Xander knocked on the door, giving the man on the other side a bland look as he pushed him back into the living room. "Figured you'd be close," he said dryly. "You're wanted at the Magic Box. Now."
"Why? I've barely gotten into town," Ethan Rayne complained, waving a hand at the boxes. "I haven't had a chance to do more than unpack my toothbrush."
"Fine. What have I supposedly done already?"
"Oh, you'll see," Xander said dryly, giving him a little shove to make him go in front of him. "Feel thankful it was me and Buffy's off shopping. She'll be in later. Lock your door."
"I have a soul."
"Really? Are you sure about that?" Xander asked him. He glared but did lock his door. "Now, I'm sure you know where it is."
"Of course I do. I've ordered from there before," Ethan said stiffly. "What happened to the town this time?"
"Not the town, just one person in it." He got the chaos person into his car and got in to drive, patting himself down for the keys. Ethan sighed and pointed his finger at the key slot, starting the engine. "Thank you." He put the car in gear and headed off to the shop. "Do you enjoy pissing us off? I ask because you seem to do it so very often."
"No. I consider you all great fun, and this town is power incarnate, but I don't enjoy *peeving* you lot. Why? What did I supposedly do now?"
"You'll see." Xander tuned the corner and headed for the Magic Box, going a little faster now. "We've got to make a stop."
"Fine." Ethan watched as a young brunette woman got into the back seat. "Hello," he said cheerfully. "And you are?"
"Dawn Summers. Buffy's little sister."
He looked at her, then gaped a bit before she finally gave his forehead a nudge. "Oh, dear."
"You, eyes front," Xander ordered. "You're not touching Dawn. Do not stare at Dawn. Do not even think about Dawn. Got it?"
"Very well then." They pulled up in front of the shop and he got out, heading inside. "All right, I'm here, what did I supposedly do now?"
"Ethan," Giles purred, smirking at him as he strolled out.
"Oh, dear Dark Lord," he said, eyes going wide. "What the bloody hell happened to you!"
"We're thinking it's you," Dawn said from behind him.
"I'd never take off the personality block he had me put on! I'm not that stupid." He looked at Xander. "I put it on originally, this was not my mischief."
"Then figure out who did do it and fix it," Xander said, crossing his arms over his chest. "It's kinda hard to have a Watcher who's a bad guy."
"Indeed." He looked at Ripper again, receiving his customary kiss instead of the more recent punches. "Ripper," he sighed. "You're totally free?" He nodded. "Who did so?"
"I have no idea," he admitted, waving a hand around. "It could have been my prat of a brother. It could have been Angel for all I know."
"If it was, I'm staking him myself." Ripper gave him a smug look. "You do remember having me charm you to suppress this part of your personality?" Ripper nodded. "Do you remember why and that he's back?"
"Really?" he sneered. "Then I believe it's time we met."
"No!" Ethan stepped closer. "You promised me," he hissed. "You would not go face HIM down. You promised me with a drop of heart's blood, Ripper. If you break it, you could die."
"I could, but the other one needs us." He stroked over Ethan's cheek. "We're needed, Ethan."
"Then he could have called me. I was in town not ten months ago."
"I doubt he would have. He's always been a proud beast," Ripper reminded him.
"Point of order. We kinda need the usual Giles now and then. Buffy won't listen to this one."
"Sod off, Xander," Ripper said with a smirk.
Xander picked up something and threw it at his head. "You have to come back or I've got to do it for you. Do you really want *me* to be the Watcher?"
"He's got a good point," Ethan pointed out, smirking at the boy. "We've got a higher calling at the moment."
"And we've got a Hell God."
"Which?" Ethan asked tiredly.
"Glory," Dawn said.
"Don't say her name," Xander said, swatting at her. "She almost found you last night!"
"Sorry. Geez, panicking much?"
"Yes! We're facing a Hell God, the Watcher's Council has basically written us off again, and your sister's shoe shopping!"
"Xander, yell again and I shall have to sedate you," Ripper said patiently.
Xander glared at him. "Try. Face the Hell God on your own."
"There is that charming Miss Rosenburg," Ethan pointed out.
"She's starting to go bad, love. She tried to memory charm us." Ethan gaped at him, then groaned. "Exactly. Hell, there for a while I thought William the Bloody was my son and the twit's bird my wife."
"You've finally got a girlfriend?" Ethan asked him.
"Oh, dear." He blinked a few times. "She's human?" Xander nodded. "Then I really do feel sorry for you. Never ever *think* about another human being again. She'll get you."
"Too late," he said bitterly. "Still not the point. Hello, facing a huge ass battle soon?" The bell rang and Buffy walked in chatting with Willow. "Kill me now," he moaned, getting out of harm's way.
Buffy stopped chatting about the pink leather bustier and focused solely on the person who wasn't supposed to be there. "What are you doing here?"
"Xander brought me," he said dryly.
"Why?" she asked him.
"Memory charm, Ripper, starting to sound familiar?" Xander asked tiredly, heading into the back room. "I'm going to go hit myself in the head with a sledgehammer. Tell me the next time we get attacked." He slammed the door.
"Giles isn't exactly Gilesy," Dawn told her sister cheerfully. "Xander noticed it this morning when he didn't have tea."
"Where was I?" Willow asked.
"Oh." She grimaced. "Okay. Giles, is there a problem I can help with so we can dispose of Ethan?"
"You'd better not try," Giles told her, putting an arm around Ethan's shoulders. "Mine."
"Eww," Buffy said in disgust. "First my mother and now him?"
Ethan looked at him. "You slept with her mother?" Ripper nodded, looking quite pleased with himself. "Was she good? She looks like she'd be an astounding and caring woman."
"Hey!" Buffy said, looking disgusted.
"What? Mom had to get some sometime, Buffy. Otherwise we wouldn't be here," Dawn pointed out. Her sister glared at her. "Sorry. I think I'll help Xander with his sledgehammer project." She escaped.
"Now that we're alone," Ethan said, giving Willow a look. "I believe it's time we talked, young lady. Your memory charm weakened a charm I put on him long ago at his own request so he couldn't be drawn by an evil sorcerer. Now the charm's broken, the asshole is back, and you're responsible for one of those."
"How was I supposed to know?"
"You're messing with things you shouldn't," Ripper said firmly. "I should have you sent away and taught the correct ways. It'd save me some wear and tear on my nerves. I truly believe that's why I broke the charm, so that other me wouldn't have to deal with her anymore."
"Probably," Ethan agreed. "This part of your personality is more suited to handling problematic children. Even ours." He smiled up at him. "Does he know?"
"No." He looked around again. "Alexander!"
"Unless we're being attacked, he's trying to figure out what he wants to eat," Dawn called. "Since he hasn't had anything to eat in four days!" She slammed the door.
"His bird stole his wallet for trip to the mall and it's the week of payday," Giles told him.
Ethan groaned. "Can't he chain her in a summoning circle or something?"
"She's human, Ethan. That won't exactly work with her." He looked at the girls again. "We may be called away suddenly to deal with something nearly as bad as all this."
"Excuse me? And who's going to help me figure out how to fight this Hell Goddess?" Buffy asked.
"I will, Buffy," Willow said calmly. "If you're going to go, go. You haven't done much recently anyway." She walked off, going to get their books from the back room. She found Xander asleep and Dawn covering him. "He okay?"
"No. Go away. You caused that." She glared at Willow until she went away. Then she straightened up the room until everyone else left again. They didn't really want her out front. The door opened again and she picked up something but it was Ethan. "What do *you* want?"
"I wanted to talk to you about your shielding. You're glowing," he noted. "If she's truly coming after you, you'll need to shield better."
"Sorry, it's emotional."
"There's no room for emotions in the Craft," Ethan said firmly. "Things muck up."
"Fuck off, Ethan," Xander said calmly. "She's got shields, she was taught by a pure Wiccan. They'll be going back up."
Dawn concentrated and they went back up, so she gave him a small sneer. "There. Better now?"
He caught her chin, making her look at him. "Your attitude is going to get them all dead."
She got free of his hand. "I don't want them to die. I want things to be fixed, but I don't see that happening with you and Giles going off somewhere and leaving him and Willow here to help my sister and protect me! If she ends the world, it's your fault." She walked off, going to do her homework.
Xander opened his eyes. "She's sixteen," he noted. "Try to remember back that far, Rayne. She's desperate, in emotional pain, and you're making it worse. Can't that sorcerer wait?"
"I'm afraid he can't. He's gathering power even now. Some of our friends are in danger."
"Yay. The world is in danger if she finds the Key." He closed his eyes again. "Do whatever you have to do. Just let me nap."
"Perhaps you should eat something."
"Yup, I will sometime."
"You could not allow her to use your cards."
"She only goes to the places where they don't make you sign. I tried that already."
"If you asked, we might stop her for you."
Xander let out a bitter laugh. "I'm sure you will. Then what happens?" He glared at him again. "Trying to nap. Some of us do work all day before going on patrol."
"You are?" Ethan looked stunned. "Ripper! You're making him work!"
"He's never said anything against it and he's not exactly going out each night," he said from the doorway.
"Yes he does," Dawn said bitterly. "Not that *you'd* notice."
"Enough, Dawn. Do your homework."
"What good is math and science if the world ends!" she shouted, throwing her book.
He looked back at her. "We haven't let it end yet. I won't let it end this time. Even if I have to do a kamikaze, she's not getting the Key's energy. Got it?" Dawn sniffled. "Come here." She came over for a cuddle. "Leave," he said coldly.
Ethan nodded and left, closing the door behind him. "Ripper," he said quietly. Giles shook his head. "He's not lying. Neither is she."
"I know. He won't let me say anything," he retorted.
"Then for Janus' sake, let the boy be unblocked. That's cruel!"
"It may be, but do you really want to see him suffer?"
"I'd rather see the world continue," he retorted.
Giles sighed. "I'll discuss it with him later, after he's had a nap. I had him take off early to get you." Anya came in and frowned at him. "Xander's asleep."
"He should still be at work. How can he support me if he's not working!"
"Easy, get a job," Ethan said coldly. "Before I make it so you're allergic to credit cards." She gaped at him. "Leave us, Anyanka. Your presences is detrimental to my patience."
"Hey, she's part of the group!" Buffy complained.
Ethan gave her a horrified look. "Why? You let that cheating, lying creature *help* you?"
"We let Spike help us," Willow said dryly, glaring at him. "Go away, Ethan."
"Willow, shut it," Giles warned. "Anya, you're not needed here today. Go home and actually cook dinner like a good girlfriend. Your mate hasn't eaten in days due to your selfishness with his money."
"I'd need more to go shopping. I threw out all his nasty little snack thingies. That's all there was in the house."
"Then I suggest you take things back," Ethan told her. "Before I have to intervene on his behalf." He turned away from her. "You let it get this far?"
"She seemed to care for him," he defended. "It's not like I see him every day now."
"Which is your own doing," Ethan reminded him. "When was the last time you talked to the boy?"
"You sound like he's your baby boy," Buffy said bitterly. "Can't you two take your gay spat somewhere else?"
"I said shut it," Giles said, enforcing it with a touch of magic that sealed their lips shut. "He's fine as far as I knew," he pointed out.
"You never cared to look, Ripper. If this was ours, would you have let him go to the same sort of creature?"
"No." He glanced at the back room. "What's done is done. Even if I tried he wouldn't let me."
"Which is a sad state of affairs," Ethan said bitterly. "That charm shouldn't have done that to you. Nor should this life." Giles looked guilty so he caved a little. "You'll need to make up to him," he said firmly. "This can't be allowed to continue. Nor can she."
"She's helpful," Giles pointed out. "She knows how to kill most of the demons."
"Wonderful. So does Spike and I trust a vampire around that young girl more than I do her." He waved a hand at Anya, freezing her. "She's not healthy for her."
"She's a reasonable adult voice," Ripper retorted. "Think about who else is around her."
Xander opened the door, then threw books at both of them. "Shut up!" They gave him a hurt look. "Some of us still need a nap! We worked hard all day, unlike everyone else in this shop at the moment. Some of us need a damn nap and we'll get it one way or another." He glared at them. "Got it?"
"Having a bout of PMS?" Giles asked.
Willow finally got her lips unsealed. "Would you like a bout too?" she taunted. "If you two are going to leave, go and let us get back to what we do best, fighting things."
"Xander, you need to eat," Anya told him once Willow unfroze her.
"Yes, I do, but since you took my wallet, I can't do that," he retorted. She looked hurt. "You make a paycheck, use it instead!"
"Then how am I supposed to save money?"
"Has it not occurred to you that I need to save too?" he asked bitterly. "Or that you don't pay the bills and since you took all my last paycheck, no one got to pay the rent?"
She scoffed. "So you'll pay it out of this check."
"Anya, I'm going to turn you in for using my cards without my authority. You ran up over a thousand dollars this week alone. Now, you can pay the bills." He closed the door.
"You can't do that!" she called. "I know how that works! All I need is a short skirt!"
"I doubt it," Ethan said dryly. "It's not quite that simple."
"Why not? I get out of tickets that way."
"Oh, dear Lords Below, no wonder the boy's going insane," Ethan said, glaring at Giles again.
"I had no idea. I tune them out because she talks about sex all the time."
Ethan groaned. "That's it, I've had enough!" he said, raising his hands. A thunder clap went off. Willow clapped and whistled. He glared at her and bound her to her chair. Then he bound Anya. Then he glared at Buffy and held up a finger. "Not one squeak," he warned. "Even you should be able to see how wrong this is." He unsealed her lips. "Do you understand?"
"I've always thought there was something off about Anya and Xander," she told him. "But you can't do that. I need them."
"Tough. Deal with it," he told her. "You're the Slayer, not them." Dawn clapped from the doorway. "You, you're leaking again."
"Fuck you," she said, making Buffy gasp and Giles give her a look. "Yes, Dawn does know those words. She even knows the meaning and can use them in a complete and grammatically correct sentence." Ethan gave her a look as well. "You guys are making Xander feel worse. Buffy, don't you have patrol tonight?" She nodded, pointing at Willow. "Then go find Spike and Tara. I'm sure at least one of them will go with you."
"Tara?" Ethan asked.
"Willow's girlfriend. The pure Wiccan Xander mentioned. You'd like her, she'd give you hives."
"Tara's a sweet girl," Buffy defended.
"And she slays?" Ethan asked her.
"Not usually. She's more spell and research support. Plus, you know, girlfriend of Willow stuff." She shrugged and got comfortable. "What big bad are you two going to go fight?"
"Maybe we should switch," Giles offered. Ethan looked at him, then broke out in a smile. "Let our third one come deal with this mess while we go deal with the things he got sucked into."
"That might work, but could he take on a Hell God?"
"Who knows. We could ask him. Or we could simply summon him and lock him here."
"That makes more sense. That way he can't complain," Ethan said dryly. "Maybe, if we time it right, we can get the children too."
"He's got kids? Like little kids? You want little kids to come to the Hellmouth?" Buffy asked.
"Not those sort, he's a wizard at an academy," Giles told her. "Stay there. Do not free them. We'll be right back." He took Ethan's hand and they muttered something before leaving suddenly.
"I miss doing that," Anya said bitterly.
"You'll be lucky if they don't send you back to hell as a human," Dawn told her. "Ethan's really protective of Xander. Why?"
"I don't know," Buffy told her. "Usually he's been in the background." She shrugged. "Get your books and do your homework."
"Fine," she sighed. "I still don't see the point if the world's gonna end."
"If it ends, you can give me one last I told you so. Until then, it'll kill time. And let Xander sleep."
"Fine." She went back to do her homework, keeping Xander from having to get up for anything.
Giles and Ethan looked up as their third appeared, already glaring at them. "Severus," Ripper purred, moving closer.
"You had us lock that part away from you," he said, looking at Ethan.
"We have a rogue witch who did a memory charm and freed it just enough that it unraveled last night. Fortunately I was in town." He gave the stiff man a hug. "How have you been?"
"Tired. Students are trying beasts." He looked at Ripper again. "He's in danger."
"We're in more here," Ripper told him. "We've got a Hell Goddess coming for one of my charges."
"Blast!" He shook his head. "Why do you call me for such entertainment?"
"Because his slayer's a twat. He's got a slayer who's an airhead most of the time, a rogue witch, her pure wiccan girlfriend, a little sister who leaks magic, a former demon, a vampire, and a young man you've got to see to believe who's being sucked dry by the former demon. Yet, he's managed to save the world four or five times to date."
Giles counted back. "The world twice, the rest simply the town," he noted. "Maybe humanity if we're being generous." He looked at his former third partner. "Then again, we might be able to help you some. Our rogue witch is more than powerful enough to duel with him. No training, no desire any more to train, but definitely powerful. Her girlfriend's got control and power, but not like her. Willow might as well be a demon in her own right some days. Welcome to my Hellmouth."
Severus Snape glared at them. "I'll still have to leave tomorrow to attend to my force- feeding knowledge. I have Potter and the last two Weasleys right now."
"Fine. Let's go back to the shop," Ethan suggested. "That way you can look on this boy yourself and then we can figure out how to help each other. Before Glory comes back."
"Why is she here?" Snape asked as he walked between them, his usual spot.
"We had the Key sent to us," Giles said quietly. "She wants it." Snape shuddered. "Don't worry, it's safe enough so far."
Snape groaned. "Why do you get involved in that?"
"The blasted paternal unit. The same as you, Sev."
He snorted. "Mine's dead."
"Yes, but if we can, we'll help you get free," Giles promised. "Buffy's not bad for a Slayer. She's twenty."
"Twenty? A Slayer?"
Giles nodded smugly. "She has friends."
"Oh, no." He stopped him with a hand on his arm. "The witches?" Giles nodded. "The boy?" Giles nodded again. "Please tell me we won't have to deal with them."
"Not for most of the time. Buffy should be about ready to go on patrol. Xander as well." Snape frowned. "Yes, that one, Sev. He's here. Ethan noted it after he had him possessed one Halloween." He started walking again. "He's a most remarkable boy. You'd like him. He's sweet, even when he's depressed and angry." They walked into the shop, making the vampire pause mid-taunt before going on again. "Stop it," he snapped. Spike gave him a funny look. "I'm not the Giles I was last night, Spike, I suggest you mind your manners."
"Oooh, gonna beat me now?" he taunted.
"Yes, I will," he said firmly, picking up a stake and throwing it at him. If the vampire hadn't moved it would have killed him. "Do you now see the point?"
"Fine, mate. I'm gonna go hide with the demon chit."
"No, you'll sit," Ethan ordered, calling a chair over. "Where is the greedy whore anyway?"
"Hey!" Dawn complained. "She likes more than money and sex."
Ethan smirked at her. "Are you sure of that? Sit, Dawn." She got comfortable. "The boy?"
"I let him have some of my allowance so he could get a burger," she admitted. "Buffy said that was fine since Anya emptied his wallet again." Spike gave her a look. "Over a grand this week. Shoe and leather shopping."
"She needs turned," Giles said bitterly. "That'd give her everything she's ever wanted without much further trouble from her." He waved a hand. "Welcome to my insanity, Sev. Severus Snape, Potion's Master, may I introduce Dawn and Buffy Summers. The older is my Slayer. Willow is the redhead. The blonde is Tara Maclay, her girlfriend. Xander will be back shortly and I believe you already know the disease that is William the Bloody annoying, newly chipped and incapable of hurting humans."
Snape looked at Dawn, then groaned. "At least she can shield. It's a blessing in disguise."
"She's been emotional today," Ethan shared. "She was leaking earlier."
"Dawn!" Buffy said, looking worried.
"Sorry! I was upset! I corrected once I heard him!"
"You'll need to work on it more," Tara said calmly. "It needs to be automatic. With practice it will be." She looked at him. "You teach magic? There are schools for that sort of education?"
"Yes, there are. A few," he told her.
"Can we send Willow and Tara?" Buffy asked.
Giles shook his head. "They're too old. Their system starts when you're eleven." She sighed and nodded. "But I am going to arrange for someone to talk to Miss Rosenburg," he noted. She flinched. "Good, I see you have the point." He smiled at Sev, then Xander came in. "Ah, there you are. Feeling better?"
Xander nodded. "Vaguely human. What's the route tonight, Buffy?"
"I think we're figuring out if Giles' friend can help us any," she told him, waving a hand at the other person. He looked clueless. "Big guy in all black? Wearing a bathrobe thingy?"
"He can't see wizards," Ethan said, hitting himself on the head. "I'd forgotten." He looked at Severus. "We'll have to remove it from him soon."
Severus gave the boy a long look, then sighed. "He doesn't look a thing like his father."
"Thankfully. Can you see what might have happened if he did?"
"Huh?" Xander asked, still looking clueless.
"When you were born, a few spells were laid on you, including one to not let you see magic," Ethan told him. "You've got a natural inclination toward it, but we locked it away from you."
"Because we had to, or else some very bad people would hurt you," Giles told him. "This way the evil bastard couldn't touch you."
"Then how did he get here?" Willow asked.
"His caregiver ran with him, we weren't told where she was going."
"Decided that giving you up was more humane than making you live there," Severus told him, making him appear to the boy. Xander blinked and frowned at him. "I was one of the ones who did the spell for your parents. Ethan was the other."
"Then why can I see Willow and Ethan?" he asked smugly.
"Different forms of magic," Tara told him. Severus gave her an approving nod. "Who are his parents?"
"That's not important now," Ethan said briskly. "That revelation can wait until later." Severus nodded.
Buffy raised a hand. "Was this before or after Eyghon?"
"Eyghon?" Severus asked archy, frowning at his cohorts.
"Depression," Giles said simply. "Voldie?"
"Not a personal choice I made. I was drug. Now I spy," he said quietly.
"I'm sorry that you're in danger," Xander told him, moving past him. "Patrol? I want to find Glory now instead of having her find us."
"Some of us have to get up at five," he pointed out.
"Skip tomorrow. You'll be tired and have a headache," Ethan told him.
"I can't. I've got to pay Anya's bills."
"I'll cover them for you, Xander," Giles promised. "Then you can cut the stupid things up and set up an account without a debit card." Xander unstiffened and nodded. He glanced around. "Where is she?"
"Back room. She's having a fit so we locked her back there," Buffy told her. "Now what? Should I go help with their big bad?"
"It's not something he would expect," Snape noted as he sat down across from the boy. "First, we will need him most of the night."
"My name's Xander."
"Thank you. To remove the spell will give you a bad shock for a bit. We should do it tonight. Then plans can be made about the two evils." Buffy nodded. "Until then, do you live together in a warded domicile?"
"I've warded it as much as I could," Tara offered. "But no, not right now."
"I'm sensing a sleepover," Buffy noted. Snape gave her a look. "Hey, it's not often these days we get a day off."
"We'll go patrol," Willow told her. "That way we won't get in their way."
"No, you will stay here," Severus told her coolly. "Where I can watch you. You are dangerous to the general world. I do not want you out in it." He looked back at Giles. "I will be taking her back with me. Perhaps Albus can get through to her."
"You take Willow, you take all of us," Buffy said firmly.
"That may be an option," Ethan said calmly. "For now, the lot of you go do something else. Except you, Alexander." He nodded and Dawn gave him a look. "You, go sit in the back and do something safe and useful."
"Fine," she said with disgust, getting up to do that.
Snape gave the other men a questioning look. "Yes, we know," Buffy told him. "Are you sure you can trust him?"
"Yes, Buffy, I'm quite sure I can trust him," Giles said firmly. "Go patrol."
"Kick some butt for me, Buffster."
"Sure, Xander." She gave the stranger another look as they filed out. Then she nudged Spike. "Do you know him?"
"His kind. He's a wizard. Uses a wand." He lit a cigarette. "Dangerous sort but I'd expect no less to be their friends." He shrugged. "They'll be safe."
Severus looked at the boy. "You have questions," he said blandly.
"Well, yeah. You come in, say I was sent away from my parents for my own good, then don't say anything else. Who are they? Who am I? Am I able to do magic? Those are just off the top of my head. I'm sure I can come up with more if I tried."
Giles sat down but it was Ethan who answered him. "We three went to school together," he said, pacing a little bit. "It was dangerous times, Alexander. Things were just starting to escalate into a war. Our last year some of our year mates were inspired to do something incredibly stupid, yet very brave. We decided to have children. Even those of us in same- sex relationships. You're from one of those by the way." Xander nodded slowly. "By the time the children were born, the war had started. Many of us decided that we'd rather see our children live, safely, away from our world. Some sent their children to their relatives. Some sent their children away. Some of us were fairly paranoid and locked our children away from our magic with the help of our friends and sent the child away because we were being recruited by the wrong side."
"As such," Giles started. "You were in some of the worst danger. Your parents were incredibly powerful and wanted by the Dark. The Dark Lord wanted you to be proof of their fealty. One of them was dragged anyway by his relatives. It's basically a pureblood movement and one of your fathers was. The mother, I suppose you would say, isn't. The Dark Lord wanted you bad enough to prove his point. To make your father beg and plead to join him to spare you. That's why your mother had us lock your powers away and send you off. How you got in this Gods-forsaken hole I'm not sure. We didn't track your caregiver so he couldn't track her."
Severus sighed sadly. "It was the worst mistake some of us could have made. Eventually, the war was solved for a few years by an infant destroying his physical body."
"I'm sensing a but," Xander put in.
Severus nodded. "He's recently regained corporeality. The war's restarted and now your father has been summoned back to his side because the death he would have is worse and it keeps you safe. He does what he can to bother the Dark Lord's plans but not successfully enough so far."
Ethan groaned and sat down. "If the Dark Lord finds you, your life could be forfeit. That is why we are telling you this. You do have the choice to live on without it. Even if we do remove the block, it wouldn't be useful for years. If then. You're well beyond the usual teaching age. As Ripper said, we started at eleven. Your mind would be more flexible then and now you're more set in your ways. It can hinder the learning process."
"Am I like my parents?"
"You're very much like your mother," Giles said sadly. "You look like him and you act like a carefree version of him, at least when you're not with Anya." He groaned. "The Dark Lord would be able to feel you were still in existence, Xander. It would bring more danger."
"But it'd help, right? Especially with Willow being off?"
"It would," Giles agreed. "There is a spell that could help you learn faster. It would give you our memories. It would activate that latent spark that's caused you so much trouble."
"The book in tenth grade?" he asked. Giles nodded. "The possessions?" Giles nodded again. "The love spell?"
Giles gave him a sad smile. "Your mother had the same thing happen to him," he shared. He swallowed. "There are others out there who are finding out the same thing now that the war has restarted. We didn't want to hurt you but we felt it was for the best. That's probably why you were sent here."
Xander sighed. "I'm still sensing another but."
"There is," Snape agreed. "The remaining one is that now you can be called. You're of age. Even though you're not totally pure, he can call some exceptional half-breeds. As your mother was one such and your father was a pureblood, there's every chance you'll be called to him. If you do, he can and will torture you until you give in. There are spells that cause pain you've never imagined."
"You have no idea what I've been through in my life," Xander pointed out.
"I've been under the spell and in misery myself, young man. It will be worse."
"Fine." Xander looked at Giles. "Your opinion would be?"
"Do so," Giles said firmly. "It can only help everyone. We'll deal with Willow later. For now, we need to unlock you, get you shielded as quickly as possible, then work on teaching you as fast as we can."
"We could bring them back," Severus pointed out. "I'm sure Albus would be *thrilled* to have him and Miss Rosenburg."
"Yes, but we rather need them here to deal with the Hell Goddess," Ethan pointed out. "She wants the Key." Snape shuddered. "I'm supposing she wants to go home?" Ripper grimaced and nodded. "Which would suck this world into hell." His face lit up. "Perhaps we could get the Dark Lord to fight her in his own self interest? He wouldn't survive hell."
"I doubt it. He's still obsessed with Potter."
"How is the boy?"
"Scrawny, famous, and annoying. A rule breaker," he said firmly.
"Who's managed it each year so far," he finished bitterly. "Last year he escaped him."
Giles smiled. "So he's got his mother's brains and his father's balls?"
"Poor thing," Ethan said dryly.
"And this kid would be?" Xander asked.
Giles smiled a bit sadly. "Two of our schoolmates from a year behind us, in Severus' year, had a child, Harry I believe they named him. He's the one who defeated the body of the Dark Lord."
"And now he keeps coming back again and again," Ethan finished. "Like your slayer, only famous against his will from what I've seen."
"Poor kid," Xander sighed. He looked at Severus. "Which parent of mine are you?"
"Your father. How did you know?"
"Why else would they specifically call you? Ethan knows a lot of sorcerers and wizards I bet, yet they called you, who's already involved in another fight and have a full time job on top of that. It made sense to me." He looked at Ethan. "That would make you my mother?" Ethan stiffened. "You can say no, I won't know the difference."
"No, I am," Ethan said sadly. "I recognized you after that Halloween. I'm rather sorry for that by the way."
"I'm not. The memories have helped tons. It helped us defeat the Judge. It helps me break into military bases. It even helped us defeat the Initiative." He shrugged. "So I went wacko for a night. What else is new?" He looked at this new source of information. "How many others?" He felt calm, this explained a lot of things that had been happening to him over the years. Being Ethan's son explained a lot of his life actually.
"I have one with Ethan," Giles said quietly. "I carried her. I have no idea where she is though. She got sent away later than you did. She was nearly a year old." He looked at the young man. "I've often thought Oz might have been one but I checked and he's not. He simply looks like one of the Weasley's cousins."
Ethan snorted. "There's enough of them, it's entirely possible he's a squib."
"What about my future?" Xander asked.
"It would be dangerous to bring you to my world," Severus told him. "It could be done but you would have to be fully proficient. Proficient enough to pass muster among the pure bloods." Xander nodded slowly. "I doubt you can pull up that much scorn for anyone."
"Can I bring my demon bitch?"
"No," Snape said, shaking his head. "I don't think we need her there. Which one?"
"Anyanka," Ethan said distastefully. "She's turned into a prostitute as well. Demands and takes his money."
"That can be fixed," Snape said dryly. "I need to contact the school. Do we have a fireplace handy?"
"I've got a floo port on the wood stove," Giles said, leading him back to it.
Ethan stared at his boy. "I am sorry, Xander."
"Eh. It explains a lot," he said dryly, giving him a long look. "Don't expect cards."
"I never would have dreamed of it," he assured him with a small smirk. He lost it. "Ripper hasn't told me anything about your past. He said it would only hurt more."
"It probably would," Xander agreed. "Won't that memory spell work both ways?" Ethan nodded. "And we agree it's the fastest way to get me trained?" Ethan nodded faster this time. "Then I'm not seeing a problem with it. I want to know what's going on."
"And you shall," he agreed. "We used to be a trio, the three of us." He cleared his throat and rubbed a thumb on his opposite palm over a scar. "It was wonderful, Xander. Severus was more likeable then. Ripper was the man you see today, only your age. I was more carefree. More like you were the first time we met, telling bad jokes and the like. Then the war started. Severus was dragged away by his father. Ripper and I were split by his but we kept in touch to work together to protect Sev as much as possible. Then one night the protections snapped, left us feeling dead air. We weren't sure he was alive for months." He sighed, glancing up at the boy, then back at that scar. "We tried everything, then we got depressed when no one would tell us. They all thought we had abandoned him you see."
"I can see how people might think that about you."
"Yes, well, I wasn't always this jaded," he said bitterly, glaring at the younger man. "I've done many things to gain power in my life. One of them was giving you up. Mostly I'm a necessary force in the world."
"Of course you are," Ripper agreed from the doorway. "Even in my other form I know that, though it irritates me that you're still free to be yourself now and then." He gave Xander a cool look. "Behave."
"I am. He was telling me how we all got this way."
"It's fine, Ripper. He didn't make an accusation. I'm emotional and I snapped at him." He gave him a brave smile. "I wish we could find our daughter."
"I wish I could too. She's got to be bloody trouble." He smiled at him and went back to helping the other one by giving him a long hug. "I've missed you," he whispered.
"And I you, Ripper."
Ethan looked at Xander again. "I've protected Ripper all these years, been the open target since his father forced him to the Watchers. I've done what I had to do to survive, nothing more."
"Again, not accusing. Trying to understand."
"I know," Ethan assured him. "It's a long and hard tale, Alexander." He let out a small laugh. "Did you know your original name was Vellian?"
"My middle name is Lavelle."
"Ah. That makes sense." He gave him a smile. "You look so much more like Sev than me."
"I have your nose."
"Thankfully," Ethan agreed. "He's a strong and proud man."
"Good. It means he's survived this long."
"Yes, we have," Ethan agreed. "Where so many haven't, we have. I still wish I could see our daughter."
"How did you carry me?"
"A very hard chaos spell. We activated it for each of us but Sev's body rejected it. Otherwise there would have been a third of you to meet." He shifted seats, moving closer so he could touch him on the back of the hand. "We wanted you, Alexander. We wanted you for our own selfish reasons, we simply couldn't keep you."
"I get that. It's okay, Ethan. I know how life fucks up things." He nodded and looked at their joined hands again. "I'm not gay, right?"
Ethan burst out in laughs, which drew the other two. "Our son just asked if he was gay."
"Not that I've noticed," Giles noted. "Have you found any men attractive?" Xander blushed and shook his head quickly. "Really? Any you'd care to share?"
"No!" he said, giving him a dirty look. "I liked the other you better, he never picked on me." He stood up and went into the kitchen to get a soda. His father joined him. "Hey." He looked him over. "You okay? You look kinda ill."
"I work in a dungeon."
"Oh. Okay. By choice?" Severus nodded. "Is that why I like beating up on the demons?"
Severus snorted, shaking his head. "I teach potions down there. It's similar to chemistry for muggles."
"Another subject I barely passed," Xander sighed. "I guess I'm a disappointment, huh?"
"No, not in the least. I excel in a number of fields, including Defense. As does your mother. Ripper was always best in Charms." He grimaced. "Quite a funny bastard most of the time." He moved closer. "I have to know. Do you want to join our world?"
"I have no damn idea," Xander told him. "Here, I've got a job, a duty, and a girlfriend who sucks money like a vacuum. There what would I have?"
"That's yet to be seen," Severus admitted. "We could try it out I suppose. I can get you a tutor among my students to help you over the summer. We could work in a year of training at the school."
"Will not be your fight or your duty," Severus said firmly. "That is Mr. Potter's."
"Fighting a war by yourself sucks. It's a lonely and painful job. Just ask Buffy."
"He has his friends."
"Let me guess, you don't like him because his parents kept him?" Severus glared at him. "Sorry. Sometimes I'm perceptive," he sighed, grabbing his soda and walking back to the table. "What will we need to do to remove the spell? A half a gift is more than I've got now. It can only help."
"True," Giles agreed. "We can go back to my place and do it easily enough. Did you check on Dawn?"
"Nope. Dawn!" he called. She came out of the back room with her backpack on. "You wanna come help us?"
"No," Ethan said. "Glory could be drawn to it."
"She's seen me before," Dawn told him. "She came to threaten Buffy and even talked to me."
"We can give her advanced lessons in shielding. You've let yours slip as well, Ripper." He looked the girl over. "How old are you?"
"At least you're still young enough to train. You won't have many funny notions."
"I'm taking some minor training from Willow and Tara." Ethan moaned. "What? They're good."
"Willow is our last problem to be dealt with," Giles told her. "She's on a dangerous path. She'll end up hurting someone soon. I saw it." The other men nodded and took that as a certainty. "Come on. It's close enough to walk."
"On the Hellmouth?" Severus asked. "Are you mad?"
"No, but my slayer is patrolling," he said smartly. "It's been quiet recently. We'll be fine."
"Besides, everyone knows some of us," Xander told him as he stood up with a small moan of complaint. "Damn knees."
"Staining the floor again?" Dawn asked, taking his arm to walk with him. He nodded, giving her a bitter look. "Maybe you won't have to do that anymore."
"I like my job. I build houses for people who want them."
"Maybe you could build magical houses for people who want them," she suggested brightly. She felt Ethan doing something and looked back at him. "You okay?"
"Putting up an ignoring charm," he said quietly. "Walk." They walked the four blocks, making it inside without attracting too much scrutiny.
Buffy looked at Willow. "They could get you really trained," she said excitedly. "You could learn all sorts of spells. I mean, if it's a magic high school then they'd have to have a whole library full of spells and stuff, right? It'd be really great, even if only just a year."
"Yeah, but you need me," Willow pointed out.
"I bet you could learn that nifty teleporting thing they did earlier and come back whenever I needed you," Buffy encouraged. "Maybe you can take Tara and she could do an herb study year or something. That way you could bring her and switch stuff each night."
"Yeah, maybe," Willow said, perking up at that. "There's got to be all sorts of stuff I don't know. Maybe grumpy guy can make his headmaster admit me."
"Maybe," Tara agreed faithfully, though she kept her doubts to herself. She smiled at Buffy. "Maybe she'll get to wear robes."
"Yeah, though not in black. It's not your color," Buffy told her. Tara smiled and she went off talking about all the neat stuff she could learn, including petting dragons and stuff.
Xander woke up after the spells were done. It had been like a dream for him. He had seen a lot of stuff he probably didn't need to know, including his own conception. He understood so much more now and he decided he could try to like his new parents, they weren't that bad and they had cared for him. He frowned at Giles. "My sister's in New York," he told her. "She's fine. Unhappy but fine."
"Thank you." He gave him a hug. "I was meant to be your godfather you know."
"I saw. You guys had incredibly detailed memories." Ethan and Severus both blushed. He shook his head. "The snake thing?"
"Voldemort," Ethan said bitterly. "Their bad guy."
"Hmm. I'm thinking a Willow/Buffy/Harry person trio would kick his ass beautifully." He shook his head again and looked at his mother. "Who's the planner? I've never understood where I got that from."
"I am," Severus told him.
"Cool. That explains that. And I got Mom's marks in school." Ethan groaned, flopping backwards. "Do I need a wand?"
"We don't know, do you?" Giles asked.
Xander concentrated on the nearest item, giving himself a headache but it lifted. "Wow. I hope that gets easier with practice."
"Like all muscles, it will," Severus promised. He pulled out a pocket watch. "I'll be back in a few hours. You nap on Ripper's couch. I'm getting you a tutor." Xander nodded, crawling up onto the couch and laying on his side. Severus used his portkey to get back to his dungeons, startling his first class of the day. "Dismissed!" They ran out and he went up to talk to the Headmaster. "Albus," he said, smiling slightly. "We've had the most incredible night."
"I heard." He gave him a long look. "How is your son?"
"Wonderful. A lot like Ethan actually." Albus chuckled at that and he sat down. "I need to find him a tutor and we're thinking about bringing Ripper's Slayer over to help once she defeats the Hell Goddess which is currently trying to destroy the world."
Snape sighed, starting from the top. Ripper's memories had flown into his head as well and it was a long, involved tale.
Xander woke up to a rude shove and punched the person in the stomach. "Go away."
"That's a fine welcome," he said snidely.
Xander opened his eyes, looking at the blond, arrogant looking young man. "Twit, I just had all my magic unleashed at once and three people's memories from over forty years shoved into my head. You can wait ten more minutes. Find some food or something." He firmly closed his eyes until he heard Anya outside the door. "Shit. Anya's coming," he called.
"Blast!" Giles yelled from upstairs. "I've called the credit card companies, Xander. Don't worry about this." He opened the door, stopping her in mid rant with some customer service rep, who he felt sorry for. "Yes, they were canceled, Anya. What you did is called Fraud. He only *has* to allow you to use them if you're married." He shut the door again, leaning against it. He looked at the boy. "Lucius bred?"
"Funny," Draco said dryly. "Yes, he did. With Narcissa."
"Poor girl. Having to touch that clammy, loony bastard. He always was a blight on the arse of humanity and wizardkind. Don't take after him, you'll end up dead and spat upon. Probably by my godson." He looked at Xander, who was heading for the kitchen. "I made some coffee." Xander paused to look at him. "Yes, real coffee. Ethan enjoys it. There's scones too."
"Cool. My heritage is going to influence my breakfast," he said, looking out the window. "She's still there." He frowned at the door and it locked, making Giles jump and him bounce in happiness, until the headache hit. "Ow."
"Start small and work your way up," Giles soothed, coming over to find him the aspirin.
Draco sat down with a look of disgust. "He can do wandless?"
"He can do both," Giles told him. "What did Sev tell you?"
"Only that I was to come tutor this young man, who was a pureblood's offspring. He's my head of house but he doesn't trust me."
"Hmm. Wonder why?" Xander asked him. "You're radiating bad vibes, kid." He took the aspirin then went for the coffee. He needed caffeine. "Did someone call my boss?"
"Yes, Xander. We did call as soon as you fell asleep and left a message on his machine." Xander gave him a small smile before gathering breakfast and taking it to the table. "Malfoy, would you like some? I made the scones myself."
"No, thank you," he said politely enough, for him. He came over to look over Xander. "First, if he's going to pass, he'll have to wear different clothes. Then we'll have to get him a wand and teach him the basics with it."
"As he progresses, more things that we knew will pop up and be like he's known them all along," Giles told him. "He'll need a broom too." Draco's eyes lit up. "I thought you might fly. Your father was miserable at it. Is he still sleeping with a house elf as a teddy bear?"
Draco gaped at him. "He what?"
"His first three years he had his personal elf there to sleep with," he said dryly. "Then it mysteriously disappeared one night. All we ever heard was his father got upset at him for some reason," he finished smugly.
"I still say he buggered him and his father found out," Ethan noted as he came down the stairs in Giles' pajama bottoms. "Morning, Xander."
"Hey. Giles made coffee."
"Thankfully. Otherwise I'd have to suck on him for nutrition." He pulled down some cereal, earning a hurt look. "What? Did you make them?" Giles nodded. "Which recipe?"
"Thank you." He gave him a long kiss then took his own breakfast scones to the table to have with his coffee. He looked at Draco. "He slept with a woman?"
"At least once," Draco said dryly. "Narcissa."
"Ah." He nodded. "Wonderful. She a cold bitch still?"
"Frigid as ice," Draco admitted dryly. "How would you know?"
"I dated her before him. Wouldn't even let me touch her hand unless there was a ring on it. Frigid as the antarctic too. Stood perfectly still when you kissed her, like she was a statue. Took no joy from anything."
"Mother likes her shopping," Draco told him. "Her jewelry collection comes ahead of me in her affections."
"That sucks," Xander told him. "At least I knew that my adoptive parents hated me equally to everything else in their lives."
"Ripper, remind me to stop over there later," Ethan called.
"Of course, love. Eat so it'll take longer."
"Guys!" Xander complained. "They tried."
"They failed miserably and don't deserve anything for that," Ethan assured him. "Eat, son."
"Fine, Mother." He dunked his scone into his coffee then ate it, making Draco give him a horrified look. "What? It's edible."
"It's horrible manners."
"Yay," he said firmly. "I eat like every other person on the face of the earth, with little quirks when I'm at home." He did it again and finished off that scone, stealing one of Ethan's. "What are we doing today?"
"Finding Glory and pounding her to a pulp," Ethan said firmly. "I've had enough of the bitch. She's interrupting my plans for a homecoming."
Xander misted up. "Really?" Ethan nodded. "Can I adopt Dawn then?"
"If you'd like and your father agrees," Ethan said firmly. Xander beamed at him. "Eat."
"Fine. I'm eating." He ate another bite then drained his coffee and got up to get some more.
Ethan could almost hear Draco's thoughts about how he didn't look like a mother. He smirked at the poor thing. "Yet I managed to maintain my figure through the pregnancy," he quipped.
Draco shuddered. "You're disgusting." His mentor appeared with a crack of displaced air. "What did you want me to teach him? Table manners, clothing, etiquette? All of the above?"
Severus gave him a look. "I need him able to fit into our world, Draco. He must appear to be one of us." He looked at his son's outfit, wincing at the bright colors on the shirt he had ignored last night. It had looked darker last night. "We'll start with some shopping."
"I like my shirts," Xander told him.
"Not even Dumbledore wears that loud of clothes," Draco told him. "What will he be studying?"
"Magical construction," Xander said firmly. "I like working with my hands. I also fight. By the way, whoever took on that big Fyarl with his bare hands deserved what he got." They all groaned. "I mean it. Next time, get a bat." He sipped his coffee.
"He's not had the greatest of role models, but he managed to be delicate," Giles pointed out.
"It's a start," Draco agreed dryly. "When will he have to appear?"
"Hopefully not until Glory's dead and Dawn's on break," Xander told him.
"Unfortunately I have to be back at the school in another two days," Severus told him. "As does Draco."
"Two days?" Xander asked. "Are we doing that memory thing again?"
"We might have to," Giles noted. "It would only help. None of us were as extensively drilled in manners as Mr. Malfoy. Did he really marry Narcissa?"
"Yes, the cold loon married the living ice sculpture," Severus said dryly. "I was at his wedding, best man even. It was pitiful. She stood there and nodded until he showed her the ring, then she got very misty eyed. He kept looking at the pianist." He looked at his godson. "You cannot pick on him about his affection for house elves. He will kill you."
"He tortures them."
"No, he only tortures some so he doesn't want them anymore. It's classical psychology." He looked over his son's shirt again. "What about that woman?"
"Gone for now," Giles admitted. "I had his cards canceled and reported her theft of them so he wouldn't have to pay so much. The bank froze his account with some encouragement. His boss knows he'll be off for a few weeks at the least."
"All that leaves is Glory," Ethan noted. "And Rosenburg." He saluted Severus. "Does the old quack have a solution?"
"He wants to examine her. We're to bring the whole group as a lesson. Miss Summers will be inducted into the school before they get there. She'll be coming with us."
Xander looked at the clock. "She'll be in math right now."
"That's fine. The rest are to fly over like the muggles they are."
"I don't think Buffy or Tara have passports. That could take over a month," Giles noted.
"Which is more than acceptable. We are to bring Rosenburg, our son, and Dawn with us."
"What about Spike?" Xander asked.
"Do you have great affections for the vampire?"
"Well, no, but he's useful."
"Then he can come over as their guard. They can figure something out." He clapped his hands. "Shall I go retrieve Dawn?"
Giles shook his head. "Let me. You work on finding the hell twat."
"We're doing what to a hell god?" Draco asked carefully.
"Glory is in our way, boy. Don't worry, we won't make you fight her. We need her eliminated though. No others coming to help?"
"He offered us Potter. I turned him down. I also turned down the generous offer of the Weasley twins."
Ethan shook his head. "I want them. Get them. They can be damn useful."
"Fine," he sighed. "You take care of them."
"Of course. I can even give them ideas." He went to call the headmaster and inform him of the suggested change. "Alexander, go pack. Pack as much as you can so she can't destroy it."
"Did I forget to mention she can't get into their apartment?" Giles asked with a mean smirk.
"Breaking up with your woman?" Draco asked Xander.
Xander nodded. "Apparently. She took my money, threw out my chocolate stash, and then whines because I only give her six or seven orgasms a night. All this on top of a full time, physically demanding job and slaying."
Draco's mouth fell open again and he looked at Snape, who nodded. He closed his mouth and swallowed. "Fine. Do you need help? That way I can go through your wardrobe before you pack?"
"I'm bringing it anyway," Xander said firmly. "You can come help me pack though." He stood up and headed for the door. "I can't apparate, right?"
"Not without a license," Severus said firmly.
"Bullshit. There's no way they'd catch us here," Draco said firmly. "You'll need a wand."
"No, Mom knows how to do the demon teleporting thingy." He waved and disappeared with a small pop.
"I'm damn proud," Ethan announced. "He didn't pass out yet."
Ripper laughed. "Go to him, Draco. I set a marker earlier."
Draco rolled his eyes. "Another damn pureblooded loon, wonderful."
"Three-quarters," Severus corrected dryly. "His mother's half."
Draco sneered at him. "You?"
Draco saw the rage building. "Sorry. I'm sure his mother was a beautiful person at one point in time. Hopefully you had a lot of fun while it lasted, sir." He disapparated before he died. He looked around the apartment in disgust. "Did she get here first?"
"Last night," Xander said, coming out with a packed bag, which he tossed out the window. Then he went back to pack his things now that her sex toys weren't in his dresser anymore. The things the dirty ones had been laying on got left however.
Xander looked around the robe shop, then at his mother. "You want me to wear what?" he asked.
"Xander, it is perfectly standard," Ethan pointed out firmly, yet gently. "We'll make you look smashing and debonair."
"You'll make me look like a geek playing dress up, Ethan."
The saleswoman smiled at them. "Having trouble deciding?"
"The boy is rather an active sort and he's more of a constructionist so he wears simple clothes. He's never been one for robes and fancy garments," Ethan told her. "Now he must as his father has admitted he exists." He looked the boy over. "He'll need to have some formal robes and some robes to help him fit in better. His father's from an *old* family."
"Ah," she said wisely, nodding and leading the boy to another rack. "How about these then, sir?"
"They're still long and would get in my way in a fight," Xander pointed out. "Don't you have anything about hip length?"
"Most people like their robes to barely brush the floor," she pointed out gently. "Do you construct boxes and things?"
"Right now, houses," he told her. Her face lit up. "I was studying the muggle construction methods so I had a firm foundation to base the magic on. It's how I work best. But I'm *fascinated* with Ollivander's shop."
"You'd have to marry him then," Ethan said firmly. "Only family works in there, son." He patted him on the back. "I like the midnight one." Xander looked at him then pulled it out and held it against his body. Ethan grimaced. "Good point. Your best attributes are hidden by a robe." He groaned. "Your father will not be pleased."
Giles strode in and the saleswoman gave him a dirty look. "Don't be like that, Maddy. We didn't abandon the world, only got dragged on different paths while protecting each other. I see you've met my protégé, Xander?" She nodded. "He needs battle clothes. Practical, plain, simple, yet high class enough to get on with his father. His father's from an older family you see."
"Your third?" she hissed.
"My son," Ethan said firmly with a touch of frost in his voice.
She swallowed. "I see." She looked at Xander, then nodded. "I'd heard you had locked his powers away. How long has he been active?"
"More than long enough," Xander said, calling over her pen and handing it to her. "Giles has been watching over me now for a few years, handling my early training."
"Well." She smiled at him. "Where did they hide you?"
"The Hellmouth," Giles told her. "Speaking of which, we all need clothes, Maddy, love. It's important that we look our best when we go to present the poor boy to his father officially. Xander will still need something rather plain and unassuming. He's rather like that."
"I have just the thing," she said, taking him back to the back room. "Usually these are just work clothes, lab robes and the like, but we have had some come in made with nicer fabrics. They'd be good for your training times and for your formal announcement." She pulled down one, it looked like a black lab coat. "How about something like this?"
Xander frowned and shook his head, wandering around. He pulled out one then smiled and held it up. "Something like this for the practical things?"
"That would be useful. Mostly Potions people wear those." She raised an eyebrow. "How very fitting. What colors would you like, dear?"
"I don't care," Xander admitted. "Usually I wear Hawaiian shirts and enjoy it."
She chuckled and led him back to the other room, calling out her supply of those robes. "How many should I fit?" she asked Ethan. She liked him more.
"Maybe four for now," Ethan noted. "Plus three good sets as well. Then we'll be going to fix his other wardrobe problems."
"I need underthings," Xander said firmly.
"Did you run out?" Giles asked.
"No, Anya put her used toys on top of mine and I wasn't about to touch them again," he said firmly. Both older men shuddered. "Hence me leaving them there."
"That is more than acceptable," Giles agreed, giving him a look. "I would have put them into her drawers."
"The thought had crossed my mind but then again I did throw her toys out." He smirked. "Do I have to get fashionable things?"
"Yes," both older men said in unison.
"Make your father proud, Xander," Ethan sighed. "I'm sure you'll learn to enjoy the feel of velvet and silk."
"Only if the fuzzy side's inside," he said. "I like fuzzy things, but I'd rather have cuddly and soft things."
"We do have a few flannel robes," Maddy offered.
"Maybe this winter," Giles told her. He called over a chair and sat down. "For now, let's stick with the summer stuff. Then we'll see if he'll need some winter clothes or not." He looked over as Draco walked in. "Finally. Our boy needs some help with his formal wear."
"What is that?" Draco asked, pointing at the robe on the boy.
"Practical," Xander said firmly.
"Hideous," Draco corrected.
"It's for work, Draco. Not for pleasure."
Draco groaned and shook his head. "Fine. Then let's deal with that issue quickly before someone sees and tells your father." He looked around the shop, coming back with an outfit over his shoulder. "Try this one. It's dueler's robes."
"Brilliant," Ethan agreed, looking at Giles.
"Very," Giles agreed. "Fairly froufy though."
"He'll look fine," Draco assured them. "It will suit his body and its more muscular status, but also send a clear message about who and what he can do." Maddy Malkin put the robe on the boy, letting him try it out. "I know it's heavy, but it'll breath very well, Xander."
Xander moved his arms and stared at himself in the mirror. "Not horrible," he admitted. "I look like an actor in a bad play." He looked at the long, low hanging sleeves. "Those have got to go. They drag on the ground."
"They're formal," Draco told him. "The informal ones have a better set of sleeves. Loose without being annoying. That's court wear."
"Why would I need to go to court? Am I suing someone?"
"Royalty sort, not criminal," Giles told him. He looked at Draco and nodded. "Good eye, boy."
"Thank you, old fart." He crossed his arms, studying Xander's reflections and back. "It's a bit long as well. He won't want a train I think."
"The informal ones are by the wardrobe," she told him. "Go pick out a few sets."
"He'll need to look presentable," Ethan said as the boy walked away.
"Hey, Giles, since I got all those nifty things in my head now, will it cross over to the training and stuff you've done to get ready for Buffy?"
"It very well could," he admitted. "Do you feel like you could mimic some of the moves?"
"I do. I didn't know you could throw a knife." He looked back at him. "Or a stake."
Giles smirked at him. "There are probably many things you weren't aware of before, Xander. We'll work on those skills with you." Xander nodded, going back to staring at himself. "His hair next," he ordered.
"The rest of his clothes next," Ethan corrected. "Then his hair." Draco came back with a few dark robes and two lighter ones. "Light colors?"
"For days," he reported. He handed them over. "Here." He looked at them. "Next shop?"
"Regular clothes," Giles told him.
"Addalia's then," Draco said, walking out to go down there. He walked in the door and motioned a salesgirl over. "I am helping prepare a young son for his formal acknowledgment. He'll be here in a moment, he's at Madam Malkin's getting dueling robes. That's what looks best on him and fits his nature best. He'll need fully kitted." He showed her the picture he had taken earlier.
"Oh." Her eyes went wide and she looked at him. "He looks a lot like Professor Sn...." She trailed off as the boy was brought in with his guardians. "Oh, you are him!" she said, smiling at Giles.
"Hello, Ads. This is Xander, and you're correct. He is." He gave the boy a push forward. "He'll need from the bottoms up. His girlfriend put disgusting things on his spare underthings."
"Of course." She led him to the appropriate racks, picking out things that he would need most for now. "How long are you staying?"
"I don't know yet," Xander admitted. "It depends on the situation and my home."
"Tell her what you do," Draco encouraged.
"My Slayer is facing a hell goddess tonight."
Her eyes got wide again. "Oh, dear. You work with a slayer?" He nodded, grinning at her. "Then you'd be a Harris?"
"By adoption apparently," he said dryly.
She led him to a different rack, getting him fighting clothes in soft, supple, stretching fabrics. "It's not usually a man's fabric, but it will flow around you and make you look wonderful, plus it won't wrinkle, won't stain, and you'll be able to move freely in it."
He felt the shirt, then nodded. "I like that. I'll also need some work clothes. I'm learning magical construction now. I've already studied the muggle ways of constructing houses and things."
She smiled and nodded, pointing at another rack. "Purely practical, all with an anti-wear and anti-tearing charm." He smiled and let her lead him around, but Draco got to approve everything.
Buffy looked up as the odd guy joined her at the site of the battle. "It worked," she admitted, handing over the impermeability charm. "She's dead. Now what?"
"Now, we bind her," Severus instructed. "That way she can't come back or be brought back." He started the containment circle, weathering her interested looks. Apparently the girl had never seen *real* magic done before. "Tell me about my son," he requested quietly.
"Xan's a good guy. He tries really hard and won't give up, even when he needs to. He's always wanted to be special. He jumps in even when he can get killed." She shrugged. "More recently he's changed." She let out a nervous laugh. "We haven't been close in a while, since that whole Initiative thing started, but he's still been there for me. He's like a big puppy. Sometimes he's bouncy, but let anyone come in his yard and he'll yap until they get the point. His bark is usually worse than his bite, but he's pulled some pretty incredible stuff before. He's also been the one who's had it pulled on him and needing the saving actions of the group," she admitted. "Xander's very easy to like, it's like he radiates 'please like me' vibes or something. I'm guessing he wasn't happy at his other parent's home, but he survived. Survivor and loyal are the words I use whenever I think about Xander," she finished firmly.
"Interesting. Those are not words usually used to describe anyone in my family, but perhaps he'll still be happy with us." He glanced around, then finished it just as she stood up. "Hmm. Dead?" he asked Buffy.
"Was. She quit breathing and everything. Do I get to chop off her head?"
"Perhaps," he noted. He could almost get to like this young woman, she was vicious at times, when she used her head at all. When she didn't, well, he wouldn't kill her as a favor to Ripper. The Hell Goddess ran into his barrier and he sighed, handing back the charm and a sword. "Here."
"Thanks," she said with a grin, getting into the circle. It wasn't meant to keep her out. She took an experimental swing but Glory tried to rip it from her hands. "Naughty!" she said, swatting her with it. "Bad you!"
"What? Are you going to sit me in a corner?"
"How about in a cage?" Buffy sneered. The outer door opened and let in a set of twins and a younger guy. "Hey." She went back to trying to kill this thing. "Can't you knock her down or something?"
"She's a girl, fight like a girl," one of the twins suggested, looking at Snape. "You..."
"Rang?" the other twin finished.
Harry sneezed. "Sorry, floo powder up my nose." He scratched it and looked at the two women. "One of them doesn't look right."
"The irritating blonde without the sword is a Hell Goddess, Glory. The other is Miss Summers."
"The current Slayer?" Harry Potter asked.
"Indeed," Snape said dryly. "Shouldn't you be at the school?"
"Dumbledore told us to bring him," Fred told him.
"It's not like we can argue with the man," George pointed out.
"He does get pissed when we try," Harry agreed. He raised his wand then aimed. "Impedimentia!" The Hell Goddess froze for a second but broke free. "She's a lot stronger than Voldemort."
"Pfft. That skanky wannabe has nothing on me, little boy."
Buffy stabbed her once her back was turned. "That's why he's my next target." She pulled out the sword and stabbed her again. And again. And again.
Snape groaned and shook his head. "We'll be cleaning this town tonight. Mr. Potter will be going back to the school."
"No I'm not. Dumbledore said he wanted me to get more field experience, whatever that means," Harry defended. "I can't fight with him either, Professor."
Snape glared at him. "As soon as we get back, your house will be losing twenty points for your insolence."
"Yes, sir," he said cheekily. "What's this Dumbledore said about your son, sir?"
"Son?" Fred asked.
"You have children?" George asked, shocked fully. He looked at his twin. "He had a girl?"
"Apparently," Fred agreed. "Shall we help the delicate young woman?"
"Indeed, that way she won't have to scrub blood from under her nails tonight," George agreed.
"Actually, it's the hair that it's hardest to come out of," Buffy told them. "Some of the slime I've had on me made me want to shave myself bald by the time I got myself partially clean." She got out of their way as they stepped into the ring to help her. "Don't you guys have the charm thingy?"
"No, but she's down, love."
"Let's work fast, all right?"
She nodded, leaning on the sword. "Okay." She looked at the professor. "Hey, Sevvie, can we go open the hellmouth for a minute and toss her back if she won't die?"
"Do not call me by that infernal name," he said, glaring at her. "No, you may not. If you cannot dispose of her, there are other places for her to be sent." He looked at Potter. "Not going to help?"
"I was told to let them help you with her but I got to help with any demons and nasty things of that sort, professor."
"I see. The Headmaster and I shall be having a discussion about putting young children into battle."
"Hey, I was fifteen when I took on this job."
"He started at eleven," George told her.
"Despite everyone's efforts to stop him," Fred finished, looking at Harry. "Mum knows."
"She's said a few choice things to Ron," George told him.
"Threatened to ship him off too," Fred reminded him.
"Hmm. Or have him married off."
"Ron's mine!" Harry snapped.
"Really?" they asked, looking very interested.
"Does Ron know?"
"Have you been shagging in the dorms?"
"Or have you gotten wise and found a private spot like the attic above Hufflepuff?"
"Or possibly the root cellar?"
"Or the furniture storage rooms?"
"Or even McGonagall's classroom?"
Fred looked at George. "I still say that was an exhibitionist move on your part."
"True," he said smugly, "but we didn't get caught for transfiguring pillows."
"Hmm. Good point."
"Good show too," George agreed.
Buffy looked at them, then grinned. "You two are neat." She stabbed at the Hell Goddess again. "Let's finish her off so we can go get ice cream."
They smiled and went to work for her pleasure.
Snape shook his head with a tired moan. "Not them," he said, looking up. "Please not them."
Harry frowned. "What's wrong? She's a magical being."
"Not the point," Snape said firmly. "Stand there and watch."
"Yes, sir." Harry stood there and watched, learning a lot about flirting from the twins.
Ethan drug Xander out of the pet store. "No, not yet," he said firmly. "Some of us are allergic to cats, including Sev." He pointed across the way. "Ollivander's." Xander ran that way, pressing his face against the window to look inside. "Go on in," he encouraged. He waited until the boy was inside to let out a tired moan. "Why?"
Draco came out of the shop with his new cat. "You're the one who gave birth to him," he noted dryly. "Wands?"
"Wands," Ethan agreed, following him over there. He looked at the proprietor, who was already pulling down boxes. "He'll either be your easiest fit or you'll go through everything and never find one."
"I predict I have something," he said with a smile. He reached up into a dark recess and pulled down one last wand box, bringing it over. "Here, start with the bottom," he suggested, handing it over. "Deadwood and unicorn." Xander picked it up and nothing happened. He looked at the boy. "Give it a swish." Xander did so and a riot of color spread around the store. "No, not that one." He took that one and handed over the next. "Oak and unicorn." This time a riot of noise. He snatched that one as well. "Holly and veela?" A thunder clap went off and a small rainstorm started. He took that wand as well. "Siren's hair and yew," he said, handing over the next one. That one added wind to the storm, driving Draco outside. "Not that one either," he said, handing over the last one of that group. "Yew and dragon scale. Eleven inches, very swishy." Xander tried it and it sent out a rainbow for the storm. Ollivander frowned. "I had such hopes for that one." He took it back and went to get more dragon wands. "Oak and dragon," he said, handing it over, but he took it back when it only farted. The next one was handed over. "Water dragon and maple, very unusual." Xander tried it and he felt it was almost the one. He went to get one he had been working on. "Try this one then. Water dragon and ebony. Twelve inches and very swishy, again good for charms." Xander tried it and it went off in a riot of the correctly colored sparks. "Excellent." He looked at Ethan. "Interesting as well. Do you still have yours?"
"I haven't used mine in years," Ethan said, pulling it out of his pocket. It was ebony as well. "It does make sense. Why a water dragon though?"
"Mermaid taint," Xander told him, shrugging. "How much is this one? It's very pretty, even though it's making my palm itch."
"His did the same thing," Ollivander sighed, taking it back and going into the back, coming out with it once it was finished. "Your father had to have his specially created for him. Most unusual. Siren and ebony, seven inches and stiff. Your other father has eleven inches, ice dragon and ironwood." He shook his head. "Wands do run in the family." He looked Ethan's over, then took it into the back and fixed the break in it for him. He came back and handed it over. "Try that." Ethan did so and it went off with a loud ripping, farting, sputtering noise. "Ah. Chaos." Ethan smirked and nodded. He handed over the one he had thought Xander would have. "Ebony and Chaos Stone." Ethan moaned as he took it reverently. It worked for him.
"What a shock," Xander said with a grin.
"I can unmake you, boy."
"Fine." He looked at the man. "How much?"
"Eight for yours, nineteen, seven sickles for his." Ethan handed over his money bag and walked out.
Xander waited while the man counted it out then took the remains with his wand, heading after him. He noticed one of the kittens standing in the doorway and smiled sadly. It saw him and meowed, running after him. "Hi. Don't you belong inside?" He picked her up, looking at her. "What's your name?"
Xander looked over. "Sorry, I caught her as she ran for me."
"She's an insistent sort. She's yours."
"But Ethan said...."
"Tough. She won't go to another. Familiars are that way." He nodded inside. "Come get her things." Xander beamed and didn't at all feel guilty about taking Ethan's money bag to buy his pretty silver one a collar and food. Ethan came in a moment later, frowning at him. "She tried to follow him," the owner noted. "She's a purebred Burmese."
"She's adorable," Ethan sighed, waving his hand at the collars. "Get whichever you like but expect your father to sneeze and hand you a lint roller."
"You mean there's not a spell for that yet?" Xander asked.
"No, not yet," he admitted, shaking his head. The little future princess gave him a long look before going back to her bath. "Ask her opinion."
Xander looked at the collars, picking up one that he thought would look good against her coat. "How about this one?" She gave it a stare, then looked into his eyes with her emerald ones. "She said no." He put it back and got the one she had liked. "I thought cats were color blind."
"She is, but she is a familiar," the shopkeeper said with a small smirk. He added in a bed because he knew she'd never sleep anywhere else. The cat batted it to the floor. "Fine, be that way then."
"We can make her one if she won't accept that one," Ethan said firmly.
"She can sleep in my bed," Xander told him.
"Fine. Pay the nice man."
"Where to next?"
"A nap," Ethan told him. Xander grinned at him. "For all of us." He watched as Xander clipped the fairy gold collar and leash on his cat and walked her out, shaking his head with a moan. "Next time, Ripper's doing this," he muttered as he accepted the bag of food and magical, self-cleaning litter. "Thanks." He trudged after the boy, taking him back to his apartment in London.
Ripper walked into the school, smiling and nodding at Peeves. "How are you today?" he asked with a smirk. "The Headmaster?" Peeves pointed and flew off to tell the other ghosts he was back, before he could trap them somewhere. Again. Ripper headed to the office, remembering the way very well from his time here, and cleared his throat, pushing on the nose of the statue guarding it so his alarm would go off to tell him someone was down there. "Headmaster, may I speak with you?" he called.
The statue opened and he hopped on the stairs, letting it take him up to the other doorway. He knocked then walked in, smirking at the older man. "Well, you've not changed much. Just a bit more gray I see."
"It was dealing with your year that did it to me, Mister Giles. Why are you back?"
Giles smirked at him. "You really don't know?"
"I know the main reason, I don't know about this very moment." He held up his candy dish. "Lemon drop?"
He took one to suck on and sat down. "Actually, I'm here about my charge. The annoying twit has probably talked Ethan into all manner of things he shouldn't have, but we still need to make sure he can do the work so to speak. He's very like his mother in that regard."
"Which means you'll need Finius and Minerva," Dumbledore finished.
"That and I think he's managed to pick up on my Sight. He's found his sister. She's in New York."
"In an asylum," Dumbledore told him. "She does have your Sight. She had an episode recently. I've already sent word over to the Americans to get her out of there and what's happened."
"Where will she go?"
"To Salem I believe. Her Uncle does know, but he's been rather busy."
"You had her sent to Eigon?"
"Yes, I did," he agreed dryly. "Can you think of a better family?"
"Well, no. I had hopes you would. Too bad he couldn't raise her but I do understand."
"Yes, well, now he's taken an official hand in her upbringing. I chatted with him earlier. He's went to retrieve her and all that. He thinks he might be able to train her to help him as well."
"Smashing news." Rupert smiled. "Now, about the son. How would be best for your teachers?"
"How about tomorrow night?"
"Fine with me. He's not being formally presented for two weeks. Mr. Malfoy has been quite helpful so far today. I'm not sure if he's brown-nosing or hoping for a chance of escape. Lucius really bred?"
"The normal way even," Dumbledore said dryly. "Mr. Malfoy almost had a little sister or brother as well."
"Dear Merlin, that's got to be a frightfully boring bed." He shook his head sadly. "Someone really should have a talk with him." He stood up. "We're at Ethan's at the moment, but we can easily move this to my home if necessary. I'll have to take down the wards my father put up against Ethan, but it should be easily enough done. I can simply have Xander walk into them and struggle." Dumbledore laughed. "You think I'm kidding but I'm not. The boy's a medium. He picked up more than our training here last night. I wouldn't be surprised if he spat on the Dark Lord the first time he saw him. Speaking of Sev, how is he doing?"
"He should be doing fine. I arranged for the twins and Mr. Potter to help him in his present task. Harry could use the field experience. When he comes back, I'll expect you to work with him as well."
"Of course. Should I worry about his physical training or his friends?"
"Well, he does seem to have claimed his best friend as his, but I'm not sure. I'll ask Mr. Weasley when you're back officially just after the announcement."
"That would be fine. The Weasleys always were hearty stock. Speaking of, I meant to pop in on Arthur and Molly tonight." He smiled and nodded. "I'll see you soon. Feel free to pop around yourself of course. Thank you for your help, Headmaster. I hope this current lot is just as fun as we were."
"Not since the Weasley twins left," he sighed.
"Twins? The prankers I've heard about?" Dumbledore nodded. "Well. Good on Molly then," he said firmly, now going to find them and talk to her. He left the school, stopping to give Hagrid a hug when he saw him. "We'll be back in a few weeks."
"Good," he agreed, smiling at him. "Harry could use you."
"Yes, well, I'll be training him with the Slayer's handbook. It should help quite a lot," he admitted, smirking up at him. "I'm off to scare Molly and Arthur to death. Just like before." He jogged off, apparating at the barrier. Molly did scream when he landed in her garden, but she ran out to hug him. "Hello, love. We're back."
"We? You brought Ethan?" He nodded and she gave him another squeeze before leading him inside and calling Arthur to tell him to take an early lunch.
Arthur came out of the fire and smiled at him. "Hello, Ripper."
"Hello, Arthur." He smirked. "We brought back our son."
"Son? Not the girl?"
"She's with Eigon now."
"Ah." He nodded and came over to hug him. "Welcome home."
"Thank you." He pulled back. "You've missed all the excitement of my slayer, Arthur. You'll have to meet her when she comes over for a few days."
"They gave you a girl?"
"Posted us to the Hellmouth," he told him. "She's presently taking on a Hell Goddess with Sev."
"And the twins and Harry," Molly added when he didn't. "Albus sent for them."
"Ah." Arthur grimaced. "I hope they'll be okay."
"Sev's a bit upset. He's working it out on her and the vampire population," Ripper said with a small smirk. "He'll come back and be his usual charming self."
They shared a laugh.
Draco went looking for his cat, finding him curled up with Xander's cat on Xander's bed, behind Xander's back. He grimaced and walked over to remove his precious friend before the semi-muggle tainted him.
"I don't mind," Xander said tiredly. "They're comfy." He yawned and opened his eyes. "Hey."
"You could go back to sleep. Dinner's not for another hour."
"I can't sleep. It's noisy here."
"The window does close," Draco noted.
"Then it gets stuffy and I can't breathe," he said miserably. "I'll adjust, I just have to be more tired. Sit and talk to me?"
"If you'd like," he said, pulling a chair over. "What would you like to talk about?"
Xander looked him over, then into his face. "I saw my dad's memories, you're not the nicest of people. Why are you helping without complaint? Not that I care about ulterior motives, you're nice, but I wanted to know if you were gonna stab me in the back."
"No, I have no intention of it," Draco said firmly. He cleared his throat. "Last year my father was put into prison for being a Death Eater. Since then, Professor Snape has been the only person who doesn't flinch upon seeing me, doesn't make fun of me, and doesn't try to smarm me with fake sympathy. This is a relatively small favor for him to have asked and besides, this way I don't have to deal with Pansy for a while."
Xander frowned, combing through the memories. "The pug faced girl?"
"Yes, her," Draco agreed grimly. "She has told her parents she wants to marry me so they're making marriage overtures to my mother, and I've told her no but she might make me anyway. I figure I'll need the place to hide, so I'm helping you."
"I was gonna ask Anya to marry me," Xander sighed in defeat.
"Why ever for?"
"Because she was there, she wanted to be with me, and she was nice enough."
"You need better taste in women, Xander. She was nothing more than a very expensive prostitute. I wouldn't be surprised if she didn't cheat on you."
"It's entirely possible," Xander admitted. "I'm so pitiful I didn't really care, she was there at night and she helped me bandage my cuts and scrapes after patrol."
"You need higher standards. I'll try to help you find someone suitable for that as well."
"I'm tired of women," Xander sighed. "I don't want some nagging, bitchy, attention hog. I want to be the center of attention, and yet get to nurture, not have to give out all the attention and nurture and take care of and be the breadwinner. I want someone who'll take care of me."
"There are witches like that," Draco noted, getting comfortable. "I thought I had one in Pansy then she turned last year." He shrugged. "It happens to the best of us."
"At least she didn't try to kill me," Xander said bitterly. "My last girlfriend did."
"She sucked life out of people to survive and stay young. She was an Incan Mummy brought back to life." He gave him a bitter look. "There was one in between but we were more about the groping than the relationship so I'm not counting it."
"Ah." Draco sighed, then shook his head. "We both need better women. Perhaps Anya and Pansy would go well together."
"They might. Maybe I'll suggest it to Dad." They shared a small smirk. "How do I set up her litter box?"
"You got a girl?" He stood up and looked at the cats, noticing the fairly expensive collar. "Not even I can get away with fairy gold," he said dryly. "Mine's got Elvish silver." He sat down again. "I set mine in the bathroom. It seemed natural that way and I wouldn't have to look at it while it was in use." He flinched as the door slammed open, glaring at the three people standing there. "What do you three want?" he sneered.
"We were told to come back here once we were done with the vampires," Harry said calmly. "We followed the voices." He smiled and waved. "Hi, I'm Harry, these two are Fred and George. Don't try to tell them apart, they'll mess you up on purpose."
"Hi." Xander sat up with a yawn. "I'm Xander, and I'm guessing you know Draco."
"Yes, we do," Draco said distastefully. "Potter, this is Professor Snape's son."
Harry looked at him, then shrugged. "That's fine. You must look more like your mother." He came in and looked at the cats. "They're adorable."
"The black one's mine, Potter," Draco said firmly. "Did you get hit on the head again?"
"Some girl named Anya attacked him and kissed him stupid before we could escape," one of the twins told him.
"She was an odd bird, kept saying something about saviors."
"She's my ex," Xander told them. "She's a former vengeance demon. She'll expect him to have a large vault."
"Ah." Harry smirked at him. "Sorry. She attacked me."
"Not an issue, she did the same thing to me when we started out. Walked in and took off her clothes before I could protest and climbed on top." He shrugged. "It happens. How's the Glory thing going?"
"We got her," one twin said casually.
"Then that most perfect blonde woman finished her off," the other finished.
They sighed in unison. "She was so strong," they said.
"You like the Buffy?" Xander asked with a grin.
"Eww," Draco noted. "She's an airhead."
"Only some of the time," Xander told him. Then he looked at the twins again. "Be very careful with her. She's got a thing for dangerous guys who like to take care of her."
They smirked. "We can...."
"Good. Be good to her or I'll have to finish learning mean tricks from Ethan."
"Speaking of, where are the adults?" Harry asked.
"There was a note on the table, they went for a drink. Apparently it was tiring following us around and paying for things."
"It would have been easier if Giles had stayed. He's used to Buffy's shopping trips," Xander offered. "How's Dawn?"
"She got sorted this morning," Draco informed him. "She's the new Gryff. We set her with the prat's friends immediately." He leaned back. "I got to escort her down there since we were in the office together."
"Poor Dawn," Xander sighed. "All alone in a school she'll be living in."
"The others will take her in hand," Draco said firmly. "Ethan did that memory switching charm again for her benefit. She'll be with our year."
"She's not old enough," Xander told him.
"Still. She'll be in our year." He grimaced at Potter. "You, leave her alone. She doesn't need your sort of excitement. She's got a Slayer for a sister. That's bad enough."
"I've never encouraged anyone to help me," Harry said angrily. "They came because they demanded, not because I begged! You leave Ron and Hermione alone!" He pulled his wand.
"Hey!" Xander said, holding up a hand and creating a barrier between them. "Learn to get along! I don't need this shit around me, thank you!" Both boys looked at him. "Really, none of us need to do this. Get over it already. Don't bait each other, don't snipe at each other, and you might just find that you two are good together."
"They're book opposites," one of the twins said as he moved further in. "Harry's innocent."
"I'm not that innocent!" Harry said, glaring at him.
"Nor am I fully corrupt. I'm not my father."
"Thank God for that. I got enough about him from their memories last night," Xander said bitterly. His cat got up and nudged him for attention so he got comfortable and petted her. "Sorry, but I get enough of this at home. Willow and Tara fight all the time now."
"I can't think why," Draco said dryly. "How did Rosenburg change her clothes this morning?"
"With a thought." Xander grimaced. "She's been doing that a lot recently."
"She changes clothes with magic? Does the woman not do anything the normal way?" one of the twins asked.
Xander grimaced. "Not as far as I know. I haven't watched her in the bathroom or the bedroom but I haven't really wanted to in a while."
"She was rather pretty," Draco noted. He had escorted them over earlier.
"Even the prettiest snake is still a snake," Harry pointed out.
"No, she started out good. Then she got powerful and scary," Xander told him.
Draco nodded. "She would have made a good Hufflepuff."
"A powerful Hufflepuff," the other twin mused. "Scary."
"Very," the other agreed, giving his twin a look. "Did we meet her?"
"No. I escorted her and Dawn to the school earlier," Draco sighed tiredly. "Let's get dinner."
"We're supposed to stay here," Harry told him. "Professor Snape said so."
"I'm gonna agree with the shopping fiend," Xander offered. "Where?"
"The Leaky would be safest," one of the twins noted.
"Though there is a wonderful restaurant that just opened in Diagon."
"Xander, change into the red outfit," Draco said as he stood up. "With the black robe, the one with the velvet designs." He went to his room, grabbing his bag so he could change and grab some money from the stuff Ethan had let him hold earlier. He came out and found Xander dressed, their cats pouting behind him, and Harry looking stunned. "Did you kiss him?"
"No. Why?" He looked at Harry. "Sorry." He shrugged and looked down at himself. "We forgot shoes."
Draco looked at the sneakers. "For now those will do. No one around here looks at shoes." He looked around then created a note. "Wand? You'll be expected to bring it with you all the time."
"Sure," Xander agreed, patting it. "More floo?"
"More floo," he agreed, taking his hand and going with him. Professor Snape would never forgive him if the boy pulled a Potter and got lost in the floo network.
"Feel like the Leaky, Harry?" one twin asked.
"Or our mum's table?" the other asked.
"Let's go to the Burrow. I need some spoiling," Harry admitted with a grin. "Plus, I need advice on how to tell Ron I want him."
"That's easy," Fred told him.
George nodded. "Ron's the clueless one, use a club." They apparated off, heading to the Burrow for a good, cheap, amusing dinner. "We're back, mum."
"Harry only got kissed by a demon," Fred noted as they walked in the back door.
"An ex demon," Harry defended. "Professor Snape's son's ex girlfriend," he shared. "He said she's a former vengeance demon."
"Sounds like she was punishing him for existing," George noted.
Fred nodded. "Professor Snape gathered up the boy's bills, counting up the amount she spent in the last month against his will and it was rather astounding."
"A thousand just for shoes," George agreed. "Rather impressive if you've got Malfoy money."
"Which I don't think Xander had," Harry noted as he took his usual seat. "I hope you didn't mind."
"Not in the least," she assured him. "Aren't you supposed to be in school?"
"We'll be going back later," Harry promised. "Or at least I will. Professor Snape's staying in London tonight I think. They're with that Ethan chap from what I heard."
"They were the closest of friends," Arthur said sadly. "Then Severus' father dragged him before the Dark Lord. Ripper's father dragged him away. Somehow they managed to stay in touch."
"We should meet Severus' son," Molly said firmly. "He sounds like he's very nice."
"He is, and for some reason I think Draco fancies him," Harry blurted out. They all looked at him. "Draco smiled at him. Not a sneer, not a smirk, a real smile. Friendly and everything. You don't get that just from bullying someone into decent clothes."
Molly smiled. "That is true. What's this young man like?"
"Tired at the moment, mum," George told her.
Fred nodded, swallowing quickly. "He stopped him and the Malfoy prat from arguing. Said he'd heard enough of it from the rogue witch at the school."
"Hmm. Rogue?" Arthur asked.
Harry nodded. "Rogue. Changes her clothes with magic."
"Oh, dear," Molly sighed. "The redhead?"
"The redhead," the twins agreed. They had been told by Buffy.
George gave his twin a look, and got a nod in return. "Mum, we met a very interesting magical creature today."
"A Slayer," Fred noted. Molly's eyes widened. "She's the most pretty, petite...."
"Deadly thing around," George finished. "I think she took a shine to us."
"We will meet this girl," Arthur said firmly. He knew that phrasing, he had once said the same thing about his wife to his father.
"Aren't there two now?" Molly asked. The twins nodded.
"The second's in prison, she went bad," Harry explained. "I asked."
"Poor thing. Doing it all on her own," Molly tutted.
"Mum, she finished off a Hell goddess this morning," George noted.
"We helped," Fred said proudly. "We were the distraction."
"Try to be more careful," Arthur said dryly. "How was the town otherwise?"
"We took out over sixty vampires," Harry said proudly. "Most of them asleep but still."
"Wonderful," Molly praised. "And not even dirty."
"We dusted off before we came," Fred told her.
"It'd be rude otherwise," George reminded her. "You said so."
"I did," Molly agreed, giving them a look. "Thank you for that courtesy, sons." Harry sneezed and the salt shaker went flying. Molly caught it. "Oh, dear, you've got that horrible thing too. You'll have to go directly to the nurse tonight, Harry. She'll fix you right up and stop all that nasty flying stuff."
"Yes, ma'am," Harry said miserably.
Draco looked across the table at Xander. "Why is it that I find a source of pretty women and they don't even glance at me, yet everyone stares at you?"
"I probably broke some unwritten law," Xander said dryly. "It happens a lot." He shrugged. "As for why Dawn and Buffy didn't stare at you, Dawn's confused. Buffy's got a thing for older guys and dangerous ones. Willow's simply dangerous and she likes girls. Tara's her girlfriend. I did see Spike giving you a look but I think it was in horror."
"Quite possibly. It's strange that my doppleganger is a vampire from the Victorian age." He sipped his wine. "Eat, Xander."
"I am." He nibbled on his next bite. "This is a lot different than I'm used to. Recently I've been lucky to get a can of spaghetti-ohs for dinner."
"Then you'd better eat it all. If you die from malnutrition your father will throw a royal fit."
"Yeah," Xander agreed with a grin. "I kinda like my dad. I've known my mom for years now, he had me possessed one Halloween in my tenth grade, but this is totally different to me."
"They're trying to make up for lost time," Draco pointed out. "Nothing more."
"Which I don't mind, but they didn't have to buy me all that stuff today."
"Yes, they did, I said so," Draco said dryly, taking another drink. He looked around Xander as a familiar woman walked in. "Shit, it's my mum." He straightened up and notice Xander did the same. "She's not joining us," he said firmly.
"If so, we can go back to mom's."
"Good point. Mother," he said with an icy smile. "How are you tonight?"
"Why are you not in school, son?" she asked, glaring down at him.
"Because Professor Snape and the Headmaster wanted me to show this new wizard around a bit and help him get acclimated. He'll be announced in a few days." He waved a hand. "Alexander, this is my mother. Mother, this is ....."
"Vellien Snape," she said, nodding at him. "You look quite a lot like your mother."
"So I've heard," Xander said, shaking her hand. "Nice to meet you. Your son has been very helpful to me so far. He even corrects the nitpicky things."
"Good. I had hoped some of my teachings had rubbed off on him." She looked down at him. "You will come home for the holidays for your engagement party."
"Mother, I'm not marrying Pansy, no matter what she thinks." She glared at him and he took a sip of his wine. "Seriously, mother. She sees me as some future slave to her desires and I find her rather icky in that thought. I could never sleep with her, so therefore there would be no issue from the relationship." She turned up the ice in her glare. "Do as you see fit, mother, but I will not marry that girl. She is not to my liking. Give me a real woman or man any day, not some fake little creature who acts like a house elf doing a play."
"You will do as I say or you will be penniless," she said firmly, walking on to join her date.
"If you say so," he called. "I'd rather be broke." He looked at Xander. "Sorry." He finished his wine and poured more.
"The easy answer is to find someone else and marry them first," he pointed out.
"Hmm. True, but there aren't many prospects in the school. Unless I convinced Dawn it would only help her, then her house would ignore her."
"Good point," Xander said, trying to help him. "Maybe Mom knows someone."
"Perhaps," Draco agreed dryly. "At least she'd be a witch." He saluted him with his glass. "Hurry up, the air in here just turned foul."
"Can I get a box?"
"Of course." He snapped his fingers and the waiter appeared. "We're leaving so my mother can eat in peace and fume at me for the audacity of choosing my own mate. Bring us boxes." He nodded and called some out, magicking their food into it. Draco checked the check and piled money on the table, then took Xander's hand and walked off with him and their boxes.
Narcissa looked at her son's back, noticing how he was standing. "Really?" she muttered. She considered it. The boy was three-quarters. It was a good enough match and a prosperous one. She would accept that one instead. She smiled at her date. "Apparently my son has chosen a male for his mate."
The man watched as Draco and the boy walked out together. "He's being pleasant to him," he said, looking at her. "Why?"
"That was Vellian Snape. He's finally returned." She smirked. "That would be a most acceptable match, even the Dark Lord could not complain much."
"No, he couldn't," Knott said, thinking about it. "He'll want to know the boy is back."
"Let Severus present him. He's not announcing him to society as a whole for a few days."
"Still, he should be introduced to us first," he pointed out coolly.
"Let Severus enjoy being a father for a few days. It's a novelty he won't get again."
"True enough. I'll give him a week." He picked up her hand and kissed it. "You have weathered your husband's disgrace beautifully, Narcissa. You are more radiant now than you were on your wedding day." She chuckled and smirked at him.
Xander and Draco stumbled in later, laughing as they leaned against each other. "Oh, damn, you're so bad, Draco," he praised.
"Where have you been!" Ethan yelled, coming out of the kitchen. He noticed them, then swallowed. "Severus, there's been a complication to your plan," he announced. Severus came out of the workroom with Giles, giving the boys a look. Then he groaned and walked away. "Well?"
"We went for dinner," Draco said, straightening himself out. "I told my mother off when she had the bad taste to show up at the same restaurant. Then we went to have a real drink after dropping off our dinners so I could erase her scowl from my mind. After that, we went and helped fix a few people's clothing. Rita Skeeter now has a dress that isn't distasteful."
Xander giggled. "It was so bad! Even I had to shudder at that thing. So I changed it." He snickered, leaning against Draco again. "Then he told me it wasn't much better and suggested a different thing. Now she's in pink stripes."
"Boys, that is not permissible," Giles told them. "That sort of meddling is not allowed!"
"She never noticed," Draco assured him with a smirk. "She was quoting to her poison pen. Some of the bar's patrons clapped however."
"Did she recognize him?" Severus asked. Draco nodded. "Who was she meeting?"
Xander cleared his throat. "Shortly after we left, there was apparently a raid on the establishment," he announced. "Both parties were arrested."
"Thank Merlin," Draco said dryly. "She was going to marry me off to Pansy."
Severus shuddered. "I'm sorry."
"That's okay, because we watched as they dragged her out. Apparently she thinks I'm with your son now," Draco told him, holding in his smirk this time.
Giles caught Severus before he could sit down without there being a chair. "Don't do that to him, Malfoy," he said in disgust.
"Seriously. She was ranting, called me her son-in-law," Xander told him. "She wanted us to save her by attacking the officials."
Ethan snickered. "Yes, you are my son," he said fondly, going back to making them something to eat. "I put your dinners in the refrigerator. Try to finish them tonight, boys. We'll be moving to Giles' tomorrow morning. I had nearly everything else sent there already. Xander, you will have to train the beast. I found her trying to eat my stash of catnip."
"I didn't think a pet was on the agenda," Giles noted, looking at the boys.
"We went to look at what was possible," Draco said smartly, bending to pick up the cats, handing Xander his. "His tried to kidnap herself and follow him. Mine leapt into my arms and tried to eat me."
"He's got a butch little guy and I've got a very feminine darling," Xander agreed, stroking his cat. "Try not to eat the magical herbs, sweetness. It's probably not good for you." She tipped her chin up, letting him have access to that area too. "Good girl. Did you find the litterbox?"
"Yes, she did," Ethan told him. "Fortunately." He gave Giles a look. "The cat did escape the store and tried to find him. I still say the fairy gold collar was a bit much."
"She wouldn't let me put the plain one on her," Xander reminded him. "She pointed out that one to me. Said she wanted the pretty shiny one."
"You talked to her?" Severus asked. Xander nodded. "Can you talk to Mr. Malfoy's beast?"
Xander looked at the cat. "I don't know, can I?"
The cat blinked at him, then smirked. "Of course you can." He closed his eyes and lifted his tail. "Tell him about that spot on my spine. Like yours."
"He's got a spot in front of his tail," Xander told Draco. "It's like a g-spot for cats."
Draco switched, scratching it, earning lots of purring praise. "Thank you." He took his cat and sat down with him. "Greedy beast. What should we name you?"
The cat looked at Xander. "My name is Asgard Shivain."
"He said his name is Asgard Shivain," Xander repeated. He looked at his cat. "Do you have one too?"
"Yes, you are," he cooed. "Do you have a name you like or should I use that one?"
"Hmm," she purred. "As you like."
"Okay, then I'll call you Perfect." She purred louder and licked his fingertips. "Thanks." He sat across from Draco. "Asgard." The cat looked at him. "Try not to pick on my Perfect, okay? She's very delicate."
"Of course not. She's my mate, human. I would never do more than hold her down and bathe her to scent-mark her." He went back to his enjoyment. "That's enough."
"I think he's getting too warm." Draco quit, stroking down his back again. "Draco, one of us is going to have to do something about kitty contraception."
Draco gave him a look, then looked at the two cats. "True," he agreed. "We'll figure that out later."
"They'd have beautiful children," Ethan noted. "Maybe Dawn would like one."
"I doubt she needs a cat," Giles said dryly. "Did we get her everything?"
"We had it sent," Draco told him. "She'll be going tomorrow to get her wand and the rest. I left her with Weasley, prat that he is." He looked at Xander. "Tell me you don't like Potter," he said with a look of distaste.
"He's an okay guy. A bit stiff and all that, but he seems like he'd make a good friend at least."
"Hmph." Draco pouted. "Don't become friends with him. I'll never have anyone to talk to."
"We'll figure it out," Xander promised, smiling at him. "After all, who else will I be able to throw water balloons off the top of the castle with?" Draco smirked at him. "Okay?"
"Fine," Draco agreed. He looked at his mentor. "Did you really let his ex glue herself to Potter's lips and turn him on?"
"She did what?" Severus bellowed. "I'll kill that brat!"
"Harry was warned already," Xander said, grinning at him. "I think Anya's found a replacement sugar daddy."
"She would never be acceptable to polite society," Draco noted. "My mother's friends would not only snub her but have her harassed by the shop keepers so she wouldn't be able to shop."
"Now that's an idea," Giles said, looking at Ethan. "Everywhere but the grocery store."
"Charming," Ethan agreed, coming to help him find the spell. "Severus, dinner's in the oven."
"Thank you." He went to tend to the kitchen, keeping a closer eye on the boys. He wasn't sure he wanted his son linked to a Malfoy, especially not the lecherous one.
Ron drug his charge down to dinner. "You have to come eat," he said firmly. "It's mandatory. We all eat together."
"I'm not dressed yet," she complained. "I don't have a robe thingy."
"So? You're wearing clothes. That's good enough for us." He grinned at her. "Relax, we're a friendly bunch most of the time." He opened the door and walked in with her, catching McGonagall's eyes. Then he sat them in his usual spot opposite Hermione. "Hey."
"Ron." She smiled. "And Dawn as well. Have a good first day?"
"Mostly," she admitted. "I got to look through the books that got delivered. We're doing really hard stuff. I'm not so sure I'll be able to keep up." She noticed a bunch of people staring at her. "Hi." She waved and grinned. "Go back to dinner." She looked at Hermione. "Help?" she hissed.
"This is Dawn, she was sorted this morning when she was delivered," Hermione told their table.
"That is very true," Dumbledore said and everyone quieted down. "Dawn, stand?" She stood. "As you can see, we do have a late admittance. This is Dawn. She was sorted into Gryffindor this morning. She comes from a most extraordinary background and will be starting classes the day after tomorrow. I suggest that everyone give her a bit to get acclimated and help the poor thing whenever possible." He smiled at her and she sat down again. "I think she'll do fine here." He saluted her with his glass.
Dawn blushed. "Wow. Okay, now what?"
"Now the rest of us get to be nosy," Dean Thomas said, grinning at her. "Where are you from, Dawn? I notice you're not local."
"I'm from California. I got sent here to keep me out of trouble."
"Where were you trained?" he asked.
"Um, I was mostly home schooled," she admitted. "My magic's not all that settled in yet. You could say I'm a late bloomer."
Ron snorted. "She's damn powerful. She was doing magic on the hellmouth." He nudged Dawn. "Tell 'em why you're here."
"There was kinda a hell goddess coming for me," she admitted bitterly.
"Wow," Neville said. "Do you know the Slayer?"
"She watched over you?"
"Kinda. Her witches were teaching me, when I wasn't sneaking the books in to read for myself." She beamed. "Buffy's my sister. I know her real well." She looked at Ron. "The people who went to help her looked like you."
"Twins?" he asked dryly. She nodded. "That's Fred and George. They'll be fine." Everyone in hearing gaped at him. "They were sent with Harry to help her sister defeat the hell goddess."
"Then of course they'll be fine," Neville agreed firmly. Dean nodded too. "What's your wand?"
"I won't get it until tomorrow," Dawn admitted. "We're doing the rest of my shopping then."
"So you do wandless then?" Dean asked. Dawn nodded and floated his plate closer to him. "Wow." He grinned at her. "You're neat."
"And if you bother her, I'm siccing Harry on you," Hermione told him. "Let Dawn get settled in first. This is all very new to her. She went to a muggle school before this and learned magic on the side."
"Done anything impressive for your sister?" Neville asked, ignoring Hermione totally.
"I did a resurrection spell once but I canceled it before my mother could come back. It would have been mean to her."
"Wow," the boys said, gaping at her, even Ron.
"I try to be good," she told him. She looked over as the door opened again and a dark haired boy walked in. "Who's that? I saw him earlier."
"That's Harry. I know you're out of the loop, but he's a good guy."
"Ron!" Hermione said firmly. "Don't make her stare at him." She looked at Dawn. "We'll explain later."
"Oh, why?" Harry asked. "It's nice, she doesn't stare at me or want my autograph." He sat down and smiled at her. "Dawn, right?" She nodded, shaking his hand. "I heard a lot about you from your sister."
"Don't believe it all, she likes to lie about me. She still thinks I'm a little kid," she told him.
He nodded. "I noticed that, but we'll treat you like your age."
"She's younger," Ron pointed out. He sniffed him. "Been hugging my Mum, Harry?"
"Yeah, we had dinner at the Burrow. The twins are fine. I got to meet her friend Xander earlier. That's where Malfoy is, helping him for a few days."
"Xander's coming up here soon," Dawn told him. "Can I please have the meat?" she asked the girl next to Hermione, who was staring at Harry. She looked at Hermione. "Is it impolite to magic things at the table?"
"No, go ahead. We practice that way all the time."
"Cool." Dawn floated down the platter and took what she wanted, then put it down before she dropped it. "Can I please have the white potatoes? I'm not sure what the other things that look like potatoes are but I don't think I want to eat orange stuff tonight." Hermione chuckled as she handed them down to her. "Thanks." She dug some out and Ron pushed down the butter, salt, pepper, and gravy. "You guys are really nice."
"We try," Ron said with a grin. He grinned at Hermione. "I'm sure we can even get you caught up on this year's assignments so far."
"That's okay. Draco was nice enough to tell me what we've done so far," Dawn admitted. "I haven't gotten a chance to practice any of it yet, but I'm sure I'll get stuck soon," she quipped. "At least I don't have biology here. No dissecting frogs."
"Why do muggles do that?" Neville asked. "I have a toad as a familiar but I've never understood."
"The muggles think you can learn more by seeing how it was put together originally," she told him. "So we, supposedly, gently dissect dead frogs. Our teacher said he's delicate enough to open one up without killing it but most students aren't. Mine was a wreck because I hated it."
He grinned. "Would you like to meet Trevor?"
"Sure. It doesn't have warts, right?"
"No," he promised with a brighter grin. "He's pretty neat, but he likes to run away and hide sometimes."
"I know that feeling. I hid many times from my sister. It's really annoying when your sister's apparently all knowing and all doing. She thinks she's so smart, but she doesn't even *try* to understand boys anymore. She never had a crush on anyone that she'll admit to. She's got adult amnesia."
Ron snickered. "My parents have that too," he promised, patting her on the back.
"My mother was pretty cool while she was alive," Dawn sighed. "She tried to understand."
Harry gave her a small grin. "It's not so bad. I lost both of mine."
Dawn nodded. "I know but it hasn't been that long." She sniffled. "Now I can't even go visit her. It's not the same when you talk to the stars."
"We'll arrange for you to go back this coming summer," Ron promised, giving her a pat on the back. "My mum'll make sure of it." She nodded and gave him a hug. "Shh. It's all right." He patted her gently, looking at Harry. "Is the thing dead?"
"Yeah. The twins annoyed her and Buffy stabbed her until she broke her sword, then Professor Snape did something and locked her in a lead box. He had it sent somewhere far away. He said no one was getting it."
"Good," Dawn said firmly, wiping her eyes off. "I don't want to think about Glory or her desire to cut me open like a frog."
Harry punched her on the arm. "That's a good girl. It gets easier, Dawn, I promise." She nodded and forced herself to eat. He caught Neville's eye and grinned. "Her sister will be here soon. She's coming in for a lesson."
"Willow's still somewhere around here," Dawn told him. "I haven't seen her since this morning."
"Hopefully they're scaring her straight," Harry said firmly. "I heard some stories about her." He gave her a long look, letting her know what sort of things her sister had told him about her as well. Dawn blushed. "It's all good, Dawn. Consider this a second new beginning and move on from here. Your sister will be around a lot from what I understand. Willow may or may not. Xander definitely will while he finishes his training. You're not alone and you'll make a lot of new friends. After all, you've already got us, Neville, and Dean." She grinned at him. "Just relax about it. It's not as scary as it seems."
"Sure, Harry. If you say so."
"Of course I do," he said with a devilish wink. "I'm Harry Potter and I will make it so if I have to." Dawn chuckled at that.
"Barmy git," Ron told him, smirking at him. "It doesn't work that way. She'll still have Snape."
"He was helping me with my shielding last night," she told him. "He didn't seem too mean and nasty. He only growled at me."
Ron nodded. "Just wait. Potions is his area and he hates us Gryffs. Especially Harry." He gave her a look. "You got told about house points, right?" She nodded. "Good." He grinned again. "He's the main source of us losing them."
"I'll do my best," she told him. "I hadn't had chemistry yet but I'm guessing it's not too hard. A lot of memorization." They all nodded. "Then we'll figure it out," she said firmly. "I'm here instead of there, where I was basically in the way half the time, and now I've got friends who like me who aren't vampires. Though I will miss Spike."
Harry burst out in giggles, leaning on Ron's arm. "A vampire Draco," he said finally. "Looks just like him, only he's a street tough. Smokes and everything."
"Spike's a sweetie," Dawn told him, grinning at him. "He brings me treats and taught me how to shoplift."
"I'm sure he did," Ron said, giving her an odd look. "Don't do that around us, please? My mum'd kill me."
"I don't. I only did it to piss my sister off." Ron patted her on the back and gave her another smile. "So, what else have I missed? Anything good on tv over here?"
"No electricity in the castle," Hermione told her.
"Oh, crap," Dawn said, slumping a little. "At all?" She shook her head. "Damn it. I wanted to see the season ending of CSI."
"Have your sister tape 'em," Harry suggested. "Watch them during break."
"Good idea. How do I send a letter?"
"Owl," everyone told her.
"All the way to California?" Ron nodded. "Poor thing." She considered it. "At least I know now why Giles wouldn't let me bring my hair dryer and he got me that old wind up clock."
"We'll help you tomorrow once you have your uniforms, Dawn," Hermione assured her.
"Which are pretty nasty looking," Dawn noted.
Hermione nodded. "They are, but it's mandatory too. Most schools do so."
"I can still wear jeans on the weekends, right?"
Hermione nodded. "Anytime we've got free."
"Good. I'd miss my real clothes." She dug back into her dinner, eating quickly in case it was about to disappear. She wouldn't count against it.
The trio shared a look. A very interesting project they had been given.
Xander looked up the next morning as a black owl came in through an open window, then looked at his cat, who was only giving it a tolerant look. "You don't chase birds? Or just this bird?"
"It's the mailman around here," Ethan said as he joined them at the table. He looked at the cat lounging on her pillow. "You belong on the floor, not on a pillow on the edge of the table. Down, now." She sniffed and put her head back down. "I can hose you down." The cat hopped down, laying in the chair. "Good enough until someone else wants it. No cats at the table, Xander." He took the mail from the owl. "Thank you, Sinese." The owl went to a small cage in the corner, getting some water before climbing on top to preen her feathers. "Wizards use owls for mail," he explained. "You can borrow mine if you need to send something, or go to the post office for long distance back to California." He opened the note, sighing. "Narcissa announced you were here. Sev!"
He came out of their bedroom, taking the note to read. He shoed the cat out of his seat and sat down absently. "That stupid woman. He'll punish her for this." He folded it up and looked at his son. "I am sending Draco with you today. You'll be going back to Diagon to help Dawn with her final shopping. Then you'll be going back to the school, where you will drop most everything off in your new rooms and get sorted. Just in case we need to." Xander nodded, sipping the strange juice that had been on the table.
"We didn't think to get him any uniforms," Ethan pointed out.
"Then he can get two sets today, just in case," Severus told him. "Let Draco handle it." He smiled at the younger man. "Then, after you've dropped it all off, you're to go to Ripper's house. My floo will answer to that summons and you'll be using that one anyway."
"Yes, sir," Xander agreed. "Then what?"
"Then you can go play in the sunshine," Severus told him.
"If *anyone* comes looking for you outside of us, do not talk to them, do not look at them, and hide from them if possible."
"Sure," Xander agreed. "Why?"
"Because Voldemort now knows you still exist," Ethan said bitterly. "Draco's mother let the cat out of the bag."
"Oh. Okay, got that. Bad guy wants me, have to avoid him. I'm actually kinda good at that. What about Draco?"
"He'll start classes again," Snape said firmly. "He must keep up his grades."
"Will anyone else be there?"
"Two or three house elves," Ethan said dryly. "We'll be up this afternoon after we finish arranging things. Ripper will probably be last, he's at the Ministry already this morning filling out forms." He sipped his juice, noticing the boy didn't drink after that first one. "You'll get used to the pumpkin juice, Xander. We don't get much fresh fruit around here."
"You'd figure a wizard could grow orange trees," Xander noted dryly.
"It takes a lot of energy to start one," Ethan said with a shrug. "We've lots of pumpkins, potatoes, and other root veggies though. Eat up." Xander dug into his breakfast. "Did you eat the food from last night yet?"
"We had it for a midnight snack," Xander admitted. "We took brushes to Asgard and Perfect."
"Thank you," Severus told him. "Any questions?"
"Nope, not so far. Do I need any other school supplies?"
"No," Severus told him. "Simply get two sets of uniforms in case we have to enroll you quickly." He nodded and ate another bite. "Thank you for not complaining."
"Hey, plans change, I understand that. Besides, I wanted to know if I could do some of the stuff I got from Giles' mind and I don't think I want to do that in here." He frowned as a statue floated out of the workroom. "Gee, Mom, I think you've got a God call."
Ethan looked behind him, then stood up and took his statue back to the work area to talk to it. It wasn't often Janus called him directly so he was always quick to answer him.
Severus looked at his son, then sighed. "At least you didn't get my nose."
Xander patted him on the arm. "I'm a good boy most of the time," he promised. "You'll like me."
"That's not the point nor the problem," he said. "I'm not used to being looked upon."
"The students cower in front of me."
"Hmm. Pity. You're really smart and kinda interesting when you want to be. If they can't get past the growly and snarly parts, then that's their loss."
Snape gave him a long look, then a small smirk. "Thank you, son. You do that nearly as well as your mother." He sipped his juice, looking his boy over. "Do you...like Mr. Malfoy, Xander?"
"I think he's a neat guy."
"That was not what I was asking."
"I know, and the answer you don't want is I don't know. He's a neat guy. I'm tired of women who ignore me. Other than that, I haven't even thought ahead. His mother seems to think we'll be good together but she was a bit of a loony person from what little I saw from Mom's memories." He shrugged. "I don't know."
"Fair enough. Consider it. He is not the match I would prefer but he could protect you and he is rather wealthy and intelligent."
"Yeah, but I think he likes girls," Xander pointed out. "I've never had to go down this mental road before."
"It happens to the best of us," Snape said calmly. "We three were friends until their sixth and my fifth year, then I caught Ripper and Ethan kissing and got extremely jealous. That's what made me see what was in front of me."
"Hmm. Draco kissing someone else," he said, then he sighed. "I'm not feeling that jealous but then again I have been taught to be open to new ideas."
"It could be that our nature rubbed off on you and only one mate won't satisfy you," he counseled.
"Well, it'd take someone with demonic stamina to keep up with me in the bedroom," Xander said dryly. "It might not be possible for him to survive a night in my bed."
"You're young, that's normal, son," Severus said firmly.
"Yeah, that and Anya was an energizer bunny of sex. Always ready and wanting. I never knew people could do some of the things on the tapes I put into storage." His father gave him an odd look. "What? She was my third relationship. The first killed to survive. The second was more about groping and kissing, and then her."
He shook his head. "We'll have to teach you what a real relationship is. Before you muck this one up."
Ethan came out of the workroom. "He could just be in it for the sex. We were at first." He gave Sev a kiss on the head. "Think more than one or two. Prophecy."
Severus looked up at him. "I thought that had been annulled when I couldn't carry." Ethan shook his head. They both looked at Xander. "There were two groups. One a pair, one a trio."
"Who join," Ethan agreed.
Xander blanched. "Me?"
"You probably," Ethan admitted. "We can't be sure yet but probably." Xander slumped a little. "It's very possible that Mr. Malfoy will be yours."
"It's possible he'll be Potter's, they have some strange and odd chemistry between them," Xander said miserably. He put down his fork. "This is not news I wanted over breakfast." He burped but covered his mouth. "Antacid?"
"Cabinet beside the fridge," Ethan said, watching him head for some. "I'll pull a copy of that for you so you can read it later. I have the feeling Dawn is involved as well." He went to pull down the correct book and copy it for the poor dear. They had just gotten him and now they'd be losing him. It wasn't fair. He glared at his statue again. "I won't lose him," he hissed. "He is my son."
"He'll continue to be our son," Severus said from the doorway. Ethan gave him a look. "He will. I doubt Mr. Malfoy would be ready to accept him yet." He walked in and closed the door. "He'll still be around, Ethan. He's not abandoning us to run off to Paris or some such." Ethan nodded, relaxing against him. "We can spoil him all we want. Maybe you can even possess him again." Ethan let out a small laugh. "What was that thing with the candy?"
"Ripper took one of his rare sweet tooth moments after I had charmed a lot of candy on the Mayor's orders to keep Buffy occupied and off his case. Ripper ate a great deal of it and shagged Buffy's mother on the hood of a police car." He turned and smiled at him. "You would have liked Joyce. She was sweet and gentle. She was a mother to all the brood Buffy and Ripper gathered. She's the first one who soothed our son's fears." He smiled sadly. "She grew a small tumor and it killed her earlier this year. Ripper was destroyed for a bit. He actually called to chat with me."
"I'm sorry we were broken apart," Severus told him.
"If we hadn't been, then maybe the war would have ended differently," he said gently.
"Or we could have died and the world with us," Severus pointed out, stopping the thought he knew was going around Ethan's head. "We cannot go back, Ethan."
"Fine, we won't. I will fight with the son though."
"As will I," Severus reminded him. "As will Mr. Malfoy. He could never be part of a movement he didn't start and that wouldn't pay him absolute attention. He's spoiled that way," he said dryly. "He needs slavish attention focused on him or he'll go bad. Whoever will give it to him will have his absolute loyalty, but I doubt the Dark Lord would ever pay him that sort of attention. His father knew that."
"Hmm. Lucius grew a son who was like him, then spoiled him. Wonderful for the boy's future lovers. Then again, our son wants someone who'll fuss at him and pay attention back. That could be an excellent match."
"It could, if Mr. Malfoy can keep up in bed. I'm worried about him. Anya ruined him for a great many things, including enjoyment of the act apparently. He was trained to perform, not to enjoy it."
"Then we'll have a talk with your little hissing darling and tell him what he should do about such a situation," Ethan said firmly. Severus laughed. "I'm serious. We'll make sure the boy understands the concept of giving others pleasure first. That should cure all that nastiness right up. It did with me."
"It did," Severus agreed, holding Ethan tightly. His poor little force of destruction had been so hurt over the years. "Our son is a lot like you."
"Then I hope he can have the sort of lovers I have," he said firmly, snuggling in. "Ones who give a damn."
"He will," Severus promised. He pointed his wand at the door and said a quick charm, making Draco move on.
Draco sat at the table. "Your parents have decided we're together and that I need to tie you down and pleasure you until you scream," he noted. He took the pumpkin juice but Xander handed over his cup. "Thank you. Don't like it?"
"Nope." He sighed. "Apparently there's some sort of funny prophecy about a couple and a trio getting together to fight. He thinks I'm on one side and Dawn's on the other. What else did they say?"
"That you needed someone to fuss over you and that I needed slavish attention," he reported dryly, smirking at him. "I doubt it could happen."
"I don't know, you're cute and all but I never thought about men."
"They're not bad, but most of the bottoms I've had were less than enthusiastic about me." He shrugged. "It happens."
"Yeah, it does," Xander sighed. "Dad looked really upset when I said Anya was like a long-life battery in bed."
Xander nodded. "Yuppers." He sighed in defeat. "It's odd, I haven't had sex in two days."
"Two whole days?" Draco teased.
"Two whole days. If Anya and I were still together, I would have been jumped at least five times by now."
Draco spluttered. "Are you sure she wasn't a sexual demon?"
"Very. We got to see her in Vengeance form a number of times," he said bitterly.
"So she trained you like a performing pony and rode you until you until you dropped," Draco said. Xander nodded. "Did that make you happy?"
"No. It made me miserable, but I got off."
Draco rolled his eyes. "Your father was right. Someone needs to tie you down and pleasure you." He sipped his juice. "You've taken to this whole situation very well," he praised. "I doubt I'd be calling them by anything but their names yet."
"I figured that's what they wanted," Xander said with a shrug.
Draco growled. "I will go fix that bitch before you die from a bad lover," he said, standing up. Xander gave him a confused look so he glared at him instead. "Has it occurred to you that she was breaking you down to reconstruct your personality? That you're not who you used to be? That in fact, you're probably nothing like you were before her?"
"Yeah. I thought that was part of growing up."
"Not in this case," Ethan said as he joined them. "Sit, Draco. It peeves us as well." He sat down, looking at his son. "He's right. The first thing a good lover will do is to ask your opinions on matters and to tie you down and pleasure you until you break and beg for more." He grimaced. "I was like that a bit myself when Giles took me in and became my friend. Then we adopted Sev our second year. He finished fixing me." He patted Xander's hand. "I believe Mr. Malfoy would be up to the task if you liked him that way. If not, then we'll help you find someone much more agreeable, but we will be watching your paramours for similar incidences."
Xander grimaced. "I'm fine."
"Of course you are," Draco agreed bitterly. "Do you still feel happiness?"
"I'm not covered in slime, injured, hungry, tired, or beaten. I'm happy with that," Xander said. "That's been my usual manner of thinking since tenth grade."
"I knew the problem went deeper," Ethan said in disgust. "Fine. You can feel some pleasure, it means there's hope of you being normal and really happy some day. If not, then we'll have to deal with it."
"I'm fine," Xander said bitterly. "I don't need fixed!" He stood up and went to his room, changing for the day. His door opened. "I thought I did have some privacy."
"You do," Severus said as he walked in. He closed and locked the door. "Unfortunately you've also managed to set off your father's one crusade." He sat on the bed, looking at his son. "What do you see when you see those nauseatingly cute couples out for a stroll, the ones who are leaning on each other?"
"I'm glad they're happy and that we kept them alive. No one deserves to have that ripped away from them."
"Do you see yourself having something of that nature?"
"No," Xander said bitterly. "I can't date anyone outside the life or they'll get hurt."
"Not entirely true," Severus noted. "Do you see yourself being happy that way?"
Xander flopped down. "Probably not," he admitted. "I'm lucky to have lasted this long."
"So I saw. I also saw that you were incredibly brave and caring. That you're very unselfish and giving. I also saw you do some incredibly stupid things from Ripper's mind, such as going with that zombie and taking him on." Xander opened his mouth. "I won't say another thing about that. I realize it was probably your innate sense of bad luck that drew him to you. You did excellently, though no one but Ripper knew the truth." Xander hung his head. "All Ethan wants for you is to be that happy."
"It sounded more like he wanted me to become someone's slave."
"No, he wants someone for you who can cure this submissive's attitude she was forcing on you."
"I'm not a sub," Xander said firmly, glaring at him.
"No, you're not. You'll never be the most dominant in your relationship but you do require equality, more or less. It was the same thing he wanted when he came in. You crave it when you've never had it. Malfoy craves it as well. His parent saw him as a necessary evil and a means to carry on the family name. Your females and friends saw you as a useful tool. He's rightly outraged by that because you're obviously so much more to those who look." He sighed. "Ethan had a fairly rough childhood himself. His parents saw him like Draco's see him. A necessary evil to carry on the family name. His wizard parent found the prettiest girl he could and got her knocked up. She regretted her decision."
Xander nodded, he could understand that. "My parents told me I was an accident."
"No, you were fully planned, they simply regretted their choice to adopt you. If they hadn't then you wouldn't be the man you are today but then again the world might have ended by now if you weren't." Xander gave him a faint smile. "In the end it is the same. You need someone who gives a damn about you, not about your prowess in bed, not about your ability with a hammer or a spell, and certainly not about using you as a showpiece. Which is my main objection to you getting with Mr. Malfoy. He craves attention and you'd be forced into the limelight against your will." He stood up. "I like that outfit."
"Thanks. I chose it," he admitted. "At least the color."
"It does look good on you. Mr. Malfoy has always had an eye for beauty and he made you stunning with your cooperation." He held out a hand and his son let him pull him up. "I do not need you to call me father yet," he said gently. "As time goes on, we will get closer. You do not have to do things to please others."
"It's fine, I'm used to it now," Xander told him.
"Fine. If it *pleases* you, you may continue. It pleases me simply having you closer." He put the boy's robe onto him and handed him a lint brush. "Here." Then he gave him a nudge toward the door. "Go eat. You'll need it." Xander nodded, taking his lint brush with him. Severus groaned. "I will persevere," he reminded himself. He gathered his mind again and went back to his breakfast, finding Ripper there staring at the boy. "Mr. Malfoy found just the right cut on him."
"I still say robes make me look like a dork," Xander told him.
"Xander, I'm going to hit you soon," Draco told him. "Would you quit staring?" he said in disgust to Giles. "He's the same boy he was yesterday, only dressed better!"
"He'll still need shoes," Severus told him as he moved the cat. "Ripper?"
Giles moved Draco's cat and sat down. "I think you look quite nice in that outfit, Xander."
Xander looked at him. "Did you have that charm put back on?"
Giles chuckled. "No, not in the least. I'm simply stunned. I've never seen you in formal wear that wasn't ill fitting." He shrugged. "You look quite nice in that. Even with the cat hair."
Draco licked off his fingers and pulled his wand, flicking it at Xander. "Denude." The hair jumped off his robes then fell to the floor. He put away his wand and nibbled on his scone again. "I'll teach you that one later, otherwise you'll take the hair off your head as well."
Ethan gaped at him. "You cheeky shit," he said finally, smirking at him. "Your own creation?"
"Hell yes. We have so many cats in Slytherin I'd be covered if I didn't." Severus choked. "What? I don't look good in cat hair. Even though my own's is quite stunning and looks good on me." He reached down to feed his cat a bit of sausage. "There you are." He went back to his meal. "Eat, Xander, we've got a bit more shopping to do today."
"I heard. Shoes, two sets of school robes in case. Then I'm to be sorted and going to Giles while you go back to class." Both cats hissed at him. "Hey, not my idea," he told them.
"Maybe we should keep him at the school, just in case," Giles suggested, smirking at Severus.
"Perhaps. It would be helpful with Miss Summers I suppose. Xander?" Xander shrugged. "That's fine then. You may stay with me for a few days." He took a sip of his juice, noticing Draco's stare at his cat. "They did say they were mated."
"True," Xander agreed. "I guess they want to stay together." He glanced down at them then at Draco. "What's going to happen when I don't have to attend school?"
"We'll set up visitation," Draco assured him. Xander's cat came over and he gave her a bit of sausage as well. "There, precious one."
"Draco," Severus said, frowning at him.
"She's apparently my in-law," he said smugly. "As such I am allowed to spoil her as well."
Xander looked at his cat. "Don't get used to it. I was told not to give cats people food because it's bad for them." His cat gave him a hurt look. "Really."
She came over and rubbed against his stomach. "I won't get sick if you'd give us a bite," she promised him, purring up at him. "I promise I won't. It would even help with the upset tummies the hair gives us." He sighed and put down a few pieces of bacon for them, earning another kitten lick. "Thank you, pet. Very nice of you."
"Yes, very nice of you," her mate agreed. "You can tell that stupid pet that they were wrong." He took the bigger piece and trotted off with it to nibble and chew in peace.
"Hey!" Perfect said, scowling at him. "Bully!" A second piece dropped down in front of her and she smiled at the dark one. "Thank you, pet's father." She took them both to her own hiding spot so her mate couldn't steal them from her.
Xander looked at his father. "You can talk to cats?"
"No, but it was obvious she was upset that he stole the bigger piece." He sipped his juice as Draco gave him a long look. "They're probably the only grandchildren I shall have, especially if you two get together."
"I'm not sure I could do what mom did," Xander admitted. "You're probably right."
"With two men, there's the option of both of them doing the carrying," Ethan noted, smirking at Draco.
"I'd look bad."
"Not really. Pregnant women are often the most beautiful ever."
"I'd still look bad. I'd be fat and miserable."
"And pampered and cosseted, plus spoiled," Giles told him.
"I'd still look bad."
"Guys," Xander complained. "We're not even that prophecy is about us."
"It was," Ethan sighed. "The other trio is probably Dawn, Potter, and someone."
"Weasley," Draco told him. "Potter gives his back cow eyes all the time." He nibbled his bacon. "That would make Granger rather cranky, so can we hold that off for a bit?"
"With what that girl gets into, there's every chance she'll be dead by then," Snape said bitterly. "She snuck into my stores to steal the things for polyjuice."
"Twice," Draco noted. Snape looked at him. "Back during the Chamber incident. It took me a while to figure it out, but they did. She was in the infirmary if you remember right. The males became Crabbe and Goyle to come question me. It hit me one night that they had been changing back and I saw Potter's scar." He gave him a smug look. "I'm waiting for the best moment to blackmail them with that."
"Yes, I remember that incident," Snape noted, thinking back. "I thought Poppy a bit firm on it being a bollocksed charm. Very good catch, Draco."
"Thank you, sir." He smiled at Xander. "I'm one of his favorites."
"I keep you under my eye to make sure you don't turn into your father," Severus corrected.
"Do you have to use a lot of eyedrops for that?" Xander asked, looking perfectly serious.
Draco groaned and got up, kissing Xander until he was too stunned to move. "No more bad jokes," he said firmly, going back to his seat. The older trio gave him a long look. "Best to stake my claim now. Before some grimy Death Eater tries something. We'll be going back out today."
"That's true, you will," Ethan agreed. He watched the boys leave, Xander giving Draco a hard shove for that kiss on the way out the door. Then he broke out in laughter. "Damn, Ripper, you did train the boy," he said, smirking at him.
"I did not give Mr. Malfoy any tips," Ripper said gleefully. "Though it was almost as nice as the one I gave you to shut you up that time." Severus threw his napkin at him. "Or the one I gave you to make you quit sulking after Creatures that day."
Severus gave him a long look. "What makes you think I didn't want you to?"
"The slap," Ethan said helpfully.
"It was all an act," he said dryly. "You should have been able to see through it."
"We did, that's why we jumped you later that night," Ripper reminded him. He looked up as the mail came in, accepting the copy of the Daily Prophet. He snickered as he showed them the headlines. "Witch Assaulted, Clothes Changed Without Her Authority."
"Mr. Malfoy does have excellent taste," Ethan noted, looking at the pictures showing the before and after. "Does it say it was them?"
Giles turned it back around to read it, then shook his head. "It says the Ministry couldn't figure out a wand signature so it was, and I quote, one of those grimy wandless prats." He looked up. "Apparently we're all to be locked up according to her."
"Let the little animagus try," Severus said dryly. "We can squash her like the beetle she is."
They gaped for a moment, then burst out laughing. "You are so bad," Ethan told him.
"Thank you." Severus got in another bite of breakfast before Ripper attacked him for a kiss. "This is not the place for this."
"No, it's not," he agreed. He hauled his man up and into their bedroom, taking his pleasure with him. Then he went and got Ethan, making him quite sore as well.
Draco walked Xander into Madam Malkins. She gave them a look. "It appears we forgot something last night. He'll be taking some classes at the school."
She smiled. "Of course. We've got a young lady here for that as well. I believe she was waiting on you." She stopped Xander. "Very nice work," she whispered.
"He gave me the color," Xander said with a small smirk. "Thank you." He walked into the back, smirking at Dawn. "There you are!" She launched herself at him, hugging him. "What happened?"
"I have to wear a uniform with a wool skirt," she said miserably. "I go to a school where I have to live in a room with other girls. I don't have privacy. It's like prison."
"It's not really," Draco said as he walked back. "There are many ways to get privacy and it's only prison-like when you're in detention." Xander gave him a look. "Fine, I'll show her how to get privacy in the school," he sighed. He was quickly coming to realize that Xander would be able to wrap him around his finger and yank his chain quite beautifully. If he wasn't such a stunning wizard and so pretty he might have to dump him. He looked over as Madam Malkin came in. "Can we do away with the wool? I know some girls get away with it."
"She'll want it this winter."
"True, but by then she'll need more clothes anyway, she's in the middle of a growth spurt," Xander pointed out. He looked at Draco, who raised an eyebrow. "Who is buying her school things?"
"That's not fair. He's been spending a lot recently," Xander complained. He went to the floo to call, like Draco had shown him, but Draco stopped him. "We should talk to him."
"It's not a problem," he noted. "Trust me." He looked at Madam Malkin. "Give me ten minutes?" She nodded so he strolled out, going down to the bank. He came back a few minutes later with a large bag and a satisfied look. "My father's dead," he announced. Madam Malkin hugged him. "He grabbed someone's wand to get my mother, killed her, and the aurors weren't fast enough to stop him from committing suicide." He looked at Xander. "I'm the last Malfoy in existence," he said smugly.
Xander grabbed him and hugged him. "I'm sorry, Draco. I know that wasn't how you wanted it because they didn't suffer long enough and left you with all that nasty social pressure."
Draco patted his back. "It's all right. I can hold up." He pulled back. "This means I get more time off classes however." He looked over as Weasley was led in by Harry. "Why did they let you out?"
"We're running an errand for McGonagall and helping Dawn," Ron said snidely. "You?"
"Guys, this is Xander, my very bestest buddy who buys me ice cream when my sister snarks at me. Xander, the redhead is Ron and the other's Harry." She frowned at Draco. "You, be nicer!" she snapped, stomping her foot. He gave her a look. "Portrait," she said simply. He nodded and went back to hugging Xander. She smirked at Ron's shocked look. "I didn't know Xander liked boys either but I guess after Anya it's a big improvement. Draco won't bleed him dry or suck him financially." She looked at herself in the mirror. "I look like a dork."
Xander laughed. "I said the same thing. Draco, can't you work a bit of fashion magic on her?"
Draco looked at her, then at him. "It's the uniform, I can't change the basics. All we can do is have it fitted." Xander smiled at him and he felt an unfamiliar warming in his stomach. "Stop that."
"Stop what?" Xander asked, looking very confused.
"You're making me feel mushy. Quit it." He went to help the fitter. "Take off the vest. Until this winter she won't need one. They're not mandatory." The fitter looked at him. "She's a sixth year. They're not mandatory." She nodded and took the vest away. "Good. Now fit the blouse and skirt to her body. Wearing it like that will make it fly up in a good breeze, which I've always thought was the reason for wearing such a style." The fitter snickered but did as he said, lowering the pleats three inches down her thighs. "Much better. Now it won't fly up," Draco noted. "Can you soften the border?" The fitter nodded and did so. "There, still legal but better. Fit the robe as well." He turned and found a goblin behind him. "Problems?"
"No," he said, handing over something. "Yours now." He looked at the bag, then at him. "You can only draw that much out a month for the next three years."
"Fine," Draco said with a hand wave. "Does that include household expenses?" The goblin shook his head. "School shopping?" He nodded. "Fine. Thank you, dismissed." It left with a pop. "I loathe wills," he noted. He shook his head and went to call the house himself. "My father and mother are dead," he announced. "He stole a wand to kill her then himself."
Snape stepped through the fire, doing up his buttons. "I'm sorry. I know you wanted them to suffer."
Draco shrugged. "It happens. Is that outfit legal enough?" he asked.
Snape looked at Dawn, then sighed. "More legal than Pansy's or Millicent's," he admitted. "Very good job. You made the front page of the Prophet." He looked at Xander, who blushed a little. "Try to behave." He came over to help with this important task. Draco had managed to talk his way into a silk uniform this year, he couldn't be allowed to do his son that way. He looked at the other two students. "Escorts?"
Harry nodded. "Plus running an errand for Professor McGonagall. Draco, I'm sorry about your parents." Ron nodded. "Is there any word from Sunnydale?"
"No," he said dryly. "Not yet." He looked them over, then Dawn. Then he groaned. "We will need to see you three later," he announced. "Ethan needs to talk to you about a prophecy." Dawn gave him a look. "One about a battle and your possible place in it."
"Already? I've been here two days and there's already a prophecy?"
Ron snorted. "Did Trelawny have it?"
"No, unfortunately it's rather old," Snape said bitterly. He glared at him. "You're out of uniform?"
"My tie was spotted this morning. She said I didn't have to wear one," Ron told him.
"Dad," Xander whined. "Don't fight with Ron. It'll only make it harder on me later."
"Fine," he said, giving his son a look. "No pureblood would ever *dare* bother you, son."
"No, but that doesn't make them want to work with me either."
"Fine." He grimaced and looked at his uniform. "I agree, without the sweater." The fitter took the sweater off him. "Much nicer. His new practical robes can go over them." Draco muttered something. "What was that, Mr. Malfoy?" he asked with a touch of amusement.
"I still say they're hideous and plain, sir. They're meant for menials and the like."
"I do construction. I can't do that in the fancy stuff like you got me," Xander pointed out.
"You could if you switched construction areas," Draco pointed out. "Furniture, boxes, and the like wouldn't make you quite as grimy. Plus you could branch out into carving and things. Much more profitable."
"I hate to say this, but he's right," Ron admitted. "Any strong witch or wizard can do the spells to add on a room to a house, but not many can make containment boxes or things like that." He looked Xander over, then looked his professor over. "You don't look much like him."
"He takes after his mother, Mr. Weasley. Twenty points off for impertinence."
"Sorry, sir. I had been about to say that he was quite handsome."
"You won't get those back," Snape said smugly.
Harry covered Ron's mouth. "Sorry, sir, he ate some IQ candy." He gave Ron a harsh look. "Quit!"
"Sorry, Harry. Sorry, Professor. I'm sure he's a very nice guy, even for being your son."
"Let me guess, he's one who tunes you out?" Xander teased. Ron nodded at the same time Snape did. "It's okay. I tuned out many teachers too. That's why I was doing construction."
"You made good money, even though you were perpetually sweaty," Dawn pointed out. "And Anya stole it all."
"Yes, there's a warrant out for her arrest for theft," Snape pointed out. "Ripper had a talk with someone about her theft of your cards to get back at you." Xander gave him a shocked look. "He had to discourage them from charging you as well, but he did apparently charm them out of it." He smirked. "Do not complain, young man."
"Fine. I won't complain about you sending my ex to jail instead of just making her pay it off."
Draco sighed and kissed him until he was stupid again. "Stay that way this time," he ordered, going to look at the shoes. He came back with six boxes and put them in front of Xander. "Try those on." Xander gave him a long look. "Now."
"Fine." He counted the boxes. "I need that many pairs?" He looked at Draco. "I'm not a girl."
"Tough. Try them on," Draco said patiently. "Now."
"Fine," Xander sighed, sitting down to try them on. He found two pairs of boots, one for winter, and a pair of designer sneakers along with the expected loafers. He held them up and Draco gave him another look. "I've never even dreamed about having one of these."
"So? Now you do. Put them on."
Xander did so, looking down at his feet. "Do I have this many pale clothes?"
"Yes." Draco went and got something for Dawn, coming back and handing it over with shoes. "For you as well. Fit the robes securely so Weasley can't pull them off."
"Hey!" Harry protested. "Ron's not with her." He covered his mouth.
Ron frowned at him. "Harry, have you been staring at me again?" Harry gave him a look, wide eyed and scared.
"Kiss him," Draco said as he came over to shove Harry at Ron. He rolled his eyes. "This is why mudbloods should be sent to a special school," he muttered. Dawn glared at him. "You too. Go kiss them." He waited until her robes were fit then picked her up and carried her over, handing her to Weasley. "Yours I believe. Put her between you." He went back to bully Xander into another robe he had liked the looks of.
"Draco, I already have two trunks of clothes," Xander complained. "I didn't have this many clothes in my entire life."
"Now you've got an image to maintain. Most of the people in your parent's social class change full wardrobes at least once a year, if not each season. Complain more, watch me tie you down tonight." Xander blushed and Draco gave him his confident smirk, the one that got many people into his bed. "Do as I say and I might be nice enough to tease you instead." He leaned in, giving him another kiss. Xander groaned and dropped everything to hold him.
"Enough!" Snape snapped. "No more kissing and leering in front of me!" Both groups broke apart. "I know how Fate works in mysterious ways, but really!" Draco gave him a look. "Remember, that is my son you are groping, Mr. Malfoy. I am quite...protective now that I've found him."
"You know I'll treat him beautifully." He looked back at Dawn, who he realized was his emotional equal. "Watch out for the Weasley clan. There's so many of them they'll run you over." Xander pinched him so he pinched him back. "Do not abuse me, I'll complain to your father and have one of them spank you." Xander's mouth fell open. "Kidding." Xander swallowed. "Shh, precious." He got him off the fitting stool and led him into a changing room. "Ethan will be around the school and so will your father and Dawn. Giles is coming up next month with his Slayer and their group. Willow is still at the school being straightened out and I doubt they'll let her leave if they don't put her somewhere safe." Xander swallowed. "You're not losing them. I promise you won't." Xander looked down at him and he noticed the vacant look to them. "A vision?" Xander nodded quickly. "A bad one?"
"There's a fight coming. Today. Here."
Draco nodded and gave him a hug. "We'll tell your father."
"He was there."
"He's a spy," Draco whispered. "He may have no choice." Xander relaxed. "We'll go tell him." He walked out and found Professor Snape browsing. "Your son has visions?" Snape looked at him and nodded. "He had one. An attack, today. Here."
"Bloody hell," he muttered, going to talk to his son. "Xander?" Xander looked up at him and hugged him. "It will be fine." Xander whispered it into his ear, making him nod. "Then I want you back at the school as soon as possible."
"He's tracking me."
"He's not. He's tracking rumors and me. I want you to finish up and go back to the school. Bring Dawn and the annoying duo with you. Draco will guard your back."
Xander nodded, heading out to do that while Snape went to tell the Headmaster. "Kids, we've got to get back to the school now." He looked at Harry, then glanced at Dawn. "We're leaving now. Hurry up."
"McGonagall's thing won't be ready for an hour," Ron complained.
"There'll be an attack," Harry told him. Xander nodded. "You have visions?"
"Only when it concerns his family," Draco told him, stroking Xander's back. "We'll take them all," he announced. "And all the other stuff too. Take the money out of my bag."
"Rupert left more than enough," Madam Malkin told them, going to bundle everything up in one big bag for them. She handed it to Ron. "Take her back to the school. She doesn't need to see such things."
"She's the sister of the slayer, she's seen worse," Dawn told her. "Can we help, Xan?"
He shook his head. "No. He's tracking us. Dad said the school will cover us."
"Then we're heading," she agreed. "Come on, guys."
"I'll call the mirror shop," Ron announced, going to do that at the other floo, then he followed everyone back to Hogsmeade. There was no direct floo into the school for security reasons. He noticed Draco took rear guard without being ordered and glanced at Harry.
"We're fine," Harry told him. "I could feel him if he was around." He looked around the town. "We'd still better hurry. The town's really quiet." They ran for the path to the school, knowing the barrier would give them a little bit more protection. They ran in the front door and he closed it, heading up to the Headmaster's office. "Acid Pops." The door opened and he went up, knocking before walking in. "We're back, the mirror will need picked up, the town's really quiet. What prophecy?"
Dumbledore blinked a few times. "What?"
"Slow down, Harry, you know the school is safe."
"Not necessarily. Voldemort's tracking Xander according to him." He crossed his arms. "He said Ethan had a prophecy. Something about me, Ron, and Dawn, and Draco and Xander."
"I see." He blinked a few more times then shrugged. "That would be more his area than mine. I'm sure they'll be up here soon."
Ron came up the stairs. "Draco left, he went back to Ethan's to get their cats and things. He apparated."
"Fine, thank you," Dumbledore told him. "Can we go a bit slower this time?"
Ron swallowed. "Malfoy pushed Harry into my arms and I felt this urge to kiss him, then he carried Dawn over and we both kissed her. It's apparently part of a prophecy according to Professor Snape."
Giles walked in with Draco by the collar and two bags, complete with cats sitting on top of them. "Here he is. The prophecy is one about two groups, opposites, fighting. I've got a copy stuffed in here somewhere. Ethan's on his way up. He had to gather some more things than I did. When did Hogsmeade go silent?"
Dumbledore got up and went to his floo, going to call the inn. "Madam Rosemerta?" No answer. "Rupert, I know you're newly back. Did you get anything odd?"
"Sleeping spell," Harry told him. "I felt really tired. We came back to the external floo behind the Three Broomsticks." Ron nodded at that. "We have to tell someone about the...." He grabbed his head and winced. "He's calling them now."
Dumbledore changed lines. "Auror Academy." A head spun up to fill the fire. "We have a vision of a battle today in Diagon and Harry's reacting right now to him calling the others. No corroboration yet."
"Who had the vision?" Ripper asked.
"Your step-son," Ron told him.
"Oh, blast!" He sighed. "He's tracking Sev."
"Xander said him."
"He's trying to lure him, he knows Xander has Ethan's gifts as well as Severus'. As well as an odd one to talk to cats from somewhere."
"I can always be the bait," Xander told him, coming in to take the cats from the bags. "Hey, guys." He stroked them gently, letting Draco take his. "If we need me to, I can go back there and look like I'm browsing for something."
"No," Giles and Draco told him.
"I can do the teleport thingy and if he's tracking me then he'll see me there and won't come here."
"He's luring you, Xander, not tracking you. He wants you to join him."
"Hmm. Then he's gonna have to do something more impressive than be brought back to life. I did that for Buffy." He grimaced. "We could use her."
"We could," Giles agreed handing off the bags to Ron. He sat Harry down, casting a small charm on his forehead. "It will numb any and all pain for six hours," he said calmly. "It will take me more than half of that to get Buffy back here."
"No, it won't," Ethan said as he walked in, dropping his bags. "I put the rest in Hagrid's back room," he said at the Headmaster's look. "We can do a ring."
"I don't know where she is."
"Easy, she's at home. It's six in the morning out there. The only problem is the vampire."
"Black out veil," Draco told him. "Or a good cloak."
"Done," Ethan agreed, smirking at him. "I knew you'd be an asset to the family business. We'll be back in an hour. Do we have that long, Xander?"
"I saw a lot of people, like a lunch rush I think," he said.
"Good. Excellent in fact," Giles agreed. "Come, Ethan." They ran out the door and down the stairs togther, back into the mindset of fighting together. "Poor Sev," he said as they headed for the barrier.
"He'll be fine. We redid the protection charm. Even if the asshole Crucio's him he won't be that badly hurt." They made it to the barrier and teleported back to the Magic Box to get everyone up and moving. Ripper got to get up Buffy, she wouldn't trust him. Ethan got the vampire. He found a cloak in the back room and brought it down with him. "William, up. There's an assault by Voldemort coming." The vampire looked at him and yawned. "I know. He'll be trying for Xander."
The vampire stood up. "When and where?"
"That really exists?" Ethan nodded as he handed over the cloak. "Good deal." They headed up the stairs and into the main shop, where Giles was herding Buffy and Tara.
"We all set?" Ethan asked.
"Nearly," Giles announced. "I stocked this place for mystical attacks. We'll need some things packed."
Tara looked up then closed her eyes and raised a hand, bringing boxes out. She looked at Giles. "We packed most of it already."
He hugged her. "You're a chip, dear. An absolute gem." He went to check the shelves and the books, just in case. All those went into a special box that held a bookcase each. Ethan was constructing their circle. "Are there any other wizards in town?" he asked Ethan as he brought out the last box and went for the herb jars. It'd be a nice hosting gift for Sev.
"A few, I warned them last night," he admitted. He waved at the circle. "Step over the lines or we'll end up in some funny side realm of this reality." Buffy went into the back room and came out with her weapons trunk. "Are you sure?"
"Yeah, I'll need something probably. I can always bring the rest back." Ethan grunted as he moved it. "Sorry, I always seem to overpack," Buffy said with a smirk for him. "You're actually a good guy?"
"Only when the mood suits me." Giles pinched him on the ass. "Ow! And the mood usually strikes when we have to work together." He shrugged and smirked at her. "He's got a fantastic tongue, makes me do all sorts of things to get it again."
"Ethan!" Giles said, looking shocked. "I thought you liked more of me than that one organ."
"Oh, I do," he said smugly. "I didn't want to shock her totally though."
"Too late," Tara noted. "I don't want to hear about icky boy parts."
Ethan smiled at her. "Very well then. When you finally have a child, we can share anecdotes on the problems." She blushed and gave him a look. "I did carry Xander."
"Yes, and you were stunning, love." He gave him a kiss. "I still think we're too old." He grabbed two last things and brought them over. "There. Some of that needs to go to Sev's."
"Demon teleport, won't matter," he pointed out. "Did you mark the work room?"
"I did actually," he said smugly, bringing everything in the circle to Severus' work area. The students gave them a startled look. "Sorry to barge in and all, but dismissed. We're here to help Mr. Potter." The kids ran out, going to spread this gossip. They must be stronger than the headmaster if they could apparate in. "Spike, outside it is light. In here it is not. Let's go up to the office." They walked that way, Buffy and Spike with the things that needed to be brought right then. Giles locked the classroom door so no one could touch anything. Ethan looked at him. "Please do the lock, dear?"
Tara touched it and it opened, making her squeak and back up.
"The nose is the doorbell," Giles told her, patting her on the back. "Hop on." Buffy took the trunk and hopped on, letting everyone else follow her. He went up last, finding everyone but Xander in there. "Tell me he's not already left."
"I couldn't stop him," Draco said tiredly. "He froze me." He looked at Buffy and nodded at her and Tara, then sneered at the vampire. "You too?"
"He's damn useful, Draco. Leave him alone." Buffy looked at the headmaster. "Where do you need us?"
"You're very handy," he told Rupert. He gave him a smile. "The Ministry doesn't believe."
"Yay. Been there, done that," Buffy told him. "Where?" She looked at Tara, then at Spike. She looked at him again. "Willow?"
"Is on her way here now," Albus soothed. He stood up. "All right. The alley is a long, twisting place. The easiest place for them to apparate into and not start a real panic would be Knockturn."
Harry walked in and nodded at him. He looked at Buffy, then at Giles. "They're apparating into Hogsmeade first, then into Diagon. They don't know the sleeping spell was canceled by Ethan. They're apparating in around the steps to Gringott's as a statement that they own the world. Goyle suggested it and Voldemort was amused." Giles' face hardened. "They're going at exactly twelve-twenty to take advantage of the lunch rush. We got Tom warned and he's cleared the Leaky and opened the doorway, sticking it open. We hope there won't be many injuries of people getting out that way. He's busy putting an expanding charm on the doorway, just in case."
"You're very handy too," Buffy said, pinching his cheek. "Is that Dawn's lipstick?"
"She was trying to make my headache better," Harry said with a blush. "I find myself quite fond of her and want to protect her greatly."
"Good. We'll talk later," she assured him. He nodded and swallowed. "This Diagon place, do we have a map?"
"We do," Dumbledore assured her, pulling one out. He laid it on his desk. "Gringott's is here, at this end. That means they'll make a push up the alley. Harry, did Madam Malkin get to warn anyone?"
"I hope so." He frowned. "Xander had it while in her shop and she does gossip." He shrugged at the look. "Not everyone will listen I'm sure but they'll be ready with their shields. They can't shut down or someone will know."
"Xander has visions?" Buffy asked.
"Only about his family," Giles told her. "He can talk to his cat too. I want her here," he said, pointing at Flourish and Blott's. "It's got a good spot to hide her and Spike. Spike, try to keep on the cloak or head down Knocturn. There's not a bit of sun down there even at high noon." He nodded. "Good. Tara, I want you at this end, taking care to get the injured out of the way," he ordered, pointing it out. "I'll introduce you to Tom personally. Ethan, love, are you fit to fight?"
"Ready and able," he admitted. "Where is the son?"
"Book browsing," Dumbledore told him. "He'll be fine. He's going to the animal stores after this to find more interesting presents for his familiar."
Draco stood up. "Where am I?"
"Go find Xander," Ethan told him. "Shadow him."
Draco nodded and went to do that.
"First, Mr. Malfoy, I need you to ring the bell for me and make sure all your housemates are locked in since your head of house isn't here," Dumbledore said before he could leave.
"Yes, sir," he said firmly, if with a touch of coolness in his voice. He walked out and headed to the room below the owlry. It had an emergency bell in it. He rang it three times, and the students scrambled for their houses, like they had been instructed at the beginning of the year. He walked down the stairs and found some teachers rushing for him. "There's an attack on Diagon today," he announced. "Dumbledore's in his office with the Slayer and her Watcher, Ripper Giles. I'm to lock in Slytherin." He brushed past them, heading down to the dungeons. He waited while more kids ran in. Then he walked in and found everyone looking at him. "There's an attack in London. I've been ordered to lock you in since Snape's not here." They gaped at him so he glanced behind him. "Professor. Back already?"
"Where is my son?"
"Diagon. I'm heading there next to drag his ass back here." Snape sighed and nodded so he followed him out, letting a few smaller students scurry in before he set the charm himself. That wasn't Snape. He knew he wasn't. He called his bag to him, pulling out his spare wand and cloak. Then he walked out, heading for the apparation barrier. He met Willow coming in. He nodded at her. "There's an attack coming. They're in the office." The aurors hurried her up the stairs and he apparated off. He landed in Diagon and headed after his mate, stalking him like the beast he was. He finally found him, noticing he had dressed in his most comfortable dueling outfit and he had his wand next to his hand in an outer pocket. "Put it in the inner pocket, that's what it's there for," he whispered in his ear. Xander switched it and gave him a small smile. "Buffy's coming."
"Yay. Against magic?"
"Yes." He moved around, taking the book to get into his face. "This is a bad plan."
"It keeps others safer."
"Fine. Just after quarter past noon." Xander nodded and gave him a little smile. Draco sighed and kissed him gently. "We're fighting together."
"Draco, they'll target you. They only want to keep me."
"They want to keep both of us, Xander. You have no idea what's been going on recently." Xander nodded. "You can't."
"My dad was in that memory spell too."
Draco grimaced. "He can hide things from you. He's good enough." He walked him to another set of shelves, waving a hand. "Those." Xander beamed and pulled down the art books. Some of them were very nice moving comics. "Crabbe likes those." He turned and leaned against the bookcase. "Am I spoiling you?"
"I got ten galleons earlier from your bag. I'll have dad pay you back."
"That's fine, Xander. Our cats are presently cooing at Fawkes." He gave the salesgirl a look. "He's browsing and I'm watching him. He is mine." She nodded and swallowed then left them alone. "Do they know?" Xander glanced at him and nodded. "Good." He gave him another peck on the lips, then looked at the clock. "One more hour."
"An hour in a bookstore?" he asked.
"We can get a snack and come back," Draco offered.
"Please. I said I'd move to the pen store after this."
"You probably do need some stationery," he agreed dryly. "Pick out your comics." Xander pulled down the whole stack. "Ten galleons?" Xander gave them a pitiful look and started to put some back. "Pick out ten," he instructed. "They're a sickle each." Xander beamed and picked out ten, but Draco saw him hesitate over the last few choices and added them to his stack. "Come along." Xander trotted behind him, one happy boy. They walked down the alley together, looking at things they hadn't seen yesterday. The herbalist had put out defensive plants. The animal place had put out the larger, predatory birds. Xander went into the pet stores to find new treats for their cats, then they went to the herbalist for catnip, then to the pen store. Draco sent it back to his room with his cloak as the noon bell rang. People started to stream into the alley for lunch shopping and he groaned. He led Xander back toward the bookstore, taking up a lounging position while Xander looked at the cauldrons on display. They were near enough to the bookstore and not inside anywhere. It would allow them some space if people rushed their position to hide, but still keep them in sight. The Death Eaters appeared and people started to scream and run past. Draco pulled Xander out of the path, noticing a certain blonde was slinking their way as well. He looked over as a few of the Death Eaters came their way. "Xan."
Xander looked up and put down the cauldron he had been looking at. "Why pewter again?"
"Chemical reactions," Draco said patiently. It was a stalling tactic.
One of the Death Eaters grabbed Xander and he gave him a shove. "Do not touch me," Xander said at his most haughty, a direct steal from his father. "I am not yours to grope."
"Calm down," Draco soothed, stepping up to stroke his back. "They won't touch you or you can legally kill them." He gave him a nudge as the Dark Lord came up to where they were. "It's him."
"Yay." He looked him over. "I've seen worse things crawling out of my hellmouth." He glanced at the minions, all of whom were tense. "And I see you did go with the vampire ideal. I guess it makes sense since you suck." He looked at the nearest one. "Tell me, is blowing a special treat or a sacred duty?" Draco snickered at that.
"Crucio," Voldemort hissed, pointing his wand at Draco. Xander stepped between them and took it, but it seemed to be fairly weak since he only grunted. "What are you?"
"I heard you'd be here, I came to taunt you," he said, swallowing and shaking off the last effects from the spell. "You wanted to talk to me? Why?"
"And you are?" he asked.
Draco snorted. "You can't even tell a Snape when you see one?" he asked smartly, sneering at him. "How odd. Xander, come. We have things to attend to this afternoon, including your language lessons with the cats."
"No, not yet," he said, holding up a hand. He moved closer. "You wanted to speak to me, get me to join your side like my father was forced to. Get it straight, I'm going to kill you to get my father free. If I don't, then I'm sure others can." He saw Willow pop in behind the group. "Like her," he said, pointing. "She's my best friend and is very happy that I've finally found my father. I'd let him go."
"Only death releases my loyal ones," Voldemort sneered.
"That's fine, we can kill you," Xander said, pulling a dagger and lunging. He knew he wouldn't hit him, but it gave Willow the opening she needed to attack. Then he spun and grabbed his father, knowing which one he was by scent. He heard a quiet cough and looked at them, then removed his father's mask. "Can I kill that one?"
"No, son. I don't want you to be a hunter. Let the vampire do it for you." He got out of Spike's way, watching as he vamped out behind the hood and attacked.
"Hmm, someone got the chip," Xander said, backing away. "Hey, Spike, drain only, big guy. We want them to suffer. They're worse than Glory with her mind touches."
Spike glared at him. "If I feel like it."
"Dude, slayer, standing right there," he pointed out. Buffy shot one of the men in the arm. "See?"
"Fine." He let that one drop and got the next one.
Draco patted Xander on the back. "If you're ever turned, make sure you get me as well. That way we can raise an army." He walked his mate off with Professor Snape bound in front of them. "Come along, captive. Your son wants you to deprogram you." He sneered when the older man looked back at him. "I like him enough to put up with this demand, but he'll be paying me sexually later for your freedom."
"I say not," Snape said, glaring at him.
"Mom said to tie me down," Xander pointed out. He nodded at Tara. "Go," he told her. "Spike's dechipped." She took Snape's hand and led him off, keeping him stunned in case he was under a coercion, or someone was watching. Xander looked at Draco. "Can we go back?"
"No!" He shook his head. "I'm ready to piss myself, Xander. We need to retire to somewhere more conductive to my continued sanity."
"Malfoy!" someone yelled.
Draco turned and pulled his wand but Xander had his out faster. "Only I get to call him that," Xander sneered. "He's my bitch, get it right!" He cast a complicated charm he had gotten off Ethan's mind, making the man howl and writhe like he was having a seizure. "Never touch what's mine again. Not my daddy, not my mate, especially not my cat!" He hit the next one coming, then pushed Draco behind him. "Go back to the school. I'll be there soon enough." Draco nodded and ran off. Xander calmly held the doorway against the ones who made it past Spike and Willow. Willow finally came his way and he grinned. "Hey, you." He gave her a hug.
"Xander?" she asked, looking him over. "You look...presentable." She beamed at him. "You really like your dad?" He nodded. "And Ethan?" He nodded again. "Are you coming back?"
"I don't know what's going on. You and Buffy might be staying here." He shrugged. "Who knows." He smirked as Buffy came his way. "Did Spike get away?"
"Yeah," she said bitterly, looking him over. "You look hot in that, Xan. Does your man treat you nice?"
"Man?" Willow squeaked.
"He wasn't playing, he and Draco were seen kissing earlier. Harry told me." She smirked at Xander. "Back to the school?"
"Sure. The older generation?"
"Hanging back to defend the town near the school." She picked a piece of hair off his arm. "Kitty fur."
"You'd like my cat. Her name's Perfect. She said so." Willow snickered. "Seriously! I can talk to cats! I talk to mine and Draco's all the time." He looked up at the hiss, raising his wand. "You wanted to try again?" he sneered, then he laughed. "Sorry, you're interrupting. I haven't seen them in a few days."
Willow turned and created a small ball of fire. "Leave," she hissed. "Now!"
"This is not over."
"Of course not. Next time, I'm bringing Harry with me. Then it'll be over," Xander promised. "Go now. Busy, playing, happy, and you're ruining my happy mood. Draco will have to do a lot of kissing and cuddling to make me feel better. Oh, don't go to the school. You'll only die. I made him go back there sexually frustrated." Voldemort's eyes widened as he moved back. "He's a great guy. Changed me forever. I don't want a girl anymore thanks to him. All it took was a delicate little kiss. Wiped out twenty years of sexual urges."
"Twenty?" Voldemort asked.
"Nineteen, Xan," Willow corrected.
"No, he's younger than that."
"I know, but I didn't think anyone would notice how far behind I was when I was in grade school. It was easier to pretend I was a late bloomer instead of an early one." He looked at Willow. "I'm only seventeen."
"Damn." She gave him a long look. "No wonder you had trouble in grade school!" She hit herself on the forehead.
"The math doesn't add up," Voldemort sneered.
"It does so. If you knew when my birthday was." Xander sneered. "Leave. Before I call my roomie Spike." Voldemort hissed and raised his wand but Willow singed it, making him howl and drop it to put out the fire on his sleeve. Then he left without it.
Willow picked it up and put it out by covering it in ice. "Okay, let's go." She took their hands. "Spike, if you can hear me, we're going back to the school. Only come up if you want to be good." She took them off, heading back there. They landed behind the teachers, and she shook out her hands. "Ow." She handed Dumbledore the icy wand. "He's a little singed," she noted, walking past the line. "They're on the run. Xander promised destruction next time." She was caught by McGonagall. "Fine, I'll stay here."
Buffy and Xander smirked at each other. They'd help Willow very well.
Dawn came out of hiding and bounced into them, hugging them both. "Good jobs!" She grinned at Buffy until her sister took her arm and drug her off. "What?"
"I want to talk to you about your lipstick on Harry's ear."
"But the prophecy said so and he's really nice, Buffy. You'll like him."
"I'd better like him," she said shrilly.
Xander shook his head. "Poor girl. Buffy still regrets her vampire addiction." He strolled past them, heading for the school. He found his father waiting on him. "Hi, dad." He gave him a hug. "Did Draco make it to a bathroom?"
"Son, you are going to give me an ulcer," he noted calmly, looking up at him. He stood up, hugging him for real. "You are brash, outrageous, and all together too tough to be bourne rationally. Try not to die this week, shall we?"
"Sure, dad. I didn't have any intention of it. Remember, I learned the teleporting thing from mom." He winked at him. "I think Willow will do excellently against him." He led his father inside, scooping up the waiting kittens. "Hey, Perfect. Hey, Asgard." He stroked them both, moving away when his father sneezed. "Sorry, dad." He looked around. "Which way?"
"My office," he said, pointing the way. "I have Mr. Malfoy putting up the things Ripper generously brought me." He rolled his eyes. "He packs like a woman." He led him down there, letting him inside. Xander flopped down onto his desk chair, then got up so he could have it. "Thank you. Mr. Malfoy?" Draco came out of the store room. "I believe your beast was waiting upstairs? Try to contain him."
"Yes, sir." He took Asgard and put him on his shoulder to help him. "Sir, you don't have any room left for more Hensbane root. Should I leave it in the jug?"
"That's fine." He looked at his son. "Do you often face down the worst and sneer and mouth off?"
Xander nodded. "It works. Irritation makes you fight worse. I learned that from Buffy."
"I see. Perhaps some memory adjustment then?" he suggested. Xander smirked at him. "Do not do that, you look all together too much like your mother when you smirk or sneer." He stood up and stripped off the outer robe, tossing it aside. "I probably won't need that again." Someone tapped on his door. "Enter!"
Willow strolled in. "The Headmaster wanted to know if I could do something about your tatoo. He thinks I can break it or send a flashback through it."
Severus sighed as he rolled up his sleeve, letting her have access to his arm. He watched as she gently touched around it before touching it directly. That hurt and he winced. He sat down, laying his arm on the desk. "Do your worst."
She smirked. "I'm a good girl most of the time." She touched it again and then closed her eyes and muttered under her breath. He yelled and she held his wrist down.
Xander cleared his throat when smoke started to come off his arm. "Hurt him permanently and I'll have to protest, Wills."
"Not," she told him, going back to it. She finally pulled back and took the tatoo off her fingers, tossing it away. "There. I cut the bond, sucked it up, and healed the skin all at once." She dusted off her fingers. "Good me." She grinned.
"She's fucking amazing," Draco noted from the doorway. "We'll need to keep her happy."
"When it comes time to make me an aunt, you carry it," she told him, giving him a look. "A pregnant Xander would be too freaky for words." She wiped her fingers off again. "I'm going to witchhazel my fingers. Laters."
"This way," Draco told her, going to pour her some into a bowl. She deserved it for that.
Xander sat on the edge of the desk, looking at the extra pale spot. "Wow."
Snape looked at him and nodded. "Very. How?"
"Who knows," he said dryly. "Willow's been in touch with the hellmouth a few times. Maybe it helped." Draco came out and gave him a kiss then took Perfect with him. "Hey! My cat."
"Yes, but I put down some catnip to keep them out of trouble." He came back out. "That way I can make good on your promise to put you back into a good mood." Xander blushed. "Yes. We did listen in. You were fairly mouthy and rude," he said with a grin. "I like you like that." He pulled Xander with him, going up to his room. He unsealed the Slytherin door on the way, dragging him past everyone. "Mine, do not touch under penalty of horrifying death even worse than the Death Eaters."
"Draco, I've never...." Xander complained.
"Yay. I can fix that too." He walked them into his dorm room. "Out!" he ordered. "My mate. We're having sex and you're not invited to watch or help." The other boys ran but Goyle. "You as well."
"Did anyone die?"
"No, Spike didn't kill anyone, he only sucked some stupid," Xander told him. "My dad's back. Go ask him."
"Thanks. Which auror is your father?"
"Professor Snape?" Goyle asked. Draco gave him a dirty look. "Never mind." He ran out, going to tell Crabbe the news. "That was Snape's son!"
"It can't be. Snape's never had a woman in his life," Crabbe said dryly.
"He is," Draco called down the stairs. "Leave my mate alone!" He slammed the door. Then he smirked at Xander, who had been chained to the bed with a small spell. "There, better now."
"Locks," Xander suggested.
"Good idea." He locked it and then stripped Xander before tossing away his wand. "Stay right there," he ordered, coming over to sit beside him and kiss him. "I am in control in here. Say it."
"I've never even touched a man," Xander whined.
"Don't worry, I'll be gentle enough for now," he said with a small smile. "Then we'll see who bottoms and who doesn't. We'll go both ways for a bit." He stole another kiss, then went to get one of his quills, coming back so he could tease him with a feather. Xander whimpered and shifted. "Lay there and enjoy it," he ordered gently. "I am in control."
"You're in control," Xander said, staring into his eyes.
"Very nice," Draco told him, bending for another kiss then going back to his teasing. Xander needed teased quite a lot. He'd have to continue to do that now and then.