Yes yes, I know I'm even later than usual. Again my deepest apologies.
Alright, I've started giving answers to your reviews. It's at the end of this. Again thanks for reviewing and here's hoping you enjoy this Chapter.
Chapter 15 - Hogsmeade
Faith strode down the hall, her dark brown eyes carrying an almost-steely gaze and purposeful demeanor in her step. Her leather boots clumped noisily, even on the carpet that ran through the halls of Hogwarts. She didn't care – the whole castle could hear her and she still wouldn't care.
Why? Simple. Faith was on the edge of being very pissed. Particularly with a certain Watcher of hers. No matter how many times she'd mentioned it that week, he still hadn't taken her advice, or, more accurately, her order. He'd stayed in his room and had not joined them for the first Hogsmeade Weekend.
Faith had gotten to the Entrance Hall a few minutes earlier and had found a sea of older students and a complete lack of Watcher.
Well, that was what she got for trying for subtlety. And for Faith; telling her Watcher straight up that he would be showing her around Hogsmeade was subtle. If it was one thing Faith had learned, it was you had to kick people in the ass to get them to do anything. Subtlety took too long. She should have remembered that.
So, storming through the corridors of the Fifth Floor, the supposed home of the Ravenclaw Common Room, Faith went in search of her Watcher.
She figured since Willow had a room near Gryffindor Tower and she herself had a room close to the Slytherin Dungeons, Wes would be somewhere near the Ravenclaw Common Room.
Unfortunatly, now she was officially lost and more than a little confused. Looking up and down the hall she was in. No one, not even one of those Ghosts, was around. Even Peeves that pain-in-the-ass Poltergeist was no where to be seen.
Faith glanced at a nearby portrait of a slender, gray-haired man (though he looked to be only in his forties), with piercing greenish-blue eyes, with a few scrolls cradled in one arm and a snitch in the opposite hand. The golden ball fluttered vainly, unable to escape it's captors grasp. The plaque at the bottom of the frame read 'Bowman Wright – Inventor of the Snitch'.
Seeing no other option, Faith tried the portrait.
"'Scuse me, d'you know where Wesley Wyndam-Pryce's room is?" Faith asked, as polite as she could muster.
It wasn't a trait she liked, or indeed, had to call on very often, but she figured; 'Hey, more flies with honey'. Then she wondered when the HELL she'd started thinking up such cliché methaphores… before kicking herself for using the word 'cliché', even in her own head.
Bowman Wright considered for a moment and then nodded.
"Tall man, glasses, too thin for his own good?" he suggested.
"You caught that, did you?" Faith grinned in spite of herself.
The inventor shrugged and offered her a smile, "You see a lot when you're a portrait. You're closer than you know, two frames to the left."
"Your left or mine?" Faith asked.
Bowman Wright inclined his head. Her left. Faith nodded a thanks and moved on. She grinned when she saw the portrait guarding Wesley's room. The classic, 'Dogs Playing Cards'. Faith blinked, who woulda thunk that was Wizard-made.
At that moment, the four dogs in the picture were arguing over their poker game.
"There's no such thing as a FOUR-CARD-STRAIGHT, man!" A black Scottie-dog that reminded Faith of the monopoly piece (barring the tartan vest and a glass piece over one of his eyes), roared through a very thick Scottish accent.
A St. Bernard in a gray jacket and bowler hat, growled something unintelligible through the cigar in his mouth – and through the drool that seemed uncontrollable too.
His companions however, seemed to understand him. Because the bespectacled Dalmatian with a red bowtie, black vest and top hat, slammed his paw on the table, yelling "This is mutiny!"
Faith cleared her throat loudly. All four hounds looked at her.
"Can we help you dear?" the last dog, a Golden Retriever dressed like Sherlock Holmes (hat and all) asked through the smoking pipe in his jaws. English accent, Faith noted.
"Does this lead to Wesley Wyndam-Pryces room?" Faith asked.
"Who wants teh know!" the Scottie-dog demanded.
Faith was not in a mood for an argument. Especially not with four dogs dressed in clothes, fighting over a card game.
"Look, I'm in a really bad mood. And I'm going to ask you once again, and God help you if you don't answer straight. I swear I will find whitewash, okay. Now. Is. This. Wesley's. Room?" She said slowly, the threat apparent in her voice.
All four mutts looked at each other uneasily.
"Last time I checked" the Dalmatian said, aiming for casual, and apparently glad to steer the attention from the Poker Game.
"Is he in there?" Faith demanded. Giving them a 'you'd better answer look'.
"Oh, aye, lassie, he's in there alright" Scottie said, rolling his R's pleasantly.
"Wonderful – spose he needs a password, huh?"
The drooling St. Bernard, flopped his head about as he talked incoherently through his cigar, showering his fellow dogs with spit.
"Correct" Sherlock translated.
"Shit" Faith mumbled, kicking the wall. Several portraits mumbled n protest, "Oh, shut up!" Faith snapped at them.
"Sorry, lass, but if yeh don' 'ave t'password we can' let yeh in" the Scottie said sounding genuinely apologetic.
Faith grinned suddenly – and rather evilly, "Oh, don't worry, that won't be necessary. WESLEY WYNDAM-PRYCE IF YOU DON'T GET YOUR SORRY BRITISH ASS OUT HERE RIGHT NOW I SWEAR TO GOD I'M GONNA…"
"What? Yell loud enough, so that the beakers in the science lab at Wolfram and Hart explode from the force? Fred won't be too happy about that, let me tell you" Wesley said, pushing the portrait open from the inside.
Faith glared lightly at him, "I've got a bone to pick with ya, Watcher-boy."
Wesley didn't say anything, he didn't even move.
"Are we gonna do this out in the hall?" Faith demanded, breaking through his silence.
The Watcher wordlessly stepped aside to allow her in. As she brushed passed him, he could hear her draw forced-breaths. As if she was trying to calm herself - or channel her anger. This thought almost made Wesley smile, she was making an effort to control her temper. And that was something.
Wes closed the portrait and turned to his immediate problem. Controlled temper or not, Faith was pissed. And that was playing with fire.
"Hogsmeade Weekend –did you accidentally forget on purpose?" Faith asked rather accusingly.
Wesley sighed, he'd seen this coming. He rubbed the back of his neck unconsciously and sank onto the small couch next to the window.
From the look on his face, Faith knew there was a story he wasn't telling. And as much as she wanted to chew him out at the very second, she bit her tongue and gave him time to gather his thoughts.
She glanced around the room to kill time; it was very much like hers. They were standing (or in Wes's case, sitting) in the living room, which consisted of a couch, armchair, a small coffee table and a few cabinets as well as a medium sized oak bookshelf and small office space (desk and all that). Faith had to blink several times to see the mini-bar in the corner that looked like it held food as well as refreshments and one or two bottles of Fire Whisky.
Faith would wonder later if alcohol was actually allowed in school. Then she reasoned that what a teacher did on his (or her) own time, away from the student body, was his (her) own business.
Faith's brown eyes darted to the open door that obviously led to the bedroom as she could see the blue silk sheets rumpled and the fluffy navy blue quilt that lay discarded on the floor. She was willing to bet there was another door leading from the bedroom to the bathroom.
A muffled sigh jerked Faith out of her exploration, and turned her attentions back on her Watcher. He'd had enough time to think.
"So, are you going to tell me why I didn't see you in the Entrance Hall this morning?" Faith asked.
Wes kept silent. He swiped off his glasses and pinched the bridge of his nose in frustration, before cleaning the lenses with his shirt.
"Dammit, Wes!" Faith cried out, causing Wes's head to snap up to look at her, she seemed quite agitated, "I can't figure you out. I've tried being subtle but the fuck for me forgetting that men are fuckin' oblivious!" she was pacing now, "But of course, now, the obvious approach would be to come outright and ask you what the FUCK is going on?"
Wes blinked. Faith swearing three times in a row meant that her temper was no longer under control. The fact that she used the same swearword meant she was either REALLY pissed – or just not feeling particularly creative.
"It's complicated… in a sense…" Wes sighed again, and let his eyes fall, as if trying to find the right way to put this.
Faith could feel any anger she had towards him fade. Just seeing his confused and slightly pained expression just did her in. Wes only looked back up when she sat down next to him, the shifting of the cushions probably jarring him out of his thoughts.
"Is there something you're avoiding? Something you're… scared of" Faith tried – she doubted her Watcher – her new Watcher – could be scared of anything.
"Scared? No. Avoiding?… Maybe."
Faith said nothing, didn't push, didn't prompt. She just waited for him to continue.
Wes took a breath and looked down again. "Hogwarts was always my real home. My father was an ass – my mother never did anything to stop him, except maybe convince him to send me here when I got my letter. But only because she wanted me out of the house – parenting was never her strong point you might say – but now I try not to think of it. My parents are dead to me – even though for all I know they are very much alive."
He looked at her questioningly, to see if she understood.
"I follow" Faith nodded, "go on."
"But most of the people that really did matter… it's just… it's…" Wes let out a breath, "this place brings back memories. Good ones mostly. But as I get more and more reacquainted with what I once knew – things have just been… crowded."
"Like when someone close to you dies, you keep seeing them in familiar places?" Faith guessed.
"Exactly. It's all in my head, really. Sometimes it's hard to concentrate" Wes said, a small, grateful smile gracing his lips.
"It goes away after a while" Faith told him softly, "but I would have thought this would be out of your system by now, you've came to the Castle after you graduated right? Saw your friends?"
Wes shook his head, "Right after my last year I was thrust into the Watchers academy. I wasn't there to help Lily and James. I should have been there when Arion was blown up and Sirius was framed. I didn't even go to their funerals…"
Wes suddenly choked off. Faith couldn't help it; she wrapped an arm around his shoulders. Wes was trembling uncontrollably.
"…I kept in contact with Valandra for a while. So I knew what happened – and then my father found out. He somehow managed to sever any contacts with the Wizarding world. Starting by snapping my wand, burning all my school books and anything even remotely un-Watcher-like and he topped it all off by… actually killing my owl when I tried to sneak a letter to Valandra. Shot him out of the sky with a crossbow."
Faith's eyes widened at this. "Son of a Bitch."
Wes gave a watery smile, "Now now, no need to insult Grandmother, she was the only one in the family who actually gave a damn – 'till she died."
Faith bit her lip to fight back tears, Wes's life had been hell, and this little story was only a tip of the iceberg, she was sure.
"It's not only memories that's pilling – you're feeling guilty – system overload" Faith told him.
"Wes, it's okay now, I understand – I can go to Hogsmeade by myself, you're right, Harry will probably show me around…"
"No, he's taking Dawn around, I'm sure of it" Wes smiled through very faint tears, a genuine smile this time, "I'll come, it just felt good to get that out… and… I kinda wanted to visit someone…"
"You know people who live in the village?" Faith asked, only slightly surprised.
"In a manner of speaking."
Harry couldn't help but grin when watching Dawn as they, and the rest of the Hogsmeade-bound students made the walking trip from the Castle to the Village.
Dawn hugged her sweater closer to her body, almost bouncing in anticipation of visiting the places Harry, Ron and Hermione held in such high regard. Well, Harry assumed it was anticipation, it couldn't very well be the light autumn chill, that was actually a bit warm for this time of year, allowing the students to leave any heavier clothing other than jumpers and sweaters in their clothes piles'. A pleasant surprise for the first Hogsmeade weekend, which only added to the pleasure of watching Dawn's pure joy at seeing new strange new things in the Wizarding World. Things that Harry, of course, was now familiar with, but being around Dawn and her fascination with all things magic had always made Harry feel like he was seeing them for the first time again. As if re-living the magic of the world he'd grown so accustomed to.
Even though Hogwarts did have uniforms, they of course were never required out of class. However, on weekdays, most of the students could never be bothered to change out of their uniforms after classes. Weekends of course were a whole different matter.
And Harry had stressed over the better part of an hour on what to wear. Ron had gotten so fed up with his best friends constant changing and looking in the mirror, that he'd left the room saying "It doesn't matter anyway - You'll be wearing a sweater over it!"
He'd been right of course, but that hadn't stopped Harry, who'd eventually settled on a pair of jeans a navy blue shirt and a black hooded sweater. He'd tried vainly to comb his hair – but as usual that didn't work. He was even half-tempted to mess it up deliberately like his father used to – but decided against it. Perhaps he would another time.
Harry was willing to bet a large portion of his Gringotts fortune that Dawn hadn't spent even half the time he had on picking her clothes. Not that she didn't look lovely – she was stunning. He just found it hard to believe that she'd stress over something as simple as a trip to Hogsmeade.
The Boy Who Lived risked another glance at his 'girlfriend' for the day. And yes, she was stunning. Dawn had also decided on jeans – along with most of the muggle-born students – based on the practicality of the thing. Her shirt was purple and the warm wool sweater she was wearing was pink. Her brown hair was swept back into a simple ponytail, allowing a few stray strands of hair to fall by her neck.
It was hard for Harry not to stare, but Dawn's voice brought him back to reality.
"We're here, we're here, we're here" she chanted giddily in a low voice so only Harry, Hermione and Ron could hear.
The light autumn breeze blew dead leaves around the ankles of the students as they entered the village. The small crowd then broke off, students rushing off in different directions. The Third Years especially, since they'd never been to Hogsmeade before.
"Hey, can I meet the rest of you guys at the Three Broomsticks?" Hermione piped up suddenly, "I'll be in the bookshop. I need a new quill and I'm low on ink – I should get them before I forget."
"I'll come with you" Ron said suddenly, "I have to check out a few things there too. Catch you guys later?" This was aimed towards Harry and Dawn.
"Yeah, Honeydukes should definitely be the first stop for us" Harry grinned in Dawns general direction, jerking his head at the shop in the distance.
"Sugar? Works for me. We're outta here!"
The Hogshead pub was almost empty, as it usually was during the afternoon. Customers normally didn't start arriving until the sun was down and work was over. Spike supposed that no matter what you were, you had to drown your sorrows at one point or another.
Spike himself was sitting at a small table in the darkest corner of the room, staring down at the just about empty mug, but keeping every other vampire sense he had tuned to the room, as Patiently waiting for his nephew to make an appearance.
He could hear the bartender scrub a dirty glass with a smudged cloth. The old witch a few tables over dragged a fork across the plate of whatever it was she was eating. The hooded figure at the far side of the room shifted in his seat constantly, to Spikes great annoyance.
The bleached blond vamp took a long drag of his cigarette to calm his nerves. No one so much as batted an eyelash, of course, the Hogshead didn't have any smoking policies. No surprises there.
Soon the front door swung open to admit the young Slytherin Spike had been waiting for.
"You're late" Spike told him as the teenager approached his table.
"So?" Draco sneered, sitting down in the empty chair across from his Great Uncle.
Spike shrugged and signaled the bartender for two more drinks.
"What did you want to talk about?" Draco questioned, shifting in his seat, as if trying to get comfortable.
Spike bit back a sigh, not quite sure where to begin. From what he knew, Draco's father was imprisoned, accused for being an active Death-Eater. Though many were convinced that Voldemort would break his followers out of Azkaban, and very soon. They were probably right.
"How's your mother?" Spike asked eventually, finding no other grounds to start on.
Draco shrugged, "I can never be sure. I've written her several times, she seems… distraught."
"I see – and your father?"
"Azkaban where he belongs" Draco grunted, "This is the first real bit of freedom I've had. I'm enjoying it while it lasts."
"You suspect a jail break?" Spike asked.
Draco snorted incredulously "Doesn't everyone?" he demanded.
Spike shrugged, "You're initiation will be coming soon then?" the vampire guessed.
Draco tightened his grip on the mug he was drinking from. His knuckles were turning white and Spike could catch the slight shake in his hand. The blond teen just nodded mutely.
"After the Dementors switch sides and my father gets out" Draco nodded, "I'm not too sure on the details, but… it will happen eventually. There's nothing I can do to stop it, it's…"
"I know" Spike nodded gravely, "I know – look, it's not gonna happen if I can help it."
"But you can't" Draco said bitterly, "No one can. If I do, I'm branded for life… if I don't I'm dead. There's no upside to any of this."
"I'll think of something – I will" Spike assured him, "And I'm sure your friends will help."
"Pansy's marked too" Draco informed his uncle, "She doesn't like it any more than I do. Connor's muggle born, no dangers there – except maybe to his family."
"If there was ever some sort of conflict involving Connor – which is not exactly out of the realm of possibility – his family would be the first to go" Draco gave a hollow laugh, "I know how all of this works. Father raised me on it. It's only a matter of time – then we're all going to hell."
"Oh, hey, look at this!" Dawn squealed excitedly, rushing forward to pick up the next strange sweet that caught her eye.
Harry smiled at her enthusiasm. The boy who lived was more than happy to show Dawn around on their 'date', and he took pleasure in watching her rush from one shelf to another, trying to see all the different sweets in Honeydukes all at once.
"Blood lollipops?" Dawn made a face, "Bet Spike will like these, though, I have to remember to get him some for Christmas."
This made Harry chuckle.
"What?" Dawn asked.
Harry shrugged, "Christmas shopping for a Vampire. Never thought I'd live to see that. Or live to do it myself, since most vamps would probably prefer me, y'know, dead and all."
Dawn shrugged, "Stranger things have happened, just wait 'till you meet Lorne, and you'd better have your voice ready for that. And you do know that Cho Chang has been keeping her eye on us ever since we left the castle." Dawn added the last sentence in a lower tone, so no one would overhear.
"I noticed…" Harry nodded, trailing off as he picked up a jar of Cockroach Cluster, "And I've never figured out who would eat these."
Dawn blinked and looked like she was fighting back a gag, "I think I'll have a Blood Lollipop now."
"Here, try the Fizzing Whizzbees" Harry suggested, "Much better trust me."
Twenty minutes later both Gryffindors exited Honeydukes with their pockets considerably fuller and their money pouches slightly lighter.
"We could head to the Three Broomsticks now, if you like" Harry suggested, "Or we could go to Zonkos – continue our tour of the village. Your choice."
Dawn flashed him a smile, "Well we did agree to meet Ron and Hermione. Besides – it's cold and I could go for a Butterbeer."
"Butterbeer sounds good right about now," Harry agreed, thanking her silently for the choice, it had gotten slightly colder than when they'd arrived, "Besides, Hermione and Ron might already be waiting for us."
"It's settled then" Dawn nodded, then as an afterthought she added, "What is going on with those two?"
"Huh?" Harry blinked. Dawn turned to face him, eyebrows raised high at his reaction.
"Don't tell me you haven't noticed it!" Dawn said, completely shocked.
"Hermione and Ron?" Harry said incredulously, taking off his glasses and wiping the slight fog off them, as if it would by some miracle, help his hearing.
"They're completely head over heels for each other" she informed him, as if it was a fact she'd just pulled out from one of their text books.
"Hermione and Ron" Harry stated blankly, seemly still trying to wrap his brain around the concept.
"Yes, Hermione and Ron" Dawn said exasperatedly, "I wish they'd just kiss and get it over with. The two of them are completely oblivious. Now c'mon, I'm kinda thirsty."
Dawn started walking in the direction of the Three Broom Sticks, leaving Harry frozen to the spot.
"Hermione and Ron!"
To say he was surprised to see Willow in the Dungeons on that particular day would be an understatement. Snape had of course agreed to supervise her making the potion that would help her clear her head, so that Willow might have a better chance of controlling her magic. Though he would have bet Galleons that she'd have gone to Hogsmeade with the others.
When questioned, Willow had simply shrugged, reminding him that Hogsmeade would always be there, he was often very busy (in and out of the classroom), and she was down to the last vile of the batch she'd watched him make several days before.
So now, the otherwise empty Potions Classroom, showed the two of them standing on either side of a small, bubbling, cauldron, Snape holding a dusty, leather-bound, Potions book in one hand, and carefully observing the Wiccan as she uncorked a glass vile of Dragons Blood.
"Now, the measurements must be precise remember" Snape repeated for Willows benefit.
The redhead nodded her understanding, trying to be extra careful while letting a single drop of dragon blood fall into the small cauldron, turning the once acid green liquid, blood red.
"Now, the Pine Root," Snape instructed briskly, still with that seemingly fixed scowl on his face.
Willow did as she was told, but couldn't resist… "Snapey, try turning that frown upside-down once in a while, wouldja?"
The Potions Master raised an eyebrow at her comment. "Rosenberg, need I remind you that you were the one who requested I show you the…"
"…proper method of making the potion to clear my head after I saw you do it a few days ago" Willow finished for him, "Hey, I'm grateful for that, but don't you think you could at least try to seem happy about it?"
"No" Snape said bluntly, "The Mint and the Basil next."
Willow rolled her eyes, "I feel like I'm making Herbal Tea… and you should at least try to be nice."
"They're ingredients that have calming properties, and this is me being nice" Snape told her shortly.
"Well that's only a few notches up from you being nasty – like when you're breathing down Neville Longbottom's neck in class."
"Add the Snake Skin now, and in class, that's me being normal. Believe me, Rosenberg, you have not seen me in a truly bad mood."
"Well, thank the Goddess for small favors" Willow snorted, adding a smidge of Snake Skin to the mix.
"You'll have to let it sit for exactly ten minutes before stirring" Snape told her frankly, "Tea?"
Though The Three Broomsticks was crowded, Harry and Dawn managed to spot Ron and Hermione, having been lucky enough to get a booth in the corner – away from most of the noise of the bar.
The two best friends looked to be in deep conversation – or an argument. Another one of their friendly rows that Dawn was now familiar with.
The brunette grinned to herself, thinking back to when she'd first seen the attraction, which had of course been during one of these arguments. Heh. The memory of Cordelia-and-Xander would be hard pressed to compete with these two, Dawn thought wryly.
"Been here long?" Harry asked, as he and Dawn approached the table.
This seemed to snap both Hermione and Ron out of their quarrel, giving time for the other two to pull out chairs and Harry to signal Madame Rosmerta for two more Butterbeers.
"Long enough to get on each others nerves" Hermione supplied, "Do NOT leave me with him again, I beg you."
"That goes double for me" Ron shot back, "Oh, Harry, Cho was looking for you before."
Dawn looked confused.
"I thought she was right behind us" she blinked.
Harry shrugged, "I think we mighta lost her when you insisted on visiting the Quill Shop on our way here."
It did make sense. Dawn just smirked, "So what did she want."
"Nothing, just looking for Harry" Hermione told them, "But I heard that she thinks you two are just 'dating' to make her jealous."
The look on Ron's face was one of barely contained mirth as he spilled the rest of it "You two make a convincing couple to the rest of the school though – according to Dennis Creevy - he saw you charm the sky into raining roses, persuade the House-elves to recite romantic poetry and even personally croon off-key Love Ballads outside the Window to the Girls Dorms – all for Dawn."
Dawn actually snorted in her mug of fresh Butterbeer "Nice going, Casanova. And it's not even Valentines day" at this point Dawn fluttered her eyelashes at him playfully.
Though none of those rumors were even close to true, Harry flamed bright red, "Where the HELL is Dennis getting all his ideas?" He hissed.
"I think it's ridiculous" Hermione rolled her eyes, though Harry thought he could see the barest hint of a mocking smile on her lips, "Flowers are one thing, but someone would have seen if the weather forecast suddenly took such a drastic turn. Poetry is all well and good, and no doubt Harry could get the House-elves to cooperate, but when the heck would he have found the time today? And HELLO! The window to the girls dorm in Gryffindor Tower is too high up to even hear someone shout from the ground let alone sing."
Ron shrugged still chuckling slightly, then he noticed his best friends expression, "Look mate, I don't mean to laugh, and I know it's a bit embarrassing…"
"A bit!" Harry demanded incredulously.
"But come on, as much as I'm pained to admit it, Hermione's right, nobody's actually seen anything. And besides, you've survived worse. Remember Second Year, and Ginny's Valentine?"
Harry's scowl deepened. Dawn just giggled into her drink.
"Why aren't you more bothered at this?" He asked.
Dawn just smiled, "C'mon, Harry. Anyone with half a brain will really believe those things. The worst it will do is fuel rumors that you and I are 'together' – and that's what we were going for… remember?"
Harry sighed, "Yeah, okay, you're probably right."
Draco left the Hogshead discreetly, and in a strangely more relaxed mood than he'd come in. After discussing certain depressing aspects of the looming evil that was set to engulf them all, the conversation had taken a slightly (very slightly) lighter tone as his uncle talked a bit more about what happened after he came to Sunnydale.
Things that Draco of course hadn't read, cuz nothing of the sort had been put in print to suggest that William the Bloody had reformed.
Draco didn't know weather to laugh or throw up at the thought that a member of his family was put in Hufflepuff – especially this family member, a supposed 'Master Vampire'. Though since Spike was of course human when he attended Hogwarts, Draco supposed he couldn't really blame him.
Though Draco had not shown in outwardly, he'd been hanging on every word of his Uncle's rather interesting past. The young Slytherin only hoped that he'd be given the chance to read the Watchers Diary of one Mister Rupert Giles, and his experiences training someone who was considered to be one of the best Slayers to date.
Though Draco would have liked their talk to go one a bit longer, Draco had glanced half-heartedly at his watch, and remembered he was meeting his friends for lunch. Announcing briskly that he had to go, Draco up and left.
Of course, leading him to where he was now, walking casually along the streets of Hogsmeade and towards The Shadowed Dove, a small restaurant in town, with a black dove as the mascot.
The café was a small one, tucked away between the joke shop and a bookstore called The Inky Quill. In fact, if you hadn't been looking for it, you might have missed it.
What Draco didn't miss, though, was the fact that a certain Redhead had left the Zonko's and had come plowing into him, once again.
"Gods curse it, Weasel-girl, that's the second time you've run into me this year," Draco snapped at her, brushing dirt from his clothes.
Ginny got up from the ground, several of her things scattered around her.
"Maybe you need to pay more attention to where you're going, Mal-Ferret!" Ginny snapped back at him, "Get some glasses or something, because you plowed into me."
"I do not wade through garbage" Draco sneered, "Particularly your kind – carries a lot of germs."
"Well, I for one am going to need rabie-shot after this, who knows where the hell you've been!" Ginny shot back, gathering her stuff with a flick of her wand and closing the drawstring bag.
"Shopping, Weaselette?" Draco snorted, looking at the bag and deciding to change the topic "Are you kidding me? And here I thought you didn't have two knuts to rub together."
Ginny smirked and brushed passed him, "Well, then, Malfoy, that is at least one thing we have in common."
Draco blinked, but by the time he'd figured out the implication of that double entendre, the redhead had already gone.
Ginny came with nothing but an over all feeling of satisfaction that she'd gotten the last word in with Malfoy, and had left him a nasty surprise in his pocket, though she wouldn't be there to see the effects. She spotted Ron and the others through the crowd. Hermione waved her over. Ginny sighed, glad that she did, Luna had opted to stay in the castle that day (something about an autumn bug… or something) and Collin, another whom she usually hung out with, was on a date with a Hufflepuff in their year.
Feeling slightly giddy after she'd gotten the upper hand with Malfoy, the redhead joined her brother, and decided to poke a little fun at Harry with some of the rumors she'd been hearing.
"So, Potter, if you'd been interested in me before, should I have expected it to rain flowers?" Ginny smirked playfully.
"Ginny!" both Harry and Ron protested. Harry still slightly embarrassed by the rumors, and Ron mortified that his baby sister would bring the subject of 'dating' up (even though it had not been the first time).
Dawn and Hermione just shared knowing grins.
"C'mon, Romeo, let's get another round" Dawn smirked, taking hold of Harry's arm.
Harry let himself but tugged out of his seat and tried vainly to remain oblivious to the strange looks he was getting. Harry didn't know if it was because of the rumors, or because he was letting Dawn practically drag him to the bar.
"With you in a minute" Madame Rosmerta said, still carrying trays of Butter-beer to tables.
"No rush" Dawn reassured her, turning to face Harry, "This way."
The Boy Who Lived let himself be dragged an area nearby, Dawn had pulled them out of sight of the bar, behind the wall that separated the dining space from the bathroom area. Harry leant against the dividing wall, as if exhausted.
"I thought you could use some time away from the crowd" Dawn mused, "Used to rumors are you?" Dawn asked, a ghost of a smile gracing her lips.
"You could say that" Harry said, "still pisses me off though."
Dawn actually did smile this time. "I don't doubt it. But at least the rumors are making 'us' more believable."
Harry had to smile back, "Oh, even without the rumors we're pretty convincing I should think--"
The rest of Harry's sentence went unsaid, cut through by voices nearing the bathrooms from the dinning area.
"I'm tellin' you, Cho, they're not dating" a female voice said with such finality that Dawn and Harry had to blink, "I've seen them in public. They're too friendly – as in 'just friends' friendly. No one's seen them kiss, and they don't even hold hands when they walk."
"But what about all those rumors-" the was Cho, sounding very uncertain.
"Spread by Collin Creevy… or maybe it was Dennis… you know how the boy's a handful and has a reputation for the most outrageous of stories – there's no truth to them! Besides there are no witnesses" her friend interrupted, "Trust me, Harry Potter is NOT dating Dawn Summers."
The second those voices turned the corner, Dawn shoved Harry against the wall he was leaning on and covered his lips with hers.
Harry's brain froze, but thanks to whatever higher powers were watching, his body reacted purely on primal instinct, wrapping his arms around Dawn and returning the kiss full force. It was like time stopped, and neither one of them even noticed Cho and her companion's shocked reaction. Harry had even deepened the kiss, before a polite cough brought both of them out of their passionate lip-lock.
Both Dawn and Harry turned to face the intrusion.
"Just using the bathroom," Cho almost squeaked, moving passed the both of them, her friend in tow, and trying not to look at either of them, as the Ravenclaws entered the Girls Lavatory.
When they left both Gryffindors breathed a sigh of relief. It took a long moment before either of them realized that Harry still had Dawn firmly gathered in his arms, both of them standing uncomfortably (or comfortably – depending on the point of view) close. Both of them very much invading the others 'personal space'.
Harry finally released Dawn, not bothering to fix his suddenly crooked glasses and fighting the blush he was sure covered his whole face. Though in actuality, it matched the red tinge to Dawns cheeks nicely.
"Well, umm… shouldn't we be getting those drinks now?" Dawn asked distractedly, her breathing slightly irregular.
Without even waiting for an answer Dawn briskly adjusted Harry's glasses for him and moved back towards the bar, leaving Harry once again frozen to the spot, and stunned.
"Yeah… Drinks… right."
Willow hurried through the leaf covered, cobblestone streets of Hogsmeade Village, her green eyes searching not quite frantically for the place they called the Hogshead Pub. Thankfully, spotting the grungy looking structure that was her destination, wasn't all that hard. The Redheaded Witch pushed the doors open and was greeted with the brief stares of the taverns occupants.
Brushing some non-existent dirt off her clothes in a habitual motion, Willow noticed a certain Bleached-blond vampire wave once to get her attention before returning his gaze to the extremely grubby looking mug in front of him.
"Sorry I'm late" Willow said breathlessly, like she'd been running, "Potion took longer than I thought, and it didn't help that I got lost in the dungeons on my way out."
Spike smirked, "Bet old Sevvy will never let you live that one down."
Willow maturely stuck her tongue out at him, "Oh, he was smirking the whole way to the entrance hall, kept insisting that he needed to be sure I wouldn't get lost again."
Spike gave a low chuckle, failing to stifle it, even under Willow's death-glare.
"Speaking of a certain greasy old Potions Master, how's the power-plan coming along?"
"It's coming" Willow said, by way of answer, as she flagged the barkeep for a drink.
"Care to expand a bit on that, Red?" Spike asked with a raised eyebrow.
"Geeze, don't get your boxers in a bunch, Bleach-Boy" Willow snorted, "It's fine if you must know. Made the whole potion myself today, with Severus's supervision of course."
"Oh, so we're on a first-name basis now are we" Spike wiggled his eyebrows suggestively making Willow roll her eyes and look at him with an exasperated expression.
"You know, sometimes I think you actually work at being annoying" Willow told him sharply.
Spike made a show of pretending to think about it, before answering "No, not really."
On the outside, The Shadowed Dove, seemed miniature in every way, even down to the small, solid-oak doors that Draco had to duck through when he entered, so as not to hit his head.
But despite it's petite appearance, restaurant was much more spacious on the inside then one would have thought at first. The restaurant was littered with different sized tables, all of different square and circular shapes. Only a few of them were occupied, but not surprisingly, Pansy, Victoria and Paige were already there, seated at one of the medium sized round tables. Connor was with them, and by the look of the bags at his feet, he'd just brought in a fair haul from Honeydukes, and some of the other shops.
"There he is" Connor announced, being the one facing the door, spotting Draco when he came in.
"What'd I miss" Draco asked.
"Connor cleaning out the sweet shop," Pansy snorted, rare amusement twinkling in her eyes.
"So you showed him around alright?" Draco asked conversationally.
"Well, we tried to lose him, but he's like a dog or something" Paige snorted.
Connor glared at her with exasperation. Draco raised an eyebrow at the conflict.
"I think I missed something" the bleached blond stated.
It was Vicky's turn to roll her eyes, "Don't mind them, they've been at it since we hooked up at Zonkos."
"Only because… hold up" Connor sniffed, "Any of you guys smell that?"
"Is it you?" Paige guessed snidely.
"Funny, Marsyas" Connor scowled, using Paige's last name rather than her first, "But seriously, it smells like it's coming from--"
The table was suddenly engulfed in a thick black cloud, all of it initiating from Draco's pocket. One of the waitresses hurried over, as the five occupants of the table hacked and thrust themselves out of sitting.
The few people enjoying their meals observed the commotion with confused and slightly amused demeanors.
"What's going on?" Pansy demanded, "Drake?"
Draco coughed violently, being the one closest to the smoke, he thrust his hand into his pocket and pulled out what looked a like a small, deflated ball with three blue W's printed on it.
Draco growled and squeezed the offending object like it was the neck of a certain redhead he'd be getting revenge on very soon. "Weasley."
"I assume everything is going to plan, D'Hoffryn" Voldemort stated coldly.
"Indeed, My Lord" D'Hoffryn nodded to the head that was resting in the fireplace, "She caused quite a panic with that Furiae demon last time. She managed to twist that last little girls wish beautifully. I told you she was good at what she did."
Voldemort scowled, "Perhaps, but she was stopped."
"But she caused trouble" D'Hoffryn reminded, "These things take time, m'lord, and the longer the fear is stretched, the greater the damage."
"But if you stretch it for to long, D'Hoffryn, you can get caught" Voldemort scowled, "Do not attempt to argue with me on this."
"Of course not, my Lord" the demon bowed slightly, "But you should be pleased to know that Anyanka is on the verge of granting another wish. This one should be far more disastrous."
"For your sake, D'Hoffryn, it had better be" Voldemort scowled, and with a small 'pop' he was gone.
D'Hoffryn didn't turn away from the fire, his mouth set in a grim line of determination. Without a sound, Anyanka appeared from the shadows behind him. The Demon Lord didn't even turn.
"It is time."
"Dude, you have to admit it was pretty funny" Connor chuckled, as he and the rest of the group left The Shadowed Dove after their meal. Everyone had counted it lucky that they hadn't been kicked out.
"I'll get her for this, I will!" Draco vowed, still scowling at the hole burnt in his pocket, "We are going to Zonko's right after this!"
He nodded towards The Inky Quill where Vicky suggested they show Connor round.
"If it's about the clothes, it's an easy fix, Drake" the curly-haired Ravenclaw told him.
The group moved up the steps of the bookshop.
"It's the principle of the thing, Vic" Draco scowled.
"And it would be very un-Malfoyish not to get revenge, no?" Paige snorted, going through the door Connor held open, "My aren't we the perfect gentleman?" she asked Connor, with a hint of amusement, it was the most civil thing she'd said to him all day.
Connor couldn't help but return her half-smirk with a shrug, "Eh, I have my moments."
"Revenge yes!" Draco said, nodding enthusiastically in answer to Paige's comment, "Her time will come, I'll get her good for this one."
"And then she'll just plant another one of those Weasel-bombs on you – or another one of those Wizarding Wheezes" Pansy said exasperatedly, "You have to hand it to those Weasel-Twins though, they know what they're doing."
"As much as it pains me to admit it – and it'll hurt even more when I get the Weaselette back with some of her brothers own tricks."
With that Draco brushed passed them all and headed towards a darkened corner of the bookshop. Connor gave Pansy a worried glance.
Pansy shrugged with a meek smile, "Just as long as no one dies in the process."
"What's going on out there?" Willow demanded softly, her head snapping towards the door, and the noises that were apparently coming from outside.
Spike's eyebrows came together in a concerned frown, he stared in the same direction, as if hoping to miraculously get x-ray vision in order to see the commotion taking place outside the walls of the pub.
"We'd better go check," Spike suggested, dropping a few sickles on the table for the drinks and food.
Willow nodded in agreement, standing as he did and quickly leaving the pub.
It was clear to see that the situation in the streets of Hogsmeade was rapidly bordering chaos. A rather large group of students had gathered in the middle of the street.
"Look, teachers!" Someone yelled.
"Professor! Professor!" another voice called, "Come quick!"
Neither Willow nor Spike knew which of them was being called, but they both pushed through to the center of the crowd. A Fifth Year Hufflepuff, whom Spike recognized as Sadie Phelps, was near hysterical. Tears streaming down her face as she knelt over the fallen body of Collin Creevy.
"Collin! Collin can you hear me? Wake up! Please wake up!" She sobbed.
Willow said nothing, choosing to kneel on the on the ground opposite Sadie, instantly checking Collin for a pulse.
"Alright – everyone, Back off!" Spike ordered to the crowed, "Give the boy some breathing room. Someone go tell Dumbledore! Phelps, what happened?" the question was directed directly to Sadie, who's tears didn't seem to be slowing.
"I don't know – I – Collin – he just…" Sadie Phelps was hyperventilating now.
"Now, Phelps, you need to calm down a notch and try to tell us exactly what happened" Spike told her.
"He just collapsed, I thought he was…"
"His breathing is labored" Willow informed them, interrupting Sadie and rolling Collin on his back, "Other than that he's alive – he's sweating though."
"In this temperature?" Spike demanded, gesturing to the warmer-than-usual, but still chilly autumn air.
Willow's answer was interrupted by a shrill scream and scattered comments of panic that ran through the crowd. "Oh my god!" "Help!" "He's not moving!" "What's happening!"
"Look!" Sadie cried out pointing.
Willow and Spike didn't even have to turn to see several Hogwarts students double over and simply collapse where they were standing.
"Professor!" Seamus Finnigan, "You've got to come quick, Ernie Macmillan just…"
Before he could finish his sentence, Seamus coughed violently, paled and dropped as if in faint.
"What's going on!" Another voice demanded.
Willow almost sighed, somehow relieved, as she spotted Ginny yelled, forcing her way through the mass of fallen students and panicked friends to reach them, "What's happening? Me and the others were shopping and Ron just collapsed out of no where!"
"Him and half the school – look" Willow waved towards the students.
Ginny's breath caught in her throat, as if she hadn't noticed this predicament before. "This is bad isn't it?"
Spike's eyes darkened, "Trust me, Lil' Red, it ain't good."
"How much longer are we gonna walk?" Faith demanded.
"Relax, it's not much further. Where's that Slayer Stamina?" Wes teased.
"I think it's safe to say it left after the first few miles up" Faith grumbled.
Wesley just laughed as turning back to look at her. There was a light glint in his eyes that she hadn't seen in a long time. Faith couldn't help but smile back, gripping the hand he held out to pull her forward a bit.
"You'll thank me later" Wes promised, "The view from the top is amazing. You can see the whole village. Used to come up here to think all the time."
"Alone?" Faith questioned.
"Sometimes" Wes shrugged, "We're almost there."
Faith bit back a groan of protest. Perhaps she should exercise a bit more. Slayer or not the climb was a killer on her muscles. Wes had agreed to take her around if they made a little stop first. She'd agreed, though at the time she hadn't known that climbing the moderately small hill just on the outskirts of Hogsmeade would be a factor.
"Here we are."
Faith blinked, taking in the scene before her. It was a graveyard.
"Headstones?" Faith raised an eyebrow, "Wes, I see these all the time. Slayer here, or have you forgotten, Watcher-mine?"
Wes pointedly ignored the comment, "Only a select few people are buried up here, Faith. Most of Hogwarts Headmasters for one, and several members of the Order – some of these don't even have bodies, you know, just marked here out of respect with caskets containing only select few possessions. And over here…"
Faith could almost see him darken. She moved to stand next to him, over the graves he was looking at. Five of them in a row.
"Lily, James, Arion and Valandra."
"But I thought Valandra…"
"Her body was moved" Wesley told her, knowing the question already, "It was her wish that she be buried here."
"And Pettigrew?" Faith asked tentatively, motioning to the last gravestone.
Wes said nothing, just glaring at the grave with great distaste, the look on his face clearly saying that he wished the person that this grave was for was truly in there.
"We'll get him," Faith told him.
"You know, this is the first time I've actually seen these" Wes told her quietly.
Faith smiled slightly, "So you've said. Feel any better?"
Wes looked up at her, "A little." He admitted, blue eyes filling with barely visible tears.
Faith held his gaze for a moment longer, then she shook her head and turned to the view.
"You're right, it's nice from up here," she said lightly.
Wes bit back a sigh, and pointed to Hogsmeade Village below, "See that small shop there, the black roofed one?"
"Next to the blue roof?" Faith inquired.
"That's the one" Wes smiled, "Restaurant – The Shadowed Dove – took my first girlfriend out on a date there in fourth year."
Faith giggled, "You dated?" She snorted, knowing it was more than likely, but she just liked teasing him.
Wes feigned a surprised expression "What, you don't believe I was quite the ladies man back in school? I'm crushed!"
"Well… no" Faith giggles became louder.
"Smart girl" Wes snorted, he pulled a pair of Ominoculars out of his pocket, "Here, look into these, you might be able to see Harry."
Faith grinned, "Funky binoculars."
"Ominoculars actually" Wes grinned back, "They're ten times better, trust me."
Faith's grin bloomed into a full smile, as she looked through the ominoculars, searching for familiar faces. She frowned suddenly.
"What's wrong?" Wes asked, not missing a beat.
"You'd better take a look at this" Faith told him, handing him the ominoculars, "Something's going down. Something bad."
Wes looked, "No kidding, I'll zoom in" fiddling with a dial on the gadget he got a closer look, "Spike and Willow are in the middle of it all. I think someone's already called Dumbledore. It looks like a disease of some sort."
"No kidding, and it's obviously spreading. They're dropping off like flies, half the school has been infected!"
Wes pulled down the ominoculars with a grim expression, "Yeah, the male half."
Well, that's done. I thank you all for your patience and hopefully, if my New Muse permits (as I have fired the old one - lol) the next chap will be up sooner. This is officially the longest I have waited to update a chapter on this story, and I thank you all for your support. Don't worry, trying to make a comeback now, attempting to bring back some of the passion I once had for writing this story, truly I am. Oh, and here's a little treat for y'all for being such a good crowd. (oh, and about the ominoculars - I'm not sure about the spelling and stuff, I didn't look it up in the fourth book like I should've - if I got it wrong I'll correct it later)
Replies to Reviews:
Siren-miko: What fun would it be if Buffy didn't find out about Spike? Lol.
BunnyKat: Glad you're liking the whole 'Willow' situation. Addicted to Faith/Wes? That makes two of us. I'm trying to avoid fluffyness but… argh, I can't help it. When ever I try NOT to write fluff it always pops up. Maybe I can find a way to balance it all.
John: Yes, if anything I at least wanted to set some stuff up. Well, I hope this chap has lived up to a bit of that.
Magdalena: Yes, but part of that is because they haven't had much contact. More to come concerning those characters, though, don't worry.
General Mac: How come everyone wants to know when Buffy's coming in! (sigh) for the millionth time. She'll be in when I'm good and ready to bring her in. In case you haven't noticed, this story ain't centered around 'Buffy'.
Slinky-and-the-Bloody-Wands: Thank you, writing Willow isn't often easy for me.
Morena Evensong: Mmmm… it might be possible that Dawn'll meet the Slytherins through Connor (grins evilly) maybe. More Snape helping Willow scenes to come, and I hope this Hogsmeade Trip was satisfactory.
Fionfee: Well then, welcome to the Hp/Buffy/Angel universe. You'll never want to leave. :) lol. Glad you're enjoying this one.
Cyndur: Good to know people are enjoying this. And don't worry, I'm bringing in the Romance soon, I'm just trying to pace it all out over a year. I learned my lesson last time when I wrote myself into a corner with the original version of this basic plot. I don't want to give to much away on Connor or Spike yet, and as for some of the pairings… well, we'll see how this pans out.
SpikesDreamer: Yes, you HAVE to love Spike. :D
Ztacel: YES! I know EXACTLY what you mean. I'm losing a lot of my spark with this story. I will try to make it more interesting and try to bring back the life I had in previous chapters. For me it always goes like this. It's real interesting at first, and then the plot starts to drag. Don't worry. Getting off my ass now, and updating soon.
Athena: I'm totally itching for a Faith/Wes kiss too. Note to self - Must have kiss in VERY near future. :D
Coffe Conosoir (aka Mark): Ahhh, not a fan of the Willow/Snape love I see. No, I understand what you mean. And I'm totally not sure if I'm gonna throw them together – but the thought HAS crossed my mind. Don't worry, there's a good chance it WON'T happen. But, my advice? But you should probably read this fanfic called 'A Drop in the Ocean' (I don't think it's on this site anymore but it's out there) – it's got Snape/Willow in it, and it's actually the one that made me really like the pairing. Give it a chance.
Kavi Leighanna: Alright – your advice is very practical and has been taken into consideration. More updating, less re-editing. Thank you. Glad your enjoying this story. :D
Zafaran: (sniff) Oh I feel SO loved. Glad your enjoying this, yes it's been a struggle keeping the characters true to themselves as well as the story. And I'm trying to space out the plot so I don't write myself into a corner…. AGAIN!
mz.sammiz: yes, I'm afraid it IS lacking in the D/G department. I'm introducing it slowly. Give me time. Don't worry, it's there. :D
shasha: don't worry, trying to update sooner. I'll admit to have lost the thread for this story, but I've been reading fanfic trying to get my zest back. Workin on it, believe me.