TITLE: A Chance in Time
AUTHOR: Gaeriel Mallory
CATEGORY: BtVS/Harry Potter crossover
DISTRIBUTION: The Haven, Twisting the Hellmouth, DISCLAIMER: Willow Rosenberg and all related characters are the property of Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy, Inc. The Salem Institute is a creation of J. K. Rowling's.
NOTES: This is my first, and most likely my last, Buffy: the Vampire Slayer and Harry Potter crossover. Hopefully I managed to come up with a story idea that was fresh and new. Many thanks to the Harry Potter Lexicon for the name of the American school for magic and The Burrow for the Hogwarts acceptance letter whose format I used.

Willow Rosenberg was sprawled on top of her bed reading a book for school. She sighed as she finished the chapter and closed it. The book was far too easy for her and she would have rather been reading one of her other books but her parents, Sheila and Ira, had made it very clear to her when she started school that she would have to do her schoolwork before doing anything else. Not that she needed to be told that; Willow had a very good work ethic for her age. All her teachers had told her so; but it seemed that no matter how good she did, her parents always expected more.

She tossed The Witch of Blackbird Pond back into her bookbag and reached for another book on the floor, placed there after she had read part of it before her bedtime last night. Granted, Rebecca Gilleland's story was interesting but she had finished it the day after Mrs. Pillings had handed it out in class. She was only rereading the assigned chapter each night so that she was ready for class the next day. Besides, Uncle Tom's Cabin was a lot more on her reading level. Her mother had recommended it to her once Willow had finished reading Gone with the Wind.

Xander and Jesse teased her for reading so much, calling her a bookworm, but she did not mind—much. They were her best friends but they did not understand. School was so easy and Willow wanted to learn more than just what the Mrs. Pillings taught them.

Before she could open her new book, a tapping at her window startled her. She glared at her closed curtains. "Xander Harris, if that's you, I'm going to tell your mother that you sneaked out after dark," she shouted. Her parents would not hear; they were out for the evening—again—and trusted her enough that they did not feel the need to hire a babysitter. She had never had a babysitter, come to think of it, once she had turned seven.

Despite her threat, the tapping continued. She huffed as she got off of her bed. She flung open the curtain covering the glass windows of the door leading to her balcony. "Xander, I thought I—"

A brown owl stared back at her, cocking its head to the side. Willow stifled the urge to giggle. The owl doesn't want to come inside. That's a ridiculous idea!

Contrary to her thoughts, the owl stamped one foot impatiently and tapped its beak against the glass again. Willow blinked and then shrugged. "Okay. If you say so." She opened the door and the owl picked up something lying on the balcony next to it before hopping inside. It flapped its wings and flew up, landing on the back of her desk chair.

The girl walked over to the bird and reached out hesitantly to the envelope it was holding in its beak. "It's addressed to me." She frowned and looked at the owl. "Do you want me to take it?"

The owl glared and dropped the envelope into her hand before taking off and flying out the balcony door. Willow sat on her bed and opened the letter.

Dear Miss Rosenberg,

We are pleased to inform you that you have been accepted at Salem Witches' Institute. Please find enclosed a list of all necessary books and equipment.

The semester begins on September 1. We await your owl no later than July 31. Yours Sincerely,

Ruimfeld Harrington
Deputy Headmaster

Willow scanned over the page of required books and felt a grin spread across her face. All of the titles were new to her and hinted of topics that were completely unfamiliar to her. And since school ended in less than a month, there was plenty of time for her parents to pull her out of public school and send her to this new school.

She paused in thought. The name of the school and the titles of the books, not to mention the supplies—a cauldron?—implied that this was a school for witches. Did that mean she was a witch with magic and everything? She nibbled on her lip as she reread the letter.

A hand snatched the parchment from her grasp and she gasped at the appearance of the stranger in front of her. She had red hair just like she did and she looked a bit like her mother but Willow was certain that this woman was no relative that she had ever met before.

The woman glanced down at the paper and pursed her lips. "Got here just in time." She looked at the confused girl and smiled kindly. "Look, I understand where you are right now. You would jump at the chance to go to this school. But you see, you can't. You have duties and obligations here in Sunnydale. You don't know that yet, but you'll figure it out in about five years or so when Buffy comes to town. And trust me, your life will get a lot less boring. So I'm just going to take this letter and make you forget that you ever had an owl visit you tonight, let alone me."

Willow's mouth gaped open as she tried to process everything the strange woman had just said. "W-what?"

The woman giggled. "Don't worry about it. Just go back to whatever it was you were doing before the owl so rudely interrupted you." She reached out and tapped Willow on the head sharply.

Willow ducked her head and closed her eyes, instinctively trying to avoid it. When she opened her eyes again, the strange woman was gone. She looked around in confusion. "When did I leave the door open?" she asked herself. She closed and latched her balcony door again, pulling the curtains closed. She frowned in puzzlement but pushed it aside as she climbed back onto her bed and opened Uncle Tom's Cabin.

Ruimfeld Harrington bustled into the library and spied the young woman who had asked for a look into the Salem Institute's records. He had been a bit flabbergasted when Willow Rosenberg had appeared on the front doorstep of the school—after all, it was her, the one who had nearly destroyed the world but then turned around and saved the world by activating all the potential Slayers in it. The woman was a legend in wizarding circles.

He walked over to the table where the redheaded witch was staring blankly at a book. He gently cleared his throat. "Did you find what you were looking for, Miss Rosenberg?"

Willow looked up at him and grinned. "Yeah, I did. Thanks for letting me dig through your books."

He shifted his weight a bit uncomfortably. "It was the least I could do. I mean, I wouldn't be standing her today if it weren't for you."

"I think you're giving me too much credit but I'll accept the compliment." She stood and stretched. "I don't suppose it's time for dinner, huh? I think I lost track of time."

"That's actually why I came to get you. Dinner's going to be served in about half an hour. I thought I would give you some warning so you could go freshen up if you wanted."

Willow nodded. "Thanks. I'll just be a few more minutes here."

Ruimfeld smiled back nervously in return and left the library. No matter how nice and down to earth the woman was, he still could not get over the fact that she was really there, talking to him. He had probably made a fool of himself in front of her every time they talked, but he still could not get over his reaction.

Willow had mentioned that she had found what she had been looking for all day so that meant that she would be leaving soon, most likely after dinner. He was not quite sure to be relieved or disappointed. He headed off to the kitchens to see how the house elves were doing. He and the Headmistress had planned a special dinner in honor of their guest. He wanted everything to be perfect. The Salem Institute would not disappoint with such a celebrity in its midst.

Once Ruimfeld had left, Willow had turned back to the book and traced a finger over a line carefully hand printed onto the page. "Willow Rosenberg," she read softly, "Letter sent 1993. No answer."

She closed the book and put it on the cart next to the table for the librarian to put back on the shelf later. She picked up the papers lying on the table and neatly folded them before stuffing them back into the envelope. Her lips curved up as she read her name written on the front of the envelope. "Too bad, huh? It would have been fun," she murmured to herself. She slid the letter into her bag before slinging the pack onto her shoulder. She wondered what would have happened if she had gone to magic school. Would the world still be standing today? It was an interesting idea, and a dangerous one. She mentally shrugged as she headed towards the dining hall.