Author's Note: Well, I'm not sure what the right excuse is to use. Of course, there's the "my dog ate my laptop" one, or Buffy's "I've recently developed carpal tunnel syndrome and can tragically no longer hold a flashlight—er, type" one, but neither is true. The "I thought HBP was terrible and it took me a long time to get over how annoyed I was by the end of it" one is closer to the truth, but, as I never intended to use HBP in my story, it's a bit phony. No, the only excuse I can offer you is laziness (and some rather extreme writer's block), and the only apology I can give is a sincere one accompanied by the over-used promise that I'll try to update again as soon as I can, but I don't know when that'll be.
Thanks so much to everyone who's told me what they thought about this fic. I will finish it eventually, I promise.
This chapter is very rough and unbetaed. I wanted to get it up as soon as it was done.
Disclaimer: I don't own the Buffy or Harry Potter franchises.
Chapter 18: Howl, Part 2
Buffy supposed, the next night, that it was only to be expected if her carefully-laid plans would go entirely wrong. Of course, it was Giles' fault for trying to make her be planning-girl. She was action-girl, or maybe demon-slaying-gal, but she was definitely not problem-solving-girl.
First, her attempt to subtly kidnap Harry went entirely wrong, mostly because "subtle" wasn't a word in the Slayer's vocabulary. Her casual invitation of, "Oh, Harry, Angel, Spike and I are going to go kill some vamps. Wanna come?" had successfully sparked his interest, although he raised an eyebrow skeptically at her too-sweet tone. Then, though, he tried to insist that they visit the library and talk to Dumbledore and Giles before going, which was, of course, exactly what Buffy was trying to prevent, since Oz was currently locked up in said library exploring his inner beast. When she argued that they were burning moonlight, Harry rolled his eyes and told her to go without him, if he was hindering her. He would go to the library on his own.
Well, she couldn't have that, so she informed him in all seriousness that he really didn't want to go there right now, as Giles and Snape were alone in the library for the night "…and they claim they're going to be 'researching,' but if you ask me, there's more to that tension between them than hatred." At Harry's clueless look, she leaned forward conspiratorially and whispered, "I suspect there's some hanky-panky going on. I got to see Giles what Giles was like when he was young and hormone-crazed a while back, and that's just how he looks when he's around our resident potions professor. Now, if you're really that eager to see Snape nake – " fortunately, she didn't need to finish the rather disgusting imagery, since Harry had taken off in the direction of Angel's mansion so quickly that she almost thought he had apparated.
Five minutes spent listening to Spike and Harry bicker while on patrol were almost enough to convince her that she had made a terrible mistake. She didn't know exactly what Harry had against the vampire (she could think of any number of things about Spike that irritated her), but whatever it was brought out a vicious side of the boy-who-lived that she hadn't realized he had. Being able to walk side by side with Angel, though, patrolling together like they always used to, was pure bliss.
"So you won't even let me have a taste?" Spike whined at Harry, flashing fangs. "It would be quite the feather in my cap, you know, being able to say that I'd drunk from Harry Potter."
"I would threaten to stake you, by saying that it would be quite the feather in my cap to be able to say that I'd slain 'Spike'," Harry snarked, seemingly unconscious of the blue energy that crackled along the fingers of both hands, silent proof of his anger, "but in reality the only person who'd be impressed would be Malfoy, and he's sadly rotting in Azkaban where he belongs."
Spike stopped abruptly, his interest plain. "Malfoy? You wouldn't happen to be talking about Lucius Malfoy, would you?"
"He and his son, Draco," Harry said with vindictive pleasure.
"And there goes the last of the Malfoy line," Spike said mournfully. "Bloody wankers, what were they doing, ruining the family name by getting caught?"
The wizard raised an eyebrow in interest. "Malfoy mentioned you once, but frankly I thought he was just boasting. You don't mean to tell me that you're really William of the Bloody Poetry, do you?" he asked incredulously. Seeing Spike's fury, he gave a short bark of laughter.
"What's this I hear about Spike and poetry?" Buffy called from behind them, enjoying the sight of the obnoxious vampire getting so worked up.
"By Merlin! Malfoy used to boast about how there'd once been a Malfoy who was a pathetic wannabe poet who couldn't woo a woman if his life depended on it, who was turned and became one of the most vicious vampires in Europe," Harry explained. He examined the vampire closely, and under his scrutiny Spike actually turned red with anger, then vamped out and moved as if to attack him. Harry pointed his wand at the vampire and warned, "Don't even think about it. You've heard of what I can do to your kind." Spike froze. "Very good. Now stay still for a moment." Harry continued his slow consideration of the vampire, walking all the way around and taking him in from head to toe, before finally standing in front of him again. He nodded to himself as if he'd come to a conclusion about something.
"What was that!" Buffy demanded.
Harry looked Spike in the eye. "You're no Malfoy," he said. "For one thing, your hair's bleached, and it's a mostly-natural color for the Malfoys. Your face is shaped about right, but you're too ascetically thin. Plus, while you've got the Malfoy's do-whatever-it-takes-to-be-on-the-winning-side attitude down, you lack the malice." He smirked a little, a strange look on his face. "Why, even as a vampire, you're almost like a puppy dog compared to them."
With that final parting shot, Harry strode off further into the cemetery without looking back, Buffy and Angel following in confusion, and Spike standing stock-still in a moment of horrified shock before running after him. "Potter! What d'you mean, I'm not a Malfoy!"
Giles looked up from his book at the sound of a familiar voice calling his name. He knew this was Dumbledore's last night in Sunnydale, since apparently his staff back at Hogwarts was threatening to tar and feather him, rip his fingernails out, draw and quarter him, and break every bone in his old body if he did not relieve his substitute potions professor of his job immediately. He suspected that Albus would have required in his usual light-hearted manner to such threats, since they were, after all, long distance, had not both Harry and Severus menacingly advanced on him, wands drawn and eyes narrowed, and loudly and clearly informed him that they would see the threat carried out, if he continued to allow "that bloody menace to our bloody society" to be within thirty leagues of Hogwarts. The rare and frightening sight of the potions master and the Boy-Who-Lived-to-Kill-Voldemort working together for a common goal was enough to cow even the sturdiest spirit. In other words, Albus Dumbledore quaked in only-mostly mock fear and then acquiesced more or less gracefully.
Giles would miss the old man, even if he was a bit bonkers. "In here, Albus!" he called.
The voices were enough to aggravate the contained werewolf, who immediately began thrashing and howling in the book cage, throwing his entire body weight against its walls in his mindless need to escape. He grew even more violent at the sight of the frail, undoubtedly tasty old wizard as he walked toward the librarian, who had cautiously lain his hand upon the tranquilizer gun when he saw the wolf's upset behavior.
Dumbledore's eyes widened as he caught sight of Oz's alter-ego. "Oh, dear. One of you is a werewolf?" he inquired lightly.
"Yes, Oz," Giles confirmed.
As if in response to his name, the Oz-wolf snarled in rage.
Realizing that the werewolf seemed to behave even more furiously when surrounded by people and forced to hear the sound of their voices, Albus drew Giles away deeper into the library. It was for this reason that neither noticed that the hinges of the cage were beginning to rattle loosely and that the werewolf was redoubling his attempt to escape upon hearing the reassuring noise.
"I assume there was some reason that you did not see fit to inform us of this?" Dumbledore inquired.
Giles shot a glance at the cage, then returned his attention to the wizard. "We didn't mind you knowing, of course, professor, but we were afraid of how Mr. Potter might respond."
"Harry?" Dumbledore asked, his face clearly revealing his surprise.
"Well, yes," Giles said, a bit flustered by Dumbledore's response. "When he first came here, he told us about how he had killed werewolves, and we assumed..."
"Ah," Dumbledore said in comprehension. "I'm afraid there's been a misunderstanding. The werewolves Harry killed were a regrettable loss...but nearly all of them had chosen, in their human state, to support Voldemort. They were not forced to attack a school of children while in their animalistic state, they chose to do so. They suffered the consequences. The few others who were forced, who Voldemort used his powers on, were a terrible loss, but we were at war, and there was no way to distinguish between the willing and unwilling werewolves. Harry did what he had to."
"I don't see how I'm wrong, though, Albus," Giles protested. "I wouldn't blame him for disliking werewolves after such a traumatic encounter."
"Harry doesn't dislike werewolves, Rupert," Dumbledore told him. "In fact, Harry has proven himself to be incredibly open-minded about the merits of all manner of creature in his short life. He has befriended house elves, earned the respect of the goblins, and is learning to deal with the concept of a vampire with a soul, all because of the goodness of his heart. He has a remarkable capacity for love. In fact, you couldn't be more wrong, about Harry disliking werewolves. One of his few remaining close friends was infected in the last battle, and, most importantly, his surrogate godfather has been a werewolf since long before Harry was born. Harry loves him dearly."
Giles looked rather embarrassed. "It seems that, once again, I have underestimated Mr. Potter."
Dumbledore was amused. "I won't hold it against you; you aren't the first to have done so, and won't be the last. I only regret that your mistake has caused Mr...actually, I've never caught Oz's last name. Anyway, this misunderstanding has caused Oz some excess pain, since if we had known of his malady, we would have provided him with wolfsbane."
"Wolfsbane? Is that a potion of some sort?"
"Indeed; it is a potion which has the effect of causing the werewolf to keep his human mind during the transformation. Alas, it must be drunk all three days of the full moon, so we shan't be able to help your young friend till next month. Professor Snape is at Hogwarts delivering the wolfsbane to some of the people living there right now."
"Anything that would help in the future would be lovely; we're forced to just keep the tranquilizer handy - " Giles patted the gun by his side " - just in case he gets loose."
"Really? How peculiar," Dumbledore observed. "May I?" he indicated the gun, taking it gingerly from the watcher. "I've seen these devices before, a long time ago, but I've never held one, nor tried to understand how they work." He turned it over in his hands, feeling along its length as if exploring a new toy. There was one part that seemed designed to be pulled on, so he did. There was a gentle thwack sound. "How delightful. Rupert, I…Rupert?"
Giles blinked dazedly at Dumbledore for a moment before returning his stricken expression to the dart protruding from his shin. The only reason Giles was not unconscious quite yet was the lucky fact that the tranquilizer dart had struck the bone in his shin, preventing him from taking the full dosage (which was roughly enough to knock out a small elephant or even a Dursley).
"Dumbledore," he groaned, leaning laboriously forward to pull out the dart, when whatever he might have been about to say was cut off by the frightening sound of the cage finally having had enough, and yielding to the violent attack of its occupant. The werewolf came tearing out, intent upon attacking the man who had tried to restrain him. "Good lord," he muttered, fighting the sedating effects of the tranquilizer long enough to force himself to his feet to face the raging onslaught. He had just enough time to remind himself that he must do whatever it took to avoid being scratched, when the heavy weight of the dark creature was upon him.
"Dear Merlin," Dumbledore exclaimed, rather more shocked at both the fact that he had just shot Rupert and that a werewolf sans wolfsbane was running loose in a school library than a man of his age and with his experience should have been.
"Al-bus!" Giles shouted, holding both the werewolf's front claws away from his face but quickly losing strength. "Shoot! Him!"
Dumbledore quickly aimed the gun at the werewolf, now that he knew where the dart would emerge and how to shoot it, and quickly pulled the trigger. Nothing happened.
"Re-load!" Giles yelped, now lying on his back with the werewolf on top of him, lunging at his face with his awesome teeth.
"Reload," Dumbledore muttered, fumbling at the rifle for a long moment before abruptly dropping it and whacking himself on the forehead in disgust. "Are you, or are you not a wizard?" he demanded of himself, then stood, pulling out his wand in a smooth, majestic movement, and sending the werewolf flying across the room until it slammed hard into a wall. The beast was barely dazed, and surged to his feet again, only to yelp and dive to one side as a chair came sailing at his body. Dumbledore's eyes narrowed, then he gave another flick of his wrist, and one of the large tables in the library went flying at the werewolf. There was a loud thump as it impacted, stunning the werewolf, before Dumbledore moved his wand in several complicated patterns, turning the table until it was pinning the werewolf helplessly to the wall, then turning the table to silver to prevent him from trying to struggle against it, and at last welding the table to the wall, thus creating a secure, albeit uncomfortable, cage for the wolf.
Once finished with his task, Dumbledore hurried to Giles' side, turning the now-unconscious man over and frantically searching him for bleeding wounds. Finding none, he sat back on his heels in relief. "Rupert?" he asked gently, lightly slapping the watcher on the cheek and watching him for his response.
"Hmmmm," Giles mumbled, turning on his side as his face relaxed into a sleepy grin. "Go 'way, mum. 'Snot time to wake up yet." He let out a loud snore. He rolled over again, the expression on his face becoming pensive. "Slow down, luv," he murmured conspiratorially. "At least wait until we're on the police car!"
Of course, to Giles' everlasting dismay, it was just at that moment that Severus Snape arrived back at the library, delivered by Fawkes in a brilliant flash of light.
By the time Spike caught up to the rest of the gang, they were embroiled in a fight against a small group of vampires. "Well, this is just lovely," he muttered to himself, vamping out for the second time in five minutes. He took a stake from the pocket from his trench coat and slammed it into the heart of the nearest vampire, not missing the shocked, reproachful look it shot his way before it crumbled to dust. "Sorry, mate," he said. "A vamp's gotta do what he's gotta do." He looked up to see Harry capably taking on a vampire, and in a moment of maliciousness, waited till Harry was at a vital part of the fight before shouting, "Oi, Potter! Don't you die before we have a talk about that not-a-Malfoy comment!"
Harry's distraction earned him a solid punch to the face from the vamp he was facing before he managed to stake it. "Oh, don't worry, I won't!" he called back, kicking a vampire as he spoke. "But just as food for thought, you ought to know that you're more likely to be from a Hufflepuff family than a Slytherin one!"
Spike was so appalled by the very thought that he let a vampire – one weak enough to have been his own minion – to slug him.
"What's going on here?" Snape demanded, taking in the rather shocking sight of Dumbledore holding his wand in one hand and a gun loosely in the other, an unhappy werewolf pinned to a wall by a silver library table, the entire room in disarray, and Rupert Giles, unfortunate watcher extraordinaire, lying on the floor in a semi-comatose state, whispering sweet nothings into the ear of some imaginary person.
"Severus! You're back later than expected," Dumbledore prevaricated guiltily.
"I had to help clean up a mess in the dungeons," Snape said dismissively, his face bland. "What happened to Giles?"
"A slight accident with a tranquilizer dart and a werewolf," Dumbledore shrugged off the incident. "What kind of mess?"
"Oh, just helping pick some fake teeth up off the ground and lugging a deboned substitute professor to the infirmary," Snape said airily, a gleam in his eye. "Who's the werewolf, and why didn't we know about him before?"
"It turns out that young Oz is a werewolf. As for why we didn't know, I'm afraid that young Rupert erroneously held Harry's past actions in battles against werewolves against him, and wished to hide Oz's condition from him," Albus informed his potions master, a gleam of his own in his twinkling blue eyes. "Now, was it a student who deboned and untoothed poor Gilderoy?"
"Albus! You didn't!" Snape exclaimed, looking from the mischievous and surprisingly vengeful Headmaster to the slumbering librarian. "And, no, it was not a student who did either. I have been informed that Filius was the reason for dear Gilderoy's new, less-than-blinding smile, while Minerva was responsible for his deboning. I believe she said something about it being fitting retribution for his own deboning of Mr. Potter's arm some years ago...?"
"I don't know what you are insinuating that I did to poor Rupert," Dumbledore said with quiet dignity, which was belied by the continuing twinkle in his cerulean eyes. "I presume you did something worse to Gilderoy than you have yet told me?"
"It is hardly my fault that the only skele-grow in my stocks at present are half-strength, and take twice as long, and cause double the pain," Snape sniffed.
"Indeed," Dumbledore said wryly.
"However, and I do believe I mentioned this to you before, Headmaster, if that cretin is not expelled from the dungeons in the next two days, the damage I cause him will be intentional...and permanent," Snape said menacingly. "And I am certain that you are aware that I have our resident boy hero's agreement to help me in my revenge should you fail to act in a timely manner."
The werewolf on the wall growled as if in consensus.
"So who exactly are these Mal-fies?" Buffy asked from her position perched atop a tombstone.
"A powerful wizarding family," Angel informed her, since Spike was too busy glaring at Harry to answer, and Harry was playing dumb. "I didn't know that Spike ever claimed connections to them..."
" 'Claimed connections to them', hmph," Spike mimicked scornfully. "I never claimed connections to anyone, peaches, and don't you forget it. No, my relation to the Malfoy family was always assumed, though."
Buffy blinked, and was for a brief moment overtaken by her snooty lady-self from Halloween a while back. "Wait – are you saying you thought you were the bastard son of a Malfoy?"
"Bastard is a terrible way to put it," Spike said indignantly. "Illegitimate. I thought I was an illegitimate Malfoy. A squib."
Buffy asked, "A squid?"
At the same time, Harry informed him, quite seriously, "Consider yourself lucky. Malfoys have never allowed a squib in the family, legitimate or illegitimate. It's a family curse."
"What are you saying?" Spike asked.
"I'm saying that any squib born of Malfoy blood is magically killed at birth," Harry said. "Keeps them from having to worry about the continued purity of their blood after all that inbreeding."
"How do you know all this?" Spike asked suspiciously.
"Please," Harry rolled his eyes. "Do you know how many times I had to listen to Draco Malfoy's different boasts about his family's pure wizardness?"
"Now, wait," Buffy asserted, "Even I can't see how Spike's a squid. I mean, he looks kinda like a ferret or rat or something, but a squid?"
Harry gazed piercingly at the blonde vampire. "You're not going to start going on about how you've always acted the way you have because you thought you were a Malfoy and wanted to live up to their reputation, but you are really a kind-hearted person deep down inside, are you?"
"Bloody right I'm not," Spike snarled. He hesitated."OK, the hair might have been because of them...Those gits were always too poncy for my greatness, anyways. If I'd known we weren't related, I'd have enjoyed some of their blood, the berks."
"Good," said Harry. He gazed up at the sky, noting how it had begun to slowly lighten. "Now let's get to the library. I need to speak to Professor Dumbledore about something."
"Now hold it!" Buffy exclaimed, hearing his plan. "Don't you remember what I told you about Snape and Giles?" she asked suggestively.
"Snape and Giles?" Angel repeated, wide-eyed. "Snape and Giles!"
"Oh, now that's just wrong," Spike moaned.
Harry scoffed. "I don't think they're really up to anything, Buffy," he said. "And even if they were...in their own time and space..." he continued, looking faintly green, "they wouldn't be doing it in the school library, with the Headmaster present. Now, it really is important that I ask Dumbledore something, so let's go, shall we?"
"Not buts, Buffy," Harry said sternly. "I don't know why you're trying to keep me away, but I'm going, and that's final."
"I'll sit this one out, thanks," Spike said, looking ill. "I wouldn't have come to help all you buggers out if I'd known you were this messed up."
"Shocking as it is, I'm with Spike on this one," Angel agreed with a shudder. "Giles and Snape… C'mon, Spike, let's get back to the mansion, before I hurl."
"Vampires don't throw up!" Buffy called after them, her voice frustrated. She turned back to the wizard, eyes narrowed suspiciously. "You're not as upset by the thought as I thought you were."
Harry shrugged uncomfortably. "Well, it's a really weird, thought, but...a) I don't think they're actually together, and b) if they are, then that's all the better for them. Loathe as I am to say it, Snape deserves some happiness. If he finds it with Giles, well, I guess that's good for them."
She eyed him speculatively. "You know, there's more to you than I originally thought, Harry Potter."
He breezed by her. "I get that a lot."
Giles awoke after several long and marginally relaxing hours of sleep which he grudgingly admitted he really had needed – although not at the hands of a tranquilizer gun being aimed by an old coot, he asserted. He had had to put up with numerous annoying jeers from Snape, as well, which always put him in a bad mood. Thus, it was an unhappy watcher who opened the library door upon hearing a tentative knock – he wondered why she had knocked, since it was a private library, and could not know that she had insisted to Harry that they do so lest they walk in on a sight neither wanted to see.
"Buffy!" Giles frowned disapprovingly at his Slayer, disappointed that she had failed in her task for the evening, even if it had been rather pointless and counter-productive in the long run. "I thought we agreed that you would keep Harry from the library tonight!"
Harry, seeing the disheveled, drowsy, flushed watcher, decided that maybe he had been wrong about Snape's and Giles' relationship after all. "Err, I'm sorry to, uh, interrupt your uh business, Mr. Giles, and, well, I think you're rather, uh, mad, but, well, if this is what you and Professor Snape want, then, er, I guess I'm happy for you both, and uh you don't have to hide on my account, since Buffy obviously knows about it."
"My busin – what – Buffy!" Giles sputtered, turning bright red. "With Snape! What on Earth did you tell him!"
Snape sauntered up behind the flustered watcher. "Oh, Rupie, don't say that our night together meant so little to you! I was so touched when you said to wait until we reached the police car to perform our lascivious acts..."
"Dear lord, kill me now," Giles muttered, blushing and avoiding everyone's eyes.
"Giles!" Buffy shrieked. "I told you I never wanted to hear about what you did with my mom, ever again! What were you doing, telling Snape of all people?"
"Your mother?" Harry interjected, confused. "Giles and your mother are together? And he and Snape?"
At the same time, Snape asked, "You and that witch are together? You sly dog!"
"Now wait just a minute – " Giles spluttered.
"I don't know why you're all so upset; Mrs. Summers is a very attractive woman," Dumbledore added, appearing seemingly from nowhere.
Needless to say, the tumult caused by this new (and disturbing) statement continued for quite some time.
In fact, it did not stop until after the sun had risen.
The cause was plain, and shocked everyone into silence the instant Buffy pointed it out.
The sun was up. The moon was gone for the day. There was still a werewolf pinned to the wall, mewling miserably.
Something was terribly wrong.
Thanks to everyone who's reviewed, they really brighten up my day. I'll do my best to get my act in gear and keep writing!