Xander walked into his people's hangout, looking around. "Well, I've got good news and I've got bad news."
"Bad news first, we're already eating ice cream," Buffy ordered, eating a bite.
"I've got to move to England thanks to the staff choosing me to head a family."
"Family, like mafia?" Willow asked. Tara shook her head. "Oh, what you guys were doing. How's it going?"
"We fixed the laws," Xander said. Giles gave him a horrified look. "Not just me. By the way, John Winchester is going to look for you to see if you can find him any info on the demon that's hunting his family." He looked at his ladies again. "I will be just a call away but they've got a kid fighting a bad guy over there." That got a moan from Buffy. "He's fifteen."
"I was once."
"His isn't a demon and it's him or it. Prophecy."
"Damn. Need help?"
"Might. They do not like wandless magic though. Fair warning." That got a nod from the two witches. "So I'm off again shortly. Once I see if Anya left any of my stuff alone."
"We put it in storage," Willow assured him. "She's still complaining."
"Yay her." He shrugged. "Not like I chose me. It chose me. This weekend I get to talk to a cousin about his marriage contract." He grinned at Giles, who had let out another moan. "But I have a nice apartment over there. You guys can all pop in and visit. If you need me, yell my way." They all nodded. "Then I'm going to get my crap and go. The staff's getting impatient." He waved and disappeared, and all his stuff came with him to his apartment. "Thank you, Staff. You're very helpful." He gave it a pet and put it down so he could unpack and sort things out again.
Willow shook her head. "He's in charge of things. That poor world." The girls nodded and ate some more ice cream, even letting Giles have some.
Horatio walked back into his office, looking at his boss. "It was unavoidable."
"I heard. A lot really." He handed over a sheet of paper. "You don't get to be a Chief of a major metropolitan city without hearing about those things, Caine."
"I am the present chairman of the Founders Council," he said quietly.
"We just unscrewed a lot of laws." That got a laugh. "We've moved it back to monthly meetings now so I should be all right to continue working but can I get a house elf to do my paperwork?"
"As long as it's written neatly," he sighed, walking off shaking his head. "Speedle and Duquesne are going to gut you."
"I'm sure they will, sir. Thank you for being so understanding." He summoned his house elf, showing it how to do the various forms, getting a nod so he could watch her do it. She had good penmanship. Better than his. She could type faster too. He looked up as someone stomped into his office. "Speed." He smiled, standing up to hug him. "How are you feeling?"
"Much better and I've been moved back to monthly meetings."
"For...." He looked at the thing behind the desk. "Alien?" he asked dryly with a point.
Speed gave him a dirty look. "Uh-huh."
"She likes doing paperwork. Mac has one too."
"Uh-huh," he repeated. "Where were you? You don't look tanned."
"We were mostly in a small room inside a larger building having meetings, Speed. No time to get a tan."
Speed slammed the door in someone's face and stared at him, arms crossed over his chest. "Beyond that?"
"Why?" Horatio pulled out the staff to show him. "It's a mini maypole. So?"
"It came to me to choose me as the new head of my family, Speed."
"That should've been a given. You only have a niece and nephew."
"There's a few others farther away."
"Uh-huh," he repeated. "And?"
"We had to make some changes thanks to an officious little man in charge."
Speed just sighed, shaking his head. "I don't want to know, right?"
"I can't tell you even if you wanted to."
"Wonderful. Every month?"
"Probably one weekend."
"Good." He opened the door and leaned out. "He's back. Watch out for the creature doing his paperwork."
Eric leaned in, looking at the creature then at Horatio. "You have a house elf?"
Speed moaned. "How do you know about them, Eric?"
"One of my cousins went to school for it."
"I'm the new head of my family," Horatio told him. "We had to rewrite a legal code. That's what took so long."
"Need some tylenol?" Eric asked.
"I'm fine now. This is Lucia. She's here to do paperwork. Not to make you coffee, Eric."
"Yes, H." He got out of the way when he was poked so Calleigh could walk in with the new guy.
Ryan looked at the creature then at him. "House elf? I didn't know they could type."
"How do *you* know?" Speed asked.
Ryan grinned. "I went to school where some worked." Eric gaped. "I did," he defended.
Calleigh looked at the creature then at her boss. "Mutant?"
"House elf," she said slowly. "Hmm. Would you like to explain where you were?"
"London. I got named the new head of my family and it was an emergency. Someone had been trying to take over and it was not pretty. We ended up rewriting laws."
She grimaced. "I'm sorry."
"With the people I had you do background checks on."
"Even worse. Is he as bouncy as we heard?"
"Yes. He's handling things while I'm here." She gave him a hug then punched him on the arm, walking far around Lucia.
"Does Horatio need Lucia to make coffee or snacks? It will not take Lucia long to do forms for Horatio."
"I'm fine, Lucia, thank you. Just tidy up in here once you're done please." She nodded, going back to work. He looked at Ryan. "That's a very interesting admission."
"I couldn't tell you if you didn't know."
"I know why now. We should talk."
"We should. Did you get any training with that staff?"
"No. Xander talks to his. He thinks it's sentient. I'll give it as much as some guide animals but I'm not sure about true sentience yet."
"That's probably about right as we heard it," Ryan admitted. "Put it away before it zaps an annoyance. Stetler's coming and the aurors get a bit pissed when I turn him into a pink frog." Horatio snickered, putting it back into his pocket.
"It shrank," Speed said.
"It does that," Ryan agreed. "And if you see people in robes, send them to Horatio." He walked off. "Welcome back. Happy paperwork, H."
"I'm going to get him," Eric muttered.
"Why? He'll learn like you did, Eric," Speed assured him. He looked at Horatio. "I want a better explanation for being woken up in the middle of the night by a panicking Chief saying you had disappeared with only a note saying you had family business to take care of. Stetler asked if it was *family* business too."
"No, not really. Though there is a war going on over there." Stetler pushed his way inside. "Rick. Good morning."
"What is that thing and is it legal?"
"Lucia is very legal and she's very helpful. The Chief has already agreed I can use her as a secretary." He smiled. "She types very fast. She also makes very good coffee. She spoils me horribly by cooking as well."
Rick snorted, glaring at him. "I doubt that."
"Lucia, did we bring lunch?" he asked.
"Horatio said that Horatio was going to be buying lunch for team," she said patiently. "If Horatio wants, Lucia will pop home and make something for team."
"No, I can buy," he decided, patting her on the head. "Thank you for reminding me."
"You hired a retarded mutant for your secretary?" Rick sneered. "Good job, Caine."
"Horatio, Lucia is done with all sixty forms. Does Horatio have more for Lucia to do?"
"Just dust a bit, please." She nodded, pulling out things to dust and getting to work. He sat down to check them over, nodding that everything but one form is right. "This one needs some fixing." She moaned but came over to let him show her again. "That's how." She nodded and fixed it then printed it for him. "Thank you." He handed it to Rick once it was in an envelope. "Here, since you're still standing in my office."
"Types. Yes." Rick glared then stomped off. He waved. Speed gave him an odd look. "Xander did it."
"We'll talk when you're more sane." He walked out, going back to his lab to glare and glower at others.
Horatio smirked at his back. Poor Speed. But he would adjust or he wouldn't let Lucia make him desserts. Alexx came up and nearly screamed. "That's Lucia, my helper," he said from his couch. He hadn't had a crime scene yet this morning.
"What is she?"
"She's very nice," Horatio said, looking over at her. "She types a hundred-twenty words a minute. She makes excellent coffee and muffins. She cleans. She doesn't have a high salary."
"What is she beyond supernatural?" she demanded.
"A house elf," Ryan said from behind her, grinning some. "Aren't they wonderful? I went to school where a few work." He put a dish on the desk. "Lucia, this is stuff the house elves at my school used to love. I figured I'd welcome you to the lab with some." He patted her on the head. She looked at Horatio, who nodded. She ate a piece and beamed. "If you need help with someone you let me know. I can handle someone without nasty aurors coming," he said quietly. She nodded, going back to her straightening out. He looked at Horatio. "Stetler told someone you're sleeping with her."
"Horatio is not one of those sick humans who sleep with house elves," Lucia said patiently while she dusted. "If Horatio was, Lucia would not serve Horatio."
"Good to know," Horatio agreed. "Thank you, Ryan. Peppermint?" He nodded and left.
Alexx stared after him then glared at Horatio. "She's not normal."
"Lucia is so normal house elf," she defended, scowling at her. "Missus human woman should not put Lucia down!"
"That's right, she shouldn't," Horatio agreed. "She doesn't understand."
"Horatio could turn her into a house elf," she said with a giggle.
Horatio smiled. "I might but she's my friend and she might swat me like Gibbs does Tony."
She cackled. "Gibbs sir loves to swat his Tony sir." She went back to cleaning up after him. Really, humans were so messy! She got another piece of candy to suck on while she cleaned.
Horatio smiled at Alexx. "Mac Taylor has one as well. His is named Floppy."
"That's his name," he said dryly. She huffed off. "I know where Speed learned it from now," he called after her, grinning some. She'd get him back later but oh well. He was having a good day.
Mac walked into his office with Floppy, sitting down with him to show him the forms. Floppy nodded and got to work. "In English, not French," he ordered. It was fixed. Mac went to find out the status of his last case. "I'm back," he announced as he walked past a lab.
"What the hell is that!" someone shouted up the hallway.
"Floppy is not a that," Floppy defended, sneering at the woman. "Muggle woman is loud!" Then he shut the door. "Floppy has work to do. Human is annoying Floppy and making Floppy be bad house elf."
Mac smiled. "That's a good explanation." He ran into Don, smiling at him. "Morning."
"Finally. You okay?"
"Fine. We got part of it fixed. Now we're helping and doing monthly meetings."
"Uh-huh." He stared at him. "Would you like to tell me something, Mac? Because the thing coming up the hall after you is clearly a house elf."
"The staff picked the new head of certain families in England," he said quietly. "I'm one."
"Ah!" He nodded. "Understood." He nodded at the house elf. "Good morning. Are you Mac's house elf?"
"I is Floppy. Floppy is to do Mac's paperwork and clean his office."
"That'll work," Don said, handing him a life saver. The house elf smiled and sucked on it, handing Mac something.
Mac looked at it. "English?"
"Bosses man wanted to see you immediately about yous leave."
"I'll talk to him in a minute. Thank you, Floppy. This is Don Flack. He apparently knows about you guys."
"Floppy likes you more than noisy human woman." He went back to the office to get back to work. He would have to remember to write in English for his Mac person.
Stella looked in the office then down the hall at Mac. "I can't believe you brought Floppy back, Mac!"
"He likes doing paperwork." Stella gave Don a hug. "Did you know he knew?"
"He didn't look that surprised at the appearing staffs."
"No that was kinda shocking but less shocking than watching the Commissioner stare in horror at your secretary, Mac."
Mac turned and went back to the office. "Sir, this is Floppy. He was serving with some extended family I didn't know about until the other night."
"I see. What is he doing?"
Mac looked. "My paperwork in Arabic it looks like. American English, Floppy."
"Floppy sorry. Floppy will redo," he called, getting out a new copy and reminding himself to put it in English. Some people were picky.
Mac smiled at his boss. "He's very helpful."
His boss stared at him. "Helpful?" Mac nodded. "How much is his salary?"
"I can pay it out of pocket, sir. The family has some funds as I found out the other day."
"Interesting. So you were off dealing with a *family* issue?"
Mac nodded. "Indeed. They needed a new head of the family and I was chosen. Stella and Danny were both there, sir. It was fully proper and my family is quite nice most of the time."
"I see." He walked off nodding. "Make him wear better clothes, Taylor. We'll look over his abilities later."
"Thank you, sir." He smiled and waved. Don gave him an odd look. "Learned it from Xander." He put his hand down. Then he went in to write a note and put it on the desk. "There. So you remember." He patted him on the head. "You're very helpful, Floppy." Floppy smiled and went back to work, glancing at the note that said all Floppy's work was to be done in American English unless told otherwise. That was a good reminder.
Don Flack snickered. "Have a good rest?"
"Mostly. We had to rewrite some laws."
"Poor man. Danny?"
"On this afternoon."
"I'll see him then." He walked off shaking his head. Mac with a house elf was hilarious.
Sam looked at his father. "Xander's back in London. Giles is ready whenever you wanted to head, Dad." That got a nod and John finished packing his things. "You don't have to leave for good, you know that, right? There's plenty of ghosts and things around here."
"I'll be back," he assured him, giving him a look. "Are you enjoying bossing Dean around?" Sam just smirked. "Try to be more gentle. This is freaking him out a bit, son."
"I'm trying. It's not my fault house elves think he's cuddly." He walked off to his father's laughter. "Dean, Dad's getting ready to head," he called. They passed in the hallway, along with Dean's worshipful following of two house elves. He hadn't ordered them to but it was so cute! His aunts both gave him an odd look. "Dad's finding new information on the demon who killed mom."
"Are you two moving to the other house?"
"If you want us to we can," Sam promised.
One aunt snorted. "We're still bored, Sam, but you two are loud. Especially that noise Dean calls music."
Dean came down the stairs. "We can move to the other one if you want."
"Just turn down the music, Dean," the other aunt said. "You'd end up killing the family's ghosts at the other place if you moved there."
"As long as they're nice we won't touch them," Dean promised. "Sam said he's met nice ghosts." Sam nodded. Both house elves nodded. He looked at them. "Who told you to follow me around?"
"Lord and Master Xander."
Sam burst out laughing. That was so like Xander! "I didn't ask," he said at the glares.
"Lord and Master Xander said that Sammy's Dean would get into trouble and mean people were coming for Sammy's Dean so we had to watch him very carefully to make sure he didn't get portkeyed away," one explained.
"That we could learn a lot from Sammy's Dean because he was very smart and very good with female humans. Since we both want to breed, Sammy's Dean would be a good teacher of how to attract female house elves."
Sam walked off snickering. "That is something you can teach them. You did me. It worked well enough that I got Jess."
Dean glared at his back. "I will get you and Xander back," he shouted after him. He looked at the house elves, who looked miserable. "I don't mind you two following me around but I don't need you two to follow me everywhere. I can teach you how to pick up chicks without that and be protected. All right?" They nodded, looking happier again. "How do you guys mate? Do you each choose?"
"Males choose female house elfs," one of them said. "She shove us off high spot or take us up. Either way."
"Then I can definitely teach you how to woo a girl house elf." They smiled. "As long as you quit following me because I feel like I'm a parade."
"Lord and Master Xander said that Sammy's Dean is all knowing and very wise," the other one told him.
"I may be but I don't need followed, guys. If someone comes for me I'll knock them out. Okay?" They nodded. "Good. We'll talk about chicks later. Go do something else for now." They hurried off to help clean the house so the aunts wouldn't be overworked. He went to find something for his headache. He was so going to get Xander back for that prank. "Guess he's back in London?"
"He called. He's been back for about an hour. He'll be getting a cellphone once his money transfers over."
Dean shook his head. He would have to get Sammy and Xander back. Soon. With something horrible. Maybe even embarrassing them in front of others in that alley place. One aunt gave him a hug. "I like Xander but I'm still going to get him back."
"At least he didn't try to teach them how to pick up girls," she pointed out. "He's got horrible taste and they'd probably end up dating a demon."
Dean nodded. "True, it could've been nice on his part." He went to talk to them now. That way they could go find their females and leave him alone. He could take care of himself. Even against wizards or whatever.
Draco led Xander into his father's study. "Don't worry, he's not here."
"I know. We had him rearrested last night." He gave him a look. "He wasn't very smart. He was trying to get into Gringotts with a few others."
"My father's talents do not lay in his mind," he agreed. He sat down after putting the marriage contract down in front of him. "That's it."
Xander unrolled it to look over, frowning at a few of the points. He finally looked up. "Okay, I've got to ask a few questions. Do you *want* to be married to her?"
"It's good for the family."
"Not what I asked, Draco. Do you physically want to mate with her, sleep with her, have babies with her, all that stuff until the end of your days, however long that lasts?"
Draco considered it. "Not particularly. I do believe we'd end up in separate rooms and only get together for the creation of heirs."
"Would that be a good marriage to you?"
He shrugged. "It's acceptable as long as I was discreet and no other heirs came from any other man with her."
Xander leaned on the table. "Do you want me to uphold this?"
Draco got up to pace, thinking about that. "It is good for the family."
"Then give me the good points and we'll look at bad points in a minute."
Draco stared at him then nodded. "That's reasonable I suppose. We're not that closely related." Xander made that note. "She's a fifth cousin I believe." Xander made another column to start on his bad points while he thought. "She won't bring much wealth but her pureblood status will bring us honor. She's well educated. She's known me for the last few years so she knows that I have a temper and things." He paced in the other direction. "She's had the same upbringing as I have. She's not nearly as powerful as I am and she probably won't be trying an assassination bid to get the family's money once there's an heir." He stopped to look at him. "For an arranged marriage it's got many good points."
"One of the biggest bad points is that she's going to be drawing you closer to where your father was. Have you decided if that's a fate you want yet?" Xander asked calmly.
Draco considered it. "I'm too young to be called."
"True, but it's still something that will happen. Especially if the war hasn't ended by then. Are you willing to step up to his side? Kill people for his ideals? Including other kids you've known just as long?"
Draco shuddered. "I don't want to think about that."
"Will she draw you closer to that or away from it?"
"Probably closer. Her parents are both supporters and her father's marked." He looked at him. "You don't favor it?"
"The words on the staff say strength, power, and honor."
"Keeping to it would be honorable."
"She's your fifth cousin, Draco. What about looking outside the country? Getting some pure blood that hasn't mixed itself to death? Even that level of inbreeding can lead to kids with deformities and brain damage. It'll also lead to weaker bloodlines and weaker magic."
Draco considered that point. "These sort of arrangements are made when we're very young. This one was made when I was two."
"Which was long before you knew what you wanted out of life," he agreed. "I understand why they're done. I understand the reasoning behind them. I'm worried that this interbreeding can weaken the family's lines. If she was from another bloodline, another country's purebloods, I might not have a huge problem with it. It says in two years. I didn't know it took that long to arrange a wedding."
"I guess it can. It's set to go off shortly after we both graduate," he admitted. He sat down to look at him. "I can see your point. It would be better if my parents had looked outside the country for better, stronger purebloods." Xander nodded. "But they didn't and backing out now is very unseemly."
"Unless you can find a reason to. Is she going to go like your father and her father?" He nodded. "Are you?"
"I..." He slumped. "It's expected of me."
"Not by me. I told you I want you to think for yourself. If you still choose that side at least you made your own decision. I want you to *think* and *reason* out what may or may not happen. If the war escalates soon, you might not have a chance to get married before he calls you. Therefore no heirs."
Draco considered that. Then he sighed. "That is a point to consider. Are those your only reservations?"
"It looks like a desperation move. She's poor. We're paying her to marry you. She's not bringing anything to the family but pure blood? That's not a good trade off."
"Women aren't as equal as they are in the muggle world," he said with a hand wave. "They're not expected to bring anything to the family."
"No, I'd expect someone wanting into this family would bring things to it. At least something that would help the family stay stable and perhaps grow in wealth. Some skill that would bring the family credit and notice so they could move up." Narcissa walked in. "We're going over the bad and good points of his marriage contract. She's not bringing anything to the family but blood?"
She shrugged. "There's not many that are of suitable blood. Lucius desired us to stay in country."
"He was arrested again last night," Xander said bluntly. "If you want to quietly look outside the country I wouldn't be against it. The family tree looks like a grape vine."
She pursed her lips. "I have been but no suitable ones have opened up nearby."
"Then look at some of the purer families from farther away. Would you object if your daughter-in-law was Arabic but pureblood?"
She considered it. "They are polite."
"They wouldn't stab me in the back," Draco said.
"They could also bring in other skills that could bring the family more honor and better notice than Lucius has." Narcissa gave him a startled look. "Draco's got to decide for himself, Narcissa. I want the boy to think for himself and make his decision based on what could and will be happening. Battle isn't a place for everyone. I've been in plenty. I've had to lead untried kids before because it was a necessity. Do you think Draco can stand there and take orders that will certainly get him killed?"
She looked at her son. "It is expected."
"If the war goes off sooner, do you want me to stay in school, mum?" he asked plainly. "He's gathering his forces. Potter was thinking that they were going to step up the war soon."
She considered it. "That does go with what I've heard. If he's beaten before you graduate you can retire to do whatever you want. Including become the next one."
Draco nodded. "Which is what Xander wanted me to consider. Do I want to risk my future to join him early or even at all? I could be killed long before there's the opportunity for a Malfoy heir."
She considered that, looking at Xander. "You do know battles?" He nodded. "How?"
"I've spent the last few years fighting beside a slayer on the hellmouth. I led the graduation ascension battle. The up-front, give Buffy time to distract him, give us time to clear the parents and spectators part of the battle. I planned it. I do most of her planning."
She sighed. "Then that is something to consider."
"Which is what I want him to do. The staff says strength, power, and honor are the family's motto. This one brings nothing to help strengthen the family except for being in the Dark Lord's service. We can keep it on file just in case but if you wanted to look further afield you have my blessing. Though I would like Draco to at least get along with his wife as a friend of some sort."
She nodded. "That is a reasonable request. How much of an allowance do you get?"
"Fifty. Until I've found a job locally to kill time." She nodded at that, leaving them alone. He looked at Draco. "I know, I need to shop."
He smirked and nodded. "Just a bit. You don't really fit in with the family's image."
"Shit happens around me, Draco. I have to be able to fight if attacked."
"I've seen how you treat your weapons." He sat up straighter. "You wouldn't care if she was foreign born?"
"I'd like for you two to be able to get along. I'd like it to be someone who brings more than blood to the family. I'd like her not to be some simpering bitch like I used to date."
Draco nodded. "I can see that. We'll keep that one on hand just in case?" Xander nodded. "What if it comes too close to the time?"
"Get held back?" Xander suggested with an evil grin. "Do something so she has to give you a year?"
"Good point. You really don't fancy her?"
"I haven't met her but I'd be wary of having you tied to anyone who was only there because you can cast curses, have a nasty temper, and you like the feeling of power in your hands. You're right, she'll probably try to kill you once there's a suitable heir."
Draco nodded. "I really don't like her. I barely put up with her around the house."
He shrugged. "Then let's look farther afield. You can use the war as an excuse. She's going to definitely go. You may have to promise not to go to get someone suitable."
"Which might be reasonable. Or I could promise to live with her family for a bit," he agreed quietly. "That's a good precaution. I will think and make my decision about that service soon."
"That's all on you. I'm not pushing for more than you to think. The same as I don't think if you realized what it was like you'd go for it. You like the power but there's other ways to get power. Including learning more than one form of magic. Which she couldn't help you with."
"Then I'd get a lot of respect," Draco said thoughtfully. "Without having to clean blood out of my nails."
"Or hair. Hair's worse. At least with demon slime it is."
Draco shuddered. "Eww."
Xander grinned. "Hey, I could be pushing for you to go study under Willow and Tara."
"Tara was frightfully powerful," he admitted. "She was making the pots fly like it was nothing."
"It is nothing to her. She does it at home all the time while she bakes. Willow's powerful enough to change her clothes with a snap of her fingers."
Draco blinked. "I think that's a bit excessive."
"Which is why we're worried about her. There's an overuse line which you'll have to find no matter what form you study."
"That is something we must all concern ourselves with," Narcissa said as she came back with a heavy book. "The last Who's Who guide."
Xander smiled at that. "That's very thick."
"Indeed. You know one of those wandless twits?"
"Two. One's strong enough that she's been changing clothes with hers. The other came with me. Tara's a very good, white witch. Willow, her girlfriend, is strong enough to close a hellmouth or stick a soul in a vampire." Narcissa gave him a horrified look. He grinned. "I grew up with Willow. I think Draco could handle that sort of study and I think if he did that it could earn him a lot of good notice. Let him step out of Lucius shadow."
"You think the war will be ended before graduation?"
"If we had our way it'd be ended tomorrow," he said honestly. "People who do like he's doing piss others off." She sighed but nodded. "I also think if it comes down to it, I'm going to have to fight against him. No matter how much Lucius wants, this head of the family is a white lighter."
"My son may not be called."
"Your husband was a lieutenant. He will call and he'll expect Draco to be just as strong as his father is, even if he doesn't see him for himself and his own strengths. I doubt your son can be the sort to take stupid orders without questioning since he does have a brain and he does use it. I can see your son being the one that people go to for information on other forms of magic. I can see your son being the one that ends up taking over some year. I might even possibly be able to see him as the next Dark Lord. This one is basing his problems on things that he has no business messing in. Or haven't you seen the inbreeding problems?"
"I have. That's why I don't want a wife that's too close."
"Then have him marry out-country with a line that's never been used here."
She nodded, opening the book to start looking. "It does list if they're under contract." She found a few that looked promising, letting Xander hand her some strings to mark the spots. "Draco, love, would you mind a Hindu wife?"
"I know nothing about them, Mother."
She marked it. "We'll look together." He nodded at that. "Do take Xander shopping, son. He clearly needs it."
"Yes, Mother." He stood up and they left together, stopping to get Xander's allowance bag from his apartment. "You should have something suitable for meetings."
"Don't dress me like Dumbledore?" he pleaded.
"Not an issue. That man has no fashion sense." He led him to the clothier he liked. "Can you get your allowance raised for the next while?"
Xander sighed and looked at him, then nodded. "I still have access to the vaults."
"I need new clothes," he whimpered. "I'm growing and I have to look good for courting."
Xander smirked. "You're sucking up so badly."
"Is it working?"
"A bit. I don't need that many clothes."
"You can only get two outfits for what you have as long as you still have all fifty."
"I have about thirty-five. I had to get some groceries." Draco moaned. "Come on." He held up the keys and they went to the bank. "I need into this vault."
The goblin took the key then looked at him "You are?" He put the staff on the counter. "I see." He looked at Draco. "Are you showing him what you've seen?"
"He's growing. He needs clothes for his contract stuff. Plus he said I'm falling down on the family image."
"That's a reasonable expense." He let them into the vault. "Take him to the carts, Mr. Malfoy."
"Thank you." He walked Xander that way. "Usually we use our wands or say our names."
"Mine's still in purple ink in the book," Xander said. "I'm getting my accounts from home switched over and translated."
"How much will it be?"
"Not much. My parents aren't wealthy. My last girlfriend sucked money like a vacuum."
Draco grimaced. "I don't know what one of those is but it sounds bad."
"The thing that sucks the dirt out of the carpet?" Xander suggested.
"I don't watch the house elves. Speaking of, where did those two go?"
"To get help from Sam's brother so they could find a good female house elf to mate with. They wanted help learning how to pick up girls."
Draco gave him an odd look. "Most of the time the female won't say no."
"It was relaxing Sam. Dean could use it anyway. They don't have any and Dean's a major target if someone comes after us. It's only him and two maiden aunts."
"I suppose that's reasonable." They climbed into the cart. "Give me the key. If you lose it we're in trouble." Xander let him hold it, pet it, and coo at it. "I miss having my own."
"Once things settle out and we don't have to worry about someone stripping the family of money for the simple things then it can be changed back."
"I don't mind that much. Not with what the goblins found." They took off and Xander whooped in glee. He smiled. "Yes, it's quite stomach turning."
"I should take you on a roller coaster." They stopped in front of a large doorway and the goblin got out.
"Light, please." Xander handed it over before stepping out and helping Draco out. "Key, please." Draco handed it over. He slid it into the lock and opened it. "Blood, please." Draco sliced his palm and let it drip onto the right spot. "Thank you."
Xander looked at all the gold. "Shit, I need Horatio's sunglasses for the glare."
Draco snickered. "He does love those things." He carried a bag in there, loading up on the gold coins. Xander coughed. "You'll need it and so will I. It's only three hundred or so." He let him hold the bag and got another ten. "For ice cream." They came out and took the key back, it going into Xander's pocket. They went back up there and Xander got drug to the clothiers Draco liked the most. Not Madam Malkin's but somewhere tasteful that didn't sell uniforms. He walked them inside, nodding at the old man behind the counter. "This is my new head of family. He's American. He's from the hellmouth."
"Is he living?"
Xander smirked. "I fight with a slayer. I need things I can fight and draw weapons in."
"I suppose we can do that." He came over to measure him, making sure Xander was truly alive. He and the boy both got fitted for a good sized lot of clothes but they paid up front. They took the addresses for them to be delivered to. Then the boy went to find his head of house an owl and get him some ice cream. He shook his head. "Don't know why they needed someone like that to head that family. Must be a good reason though." He got back to work on the new clothes. They had to be perfect. Any Malfoy, even an American one, had to be picky.
Xander looked up as Tonks joined him at the table in the Leaky Cauldron. "Anything good?"
"Tom makes good stew."
"I know that. I've already got a good sized sandwich on the way. I meant on the other problem."
She grimaced. "No. Though it was nice to find that for us. Thank you. Even the boss said so."
"Not an issue. I don't like his sort."
"Good." She beamed at Tom when he came over with the sandwich. "You eat like Hagrid," she teased.
"Hagrid seemed like he was a very nice man," he countered, smiling back. "Besides, I'm only twenty-one and I figured you probably hadn't eaten yet." He gave her a third then dug in, nodding and moaning in appreciation. He paid Tom, getting a smile for the tip. "Thank you," he said before taking another bite. He looked at Tonks, making 'go on' motions.
She swallowed. "We know that the area they've been siphoning off of is nearly empty."
"Can we find another one like that and guard it?"
"I'm not sure."
"Who would be?"
"Someone with better ties to the earth. I can ask Madam Sprout."
Xander shrugged. "Or ask Snape. He seems like he's smart enough to research outside his field."
"I can do that too." She ate another bite, chewing slowly. She hadn't had lunch yet and it was nice of him to buy it for her. She swallowed. "The other problem is that he's trying to rally others to join him."
"Some will but they're not going to be very well trained troops. They'll be scared of him, but they're still going to be thinking for the time being. Plus, I didn't see a lot of offensive spells being taught at the school."
She shook her head. "There's not. The house wars would get worse." She ate another bite while she thought. "He lets the highers pass down spells," she said once she swallowed.
"Taking out foot soldiers pisses them off. Taking out a general either demoralizes or pisses them off worse," Xander offered. She smiled and nodded. "Taking it from the top down is an option in this case. Unlike the drug wars that Horatio and Mac have to fight, where you have to start from the bottom."
She considered that. "We don't know all his higher ups."
"We don't have anyone?" She gave him a long look. "Can we get it from someone we have in custody?" he asked. She beamed at him and got up, walking off with another third of his sandwich. "Glad I could help." He went back to his eating and reading. He was really liking this book. Someone sat across from him so he looked up. "Yes? May I help you?" He was ready to hurt the guy but he'd give him a chance to tell him why he was interrupting his lunch. This time.
"You're the new head of the Malfoy family," he said bluntly.
"What qualifications do you bring?" he sneered.
"Five years of combat beside a slayer," he said coolly. "A level head. I uphold the codes of the family and I'm one of those who can think. I can also fix problems without getting too huffy. The family is getting to know me. Are you part of us?"
He glared. "No, I'm not. I'm a friend of Lucius."
"Pity he doesn't uphold the family's values," he said dryly. "He may have one of them but not the others. I also didn't like that he made me defend myself against him. Doing so puts me in a very bad mood. I make others suffer then. Or I go hunting vampires." The man went pale. "By the way, who's your sire?" He stood up and ran off, pulling a cloak on so he wouldn't burn up outside. "Interesting." He called Tony. "Did you see anything that showed vampires in that folder? Because one just came up to me saying he was a friend of Lucius'." He nibbled, listening to him. "Exactly. Thanks." He hung up and finished up, heading to the Ministry to find someone. He ran into Harry's adopted father, Arthur. Harry had told him he could talk to him about these things. "Do you have about thirty seconds?"
"What's wrong, Mr. Harris?"
Xander led him out of the path of people. "I just had a vampire come up to me in the Leaky Cauldron saying he was a friend of Lucius Malfoy and wanted to know my qualifications to head the Malfoy family."
Arthur gave him a stunned looked then moaned. "I'll let it be known. If we should have a major infestation?"
"Tell me. I'll do what I can. Or I'll call Buffy."
He nodded. "Thank you. We needed to know that."
"Not an issue. Keep me informed, please. I'm going to do whatever I need to do and the family knows this."
"But... they're supporters."
"I'm not and I'm making them think and make that decision for themselves without family pressure."
Arthur smiled. "That's a bold plan."
"It's a logical one. War isn't for everyone." That got a nod. "Let me know if I can help." He walked off, heading back to his apartment. He found Dumbledore waiting on him. "Did you disable the alarm system?" he asked, looking at the panel. He put it back on standby. He thought the goblins had said no one could do that. He'd have to check with the curse breaker again. "I have some very rare books thanks to Giles."
"I noticed." He looked at him. "Did something happen?"
"A vamp just came up to me claiming to be a friend of Lucius Malfoy. Wanted to know my qualifications to lead the family." Dumbledore gave him the same horrified look. "I went to talk to that Arthur guy Harry introduced me to since he said he could trust him. I also had a very pleasant talk with Tonks over lunch. She's going to see if she can find the other lieutenants that he's using so we can possibly take out that level easier. It should demoralize the force and create dissent with the power plays for the positions, plus you'd have less trained and capable people in charge."
Dumbledore stared at him. "You really do plan."
"I really do plan the slayer's true battles," he agreed, grinning some. He sat down to face him. "Anything new come up yet? I know you have the battle plans Sam and I drew up."
"I do. They're actually very good."
"Sam and his family does what I do only they don't have a slayer. Mac looked at them as well. He's a former Marine, he was in command before and now he's in command of his unit at the NYPD."
"That's very interesting. That Horatio chap?"
"In command of his unit in Miami's police department. I know he's former bomb squad. I don't know much else about him."
He nodded slowly. "Very interesting. The other staff has chosen."
"We have a meeting this weekend. We'll be meeting her then."
"That's good." He stood up. "I came to see if your friends had managed to find any other information."
"Not yet. They've been dealing with a vampire wanting a harem the last few days. Tonks said anyone with earth magic could do that. She suggested Madam Sprout but I thought Professor Snape might know as well."
"I can ask him. Are there other wandless ones like you know locally?"
"I know there's a very strong coven in Devon that Giles trusts to teach others. I know if someone from the Ministry came near them they'd be fried, but a polite request for help might go over well."
"I know some people from that area. I'll ask them to set up a meeting for me. Thank you, Mr. Harris."
"Not an issue. It sucks to be in Harry's spot." That got a nod and Dumbledore left through the floo. Xander went to get a soda, then came back out to sit down. "I can hear you," he called. Draco came out from under an invisibility cloak. "Morning."
"My father knows vampires?"
"Apparently." He shrugged. "It happens. How's your mom's search going?"
"She's found three she thinks she likes. She's writing notes to them this week." He sat down, staring at him. "What if I want to take part in the battles?"
"Then that's your decision," Xander told him. "I won't like it, I'm going to be honest about it. I also don't think it's in your nature to do that. You might be able to hex, curse, and damage, but I don't think you're going to like killing."
"I'm not sure I can either."
"Then let's go on patrol tonight, Draco."
"Patrol?" he asked, looking confused.
"I'm going to teach you how to stake vampires." Draco gave him a horrified look. "That's killing. If you can do it then it'll make you see what it'll be like on the field of battle."
Draco slumped. "You're serious?"
He looked at his wand then at him. "Can I bring my wand?"
"Yeah, go ahead. Don't try to stake with it. It might break."
Draco nodded. "Will I need anything?"
"Stake. Shoes you can walk or run in. Comfortable clothes you can move or fight in."
Draco nodded. "I have that." He stood up. "After dinner?"
"Sure. I'll be here." Draco nodded and headed off as well. Xander finished his soda and went to find where the vampires were coming up tonight. There weren't many. The Watchers Council was doing a decent enough job in their backyard it seemed. "This could help him too. Especially if the asshole is using vamps on his side," he muttered.
Draco looked around the cemetery. "It's peaceful," he said finally.
Xander grinned. "I think that's half the point."
Draco shuddered. "Not a good thought."
"No, it's a good thought. You want your final spot to be peaceful. Or else someone like Sam has to come for you." That got another shudder and a grimace too. "It happens." He led him to the grave, looking at it. He could barely hear the scratching going on. "We've got at least ten minutes to wait." He nodded at someone else out there. "Morning," he called.
The man looked over, then glared. "Patrol?"
"This is my cousin Draco. He's thinking about his choices for after graduation."
"Ah. Sending him our way?"
"That depends on him."
That got a nod. "We'll leave you that one and the one behind you then." He walked off, whistling at his partner to finish up. He had a compressed air gun with wood shots.
Xander looked at Draco. "Watchers. They're over the slayer lines."
"Interesting." He leaned against a tombstone, looking at the other side. "There's a hand already up on this one." Xander moved over there, watching as the vamp came up. It charged and Xander tripped it then staked it on the back. "Nice work."
"Easier than normal. Usually they fight more." He pointed. "You stake in the heart and only the heart, Draco." Draco turned and found the vampire had come up and was sniffing him. Draco lunged to stake him but the vamp moved. "And they're faster," Xander said helpfully. He moved to block the thing. "I'm teaching him how to hunt. Stand still."
Draco got in a decent enough shot, it hit a lung. "Blast!" He did it again but the vampire hit at him. Xander knocked it down. Draco did a cutting hex and cut off his head. "That's so much easier."
"You can get others," Xander said, holding the cut on his arm.
"It happens. Buffy's nearly staked me a few times by accident too." He looked at the pile of dust then at Draco. "Congrats. Your first kill." Draco looked then moaned, walking off to be sick in private. Xander followed, checking his arm. It wasn't a bad injury. Could probably use a stitch or two but he'd be fine. They had packed his emergency kit with his weapons. Xander slowed down, looking around. "Draco, down!" he snapped, making him go to his knees as a demon lunged over him. Xander backed up and took a side swing at the demon. It wasn't going to kill it. "Shit, I need silver!" He caught the dagger Draco tossed at him and went to work against the demon. The two Watchers were back but he didn't care. It was going to die. He finally got it after having to get back up twice, and now having a bruised rib. He panted, holding his chest. "Any others?"
"No," one Watcher said, coming over. "You good, Harris?"
Xander looked at him. "What are swamp demons doing in London?"
"I have no clue." He frowned at it. "Those are swamp demons, huh." He searched it then came up with something. "You've got problems, mate." He let him see the information sheet.
Draco looked. "That's my father's handwriting."
"Then your father's fucked when I get him," Xander said, staring at him. He handed back the dagger. "You might need that." He looked at the Watcher. "Any idea how it got here?"
"Summoned?" he suggested. "They're hardly ever alone."
Xander nodded. "I'm taking him home. Thank you for watching out for my cousin for me." That got a nod and they left. He looked at the demon then at the information sheet. "He doesn't have a good source. My birthday's wrong." He walked him off, reading over it on the way back to the car. He ran into Dean and Sam there. "Hey."
"Hey. You okay?" Dean asked, looking at his arm.
"I'm fine. His father hired a demon to take me out." He handed Sam the information sheet. "I killed a swamp demon. Got a vamp. Draco got his first vamp." Draco turned green again. "We were talking about life choices earlier." He got Draco into the car and walked around to the driver's side. "If you guys wanna hunt, be careful. There's two Watchers doing the same thing. They watched Draco for me to make sure he wasn't attacked but I'm not sure how they feel about you guys."
Dean nodded at that. "I can do that. Thanks."
"Welcome." He smiled. "Have fun with the poltergeist in the church." Sam grinned and they headed that way to check on it. Xander slid behind the wheel, taking Draco back to his place.
"It is always like that?"
"Yup. And battle is like when the vamp fought back. Only in your war it'd be people with spells fighting against your spells. There'd be a lot more people on each side and you'd have to watch both sides fall. You'd be in about as open of a spot to be effective."
Draco stared out the window then at him. "You did that every week?"
"I did that most days of every week," Xander agreed. "We patrolled almost every night. Sam and his family take on special calls. Mostly poltergeists, higher level demons that have to be summoned, those things."
Draco nodded, going back to his thinking. "I'd have to do that again, wouldn't I?"
"Only they wouldn't be ashes. They'd be a body. Blood pouring out of them. Eyes probably open." Draco turned green. Xander pulled over and let him puke again. He turned up the radio to give him a bit of dignity, waiting until he came back. "Even if you stand up for the ideals, not everyone is supposed to be in combat, Draco," he said quietly once they were on their way again. "Some people need to be the planners. Some are scholars. Some are physical people who can do combat. But combat changes you. It makes you think in different ways. It also gives you many nightmares." Draco nodded, wrapping his cloak more tightly around him. "Use this when you think, Draco." He gave him a pat and dropped him in front of the Leaky. "Head back to school." He nodded, doing that once he had a drink. Xander went home and found the guys waiting on him. "Hey." He let them inside, nodding at Tonks. "I still have a security system."
"Told 'em I was your girlfriend and breaking in to surprise you. The cops were very nice when I said I was going to tie myself down and get naked."
Xander grinned. "If you want," he offered with a smirk. He took off his jacket, letting Dean haul him closer to a light to look at his arm. "Draco did a cutting hex to cut off the vamp's head," he said quietly. "His aim was off with the stake."
"You think the other is a problem?" Sam asked.
Xander shrugged. "Could be. Could not be. It could be that Lucius is about to die." He grinned. "I could ask an ex for a favor."
"Anya?" Dean asked, finding the first aid kit in the kitchen.
"Under the sink, Dean. It's my patrol first aid kit." He found that one and brought out stitching supplies and a local anesthetic for his arm. "Thanks." He let him stitch him. "You do better than Willow does. She pulls them too tight."
"We have to do each other's," Sam said. "Think it'll help if you do ask?"
Xander took off his necklace with his free hand, tossing into a clear spot on the floor. A female form slowly took shape and he grinned. "Tabby."
"Xander," she cooed. "What happened to my favoritist stripper buddy?"
"One of my relatives kindly set swamp demons after me," Xander said dryly. "Possibly others."
She pouted. "That's mean. You don't like those sort of demons that way."
"Exactly. I was out with his son when it attacked too. Draco got his first vamp tonight," he said with a grin. She shuddered. "Can you please fetch the demon that's over that contract and my beloved cousin Lucius for me?"
She considered it. "Can I have another night?"
"Sometime later this week?" he offered. She nodded and disappeared. Soon a big, ugly demon appeared. "Morning."
"Who're you, human?" it sneered. Xander said something and threw something from the drawer of the table he was sitting on it, making it shriek then suddenly go silent even though it was still screaming.
Xander gave it a few minutes then he coughed. "You done?" It slumped, nodding. "I want to talk to you about the contract out on my life that was done by a Death Eater."
The demon swallowed. "I do not know of what you speak." Xander held up the information sheet and picture. It nodded, hanging its head. "They went to one to call me to do that. They have not paid."
"Nor will they be paying for anything but my anger," Xander said calmly. "What will it take to cancel it?"
"Hellmouth blood," he sneered.
"I'm born and bred on the hellmouth. One of the protectors of it." The demon flinched, trying to back away. "What else would it take?"
"I will take that," he said. Xander pulled out his boot knife and sliced his palm, letting the demon collect ten drops of it. "Consider it canceled. Do you want the one who summoned me?"
"I want the names of them and any Death Eaters or supporters of Voldemort who were involved to appear here."
He nodded. "That is reasonable." He watched as the hand was bandaged, summoning them. Ten people appeared. "That way I don't have to name them." He disappeared once Xander released him.
"Tonks," he said, waving a hand. "All but the dark haired, scared looking person in the back please?" She hopped up to bind them. He grinned at Dean. "You're very good."
"Thanks. You were born there?"
"Few blocks from the sucker. It's under the old high school's library."
"That explains that gas leak," he said. He finished and let Sam put up things while he went to look at the guy Xander had said to leave alone. "You know him?"
"Ethan Rayne. One of Janus' top people." Xander stared at him. "Hey. How ya doin'?"
"Why are you in England?" he asked, taking a step away from Dean. "I meant no harm. It was a paying job."
"I know," Xander agreed. "That's why you're not being arrested. I'm here because a family staff called and chose me."
"Family.... That means you use magic!" he said, straightening up.
Xander smirked. "Don't I though? Yeah, we figured out why things went screwy around me most of the time." He grinned. "I'm now the head of the Malfoy family." He nodded at Sam. "This is the head of another one, Sam Winchester, and his brother Dean is sizing you up for chains."
Ethan stepped away from Dean. "I mean your family no harm. They wanted me to summon a few demons to deal with you. That you were standing in the way of their good fight."
"For purity. They're Aryans, the magic edition, Ethan. Pick a side. It's a real war this time. They have a resurrected ghoul leading an army. We have a school full of kids in the way."
Ethan gave him a long look. "I'd rather stay out of it." He coughed. "I'll gladly go hide somewhere else for a few years. The Carribean all right with you?"
Xander shrugged. "I hear it's pretty. Never been." He grinned. "If you do that, I expect you to stay out of it fully unless I beg for a favor. Can we make that deal?" Ethan nodded quickly. "Can you cancel any remaining things coming for me?" Ethan nodded again. "Think you can help us with the ghoul killing?"
"I have a book that will help," he admitted. "I'll post it to you from Bermuda."
"That'll work," Xander agreed, smiling some. "By the way, the Council hates me. Still. They tried to beat my ass too. Pity." Ethan shuddered but left through the door. He looked at the last person Tonks had to bring back with her, smiling when she came to get him. "That a good night for you?"
"Wonderful for me, mate." She beamed. "You still gonna go with the demon?"
"She's not bad. Not harmful. Won't kill me." He shrugged. "She's good in bed." She shuddered, walking off with the last one to bring back to her boss. He grinned at the boys. "Want to see what books I have?" They nodded, getting into them with him.
to part 5