Greg looked at the test strip in his hand, then frowned and stuck it into the machine. Then he had to jump because someone had just cleared their throat behind him. "Hi, Grissom."
"Are you using the machine for your own personal use?"
"It's a pregnancy test. Emilia's refusing to see anyone," he said, still frowning. The printer spit out a report but Grissom grabbed it. "I bought the test strips myself," he said.
"Greg, you cannot use the machine for your personal experiments."
"It's not an experiment it's a necessity before I go insane," Greg said, trying to get the paper. "Come on, this is my wife we're talking about!"
Grissom looked at the paper, then over at Greg, handing it over. "Do not do it again."
"I hadn't planned on doing it this time but we got conflicting answers on the home tests." He sniffed and avoided the paper. "Do I want to know?" Grissom gave him a look so he glanced at it, then he shuddered and put it down. "I'm not ready for that yet."
"Greg, it's a negative test," Grissom said, patting him on the back. "Sometimes the home tests don't work."
Greg picked up the paper and stared at it. "Then why is she getting five positive and four negative?"
"You only bought nine?"
"Odd number of results means that you can't get an equal split," he pointed out. "I don't know how to make one of ours and she wouldn't let me call and ask. The nine EPT's didn't agree. And I bought the testing strips myself."
"That's fine, Greg, next time ask first," Grissom sighed, taking the folder Greg handed him. "Are you sure this is mine?"
He looked at the results. "Dirt, hair, skin, semen, and various fluids," he said as he pointed at each. He looked at Grissom again. "Trust me, unless you've handed off that db this morning, it's yours."
"Thanks. I never expected this. What swab was this?"
"Her *ear*?" Greg nodded. "Wonderful." He shrugged. "Don't do it again or ask next time." He walked out, leaving the door open. Greg only closed the door when was doing something he shouldn't, that's how he had realized something was going on a few minutes earlier. He went to talk with the doctor, who was gave the results a disturbed look as well. Who had sex in the ear?
Greg snuck into his bedroom. Emilia was sleeping and he was on his dinner break. He had called someone with a bit more experience with women and Penn had told him where to buy the correct tests, pointing out that sometimes the muggle ones didn't work on them. He pulled out one strip and opened it, then put it onto her arm. It turned bright pink and he shuddered, which woke his wife. "Look?" he asked, handing over the strip.
She looked at it, then at him. "It's pink."
He handed over the package. "There's forty-nine more in there, we can do however many you want," he told her. "I want one off your stomach though." She looked from the box, to him, then back. "Please? For my own piece of mind?"
She sighed and opened another strip, putting onto her bare stomach under the sheet. After a moment, she pulled it out and looked at it. "This one is blue."
"That's it, you're going to see a healer even if I have to put chains on you and carry you there, Emilia." He pulled her up to hug. "This getting conflicting answers isn't good for you. It could mean something is really wrong and I don't want to lose you, so please go for me? Please?"
"Fine, I'll go see a healer," she agreed before he could start crying. He was going to get emotional. "I know I'm not but I'll go see someone anyway, all right?" He nodded, giving her a smile and a piece of paper. "What's this?"
"The only healer in the area."
"And you got this name, how?" she asked.
"Penn, the same way I found out about the strips," he told her.
"You told Penn I was pregnant?" He shook his head. "So you told him all of it?" He nodded, giving her a smug look. She pinched him hard, making him wince. "Privacy, Greg?"
"Is something I believe in but I'm willing to throw it out the window of the highest casino if it means you're all right," he said honestly.
She had to go 'awww' at that and hug him, it was the only response. So she did. Then she let him pull back. "You're supposed to be at work."
"I'm on break and I came to see you." He checked his watch. "I am due back in about five more minutes and I might have a long night." He stole a kiss. "Tell me when and I'll go with you?" She nodded patiently, giving him a pat on the head. "If you are, then at least Tip Top won't be alone and you'll have someone to complain with."
"True," she agreed, watching as he backed away. "Go." He waved and blew a kiss, then left. She flopped back onto the bed, staring at the ceiling. "What a way to get woken up." She unwrapped more of the strips and laid them across her stomach in rows. The strips would keep their color forever, they were charmed so that she could have given one to Greg in a few days when she was ready. Again, she got mixed results. 24 pink, 14 blue and 12 tan meaning she wasn't according to the box. She carefully put them into a baggie and then went back to sleep, dreaming odd dreams about strips and test tubes coming after her.
Dawn looked around the Great Hall. Some of the kids were looking at her then looking away. She checked herself, impeccable as always. She looked toward her friends but she was the first one up this morning. She noticed a few of Draco's housemates chatting with each other and staring at her too, and figured it was another rumor. She took her usual seat and looked at her roommates. "Okay, give, what's being said about me now?" she asked.
"Um, you were seen buying baby things," one of them told her.
"Yeah, Ron's older brothers, the twins, their wife's pregnant. Ron and I have both been shopping for her, and possibly another one of Xander's friends."
"Oh." She looked relieved. "Then you're not...."
"No," she said, shaking her head. Dawn stood up and walked over to the Slytherin table, looking down at the gossip whores. "We've been buying baby things because the Weasley twins's wife is stuffed up, not me. If you had *asked* I would have told you that. Or if you had read the paper considering it was slipped in by one of their customers." She shrugged. "Nothing more interesting than that." She went back to her seat, smiling at the girls around her. "Spread the truth back, okay?"
"What are they having?" one of the older girls, a fourth year, asked.
"She announced that it was a boy but they're not sure if they're twins or not. So Ron and I are making her a killer basket for the baby. It's gonna be huge and full of stuff." She grinned. "We're still looking for the right sort of fuzzy blanket and a few new stuffed animals to go with the clothes. Mostly because I've claimed some of the stuffed animals as my own."
The other girls laughed and chatted, and the truth got spread the other way.
Draco walked in and came over to kiss Dawn on the forehead. "Baby gifts?"
"Thank you." He went to sit down, nodding at his housemates. "They're for one of the Banes."
"So she said," Millicent said, starting to pout. "She actually came over and *talked* to us directly, Draco. You've got to train her right."
"Bulstrode, of course she did. Dawn is a very direct young woman. Why wouldn't she come and face you down directly over the filth you've been spreading. Oh, by the way, they weren't in the Astronomy tower that night. They were having detention with Snape for necking outside his classroom. He said so." She pouted even worse and Draco pulled over his usual breakfast.
Ginny bounced in and hugged Dawn. "That is going to be one kick-ass baby," she said happily.
"We're shopping for Tip Top."
"I know," Ginny snorted, grinning at her. "Just think, three prankers having kids."
"Do we know it is kids?" Dawn asked.
Ron walked in and over, disengaging his sister from his girlfriend. "Gossip after breakfast," he said, sending Dawn a smile. "Did you steal more of the animals?"
"I replaced the two we agreed on that I stole," she said with a grin of her own. "I missed having a bed full of fluffy things."
"I'm buying you a cat to go with the dog," Ron warned. He listened, no bark. "Where is Midnight?"
"He decided to sleep in this morning so I left him in the common room in front of the fireplace. I'll go get him after I eat."
"Okay. Then I'll meet you in the entry." She nodded. She hated that she couldn't take him everywhere but he seemed to like to go to Magical Creatures with Ron. Ron dragged Ginny away, making sure she ate something. Their mother would be upset otherwise.
Hermione got her copy of the paper with the flurry of mail and opened it, then screamed in outrage. "Ron, do something about them!" she demanded.
Ron snatched the paper and walked out, heading to a floo. First he called his mother. Then the paper to chew them out this time. His mother needed to know first because she would kill him. The editor herself popped up. He held up the paper. "Not true in the least."
"You were seen buying baby items."
"And not three days ago you reported that my just older brothers are expecting," he pointed out. She frowned. He nodded. "Really. You did. Do you want to go look while I wait?" She slowly shook his head. "The only baby items I've been buying have been for them. For the baby shower. I'm sure you know what one of those is?" She groaned. "Now, I'd appreciate a retraction, and so would my girlfriend. Otherwise, we're coming down there and we're going to destroy your...." Harry covered his mouth. "Harry!" he mumbled.
Harry looked at the woman's head. "Either you clear up this mess before you ruin both of their reputations or he has a legal suit against you for slander and for ruining his good name. I suggest you do so before I have to call the attorney dealing with a current legal matter of mine." She nodded quickly. "And I do mean a full retraction with the truth. You can quote me as a source if you want. Ron and Dawn are buying baby items for the twin's soon-to-be born offspring. Though she has managed to claim some of the stuffed animals as her own and replaced them for the baby."
"Yes, Mr. Potter," she said, her head disappearing.
Harry let go of Ron's mouth. "Threatening them means they can call the cops and then you'll spend all morning with the Ministry." He walked away, going to Hufflepuff since he hadn't seen Midnight and he wanted to drag him around today. He looked at the portrait, who was smiling at him. "I just need Midnight," he told her. "Please?"
"There are a few girls in there petting him right now, go ahead," she agreed, letting him in.
Harry walked in and the girls looked at him, looking very scared. "What's wrong? Is he sick?"
"He doesn't want to stay awake," one of the girls said, standing up. "I heard Dawn say she'd be back up for him and I think someone's done something to him."
"That's fine, I'll take him out to Hagrid."
"He threw up green stuff," the girl told him, pointing at it.
Harry glanced at it. "Can you please gather that together in a sample case from your potions supplies? I'll bring him to Madam Pomfrey." They nodded and scrambled to get some stuff for him, watching as he scraped the stuff off the bricks since they did not touch such nasty stuff. Then he capped it and picked up the dog, carrying him up the stairs. He took a route that would avoid the Great Hall, knowing one of them would tell Dawn as soon as they saw her. "Madam Pomfrey?" he called as soon as he walked in. She gave him a look. "He threw up something green and acidic. He doesn't want to wake up. I think he's been poisoned."
She pointed at a bed, which she covered with a germ-proof sheet. "Fine, let me have a look at him. What did Miss Summers name him?"
"Midnight." He saw the tail barely moving. "That's not normal. He's a very bouncy and active puppy. Who eats whatever someone gives him."
"That may be the problem," she agreed, sniffing his breath. "Toadstools, snake venom, seaweed." She took the sample he held out and sniffed it. "I need Professor Snape immediately, Mr. Potter."
"Should I get Hagrid too?"
"Please, and tell Dawn if possible?"
He nodded, hurrying down to the Great Hall. He still beat those girls down. He walked up to the table and stood near the center, more on Snape's side. "Sirs, Madam Pomfrey needs Professors Snape and Hagrid right now in the infirmary." He looked at Snape. "She said something about seaweed, snake venom, and toadstools." He wiped his mouth and left immediately. Hagrid was staring at him. "It's Midnight," he said quietly. Hagrid hurried out, going as quickly as he could. Harry went to where Dawn was chatting, ignoring everything else. He sat beside her with a small smile of apology for the person on her left, and turned to look at the Slytherin table. "Dawn?" She looked at him, they were facing each other. "I went up to gather Midnight." She held her breath. "He's not doing well."
"Did he die?" she asked, starting to tear up. He pulled her close immediately. "Did he?"
"No, and we're hoping he doesn't. Some of the nice girls in your house were trying to help him and they told me what they noticed. I took him up to Madam Pomfrey immediately." He pushed her back a bit to look at her again. "Snape just went up too." She started to really cry. "Come on, I'll walk you up there," he promised, leading her up the stairs. He gave Ron a look and mouthed 'Midnight', making him look furious. He walked her up the shortest way possible, taking a shortcut up an unusual hall. Not that she noticed. They came out on the other side of the door and he let her go, watching as she rushed in. He walked in and found Snape staring at her. "Xander gave her the dog," he said calmly. He walked over to hold Dawn, letting her stay out of the way yet still close enough to touch him when people weren't crowded around him.
Snape frowned as he checked his test result. "They used very little. That speaks of their intent being non-lethal."
"They tried to kill my dog," Dawn said coldly. "When you find them, they're going to be missing their heads." She glared at the nurse. "Can you tell who, or even how? Was it one of the new rawhides someone bought him last trip in town? Or was it food-based?"
"It had traces of flour and sugar, I'm supposing it was food based," Madam Pomfrey soothed. She heard the running feet and got out of Ron's way, smiling as he pulled Dawn away from Harry and held her as tightly as he could. "We are trying to figure out who right now, Miss Summers. Sit on the next bed and wait with whomever you want. I will excuse them for now." She nodded, sitting between Ron and Harry, holding both their hands.
Snape growled at his results and looked at Dawn. "Has he been eating treats from any of the seventh years?"
"We were in the library last night and one of the Ravenclaw ones called him over to feed him cookies," Ron offered. "And another one had something sandwich-like."
"Antidote and venom at the same time," Snape put forth. "Which ones?"
Ron shrugged. "I don't know who they are. I know the one with the sandwich thing is dating Ravenclaw's dark-haired chaser. The other I don't know. I don't pay attention to the older girls for the most part. You might ask Ginny."
"You might ask Draco," Harry offered. "He knows most of the school."
"True." He looked at the nearest painting. "I need Malfoy-Dumass right this instant and Flitwick." She nodded and hurried off. He looked at the girl. "He will live. They did not mean to harm him permanently."
"That doesn't make me feel much better," Dawn pointed out. "I'm still going to find a sword and kill the bitches."
He inclined his head. He could understand that. "Then let us handle it first. Or at least try to. You'd be surprised what some of us can come up with as punishments."
She shrugged. "As long as I get a turn on the paddle." She squeezed their hands as Hagrid flipped her poor puppy over. "Why would they do this? He's been nice to everyone! The only one he barks at is Harry!"
"I don't know," Ron soothed. "But I intend to find out." He kissed her on the cheek. "If you can't cut their heads off first swing, I get the next one."
"And I get one too," Harry added for good measure. "Between us we should be able to get through even with the dullest sword." She laughed and hugged them both, laying her head on Ron's shoulder. Madam Pomfrey looked at him. "You don't think so?"
"I doubt the headmaster would let you."
"They don't know that," Ron pointed out. "This makes the second time girls have come after Dawn. The others were just rumors, this one is much worse."
Professor Flitwick dragged Draco in by his sleeve. "What did he do?"
"He didn't do anything," Dawn said, sounding weary. "He probably knows the girls who were feeding Midnight last night. He's bee poisoned."
Snape looked at the diminutive professor. "The only ones we know were feeding him are two of yours," he said quietly.
Flitwick grimaced. "Then they'll be very sorry young ladies," he said firmly. He walked over and patted Dawn on the knee. "I'm sorry, my dear."
"He won't die," she said, bending down to give him a hug. He squeaked in shock but didn't struggle so she let him go. "Sorry, I'm just in a mood."
"It's all right. It's simply been a very long time since anyone has felt the desire to hold me in such a manner," he said. He patted her on the knee again. "You rest assured, if it was those two girls, they will be facing a panel." He looked around. "Who knows who they were?"
"One of them was the seventh year Ravenclaw who is dating your seventh-year dark haired chaser," Ron told him.
"Melinda Malience," Draco supplied. He looked at Ron. "The other?"
"The blonde who was sitting with her last night. Looks kinda like the Patils, only blonde and with a bigger nose. Her hair looked really fake."
"That would be...." Draco considered it.
"Sistima," Dawn supplied. "The fake blonde part anyway."
"Hmm, no she changed hers last weekend," he pointed out. "Fake blonde?" He looked down at the professor. "I only know one and she's in the sixth year, with the exception of a few classes."
"Including potions and we have been doing this one in class," Snape pointed out. Professor Flitwick nodded and headed out to gather his students. "Thank you for your help."
"You're welcome. Trust me, if you don't get them, I will," Draco said sweetly. Snape actually shuddered at that.
"Stand in line," Dawn told him. "You joined the list late, you're last so far."
"And what can you do to make their lives a living hell, Dawn?" he asked gently.
Dawn gave him a cold smirk. "Cordelia used to babysit me. She's available by floo since Wesley's still there. If that's not a good enough muse, I've got Xander, Buffy, and Spike to help me. Dumass, two vampires, and the queen bitch of Sunnydale High." Everyone in the room shuddered at that. "I think between us we can come up with something...suitable."
Draco smirked. "Excellent. I'll look at your ideas and add my own." She shook his hand, sealing the deal. "Remember, Xander has been very emotional recently."
"It was seeing Cordy again. She always does funny things to his insides. They've got one of those bipolar relationships. One minute it's love and hot sex, the next it was fury and rage," she explained when the nurse looked at her. "They used to snipe at each other and then fall into many closets to kiss until they started to argue during it."
Madam Pomfrey scowled. "Those are not healthy."
"No, but she was Xander's girlfriend for many moons," Dawn said, giving her a little shrug. "It was her or Faith, bad slay-gal."
"No wonder he's so screwed up now," Snape muttered, continuing to mix a stronger antidote. "What does he like to eat that he won't ignore?"
"The wet food I have in the cans under my bed," Dawn said immediately. She started to lift her wand but Ron got there first, bringing a few cans. "Thanks, Ron."
"Anything for you and Midnight," he reminded her. He gave her a kiss on the forehead and pressed her head back down onto his shoulder. "You rest for now. Save your strength for ass kicking later."
Harry looked at Draco. "And I used to think you and Xander were cutesy," he pointed out. Dawn kicked him. "I did but you two have got them beat."
"This couple had better not do what the married couple did at the last dinner," Snape warned.
"What did they do?" Hagrid asked. "I can't imagine Xander'd do anything bad."
Harry grinned at him. "Xander was kinda desperate so he jumped Draco at the table and rolled him onto the floor for a quick bit of fun."
"As long as they don't hurt no one else wrasslin' around," Hagrid said with a shrug. Draco squeeze his eyes shut and burst out laughing, leaning on Ron's free shoulder. "What?"
"Um, Hagrid, they were....." Harry started but didn't know how to finish.
"Carnally inclined," Snape finished for him, giving him a dirty look. "I don't think he needed to know about that."
Hagrid looked at Draco. "Did you feel better afterward?"
"Definitely," he agreed, still smiling.
"Then it's good you love him." Hagrid went back to helping force the food down Midnight's throat. "He don't seem to like this one."
Dawn slid off the bed and came over, scratching under her dog's chin. "Eat, Midnight, so you can feel better. Otherwise you can't go outside and play with the animals." Midnight lapped up the food, giving her a look every few bites. "That's a good boy," she said, continuing to pet him. "How long should it take to work?"
"He should be feeling like his usual exuberance within a few hours," Snape told her. He stepped back and dusted off his hands, taking the damp towel from the nurse to wipe them off . "From now on, keep him closer until we can find out how did this."
"Oh, no one's feeding him anything unless they eat a bite first," Dawn assured him. "Does this stuff taste nasty to him?"
"It's probably really bitter," Hagrid told her. "He can come out and rest with Fang for a bit if you want."
"I've got you later today," Dawn said, looking at Ron, who nodded. "Sure. If I can't get out of class to be with him then that would be fine. You've got a comfy sleeping spot in the stables he likes."
"True," Hagrid agreed with a smile. "Plus, Fang'd look out for the poor thing until you can come get him."
Dawn looked down at her dog. "Do you wanna nap the rest of this off with Fang and Hagrid?" He whimpered so she hugged him. "Ooh, you poor thing. We need a baby carrier for you when you're like this."
"What would one of those look like?" Harry asked.
"A backpack without the top," Ron told him. "Did they actually think you were the stuffed up one?" She nodded. He rolled his eyes as he slid off the bed. "Wonderful."
"I went over and told Pansy and what's-her-name the truth," Dawn told him.
"Yes, most girls don't face down Pansy or Millicent," Draco agreed. "They also think you're mental because you did."
Dawn snorted. "Like I care what they think?"
"Good point," Harry agreed. He looked at Ron. "Didn't you buy one of those for the baby?"
"Yeah, we did," Ron agreed.
"I have an old backpack in my room and it should do," Dawn told him. She summoned it and a towel, putting them on and letting Ron put the dog in and zip it partially. "There, that should do. Is this all right, Professor?"
"He should be fine in that," Hagrid agreed, smiling at her. "That's a neat idea." He patted her on the head. "Make him come see me later, just to check him over."
"Yes, sir." She smiled at Professor Snape next. "Thank you, sir. I know you didn't have to help because he's a dog."
Snape shrugged slightly. "It is not suitable for a student at this institution to do such things," he noted, leaving the students there.
Madam Pomfrey checked her clock. "You've got a bit left. I'll send a note to the Headmaster saying you four were up here the whole of first class. Go to your second one." They nodded and walked out, Midnight curled safely on his mother's back. She laughed as she cleaned up. "At least that one hadn't been fatal," she told herself. "Though I will not deflea someone's cat again." She remade the bed with a small charm and went to write out the note and make notes on her daily log.
Xander looked up as someone walked into his work area, frowning at the vampire. "How did you get in?"
"I'm talented that way," Spike told him. "Angel's outside in the tunnels."
"Wonderful." Xander put down his brush and pencil. "What's wrong?"
"Wes made a serious mistake and we're delivering him to you."
"I'm sure Luna would love that. Ethan?"
"He's already back at the house with Wes and the blondes."
"Cool. Did LA explode too?"
"Sorta," he said sheepishly. He hated running for help, especially to the boy no one thought was any good at this stuff. "We had a small prophecy problem."
"And I'm involved?" Xander asked carefully. Spike nodded. "Great. Let's go back to the house and tell me. Should I act some more for Deadboy?"
"Nah, he's in a right snit," Spike told him. He looked up the tunnel. "Peaches, he's got a way back down here," he called.
Xander opened a door. "Underground tunnel. Very handy when you're carrying stuff." He led the way, taking the correct paths. Angel could smell him to follow. He came out in the basement and found his Grandmother waiting on him. "What?" he asked when she looked at him.
"Alex, take a shower. You've got girls upstairs."
"So I heard," he agreed. "One's an ex, one's Dawn's sister Buffy, one's Fred, who I think is dating the large and dangerous man who came with them." He shrugged. "They'll understand about being sweaty, they're fighters too." Spike came up behind him. "This is Spike, the other is Angel, they're vampires and please don't stake them unless Angel does something hideous and evil."
"The souled one?" his grandmother asked.
Spike grinned. "You've heard of him?"
"Definitely. And you too, William. Upstairs, both of you." She followed them up, scowling at the boy's back. Really, these were his friends?
"So, fill me in," Xander said as he walked into the study. "You look like shit, Wes," he pointed out, looking at the bandage. "Grandma, do you have any healing salve?"
"Of course. You're a dangerous person in the kitchen," she noted from the doorway. "Why?"
"Because Wes needs some."
"I'm not sure it will work on his sort, grandson."
"We can still try," Xander said patiently. "Someone tried to take his head off. Remember, Luna is a scary bitch when she wants to be."
"Good point," Des agreed, going to get some of the healing salve for the boy. She came back and slathered it on while the group caught up with the news. "So, what's this about another apocalypse?"
"Grandma Des was the top person in Defense in her time," Xander said at Buffy's frown. "She helped train me."
"Goodie. We're facing a Moloch again, only a living one. Wolfram and Hart released it from it's imprisonment on purpose and it promptly ate the rest of them." Buffy shrugged at Xander's Grandmother's look at her. "I'm Buffy."
Des smiled. "So I've heard and seen. Dawn has a few pictures of you in her room." She stood up and patted the young man on the couch. "Even if it won't heal it, it's got some antibiotic herbs in it to help." She wiped her hands off on her pants and looked around. "So, you needed a wizard?"
"No, we needed *the* wizard," Cordelia told her. "Unfortunately, my visions said Xander knows him. White guy, beard, mustache. Dark hair?"
Xander considered it. "I don't know anyone like that," he said, leaning on the back of the couch. "White guy with dark hair. White guy with mustache. Unless Philip's suddenly went darker and grown one." He shrugged. "Any identifying marks? Anything special about him?"
"I also saw a dog, a big, black dog," Cordelia told him.
"Shit," Xander said, shaking his head. "He died a year ago, Cordy. He's Harry's Godfather."
"As in vamp?" Buffy asked hopefully.
"No, as in fell through a veil that passed him immediately to the other side," Xander told him.
"Then why would the Powers suggest him?" Angel asked. "They're usually not that unhelpful."
"Not a clue, let me call Harry so he can call his other uncle. He can explain it to you and maybe something that Sirius left behind will help you." He shrugged again. "I have not a clue on that." He went to make a floo call, getting the Headmaster. "Hi, Albus. The LA crew, including Dawn's sister is here."
"You've interrupted their education a number of times, Xander."
"I wasn't going to suggest it unless they're staying over the weekend," Xander said patiently. "They need to talk to Remus about Sirius. Apparently the Powers showed Cordelia a picture of Sirius as *the* person who can fix the current demon problems in LA."
"That's what I said but I thought maybe Sirius left something that might have a clue in, like a diary? Something like that? Would Remus have it?"
"He would but I'm not sure where he is."
"Can you ask Harry? If anyone would know, he would."
"Hold on. Give me ten minutes to find him. We had a ...situation this morning with Dawn."
"What sort of one?" Buffy asked from behind Xander.
"Someone gave her dog a slight poison and the antidote at the same time. He is fine and doing very well. We're getting ready to call the only witnesses, and possibly the perpetrators, in right now."
"Cool. Ten minutes is okay. We can wait that long. Let me know if I get to come help her kick their asses," Xander told him.
"She's promised a dull sword," Dumbledore said dryly. "I'm sure we'll deal with it. Oh, here's Harry with Dawn. Harry, Xander needs to ask you a question."
Harry's head popped into the fireplace as soon as Dumbledore's left. "What's up?"
"First, these nice people need to know something about Sirius and I was hoping your other uncle would have a clue why the Powers That Be showed him." Harry looked stunned. "Not a clue, Harry, Cordy had the vision. Do you know if Remus is around?"
"He's in town, he's supposed to meet me tonight. I'll send him your way afterwards."
"One or two days won't make much of a difference," Buffy told him. "He's already gotten hold of the news stations."
Harry grimaced. "That sucks ass." Someone coughed. "Sorry, headmaster, but it does." He looked at Xander again. "Someone decided to be cute because there are rumors going around that Dawn's preggers because she and Ron have been shopping for baby stuff."
"Why would she be?" Buffy asked coldly.
Harry grinned at her. "The twins are having a boy. Or boys, we're not sure yet."
"Oh." She relaxed. "So, total misunderstanding?"
"She's the popular girl and she's new," Xander told her. "Think psycho rumors that Cordy put around about you."
"Good point," Buffy sighed, rolling her head around a bit to pop her neck. "And her puppy?"
"Midnight's fine. They gave him the poison and the antidote, but the antidote was weaker. Intentionally weaker," Harry told her. "Professor Snape and Hagrid helped him."
"Good. I remember Hagrid and he was very nice," Buffy told him. "Coming up tonight?"
"If I can sneak out long enough to do that," Harry hissed, glancing behind him. "We've had a lot of time off this year," he said with a wink. Then he disappeared.
Buffy hauled Xander up. "Popular?" He nodded. "New girl and popular?"
"She's the only person who hasn't heard the same jokes over and over through the years and the guys like her because she's pretty and treats them nicely. Ron doesn't mind if they flock around her because they're very protective of her." He grinned. "She's pretty, she's popular, and she's in the house of happy people who thrive on popularity and fashion. Think airhead Cordy groupies."
"Yeah, a house half-filled with Harmonies and the other half girls like Dawn, only without the combat skills."
"No wonder she's had some problems," Buffy said, making a face. "That would drive me nuts."
He gave her a hug. "It would me too. I started out in Slytherin and went to Gryffindor." He led her out. "Harry's talking to Remus tonight anyway. Can we wait that long?"
"We can," Angel agreed. He looked around the room. "This is really nice, Harris."
"Thanks. The family collected for years," he said happily. "This is the Dark Arts study, so named by the crew. Let me get you guys some rooms. Um, who wants basement and who wants in the attic? Fair warning, the doorbell is a gong that shakes everyone."
"I'll take the attic," Fred offered. Cordelia nodded. Fred looked at Gunn. "You?"
"Sure," he agreed. "Coed rooms are fine for some of us."
"Like I care if you guys go like the Energizer bunny," Xander snorted. "This way to the attic. It's very sunny up there." He walked them up the halls. "Cordy, the green door is Dawn's suite. The blue one is Harry and Ron's room when they're here if you wanted to snoop and check up on them." He led them up to the third floor and opened the small doorway. "Sorry, I keep forgetting it's a half door."
"It's cute," Fred told him, bending down to get in. "Ooh, lights?" she called back.
Xander flicked his wand. "Incendio." The torches and hanging lanterns lit up. "There you go. We do not allow spiders in the house so there shouldn't be any. Or mice either." He patted Cordy on the back as she passed by. "Don't worry, it'll be okay." She nodded, walking up the stairs. He left the door open and went back down, intending to show the vampires the safe rooms. His father was waiting on him. "Did you show them into the basement?"
He nodded. "I also closed the door to your work area, just in case." He gave his son a hug. "I've never hosted a vampire before. Let alone three."
"Eehh. Spike's from London. Angel's from Ireland. Buffy, well, she's just Buffy and from California. So treat them like you would any really odd guest and let them roam the house tonight."
"Fine, son." He pulled Xander's head down and kissed him on the forehead. "When can we bother Draco again?"
"I don't know, but I'm assuming it'll be soon. Spring break is in a few weeks."
"I remember, but I wasn't sure if he was coming home for that time."
"He'd better or I'm going to have to go up there and shag him stupid, then put him over my shoulder and carry him back. He has no right to escape my fiendish plans for hot sex." He winked and went to get a drink. "Hi, Auntie." He kissed her on the cheek. She handed him a glass of lemonade. "Thank you."
"Go shower, Alex. You're filthy."
"I'm going to have to go get more filthy later," he pointed out.
"That's the same argument as not making your bed because you'll be sleeping in that night. Do it anyway is still the answer."
"Yes, Auntie." He took his glass up to his room, finding Cordelia in his sitting room. "Wrong direction to snoop."
"I wanted to talk to you," she admitted.
"Fine, talk through my shower." He led the way into the bathroom and turned on the shower, stripping down while it warmed up the steel tub. Then he climbed in. "What's up?"
"How is Dawn really?"
"She's pretty, popular, and the other girls have some problems with that. She's in the house of Harmony clones."
"Oh." She leaned against the sink, *not* staring at his form through the curtain. "Is she happy?"
"Generally. Why?" He turned to rinse his hair.
"Because I caught some looks from her to Ron and back."
Xander put his head out through the curtains, showing a good deal of his body in the space as well. He grinned when he caught her peeking. "Like I care," he pointed out. He shook his head. "They're both young. Ron finds himself looking every now and then. She knows this. That's why they're holding everything else off until a year after she graduates. That's five years from now."
"And if they break up?"
"It had better be friendly or I will kick Ron's ass," he told her.
She smiled. "Good. That's what I wanted to know. Get unsweaty, you were nasty," she said, waving a hand at him. She went back to the sitting area, finding Buffy in there. "He's in the shower."
"I can hear," she agreed, smiling at her. "How's the attic?"
"It's got all these cute little rooms up there. I left Fred and Gunn going at it."
"Hmm. I'm wondering if we should tell Luna that Wes is here and injured. Ethan only grunted at me, he was nose-deep into a book that was making him drip with pheromones."
"Joy," Cordelia said dryly. "I'm sure we can pass the message back through Harry."
"Yeah, but Luna seemed pretty territorial when it came to Wes."
Xander came out in a towel and nothing else. "I'm sure someone will tell her." The head in the fireplace popped up. "Hi, Harry," he said, grinning at him as he headed into the bathroom. "Talk loudly."
"Hi, Cordelia," Harry said, smiling at her. "Buffy."
"Hi, Harry. How's it shakin' at the school?"
"Not too well at the moment," he admitted. "Um, Xander?" he called quietly. Xander came back to the door, still in his towel. "We're kinda under attack. Dumbledore's was knocked out. Snape and McGonagall too. That leaves me and Flitwick?"
"Coming," he agreed. "Give me a mo." He went back in and threw on some clothes and shoes, grabbing his wands. He walked out and through the fire. "Get Dawn and send her back."
"She's locked in the Room of Requirement," Harry assured him. "Luna and Ginny are with her." He led the way out to the courtyard, where there were bodies laying around.
"Geez, Harry, you worried me."
"Xander, we can't wake them up," he said quietly, glancing around. "Students, back to houses," he ordered.
"Go!" Xander yelled. "Now!" They hurried off, Ron guarding the door and closing it once the field was cleared. "Do you know what happened?"
"Sleep spell. That's all I can tell," Harry said. "Ron and I were in Charms and we ran out. Flitwick was just in front of us. I'm not sure if their own spell knocked them out too or not." Harry shifted nervously.
"Hmm." Xander walked over and kicked the nearest person he didn't recognize. The person jumped up. "Fake out." He hit that one, dodging a thrown curse. That person was legitimately knocked out. "Anyone else?" he called. A few people shook their heads. He looked at Harry again. "Defense teacher?"
"Guarding inside, the majority of the students," Harry said as he walked down. One of them jumped up and tried to stab him but he ducked the blade and kicked the person in the stomach, making them whimper as they fell to the ground clutching it. They nearly stabbed themselves as they grabbed their stomach. "Ministry?"
"No, binding. Get the Prof. Call Philip since he's closest and able to fight."
"Deal," Ron agreed, going to do that. The nurse hurried out a moment later and started to check people.
"We think it's a sleep spell," Xander told her. "I don't know which one yet. Most of these nice people are faking though." He started to bind them, getting each one in the ropes and very uncomfortable because he was in the mood to be artistic. "Go get Dawn, Harry. Buffy's at the house. Dumbledore can't complain about that."
"Sure he can," Ron noted as he came back out. "I already told her and she squealed something like "Oh My God" and went through. She promised to be back soon. Luna went with her once Buffy told her that Wesley was injured." He frowned. "Ginny went too."
"Why?" Harry asked, binding another himself after standing on their back.
"Because she wanted to ask Cordelia something," Ron said, still frowning.
"Hmm. Hopefully not about attitude management," Harry pointed out as he stepped onto another's back and make that one scream in pain. "Shut up." He bound that one too and moved on. He noticed the next one looked really familiar. "Oliver?" Oliver looked up at him. "Are you a bad guy?"
"Harry, if you give them the choice, they'll say no," Xander pointed out. He hauled that one up and looked at him. "You still human?" The man groaned and his head went limply down. "Huh. Imperious. Very nice." He raised his wand. "Finite Incantantum." The man's head snapped up and looked at him, very wary. "Hi, Alex Dumass," he said, letting him go. "Why were you sent?"
"Because they wanted Harry," Oliver mumbled. He looked at Harry and hugged him hard. "I'm sorry."
"Not your fault," Harry promised. A few people appeared down the drive to the school. "I thought the barrier was farther back."
"If they're smart they use portkeys," Xander pointed out, binding more of them.
"Don't break them, Xander, they might be other players."
"Yay," he pointed out. He waved at a person Dumbledore had introduced him to. "Hi, Kingsley. Dumbledore's still napping. I freed Oliver there, Harry's buddy, and he was under the Imperius." He went to bind the last one but that one was a professor. "Hi, Professor Sprout," he said, helping her up and over to where the nurse was. "I'm guessing she came out of her green houses. Speaking of, Harry, go check in there."
"Going," he agreed.
"Why are you giving orders?" the heavily scarred person who had come with the group asked.
Xander looked at him. "Because I'm his new guardian. I only give *good* orders."
"Do you have combat experience?" the scarred man asked.
"I redid my childhood on the California Hellmouth and helped the slayer there for nearly six years. You tell me." He crossed his arms. "And you are?"
"Your better, boy."
Xander snorted. "Really? Is that why you're so damaged? 'Cause, you know, that's not a testament to skill in my book. That's an inability to duck." He went to help the nurse. "Is it a sleep spell?"
"Yes," she said, looking at him. "They're Dumbledore's supporters."
"No wonder he called back Spike." He looked at Snape first, trying various cures on him. He found one that worked and showed it to the nurse on her current patient, making her smile. "You take right?"
"Thank you, Alex," she agreed, going to help them.
Xander looked down at his cousin. "Some of your boss' friends are here." He uncursed the next one. Hagrid sat up and groaned, rubbing his head. "Stay there until you're not dizzy. It's normal." He moved on, ignoring those people. "Harry?"
"Hufflepuffs," came the faint call.
Xander looked back at Ron. "Go help him, he's being cried on. No one's coming out." Ron trotted that way. "Thank you."
"Just don't make me eat Cordy's cooking," Ron called back.
Xander moved on, getting his last one. Then he looked at Dumbledore. He wasn't waking up. "Oh, let me," he said, grinning wickedly at the nurse. He raised his wand. "Ennerviate!" The Headmaster jumped and squealed. "Morning. Harry and Ron are in the Greenhouses with the Hufflepuffs. Ron sent everyone else inside. Dawn, Ginny, and Luna are back at my house being safe." He walked over and hauled Severus up. "Good morning," he told him.
"Wonderful to see you again," Snape said bitterly. "What happened?"
"Massive sleep hex. Some people under the Imperius. Little things like that," Xander said with a shrug. "You're lucky, you caught me coming out of the shower." He felt his consort coming and looked over. "Hi, sweetie," he said with a grin.
"Smartass," Draco sneered, glaring at him. "What are you doing now?"
"Making sure everyone's all right. What happened, did the Ravenclaws hide behind you again?"
"Worse, the entire Hufflepuff house in the Great Hall clung to me and cried on me about protecting them," he said as he came down to get a hug. "Someone's going to have to run a defense course for self-defense hexes."
"We'll think about that," Dumbledore told him.
"I'd do more than think," the scarred man said. "We've been wanting that for years now. Pity it had to come from such a snake."
Xander glared at him. "Did you call my consort a name?" he asked snidely. "Because if you did, we're going to have at it and I'm going to put you under the earth so you can talk to the Earth Mother and figure out your problems. I hear she's a wonderful counselor for the dead."
"Easy, Dumass," Dumbledore warned. "Moody is a friend and a colleague."
"Then he should have learned not to call others names by his age. Especially not those who have obviously changed." He glared at the man, making him back up a step. "I'm not the nice one in the family. I make the others seem normal, even the dangerous side. If you don't believe me, ask Severus. He knew some of my former family."
"Killed them did you?"
Xander was stopped from casting by Snape and Draco. "Enough," Snape warned. "Mr. Dumass is here because he wants to be here. He is here because of his great-nephew, Potter, and his trainees. He does not have to put up with your problems, Moody."
Dumbledore looked at Xander. "Do not hex him, Alexander."
"Then he can apologize or he can join the earth worms," Xander said firmly. "No one insults what's mine."
"Xander, don't. I don't care about his worthless opinion. What use is he anyway," Draco soothed. He pulled Xander with him. "Come along, let's save Potter and Weasley from what I went through with the Hufflepuffs." He continued to drag him, glaring at Moody. "You will get yours one day," he promised. "No one says such things about my consort."
"Mr. Dumass, both of you, do not say another word or I will expel one of you and make sure the other cannot come to check on his little sister."
Xander looked at him. "That means that you'd also have to forget she was ever here," he noted. "Along with the fact that if you did that, Draco could reasonably take you to the Ministry and charge you since you let such demented people run around and bother your students."
"Not one more word, Alex."
"Or what? You'll deage me again?" he snorted. He walked Draco out to the green house and opened the door. "Everyone's up and the scarred and demented idiot is asking for an asskicking from the universe."
"Moody?" Harry asked. Draco nodded. "He's a bit set in his ways."
"They make cement dissolvers," Xander pointed out. "Everyone, back into the school by the side entrance." They ran out, heading that way. Most of them even remembered their books and things. He pulled Harry closer for a hug. "Are you okay?"
"Get your hands off him, you molester," Moody called.
"I've had enough," Harry decided. He stomped out and took a swing at Moody. "That is my last living relative, you idiot. He's the one who pulled me away from the people who refuse to feed me and kept me locked in a room. You go against my great-uncle at your own risk, Moody. I will not tolerate such disrespect to my family." The man laughed and Harry was stopped from casting by Ron.
"Leave him. He's too set in his ways to realize shit," Ron soothed. "Come on. We've got to check on everyone in the house." He led Harry off, giving Moody a cold look. He stopped in front of Dumbledore. "I don't want to be in the Order if he is," he said, then he finished dragging Harry inside.
"Moody, apologize. You as well, Alex. I will not have such dissent."
Xander looked at him. "I haven't heard an apology to my consort. Nor have I heard one to me. The man started out trying to make me kill him and he's succeeding." He kissed the side of Draco's head. "Since Dawn and Luna are at home, would you like to come home for the rest of the night, at least until Harry meets with Remus Lupin and brings him back?"
"Sure," Draco agreed. He looked at the Headmaster. "That way none of us can do anything untoward or uncomfortable for people."
"We'll need you here to control the house," Snape pointed out. Draco groaned. "I will allow him to stay this time." Xander gave him a pat on the arm as he walked past him. "No noise."
"Fine," Xander agreed. "I know seventeen silencing charms." He slammed the door behind him. "I loathe people like that." He looked up to see Ron hanging over a banister. "You all right?"
"Just fine, Xander. I called Dawn, told her everything was all right and what went on. She'll be back in an hour, after they have lunch."
"Thanks, Ron. We're going to herd Slytherin downstairs. Feel free to jump over tonight with Harry." He followed Draco into the Great Hall, nodding at Methos. "Yo, Slytherin!" he called. They all looked at him in shock. Nobody addressed them like that! "We're going back to the house. We're going to wait there. We will not whine, bitch, or complain about it. We will not sneak out. We will not irritate myself or my consort further because we're both in a deadly mood. Now, move," he ordered, pointing at the doorway. They hurried out.
"Very inspirational," Methos told him. "What happened?"
"Some scarred bastard named Moody decided to rag on me, Draco, and Harry. Called me a molester for hugging my nephew." He turned and followed the last of them, letting Draco get the door behind him. "Everyone find a spot and sit, do homework, or go take a long bathroom break," he ordered. "We've got time and I'll have the house elves bring lunch up here." They chatted, most of them heading to the bathrooms. Xander rang the house elf bell and it took a good five minutes for one to show up. "We're eating down here today. Can you do that?" The house elf nodded. "All of us."
"Knuppy take care of," she agreed, bowing to him. "Yous save?"
"Somewhat," he agreed. "Mostly I just woke them up. Thank you, Knuppy."
"You's welcome." She disappeared, going to pass on the order.
Someone knocked on the door and the second-year guarding it looked outside. "It's the headmaster. Should I let him in?"
"It's bad form to deny him entrance," Xander told her. "Let him in and make sure he doesn't bring any scruffy things with him." She opened the door and Xander put an arm around Draco's shoulders, waking him up from a short nap. "It's the Headmaster."
"Yay," Draco said, glaring at him. "Coming to make it worse?"
"No, I came to apologize for Moody. He didn't understand that you had changed or what Xander has done. All he saw was an arrogant man who was directing things."
"I was first on the scene and I do have the experience," Xander pointed out. "The only ones awake when I got there were Harry and Ron. Though I did uncurse that Oliver guy."
"I know, I took him from Moody and talked to him. Even your cousin admitted he had been cursed and he hated the boy for being the champion captain of Gryffindor." He sat down across from them. "Xander, you cannot lead this battle."
"Albus, I'm one of the very few people you have who can lead battles," Xander reminded him. "Also, I'm the only one who can make the plans you need and about the only one who can come up with ancient knowledge to help."
"We do have a few aurors on our side."
"Yes, and they're used to nice wars, the ones where each side charges and they move back and forth. It's like a duel, only with more people. Voldemort doesn't play that way, Headmaster, nor does he care for the niceties. All he wants is fear and power. He's willing to go through children for it. As a matter of fact, someone really should be on the lookout to make sure he doesn't come here after a suitable length of time to take over the school from his carefully cursed warriors." Dumbledore nodded. "Another thing, Voldemort is using ancient knowledge. Beside Philip, you've got nothing on that. You know some, Philip knows some. I recognized his renewal spell because I found it fifteen years before I deaged." Dumbledore nodded again. "And the last point I wish to make at this time is that I'm going to be here, whether or not you like it, because you're not using my great-nephew as anything other than a student unless he volunteers. You tried with me, you tried with him. None of us trust you."
"Xander, I did not deage you," Dumbledore pointed out. "There is every evidence that Voldemort was behind your deaging."
Xander snorted. "Yeah, right, because my position was so well known. I wasn't even supposed to be on that dig. The original one had been killed and left for me to find. Someone knew I was the only cursebreaker who went after the Lost. Someone knew they'd send me and set the curse only for me. It didn't hit the people with me, just me. Otherwise, you'd be having this talk with Bill Weasley too." Dumbledore swallowed. "Another great thing about that whole scene is the fact that it was magic washed. Power was everywhere and coating the walls. Pure power, Albus, not dark power. No blood magic, sex magic, or other stolen magical energy was in it. I know because I was blinded by it for nearly ten minutes after the change happened because that's how it worked. That's also why my shields were so open. Which is probably the excuse you give yourself for putting them onto me the way you did before you sent me to hell to live with the alcoholics who hated each other." Dumbledore went pale. "And the last neat little thing? It only knocked out Bill, set to him personally. Whomever did it knew he'd be there. I almost never took my apprentice on those jobs. He hates that part of the job and as far as I know he still doesn't do that. Injured, yes, dead, only if they're friends. Like the one he got injured helping earlier this year." He stood up. "I remember enough of the magic to know where it came from, Albus, and I don't know anyone who sucks up power from Stonehenge on Solstice. Do you?"
He went to the bathroom to force himself to calm down. One of the slutty little girls offered to calm him orally and he had to pat her and send her away. He was beyond livid. He really wanted to destroy this place for the first time in years. He hadn't had this urge since he had woken up in Sunnydale with the letter explaining what had happened. He took a few deep breaths then went back to grab Draco. "We're going to the house. Buffy needs his, Harry, and Ron's help."
"We're grounded to our towers and I'm still needed here," Draco said, giving his hand a short caress. "I'll be fine," he promised. "If anything happens, I'll send a message through our bond immediately." Xander nodded. "What's going on with LA?"
"Demon invasion. The stupid lawyers let something out that they couldn't or didn't control. It's taken over the news outlets. Cordy had a vision of Sirius Black, we're not sure why. So make sure Harry can go meet Remus Lupin so he can bring him over." He looked at the headmaster. Then he leaned down to get close to his ear. "I swear, Albus Dumbledore, if you hurt me or mine ever again, you will wish you had never been born. I started in Slytherin for a reason and I never forgot that, even after I was forced to become a hero. Even without my powers I was still the force behind the Slayer. I will kick someone's ass if anything happens to Draco, Ron, Harry, or Dawn." He stomped out, heading to the nearest useable floo. He found McGonagall in her office. "May I?"
"Of course," she agreed, smiling at him. "Is something wrong?"
"The assholes in the calvary. Some hard truths that I had to share thanks to them. Little things like a demon invasion in LA. You know, the usual in my stunningly boring life," he quipped, then he sent himself back home. Buffy met him and gave him a hug. "What did I do to deserve that this time?"
"Dawn started to floo to check on Draco and heard you going off on someone," she admitted. She pulled him back to the room where the girls were tending Wesley. "Are you pulling her out?"
"No. It's still the best place for her. I'm simply not sure of some people's motives anymore. Dumbledore used to be pure and noble when I went there. Now he's not." He looked down at Wesley. "You're looking worse."
"We got the bleeding stopped again," Dawn told him. "He's still living." She looked at his ashen face. "I'm not sure what else I can do for him."
"Then let me call the healer," Harry said as he walked through. "Or at least Philip." He walked over to the floo, tossing some green powder into it. "Philip Callahan." Philip's head showed up a minute later. "Hey. We've got a small problem here and at the school. Right now, we've got a wandless wizard with a slit throat and a brewing temper tantrum."
"Why?" Philip asked.
"Because Dumbledore and Moody just told me I can't see Xander anymore," he said, looking back at Xander.
"Then you're all pulling out if I can convince Molly," Xander said simply, looking at Dawn. He went back to putting better pressure on Wesley's throat. "Philip, we really need a doc here to stitch him."
"I'll bring one with me. Floo open?" Xander nodded. "Fine, give me five minutes. I'll be right there then I'll go have a talk with the Headmaster."
"Don't bother, he's getting bad advice," Harry told him. "Moody called Xander a molester for hugging me."
"Fuck me," Philip sighed, but his head disappeared.
Xander looked at Harry. "I'm sorry."
"Why? I'm not," Harry told him, coming over to help. "I need training in this."
"You do," Xander admitted. "So do I. It's the one thing I never really learned anything about. Other than CPR." He grinned weakly at Buffy. "Welcome to the real-life soap opera called Hogwarts, A Legacy of Being Fucked." He went back to helping Wes.
"I still say he's under something," Harry offered. "I'm going to Hogsmeade as soon as Philip gets here, see if I can't find Moony." He looked up as Philip brought in someone with a blindfold. "Are you going back?"
"I am," Philip agreed. "But I'm apparating."
Harry shrugged and got out of the way. "So can I." He followed Philip outside, going to the town together. Harry waved and headed off to the Three Broomsticks. If anyone knew, Madam Rosemerta would. He walked in and smiled at her.
"Aren't you supposed to be in school?" she asked.
"Yeah, but I'm presently at odds with the Headmaster. He tried to cut me off from my family," Harry told her. "Is Remus Lupin in town yet? Apparently he's the only family I'm allowed to talk to."
"I saw him walking about earlier," she offered. "I'm not sure where though." She pulled his head closer, kissing him on the cheek. "You calm yourself. That uncle of yours is infecting you with his temper."
"Apparently Dumbledore thinks I'm picking up more than his temper, and I wouldn't be mad if Dumbledore hadn't just said I'd have to go back to the Dursley's and be abused more instead of going on with my apprenticeship and being in a house where people liked me."
"You feel better?" she asked.
He nodded. "Definitely. Thank you, I never understood the healing nature of ranting." He glanced around. "Was he heading toward the school?"
"The Shrieking Shack I think," she offered. "If you catch him, bring him back. Xander left money here for you guys to have some lunches when you need it."
"Thanks, Madam Rosemerta. I owe you for not turning me in." He walked out, heading at a quick jog for the Shrieking Shack. It had been Remus' enclosure while he had been changed during his school years. It probably held a lot of memories for him. The man he was looking for met him at the door, as did Arthur Weasley. "Did Ron make it home?"
"Yes." He let the boy inside. "What happened?"
"Moody started on Xander and Xander decided to give it back. Until Moody decided to insult Draco." Everyone present, including Molly and Hagrid, winced. "Yeah, it almost got Moody dead. Then the Headmaster went and made it worse. Then, the old fart decides to come up and tell me I can't spend any more time with Xander. Because he's got more important things to worry about so I'm supposed to go to the Dursley's during spring break. I overheard him trying to tell Draco he couldn't see his husband either." He looked at Molly. "Ron?"
"He has to leave his apprenticeship and never see Xander again," Molly said darkly. "What is wrong with that man?"
"I still say someone's gotten him with an unforgivable," Harry said, hugging Remus. "We need to take this to Xander's house. Some people there need to talk to Remus about Sirius. For some reason someone saw him in a vision of what's going on in LA." Remus looked stunned. "Not a clue," Harry admitted. "I know her visions come from on high, but nothing else."
"Then we should move this there. It's less messy anyway," Molly agreed. "How is Xander?"
"Furious," Harry told her. "He wants to withdraw all four of us."
"I'm not sure that's the right answer," Arthur Weasley pointed out gently.
"He said he was going to suggest it to you before anything," Harry told him. "We need a floo. I can't make portkeys worth a damn."
"Harry," Remus scolded.
Harry looked at him. "Yes, I have a mouth, Uncle Remus. You've missed this wonderful part of watching me grow up. I learned it from the people who used to kick my ass on a daily basis. Dudley's friends were ever so helpful in that field." Molly created the portkey for them and they sped off, landing in the gardens. He looked around and waved. "Cordelia Chase, this is Remus Lupin. Remus, I'm going to be in the library looking up something vile to do to someone." He walked off, going inside.
Cordelia smiled and waved. "Welcome to LA, part 2." Molly laughed. "Some guy named Philip went to talk to the Headmaster. Xander's pacing in his room. Draco came through the floo and disappeared into the basement, making Spike scream. Everyone else is in the dining area eating. If you want, we can go that way."
"Sure," Arthur agreed. "So, you're a seer?" he asked.
She nodded. "Sure am. I'm a seer for a Champion of the Powers That Be. He's napping in the basement so the nasty sun doesn't kill him." Molly laughed. "Yes, Angel's here. He's still confused by Xander because he came in acting very gay last time they saw each other." She opened the door to the dining room, patting a house elf between the ears as she walked past it. "I'm guessing you know gloomy guy and guy with the sword?"
"Professors Snape and Methos," Molly said, smiling at them. "Sit, dear, it's usually informal around here." She seated herself across from Severus. "No Holly?"
"She's in the Dark Arts library trying to calm Dawn down," Methos told her. He looked around. "Sit, please. We're only having sandwiches and she's pumping all our brains."
"I'd like to know what happened," Arthur pointed out.
"Moody," Snape told him. "He threw insults at Xander and Xander tossed them back, which he wasn't expecting apparently." Snape gave him a nasty smile. "He also told Moody that his scars were evidence that he couldn't duck, not evidence of battle experience." Everyone shuddered.
"It supposedly went downhill from there," Methos offered. "I got trapped protecting the students instead of outside helping. For some reason, Dumbledore decided I'm better suited as an end-game fighter."
"You've never been one of those," Xander said as he brought in a tray of sandwiches. "Mostly ham, some turkey, some pastrami." He sat at the head of the table. "What's going on now?"
"I was gonna ask Remus some questions about what I saw," Cordy told him. "You were going to finish fuming before you blew the house up."
Xander shrugged. "I've rebuilt it once, I can do it again." He looked over as the door opened and Draco came in with someone behind him. "Oh, it's him," he said bitterly. "Come sit, Draco." Draco came and sat in his lap, taking the comfort he wanted. "Did you leak?"
"Very," Draco agreed. "They had to stop me from killing everyone. I snapped."
"It happens," Xander soothed, petting him gently. "Veelas, especially consort veelas, are very emotional and being denied your stability and sanity can make you snap." He looked at Arthur. "Your son was helping the doctor help Wesley."
"What happened to him?" Molly asked.
"Someone slit his throat," Cordelia noted as she took a sandwich. "Ethan brought us immediately here and someone went for Xander as soon as possible. He got everything settled and Harry called in a doctor."
"Oh, dear," Remus put in. "Why would someone slit his throat?"
"Because Wesley was in their way," Cordelia told him, shrugging at his incredulous look. "It happens sometimes in LA. This time, the demon wanted him out of the way. The doctor said he'll be fine. It only nicked a blood vessel. The bigger problem was his windpipe was exposed."
Angel looked in. "Is it safe?"
Xander pointed his wand at the drapes and they closed. "Safer. I didn't make the food."
"That's all right," Angel said as he walked in. "What happened?"
"The Headmaster." Xander continued to ignore Moody. "Eat, please, before I get fat and Draco dumps me."
"Not before I'm twenty-seven," Draco reminded him, giving him a gentle kiss. "I'm afraid you're stuck with me until then."
Xander grinned at him. "Good."
"Get off him. He's to be arrested for interfering in Ministry business," Moody said.
Xander already had his wand in his hand, it wasn't any effort to point it at him. "Out of my house. If the aurors want to talk to me, they can come themselves. Since they didn't, I'm not sure you're the proper authority to say such things." He shooed him with the tip of his wand. "Out. Before I lose my temper and kill you." Draco stood up and went to make a call, calling in his father's lackey in the Ministry. He got the head of the aurors coming; Draco and he walked back in there in time to stop Xander from killing him. "And you are?" Xander asked.
"Misterly. Auror enforcement division."
Xander put his wand down. "Make him go away or you're going to be here for a body."
"Go away, Moody. Now." Moody huffed out. "He's retired."
"He needs a memory overhaul," Xander told him. "Am I in trouble for uncursing that one person?"
"No. Why would you be?"
"Because that's what Moody just said," Draco said patiently.
The man shrugged. "I hadn't heard anything and questioning one person isn't that bad a thing in such an assault. What did you do to him?"
"I was first on the scene and I gave orders," Xander said calmly. "I'm very battle experienced."
"Dumass," Draco corrected.
"Ah, no wonder. He had a crush on one of your family and she turned him down."
"Hmm. I probably would have too," Xander pointed out. "So I'm not in trouble?"
"No, but we did want to get your account."
"I got there after everyone was out. Harry called me. He's somewhere in the house. Harry!" Harry came jogging. "This nicer man is from the auror enforcement division. He needs a statement."
"Sure thing, Xander." He looked at the auror. "Dumbledore is going to be dead if I see him before I calm down. Need anything else?"
"How about if we go somewhere calmer and you expound on that, Harry." He gave him a gentle smile. "Please?"
Harry nodded, leading him to the library, where Ron was looking something up too. "What did you need to know?"
"We heard the alarm go off, but it was in a different pitch this time," Harry told him, getting comfortable by stretching out across two chairs. Ron gave him a look and he shrugged. "My back still hurts."
"Oh, that's a later thing," Harry assured him. "Anyway, the teachers told all of us to go into the Great Hall, most of them did. Dumbledore told our Defense teacher, one who has so much experience he should be teaching it to us and we'll feel grateful for it even though he's an ass, to guard the students. Instead he took most of the other teachers outside, including apparently Madam Sprout."
"So he left the battle-experienced teacher inside and took the rest out?" the auror asked. Ron and Harry both nodded so he pulled over some parchment and a spare quill to write this down. "This is not what we got from him."
"Yeah, well, he's been acting funny now for a few weeks," Harry said firmly. "By the time we shooed the rest of the students inside, we were guarding the doors and the hallways with the Defense teacher's permission, we heard a massive thump. Ron and I both ran outside."
"I was first," Ron told him. "I saw everyone on the ground. I told Harry to go call for some help. Naturally, he calls in the family, the person training us to be cursebreakers because Xander has a lot of experience fighting as well."
Harry nodded. "He lived on the Hellmouth, has since he was deaged."
The auror groaned. "Sunnydale?" They nodded. "Shit." He wrote out a side note up the left margin and looked at them again. "So he shows up?"
"I caught him just out of the shower. He was still wearing a towel. Of course he throws on clothes and hurries through the floo to help," Harry told him. "I lead him outside. He went and kicked one of the attackers. He moved so Xander bound him. Ron went to call Philip for some help. The nurse came out. Xander was still binding when Moody showed up with Shacklebolt. He told me to go check the greenhouses when he found Professor Sprout. I went to be cried on by them."
Ron took up the narrative. "I couldn't get Philip so I came back to help. Xander figured out which curse it was by trying different counters on Snape. He sent me to help Harry since he hadn't reappeared."
"From what we know about what happened after that, Mr. Dumass helped an Oliver Wood?"
"That was before I left," Harry told him. "I played with Oliver and I knew he wasn't a bad guy so I didn't understand. Xander picked him up to ask him questions and found the curse so he removed it, waking Oliver up. We left him alone and didn't bind him."
"Okay." He made a note of that. "Then everyone was shooed back to their houses?"
"Yeah, Moody and Xander were sniping at each other, I could hear them through the greenhouse door," Ron told him. Harry nodded. "They were going hard and then Draco came out."
"What is Mr. Malfoy to Mr. Dumass? Besides his property?"
"His consort. Draco is a consort veela and Xander's his mate."
"Ah!" He nodded and made a note of that as well. "So, Moody snaps at Draco, Mr. Dumass snaps back, it escalates?" The boys nodded. "Then what happened?"
"Snape told Xander and Draco to go shoo Slytherin down to their house, stopping Xander from removing him for the day in his anger."
"Draco all but rules his house," Ron added.
Harry nodded. "So they, from what we heard coming in, walked into the Great Hall and released the Slytherins, Xander laying down the law about sneaking off and pissing him off. We know they went down there because we were escorting the Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws from the Greenhouse and we saw the trailing end of the students while we were coming down for the Gryffs in the Great Hall."
Draco walked in and closed the door. "Then, after he had everyone safely in and all that good stuff set up, the Headmaster comes down with a fake apology and tries to chew Xander a new one for helping." He sat down on Harry's other side. "Xander let some knowledge that's he's been hoarding out. Including what he knew about the deaging charm and how it was *white* light that blinded him." The auror looked stunned. "I didn't want to believe it either but he seemed very sure of that fact. Then he threatened the headmaster about ever hurting the four of us and left to come back home, at which time Harry was...."
"Told I could never speak to him again. That I'd be going to my bad relative's house during the break so they could abuse me some more."
"In those words?"
"Not exactly. More that I would be heading there on the break and that they would quote protect me unquote from the irrational behavior Xander was showing."
"After which he told me I'd have to leave my apprenticeship too," Ron added.
"And on his way back down, he told me I could never see my consort again," Draco added. "Which put me into a blind fucking panic of desperation, which in turned made some people fairly homicidal when my control slipped."
The auror nodded. "That's a natural reaction. I'd expect that, Mr. Malfoy."
"It's Dumass now. I took my pookie's last name when we were joined." Draco glared at Ron when he snickered. "I'm married, I can call my mate all sorts of sickening things, what's your excuse?"
"Good point," Harry said. He suddenly sat up. "DAWN!" She came running. "Midnight?"
"I had him on me, Harry, he's napping by Wes." She smiled. "It was really nice of you to think of him though. Thank you." She trotted off.
"Ah, the fabled girlfriend and little sister," the auror said, smiling at Ron, who blushed and nodded. "Good, she seems sweet and you could probably use something like that." He looked at them. "Anything else?"
"I came here and we ended up finding Philip Callahan, who came with a doctor for the wandless wizard in the study," Draco told him.
"I went looking for Remus Lupin since I was supposed to meet him tonight anyway and one of the other people here needed to speak to him about my godfather," Harry put in.
"I just walked away," Ron told him. "Before I hit the bastard."
The auror nodded. "Okay, that's actually very good of you." He looked at them. "The present stand at the Ministry is that we do not want any current students fighting. Including you, Harry. I know you'll have to, we've all heard about the prophecy by now." Harry nodded, swallowing. "We feel that you have a lot of training left to do and that there are people there who can train you. Including your Defense teacher. We in the aurors trust him and your uncle Alex." Harry nodded, looking relieved. "I am also filing a report of abuse in your family. It's been noted before so it won't be a problem and I won't need anything further from you to do so. We couldn't before because we didn't have a secure place to put you." Harry nodded again. "From now on, by the petition I'm going to file as soon as I get back, you will be in the custody of your great-uncle. Your other relatives won't have any memory of you." Harry slumped a bit and looked really happy. "That also means that we'll have to certify the Weasley clan as alternate guardians so you can visit them. Again, not a problem; there's already a form on record."
"Why?" Ron asked.
"Ask your parents, I'm not sure," the auror told him.
"That's the first lie," Draco announced.
The auror shrugged. "Even though I do know I'm not allowed to tell." He looked at Draco. "Your mother signed over custody to him so that is not a problem. Mr. Dumass has also filed paperwork about his new little sister, Dawn Summers. We have awarded full custody of her to him. So she is not a problem." He stood up. "If it comes to a battle where the Dark Lord is there, Harry, we will send someone for you so you do not have to fight it all the way through. Your problems at the battle at the Ministry were noted and we don't want you three to have to fight anymore. It's not right and it's not healthy. People like me get paid a lot of money each year to do such things."
"Then you need to visit with Professor Methos," Ron told him. "I think we've got someone who might be willing to lend an idea or two."
"Agreeable. The Banes are willing to help?" Ron and Harry both looked at him and he smiled. "I came in Nick and Philip's last year, boys." Ron rolled up his sleeves and showed him the marks on his arms. "Very nice. Thank you. I'll talk with him myself. I never got the chance in m youth." He nodded at them. "Relax here. We will be examining the Headmaster in a few moments. As soon as I put in my report to the people standing outside." He walked out and opened the door, walking into the group of aurors Moody had brought, including the head over them all. His report was read quickly and many questions asked, but none of them went inside. He was told to go back in there and talk to Professor Methos while the rest of them went to gather Dumbledore for an examination. He walked back inside and met Xander in the main hallway. "My boss wanted me to talk to Professor Methos as a representative of the Banes. We are going to look at Headmaster Dumbledore in a few moments. As soon as we can capture him. You are not in trouble. Not in any form. Moody is in a bit of trouble and he has been warned not to bother you again."
Xander smiled. "Thank you." He shook his hand, noticing he was cold. "Go into that study," he said, pointing at a door. "I'll have the Prof sent in there and there's a nice fire with floo." He went to get Methos from the dining room. "Prof, the Ministry wants to talk to you as a rep of the rest of us," he said, looking at his forearm. "I put him in my study."
"Thank you, Xander." He stood up. "Excuse me for a few moments." He closed the door behind him. "Should I worry?"
"He just jumped Moody about his shit."
Methos smiled. "A decent auror. I'm impressed."
"One in power who just told Harry he couldn't fight anymore and gave him good reasons and promised to come get him for the final battle so he could do his part and only his part."
Methos nodded, giving him a happy look. "Then I'd be honored to meet with him." He walked away, stopping to look in the library. "Go eat. Now." He went into the study across the hall and closed the door behind him. "You needed something?"
The man smiled at him. "Many things, Methos, but for right now, I'll accept the Banes letting us help and sharing their information faster."
Methos sat down, looking him over. "You know of me?"
"It was rather obvious. Plus, MacLeod managed to find the Leaky and walk inside. He's a right bastard when he's in the mood, huh?"
Methos laughed. "Definitely. I'm trying to keep Potter from becoming him."
"Please do so. It'll make him a happier person over all." He leaned closer. "I was there the last year Philip and Nick were there, sir. I've wanted to meet you for a while now because you are so good and you could teach me a hell of a lot. But for right now, I'll settle for some information and a promise to bring it to your brethren."
"I think I can do that," Methos said, leaning back on the couch and getting comfortable. "Ask away."
He smiled. "Ooh, unfettered questioning, my favorite thing," he said happily.
Petunia Dursley opened her front door and walked backwards at the behest of the man with the wand standing there. He was an odd little wizard: bald, gentle looking, wore glasses. He was wearing a tattered robe. His wand was pure black. His eyes were pure black. His skin was very pale. "Who are you?" she asked.
"The Unmentionables, ma'am. The Ministry has been watching your house for a while now and we are here to ask you questions about the care of one Harry James Potter." He made her sit down. "There are reports of abusive behavior on your behalf. In this case, we could not ask the child because he is emotionally damaged." She started to complain and he smiled. "Try it, lady, I saw it for myself the last time." She whimpered, trying to curl up. "If you cooperate, this won't hurt a bit. If you don't, I cannot promise that. Another of us is talking with your husband and son. If you are found innocent, then nothing will happen. If not, it will be like this never happened." He made her nod. "Good." He pulled out two suction cups and stuck them onto her head, then laid the trailing ends of the strings attached to them into a peculiar metal bowl he pulled out a leather case she hadn't seen him carrying. Then the world went black.
When the Unmentionable was done, he sent it to his boss, who sent back a guilty verdict nearly immediately. It had only take the first few minutes of viewing her memories. He released the suction cups and replaced everything, then he raised his wand. "Good bye, Mrs. Dursley. Don't worry, we never met," he told her, waving his wand. "Obliviate."
Dinner was once again in Xander's dining room. It was the only place big enough to hold all them, the Weasley elders, Remus Lupin, and the group from LA. The rest of the Banes had remarked on the vampires in the basement, the twins asking if it was the newest and hottest craze in California. Luna was busy patting her stallion's hand. She had flooed Madam Pomfrey and had her come help the muggle healer, doing the healing spells herself, with Dawn's help. Tip Top was gently seated by her mates. Emilia and Greg were both there and smiling at each other. The others were looking from Greg and Emilia, to Xander and Draco, to Luna and Wes wondering who was going to go for a shag first. Xander clinked his glass. "Let's get this started so we can eat. I'm damn hungry and I know Tip Top needs to eat." The twins nodded. "Prof, you called this one?"
"Some bread," Des said, bringing it in. "Didn't want to interrupt." She hurried back out.
"We don't mind you, Des," Methos called. He looked at the group, especially at the students. "After the small attack at the school today," he started, but didn't get to finish because of the outraged noises.
"Someone cursed some quidditch players," Harry said over the complaints. "They weren't hurt and they're all being uncursed tonight and asked what went on. Oliver said his was a healer." He looked around. "After that momentous bout of stupidity, professor?"
"After that minor blip on the happiness of the group, I was fortunate enough to be talked to be a higher-up in the aurors." Mass snorting was heard and he shook his head. "This one wanted Ron and Harry to sit out until the final battle. He wants all the current students to be left alone. He also sent people to talk to Harry's aunt and uncle, which ended up in their memories being erased of their beloved nephew," he said with a nod toward Harry. "His custody now firmly rests in this house, and with the Weasleys whenever they see fit to invite him over." That got some clapping. "He also nearly begged for us to share information with him. He said he was witness to Nick and Philip's most momentous last year and the worst prank ever seen inside the school."
"Really?" one twin asked.
"What did you do?" the other asked.
Tip Top patted them both on the cheeks. "It was horrible. Didn't turn out right at all. It created this mass of lavender bubbles that floated down the halls and tried to eat people. Greg, didn't you stop that one?"
"After being attacked the second time," Greg agreed, giving the two wannabes tolerant looks. "I should have made you both clean my clothes."
"We would have," Nick offered.
"It would have gotten us out of detention," Philip agreed.
"You deserved it," Severus said firmly. "I was well within my rights as a teacher to give it to you." He looked at his fellow professor. "They want our information?"
"They want us to share in a more timely manner and to work out strategies so they can call on us for any battles they have planned. Minus the younger generation." He gave them a smug look. "He also wanted to take lessons from me but that is a different matter."
"Does that mean this thing is half over with?" Harry asked. "Are we on the downhill side of the war?"
"If we are, I'm not giving up contact again," Greg said firmly. "I will pout if I don't get regular notes and talks from you guys. I missed you the first time."
"Shit, me too," Nick admitted, looking at his plate. "I'm sorry, Greg, I always seemed too busy and then things got out of hand. I wanted to, but I never got around to it."
"I was forbidden," Philip reminded him. "But I'm not any more." He reached over and gave him a pat. "It won't happen this time. We learned our lessons from the last time." Greg looked relieved. "So, shall we share it?"
"Some of our information is pretty specialized, will they be able to use it?" Tip Top asked.
"I pointed that out myself," Methos offered. "I used Emilia's observations on emotional stability as an example. They told me they do have a veela working for them and if we work in partnership then you'll still be using it, whether or not they do."
"Let me get this straight," Ron butted in. "The Ministry, the people who last year tried to claim Harry was crazy and that the war hadn't restarted, the people who are still mostly denying that anything is happening, want to *help* us? They're wiling to share information, give us credit, and come when we call? The *Ministry*?"
"With Fudge gone, it's not as bad," Arthur told him. "The current Minister is slimy, unintelligent, and vaguely mentally impaired from inbreeding, but he knows what's going on. He has family among the Death Eaters. He's asked that we keep it subtle, but he did call me up to his office to talk about Harry's DA thing and the Order last week." Harry looked stunned. "Also, I do have a report from work." He took a deep breath. "Do any of you know what Sivradros powder is?"
Emilia raised her hand but Luna beat her. "A mind control agent created by a rogue alchemist in the late eighteenth century to keep the wizards from muggle-born families from taking their skills back there. It was widely used during the industrial revolution on any witch or wizard who had a problem with the factories because the Ministry at the time thought that would be a good step for humanity in general, hoping that they would join us in enlightenment. It was generally thought to be a secret use substance, only used by the Unmentionables but my father's seen evidence of it now and again over the last fifty years."
"Very good," Professor Snape told her, looking impressed. "Your father does have some uses after all."
She nodded. "Very many, including finding a snarkrack."
"What is a snarkrack?" Emilia asked.
"Father said it's the first animal that isn't cataloged that he runs into. Preferably with horns." The other students laughed and patted her if they could reach her. "He says they're out there."
"He should look in the rain forest," Jim told her. "There's lots of things down there that no one ever mentions and most don't know about."
"And he speaks from personal experience," Blair added. Jim nudged him and he grinned. "What?" he asked innocently. "You do."
"Well, we found it in Dumbledore's hair," Methos finished, breaking into the dog and pony show those two usually brought with them. "We also found some in Madam Sprout's hair and in mine, but I seem to be able to shake it off. One wonders why," he said with another smug little smile.
"Hmm. Immortality, good for fighting off people telling you what to do," Xander agreed. He looked at Snape. "You?" He shook his head. "Why Madam Sprout?"
"Whomever knows about Miss Summers. The Headmaster so thoughtfully told her. However, this her is even now in custody because she is considered very dangerous. I believe you knew her Xander. Anyanka?"
"My ex?" he spluttered. Methos nodded. "Oh well." He toasted the Sunnydale bunch. "Another wonderful Xander girlfriend." They cheered him back. "So, is Albus back to normal? Or is going to snark at Draco the next time he sees him?"
"No, he won't be," Snape assured him. "He sent me with his sincere apologies to all of the students sitting here and to you, Xander, though he did say you should have to take their seventh year with them because it would solve all those nasty problems."
"Yeah, but then I wouldn't be allowed to apparate. Or allowed to do magic whenever I wanted. That doesn't really come in handy."
"Those have both been refitted with an age requirement," Snape assured him. "It is now seventeen." Xander grimaced. "The only problem with this plan is your residence."
"It would solve a lot of problems," Harry agreed. "No more having to run and get you."
"You could give us lessons on demand," Ron agreed.
"I could offer to teach a few specialty classes," Xander pointed out.
"Then you wouldn't be able to sleep with Draco," Ron said with a grin. "Even if you are married."
"Yet, you would be there in case someone went wild next year," Methos agreed.
"We'd get a good spy in the school," Greg told him.
Emilia nodded. "Plus, you alone could finish Draco, Harry, and Ron's training, plus help with Dawn and Luna's when Holly starts teaching them next year."
"I've been taking some lessons from her already," Dawn told her. "Mail from Ethan is getting slow again."
Snape nodded. "That is true. Except for his missives to his other student."
Luna shrugged. "They're mash notes, not love missives. I get love missives from my stallion," she said, smiling at Wesley. He went very pink. "Ooh, one of my favorite colors."
"You're an odd duck, Lovegood," Buffy told her. "You should have seen him when I first met him. Then he was geeky, nerdy, and really stuffy. Three piece suit and coordinating tie in the middle of spring sort of stuffy."
"It's a Ravenclaw trait to like smart men," Luna said with a wicked grin. "The more geeky the better, but I like Wesley now that he's learned to loosen up and cut loose. He can always put on the suits if it amuses him but I *like* him in his leathers." He blushed brighter pink. So she kissed his cheek. "Poor baby, am I embarrassing you?"
"Yes," he squeaked, then picked up his water to drink. "Luna, please quit," he pleaded.
"For now," she agreed. She looked at the rest of them, noticing they were looking at her. "What?" she asked innocently. "Pink is one of my favorite colors."
"I'm sure it is," Ron agreed, nodding to show he was humoring her. Sometimes she scared him. "So, Xander, can we count on you coming in undercover? It'd be neat to share the house with you."
"Then I'd have to come over to get shagged," Draco pointed out.
"The hat did have him in Gryffindor last," Harry reminded him.
"Yes, and he's done a lot of heroic and brave stuff since then," Dawn agreed. "I guess Draco will just have to figure out how to charm the portrait."
"I would never live down having to go over there for a shag every night," Draco pointed out. "Besides, I like sleeping on top of him. He's very warm."
Snape coughed. "When Dumbledore was discussing this idea, the hat spoke up and said it would gladly resort both of you into Hufflepuff." Draco spluttered and Xander shuddered. "You don't think so?"
"I'd never live it down," Draco complained.
Dawn snorted. "Please! My sisters would love to have their very own tame Slytherin. We'd do all sorts of stuff, including talk to you about fashion and clothes." She took a quick drink of her water. "Plus, you know the sixth and seventh years have their own common room so they can shag like bunnies," she pointed out. "No problems in there."
"Make sure you never go there, Dawn," Buffy said firmly, glaring at Ron.
"No, I seem to prefer closets," Dawn told her. Buffy coughed and choked so Dawn smiled sweetly at her. "What?" she asked with mock innocence. Her dog barked form the doorway. "Come in, Midnight. We're just joking around."
"We're both fairly intelligent creatures, we should at least be in Ravenclaw," Xander pointed out. "I could stand that."
Draco shrugged. "I suppose they're all right, in their odd little ways. Lovegood, anything you want to share?"
"We'd look at you like you were animals rutting in the fields," she told him. "Sex to most of us is something to look at and contemplate doing someday, when you have to bear a child."
"Ravenclaws are all about the pleasure of the mind over the pleasures of the body," Ginny agreed.
"Good, see that you date one of those," Ron told her. She hit him. "Hey!"
"Shut it, Ron. Before I mention what I saw you doing...." Her mouth was covered.
"Ron," his mother warned. "Ginny." She gave them a sheepish grin. "No more fighting."
"Yes, mum, we'll be good," they agreed, smiling at her like the perfect little angels they were. Even the twins cracked up at that one.
"Did you two know that you got more rumors started?" Luna asked the twins. They shook their heads, looking clueless. "Ron and Dawn have been shopping for baby shower presents."
"Ooh," Emilia said, wincing. "Sorry, guys."
"It's all right, they went to the main sources of gossip and told them why," Draco told her. "Those two now think that she's mentally incapable of being afraid."
"That's my girl," Cordy said, grinning at Dawn. "Never let them see you sweating, unless they think it's a hot trait."
Dawn smirked. "Pansy and Millicent just don't understand; their puny viewpoints of the world have no impact on my life. Nor do their snarky comments about my boots, my belly shirts, or any of it. They can find a deep hole and try to swallow it, like someone has obviously taught them if what I accidentally walked in on in Moaning Myrtle's bathroom was any clue."
"They were doing what?" Snape asked.
"Blowing two of your seventh year team," Dawn told her. "They threatened me so I wouldn't tell you. Ooops," she said smugly, giving him a look. "Buffy, you'd like this guy. He's a cranky grouch about his classroom but he's been very helpful and helped protect my secret until the Headmaster eavesdropped on my sex talk with Emilia."
"Sex talk?" Buffy asked, looking at Xander. "At her age?"
"She's fifteen, Buffy. There are girls her age, even in the wizarding world, who have three-year-olds. I made sure she wouldn't do anything further until she had talked with Emilia, who is excellent at giving that talk. She gave the boys theirs too."
"You can say I have some experience watching the human condition," Emilia told her. "Veelas are very sexual beings but I only had people perform for me until I met Greg," she said at the growing confused look.
"Sorry, literary vampire slayers tend to go quickly."
"Speaking of vampire slayers and quickly," Cordelia put in. "Faith's up for parol for some reason."
"Just keep her over there and no one will get hurt," Xander retorted.
"Xander, she's changed," Angel told her.
"Yay. Keep her on your side of the pond and we'll all be happy campers once again," Xander told him, firmer this time.
"Was she the one who all but molested you?" Draco asked. Xander nodded.
"That's not a good thing," Fred pointed out.
"I didn't know that was possible," Spike told him.
"It was over too quick and I couldn't complain. She literally had my mouth covered," Xander told everyone. "Besides, my body was screaming with the need, it had been years."
"You were only fifteen yourself," Buffy pointed out.
"Buffy, just because my body deaged didn't mean that my memories did and it didn't mean that all my hormones left either. I nearly got my pseudo parents busted for child abuse because I kept drawing breasts in second grade. It was over too fast for me to try and make a complaint and it wasn't like she would have cared if I had. So please, keep her over there and we'll be fine."
"Sure," Cordelia agreed, looking down at him. "You okay with that overall?"
"No. Wes, you?"
"Not a bit," he admitted. "I fear I shall have many nightmares if she's released."
"I'll protect you," Luna promised. "A slayer is no match for a witch at the height of her powers. Or for Ethan."
"Ethan's a bit of a coward," Buffy told her. "He won't face off to Faith."
"He will if I ask," Luna told her calmly. "I know he will."
Buffy left her with her delusions. "If you say so."
Molly cleared her throat. "I was wondering if you needed help with the problem in LA? It seemed rather urgent earlier."
"Remus and I talked about what I had seen and he and Ethan came up with a plan," Cordelia told her. "It's some dangerous temporal magic but they were too well-entrenched when we fled. We couldn't have beaten them even if we had the entire US Army."
"You're going back to the battle," Harry said flatly. Cordelia looked at him and nodded. "Any chance you can change things?"
"I don't know, Harry," Remus said honestly. "If I can, you know I would as long as it doesn't harm anyone else." Harry nodded that he understood. "After that, we'll be portkeying to LA to their present offices. They weren't there then."
"Doyle was alive then and we were in our original offices," Cordelia agreed, looking at her plate. "This is going to be really hard on a lot of levels but we've got to do it or we've given up hope."
"Speaking of hope, where is Darth Rosenburg?" Xander asked.
"We've got her," Nick told him. "She's in good care."
"Good." He cut into his food. "So, do we tell the aurors we'll help?"
"I think we should," Tip Top put in. "We're a damn small army when it comes down to it. He's got up to five times our number. Even if we only get a little bit of support, it'd be worth it." She touched her stomach. "You're already down members because of me and possibly because of Emilia."
"Even if you only get that one, he can take Tip Top's place in the battle line," George agreed
Fred nodded. "There is no way our son is going to grow up to follow in Harry's shoes."
"Thank you," Harry told them. They smiled at him.
Xander looked around. "I'm not hearing dissent or bad points."
"We can keep some information back," Emilia noted. "Things that they don't need to know, including who is a member and who isn't."
"They know about me and Methos," Ron told her.
"That's fine, Ron, it's up to each Bane to expose themselves or not," Philip told him. "Since you did, that's your choice."
Ron nodded. "I gave them Methos' name."
"I am very aware that he already knew I was one, Ron, as he did most of the group. He mentioned Philip, Nick, Emilia, and Tip Top by name." He looked at Greg. "He seems to think you're still in America."
"I am most of the time." He looked at Emilia. "Guys, I've got a research request to make when we move on to the next point."
"Let's move on," Nick offered. "There haven't been any 'no' votes so I'm guessing it's fine." Most of the crew shrugged. "Okay, what's on your plate, Greg?"
"Grissom, some of you have met him?" Some of the group nodded. "He's got some funky hearing loss due to the bones in his ear going funny. Even with surgery there's no telling if he'll get it back or not, or if it'll happen again. He's the sort who'll die if he's forced from the field."
"So you're looking for subtle hearing charms?" Blair asked.
Greg nodded. "Something I can attach to his glasses and he doesn't know about. I don't want him to start having the 'magic can cure any ailment' approach. Penn had someone who came to him to heal them the other day because of that."
"Penn's not a healer," Xander pointed out. "Nor is he a battle wizard." He looked out the door. "Grams, do we have anything in the library on hearing problems or hearing charms?" he called.
"Yes, dear, I'll pull those."
"Thank you," Xander called back. "There, that's a good place to start," Xander told him.
"As long as you're subtle and no one realizes it's on him, there shouldn't be a problem, even when he's over here," Jim pointed out. "If I'm reading the laws right."
"You are," Philip assured him. "We'll figure it out, Greg. He is a very good man and he is covering for you." He ate a piece of his dinner. "Anything else?"
Tip Top cleared her throat. "We went for the number of babies test today and it was inconclusive. It's either twins or one and a shadow."
"We'll build a bigger basket," Dawn promised. She smiled at them. "Buying a little bit each trip is pretty easy anyway."
"Yes, it is," Ron agreed. "Speaking of, Xander, you forgot to pay us."
"No, I left the checks on your beds," he told him.
"No you didn't," Dawn told him. "I never got my allowance either."
"I thought I did. Follow me into my study later and I'll correct it if I haven't already." He looked at Greg and Emilia. "You guys got news?"
"We have an appointment next week," Greg told them. "The tests came out mixed. Some yes, some no."
"Muggle tests can be that way," Snape reminded him.
"The muggle, the machine at his work, and the wizarding ones are all mixed," Emilia told him. Snape looked impressed. "So we're going to get a definitive answer next week. We'll let you know at the next dinner. Which is when?"
"Um, I'd say in two weeks?" Xander suggested.
"No can do, I've got work," Greg told him.
"That's a Hogsmeade weekend for those who stay during the break," Draco noted.
"You're all coming back, right?" Xander asked. His crew all nodded. "Good. I'll have fresh sheets put onto everyone's beds." He looked at Dawn, then at Ron. "You two will follow Des's orders about room use." They nodded. "Thank you." He looked around. "Anything for the LA crew needing to be discussed?"
"Ethan and Luna have been playing with her time turner," Cordelia offered.
"That's going to take a lot of turns," Ron put in. "It's usually one turn an hour."
"Ethan thinks he figured out how to reset it," Luna told him. "So it's now one turn a month if it works."
"That will be easier on the wrists," Harry agreed. "Remember to pack supplies. Just in case."
"We'll be taking Dawn's magically expanding school bag," Buffy told him. "We're buying food and everything tonight." She looked down at Harry. "We will try our hardest not to change anything but the important matters. Got it?" He nodded. "Good boy. We'll need an exact account of that battle as well, just in case. That's where we're starting at."
"I can do that," Harry agreed. "It's not a problem for me. I've got it in the pensieve in the Headmaster's office."
"We can get that from him," Methos agreed. "What other help did you need?"
"We'll need to get into there so we don't have to sneak in after the kids," Cordelia told him. "It'll add more time if we have to fight through magical stuff."
"When you're ready, I can take you inside," Arthur assured them. "The current Minister of Magic has authorized me to do anything necessary to stop the war faster, including take extra time off to help with the Order." His wife patted his hand. "Anything else?"
"Just to buy our supplies," Cordelia pointed out. "They froze our bank accounts."
"Oh, I think we can handle some of that," Xander said smugly. "I fully kitted out the boys for a survival trek. We've got boxes of stuff in the auxiliary basement."
"That would be helpful," Angel said, giving him a smile. "You're much nicer now that you're not flitting around and swishing your clothes."
"Ah, come on," Xander teased, grinning at him. "Admit it, you looked the poofy me. You really, really did."
"No, I didn't," Angel told him.
"That's why you had an erection?" Luna asked. Wesley spluttered and she patted him. "I was checking to make sure his performance was good enough," she told him. "Will you have to worry about aging?" she asked Fred. "I asked Ethan but he wasn't sure."
"I don't know," Fred admitted. "Even if we do, it's only just over a year. Thirteen months?" she asked, looking at Harry and Remus.
Remus shook his head. "At this point, we're two weeks off the anniversary of that battle."
"Won't that be awkward going a month a turn?" Ron asked.
"We had plans to do a half-turn," Cordelia told them.
"Then they should probably go into the prophecy room," Harry told Arthur. "It looked really dusty, like no one ever goes in there."
"There are even less-used rooms," Arthur told him. "I'll also give them letters of permission and the like."
"The Ministry was really paranoid at that time, will it work?" Remus asked.
"I'll be giving myself back then a long letter as well," Arthur told him.
"Wouldn't it be easier to have them go back to a spot like here, where there's nothing, and then find you?" Harry asked.
"I would try to warn the Order and it would make them very jumpy."
"Which Sirius was that night," Remus reminded him. "That's why he ran out. He *knew* Harry was in trouble."
"We'll figure that out before we turn," Buffy told them. "They're both really good ideas."
Ron shook his head. "Have them send the letter to my mum, have her bring them in at lunch time as guests visiting dad on some sort of project. He was working late that night and he said his coworker had left early. Have her lead the muggles in blindfolded, with a call ahead to point out that she was doing this on her husband's orders."
"Have it be about something that someone's charmed, tell them that they're kin to a muggle-born," Harry added. "Say, someone's charmed their telephone to work on the floo network and you need to know how the thing works before you can send on the report."
"I don't have anyone in Floo Regulation that I'd trust," Arthur pointed out.
"Plus, you're ignoring the Percy factor," Molly added. "He would surely hear and start to spread it around in disgust."
"But, it could be said that they'd be coming in because their muggle-born relative has exposed them and I'm bringing them in for interviews about what they've brought home. They're allowed to have some things, like owls and floos, but not use their broomsticks in the back yard. Some of the stronger toys as well are forbidden to them. Things like Rememberalls."
"That would work," Harry agreed. "Send a message to Neville as well? Have him be the one who found out? It got mixed up with his?"
"No, the less people involved the better," Arthur told him. "This is strictly to get them to the right point in time."
Buffy nodded. "It's better if someone anonymous reported it. But that is an excellent idea. Can we have some of those cute singing cards too?"
"Sure," Arthur agreed, smiling at her. "Those aren't on the exclusion list but they're considered chancy because others could find them. So we'll say that you've got a muggle-born sister who's a witch and her things are on the line so we brought the whole family in for a discussion on safety."
Buffy nodded. "I like that. But what about Angel and Spike?"
"Family servants," Spike told her. "We will need a shady spot though."
"Not a problem. The tree in the back, past the gardens, always is in shade. The closer you are to the trunk the better and the shady spot is on the left if you're facing the tree. It used to be one of my favorite spots to lounge around and ignore my mother."
Spike nodded. "And since there won't be a house then...."
"No neighbors either," Cordelia noted. "But what about transportation. I don't really want to have to steal a car."
"My jeep's underground. As long as it gets back because I'll know if it's been touched," Xander told her.
"Open air vehicle," Luna pointed out. "The Knight Bus?"
"Might not work for Wes or Ethan," Xander told her. "Don't you have to raise your wand?"
Luna sighed and nodded. "Good point."
"There is however still an opening on the other side of the tree. It's an ancient escape hatch to get away from my lessons and it leads down to the old moat, which is partially collapsed."
"Moat?" Dawn asked. "We have a moat?"
"It's my underground working space," Xander told her. "For some of the things I deal in it's better to have a defining line around it. That's why I put a freshwater moat in. It stops some forms of badness from going past it if it kills me. It surrounds my work area, called the swamp. The old one collapsed in the intervening years and we've got a new one built now. I'll show you before our final auction."
"We're holding another one?" Harry asked excitedly. "Can I wear my leathers again?"
"Sure," Xander agreed, smiling at him. "I found a whole bunch of shit sitting in the basement that should have been sent with the last one and the Gringott's people don't want to deal with them because their caverns are too full so we're selling them in another auction. It's planned for the day before you guys have to go back. By the way, I'm going to arrange for you to floo up but take the train back so you can pick me up some things in Diagon that we'll need." The four students involved nodded. "Deal?"
"Deal, but only if I get my allowance," Dawn told him. "I want something hot to wear to this auction thingie." She looked at Draco. "Will you help me with that? I have *no* idea what one wears to one of those."
"They're usually black tie," Wesley told her. "Why are the boys wearing leather?"
"It's the unofficial outfit of cursebreakers on vacation," Xander told him. "We routinely wear grey or brown leather. It's like some unwritten rule."
Ron nodded. "I've got the most comfortable jacket sitting in my trunk but I haven't been able to get it out because *someone* stuck it in there."
"I tried to get it free, Ron," Harry told him.
"Harry!" Xander said sharply.
"Not me, Hermione!" Harry retorted. "You know how she can be sometimes about not being the wizarding ideal." He scowled at him for a moment then looked at Ron again. "We'll have to get Xander to break it for you, Ron."
"Please, Xander?" Ron asked.
"Sure, Ron." He looked at Molly, who was staring at her youngest son. "He does look good in it and he's slept in it a few times. It's a very practical garment."
"I'm sure it is," Molly said, still frowning at her youngest son. Ron grinned at her. "Son."
"What? He bought it. He insisted, mum."
"I did insist, Molly," Xander agreed. "It's practical everywhere but in the desert."
"I do not want my son dressing like that one," she said, pointing at Spike.
"Mum, I'm never going to bleach my hair that way," Ron promised, looking very serious. "I can promise I will never be a blond."
"See that you don't," Buffy told him. "You'd look really fake."
"Speaking of fake, what did the stupid bitches who hurt my dog get?" Dawn asked Professor Snape.
"Language," Buffy snapped.
"They poisoned my dog, sister dear, I'm allowed to call them that and worse," Dawn reminded her. "You said a lot of things when someone poisoned your Willow pet." She looked at Professor Snape again. "Detentions?"
"In-tower suspension until exams," Snape told her. "That means they cannot make up tests or assignments without the teacher's permission. That also means they are having to live off the good will of their housemates for things like notes for their final exams." He looked smug. "Along with that, their parents were notified and both sets of parents came down quite harshly on the young girls. They're to do an extra year of schooling somewhere else if they manage to pass. If they get held back due to failing scores then their parents will send them back and arrange other punishments for their next year. Does that calm your fury, Miss Summers?"
"Mostly, yeah," Dawn admitted.
"But they're going to get to lounge around all day and do nothing," Buffy pointed out.
"They're in my house, Miss Summers, they're genetically incapable of not learning something," Luna shared, giving her a smug look. "Also, no muggle technology works so there is no such thing as a television for them to watch or a radio to listen to. Just the very quiet house all day long and whatever books they can talk their housemates into getting for them from the library. Trust me, they're not going to be helped very much because those girls lost us a hundred points each." All the students, present and former, winced at that. Luna was still smiling though. "They are going to be *very* sorry. Nearly as sorry as those girls who stole Mr. Potter and put him into that room with the torturous devices and dolls."
"Someone tortured Harry?"
"No, some of the girls kidnaped him and put him into their room," Draco told her. "The girls who lived in that room had things like voodoo dolls which glorified the sexual torture they would want to preform on him. Those, along with the paintings and other manipulated photos showing him a sexual nature, scared him so badly he took your sister and hid for three days in a hidden chamber within the school."
"It was really sick, Buffy. They did some damn odd things to those dolls. Like not even the S&M people would do sort of things. We're talking like the cannibal in Germany who advertized and got a victim to eat while he was still partially alive sort of things."
"Eww," Methos noted.
"I read the articles," he pointed out, looking down at his plate. "At least nothing on here is vaguely human looking." He ate a piece of steak. "Definitely cow."
Harry looked at Buffy. "I was so scared it was them coming that I broke down and cried when I saw it was Professor Snape, clinging to him to save me."
"Which made the girls really pissed at those who had done those dolls," Luna offered. "That's why we kicked the hiney juice out of them."
"Yes, we did," Dawn agreed. "All the girls in the school got them." Buffy gave her a proud smile. "But I stayed to guard Harry because he knew he could trust me."
"And so started off other rumors that she was now going out with him," Luna finished. "Those were quickly squelched by a few well-placed elbows into already sore ribs though."
"I guess you really are popular," Cordelia said in awe.
"She's also one of the prettiest," Draco said honestly. "Did you send her pictures from our holiday ball?"
"Nope. Hold on." Dawn rushed upstairs to her room, grabbing her photo album from this year and rushing back down. Her poor puppy hadn't even woken up. "Here, it should be about a fifth of the way through."
Buffy flipped through, smiling at all the girls in the book. "Your housemates?" Dawn nodded. "They're cute, in a fashion clone sorta way."
"All Hufflepuffs like fashion," Luna told her. "Dawn had an instant in with them because she brought in fashion mags, which she shared."
"I almost had to, they kept making smart remarks about my bellybutton," Dawn pointed out. "By the way, Cordy, the ones from Christmas seem to have vanished after being copied a few times. When you get back into the current time, would you please send me some more?"
Buffy found the picture and grinned a silly little grin. That robe thingy suited her sister perfectly. "You were beautiful, Dawn. You and Luna both." She smiled at them. "You both looked way better than I did at my prom." The girls both smiled at her and Buffy passed it to Cordelia, letting her see.
"I'll make sure you get a full shipment each month," Xander soothed, smiling at her. "There are some that will come by owl."
"Yeah, but they're banned," Luna told him. "That way we couldn't spook Harry."
"Now that he knows, it shouldn't," Xander offered.
"Speaking of, your fanmail will be saved for you both in the morning if you're going to be late," Snape told them. "It seems the Headmaster was so sorry he offered to give you a few extra days off."
"All the way to break?" Dawn asked.
"Fat chance," Methos told her. He looked at her. "You have a defense test before then, young lady. Your next class period if you miss tomorrow, when I shall be going over the covered material in review."
She nodded. "I remember, and I've got all the notes, Professor. I promise I'm doing good."
"You are," he admitted, "but there is still room for improvement."
"How are her other grades?" Buffy asked.
"Fine everywhere but in my class," Snape told her. "She does not have the talent for doing the precision and infinitely-patient work of brewing potions."
"Can she drop it so her GPA doesn't suffer?" Buffy asked.
Methos coughed. "No GPA's at Hogwarts. It's a mandatory class and she won't be held back by the teacher's prior arrangement with her."
"That's right, because Dawn sucks donkey boy parts in Potions and is only doing marginally better in herbology, though much better than at first now that I realize some of them are better to deal with than mom's crabgrass."
"Remember, next year, you'll get stuff to help deal with acne," Harry told her. "If you learn just that one and a few beauty cremes, your roommates will bow at your feet."
"That's right, that's how Hermione got through her last few years with a lot more pocket money than her parents sent her," Ron agreed.
"Then why didn't you do that, Weasley?" Draco asked, smirking at him.
"What girl would trust a guy to make beauty cremes?" Ron asked.
"Unless he's gay," Cordy put in. "They can do it all they want because they use them too."
"That's right," Dawn agreed. "Finding a good gay hairdresser is the aim of every girl in the know as she reaches toward adulthood. Speaking of, Xander, do you know any good hairdressers? I mean, you've probably done some of them in the past."
Xander thought back, looking up at the ceiling. "Yeah, I believe I did, but I don't know how he does hair," he said, turning to look at her. Draco pounced him, dragging him across the edge of the table.
"Hey!" Spike complained, moving his plate. "Do you poofs mind?"
"I'm going to fuck the memory of every other lover you've had right out of your head," Draco growled, ripping Xander's clothes to get to him.
"Not this again," Methos complained.
Molly looked fairly shocked. "Do they do that often?"
"Xander, that's not supposed to be a floor-show activity," Buffy pointed out. "As cute as I think Draco's ass is, I don't want to see that much of it."
Ron, ignoring the whole thing having seen it a few times, looked at his bigger brothers. "So, you're still not sure if it's twins or not? Just to help us with the planning?"
Tip Top put down her fork. "As of right now, we've seen one baby and a shadowy thing that they can't figure out what it is."
"So it might be twins for each twin?" Ron asked. She blinked a few times. "You know, quads?" His mother and father both spewed their drinks into their plates as one twin sank to the floor in a dead faint and the other was giving his wife a thoughtful look.
"Well, we do share you," Fred noted. "It's possible that it might be."
He had to catch his wife as she fainted.
Harry patted Ron on the shoulder. "Nice one!" he congratulated.
The LA crew scavenged what they needed from the supplies in the basement, piling Dawn's school bag deeply. Then they adjourned out to the tree with their letters and a spare owl for the letters to be sent with. Angel found the opening and the latch before they left, just in case it was daylight on the other side. He turned and watched Luna say her goodbyes to Wesley and Ethan, rolling his eyes at their kissing. Not that they weren't cute, but she was very adamant that they both get many too many kisses. Finally he couldn't wait any longer and he pulled her off, pushing her back gently. "Stay," he told her.
"Of course," Luna agreed. She watched as Ethan fumbled with the catch she had put on and moved closer, mentally checking where her wand was. There was no way she was letting her stallions go back in time with someone who looked like Cordelia Chase, they might get ensnared and forget her. "Remember, everyone has to be touching it or someone who's in contact with it, especially those people with bags." Angel and Spike had raided Xander's armory as well, only taking a few things. She checked them and smiled at Ethan, who was giving her a look. "You should be able to undo it with your thumb." She subtly leaned against Spike's coat, hoping it would be enough. Ethan undid the latch and she felt the world go whizzing past. Yes! On the other side, most of them fell down to pant in the grass from the disorientation but she had done this before so she opened the latch and nudged Angel. "Get underground," she ordered. Spike and Wesley both stared at her. "What?" she asked. "Now! There's a breeze and the tree's only partially covered in leaves." The vampires hurried down, Wesley grabbing her last so they could have one hell of a fight. "What? I must have been in contact with Spike's coat. Besides, I was at the battle. I know where everyone was." She closed the door and stared at them in the faint light Ethan had produced. "Get over it, now," she ordered, heading down to look at their enclosure. She took the owl's cage and the letter Buffy was holding. "To Arthur?" She nodded so Luna went up and sent it off. "There." She came back down. "Anything else that needs to happen right now?"
"Not at the moment," Cordelia said. She looked at Angel. "It happened, we move on." She looked at Luna. "You've now got to learn self-defense."
"You mean like casting a hex that immobilizes or like casting a jinx that makes the person confused and dazed?"
"No, like the wandless and magicless sort," Buffy told her. "I'll work with her." She saw Cordelia's smirk. "You knew," she accused.
"Yup, sure did. She's insecure enough and I did see it in my vision. It was like she was glowing more. Now, what next?"
"Next, the vamps bed down, we set a watch up top," Luna told her. "Arthur should be getting the owl today. Probably late this afternoon based on the size and wind outside. That means he'll probably be here tonight. If not tonight, definitely tomorrow." She pulled her wand out from behind her ear and tapped her watch. "Updatus," she hissed. It spun backwards and reoriented, including the date feature. "Fully a muggle item but it still works because it's mechanical," she told them, looking at the date. "We're two days early by five hours," she announced. "We left the school after dark two days from now."
Spike looked at her. "At least you're handy."
"I'm trying to be impressive," she retorted gently.
"It's working, you're impressing the hell outta me," Cordelia told her. "I thought you were a book nerd."
"You seem to do that a lot," Fred pointed out. "Wes, me, Willow I think you said once."
"I'm very impressed," Wesley told her, smiling at her.
"Now you know why I picked her as my student," Ethan said proudly.
Luna gave him a pat on the chest. "This gives you just over a year to teach me everything you think I should learn. Real magic, not just the sex stuff. It's fun but I'm very ambitious." She grabbed Fred's arm. "Come on, we've got some time so we can make beds while they argue about me." She led the other girl down the stairs, creating her own light, which Ethan and Wesley hadn't taught her yet. "Eww, snakes," she said.
"Coming," Spike sighed, looking at the other members. "She's a handy bit." He smirked at the look on Ethan and Wesley's faces. "She's a Ravenclaw, you twits. They're knowledge suckers. Feel lucky she hasn't sucked it directly from your brain."
"She can do that?" Wesley asked. Spike simply laughed and walked down the stairs to help the girls. He looked at Ethan. "Can she do that?"
Ethan shrugged. "I don't know. We know Willow figured out how to suck knowledge from books along with the magic from them. Perhaps she can." He looked very impressed. He had underestimated her badly and now he was going to have to see what she was really capable of. Besides being vaguely creepy and odd. He went down to talk to his protégé.
Cordelia set the watch rotation with her first, then got everyone else situated while she sat under the tree to watch for Arthur Weasley.
Greg looked up as the older woman walked into the room he and Emilia had been waiting in. "Hi."
"Good afternoon," she said pleasantly. She adjusted her cap. "I hear we're not sure if we're pregnant or not?"
"We've gotten mixed results," Greg said, pulling out the folder he had put everything into. He laid it on the exam table and spread it out. "We've gotten mixed yes/no and boy/girl messages, plus the muggle tests weren't conclusive and neither was blood work through a computerized check."
"Excuse him, he's a potions master," Emilia offered. "He works with the crime lab."
"Ah." The mediwitch nodded. "I understand." She looked at their ratio of results and then at Emilia. "Half veela, dear?" She nodded. "All right. You climb up here while your husband sits down and stares at your magnificence." She pulled her wand and moved it over Emilia's stomach, noticing the glow was again split. "I didn't know your type had more than one uterus."
"We don't," Emilia said. She blinked a few times. "You can't tell either?"
"Oh, I've got a few tests yet that should be definitive." She looked at Greg. "I'll do each three times just in case this sort of thing happens again, though I don't expect it too." She patted Emilia as she helped her lay back on the table, starting a new test. Again, mixed results.
"Could it be another problem mimicking the results?" Greg asked. "I read somewhere that tumors can sometimes set off pregnancy tests."
"No, dear, I would have seen that," the mediwitch assured him. She ran the next set of tests, but still mixed. The last one, the one that was supposed to get a definitive answer within minutes of conception also gave her mixed results. She looked at them as she straightened her cap again. "Let me get the healer," she said, still smiling even though she was frustrated. "I'm still getting mixed results."
The healer came in a few minutes later, being just younger than Greg. "I hear we're getting mixed results?" he asked, glancing at the chart, then at them. "Let me do one check then we'll see if we can't figure it out." He did a different charm and it backfired this time, making him squint. "Hmm." He looked at them. "Have you two had sexual relations recently?"
"I'm a consort veela," Emilia told him. "I have sex every few hours with him."
"That may be the problem," he pointed out. "Your body may be hiding it, or mimicking it, due to the presence of active sperm in your body. Let's reschedule you for one week from now and have you abstain."
"That might drive me insane," Emilia told him. "I need it."
"I know, dear, but no one says you can't do other things; just no vaginal intercourse and no other sexual relations the day before. Can you do that?"
"We'll try," Greg told him.
"Good boy." He smiled. "Come back in one week at the same time and we'll see if we get better results then." He closed the folder and left them alone.
"Well, I've always wanted to try some kinkier things with you," she offered. "You up for it?"
He hugged her. "If I can get it up, I'm for anything you're willing to give me."