Title: Lost Legacy
Author: Kiristeen ke Alaya
Series: Not so far
Genre: Xover BtVS/Harry Potter
Codes: General no pairing (except canon) at this point. AU of AtS as of Spike's appearance there. AU beyond HP book five.
Characters Main: Snape, Xander and misc.
Rating: PG-13 (no violence or sexual references beyond that of either series.)
Warnings: References to child abuse. Work In Progress.

Setting: I am invoking artistic license with the timing of this story. It begins the summer before the trio's 7th year, and directly after Buffy and the gang seal the hellmouth, destroying Sunnydale. I've also taken a tiny liberty with Dawn, capitalizing on her 'energy' as the key. Don't worry, it's nothing massive, just a logical progression, IMHO. I've given her the ability to sense injuries.

Summary: The hellmouth has been sealed and Sunnydale destroyed. The problem is, the surprises are not yet finished. Unknown to the Sunnydale crew, a Wizard has been sent to discover the source of the sudden increase in dark energies surrounding the mystical convergence. One Severus Snape arrives in time to discover no town, and no convergence. Instead, he finds a makeshift camp of youths, barely into adulthood.

Having needed to travel the last 250 miles in muggle fashion -- no wizarding forms of travel available closer -- Snape arrives in what was once Sunnydale . . . 'in a mood'. In true Snapish fashion, the Potions Master manages to not only insult everyone present, but find something he didn't even know he was missing -- turning his life permanently upside down. Absolutely furious, Snape wonders if the manipulative old goat knew all along what he would find.

Disclaimer: Neither Buffy the Vampire Slayer universe, nor Harry Potter belong to me in any way, shape, or form. Both Series belong to their respective authors/producers (Joss Whedon and JK Rowling) and their respective publishers, heirs, and other assigned rights holders. I intend no copyright infringement and will not make any money with this story. It has entertainment value solely.

AN: No one can accuse Albus Dumbledore of not knowing how to manipulate those around him. I don't know if it's ever been said what house Dumbledore was/is a member of, but if he wasn't so partial to Gryffindors, my money would go on Slytherin. : )~

Chapter One

Severus Snape stared at the huge crater that sat where the infernal map said Sunnydale was supposed to be, anger and fear alternating inside him. If Albus Dumbledore could make this big a mistake, maybe the naysayers were right, and the old man was losing his touch. It wasn't a thought that sat well; it boded ill for the side of good, and Severus' own life expectancy. He'd long since thrown in with the old man and his Order of the Pheonix and didn't think he'd stood a snowball's chance in the ninth plane of hell of surviving this conflict if the light side didn't win. Of course, he wasn't all too certain he'd survive it, even if they did.

Albus Dumbledore, headmaster of Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry, was the cornerstone of the fight against Voldemort. His sometimes humbling ability to see practically everything, to seem to know a person's thoughts before they did, was one of their greatest assets. If he was losing that edge. . . .

To say Severus wasn't happy was an understatement of unbelievable proportions. Not only did this entire trip seem to have been a complete waste of time, but he'd spent the last 250 miles traveling the slow, muggle way. Add to that, the car he'd charmed to drive here, had run out of fuel 5 miles back and he'd had to walk the last bit. He was tired, sore, and fit to be tied.

"So where's this bloody 'mystical convergence'?" Severus snapped angrily, not wanting to believe his errant thoughts, but unable to deny the evidence before him.

"Permanently sealed," replied a feminine voice behind him.

Severus whirled around, his hand automatically reaching for his wand. He hadn't even heard her approach. Unfortunately, he didn't have the chance to wield it. Three-quarters of the way into his spin, he was thrown to the ground. He landed painfully, a startled, 'oomph' pressed out of him.

Ignoring the signals of pain his body was sending him -- he'd gotten very good at that over the years -- Severus immediate began reaching for his wand again. This time he got it out, only to have it kicked out of his hand as he was bringing it up. He watched it fly into the growing darkness with a sigh of regret, and a certainty that his hand had been broken.

Okay, so I have to do this the hard way.

He launched himself to his feet, only to discover his attacker was a tiny blonde woman, barely. Incredulity coursing through him, Severus ducked her next attack, scrambling backward. He had no desire to fight a muggle woman half his size. It would be a massacre.

"Why are you attacking me!?" he roared angrily, dodging a second blow. Damn, she's fast!

"You started it," she replied off-handedly, shrugging as she whirled ending the spin with a roundhouse kick.

He ducked again, this time rolling and coming back up on her other side. Unfortunately, she seemed to have anticipated that move and as he regained his feet, her foot caught him solidly in his abdomen. The wind utterly knocked out of him, he was shocked to find himself sailing backwards, not hitting the ground for a good eight meters.

Straining to pull in breath, Severus struggled to regain his feet as the blonde approached.

"Stay down, dumb-ass," she said, sounding like he did when he was speaking to a particularly slow student.

He glared at her angrily, hatred flashing in his eyes. Unfortunately, with her standing in battle stance over him, and him unable to catch his breath -- He winced, thinking she might have actually broken a couple of his ribs -- he didn't have much choice but to do as he was told. If she moved just a little bit closer, however, it would be a different matter entirely, his ribs notwithstanding.

"What kind of weapon were you reaching for?" she demanded, watching him carefully in the waning light.

Ever mindful of the need to keep the knowledge of the wizarding world and magic from the common muggle, Severus formed his answer carefully. "I wasn't actually reaching for a weapon," he replied, trying to keep his answer civil. It wasn't easy. He hadn't had much practice with true civility for years. Severus Snape was not civil.

"Buffy!" a second female shouted. "I found it. It's a wand of some kind."

Severus flinched. Bloody hell! "I Found that in a curio shop in Los Angelus," he lied quickly. "Thought it was . . . amusing."

A red-headed young woman approached, a rather severe frown marring her features. He used the term woman loosely, as the Weasley look alike didn't appear to much older than a 7th year. "You didn't get this in any curio shop," she denied. "It has power, Buffy," she told the blonde, turning to face the petite girl. "I would need time to figure out exactly what it does, though."


Shock surged through Severus. Did these people know about magic, or was she talking about something else entirely? His eyes narrowed thoughtfully as he tried to figure out which lie to tell, and just how much of the truth might be safe to reveal.

Buffy nodded, without taking her stern glare off him. "Listen up, Mister Tall and Dark, you can go back and tell whoever it is you're working for that the hellmouth is gone, permanently. If you're here to cause trouble on your own, you've just wasted a trip. As you can see, there's nothing left."

Severus sneered right back at the snotty brat. "Not that it's any of your concern," he snarled, "but I'm here to investigate, not cause trouble."

Buffy took a menacing step forward, her expression dark, boding trouble for any who dared cross her.

Severus had to fight a laugh. He in no way felt threatened by the impertinant chit.

Right, and that's why you're still on the ground; because you don't, in any way, respect her skills.

"It damn well is my concern, since this was my town." The crazy bint grinned then, without completely losing the wary look in her eyes. "But, if you're not here to cause trouble, you're welcome to share our fire tonight."

Surprised, he didn't respond immediately. He carefully weighed the pros and cons of the situation. These girls, apparently, knew what had happened here . . . at least, that's what they implied. If he accepted their offer, he might be able to find out. "Very well," he replied evenly, "I accept," artfully adding unnecessary information. "I certainly wasn't looking forward to traveling back tonight."

There, he thought, that was civil enough for anyone.

Buffy stepped forward and held out her hand, obviously intending to help him stand. Arching an eyebrow, he diplomatically reached up and grabbed hold of her wrist, fully intending on doing most of the work himself--

See, Albus! I can be diplomatic when the situation warrants it.

--and was unutterably surprised when she pulled him to his feet with shocking ease. Damn, but the chit was strong!

He made no comment, instead, turning to the red-head. "May I have that back?" he asked, pointing toward the wand she still held.

"No," he got back in harmonic duplicate.

"Why?" he asked, sending his best, 7th year quelling glare at the obstinate red-head.

The blonde -- Buffy, he reminded himself -- answered.

"Because we don't know you, don't know what that wand does, and have absolutely no reason to trust you," she said flatly, and with finality.

He ground his teeth together in frustration. He really didn't like being without his wand. His wandless magic was limited at best. It didn't help his mood any that he completely understood her reasoning, and consequently, had absolutely no legitimate argument against their continued possession of his wand. He sure as hell wouldn't have given what was, to all intents and purposes, a weapon back to someone he'd just met and actively suspected of underhanded motives -- particularly if he was worried about being able to defend himself.

Finally, he simply nodded in acknowledgement. "I assume, I will get it back when we part company?"

Buffy nodded and waved him passed her, presumably in the direction she wanted him to walk.

He loathed the idea of having her, them, at his back where he couldn't keep an eye on them, but again, he couldn't blame the two girls. He would have done the same in their position. At least he was dealing with muggles, even if one of them seemed freakishly strong. He wouldn't let them get the jump on him again, and without that element of surprise, doubted they could get the better of him a second time.

As soon as he saw the light of the camp fire, he knew he'd made a strategic mistake. He just hoped it wouldn't be a painful or fatal one. Several other people gathered around the warmth of the fire; though, why they bothered in this miserable heat was beyond him. They all rose as the three of them came out of the darkness.

Buffy quickened her pace until she walked next to him. "And who do I introduce you as?"

In the split second before he responded, he debated which way to answer, with the more familiar Severus Snape, or with the more formal, "Professor Snape," he said before he fully realized he'd made a decision. Judging by the red-head's response. He'd made the right choice.

"You're a professor?" she asked, grinning in apparent excitement. "What do you teach?"

Somewhat surprised by her . . . enthusiastic response, he turned to her slowly, scowering his mind for the nearest muggle equivalent to potions. "Chemistry," he replied, the moment he remembered.

"Really?" she asked, actually bouncing as she walked. "What levels?"

Levels? Severus blinked. While he knew the basics of the English and Scottish muggle educational system, all he knew of the American one, was that it was structured differently. He thought frantically for an approriate reply, then, nearly rolled his eyes. It should be obvious even to morons that he was not an American. He didn't need to know their system. "All 7 levels of secondary education." That was close enough, anyway. He serious doubted that barely out of their teens, children, would know enough about foreign education to call him on it.

By that time, they were at the fire and the three of them had at least a dozen eyes focused on them, effectively ending the conversation. One set, disturbed him, however. An older man, if he was any judge of muggle ages -- older than he was, at any rate -- watched him far more warily than the rest. The man's expression held a touch of hostility as well. Why? he wondered, automatically keeping close watch on his surroundings.

"He says he's Professor Snape," Buffy announced.

Says? he thought, insulted at the implication he may have lied about his name. He'd never met a more suspicious group of teenagers -- okay, young adults at a stretch -- in his life. He did note, though, that the older man's wariness deepened sharply at her words. Severus' curiosity about the sandy blond increased. Who was the man and why did his name seem to spark something?

"Professor, these are, in order," she began, then quickly sounded off the names of everyone present.

He almost snorted. He had a good memory, but with the speed she'd rattled everyone's names off, there was no way he was going to remember them all. Giles, however, he would remember. The man stayed standing, even after the others resumed their seats. He would remember Xander's name too. The boy had given him such an odd -- one eyed -- look, before quickly looking away when realizing he'd been seen.

"Have we met, Mr. Giles?" he asked, as politely as his irritation would allow; for now, ignoring the Xander mystery.

The man shook his head, squaring his glasses with his left hand. "I have to ask," he spoke softly, with a surprising, but definite, upperclass English accent, "what an English Wizard is doing at a hellmouth on the west coast of the United States?"

Abruptly, Severus' irritation blossomed into full anger. The moron obviously didn't give a rat's arse for the statute of secrecy! "What the bloody hell are you doing?" he demanded, shouting in his agitation. He took an immediate step back, arms raised in the universal gesture of surrender as no sooner were the words out of his mouth, but every single one of the brats was on their feet, weapon in hand and trained on him. And an odder assortment of weapons he'd never seen outside of a museum. Didn't modern muggles prefer things like guns and knives?

He blinked, reassessing the group. Okay, not children, no matter their age. They acted like a team of battle hardened aurors. If things didn't go his way, he just might be thoroughly screwed. He was mentally cursing himself up one side and down the other, neatly picturing Mad-eye's disappointed headshake as he muttered the oft-repeated phrase, "constant vigilance." He'd made assumptions when he definitely shouldn't have. He just hoped the price for those assumptions wouldn't be higher than he wanted to pay.

"I won't ask again," Giles said softly, his voice as menacing as Severus had ever made his own.

"My . . . apologies," he ground out, "I am so used to having to keep what I am secret, that I reacted . . . inappropriately."

Inappropriate, when surrounded by your friends, whom seem imminently capable of inflicting grievous bodily harm, that is.

"Accepted," he growled, not sounding to Severus as if he had at all, "That does not answer my question, however."

No, it didn't, Severus thought, sarcasm heavy in his mind voice, so kind of you to notice. As for himself, he keenly noted that the two of them had the full attention of every single person present. He didn't like being the center of attention, didn't like it one bit. Xander, he also noted, was still staring at him, more so than any of the others. Again, he let it go, having other, more pressing, issues to deal with.

"The massively increased energy of the, supposed, mystical convergence here was noted," he said, carefully phrasing his words and modulating his tone to give no clue as to whether he considered the suspicious absence of said convergence a good thing, or a bad thing. "I was sent to investigate."

Buffy opened her mouth, but Mr. Bloody Giles beat her to it. He clapped slowly, smirking.

Severus frowned, his eyes narrowing yet again.

"Very nicely phrased, Professor," he commended, continuing silkily, "technically answering my question without giving a sodding thing away."

"And Ripper's back," Severus heard Xander mutter. He spared a minute portion of attention to the dark-haired boy, but was distracted by the content of his words.

Ripper? he repeated mentally, the name sounding vaguely familiar. The knowledge he sought hang tantalizingly just out of reach, however, frustrating him no end. Whoever he was, judging by what Severus had seen so far, the man -- if he'd been a wizard -- would have fit in Slytherin House admirably. Unfortunately, that was a problem right now, not a help.

"Okay," Buffy interrupted, glaring alternately at him and Giles, "each of you back off into your testosterone filled corners and just cool it for now," she ordered, physically emphasising her point by taking hold of his arm, just above his elbow.

Giles rolled his eyes, but relented, his glare softening a touch. "We will speak again," he warned.

Severus nodded once, then allowed the tiny, forceful chit to propel him forward to a seat near the fire, not bothering to glare at her for her presumption.

"Dawn?" she called out.

"Yeah, Buffy?"

Dark hair, younger, 5th or 6th year, he estimated.

"I think his ribs are injured; his hand too."

Dawn jumped up instantly, heading for the long vehicle parked just outside the range of the fire's light. It didn't take long before the girl came jogging back carrying a small canvess bag.

"Okay," she said, smiling at him as she sat on the edge of the same log he was sitting on, "hand first."

He frowned at her even as he held out his injured hand. She couldn't possibly be old enough to be their mediwitch . . . or whatever the muggles called their equivalent. Placing both of her hands gently around his hand and wrist, she closed her eyes.

He almost pulled his hand back in disgust, but she spoke first, her words surprising him into stillness.

"Not broken, but you have a hairline fracture in one of the bones in the center of your palm. We'll need to immobilize it," she said softly as she reached back into the bag with one hand.

She's a witch? That didn't seem right, but he didn't know what else she could be. The problem was, he'd never seen Poppy do anything remotely similar. "How did you know?" he asked, his curiosity at something completely new overriding his normal reticence.

She shrugged, continuing pulling items out. "Just something I can do," she said, one-handedly opening a double-fist sized, white jar. Scooping a walnut sized portion of the white, creamy paste, she glanced up at him, before beginning to coat both his palm and the back of his hand. "This will keep down the swelling while your hand heals," she explained.

It tingled pleasantly even as soothing cool spread throughout his injured hand. He nodded, continuing to watch as she opened a second jar, about twice the size of the first, this one brown in color. She scooped out about half the amount she had of the other medicant, carefully splitting it as before, and spreading it just as carefully.

"And this?" he asked, just as he began to feel its affects. "Pain reliever," he continued, as the surface of his hand began going numb, answering his own question.

She nodded, not looking up. Instead she proceeded to wrap his hand in a stretching bandage that fascinated him. The support and pressure it provided obvious.

"The first is magical, this second isn't. We raided a pharmacy for it."

Though Severus had never heard the term before, in context, he had to assume it referred to either an apothocary, or some sort of medical supply outlet. "The two actually work together?" he asked, intensely curious.

She nodded again, this time looking up at him, setting his hand gently onto his knee. "We've used them together before with no ill effects, if that's what you're asking."

"Basically," he admitted. It was close enough in intent, anyhow.

"The only danger wouldn't be from the drug interactions. The only problems that might arise would be if you were allergic to any of the ingred--" Her eyes widened in horror. "Shit! I should have asked that first. Sorry, I'm used to working with people I already know. Are you allergic to anything?"

He chuckled, even as he sneered at the obvious mistake. "It's a good thing I can say I've only found one thing that I am allergic to. I think I can safely say that there won't be any essence of wormwart in either preparation?"

She laughed, then, relieved. "You'd be right. I've never even heard of it."

Reassured, he lifted his hand to look more closely at the wrapping. "Interesting mixture of magical and muggle healing techniques," he said softly, impressed despite himself. Lacking direct healing spells, this certainly worked.

"Muggle?" Dawn asked.

Severus' head snapped up to stare at her, then he whipped around -- instantly regretting the quick movement as his ribs had yet to be attended to -- to glare at the Giles character. The blasted man was smirking knowingly.

Giles shrugged. "They've learned what they need to know, not everything." He then turned to Dawn. "Muggle is term wand wizards and witches use to refer to those who do not have magical ability," he explained.

"Wand witches?" Willow -- the red-head asked.

It was then that Severus realized how he had remained the main focus of this group. He frowned, not sure quite when he'd stopped being aware of that small fact. It wasn't like him to tune out his environment like that. Of course, now that he had 'tuned back in', Xander quickly looked away. He'd been studying him again. What was it with that boy . . . and what in Merlin's name had happened to his eye?"

As Giles began explaining what he knew of the wizarding world, Severus cringed. After Giles' question to him about his presence, he had assumed a greater level of knowledge for the group than they apparently had. Another mistake, in a night full of mistakes. Maybe he needed a true vacation. He hadn't taken one in years, and if tonight was any indication of his level of functioning, he was far overdue. No use belabouring the obvious, however. He could always obliviate them after his wand was returned.

"Okay, Professor," Dawn interrupted his self-recriminations, and his intent of finally questioning the boy, "strip."

He stared at her in shock. "Pardon me?"

"From the waist up, strip," she elaborated, then rolled her eyes at his obvious reluctance. "I can't very well treat your ribs through all your clothes, now can I?"

Of course she couldn't, Severus thought irritably, glancing uneasily at the very young group of people. The problem was he really wasn't comfortable undressing -- even partway -- in front of them, especially Dawn, who was most certainly of an age with his students.

Dawn huffed at him, glaring. "I seriously doubt your chest is much different from any other guy here, and I've seen every one of them at least once. Get over yourself and strip."

He glared right back at her. There was no way he was going to let this cheeky child talk to him that way. Before he could reprimand the brat, however, Giles interceded.

"Give it up, before you dig yourself in deeper." He half grinned before continuing. "She has been our medic for the last 9 months, basically since the town was deserted by humans.

By humans? Severus wondered in surprise. So what was left? And what are these people, if not human?

"She is surprisingly professional, especially given her youth."

Biting back his first response . . . to both of them, he took a deep calming breath. Polite, he reminded himself. You must be polite. They still have your wand. "She has treated you for an injury that required the removal of clothing?" he asked sharply. So much for polite, he castigated himself silently.

Giles nodded.

Dawn laughed. "He's more likely to need his head seen to," she admitted, "but I've tended his stomach at least once for some nasty looking gouges."

"Gouges!?" he asked in shock. "Just what the bloody hell have you all been tangling with that left him with gouges?"

Dawn shrugged. "Just the usual," she replied, motioning him to hurry up and remove his shirt already.

He didn't move, just waited for the rest of her reply.

The boy chuckled, shaking his head.

Personally, Severus wanted to dock points, and wished heartily he was back at Hogwarts so that it would be an appropriate response. He opened his mouth to soundly berate the irritating man-child for his lack of manners when Dawn's next words snapped his jaw shut before he could utter a sound.

"Vampires, demons, turoq hon. You know, the usual."

Severus blinked twice before her words truly sunk in. He then rounded on Giles, outraged. "These are children!" he shouted. "How could you be so utterly irresponsible?" Muttering under his breath, he waited, hoping for some kind of reasonable response, though he didn't hold out much hope for one. "As bloody irresponsible as Black!"

Giles didn't respond right away, angering Severus further. Instead, he shared a look with Buffy. As he did so, Severus had the strangest feeling there was a conversation going on around him that he was not privy to. It was . . . odd, to say the least.

Giles turned to face him squarely, finally, just as Severus was about to lose what little control he had left on his temper. The interruption did have one saving grace, however. He was still fully clothed!

"Children with a destiny," was all the poor excuse for a Briton said.

Severus' already deep frown, deepened further. He really didn't like the sound of that. "Pardon me, but, what?"

"What do you know about Slayers?"

"The basics," he replied, not sure where this was headed. Was the man trying to tell him that one of these girls was the slayer?

Buffy stood, stepping over toward him. "One girl into each generation, yada, yada, yada. Right?"

Snorting at her less than eloquent speech, he agreed.

"I am the Slayer."

This tiny girl was the reknowned Slayer? No sodding way! Half the group immediately got restless. "Well, I was," she amended.

He sneered. "If you were ever the Slayer, you would know you don't suddenly stop. It isn't something you simply quit when you get tired of it," he spat out. The girl was an imbecile, despite initial impressions.

"Don't I know it," she muttered, "but that wasn't what I meant," she continued in a normal voice.

"Well, get on with the explanation, then," he demanded, his patience with this farce already at an end. "I would dearly love to hear this." Not in this lifetime.

She gave his earlier sneer right back to him, and even he had to admit that she was pretty good at it. A few more years to give her appearance weight, and it might actually have some effect.

"I didn't mean I was no longer a Slayer, just that I'm no longer the slayer."

"Semantics," he snapped.

"Not really."

"Yes, it--"

Buffy over-rode his objection. "When the Slayer before me died, I was called." She paused. "With me so far?"

"Yes!" Severus ground out, beyond irritated by the condescension in her cheeky tone.

"I died, temporarily, obviously."

"Obviously," he repeated drily.

"Won't go into how, doesn't matter. Point is, I died and another Slayer was called; Kendra. Thing is, I didn't stay dead, was only dead for about a minute, actually. Voila, two slayers. I'm no longer the slayer, I'm a slayer."

"A glitch," he said softly. "Amazing."

She smiled.

He continued. "A system works perfectly for millenia. You come along and muck it all up."

"Hey!" she exclaimed, most obviously insulted, and back to glaring at him.

He smirked. It felt good to get back into the rythmn that was his life. Insulting arrogant sods -- even if they were tiny blonde females -- was what made his current life worth mucking through.

"You do realize," Xander said suddenly, gaining Severus' instant attention, "that you're busy insulting the longest lived Slayer in recorded history, right?"

Severus didn't reply verbally, he simply cocked an eyebrow at the boy, as if to say, "your point?"

Xander laughed, shaking his head and giving a half smirk before turning his gaze to Buffy.

"So, Kendra is. . . ?"

"Dead," Buffy replied flatly.

Oh . . . then? His confusion must have shown, because, before he could ask, she continued.

"When she died, Faith was called," she said, waving offhandedly toward the already introduced young woman.

Severus turned his attention to the slayer in question. She lazed against the log she was leaning against, like she owned it and the patch of ground she sat on. She grinned cockily at him. The dark beauty was arrogance personified, he decided nearly instantly. Quite frankly, she rather reminded him of a far more attractive Sirius Black. He wondered if that comparison would remain valid through the test of time.

"Oh for heaven's sake!" Dawn exclaimed next to him, startling him somewhat. "Stop with all the dilly dallying and strip already. I, for one, would like to get some sleep tonight. It's been a bloody long day and it would be nice to end it soon," she snapped. "If you're that blasted shy, just unbutton all the way, and I'll deal. You don't have to remove anything completely!"

"I am not shy," he sneered, doing as she suggested, however reluctant he was to do so in front of so many people. He actually felt far more comfortable doing that -- despite the company -- than he'd ever felt sitting shirtless in the infirmary. Temporary walls or not, he'd always felt awkwardly exposed until he'd completely reclothed himself. Anyone could walk in, after all. It also gave the added bonus that his mark was not exposed, something he really didn't want to do in front of Giles, a man who seemed to know a lot about the wizarding world -- a conundrum of sorts, since he wasn't entirely certain whether or not the man was a wizard.

Chapter Two

Severus woke the next morning to several uncomfortable, undeniable facts. His ribs and his hand throbbed, painfully. His back hurt from lying on the bloody ground -- no wand equaled no cushioning spell. It was too sodding early to be awake. And, most annoyingly, the birds were bloody singing as if there was no tomorrow. He and Rupert had been up until the wee hours of the morning, talking, and he really didn't want to be up yet. His mind didn't want to emerge from the fog it was hiding in. He'd learned so much new information last night . . . strike that, early this morning, that he felt like he was back in a classroom again, as the student. Only this time around, the class he was taking was a surreal mixture of muggle studies and demonology.

He groaned quietly as he realized there would be no going back to sleep. Not only was his mind beginning to actually think about functioning, but half the camp was already up and moving around. As far as he could determine no one was even remotely trying to be quiet. Several conversations were taking place with the participants across the camp from each other.

With a final, heavy sigh, he rolled himself out of the blanket he'd slept in and made his way out of camp for a bit of privacy. He didn't manage actual, true privacy, but he did manage the semblance of it, despite the fact that he could still hear the obnoxiously loud goings on in camp.

When he made his way back to camp, he had only two thoughts in his mind, despite the number of things he wanted to accomplish this morning before they parted company. Tea; he had to have his morning tea. He just hoped that with someone else in the group obviously English raised, he might actually be able find a decent cuppa. The second thing, was avoiding the morass of semi-controlled chaos that was teenage Slayer children. The idea of wading into the mess wouldn't be appealing at the best of times. Right now, it sounded like sanity suicide. He rolled his eyes, sneering at the cacophony still going on.

"Kennedy!" shouted Willow from somewhere beyond the 'bus'.

"Yeah?" Kennedy -- presumably -- shouted back from the other side of him.

"Where's my brush?"

"Where you left it!"

"No, it isn't. I already checked."


"Hey B!" Faith called out.

"What?" Buffy snarled back -- again from across the blasted camp.

He smirked knowingly. Definitely not a morning person.

"It's your turn to collect firewood."

"Is not!"


And directly opposite him, Severus saw a haven of quiet -- not that the camp wouldn't still be heard -- but hey, desperate times called for taking what a person could get. In this case, the only other males in this quagmire of feminine abundance. Frankly, he thought, as he made his way around the camp, rather than through it, he felt like he'd had a bizarre sleep over in a girl's dorm. Not something that he'd ever had a desire to do.

Well, he amended with a smirk, not without nefarious purposes . . . and certainly not since he'd been a student himself. And this certainly wasn't how he had pictured it back then.

"Xander!" Buffy exclaimed suddenly, just as Severus approached the boy, Rupert and . . . Andrew -- though, he would cheerfully forgo the latter's rather annoying presence.

"What!" Xander yelled back, laughing.

Severus sighed. So much for his haven.

"What on Earth are you wearing?"

Xander frowned, looking down. "What? This old thing?" he asked, now smirking. "I put it on for old times' sake."

Buffy rolled her eyes, now standing two feet in front of the boy, hands firmly planted on her hips. "Well, take it off!"

"Well, Buffy, I never knew you cared," Xander quipped, grinning. "But don't you think we're a little public here?"

Severus snorted. The boy was within striking distance of two girls that could kick his arse from here to England, and he said that? If not for being a muggle, Severus would put him in Gryffindor without even bothering the sorting hat.

Buffy huffed, even as she blushed. "Xa-ander," she warned. "That thing is hideous!"

Frankly, Severus had to agree. Huge printed patterns with colors that in no way should be seen on the same garment -- unless you were Albus Dumbledore.

Xander shrugged, his grin turning sheepish. "Aww," he pouted -- or tried to, past the obviously uncontrollable grin -- "I did it for you," he said. "I figured you missed the old colorful me."

Faith let out a bark of laughter. "Right, Boytoy."

Xander glared at the dark haired slayer.


"Xander, just when did you forget that either one of these girls can tear you limb from limb, before breakfast, and without breaking a sweat?" Rupert asked, smirking.

"You forgot, 'with one arm tied behind their back'," Xander quipped, his eyes widening into comically exaggerated innocence. "And the answer's 'never', G-Man," he continued, dropping the mock innocence, his expression turning a curious mixture of wry sheepishness and seriousness. "I like my bits and pieces right where they are, thank you very much."

Definitely Gryffindor.

Severus marshaled all of his limited morning patience, reminding himself he had to be polite. It wasn't easy at the best of times, first thing in the morning, it was virtually impossible.

"Is there even the remotest chance of getting a decent cup of tea?" he asked, directing the question to the only person he suspected might actually be able to supply it.

Rupert smiled. "Yes. Quite possible, actually."

Good. I might actually get through this day without killing anyone.

He watched Rupert for only a moment before turning his attention to the muggle Gryffindor. It didn't take long before the boy turned to him.


Severus smirked. Gryffindors -- apparently even muggle ones -- were so predictable. "I merely wished to inquire why you keep staring at me?"

The boy shifted uncomfortably, momentarily dropping his gaze - but only momentarily. "I've been trying to figure out where I've seen you before."

Severus' eyebrow shot up in surprise.

"It's been bugging me since the moment you first walked into camp."

"I do not think we have ever met before." In fact, I'm pretty damn sure of it.

"I'm absolutely certain I've seen you before," Xander insisted, frowning in concentration.

"This is the first time I have ever been to this country. I don't suppose you have ever been to England or Scotland?" Severus suggested wryly, doubting an affirmative response.

Xander shook his head, just as expected.

But before Severus could speak again, the boy's face lit up.

"I've got it!"

You do?! Severus straightened immediately, beyond surprised and prepared to say just about anything to counter the boy's imagined 'memory'.

"My mother had a picture."

Except that.

"What?" Severus asked dumbly.

"I found it when I was really little, 6 or 7, I think. It was you."

Severus just barely kept from rolling his eyes. "You could not possibly remember a picture from that long ago to identify it as me -- or anyone specific, for that matter."

Xander -- he wished he knew the boy's last name -- snorted. "I never said that was the last time I saw it. I just said that's when I found it. My mom kept moving it, but I kept finding it. It fascinated me."

Severus was now quite confused. What would this muggle's mother be doing with a picture of him? Oh! "It is remotely possible, I suppose, that the picture might be of my father. I'm told I resemble him a great deal." Severus shuddered even as he said it. He loathed his father, almost as much as he loathed the late James Potter. "I'm also told he was widely traveled in his youth. It is entirely possible that he came to this country at some point."

The boy's eyes narrowed thoughtfully at that same moment as Severus' shudder, and something told him that the boy had not missed his minute reaction. It was . . . disconcerting.

Xander immediately shook his head. "No, it couldn't be."

"Why not?"

"The man in the picture was too young."

Severus snorted, and he immediately forgot he was supposed to be polite. "People age," he sneered. "Pictures don't."

"I'm aware of that!" Xander snapped, his tone, if not his words, more than implying he thought Severus was somewhat thick.

Severus bristled angrily. It was the boy who'd made the idiotic comment, not him.

"My mom was in the picture too. The man looked a little younger than her," Xander explained with far too much exaggerated patience for Severus' peace of mind. "You're about my mom's age, give or take a couple of years. So, obviously, your father is far older."

Severus was back to being confused, a feeling he truly did not enjoy.

"What about it fascinated you, Xander?" Rupert asked quietly, thankfully drawing the boy's attention away from him.

"It's going to sound crazy," Xander warned.

Severus snorted.

The boy spared him the briefest of glares before returning his attention to Rupert.

"Try me."

Xander ducked his head, shrugging sheepishly. "I used to think it moved."

Severus froze, a shock of lightening flashed through him. A wizarding photo?

"It might very well have," Rupert assured the boy.

Xander's jaw dropped open.

Such an elegant look, Severus thought drily, though his mind whirled with unanswered questions. A wizarding picture had never been taken of his father, so that ruled that option out. How the hell could a muggle boy, a ocean and a continent away from him have a photo of him?


Rupert chuckled, quickly telling the boy about wizarding photos.

"That's so cool!"

Severus whirled in place, surprised to find the red-head only few feet away. "Make noise when you move!" he snapped. "All of you make incessant noise the rest of the time!"

Xander barked out a laugh, earning Severus' nondirected glare. The Redhead ducked sheepishly. "Sorry," she offered. "I guess over the years I finally learned to walk quietly. It's hard to sneak up on vampires if you walk loudly."

"It's bloody impossible to sneak up on them at all, you stupid girl," Severus snapped, finally losing any patience he may have managed to hold onto. How she had survived with the two slayers was completely beyond him. "They can hear your bloody heartbeat!"

Xander jumped to his feet, sending Severus defensively to his.

"Don't talk to Willow that way!" the boy snarled angrily. "You haven't earned the right!"

"Xander," Rupert chided quietly, before Severus could respond, though that didn't seem to affect the boy.

"It's alright, Xander," Willow said. "He doesn't bother me."

Amazed, he watched as the boy drew in a deep breath and sat back down, calming almost instantly; though, his glare never diminished.

"Besides," Willow added, her eyes darkening, "it is possible to sneak up on vampires if they're distracted enough."

Severus snorted. "That would have to be some distraction," he replied in disdain.

"Oh, I don't know," Xander quipped. "I'd be pretty distracted if a Slayer was kicking my ass."

Good point, Severus thought; though, he would never admit it out loud.

"Practice time!" Faith shouted, drawing Severus' attention away from the boy.

Practicing what?

With three notable exceptions, every girl jumped up -- complete with groans and complaints -- and formed three rough lines. He watched only a moment as they began a series of exercises that looked to be martial in substance. An eyebrow shot up and he turned a questioning look to Rupert. Wanting to see the man explain why these girls were obviously practicing fighting techniques. He was busy finishing the tea preparation, and Severus was loathe to interupt that. He really wanted some good tea.

He returned his attention to the Weasley look alike. "You don't . . . practice?" he asked.

She laughed and shook her head. "I'm not a slayer," she replied.

"And neither can they be," Severus said shaking his head, barely keeping his sneer in check.

Before an answer was forthcoming, Xander shouted out to Rupert. "How much is this guy supposed to know?"

Severus frowned. Subtle the boy was not.

Rupert shrugged, not looking up from the tea he was pouring. "Whatever you're comfortable telling him." He paused, looked up, and added. "That is also your story to tell."

Xander then looked to Willow, and once again, Severus had the oddest feeling that they were actually talking.

It was something about the minute, nearly unnoticable, expression changes, he realized as he watched the two. Interesting.

"Well, you see," Xander began, "there's a long story behind that."

"Oh, this should be good," Severus drawled, purposely focusing intently on the boy.

Xander chuckled nervously. "Well, yeah, kinda," he said. "See we were busy fighting the first, and we weren't doing too good. See, she pulled out the turoq hun--"

"The first what?" Severus interjected, hoping for some more logical progression that he was getting. "And turoq hun?"

Xander sighed. "The first. The first evil. The source of all evil."

Severus' eyebrow arched. "Indeed," he replied, not entirely sure he believed the boy. The source of all evil? He almost snorted.

"And turoq hun are vampires without the human influence."

Severus blinked, trying to process that. "And just how is that possible?" Everyone knew vampires were human corpses animated by demons.

"She pulled the demons straight out of hell," Xander replied simply.

Right! That was . . . unbelievable.

"He's right," Rupert assured, handing him his tea.

Severus accepted it, his mind on overdrive. While he tended to 'trust' the opinion of Rupert far more than the boy, he still wasn't one to take things at face value, and he couldn't quite wrap his mind around what he was being told. The rest of it had been mind boggling enough.

"It started by killing every potential and their watcher that it could find," Xander said, resuming the story.

"Potential?" Severus asked. "As in potential Slayer?"

"Yes," Xander replied, continuing the tale.

The more Xander told him, with both Willow and Rupert interjecting clarifications, the more he wondered how these children had survived. Even if this was a gross exaggeration, they had still survived nearly insurmountable odds. He cast a surreptitious glance at the female contingient. So, they were all potential Slayers, then. That would explain a great deal -- assuming he truly believed all this.

"Anyway. The first got it in mind to open the hellmouth--"

"Your 'mystical convergence'," Willow inserted. "But that was after Xander's date tried to open it with his blood."

"Willow!" Xander exclaimed. "You didn't have to tell him that!"

Willow shrugged, smirking. "It was important," she said. "That was probably the beginning of the 'increase in energy' he said someone detected."

Severus shook his head. "How long ago did that happen?"

Willow and Xander both shrugged. "Not too long. Less than a couple of months," Willow replied.

Severus shook his head again. "Then it wasn't that," he said. "According to what I was told, there was a large surge in the energies about a year ago, and there has been a steady increase since then, except for a couple of minor additional surges."

"When The First, first appeared, then," Xander said.

"This 'First' appeared about a year ago?" Severus confirmed, still not sure how take what they were saying. It was all so . . . fantastical.

"Well, we found out about it a bit later, but as far as we could tell, it had been here a while before that."

"It would have been rather incredible coincidence had you discovered this 'first' the moment it appeared," Severus replied, then smirked, "or extreme stupidity on its part."

"I wi--" Xander exclaimed soundly. "That would have been nice," he finished lamely.

Severus wondered what the boy had been about to say? It seemed perhaps, 'I wish'; though, he was beginning to wonder if the strange tag-team story actually had an ending.

"Well, it succeeded. It opened the hellmouth, with hordes--"

"Hordes?" Severus interjected with disdain.

Xander frowned at him, cocking his head thoughtfully. "I don't know," he said. "Do thousands of Turoq hun qualify as hordes?"

How much of an exaggeration is that? Severus wondered, but since he was still attempting 'politeness', didn't think he should call them on it.

"With hordes of Turoq hun waiting to invade, we knew we didn't stand a chance in--" Here, Xander chuckled. "--hell, of winning."

"So," Willow said, taking up the story. "We . . . cheated."

"Cheated?" Severus couldn't resist asking, casting yet another glance to Rupert. He was no longer interrupting, and apparently had no contention with what the two were telling him. Odd, and rather . . . convincing, he was forced to admit. After all, he had his own, rather fantastical, tale; not that he was going to share it, of course.

Willow nodded. It was Xander who answered, however, and Severus was beginning to feel he was talking to the bloody Weasley twins again.

"Using an ancient -- thousands of years ancient -- mystical Slayer weapon, Willow there activated all the potentials.

"All!?" Severus exclaimed, shooting to his feet. He had the instant attention of everyone in the camp -- including the girls 'practicing'. He sat back down, lowering his voice. "That's thousands!" he hissed. It was only then that it dawned on him what that meant. Willow was a witch, a very powerful witch, in point of fact. He frowned. But if she was a witch, why didn't she already know about the wizarding world?

Xander shook his head. "The First and its servants killed a very large number of them. Most of what were left, are right here," he said, with a wave toward the girls. "I'd say all, but I've got no way to know if there are any left anywhere else -- maybe some that hadn't been targetted by the watchers so were unknown to the bringers as well."

Severus' eyes widened in shock, instantly forgetting about the Willow conundrum. This was an army of Slayers! Not just potential Slayers. He could not have stumbled across a more dangerous group than if he'd accidently stumbled across the Dark Lord's minions on a muggle raid, back when he was a teenager -- not even if he had tried. He was now quite glad he had opted for the 'polite' route, despite the . . . irritations it presented.

"We went into the open hellmouth and kicked butt," Xander continued. "We had significant magical help, of course," he said with a nod in Willow and Rupert's direction.

So, he was a wizard, then. That, also, explained a lot.

Xander looked down then. "We lost some good people."

"Spike gave his life to destroy the hellmouth, while the rest of us hightailed it to safety," Willow added sadly.

Xander shuddered. "From what Buffy told us," he said, "he burned from the inside out."

"In the end," Buffy added, joining them, "he became a hero."

"A dead hero," Severus sneered.

Buffy glared, but before she could say anything.

"Listen," Xander interrupted hotly, "I'm the last person to go defending Spike, but if he hadn't done what he did. All of us would be dead. Including him. So don't you be looking down on that!" he concluded, suddenly looking like he'd just swallowed a basket full of lemons.

"Defending Spike not sitting well, there, Xander?" Buffy asked, laughing.

"Something like that," Xander replied sourly.

Severus got the distinct impression that the two of them had not gotten along.

"Are we leaving any time soon?" Faith shouted from across the camp.

Of course, she did, Severus thought sourly. She couldn't possibly take the time to walk the 30 feet first.

Rupert was the one who answered. "Yes," he said, rising, raising his own voice just enough to be heard, "as soon as we clean up camp."

Everyone headed a different direction and the camp was once more utter chaos. It was with amazement that he noted that everything got done in an incredibly short period of time. He thought about offering to help, but realized; one, he didn't want to help. And two, he would just get in the way, anyway.

All told, it took less than a quarter hour to get the camp cleaned and packed up, and everyone boarding the bus.

Buffy approached him, holding his wand down at her side. "You need a lift?" she asked.

"A . . . lift?"

Buffy rolled her eyes. "A ride to wherever you're going? I didn't see any vehicles."

Severus nodded. "That would be acceptable," he replied, thankful for the offer. He hadn't been looking forward to walking the distance he'd need to before he could apparate safely. The convergence may be gone, but there was no sense testing whether or not it still affected apparation. "My vehicle ran out of fuel long before I reached--" He paused. "--what used to be Sunnydale."

"Hop on, then," she replied, turning and heading for the bus, herself -- still holding his wand.

These children mangle the english language, Severus thought in bemusement, as he, too, boarded the bus.

Chapter Four

The silencing spell cast, Severus rose to his feet; though, he wasn't entirely certain he could remain standing. He had a son! A grown son! He really couldn't believe what he was about to reveal in front of this many virtual strangers. Unfortunately, he suspected he was dead if he didn't truly convince Jessica that he had changed. The problem with that was that he wasn't exactly 'Mr. Confessions Bloke'. He wasn't entirely certain how to begin, let alone what, exactly, he was going to say.

"I would not have raised him to follow the Dark Lord," he said quietly, surprising himself with his first choice of words. "I would have found a way to avoid it."

Not surprisingly, Jessica scoffed openly at that statement. "Right," she drawled in patent disbelief.

"You're a deatheater?!" Rupert exclaimed, to a chorus of several 'Ewws'.

"Was, Rupert, was."

"No one leaves that madman!" Jessica denied hotly.

"You're right," Severus agreed. Unfortunately.

"Okay," Buffy cut in, "you're confusing me, are you or are you not--" Her face scrunched in disgust "--a deatheater thingy?"

Severus' eyebrow shot up and he fought a nearly automatic sneer. Deatheater thingy?! "I must say one thing before I continue," Severus hedged, careful to keep most of the bitterness out of his voice. He did not trust people and didn't like the situation he found himself in. "I want to make it perfectly clear that I -- and most likely . . . Alexander -- are dead if what I say next gets out." He paused, giving each person present a penetrating glare, making sure everyone knew, exactly, what was at stake.

"Go on," Buffy said firmly. "We get it."

He drew in a deep breath before continuing, his sense of self preservation screaming at his sense of self preservation. "One does not simply stop being a deatheater," he said. "However," he continued, raising his voice over the myriad of protests that erupted. "I--" He swallowed heavily, then plunged ahead, forcing himself to continue. You're wandless, and she'll kill you to protect her son -- your son -- if you don't convince her. He nearly snorted. Of course, that's completely discounting the sixteen slayers that stand by her side! "I . . . switched sides less than two years after you left -- for reasons which are my own -- becoming a spy for Albus Dumbledore."

"And you expect me to believe that, just because you say it?!"

"Bloody hell, Jessica!" Severus snarled, finally losing control of his temper as once again he was not believed, not trusted. "I've just handed you my life on a silver platter!"

"Only if it's really true," she insisted snidely.

Severus growled then. "Fine. You know legilimency!" he snapped, his inner voice of caution screaming at him. "We learned it together! Use it!"

Jessica gaped at him, her wand point lowering slightly. Not surprisingly, most everyone else looked confused. Rupert didn't, however.

"I can't," she whispered.

Severus frowned. "Whyever not?" he asked, beyond exasperated.

"I haven't practiced that discipline since I left Hogwarts," she admitted. "I . . . wouldn't be able to control it."

Severus slumped. That had been his last hope. He couldn't understand, however, why she wouldn't 'be able to control it'. While simply not using it would make her ability less than it was, it wouldn't--

"I can," Rupert said, stepping forward.

Every single person present, turned and gaped, utterly gobsmacked. "You can?" Buffy asked.

Rupert nodded. "Yes, Buffy, I can."

"You're a wand wizard?" Willow exclaimed, sounding outraged for a reason beyond Severus' understanding, momentarily distracting him from the dangerous situation he found himself in.

"Yes, Willow."

"Why didn't you tell us?" she demanded angrily, hands firmly planted on her hips.

"It wasn't something you needed to know."

"And you didn't think it would help at all?" Willow retorted, still visibly angry. Get over yourself, little girl! he snapped silently, only just keeping the response unspoken.

"Willow, you knew I could cast spells. That was all you needed to know. The statute of secrecy is there for a reason." Rupert paused then, shaking his head. "For many of the same reasons that the Slayer's existence is kept secret."

Willow frowned, biting her lip in indecision, but she said nothing further.

Severus wasn't entirely certain he wanted Rupert to be the one. Actually, he was certain he didn't want the man inside his mind. He knew virtually nothing about him -- except that the name Alexander had called him seemed vaguely familiar. On that note, realizing he really didn't have much of a choice, Severus set himself to blocking anything irrelevent to verifying his claims. They certainly didn't need to know anything about his youth. That was his, and his alone! They also had no business discovering the identity of any of the Order members he knew. "You would trust what he says?" Severus asked Jessica pointedly, making sure that if he allowed this, it would end it, once and for all. He wasn't going to allow a stranger to search his memories if it wasn't going to keep him alive!

Jessica nodded slowly, moving to stand beside his son.

His son. Severus had to admit, he was a great deal happier without the angry witch's wand pointed at him.


Severus gasped, not having expected the spell without warning. He was ready, however, years of defending himself from the Dark Lord making that second nature. He swallowed heavily, as his panicked flight to Dumbledore, complete with everything he had been feeling at the time, flashed into being. It took all his skill as an occlumens to keep control on those remembered feelings. The meeting with Albus followed. Fast on the heels of which, came several scenes of him attending deatheater meetings, feeding the Dark Lord careful tidbits of truth mixed with lies, and his reporting to Albus after.

Rupert's withdrawal felt as shocking as his abrupt entry, leaving Severus feeling drained; though, not as drained as he felt after the Dark Lord cast it on him. Or, he thought with a frown, after Potter's surprising entrances.

"He's telling the truth."

Alexander gasped.

Severus was watching Jessica, however, waiting for her reaction. What she did next was what he cared most about.

She . . . wilted, almost literally, tears shining in her eyes, her wand hand and wand now hanging limply at her side. Severus actually ached to reach out and brush them away -- a reaction he hadn't had to tears in more years than he cared to recall. He didn't reach out, however, certain she would not appreciate the gesture. She turned away from him, facing their son. "Get to know him, Alexander," she said softly, reaching up and cupping the boy's cheek. "But if you visit his world, be careful."

It's your world, too, Jessica, he thought sadly.

"That world is rife with prejudice, and many will resent you, because you have a nonmagical heritage as well as a magical one -- from both sides." She then turned back to him. She smiled, but it was filled with sadness.

"I was going to tell you," she admitted softly. "That last day, this is what my news was."

Severus paled. His news had eclipsed it, made her keep it a secret.

"I left that afternoon," she continued, tears now streaming down her face. "All I knew was that if I stayed, you would have insisted we get married. After that, the wizarding world would have given you the right to raise my child as you saw fit, regardless of my wishes. I couldn't stay and see that happen."

Alexander appeared speechless. For that matter, so did everyone else. Severus, himself, didn't know how to respond to that, feeling incredibly exposed. All that was running through his mind was that if he had not been so eager to share his own news, he would have known all along.

No one spoke as Jessica stepped back. She raised her wand, apparating away.

"Mom?" Xander said softly, the word sounding as if it came from a throat almost completely closed off.

"Does that mean that Xander can do magic?" Dawn asked enviously.

Xander, on the other hand, looked terrified at the question. He snapped around to stare at him, horror starkly written across his face.

"Not likely," Severus replied past the sudden ache in his own chest. "If it hasn't manifested before now, it means--"

"Nothing," Rupert inserted, cutting off his explanation. "In fact, it might have . . . once."

"Say huh?" Alexander asked.

Despite himself, hope bloomed inside him. He would really rather Alexander were not a squib; though, Alexander's seeming fear of the idea of being magical was . . . odd, considering he seemed to associate with at least one witch. He turned to the other wizard. "Explain," he demanded.

Rupert didn't respond to him immediately, instead turning to answer Alexander's inelegant question. "The magical tome you set fire to?" he asked.

Alexander slumped, shaking his head in obvious denial.

"And there is also that accidental summoning to think about. This gives that incident an entirely new perspective."

Alexander cringed at that.

Rupert turned his attention to him, then, continuing his explanation. "The hellmouth plays merry havoc with wanded magic," Rupert replied, "especially the uncontrolled magical bursts of the untrained. As I'm sure you're already aware, given the method of your arrival in what was Sunnydale, it even twists fully trained wand magic."

Severus nodded. He had known that.

"It actually completely supresses the magic in the very young."

He hadn't known that.

"But what about the summer I left Sunnydale?" Alexander asked, a note of desperation in his voice, one that Severus did not understand. "Nothing happened that summer!"

He frowned, not entirely certain how they were going to work passed Alexander's seeming fear of magic -- at least of himself being magical. After all, he jumped in to protect the witch of the group quickly enough. They seemed . . . close. He frowned, wondering if they were a couple.


Xander sat slumped in his seat, his arms wrapped tightly against his chest. He was feeling so many things all at once that he couldn't begin to sort them all out.

"Are you okay, Xander?" Willow asked, once again seated beside him.

He laughed; though, the sound was a bit hysterical, even to his own ears. "No, Willow, I'm not. I . . . think it's going to be a while before I'm 'okay'."

Willow nodded, laying a hand on his arm, and leaning her head on his shoulder. For once, she didn't say anything. She was simply there.

Xander had never been more grateful to his best friend in his entire life. Right now, she was his rock. "As if I didn't have enough to deal with right now," he said softly, his throat tight, "my eye, Anya--" Despite his best efforts his voice cracked. He still couldn't believe she was really gone. "--my dad isn't my father," he said, still a bit shellshocked about that. He couldn't believe his mother had lied to him all these years.

Why not?

"No, he isn't," Willow agreed.

"My mom's a witch and she knew!"


"My . . . biological is a wizard."

"Yep again," Willow replied brightly . . . too brightly, if Xander was any judge. And guess what, he was. This was his life!

"I . . . might be," he continued cautiously, despite is nearly irate thoughts.

"It'll be alright, Xander."

"How?" he asked incredulously. "Magic and me? We do not get along!"

Willow chuckled a little at that, shaking her head. "That was my fault," she replied. "You know that. I kept getting things all wrong."

"But I'm supposed to be Mr. Normal Guy!" Xander exclaimed, whining a bit, desperate to find something -- anything -- to refute even the possibility. "I . . . don't think I know how to be anything else." And that was nothing but the truth. It had been his world from nearly the moment Buffy had appeared in it. Of course, Willow had been normal . . . at first, but it hadn't taken her long to find her nitch in the magical . . . even if it had been a bit freaky to start with. He wasn't sure he could shift out of 'normal' mode to deal with this -- assuming he needed to. Yeah, that was the ticket. Denial; it ain't just a river in Egypt! he thought, clinging to the idea. He couldn't be a wizard. It was impossible.

"It'll be okay, Xander," Willow said again. "No matter what. Even if you are, you'll have people to show you how to do it right. I mean, the professor's a professor, right? He should be able to help."

Xander nodded slowly. "I suppose," he replied; though, he wasn't at all sure of his response, and wondered who he wanted to convince more, Willow, or himself.

"Besides," Willow continued brightly, sitting up and looking him directly in the eye, "I'll be with you." Her smile dimmed a bit. "Remember?" she asked, "friends to the end."

"I remember," he replied in kind, remembering all too clearly the moment on that hilltop that he had all but said those exact words. Maybe this wouldn't be a complete disaster after all. As long as Willow was at his side, he could conquer the world, let alone this blasted magic thing.

Shaking himself out of his thoughts, he noticed, the professor . . . his dad, walk past them, heading to the front of the bus. He watched as the wizard sat in the front seat, directly behind the G-man. After a couple minutes, Xander began to wonder just what they were talking about. It looked awfully intense to him. Debating with himself for several minutes, he stood suddenly. "I'll be back in bit," he said to Willow, squeezing past his best friend.

She nodded, far too much understanding shining in her eyes. "Good luck," she offered as she moved sideways to allow him to pass.

Xander managed a slight smile at that, once again thankful for his friend's unconditional support. It was nice to have for a change. "Thanks," he replied, following the professor toward the front of the bus. He really should get to know the man, he thought philosophically. After all, sarcastic or not, Snape really couldn't be worse than his da-- stepfather.

"We could certainly use the help of a group like this," the professor -- he still couldn't really think of the man as his father -- urged.

What?! Xander wondered, worrying what could possibly have gone wrong now. Hadn't the world nearly ended this week already? Didn't they have at least another week before the next crisis began?

He dropped into the seat across from the professor's not saying anything, just listening, his mind whirling. It really wasn't fair. Weekly! That had been the schedule as far back as he could remember. Things shouldn't change now!

G-man didn't respond directly to whatever the professor wanted, which Xander didn't really like. It spoke of big. It spoke of things, really 'not of the good'. To his surprise -- not to mention concern -- the watcher pulled over, turning off the bus before he stood and faced the rest of them. "Listen up, everyone," he said, his voice slightly raised.

Everyone quieted almost immediately, all attention focusing toward the powerful Watcher.

"There's something I think we should help with," he offered firmly.

Suddenly, everyone was alert and paying attention.

G-man looked down at the professor. "You're on," he said, sitting back down in the driver seat.

"Me?!" the professor exclaimed.

Xander laughed, smothering the sound when it earned him a rather sour looking glare; though, he couldn't stop his amusement completely.

The professor rose, looking as uncomfortable as he'd ever seen the man.

It was at that precise moment that Buffy yelped, and Dawn laughed.

"There's an owl pecking at the window!" Dawn exclaimed in delight.

"The amulet!" Buffy breathed.

While the owl had everyone's attention for the first two seconds, Buffy's exclamation took instant precedence. Everyone knew what that amulet was, what it represented. They all swarmed to the spot the amulet had suddenly appeared, dead center of the aisle. Well, almost everyone did. Xander started to follow, but noticed that the professor was opening a window. Curious, he stopped and waited. Why was a stupid owl more important than that mystical artifact? Of course, to give the Professor some credit, the man obviously had no clue what the amulet was, nor what it meant to them.

To his complete surprise, the owl flew in the now open window and landed on the professor's arm. Odd much!

Something he hadn't noticed before -- how he hadn't he had no clue -- was that it carried an envelope in its mouth.

The professor took it from the owl, who hooted. "Do you have any meat left over from your lunch?" the professor asked him, immediately noticing he hadn't followed everyone else.

Xander blinked at the unexpected question. "Umm, no," he replied, then grinned. "I've got some jerky, though. Would that be good enough?"


Xander nodded. "Yeah, seasoned, dried meat, beef, usually."

"That will work."

Xander hurried to his seat, wondering what the professor wanted it for. The owl? Just in case, he grabbed his water bottle too. If the bird was hungry, surely it would be thirsty too. He was only half way back when the professor startled him.

"Bloody hell!"

The man had everyone single person's attention, the amulet taking instant second place, despite its significance.

"What's wrong?" Xander asked, stepping forward and holding out the jerky and his water bottle.

The professor looked up, apparently startled. He accepted both items, giving a piece of the jerky to the owl -- who tore into it hungrily -- then pouring a small amount of water into his palm. When the bird began drinking he looked back to Xander, frowning. He seemed to be debating with himself -- a habit Xander was all too familiar with.

"Two of the students at Hogwarts -- the school where I teach -- have manifested extra speed and extreme strength," he said, directing his words and his attention to G-man.

"Two girls, I'll bet," Xander said, only a second before Willow.

"Well, there's two more the first's minions didn't get," Buffy said.

Xander noticed instantly that the professor's attention was riveted on the blonde slayer. "Explain!"

"Indeed," G-man contributed, gaining nearly equal attention -- though, how Xander knew that the professor's attention was sudddenly split was beyond his understanding, because the man was still staring at Xander's first crush. "They'll need trained," Giles added.

"You're sure you know what's happened to them?" Professor Snape demanded.

Giles, though, didn't have time to answer.

"Buffy," Faith said, stepping closer as she diverted all attention to herself, "The girls and I, with Giles' help, can handle Cleveland."

"What?" Buffy asked, blinking in confusion, her attention only mildly centered on Faith's 'interruption'.

Faith rolled her eyes. "Xander obviously has to go."

"Why?" Buffy demanded, her tone angry, as well as confused.

"I do?" Xander echoed, just as confused.

And I'm not being asked, why? Xander wondered, not all that certain he wanted to go. There was his mother's warning to think about, after all. And since when do you worry about that?

"And he's not going without me," Willow piped in.

"I'm not?" Xander's confusion and worry spiked with his friend's assertion; though, part of him was vastly relieved.

Oh good! the relieved part of him sighed. He definitely didn't want to do it alone . . . assuming he did it at all. That was an awfully large assumption as far as he was concerned, and part of him was angry at Faith for making that assumption. How, the hell, could she possibly know whether or not he wanted/needed to go?! The part of him that noted everything around him, noticed the professor's nearly silent growl, as well as the sudden release of . . . aggression? Happy it looked like they were going to go? Xander wondered. Why? What's going on that they 'need help with'?

"Of course he has to," Faith replied to Buffy's question, oblivious to Xander's mental rambling, as well as apparently ignoring everyone else, her focus solely on the blonde slayer. "The dude's his father, B, the one he just met. Willow's already said she's going to go with." The words Faith spoke completely defied the picture she presented of ignoring everyone except Buffy.

Xander was getting whiplash.

Buffy frowned. "But--"

"And you need to go, to help train those two new slayers."

"New Slayers?!" Professor Snape exclaimed, eyes narrowing. "How do you know for sure? You haven't even seen them yet."

No one answered his questions.

"Right," Buffy replied. "Of course." Then, she frowned. "You sure about Cleveland?"

"You and the gang handled Sunnydale on your own for the longest time," Faith argued, her hands firmly planted on her hips. "Don't you think over a dozen slayers can handle Cleveland, even if it is bigger?"

Xander suspected there would be major insult given if Buffy answered Faith wrong, and mentally sat back, waiting for the fireworks.

"Good point," Buffy replied, nodding. "I guess I'm going to England to train two slayers."

Damn! No slayer wrestling!

"Scotland," the professor corrected. "Now, would someone--"

"Good," Dawn replied, interrupting the professor. "Glad you agree."

"Okay, Scotland, then." Buffy looked at Willow, then him. "You're going to help, right?" she pleaded.

They both laughed, glancing at each other briefly. "Of course we will," they said in unison.

"You're not leaving me behind!" Dawn insisted firmly, arms crossed over her chest.

Buffy smiled at her sister, shaking her head. "Of course not," she replied.

"I guess we really are going." Xander shook his head, then. "Only one problem."

"What is the problem," the professor asked.

"How are we getting there? We aren't exactly rolling in dough."

"Hey," Buffy asked, looking at the professor for nearly the first time since this whole incident began, "can you do that apparate thing?"

"Yes," the professor replied drily, "but no, I cannot apparate all of you. Additionally, I've never heard of anyone who could apparate that far at all, let alone double. You do remember I said that Jessica's apparation from Ohio to Leida took a lot of power?" The professor's words were so dry they'd have been right at home in the Mojave desert.

"Oh. Right." Buffy frowned. "I guess it's a plane ride, then. We'll have to--"

"I'm sure Severus can arrange a port key," Giles said, looking to the man in question.

Port key?

"What's a port key?" Willow asked, just as Buffy chimed in with, "what good is a key gonna do us?"

The professor rolled his eyes. "I believe that will be possible," he replied drily, ignoring their question completely. "Now, would someone please tell me why you think these two students are slayers. Wouldn't they have 'activated' when you did the spell, if they really were 'potentials'?"

"Willow cast the spell day before yesterday," Xander told the professor. "So, they probably did." Xander frowned then. "How did an owl fly here that quickly?"


Xander stumbled as the 'port key' released him, gulping, and really hoping he hadn't left his stomach behind. It certainly felt like he'd tried to, and it was protesting the mistreatment violently. With as much attention as he could spare, he noticed that all of the gang that had come along were down on all fours, just as he was. He frowned. The professor wasn't, however. In fact, he was smirking at them. Jerk! he thought with a small laugh; though, he couldn't help but admit -- at least to himself -- that he'd probably be laughing if he was the only one left standing.

"If everyone can pull themselves up," the professor said drily. "I would like to reach the school sometime today."

Xander glared at him, reasonably sure he wasn't alone in doing so, but he stood . . . slowly. He breathed a sigh of relief as he realized his stomach was actually going to cooperate. The moment he was sure he could not only stay upright, but also that his stomach would remain calm, Xander helped Dawn to her feet. She looked as green as he'd felt.

"I think I'd rather take a plane," she whispered.

Xander laughed, nodding. "Me, too."

"That was great!" Willow exclaimed, to Xander's disgust. The girl was nearly bouncing with excitement.

That earned her three glares and a raised eyebrow.

AT that, the professor strode through the gates next to them, leaving the four of them to scramble after him. It didn't take long before they stumbled to an awed halt, not caring that the professor was gaining distance on them. A huge castle loomed ahead of them. Xander blinked in shock. It was one of the most beautiful buildings he'd ever seen. It was straight out of a fairy tale with buttrusses, spires and towers galore. It even appeared to have gargoyles perched on the merlons. The foreman in him longed to get a hold of the blueprints to the place -- assuming there were any. How old was this place anyway? Could blueprints even still exist? Well, not the originals most likely, but new ones maybe?

"What is the matter now?" the professor snapped, scowling as he strode back toward them.

"It's beautiful," Willow and Dawn breathed at precisely the same moment, while Xander simply shook his head.

"That's a school?" he asked, not really expecting an answer, but certain there had to be some kind of mistake. Schools weren't beautiful architecture right out of the middle ages. "I don't think I could have blown that up."

"I should bloody well hope not; Hogwarts has been here for over a thousand years."

Xander didn't take in much of the conversation going on around him from the moment they stepped through the front door. He was too busy drooling over the castle. No way was he calling this beauty a school. Frankly, the whole castle defied explanation; though, not description. Suits of armor that moved on their own, ghosts that floated freely about, without freaking anyone out -- with the notable exception of the Sunnydale group -- gargoyles that opened -- by themselves -- after a password was uttered.

He trailed his fingertips along the wall as the stairs rose slowly, and the moment he did so, a shiver ran the length of his body. A wide grin slowly spread over his face as the realization set in that he was home. He'd never felt that anywhere before, not really.

Willow's outburst startled him out of his contentment however, making him laugh--

"It's Gandalf!"

--Until he saw the man that had made her say it. His jaw fell open. It was him, either that or his brother.

'Gandalf' chuckled, while the professor rolled his eyes. "Gandalf?" the white-haired older man asked.

Willow blushed instantly. "Sorry," she squeaked, explaining the name as fast as Willowly possible. As she gasped in a breath at the end of her rapid explanation, 'Gandalf' chuckled again, his eyes dancing merrily. The professor merely stared at her as if she were some new type of bug specimen.

"Quite alright, dear child," Gandalf replied, ushering them all inside what was apparently his office. And an . . . interesting office it was, too. "Albus Dumbledore, Headmaster, and you are?"

Introductions proceeded quickly after that and by the end of it, Xander was left feeling rather shell shocked. That wizard may have looked like a carbon copy of Gandalf, but he seriously doubted that Gandalf would have offered them tea or lemon drops. That sort of spoiled the effect. In fact, as far as he could tell, the man was completely nuts! He didn't say so out loud, however, as he really didn't think that telling the headmaster of a school -- apparently ancient school -- for witches and wizards that he belonged in a mental institution was the smartest thing he could have done. In fact, in his opinion, it ranked right up there with the fact of his having dated any number of demons.

In his defence, he did concede that he had dated those demons without actually knowing they were demons; so, he supposed, this would actually have been more stupid. Shaking himself from his rather random thoughts, Xander realized he'd missed most of the conversation that had followed the introductions and everyone was getting up.

"Both young ladies are here in the castle now. Once they started showing the . . . odd symptoms, both chose to come here. One is from House Slytherin, the other from House Gryffindor."

Intending to follow and meet the two newest slayers, Xander jumped when he was pulled aside by Professor Snape. Watching everyone else disappear down the stairs and being suddenly left alone with the rather sarcastic man, Xander just barely stopped himself from fidgeting nervously. "Yes?"

"Come with--" The professor snapped his jaw around his words, took a deep breath and started over. "I would appreciate it if you would come with me."

Darting a nervous glance down the stairwell, Xander wished Willow was still here. He wasn't entirely certain he could do this on his own. God only knew what the professor would want to talk about. Everyone knew he wasn't exactly 'Mr. Conversation Guy' and wasn't entirely sure he could hold up his end. In fact, he would probably do something to screw this up for all time.

"Sure," he shrugged. "I can always meet the girls later."

Snape nodded sharply, pivoted on one heel and strode down the stairs, his outfit billowing out behind him.

Releasing a deep breath, Xander followed, wondering whether this was going to end on a good or a bad note. He was going to be alone with his biological for the first time ever; alone, across an ocean from a home he could never return to again, because now it was nothing but a big hole in the ground. No, he thought suddenly, trailing his fingertips along the stairwell wall absently. Sunnydale isn't home; this is. He had no clue why he felt that so strongly, just that he did. In fact, if he didn't know it was completely impossible, he would swear that the castle was a living, breathing entity -- something that should scare the pants off him, but didn't.

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