Title: A Real Wizard

Author: Jedi Buttercup

Rating: T

Category: A:tS/Harry Potter

Summary: Wesley takes his own advice: the key to success is preparation. 850 words

Disclaimer: The words are mine; the worlds are not. I claim nothing but the plot.

Spoilers: A:tS mid-"Not Fade Away" (5.22); the "Harry Potter" series in general.

Feedback: It's the coin of the realm.

Notes: Twenty-first ficlet for the August Fic-A-Day challenge.

"You don't know who you're dealing with, do you, boy? I mean, really. I crap better magic than this. Now then, let me show you what a real wizard can do."
--Cyvus Vail, A:tS "Not Fade Away" (5.22)

Wesley quietly gathered his first-aid supplies, still kept well-stocked though he seldom visited his apartment anymore. He had practically moved into his office in recent months, especially since Illyria had... arrived. He had not been entirely unaware that his sanity had been suspect in the first weeks after that event, and too many of the things in his apartment had reminded him of Fred; it had been easier in many ways to avoid it altogether.

He felt clearer now, more in control than he had since Fred's untimely death. His heart may have burned up with hers, but his mind was still as useful a weapon as it ever had been. Naturally, this revelation had come just in time for him to put it to its last task. Wesley was under no illusion about his odds of returning from whatever task Angel had planned for him in their attempt to dismantle the Black Thorn.

He took an extra moment to run his fingertips over a photo of himself with Cordelia and Angel, and another of Fred, both women already lost to the forces arrayed against them. He left his journals and books on the shelves-- he would not bin them today as he had when fleeing with Connor, as any one who might think to use them to discover what had happened to him afterward would have been involved in the same effort.

Everyone except...

Wesley's brow wrinkled in thought, and he took slow steps toward the kitchen. At some point between the visit of the cyborg impersonating his father and his ill-thought-out attempt to restore Fred by destroying the Orlon Window, a small package had arrived at his apartment, addressed by his mother. It had contained only two things: a copy of the obituary for his father-- dead at last of complications from wounds dealt by a Bringer the year before-- and a slim metallic tube, chased round with inscriptions in Latin. He had known what the tube contained without even opening it.

Wizards had not been entirely rare among the members of the Watchers' Council, but neither had they been common, and the secrecy mandate had held as much for them as for any other Wizard despite their occupation. The leading members of the group had taken this to mean that though it was in their best interests for those who could to receive a magical education, it was equally important to also learn more natural magickal methods to camouflage that knowledge from their colleagues and charges. To that end, a Hogwarts graduate's wand was always broken upon joining the Council.

Wesley himself had never had a choice, either in his education or the Council job that had come after. He'd surrendered his wand with ill grace, aware that most of his successes in life to that point had been tied to his time spent in Ravenclaw, and watched it snap like a twig in his father's hand in a sad echo of all his childhood hopes and dreams.

Had a duplicate actually been snapped in its stead? Had his father somehow patched it, or purchased an illegal wand with similar components? Wesley had not known the answer, and had not wanted to know it. Regardless of what option Roger Wyndham-Price had secretly chosen, and why, Wesley had recognized the feel of the wand even through the metal covering that dampened its energy signature, and had immediately hidden it away before he could be tempted to use it. He had not been willing to risk Wolfram & Hart discovering it on him at the office.

That concern, of course, was now no longer a factor.

Wesley lifted the box from the drawer under the telephone where he'd stored it, then unstoppered the metal tube and slid free ten inches of ash and dragon's heartstring. It tingled a bit in his palm and shot out a few welcoming blue and silver sparks; he closed his eyes momentarily, feeling as though he had been reunited with an old friend.

One way or another, he was certain he'd be grateful for its presence before the day was over. He thrust it into a pocket of his trousers, then turned and left his apartment, not bothering to lock the door behind him.

Hours later, Wesley sat at a table in Cyvus Vail's vast hall, watching in distaste as the aged demonic sorcerer slurped his evening meal. He fingered the length of wood in his pocket as the being made cursory attempts to ferret out his motives, and thought very carefully about what he'd decided to do.

Was the defeat of this being worth the damage it would do to his soul?

And yet, what good was his soul to him, when no matter where it went after death his Fred would not be there to greet him?

"You make a very persuasive argument," Vail said, considering, his guard as down as it was going to get.

"Wait," Wesley said, and made his move. "It gets better."

He pointed the wand at his opponent beneath the table and spoke just two words more.