Disclaimer: I still do not own any of the characters. So there.
Authors Note: I apologize for waiting so long to get this chapter out. I recently got a new job and my hours have been pretty crazy. So now that I'm finally adjusting, I'm able to have extra time again to work on fics.
Books were strewn around the room, as if haphazordously tossed to the side in a fit of frustration. Clothes had been tossed across all available furniture. School supplies lie here and there, obviously having been pushed aside after hours of doing work. An empty cage, the bottom covered in newspaper, stood in a corner of the room, the door wide open as if awaiting for the beast to return.
The bedroom door creaked slowly open as a tall teenage boy, hair in disarray, trudged into the room, clenching his fists in an attempt to control his raging temper. Pushing the glasses that had been slowly sliding down his nose back to their proper place he slammed the door behind him and plopped unceremoniously onto the bed, rolling his eyes as it creaked beneath him. I can't wait until I can leave this house, even though I know why I'm here. I hate them.
Taking a breath to control himself after a day of listening to veiled insults by his uncle, he looked out the window towards the darkening sky. Noticing a white shape moving towards his window, a grin crossed his face as she sat up, awaiting the arrival of the owl.
As the owl swooped into the window, Harry Potter stuck his arm for the owl to land. "Good hunting tonight, Hedwig?"
Hooting cheerfully, Hedwig nibbled on his finger affectionately before flying off to land on the footboard of the bed. As Harry moved to lay back down, he noticed a copy of "The Daily Prophet" sitting on his nightstand. Frowning slightly as he grabbed it, I must have missed this being delivered, he quickly scanned the cover, hoping to find any news about Voldemort or Death Eaters being captured. Noticing the headline, his eyes bulged out in shock at the title and quickly scanned the entirely of the article.
KNOWN DEATH EATER ESCAPES FROM AZKABAN
Late yesterday evening, Lucius Malfoy, a Death Eater who was
captured during the attack on the Ministry of Magic, escaped
from Azkaban Prison with the aid of a yet unknown accomplice.
Though information of the details of the escape are not yet
released, our sources confirm that the accomplice carried no wand
with him, yet was still able to overtake the Ministry Officials
currently guarding the prison. Ever since the Dementors
abandoned their post in favor of serving He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Name,
trained officials have been guarding over the prison.
Malfoy, who is currently serving a life term after…
Pulling his attention away from the rest of the article, Harry slumped against pillow, gritting his teeth angrily at the incompetence of the Ministry. Crumpling the newspaper up and tossing it in frustration up against the wall. Trying to push back his anger, he jumped in alarm as a letter – along with a single phoenix feather – appeared unexpectedly on his bed. Grabbing it, he tore it open eagerly, knowing immediately who it was from. He quickly read through the contents, a look of confusion crossing his face as he scanned the page carefully.
I apologize for the surprise I may have inflicted upon you with this letter, but I had to be sure that this letter would not be intercepted. Fawkes has happy to oblige my request for one of his feathers.
You shall be picked up at tonight at ten P.M. by two members of the Order. They will most unusually be appearing by Muggle transportation. In order to be certain of their identity, I request that you ask of them one single question: From whom did you originally acquire your unique Cloak and who did it originally belong to?
I again apologize for the suddenness of this letter, but in order not to be detected by spies, this was my only sure way of contacting you. I also realize the confusion this letter may cause, but all shall be explained in good time.
Putting the letter down slowly, he placed it on the bed as he pushed himself up, heading towards the door. Walking slowly down the staircase, he stared coldly at his uncle.
"I'm being picked up at ten tonight," Harry said, his voice bland as he stared at his uncle. Noticing his uncle's eyes narrowing and his face turning slightly purple, he continued savagely, "They're coming by Mug- by car. So you won't have to worry about being embarrassed by them."
Though Uncle Vernon's face stayed the same shade of purple, he grunted before turning away from Harry and heading towards the kitchen, presumably to grab something else to eat. Sighing in relief at the lack of response, he trudged back to his room, in order to pack up all of his things.
I can't wait to get out of here, he thought bitterly as he re-entered his room, glancing around at the mess. I don't care if I have to stay here. I hate this place. I hate them.
His face twisted slightly in anger, he grabbed his fallen parchments, slipping them carefully inside of his books before dumping them all in the trunk. Wishing longingly to be able to use magic – which underage students could now use in times of dire need – he shook his head and continued packing his trunk.
Remembering that he would probably be able to see Ron and Hermione soon, his mood brightened slightly. As he searched every corner of the room for the last of his belongings, he glanced at the clock, blinking in surprise as it showed it was quarter to ten. That went by quickly. At least I'm almost out of this place.
Almost as if someone was reading his mind, the ringing of the doorbell echoed through the quiet house. Harry glanced out his window, watching as a taxi slowly pulled out of the driveway and as a redheaded woman walked towards the door to meet up with her companion.
He frowned slightly at them, puzzled by their appearance. I don't recall meeting them at all. I hope this isn't a trick of sorts.
Hurrying towards the front door, his arms weighed down by attempting to carry everything in one trip, he made it to the stairs just in time to see his uncle walking towards the door, anger written across his face. He yanked the door open and found himself staring down at an unfamiliar blonde woman, the top of her head barely reaching to his neck.
"Do you have any idea what time it is, girl?" Vernon demanded, his face turning purple as he eyed the two women that were standing calmly on his doorstep. "I don't have a place for your type of people. I will no longer allow any of you to step foot in my house."
His face bright purple, Uncle Vernon slammed the door with all of his might, waiting for the satisfying sound of it slamming. The delight that had appeared on his face at that wish turned into sudden shock as the door stopped suddenly in place, as if a very strong somebody had put up an arm to stop it from moving. Still in shock, he watched as the petite blonde casually pushed the door back open, as if it had not been a great feat to stop a slamming door.
"That was kinda rude, wasn't it Will?" the blonde asked conversationally, turning to her redheaded friend. Willow nodded in agreement as she walked uninvited into the house. Buffy followed, and Harry noticed the large suitcase that she carried for the first time. Walking quickly down the rest of the stairs, his eyes never left the unfamiliar women.
"Besides," Buffy continued, still smiling at Uncle Vernon. "I'm not a witch, if that's what you're referring to. Willow here takes all the credit for that. I'm just your typical American girl. You know, except for the fact I tend to hang out in graveyards a lot."
Vernon sputtered as he overcame his shock, his face still a bright purple in color. Dudley and Petunia hesitantly entered the room, watching the two newcomers with fear on both of their faces. As Buffy mentioned the word 'witch', Dudley whimpered and his hand immediately went to cover his massive backside. Finally, after moments of stuttering, Vernon yelled,
"We do not mention that word in this house!" he exploded, stepping intimidatingly towards them. Willow and Buffy merely exchanged glances as he started going off in a tirade. "I did not invite…people like you into my house. You and your filth do not belong anywhere near this place. Get out of my house now or…"
"Or what?" Buffy asked coolly, arching an eyebrow as she crossed her arms across her chest. "You'll yell at us some more? Cause the only thing that's gonna do is cause some wicked damage to my eardrums."
Ignoring Vernon's rantings, Buffy and Willow turned their attention to the wary Harry who was slowly walking towards the door, his wand tucked carefully into his hand. Willow grinned and waved at him. "Hi Harry! We heard so much about you already! Oh! Question! You're supposed to ask us a question."
He stared at them mistrustfully for a second, slightly overwhelmed by the sudden appearance of the two unfamiliar Americans, as well as their blasé attitude towards his Uncle. Carefully putting down everything in his arms, he crossed his arms across his chest and looked at them challengingly. Repeating what Dumbledore had written him, he asked, "Where did I get my cloak? And who did it originally come from?"
Grinning at him, Buffy replied, "You got it from that Dunder guy. And it used to belong to your dad."
"What Buffy means," Willow cut in, rolling her eyes slightly at her friend's habit of mispronouncing names. "Is that Professor Dumbledore gave it to you."
"Yeah, him," Buffy nodded, still smiling at Harry.
For a moment, he continued staring at them mistrustfully, coupled this time with a slight look of disbelief. Maybe Dumbledore thought that neither of them would attract attention from any Death Eaters. I'm tempted to agree, if that's the case. How did he meet them, anyway?
At Harry's silence, Willow glanced at her watch carefully, her eyes widening slightly. "We should probably start getting ready. We have to get out of here soon."
Before Harry could even react, Buffy nodded decisively and put the suitcase on the ground. She took her time opening it, barely glancing up at Harry as she said, "Bring everything over here, so we make sure we having everything in our hands when we grab the Portkey. Since I definitely don't want to have to make a trip back to visit Oscar the Grouch over there."
Willow giggled at Buffy, adding, "Yeah, give him a giant trash can, dye his skin green, and we've got ourselves a grouchy Oscar the Grouch. Might be kinda fun, actually. I wonder if I could do that."
"Willow," Buffy said warningly, arching an eyebrow at her. "We promised Giles we would behave. And getting in trouble before we even start teaching would make him do that thing he does. The clucking thing. And then he would start cleaning his glasses and then we would just be in a whole big mess."
Both girls giggled at the mental image, leaving Harry even more mystified as to what in the world was going on around him. As she continued giggling, Buffy stepped over and grabbed his trunk, easily lifting it off the ground and placing it next to Willow. Harry's eyes opened wide as he remembered how much he had struggled to get the heavy trunk down the stairs. How did she lift that so easily? I know I'm not the strongest person around but she acted like it was as light as a feather.
Before he had a chance to question her, a scream from outside the house caused all of them to jump. Turning his gaze to Buffy and Willow, he noticed the change come over immediately. Gone were the giggling Americans from moments earlier. In their place was…Harry didn't even know how to describe it. Buffy was already moving into action, her eyes narrowed at the door as she glanced over at Willow. "Harry, stay here. Whatever you do, do not use magic."
With those words, Buffy was out the door with Willow hot on her heels. Harry stood in place for a moment, knowing he should listen to what she said yet at the same yet, his curiosity building as he wondered what exactly two Americans, one of whom claimed she wasn't even a witch, would be able to do if Death Eaters or any other follower of Voldemort were out there. With a moment's hesitation past, he crept towards the door, his eyes widening once again in shock as he watched the scene before him.
Four Death Eaters, in full outfits, were slowly circling around Buffy and Willow, as Miss Figg laid on the ground between them, cradling her knee as she moaned in pain. As a Death Eater raised his wand, Buffy lashed out suddenly, punching him directly in the mask before he even had time to say a word. Another Death Eater managed to get a curse off, screaming "Crucio!" as he pointed the wand at Buffy.
The curse hit Buffy full on. Expecting her to fall in pain, Harry could only watch in disbelief as she staggered slightly but continued moving towards another Death Eater. Before she could reach him, though, Willow gestured with her hand and all four Death Eaters froze in their place.
"Nice one, Willow," Buffy said nonchalantly, rolling her neck as. "He was a jerk. That curse kinda hurt."
"That's what I'm here for," Willow replied just as casually. "No matter where you go, I'm always the faithful Scooby."
Before either of them could say another word, a group of wizards suddenly apparated around them. The sudden appearance of the robed wizards barely fazed the two women as Buffy knelt down and gently asked Miss Figg, "Did they do anything else to you? What happened?"
"They…were watching the house," Miss Figg said tearfully, still clutching her injured knee tightly. "I tried to get back…to my house to get a message to Dumbledore but they spotted me. And I was so afraid that I tripped and twisted my knee. Then, one of them raised their wand and…"
She trailed off, shivering slightly. Willow bent down and gave her a gentle hug, her eyes never leaving Buffy's. Yet before either of them could say another word, one of the wizards cleared his throat importantly in an attempt to catch their attention. Buffy rolled her eyes as she slowly stood up, crossing her arms across her chest and glaring at the wizards. "Do you want something? Because we had everything perfectly under control…"
"Under control?" one of the wizards asked incredulously, nervously twirling his bowler's hat. "You call this under control? You performed magic in full view of Muggles' houses, and who knows how many Muggles ended up seeing it! You should have…"
"What?" Buffy interrupted. "Waited until you cut the dilly-dallying and made your way over here? Let ourselves be taken down by the Death Eater guys? Which, I might add, is the lamest name ever. Besides, I didn't perform any magic. Magic and Buffy aren't very mixy."
The wizards just stared at her for a moment, seemingly overwhelmed by her casual way of talk and her scolding of them. Buffy and Willow exchanged a glance, Buffy rolling her eyes at what she perceived as the incompetence of the other wizards. The minutes dragged on as everyone stood in silence, save for Miss Figg who was still moaning in pain.
Just as suddenly as the others had appeared, two more wizards apparated just as suddenly. Though both Buffy and Willow recognized the tall, dark man, neither acknowledged him, as he did not acknowledge them. Yet, it was not him that commanded their attention. It was the other wizard who, even with a slight limp, walked with an air of importance. By the scarring of his face and hands, it was obvious that this was a man who had been part of many battles in his life and knew how to deal with the aftermath.
"Miss Summers, Miss Rosenburg," he acknowledged them, his voice low. Buffy merely arched an eyebrow as she continued staring at him. "Though the events that have brought both of you to my attention tonight are a bit complicated, I am honored to greet and welcome both of you to the wizarding world."
"Uh huh," Buffy said skeptically, her arms still crossed across her chest. "Thanks for that. But if you don't mind, we have a job that we have to finish up tonight. So, thanks for stopping by!"
Watching the events unfold, Harry could still only stare in shock as Buffy greeted the new Minister, Rufus Scrimgeour, with such contempt. He wasn't the only one in shock; every other wizard had the same expression on all of their faces. As Cornelius Fudge opened his mouth to speak, his bowling hat being twirled faster, the sound of doors being slammed cause everyone to turn.
Muggles were slowly coming out of their houses, opening whispering about the wizard's appearance, and looking at the Dursley house carefully. Buffy and Willow forgotten, Scrimgeour leapt into action and immediately began giving the others orders on how to deal with the Muggles and with poor Miss Figg. Giving her one last hug, Buffy and Willow slowly sneaked back to the Dursleys and crept inside, closing the door lightly.
"They remind me way too much of the Watchers Council," Buffy complained as they stood in the foyer. "Too pompous for their own good. And I thought I was done dealing with that."
"It's your burden to bear," Willow joked as she opened the suitcase. "Putting up with authority figures that you have a tendency not to listen to."
"I do too listen," Buffy pouted, gesturing for Harry to come closer to the suitcase. "Just not all the time."
Giving her an un-Willow like smirk, she said, "Uh huh. So all of those incidents with the police in Sunnydale? Just them being meanies?"
Nodding innocently, Buffy shrugged. "Yep. They just always seemed to be targeting me."
Shaking her head skeptically, Willow didn't answer Buffy and instead turned to Harry. "Are you ready to go, Harry? Dumbledore will be waiting."
Harry nodded quietly, walking closer to the suitcase as he held onto Hedwig's cage with one hang and reached for the silver teapot now laying exposed in the open suitcase. All three stared at each other for a moment before grabbing onto the teapot. For a moment, nothing happened when all of a sudden, Harry felt the familiar pulling sensation that always accompanied the use of Portkeys. He closed his eyes as the world spun around him, taking a deep breathe as he wished for the dizziness to disappear.
As suddenly as it had started, Harry found himself slowly down and falling unceremoniously onto the ground. Shaking his head to clear the last remnants of dizziness, he noticed that Buffy and Willow were already moving towards away from him and towards the familiar site of the Burrow. Even with the dizziness that still ran through his head slightly, he couldn't help but grin at the familiar place. He quickly got to his feet and followed them unsteadily to the back door.
Even before he reached the door, Mrs. Weasley appeared as the door opened, ushering them all quickly across the threshold. "Hurry up, Harry. It's not safe to be out alone this late at night."
He trotted through the open door, still watching Buffy carefully as she easily carried both his trunk and Hedwig's cage into the cozy house. Again, he prepared to ask her what was going on with her when he stopped suddenly as he noticed Professor Dumbledore sitting at the kitchen table, his eyes sparkling as he stared at Harry.
"Hello, Harry," Dumbledore said easily, gesturing for Harry to join him at the table. "I do realize that this has been an eventful evening for you, but could you spare a few minutes for your Headmaster?"
Harry eyed Buffy one last time as she and Willow disappeared into the other room, chattering animatedly. Molly Weasley walked over and hugged Harry tightly, giving him a smile before follow the other women out of the room. He watched them for a moment before sitting down slowly at the table, eyeing Dumbledore carefully. Though Harry had known that Dumbledore was much older than he acted, this was the first time that Harry actually realized how old Dumbledore was. The wrinkles on his face were even more pronounced than Harry had ever seen before; his eyes seemed a little wearier; even his shoulder seemed slightly bowed by the weight of information he carried.
"Though I am positive you have many questions about the ladies that brought you here," Dumbledore started, smiling down at Harry, "Now is not the time for that to be discussed. All will be revealed in good time. There are a few things I need to discuss with you before I take my leave tonight, first and foremost being Sirius' will."
At the mention of his godfather's name, Harry looked away from Dumbledore as the familiar ache of missing his godfather came back full force. Forcing himself to look up at Dumbledore, he asked, "What does it say?"
"He has left everything, including his house, to you," Dumbledore said gently, looking down at Harry in concern. "Sirius realized that his life would always be in jeopardy; therefore, if he something did happen to him, he would still be able to find someway to take care of you."
"It's not fair!" Harry said suddenly, clenching his fists as the hurt over losing his godfather turned into anger. "I had just gotten him back into my life. Why…?"
He trailed off unfinished, looking down at the table. Dumbledore sighed sympathetically as he said, "The little time that you and Sirius had with each other was not fair. But you were at least able to have some time with him, and were able to find out that he was not the man that betrayed your parents. Though that might not be much comfort to you at the moment, someday you will appreciate it."
Saying nothing, Harry looked back up at Dumbledore, not sure how to answer him. Instead, he asked, "Sir? The Daily Prophet today mentioned Malfoy escaping from Azkaban."
Dumbledore leaned back in his chair as she sighed mightily, as Harry once again noticed how old the Headmaster looked. "Yes, Harry. It would seem as if Voldemort has managed to convince a different type of wizard to join his side of the war. Fortunately, for us, the Order has managed to pick up a few recruits as well."
"You mean…Buffy and Willow? The two that picked me up?"
"Ah, yes," Dumbledore smiled. "Buffy Summers and Willow Rosenburg are two of the newest additions not only to the Order, but also do our school. Tonight, Harry, you have unofficially met two new Hogwarts Professors. I trust that you found them…interesting."
"But," Harry asked in confusion, "Buffy said that she wasn't even a witch. And Willow didn't even have a wand. How..?"
"All will be explained in good time," Dumbledore said, his eyes still twinkling. "Tonight, unfortunately, is not that time. There are still a few pressing issues we need to discuss before I take my leave. One of them being the issue of Occulmency."
"Occulmency, sir?" Harry asked doubtfully. "Even after what happened last year…?"
Sighing, Dumbledore held up a hand and explained, "I made the mistake last year of believing that Professor Snape could overcome his grudge against your father and help you. I, unfortunately, was wrong as Professor Snape was not able to do so. But it is still extremely important that you learn this skill. No matter the strength of one's magic, the mind is always the strongest asset any wizard can have. Therefore, this year you will be taking Occulmency lessons with me, as you should have done last year."
Harry blinked in surprise. "With…you, sir?"
"Yes, Harry," Dumbledore smiled. Before Harry could ask anymore questions, Dumbledore put a hand up to stop him. "I'm afraid that I will have to break up this meeting, Harry. There is a great deal to be done before the term begins. All of your questions will be answered in time, but I am asking to postpone until after the term starts."
Standing up, Dumbledore walked towards the other room where Harry could hear Willow, Buffy, and Mrs. Weasley talking animatedly. Their conversation halted as they noticed Dumbledore standing in the doorframe. Harry also stood up as he heard the scuffling of furniture moving and people shuffling around. Moments later, the women appeared in the room. Willow waved happily at Harry as she followed Dumbledore out of the back door.
"Bye Harry! See you at Hogwarts!"
Buffy nodded at him once before following her other companions, slamming the door shut behind her. As Harry stared at the closed door for a moment, Mrs. Weasley put a hand over Harry's shoulder and said, "Come on, Harry. You should get some sleep. I've set up Fred and George's room for you to sleep in while you stay with us."
As he looked up at her questioningly, she smiled as she explained quietly, "Fred and George are living above their store in Diagon Alley. It makes it easier for them to run the business. Now, up you go."
Her tone of voice left no room for argument and Harry meekly made his way up the creaky steps, stopping in the doorway of Fred and George's old room, smiling as he saw that his trunk had been unpacked and Hedwig's cage had been propped up into the corner. Falling down on the bed, he pulled his glasses off and carelessly tossed them onto the dresser before falling deeply into sleep.