told him assassination actually."
"And to cut the trees from the forbidden forest," Harry said from behind him. He smiled. "More help?"
"Definitely. What'd she send you for?"
"Moonstones?" Spike pointed at a box so he dug into it. "Thanks." He went back upstairs.
Spike listened to Angel. "He's a sixth year. About fourth year by what I learned and what you did." He nodded twice. "Could help. I'm teaching at the school, bring me some demonstration models," he teased. He straightened up. "You think he would?" He nodded. "Even better. Send me what I need and some O-positive?" He smiled. "Magiced." He nodded. "True. Still tastes nearly as bad as pig. Thanks, poof." He hung up and smirked. "Even better," he agreed happily. He walked back up the stairs, avoiding the sunlight, nodding at the woman in the living room. "He's sending me Lucky Charms for my blood."
"At least I don't have to watch you do that while I eat," Xander said with a slightly evil smirk. "How is Cordy?"
"She was when we were dating too." He shrugged. Then he looked at the auror. "What's up again?"
"He should be in school."
"I'm tutoring him in potions. He's helping with the one we did last weekend."
"I'm sure that's all your doing," she said, giving him a look. "Some of us would help if you'd let us."
"Good. I've heard he found out I had someone bless the cemetery dirt I brought over. Means he's got to send someone to Sunnydale to gather some more. We saw Malfoy senior there in the past." She looked horrified. "Have fun with that and remember, wands don't work on the hellmouth." She nodded and ran off to tell someone. He looked at Spike. Then he shrugged. "One less Willow has to deal with."
"True. Makes her cranky." He looked around then at him. "Why did Giles want a call?"
"Because he wants to taunt you." He grinned. "You know you like the Giles taunting."
"True. He's a good one to rile." He called him. "Mate," he said dryly. "I'll tell her. You wanted a call?" He listened to the quiet, firm instructions. "Won't work. Because they didn't track the boy when he was stolen by portkey," he said dryly. He looked at Xander. "He doesn't want you fighting."
"I'm tutoring in potions and letting others in the books if they need it," Xander said with a shrug. "Tell him Dawn's got a way to hide."
"She's got a way to hide and no one knows she's here," Spike told him. He nodded at that and smirked. "Works for us. She's working with the boy now to see if he's got it or not. Thanks." He hung up. "He's sending Willow with stuff. Including Wesley."
Xander snatched the phone and hit redial. "Giles, leave them there until someone comes to get the cemetery dirt. They found out I had blessed the stuff I brought," he told him. "Yeah. They'll have to if they're going with this plan. Well, who better, Giles? Then they can come over." He smiled. "That works. Oh, tell Tara she was right. He's having real visions now. Thanks." He listened. "Cool. Thanks." He hung up. "Dawn, you passed your history final. Move to English now and then and Social Studies."
Spike smirked at him. "Having flashbacks yet?"
"I hope not. Though Angel did threaten to send Cordelia with Wes." He went back to his reading. "Needed help for class?"
"Could use a few demonstration models."
"Create illusions, Spike."
"Can't without a wand."
Xander looked at him. "Nothing I've ever read about vampires keeps them from doing magic, Spike."
"Angel snapped my wand."
"So get another one. Not like you're like the human you were when you got fitted." Spike gaped. "Go. Really. Get a refresher set of books too." He handed him some money. "Shoo. Cloak's in the front closet."
Spike got up to get that and headed off to Diagon, staying in the shadows. He slipped into Olivander's and away from the windows before removing his hood. "Need a new wand. My old one got snapped by my sire years ago."
Ollivander looked at him. "William Weasley?" Spike smiled and nodded. "You're a vampire?"
"Known as Spike," he agreed dryly. "Teaching defense now, mate. That's why I need my wand again."
"It's been nearly a century."
"It has. Damn tired of the wandless magic too." Ollivander just nodded and went to find him a wand. "Remember Druscilla Black when you fitted her?" he called.
"Yes, confused little thing. Thought being a witch was a bad thing."
"Angelus turned her after driving her barmy. True seer and all." Ollivander shuddered. "Last I heard she was in Brazil shagging some slime demon." He took the first wand and tried it, shaking his head and putting it back. The next few were amusing but not right. He liked destruction as much as the next guy but it wouldn't help him any. He finally found the right one a few later and put some money down, getting a smile and some change. He pointed it above his head. "Obscurus sol." A dark cloud gathered above him and he sighed in pleasure. "Much better." He smiled at the shopkeeper. "Thanks, mate. It'll help me teaching the kiddies at the school." He headed off, going to look in the bookstore. He had a few he wanted to get again.
"That poor boy," Ollivander sighed. "He had such promise. Turned so young."
Spike made it back to the school and dropped the dark spot. The castle was dark enough inside to be a tomb in most spots. He headed for his classroom, running into McGonagall. He gave her a wicked grin. "Talked to my sire, he's sending me books and stuff."
"Congratulations. What is going on with Mr. Potter?"
"Snape's whelp is tutoring him in potions."
"What else is he teaching him?"
"Probably how to survive, ducks. Whelp's like that." He grinned at her. "Used ta date a vengeance demon."
She blinked at that. "Why would *anyone* want to do that?"
"She had been human there for a bit while they were dating."
"Oh." She grimaced. "Poor sod. Anything else?"
Spike looked at her, then he changed the color of her clothes to bright, dayglo purple, but left her green hat. "Nope. Not at the moment. But he is a good sounding board since he used ta fight too." He strolled off, letting her fuss with the colors. He went down to see Snape, making him bright green.
Snape looked at himself, then at him. "Not amusing." He ended the spell. "Have a good chat?"
"Angel's sending me stuff." He smirked. "Got a few books too. Who knows about your boy?"
"Blew it to McGonagall."
"She probably wheedled it out of him by now," he admitted. "It's safer if they don't know."
"No, it's safer if your buddies don't know. If it gets back to them we've got a leak, mate."
"We already knew that, Spike."
"Huh. Well, I guess Willow and he'll be good together again soon."
"What can Rosenburg do here?"
"A lot. She's a bit powerful, Snapey."
"Quit calling me that."
"Tough." He smirked and walked off, heading back to his rooms to practice a bit. His illusions were going to be very realistic when he taught about things. Scare the kiddies in class to no end. Make him have a happy day or two. He'd almost do this without pay with as much fun as he was having.
Harry looked at his first wandless spell, then gaped in awe. "I did that?"
Dawn looked at the very large ball of light. "Yup, you did that." She banished it and looked at him. "Know how it happened?" He nodded. "Let's see if we can do what you can do with your wand without it then."
"That is an advanced lesson, Miss Summers," Xander said from the doorway, lounging against it with a smirk. "For right now, we'll need him able to do that sort of magic and able to practice it. It'll give you a helper and study buddy if something happens. Since I know you're taking lessons from Tara." Dawn blushed but nodded. "I don't care as long as you don't start having accidents like Willow did."
"Of course I'm sure." He shrugged. "You're following the light path, you're not using it for personal gain, you're not having accidents that endanger lives or sanity. It'll probably save your life some day. I'm all for it. But you have the skills to use both and I'm going to make sure you can use both." She nodded at that, looking solemn. "Another reason you're so loose in your homework this year. Next year it'll be harder." She smiled at that. "Okay. So we can tutor Harry?"
"We can. Can we work with each other?"
"I would appreciate that. Harry?" He shrugged and nodded. "Good. Then work that out but it's nearly dinner time and he's got to go back before the supposedly scary auror comes back again."
"She is a bit scary," Harry offered.
"Harry, I dated a former vengeance demon. My ex Anya could warp her mind and then make her a shopping buddy and pack mule."
"He did date very scary women," Dawn agreed. "Including a mummy that got brought back to life." Harry gave them horrified looks. "That's Sunnydale, Harry."
"Remind me to never travel," he said as he got up, helping her clean up their mess. "I'll be back next weekend after the game."
Xander gave him a hug. "Kick ass for us." He nodded and left, heading back to the school. Xander looked at her. "What failed earlier?"
"A 'seeing your love' spell."
"Huh. That doesn't work real well when you've suppressed that part of you, Dawn."
"I told him that and he got the point it could also mean he'd be dead before then."
"No, he won't die a virgin. It'll cause problems and make him a possible sacrifice if he's one for too much longer. Speaking of." She blinked at him. "Yes, that was permission to date but I'd better be seeing you taking the pills every single day, Dawn Summers. Before you're eighteen."
"No I'm not kidding. Blood magic is one of the most powerful and foul of all things. So when you're ready to date I'm good with that but be very careful that they're not doing it to gain power when they take your virginity. Didn't Giles or someone have this talk with you?"
"No," she said slowly.
"Oh, crap," he muttered. "Giles!" He appeared through a portal. "You never gave her the magical blood is a powerful curse to virgins speech?"
"No, not yet. She's only fourteen."
"I do know what sex is, Giles. Have for a few years."
He sighed and nodded. "Come along, Dawn. We'll do that and make sure you can be on some decent birth control. Then we'll let Willow and Tara take you shopping. Xander, Anya would like a call."
Xander grimaced. "I'm not sure that's a good idea."
"I heard. She understood why and agreed that she'd hate to be poor forever. Still she'd like to keep up the friendship."
"I wouldn't care about that part, but maybe she'd like someone like Angel instead? He could keep up with her."
Giles smirked. "You're supposed to work for the light, Xander. Torturing others does not go well with that goal." He disappeared with Dawn.
"Yeah, but it's damn fun when it's Angel," Xander said happily. He went to take a nap. It was a good afternoon for a nap. Dawn was in good hands, Spike was happily able to torture others now, and Harry had his week of things to think about. He did stop to send a note to Harry that Dawn was home for a few days and that he hadn't registered on that spell either because he was repressing things too deeply. Then he went to his nap. It was a good afternoon for a nap. It even started to rain outside. Then he realized he had done that and ended the rain shower. It would look odd if anyone saw just their house being rained on.
Spike looked at the boys in front of him. "You two were loud enough to wake me from a nap," he said dryly, shaking his head. "Can't you two learn not to piss on each other?"
Draco glared at him. "This is none of your business, Professor."
"It is. I'm a professor now," he sneered back. "Malfoy, you had such promise. You could've followed in my footsteps."
"I'd rather be living," he said blandly.
Harry looked at him. "According to Dawn being undead isn't so bad."
"Dawn?" Draco drawled, sneering at him. "Seeing someone finally, Potter?"
Spike smacked him on the head. "Buffy's little sister was in for the day. Harry, we don't mention her," he reminded him.
"Sorry, I thought he knew," he admitted. "Xander told me he had been over there."
"True but that's before Dawn was around all the time." He looked at Malfoy, who gave him a horrified look. "What?"
Draco swallowed. "Xander made a point to me before school began."
"Now and then the brat does make sense," he agreed dryly. "About what?"
"About how not all my goals were in line with other's."
"True," Spike agreed. "I can treat you like a minion for a few days if you want. Just to make sure you know." Draco sneered at him for that suggestion. "Good. Now, Harry. What was today's about since you were screaming?"
"He was bullying a few first years. It's pathetic."
"It is," Spike agreed, "though I like it a lot." Draco realized what he was saying and quickly shook his head. "You sure?"
"Quite. Thank you."
"Welcome." He smirked at him. "You know, the brat's tutoring in potions."
"I'm good in there."
"But everyone could use some help now and then," Harry pointed out. Draco sneered at him. "Malfoy, that's so you can go see him if you needed to talk."
"Point," he said grimly. "I don't think I do."
"Fine. I'm being tutored by him. I need it," Harry said, making Spike nod. "I'm doing good in here."
"You are. It's amazing." He put an arm around the boy's neck, giving it a squeeze. "We should talk about other things though, Potter."
"Don't like her like that, Spike."
"Good. Why not?"
"She's pretty and bouncy but I'd like someone quieter. Someone who wanted to be quiet and away from others with me."
"You're going to turn into a hermit?" Draco said, looking amused. "That's one way to make sure you're not in the papers again."
"And that no one bothers me," Harry agreed. "Are we done with this very strange conversation? I'm having a headache."
Spike nodded. "You've both got detention with me when I get the stuff from my sire. Could use the help putting them up."
"Wonderful. Thanks, really," Draco said blandly. "Anything else?"
"Pick on someone your own size, Malfoy. It's not making you look that big and bad. Really." Draco walked off shaking his head. "He'll learn when they all believe he's harmless."
"That could be a plan," Harry said dryly. He grinned. "Thanks, Spike. What are you getting from LA?"
"Lucky Charms for my blood. A few demonstration models. A former Watcher and one of us back ta help." Harry blinked at that. "Wesley Wyndham-Pryce." Harry gaped and he nodded. "He's a former Watcher and helping my sire. Who was one of us. So was Dru," he admitted. "You should look 'em up." Harry just nodded and went to do that. Spike smirked at being able to confound the young man. Though Malfoy did have promise. If he had to nominate for Dawn's future boyfriend he'd nominate him. It'd be a fiery match and no one would ever touch her again. Plus she'd never walk right with what he heard of Malfoy's other reputation. He'd have to mention that to the boy, see if he'd blow up and throw massive fits or not. Not fun if he wouldn't.
Harry sat down across from his friends. "I just found out that a few other wizards were in Sunnydale. Spike's sire and Dark Princess were both fellow students." Hermione stared in horror. "As well as a former Watcher named Wesley Wyndham-Pryce."
"Oh, bloody hell, Harry, he used to play Quidditch against Charley," Ron said, looking stunned. Harry beamed at that. "He's coming?"
"With the stuff Spike's sire is sending. He wanted Lucky Charms for his blood."
"Why would he be putting luck charms on his blood?" Ron asked, looking confused.
"Lucky Charms is a cereal with little marshmallows," Hermione said with a small shudder. "Why is he putting that in his blood?"
"Texture," Harry told him. "Xander warned me during one of the potions tutoring lessons."
"How is that going?" she asked.
"Fairly well. We talk. He's from Sunnydale as well. So he's teaching me practical things at the moment." That got a smile. "Spike suggested we look the others up. Just in case they come over."
"Sure," Ron agreed. "I wonder if Mr. Wyndham-Pryce is thinking about going back to quidditch."
"I don't know," Harry said. "You can ask him when he brings Spike stuff from his sire. I'm going to be helping put things up with Malfoy. Got detention."
Ron smirked at him. "Caught him picking on the first years again?"
"Yup. So he's either very pathetic or doesn't want anyone to know he's powerful enough to take on Snape." That got a horrified look. "He is. We are." He got up to head down to the library. He did want to know more about the vampires who were wizards before. Plus to see if they had any types of spells they couldn't cast. They found the student books on a dusty back shelf and sat down to look at them. He found Spike's entry. "It says he's missing." He went back a few years, finding Druscilla's. Her name wasn't that common. "Here's his Dark Kitten's. She's listed as missing as well."
Ron took the book to look over. "She was a Black?"
"Apparently." He grinned. "Go forward to look at Spike's, Ron." Ron did that then let out a shriek and stomped off. He grinned at Hermione. "Spike's a relative of his."
"They have the same temper," she agreed, taking it back to look over. Then she went to talk to the librarian, who was scowling. "He found out he's related to the defense teacher. Why is he listed as 'missing' in the book?"
"He should be listed as vampire." She came over to look, frowning. "That's odd. That's not the correct handwriting for that period."
"Druscilla Black's is the same way," Harry told him. "I'm still looking for his sire's but he went here too. Liam.... Don't quite know his last name but he's just over two hundred." She found the entry and scowled. "Is he listed as missing?"
"In the same handwriting. That is not good. Thank you for finding this, children." She took it and went to talk to the headmaster. He had better have a very good explanation of why he had messed in the history rolls.
Harry looked at Hermione. "Liam O'Rourke."
She nodded and went to look him up in the other books available to them. She came back with a few, letting him have the ones with Druscilla. "He was handsome."
"He probably still is," Harry pointed out. "Maybe that's why he named himself Angelus."
"True." She went over it then stared at him. "Angelus?" He nodded. "That's the same as Spike's sire, Angel?"
"Soul restoration spell so he changed his name to Angel according to someone visiting my potion's tutor."
"Well!" She got up and found another book, bringing it back. It was a bit more dusty but that was fine with her. She got into it and frowned. "This says they can't do magic once they're turned."
"Fat chance that," Harry said dryly, leaning on his books. "We both saw Spike's illusions." She looked at him. "He doesn't have a soul."
"Then we're making assumptions magically," she said quietly. "Or they're not the average vampire."
"We should find out," Harry agreed. She nodded, going back to her research. "Should we bring the book and ask?"
"He'll lie, Harry. He's a soulless creature."
"So? Spike finds things amusing."
"He does," she agreed dryly. "Like scaring the first years."
"I thought it was our year since he seems to like to make Padma cry."
She looked at him. "I've noticed that habit." He held up Druscilla's picture. "Hmm. Both Patil twins are very close looking to her," she agreed. "Interesting." She went back to reading. "Ah," she said a bit later. "Here we are. Vampires wands often reject them. Therefore they're magicless from then on."
"What about other types of magic?" Harry asked quietly.
"That's a myth, Harry," she said with fond tolerance.
"It was their type that moved the bond so it wasn't as intrusive." She blinked at him and he nodded. "It was."
"How?" He grinned. "Who?"
"A witch from the hellmouth."
"Could it only work there?"
"I was at Xander's house. Now, he did say wands didn't work there." She sighed and got up to start research on that. "I wasn't asking...."
"I know but it could become important, Harry," she noted as she went to find references. The librarian was back. "Harry's potion tutor is from the same town as Spike and he said they had magical problems there. Would we have any references?" The librarian blinked at her. "Madam Pince?" She continued to blink. "Are you under a curse?" The woman collapsed. "I'll take that as a yes. Someone get Pomfrey, Madam Pince just collapsed," she yelled, sending some students running for help. She and Harry got down to help her. They were good at this. The nurse came running in. "She went to see why some students were mislabeled in the historical roll book and she came back like this apparently. I asked her about an area of study and she just blinked at me then collapsed when I asked her if she had been cursed."
"Oh, dear. We've had a few of these recently. I have no idea who's doing it." She got her onto a stretcher and carried her off to the infirmary.
"Really?" Hermione asked, looking at Harry. "Spike?"
"Not his style. Who would she have asked about the entries?"
"Dumbledore or McGonagall."
"You take her I'm going to talk to Spike about what we've found. Check those out for us, Hermione. Plus the one on Ron's hero." She smiled and got the stamps to do that, then they headed their separate ways. He tapped on the defense classroom door, walking in. "Got a few?"
"Of course," he agreed with a lazy smirk. "Found 'em?"
"In a manner of speaking. Druscilla and Liam are both listed as 'missing' in the historical rolls book. So are you. Madam Pince was told and went to find out why. She came back cursed or something."
Spike nodded. "Seen a few of those around here. Seen it on McGonagall once or twice too. Snape too."
"I've .... Oh, that thing that makes him sit at his desk and stare off now and then," he said, looking awed. Spike nodded. "You caught him in an episode?"
"I did," Spike agreed smugly. "What else did you find?"
"That vampires can't do magic with a wand." Spike pulled his and Harry backed up. "I know you can. I've seen you. I also noticed Padma looks a little bit like your kitten." Spike grinned at that. "Also I noticed that Hermione thinks that the other sorts of magics are myths."
"Most of them think we are."
"Interesting. You know he's teaching me that too, right?"
"Makes sense," Spike agreed blandly. "More protection for you."
"Good." Harry relaxed and let him see the books. Spike tapped a paragraph and he looked it over. "Huh. Wands can be used to track their owners." He looked at him. "Did Angelus snap yours because of that reason or because of the belief that you couldn't use this sort of magic again?"
"Mostly the second but he knew we could do the other sort. Darla dabbled now and then and she wasn't one of us. It's an older tradition when you find a wand on a new vampire to snap it. They don't get on well with our demons. We start to kill ourselves to kill the demon. You see it now and then on those possessed too." Harry straightened up a bit at that. "What?"
"Just thinking. The wizard or witch would presumably try to free themselves? That's how they do it?" Spike shrugged. "No idea?"
"Heard it as hearsay not seeing it, Potter."
"Very interesting." He looked at him. "This tracking them by their wands, would that help us?"
"Could," Spike agreed casually, a clear indication Harry was onto something.
"Thank you, Spike. Let me read more on that and then come back?"
"If you want," he agreed, smirking at him. "At least you don't ask dumb questions."
"No, I ask those to Hermione." That got a loud laugh and a clap on the back. "Thanks, Spike." He headed out, going back to their research. He put the book down in front of Hermione, tapping that same paragraph. She blinked at him. "Are you cursed too?"
"No," she said, blinking at him. "Do you know what that means?"
"Yes, and mine's the brother to his wand." She squealed and hugged him. "Also, he said that wands and demons don't get along."
"Most wands are made with things from creatures typically associated with the light," she pointed out. "Not too many are made with truly dark creatures."
"Spike said that you see it on people who're possessed too. That's why they snap them when they find them on fledges." He sat down. "That it's been known to happen to wizards who've been possessed before too. That their wand will attack the demon."
"Interesting," she said slowly. She got up and went to hunt information.
Ron came back, not looking happy. "He magicked me into the forest after calling me an annoying roadblock to the family name." He sat down, glaring at him. "I don't like him."
"I think he's a bit like Bill," Harry told him. "Or you could tell your father."
Ron gave him an odd look. "Are you turning evil by learning from him, Harry? My father would throw fits."
"Point." He went to write to his mother instead. And the twins because they'd get a kick out of it.
Harry smiled and went back to learning about the three vampire wizards they knew about and the watcher who was coming over and had been one.
Xander looked up at the sound of a motorcycle. "I can't believe he made that thing fly," he said dryly, getting up and opening the door. "Hey, Wes. Dawn." She got off and hugged him then drug her new bag into the bedroom. He looked at him. "Bringing stuff for Spike?"
"Indeed," he sighed. "Or at least opening the portal so he can get what he needs." They shared a look. "I never knew you were a wizard."
"That's because my father liked you." He nodded and Wes parked his bike and came inside. "My father's Snape."
"Oh dear Lord," he whispered, staring at him. "It's not that obvious."
"I wash my hair."
"Point." He gave him a hug and a smile. "At least you're back where you belong. Where did you learn to use a wand?"
"Went here. With Ethan." Wesley moaned and sighed, sitting down. "So I got tutored."
"It's probably for the best with where you were stuck." He looked at him. "How is your father?"
"Cranky. Was he anything else?"
"When he was younger," he admitted with a small smile. "Now and then."
"I don't want to know if you dated my father, Wes."
"Fair enough." He stood up again. "Now, what's going on?"
"Oh, a ghoul has an army, is trying to take over the wizarding world to remove muggles from it, and their hero is a disposable boy. A sixth year." Wesley blinked at that. "Exactly. I'm tutoring him in potions." He grinned sweetly.
"Applying some of the Sunnydale wisdom?"
"Fully. Oh, and we're teaching him Willow magic too."
"Good! It can only help him!" He looked at Dawn, then back at him.
"No one but dad, Harry, and one other know she's here and they're sworn to secrecy. All I've said when I had to was that she's the slayer's sister."
"Excellent." He gave him another hug and grinned. "Do you practice wandless magic?"
"I suck at it. I don't have the focus."
"Ah. Understandable. It does take more." He smiled at the boy. "Let me get with Spike and then I'll be back, Xander. We'll catch up?"
"Sure." Wes nodded and smiled at Dawn. Then he left, taking his flying motorcycle off to the school.
"Wow." Dawn gave him a hug. "Okay, I'm fully pilled and things." He smiled at that. "For six months then I'll need to go back to get more." He nodded, giving her a cuddle. "Willow said they've had hints that someone's coming over to get cemetery dirt from Buffy's grave."
"Won't help them more than taking it from near the school." She smiled at that. "It's cool. Go unpack." She bounced off to do that. He hoped Spike liked his surprises.
Wesley landed in front of the school and parked, grabbing a bag off his saddlebags. He nodded at the teacher who came out to glare at him. "Spike requested some things from LA, Professor McGonagall."
"Wesley?" He nodded and she came down to hug him. "What are you doing here? Or there?" She pulled back to look at him. "You look a bit tough in that leather, young man."
"Yes, but it's a long flight from LA, Professor." He gave her a gentle smile. "I'm working with the Warrior of the Light, Angel."
"The vampire Angel? Spike's sire?"
Wesley smirked and nodded. "He's souled and they don't get on very well but yes. Spike called up and asked him for a few things so I'm facilitating."
"That's fine then. You can't open a portal inside."
"Of course not, but I can do it on the lawn."
"True. Come in. You're not turned, right?"
"Outside in the sun, Professor," he noted blandly. "Though I am hunting demons." He walked in, looking at the old place. "It really does only get more gloomy, doesn't it?"
She nodded. "It seems that way," she agreed, leading him to Spike's classroom. "Spike?" He opened the door. "He's here to bring you things from your sire. Wesley, do stay when you're done so we can catch up."
"Of course. I'll shelter the night with Xander so I can catch up there as well." She smiled and went back to her classroom. "Angel said I'm opening a portal for you?"
"Let me get the twats I've got in detention." He summoned a house elf. "Get me Potter, Malfoy, and Ron Weasley. Their detentions are being called." It nodded and hurried off. He followed him outside, looking at the bike. "You flew Nibblet over from LA on that?"
"She had a great time, Spike. It's good for a girl her age to have a bit of naughty excitement now and then. Keeps them on the straight and narrow." Spike smirked at that. "It will for her. Where are we putting it?"
"Hmm. Next to the classroom. Then I'll shrink and make them harmless so we can cage them." Wesley nodded, walking that way with him so they could open up the portal and start caging demons.
The headmaster came out, frowning at them. "What are you doing?"
"Getting in specimens. I'll make 'em safe," Spike promised. The boys trudged out. "You lot, come help cage them."
"Eww," Draco said, staring in horror. "What is that?"
Spike looked then at him. "The thing Dru went to shag insteada me. Literally," he said with an evil smirk. He shrunk him. "There, now put it in a cage and put it upstairs."
Harry summoned cages and they got to work shrinking them and stuffing them into cages. He nodded at the man who stepped through. "Angel."
"Harry Potter. Xander's tutoring me in Potions."
"Oh. I'm so sorry." He shook his hand. Then he looked at Spike, tossing him a box of Lucky Charms. "Anything else, childe?"
Spike grinned. "No hug, sire?"
"Hell no," he said flatly, staring at him. "What is going on?" Spike pulled him away from the portal so he could whisper in his ear, watching him stiffen then nod. "Agreed. Need Wes to help give a few lectures?"
"I wouldn't mind now and then. Give him a break from all the demons."
"It would," Wesley agreed, "and I have nothing against it. I did learn a great deal about them with the Watchers Council." The headmaster gave him a horrified look. "I was. I was even assigned to Buffy and Faith there for a while. That's how I met the amusing people in Sunnydale."
Angel looked at him. "I didn't think the tunneling demon hit you that hard, Wes."
"He didn't, Angel, but it was amusing to watch them try to rein in Miss Rosenburg now and then. Rupert's slowly going insane with those children."
"He is insane," Spike said with a smirk. "Even though they've split up a bit now and then."
"I've heard. How are you dealing, Spike? I know you and she were close."
"I'm fine. It's the way those things are. She died doing what she should've." Angel nodded at that. "It's the big git here who was in love with her."
"Fine. Angel, are you sure I can have the week off to help him with upcoming lectures?"
"I'm sure. Tell us if you need Cordy and the others."
"I shall. Thank you. I'll be back in just over a week." He smiled and shook his hand. "Water my herb garden please."
"Of course. Check on the one girl for me too."
"I just flew her back and she's doing wonderfully. We chatted the whole flight," he promised, earning a smile. "Have a good day, Angel." He nodded and disappeared. A bag came flying out and he looked at Cordelia. "What's that?"
"The laundry you left, Wes. I'm not your maid." The portal was closed.
Wesley smiled and put it onto his bike, helping the others get the demons inside. "Well, I'm yours for a week, Spike."
"Thanks. Can't touch some of the light buggers and you know the nancy poof back there wouldn't send any."
"Of course he wouldn't. He can't touch them either. They are anathema to your kind." He smiled at the boys. "Hello. Wesley Wyndham-Pryce," he said, shaking their hands.
"Ron Weasley. You played against my brother Charley."
"I did. I loved to knock him off his broom as well," he agreed happily. He smirked at Draco. "You and I should speak."
"Whyever for?" he asked, sounding amused.
"Because I was Head Boy of your house, Mr. Malfoy." Draco gaped in horror. "There are more things that you probably haven't learned about your house. Or have you broken into the stash?"
"No. It's bloody mythical!" he said hotly. Dumbledore coughed. "That is an inner-house matter," he said firmly.
"Let me talk with Spike for a bit and then I'll be down there. Tell Severus I'll see him soon as well." That got a nod and Draco took off at a fast walk. "Thank you, boys. We'll get them fed and all that." They nodded and left. "Mr. Potter, I look forward to talking to you about how your tutoring is going as well."
"I'll be here. Not like I live somewhere else," he said with a smirk and a wink, heading off.
"He's a cheeky bint," Spike said dryly.
"Yes, but that is the key to surviving horrible things. Just look at certain blonde young woman," Wesley reminded him, giving him a look. "How are you really doing, Spike?"
"M'fine. Don't worry about it. Why so touchy-feely?"
"I flew Dawn over from LA. She explained a few things we hadn't known."
"Huh. Should spank her." He made a shooing motion. "Go play. Let me play with my new toys."
"Of course. Don't break them too much. A few might need to be taken back home when you're done with them." Spike nodded so he left, going to find Draco down in Potions. He tapped then walked in. "Severus."
"Wesley," he said, staring at him. "Mr. Malfoy, he'll speak with you in a bit."
"Fine. Go ahead and shag and then send him to me." Snape glared at him so he disappeared.
Wesley smiled. "It's good to see my manners are being kept up."
"Unfortunately so." He stood up. "Why are you here?"
"Spike asked Angel for some things and we've had updates from Xander." He moved closer. "I had no idea he was your son. I discounted him horribly when I was in Sunnydale, Severus. Why didn't you tell me?"
"I didn't want it to become public knowledge. Others could go after him."
"Not there they wouldn't. Especially since those girls around him thought he was only theirs to torture and hurt." He moved closer.
"Don't touch me."
"I'm an adult and so are you, Severus. I have no intention of toppling you into bed this time." Snape sneered at him. He laid a hand on his cheek and the look modified. "I wish things had been different, Severus. I cursed my father for months. He died of it eventually." Snape slumped. "I wish I could have stayed." He took another step closer and kissed him. "I'm so sorry he made me leave."
Snape nodded. "I wish it had been different as well." He looked at him. "Leather?"
"I was riding my motorcycle."
"Why?" he sighed.
Wesley smiled. "To get the feeling of life back, Severus. All I saw was death there for a bit. Why your son tried to go on a trip and Miss Rosenburg stopped him."
"He told me. Was she punished?"
"We didn't know until he removed it with Buffy's death. They thought he came back on his own and I got recalled back to the Council by then." Severus nodded. "Now I'm hunting things with Spike's sire." His pulse was checked. "The Warrior for the Light, Sev." He shuddered. "He has a soul."
"That doesn't make him any different."
"True." He gave him another kiss then stepped back. "We should catch up."
"We should. My office?"
"A bit impersonal and we could be interrupted."
"True." He led him to a room he had shielded and sat down with him in there. It was good to see him again.
Snape found his son and 'granddaughter' shopping for herbs a few weeks later and looked at him. "How are you affording this?"
Xander looked at him. "Don't worry about it." He gave him a pat on the arm. "As long as Giles keeps paying for Dawn's clothes we'll be good." He looked at him. "Plus I've had to do a bit of tomb raiding back there. All sorts of things that shouldn't fall into undead or demony hands. Giles wanted those and I could have anything else I found. He brought the trunk over and handed it back. So I've arranged to sell most of it already. That'll keep me for a few years at least, even if I do have to buy Dawn new clothes." Dawn gave him a look. "What? You're more expensive than I am. I can buy jeans and t-shirts and live like that. Fashionable stuff is always more expensive."
"Point." She smiled at the professor. "Hi, Granddad."
He glared at her. "Do not call me that."
"But I'm as close as you're coming."
"You may be but that doesn't make it a reality."
"Reality is how you see it," she quipped then smiled. "Are you sure I need the newt parts?" They both gave her a look so she sighed and got some of the slimy newt parts too. The salesgirl gave her a small smile. "It's tough being tutored by that one," she said, pointing at Xander.
"Are you a witch like us?"
"She's a squib but my thing is potions so while she's living with me her thing is potions," Xander said dryly. That got a nod. He handed over his list once Dawn's was done, getting a smile. "Acne stuff for her back," he agreed. She giggled but went to get him the ingredients he needed. He looked at his father again. "Run out of things too? Dawn had an accident and tipped over my component case."
"What did she do wrong?"
Xander just gave him a look. "If I told you it'd get around and then I'd be in trouble."
"One of those things, I see. What are you doing, Xander?"
"Tutoring in potions."
Snape moaned. "At least Mr. Potter's grades have marginally improved."
"Good. I'm glad. How's his defense grade?"
"Better. He and Spike seem to have come to some sort of agreement that they're going to bother Mr. Weasley this year."
"Spike's a relative. It's his right." Snape gaped at him. He smiled sweetly. Dawn took a picture and then paid the nice lady once she had all of Xander's bags. "They're marked, right?"
"Yes, sir. All marked on the bags."
"Thank you. Dawn, go ahead and put them together, just don't put anything squishable on the bottom." She nodded and did that, because she was good at packing things. "Did you bring back the bag I asked Giles to retrieve from Anya?"
"I did. It's in your room in your sock drawer since no one ever seems to go in there."
"Wait until winter, Dawn. You'll see socks then." He took her arm. "What else did we need?"
"Hooter needs food. I still don't have the cat you said I could have. And you need more laundry detergent and to recharm the washer we've got."
"Okay." He smiled at his father. "Join us?"
"In a few moments. Let me pick up my own order."
"Professor Snape, we don't have one thing but we can send it to you free of charge when it gets in," she promised, handing over the package for him.
"Thank you. The payment went through?"
"Yes, sir. Thank you for shopping with us." He nodded at that and walked after the others. "Hmm. Wonder why he's so friendly. His former student maybe?"
Xander looked at his father once he had joined him in the pet store. "You called ahead?"
"Always. That way I don't have to hang about and wait."
"Ah, that lack of patience thing that Xander has with the microwave," Dawn said dryly, finding the owl food. "Xander, can't I have a kitten?"
"I thought I got you one."
"Hooter made it run off."
"Actually I think she crawled into Spike's things and went with him so now she's skulking around the castle," Xander said dryly. "Fine." She squealed and hugged him, going to find a new kitten. He rolled his eyes.
"You spoil her horribly."
"She deserves it."
"Because her mother and sister are dead," Xander said quietly. "Why do you think?"
"Fine." He jumped off that topic before his son picked up something and hit him. Because he knew his son would. He was much more a physical brawling sort. "Do we have any other stops to make today?"
"I do need a new cauldron," Xander admitted, looking at Dawn. "Stay with Snape."
"Thank you. Money?" She sighed and handed it over, making him smile and walk off with the bag. She looked at the shopkeeper helping her. "He's so fussy. He's always on me to pull back my hair when he's tutoring me in potions."
"It happens, miss. You're not in school?"
"I was found late," she said dryly. "So I've had private tutors. Mostly I'm a squib."
"Oh. That's fine then." He found one cat. "This one's not a bit magical."
She looked at him. "I was babysat by the vampire teaching defense, dude. I can handle magic beautifully." That got a nod and that cat was put back and another one found for her. She smiled at the little ball of fluff. "Aren't you adorable?"
"Is there a cat under the fur?" Snape demanded. She brushed it away from his face so he could see the squashed nose. "Fine, get the ball of fluff."
"Thanks, Snape." She looked around then at him, handing over the change she had in her pocket, making the shopkeeper laugh. "Xander takes off on wild hairs now and then," she sighed. "I have to have money for chocolate somehow." She tucked the cat into the top of her bag, letting the other one float behind her for now. The shopkeeper looked stunned. "Xander set the spell up earlier on this bag for when it got full."
"I see. That's very good charm work." Xander came back and looked at the bag of supplies, then took them with a head shake. His new box went into that bag. "Good charm work, sir."
"It's self defense with how she shops." Dawn glared at him. "You're doing dinner tonight. Did we need food?"
"Yes, but I was going to beg to go to the village to get it," she complained.
"We can do that this afternoon. Come on, let's head home." She nodded and they headed home through the floo, her cat down her shirt. He was even nice enough to heal the scratches once they got home. "Put my new cauldron in there and don't open it."
"Sure." She took things that way, looking at her cat. "Come on, baby. Let's see the mistress's room." The cat stumbled after her.
"You're brushing that ball of hair," Xander called after her. He looked at his father once he was sitting down. "What's up?"
"Mr. Potter did that same thing yesterday with his scales while he was concentrating."
"Good. Now we'll work on his focusing and concentration abilities. I don't do that sort very well because I can't mentally imagine very well and my mental focus can be shot to hell now and then." His father stared at him. "It can be."
"Perhaps if you would give up caffeine?"
"No, then it gets worse."
His father moaned. "Son."
"Dad." His father looked at him. "It's fine. I'm happy the way I am. It's up to you to be happy about the way I am or not. That's your decision. You never let me get close to you."
"I had to leave you there. You were too young to understand."
"No I wasn't. I understood perfectly fine. You wanted me to be tortured by that bitch and her husband because your world was at peace for eleven years." His father gave him a horrified look. "Yeah, Giles did take the Prophet and I did look back through it. Just think what I could've done with someone other than Giles tutoring me, like I had been in classes."
"I had no choice. By then others would've hurt you."
"Yay me," he agreed. "I could've been easily protected, dad. It was your choice and now you're going to have to live with your choice."
Dawn came back. "What happens if one of you die in the war?" she asked pointedly, glaring at Xander.
"I'm like this. I've never hid I was like this. It's up to him to either be happy I'm like this, accept me like this, or not."
"It is," Snape agreed. "None of this is your concern, Miss Summers."
"He's my adoptive father, Snape. Of course it is." He gave his son a harsh look. "Not like I had family left and Sunnydale was still more dangerous." She stared him down. "He's right. You sent him there. You knew the woman there was mistreating him and it was easier so you left him. So either apologize or go away."
"I had no idea she was mistreating him."
"Then you obviously didn't want to look," Dawn told him. "It was clear to Willow and everyone else who cared to look."
"Dawn, enough," Xander said quietly. She sighed and stomped off to make a shopping list for groceries. "She's right. You've seen other abused kids. By the time I was eight that same warning bell should've went off about me."
"I thought she would've sent you."
"She sent back a refusal letter."
"You know that?"
"I watched her write it and send it off. I asked her what she was doing. She said she was hiding me better." His father shuddered at the iciness in his voice. "By the time I could protest, because she blocked the memory from me, I was sixteen and Buffy was there. Salem said I was too old and Giles had a wand that I found so I demanded he teach me. He laughed so I turned him into an elephant for a few hours. A small pink one. When he finally got himself free, because I had no idea how I had done it in frustration, he had a drink and broke the memory blocks on me so I'd know. By the way, he does want to speak with you, father."
"I would deserve that," he agreed calmly. "Can you forgive me?"
"I don't know. We may be able to move forward but I don't know."
"I understand." He looked at his son. He was an adult. A strong young man. He was also a pain in his ass to deal with. But he would expect nothing less with his upbringing and training. "I'll do what I can, son."
"Thanks. Now, did you want to go grocery shopping with us? Dawn, did you want to go to Hogsmeade or not?"
"That's fine," she agreed.
"Students are in town today," Snape warned.
"That's fine. The cover story will hold," Xander told him. That got a nod. "Coming?" He stood up and got a bottle of water for himself, handing Dawn one, then holding one up for his father, letting him take it and sniff it. "It's purified spring water."
"I can tell." They took Dawn between them and apparated that way. She giggled when she landed. "Some year," he muttered. She smiled at him. "That's your next defensive lesson really." He opened his bottle and looked around. "Okay, where to, princess?"
"Groceries, Xander. I don't need more books."
"You might not but I do." He looked at his father. "Books then groceries? Are you staying for dinner?"
"I could." He let them lead him around for a bit, nodding at his students when they ran into them. He saw one giving Dawn a calculating look and glared at him. "Mr. Malfoy. What a surprise."
"It shouldn't be. The library's full of useless old information."
"Not all information is useless, Draco," Xander said blandly, looking at him. "You can find a lot of information in some of the older books but you usually have to dig for more theoretical things." He went back to browsing the book in his hand. He handed it to Dawn. "For your other history lesson." She moaned and nodded, putting it into the stack he was building.
"I didn't know you two were acquainted," Snape lied.
"My father took me to Sunnydale and managed to lose me. I ran into the happiness band out there," Draco said with a look of distaste. "How is the blonde one?"
Dawn glared at him. "My sister's dead, Draco. She died to protect me." He had the grace to look ashamed at that. "So step off, Spike Junior." That got an offended look. "Fouling my air is a bad thing. I call Rosenburg." He took another step back. "Thank you." She looked at Xander. "Why do I have to learn potions when I'm sucky in them?"
"Because I'm doing potions most of the time you're doing potions most of the time, Dawn. Tara gets the rest of your education."
"Yes, Xander," she sighed, following him to the potions section. She found one and looked at it. "Beauty potions?"
Xander looked at it. "Does that one work?" he asked his father.
Snape looked at it. "Barely. The other one is better, if a bit more dry." He pointed at it. Dawn took it down to look at the thick, heavy textbook. Then put it back. "Or there is the magazines."
"Can I start getting them?" she begged.
Xander nodded. "Of course." He let her get a copy of those and weeded out his books since he knew how much money he had. His father sighed and handed him a few more galleons. "Thanks, dad. Should've taken more from the bank."
"He's your son?" Draco demanded.
Snape looked at him and nodded. "Indeed. I sent him to safety when he was born."
"The hellmouth was considered safer?" he asked, looking amused.
Xander looked at him. "Dumbledore suggested the place to send me."
"Ah." He kept his opinion of the old man to himself for now but it solidified what he thought of the old man. Dawn gave him a look. "What? Staring to see how handsome I am or for another reason?"
"Staring at the huge, giant zit on your forehead and Spike's like my most favorite babysitter. That's what happens when he dates my sister."
"Better than Riley," Xander quipped.
"Definitely better than soldier boy," she agreed, hugging Xander's arm. "Do you miss her?"
Xander looked at her. "Now and then. On the 'then' times I realize that she didn't appreciate me the way she should have and I was being used as a common source of fixing her weapons." She nodded at that. "On the 'now' times I realize the others did it too. So no, not really into missing a lot of the Sunnydale experience, Dawnie."
"I miss Tara."
"I miss Tara," he agreed. "She's more than welcome to move in and convert the attic if she wants. She should probably leave Willow but she can come." She smiled at that. "Sorry, having a 'now' moment." He finished counting out coins then handed her the rest. "To the grocery place." He took the bag and walked her past Malfoy. "Am I going to end up tutoring you as well, Draco?" They locked eyes.
"My potions grade is satisfactory to my family but I might need help now and then," he admitted. "Thank you for the generous offer, Xander."
"Welcome, Malfoy." Draco sneered at that. "We'll be at home later or any weekend or whenever most of the time." That got a nod and he walked Dawn out.
Snape looked at him. "It might do you good to get some advanced tutoring since I don't have the time to spend on it."
"It could be," he agreed quietly. "Father would not be pleased."
"Not like I worry about that, Draco."
"Neither would his patron."
"I don't much worry about how he feels about Lucius either," he noted with a smirk.
Draco considered that statement then nodded once. "I may take your son up on his offer then, Professor. It is most gracious of him to give up some of his retirement to help me." He looked around then back at him. "I don't remember her having a sister when I was there."
"She was probably too young to be out by herself," he noted patiently. "Ask her." Draco nodded and walked off, going to get the books he was here for. Snape went to find his son. "That was a dangerous offer."
"Draco won't want to play second to anyone, father. Upping his potions skills would solve that issue. He could make a great name for himself and clear his family of a lot of things."
"He could," he agreed. It would give Draco a way to break free. It would also give him a way to save his mother if he wanted to do so. At the very least they might be able to keep Draco from joining the Death Eaters for a few more years. "What else do you have planned for tonight?"
"An overnight brewing," Xander admitted, looking at him. "It's a lot of stirring and I don't want to disturb Dawn's lessons for things like that."
"I agree. A babbling teenager could do disastrous things if your attention slipped while brewing." Dawn glared over from where she had been babbling at Harry. "Food?" he suggested.
He growled. "That irritating name is not mine. You and the vampire need to quit using it around me."
She smiled. "My sister would've loved it though. We do it in honor of her." She let Harry lead her off to meet Ron and his sister.
"Dawn," Xander called, glaring at Harry.
"She'll be fine," Harry assured him quietly when he brought her back. "Ron's helped me for years. I was going to introduce her as your daughter."
Xander considered him. "Fine. I did say she could start to experience what boys were like. Her safety is still paramount in my mind, Harry."
"Yes, Xander." He walked her off again. "Ron, Ginny, this is Dawn. She's Xander's daughter."
"Hi," she said, shaking their hands. "The big git over there with Snapey is a worry wart. Ignore him."
"Are you a witch too?" Ginny asked.
"Oh. Pity. I was wondering why you weren't in school with us."
Ron blinked a few times then smiled at her. "At least you've got something to go on though, right?" he suggested.
"Most of the time. Right now it's an English class. I'm studying at home." That got a smile and a nod of understanding from Ginny. "So, are either of you going to be joining Harry's tutoring sessions?"
"I suck at Potions, Dawn. No way am I going to get it with Merlin himself standing over my shoulder whispering in my ear."
Ginny laughed and nodded. "He's right, he won't. He's the stupid brother." She patted him on the back. "What are you doing now?"
"Dinner. I made a bad joke earlier so it's my turn." That got a smile and they went to pick out food for tonight. Ginny knew how to find the best for the least money, it was something she appreciated.
Harry looked at Ron. "Xander's actually a really nice bloke for having tied Spike in his chair for a few months."
"Giles told me to keep him while his girlfriend was in," Xander said dryly. "Not like I wanted him to crawl in with me." He looked at Harry. "Coming over tomorrow?"
"Sure." He patted him on the shoulder. "Ron, you're more than welcome to join him if you need help in potions."
"He's always been abysmal," Snape noted as he went to monitor the girls. He found Ginny had introduced her to Granger, which was going to give him a headache he was sure. She was asking her questions about the hellmouth. "I do not believe this is the spot for that," he said firmly. "Plus she is grieving, Miss Granger."
"Sorry, Dawn. I didn't mean to make you hurt worse."
"It's all right. I've got friends back there." She gave her a gentle smile. "Plus Xander's ex is back there."
"I've heard Spike talk about Anyanka," she agreed.
Dawn laughed. "Probably not as bad as she was in person. But don't worry, if I'm in danger, Rosenburg, Tara, Giles, and she'll all come over to help."
Snape shuddered at the very thought of that happening. That was a mental image to give him nightmares. He felt something tickling his scar and looked around. "Cash out and head home, Dawn," he ordered firmly, heading off to find his son. "Xander. Go. Now."
Xander looked at Harry. "Take her home, okay?" That got a nod and Harry jogged in to get Dawn and take her back to the house.
"No, I'm staying!"
"You're going," Xander shouted back. "Go now, Dawn."
"No! I'm staying, Xander."
"No, you're not," Harry told her.
"Do you really think you're tougher than I am?" she sneered.
"Yup. Somulus." She went limp and he caught her. "Your fight is in another few months, dear." He took her home using the portkey Xander had made for him. He looked at the potion on the dresser, then made her swallow some before leaving her on the bed and going back to Hogsmeade. He looked at Xander. "She's tucked in and I poured some of the potion on her dresser down her throat."
"Works for me," Xander agreed. Two death eaters appeared up the street and pulled their wands. "Harry, for now I want you to deflect what they're doing. I'll attack, you deflect, all right?"
"Sure." He chanted a shield where they were casting at, sending it back into the earth while Xander pulled his own wand and got to work on them. "Professor, perhaps the children should go home?" he called. He nodded and went to ring the emergency bell. The two death eaters got frustrated and tried to disappear but Xander wasn't going to let them. He knocked them both out before they could gather themselves for the apparation. "Bind 'em." Harry did that and they walked that way to go pull masks off. "Huh." The supposedly scary auror lady showed up. "Hey. I don't like attacking things. It makes me cranky. And speaking of cranky, gotta go deal with the kid. Want them?"
"We do," she agreed. "Plus you to come to the office."
"Um... no." He looked at her. "Like I said, I'm retired unless something necessitates me not being retired. Like an attack on the house." She nodded at that. "Just guard the kids and take these two morons." A few more appeared and more people went running and screaming. "Ah, I almost missed that sound." Harry gave him an odd look. "They do scream when vamps vamp up in front of them."
"The whole school did when Spike did it the first night," he agreed. "Some of them still do."
Xander grinned. "He does so love to torment others. That's why he called me nummy the whole time I had him tied to the chair in my basement." They turned and got to work on the new ones, getting a few hexes from the other students. "Guard the others," he shouted. "They need protection more than we need help, Granger." She nodded, going to do that. Most everyone was locked inside the Three Broomsticks if they had been out, or in the shops if they hadn't been. Xander yawned, covering his mouth with the back of his free hand, then he mumbled something and shot a very powerful hex at them. A hex of bad luck. It cut down their ability to aim and they were more easily knocked down and out. "Huh. Have to remember that for more offensive memoirs." He looked at Harry, who was sweating. "You good?"
"Could use a drink," he admitted. Xander handed over the rest of his water. "Thanks, Xander." He finished it and tossed the bottle into a burn bucket. The auror had gotten others and they were binding them there on the street. He looked around. "I don't see any more."
"Me either. Then again I felt someone appear on the front lawn. Go check with your mates and in. Come tomorrow if you can. If not, owl." Harry nodded, jogging off. He looked at the aurors. "Do we need emergency plans?"
"We do and we're making them, sir," one male said.
"That's Snape's son," the scary one said. "Xander. He's friends with Spike."
"Not *friends*. Really more like non-heated enemies." He shrugged and disappeared, heading home. He found Malfoy on his front step. "What are you doing here, Draco? They're going to be looking for you."
"Who is she? Buffy didn't have a sister."
"She did. She just came later."
"I was in her home. There were no pictures of that girl."
Xander put his hands on his shoulders. "She came later, Draco. There wouldn't have been any pictures when you were there. Just drop it. She is Buffy's little sister. She is a squib. She is being protected even if she throws the biggest fucking shit fit on this realm. Got it?" He nodded, still grimacing. "Good. Your father wasn't at the assault but one of your classmates was it looked like. Head back. Come back as a tutoring student."
"You know she fought off the sleep hex."
"I know. She's from Sunnydale. Born, bred, and created there." That got a nod and Draco disapparated. He walked into the house, looking at her. "Cute."
"Thanks, I didn't much like being invisible. I figured I'd be a sheet ghost instead," she said from behind her sheet. "What was that?"
"How did we know?"
"Dad made a very bad decision earlier in his life. He's changed now."
"Okay," she said, sitting across from him. "What did you tell Malfoy?"
"Enough that he'll hopefully not follow dad into bad mistake land."
"Even better. Can I hit Harry?"
"If you can, you can mildly torment him. Nothing else, Dawn. I told him to bring you home. Next time, follow orders."
"Yes, Xander," she sighed, going back to her room. "How long until this wears off?"
"Crap," she muttered. "Looks like I'm cooking as a sheet ghost too then." She came out to start dinner then went back to see what she could do to make Harry annoyed for a while.
Harry looked down when he felt the magic wash over him. He groaned. Only Dawn would've put him in that color pink. He went to change, shaking his head at the amused looks. "Someone's coloring hex misfired," he explained to the guys in his room, who were laughing. "Not a choice, mates."
"Aww, you look cute as a nancy poof," Ron teased.
Harry looked at him. "I'm getting you next, Ronald Weasley." Ron just smirked. Harry pointed his wand at him. "Colorus." Ron yelped when he turned flourescent yellow. Clothes and hair. "There, blondey." He finished changing and pulled out the book Xander had let him have the last time, going back to reading. It was an interesting look at certain potions.
"Is the tutoring helping?" Neville asked.
Harry looked over and nodded. "A lot. He's a lot more calm than Professor Snape. He doesn't sneer and hiss at me. We joke around in there. He pelted me with newt's eyes once." They all grinned at that. "He's a very good tutor. In return I help his sister, the squib, with her homework now and then. She sucks at writing papers." He went back to his reading.
"That one you sent away?" Ron asked.
"I thought she was Buffy's little sister."
Harry looked at him. "Ron, Buffy's dead. Her mother's dead. She's Xander's little sister now."
"Oh, sorry, Harry."
"Not your fault. You weren't the hell goddess they lost her to." He went back to his book.
"Hell goddess?" one of the other boys asked.
Harry nodded without having to look up. "Yup. Hell goddess. She died to stop her."
"I guess that's gotta happen sometimes but why was she there?" Neville asked.
"Buffy was the slayer assigned to the hellmouth, Neville," Harry said patiently. "The one Spike talks about. Her Blondeness is her."
"Oh. Was she pretty?"
"From what I understand, yup," Harry agreed. "Spike might have a picture if you'd ask him."
"I'm...I'm still scared of him, Harry. He's a vampire."
Harry looked at him. "I had noticed that, yes," he admitted dryly, getting punched on the arm by Ron. "He likes to torment, Neville. The fear makes him happy. He's like a boggart in some ways, but he stood with the slayer for years. Hell, he took care of Druscilla for nearly a century when she was ill and couldn't come out of her visions. She was always talking to her dolls and the stars. He had to make her eat from what he said."
"You listened to that story?" Ron asked.
"Yup. It had a point, Ron." He went back to his reading. "Spike's not as mean as he appears, Neville. He likes the reaction you give when you yelp at his demon face. It's almost as good as getting paid probably." He turned the page. "Let him teach you and ignore the fact that he drinks cereal in his blood."
"Eww," Ron complained.
"He does," Seamus agreed. "I saw him loading it up the other morning." Harry nodded at that. "Caught him at it?"
"He said now and then it needs texture and crunch." He grimaced. "I don't watch him eat but I've seen him doing it in the past." He went back to the potion book.
"But..." Ron complained.
"Ron, trying to study. Go ask Hermione. She found him in the historical roll book. Druscilla too." He sighed and headed off to talk to her.
"How can a vampire use a wand?" Neville asked. "I thought that was impossible. Madam Sprout said it shouldn't be possible."
Harry looked at him. "According to what Hermione found, demons and wands don't get along well. So the first wand they had are usually snapped so he doesn't end up fighting himself like he's possessed. That doesn't mean they can't be fitted for a new wand, they'd simply need a core that was closer to what they are now, which is possessed and animated by the demonic. I think Spike said his was zombie ash or something like that."
"So they're sympathetic to each other," Seamus said, nodding at that. "Makes sense. Are there other wizards who got turned?"
"Ask Hermione. She was looking into it."
"Cool." They went to bug her.
Harry finally got to read what he wanted to. He got ten whole minutes before someone knocked on the door. "I'm studying."
The door opened and Professor McGonagall walked in. "I should hope so."
"Homework Xander assigned." He looked at her, seeing the unhappy look. "Who didn't like that we helped?"
"Everybody. You're needed in the office." Harry sighed and got up, taking his wand with him. Because he was going to hex someone soon if they didn't leave him alone to destress after the battle. He walked in and looked at them. "As you requested, Headmaster."
"Thank you, Minerva. Have a nice afternoon." She nodded and left. "Harry."
"Bugger it, Professor. They were attacking townspeople. I stood with Xander. He had me doing deflection charms."
"I didn't know you knew how to do those yet," he said.
Harry looked at him. "I should've learned them in my fourth year but we were a bit behind so I got to teach them to myself, Headmaster."
"Harry," he chided.
"We were. Not like we learned a bloody thing off Lockhart." He looked at Snape, who was in the corner as usual. "Your son all right?"
"He's fine, Mr. Potter. Thank you for asking. Did you take Dawn home?"
"I did and then I dosed her with the potion on her dresser."
"Excellent. Thank you."
"She'll probably complain and I turned bright pink there for a bit, but it was safer since she's not as trained."
"True. Your training needs to be stepped up as well," the Headmaster interrupted.
"I'm doing fairly good absorbing it out of the books, Headmaster. Spike and I have learned how to work with each other and he is giving me the benefit of his experience within the dark arts and from fighting for so long." That got him a look. He stared back. "Not like he didn't."
"I know he did. I still think it's too soon."
"Headmaster, how am I supposed to fight him and win if I don't know anything?" he demanded. "It's not like I can flirt with the bag of bones and have him fall down to suck me or something." He walked off shaking his head. "I'm going back to my homework now. Xander assigned me a potion to learn."
"I will see it when you've completed it," Snape called.
"Of course. He said so." He walked back up to the tower, got his book, then broke the rules and went to hide somewhere quieter and read so he could calm down after the battle.
Snape looked at the Headmaster. "He has made that point in the past, Headmaster. That is why Spike agreed to give him the benefit of his experience." He stood up. "Is there anything else?"
"What is your son teaching him?"
"Potions. He's doing one we didn't do but that uses much of the same techniques and ingredients. He may even pass this year." He walked off, going back to his classroom. He did send an owl to his son to warn him the headmaster still didn't like him but he got back a laughing one. So apparently his son knew. He relaxed at that. His son was a strong man. He could withstand the headmaster. Harry came in a few hours later with a sample vial. "What is this?"
Harry put the book in front of him. "That one."
Snape looked then at the vial. "It should be pale blue."
"It was until I stuck the cork in. Did it need aired out longer?"
Snape uncorked it and sniffed, then shook his head. "No, it's the bottle itself that did it." He looked at Harry. "Where did you get these?"
"Same place as usual."
"I'll have a talk with him. It is well enough done, Mr. Potter."
"So I got it right?"
Harry smiled. "Thank you, Professor. It's a lot easier to do when it's quiet." He walked off, taking his book with him. He included a note with his potion sample to Xander. The next morning he got back the empty, clean vial and a note of congratulations and more homework to study in that same book, plus a topic to ask Spike about during class. He read over it a few times before his afternoon class, looking at Spike once they were all settled in and roll was taken. "Spike?" he asked, raising a hand. "Xander said to ask you about love spells and how they can be used offensively?"
"He'd know," he said grimly.
"He said something about a will spell as well?"
Spike sneered at him. "Let me see the note." He handed it over. Spike snorted as he read. "Cheeky bint," he said dryly. "That's Dawn's handwriting at the bottom, Mr. Potter. But we can go there. Yes, you can use love spells offensively. What better way to distract someone on the field than to make 'em shag the bloke next to 'em?" That got some funny looks. "The same as will spells can be very harmful, as Rosenburg found out. I nearly married Her Blondness due to one. Nearly outside under a tree too. Ended up kissing her for a good few days even. Made everyone sick and had ta gargle for weeks to get the taste out."
Neville slowly raised his hand. "Was Buffy pretty, Spike? Most of us hadn't heard of a slayer until you got here."
Spike stared at him, then smirked. "Good question. Can't tell 'em apart from normal girls. Demons can, we've got senses that let us know she's nearby. There's one in the county at the moment actually. But yes, she was a pretty girl." He pulled out his wallet and handed over a picture. "That was the Sunnydale group this last spring." Neville smiled at it and handed it back. "Anyone else wanna see?" A few hands were raised so he let it be passed around. He looked at Harry again. "He was right that they can both be used in battle. Will spells are fickle things. Hard to control and aim. Lust spells are better and are very distracting. That's why half of you lot can't remember to do the homework." That got a few titters. "I was your age once and back then there was a great spot in the attic above the headmaster's office that saw a lot of action." That got louder laughs. "Do we know how to cast lust charms?"
"They're illegal to cast," Hermione said primly.
Spike snorted. "Yay. It's one of the easiest ways to distract an enemy, bint. Sorta like you taking off your shirt would be. Well, maybe not *you* but someone with a nice set doing so would distract them. Casting a lust spell would cloud the mind and make them focus more on those around them."
"It's still illegal because those under a lust spell would be guilty of rape by the law."
"On a battlefield, who'd care?" Spike asked. "Do you think they're going to be *honoring* the law out there? With as many unforgivables they'd be sending your way?" She slumped at that, shaking her head. "In truth, it's a lower level spell. It means it's easier to cast repeatedly. It's a good distraction. Not the best but a good one. The best is actually a dragon landing in the middle of the field." That got a smirk from Ron. "Is. Happened in Romania once."
"Was my brother there?"
"Doubt it. Was fifty years ago, Ron."
"Nah, he's not that old." He shrugged. "So you're saying a distraction then an attack is often better than just plain old attacking head on?"
"It is. Get more too. Keeps them from replying to the attack."
"It would me," Harry agreed, handing the picture back. "So we can use a distraction technique on a larger group and then attack? How many should cast the distraction versus shielding?"
"That depends on what you're facing. Each situation and battle is a bit different. Even on the same field."
Ron nodded. "I'm good in chess, and it is. Because you've got personalities at play. Like if you cast the lust charm and then bound them, some might like it." Most of the class laughed at that.
"Some would. Vampires love bondage." He smirked at him. "Five points, Weasley."
"Thanks, Spike. Needed that after Potions yesterday." That got another smirk. By the end of the class about distraction techniques, Ron grinned at Harry. "I'd say they were effective in many things," he said blandly while they walked out. Harry gave him a look. "We didn't have the test today. Thanks, Harry."
"Welcome, Ron," he offered with a grin. He waved back at Spike, who was laughing behind his desk at their impudence. He sent back a letter of thanks since they had gotten to miss their Defense test.
"Xander?" Dawn asked, sounding hopeful.
"Willow's coming over to meet with that coven Giles recommended."
"If she'll watch out for you and if they say it's okay." She squealed and gave him a hug. "Any other requests?"
"Can I study abroad?"
He looked at her. "You are. You're not in Sunnydale in case you hadn't noticed."
"I had noticed but I wanted to go to Paris sometime this summer."
"I'll see what Giles thinks and can work out." She smiled and hugged him again then went back to her studies and to email Willow. Xander went back to his potion making. He knew Harry would need some things made up in advance before the bigger battle this year. His father would too but he wasn't thinking that far ahead. Seven years worth of students each week could do that to a mind. She came back. "Lunch?"
"Wondering what you're making."
Xander kissed her on the forehead. "Don't ask me that."
"Is it evil?"
"No, it's very good but nearly mythical."
"Oh. Okay." She nodded. "So I can't tell Harry or your dad?"
"They'll know soon enough." She smiled and hugged him. "What did Giles say about Paris?"
"He'd talk to you about it."
He nodded. "I figured he probably knew a few watchery types that way." He grinned at her huff. "That way you don't have to pay for a hotel, Dawn." She nodded and sat down to watch him. "Don't you have a potions lesson?"
"Yeah but I can't brew when you're watching me."
"My father lurks."
"Eww. How do they study that way?"
He shrugged. "He does it to inspire fear."
"Really? I find your dad a lot of things, but not really *scary*," she admitted. "Creepy. Sarcastic. An asshole. Not scary."
He looked at her. "You'd be surprised. Anyone can be scary now and then." He kissed her on the forehead again. "Can I have a sandwich?"
"Sure." She went to make lunch and bring him back something to nibble in the lab while he stirred and watched. She looked at the stone in the middle of the soup in the cauldron. "Is it supposed to be that color?"
"Yup." She nodded and went to research her next assignment. "Do the acne remover. You've got a huge back zit," he called. "I thought I told you no backless shirts, Dawn."
"Sorry. Just around the house. Wasn't planning on going out like this," she promised, going to see if she could spot the thing. She grimaced. It was huge and icky looking. She had to stretch to pop it but she did and it only hurt for a second. "Eww." She went to wash the crud off her fingers then got to work on that one potion. "What does live mandrake root look like?"
"Screaming and complaining," he called. "We'll go to the potions store tomorrow."
"Sure." She researched the other things online. They were the same as she used but the live mandrake root she hadn't seen before.
Severus Snape accepted the owl the next evening, looking at it. "What are you doing here?" he asked it quietly, taking the package. It flew off without getting a treat. "Hmm." He opened the small box and looked at the note on top. "Use then when the time is right." He didn't recognize the handwriting. Underneath it was a few bottles. He plucked one out and looked at it, then slightly opened the cork, hearing the screaming going on. "Interesting." He put it back and then walked off with the box, ignoring his dinner. Which was why he didn't see Harry and Draco get owls.
Harry looked at his and smiled. "A present?" He took the box and it flew off. He looked inside, seeing a similar note. "Hmm." His had labeled bottles and a few of them made him nearly gasp out loud. He closed it quickly and shrunk it to put it in his pocket. "Sorry, new homework," he offered. "Dawn botched something and he's making me work on fixing it." That got smiles from his friends. He noticed Draco's owl was still staring at him and it only had a small padded envelope. "I didn't know he was joining me in my tutoring. Huh." He got back to eating.
Draco finally got the package from the staring owl, feeling like he had passed some test. He looked inside, seeing the two potions in there. They were labeled wrong by the color of one of them. The note said what it was and to destroy the note as soon as he had read it. He put the envelope into his pocket and finished the note, then burnt it on his plate. He got up and headed down to store them safely away. Why had he been sent a healing and an invisibility potion? By Professor Snape's son? It did not make sense. He hadn't fully decided on a side yet. Then again, either side he chose could probably make use of the invisibility or healing potion he supposed. He sat down to think about his options again. The note had said that it was a single dose of invisibility and intangibility potion. Which meant it was keyed to him personally. That one required hair of the user. He got out an advanced potions book to look it up, nodding at what he found. Xander had gotten some of his hair and it was an incredible gift. The healing potion was very potent and was based off... He sat up and stared at the book again, rereading that bit of historical fact. "No," he muttered. He closed it with a snap and tossed it back into his trunk, going to look it up in the library. He had to be wrong. If not.... The odds had just changed again.
Severus finished putting up the precious new potions. He knew who had given them to him. Only one potion master presently alive had access to the notes that would be needed to do the healing potion he had received. Or at least as far as he knew. It was not a person who was overly familiar with him. Or who was openly getting involved in the war. They were in France the last time he knew.