Chapter 9

"What do you know about the Slayer?" asked the short blonde holding the stubby not-a-wand.

Hermione didn't seem to notice the threatening tone in her voice. "The Slayer. The Chosen One. One Girl in All the World Given the Strength to Combat the Forces of Darkness." Harry could swear that he heard the capital letters in what she was saying. "Is that you?"

The blonde looked very annoyed. "It was me. It's not that simple anymore."

"We used to have a contact with the Council," said Hermione, "But we lost contact with him a few years ago, and we haven't been able to reestablish it."

"Who was he?" asked the blonde.

"Theodore Smythe," said Hermione.

"Never met him," said the blonde. "Giles?"

"He was one of Travers' assistants," said Giles. "He was killed when the First blew up the old headquarters."

"What are you talking about?" asked Ginny, something that Harry very much wanted to know, himself.

"The Watchers are an organization set up to aid the Slayer," said Hermione. "They find her, train her, guide her."

"Control her, get her killed," said the blonde.

"Buffy!" said Giles, with a note of warning in his voice.

"What?" she asked. "It's not like it wasn't true."

"Yes," said Giles, "but let's not air our dirty laundry in public, especially when it is laundry that that has already been cleaned."

"Right," said Buffy. She closed her eyes for a moment, and took a few deep breaths. "The old Council is gone. We're the New Council. It isn't just One Girl in All the World anymore. There are lots of Slayers now." She looked around. "Most of us are Slayers. The only non-Slayers here on our side are Xander, Dawn and Giles."

"Ahem," said Willow.

"Oh yeah, Willow's not a Slayer too. She's just scarier than any of the Slayers."


"Sorry, Will, but it's still true," said Buffy.

"What are you talking about?" asked Ron.

"The Slayer," said Hermione. "A magical creature imbued with the strength and skill to fight the forces of darkness."

"Who are you calling a creature?" asked a short, dark haired girl.

"Yeah!" said Willow, "Slayers are a hundred percent human! Just with a little magical enhancement."

"And none of it is anything you need to know," said Buffy. "You've got your secret little community of Wizards, and we've got our community of Slayers and Watchers, and no one needs to know any more about the others than they already do!

"We've accomplished what we came here to do. We've got Xander and Harry back in their right bodies. I say our business here is done."

"I suppose," said Hermione, but she looked like she wanted to argue the point. "But what about re-establishing a liaison between your Council, and the Ministry of Magic?"

"What sort of liaison?" asked Buffy.

"The Ministry had a mutual aid treaty with the Council," said Hermione, "but it broke down in the late 90s. We went through a series of, um, less than stellar Ministers of Magic, then, and if they had approached the Council then, I doubt if they would have been very diplomatic in their methods."

"Yeah," said Buffy, "and I doubt if the Council then would have been very open to their overtures, even if they had been couched in the most diplomatic of terms."

"Let's see if we can correct that," said Hermione. "I propose that we set up a meeting between representatives appointed by our Ministry, with representatives from your Council, to see if we can normalize our relations. Maybe we can form a true alliance, to aid each other in our fight against the Dark."

Buffy looked at Hermione carefully for a few seconds, before extending her hand with a card in it. "Perhaps we can," she said. "Give me a call, after you've talked to your bosses. I want to be sure that whoever I'm talking to has the authority to make any sort of deal."

Hermione took the card. "You'll be hearing from me."

"So, our business here is done?" asked Giles.

"Just about." Harry reached into his pocket and pulled out a key that he held out to Harris. "This is the key to Potter vault at Gringotts," he said. "It's yours now."

Harris looked at the key in Harry's hand sceptically. "I don't really want it."

"It doesn't much matter what you want," said Harry. "The goblins won't let me near it, anymore. It's yours, now."

Harris took the key reluctantly. "If you insist."

"I do," said Harry. "Hey! Maybe they'll treat you better than they do me! They still haven't forgiven me for the mess we made when we took Hufflepuff's cup from the Lastrange vault…even if the Ministry did agree in the end to pay for the damages. Now they're even less happy with me, and are making noises about charging me with impersonating you."

A distant look came over Hermione's face. "You know," she said. "I might have an idea…"

That night, Xander made his girlfriend scream out his name as they made love together for the first time in over a week. Nearly two hundred miles away, Ginny Potter was sitting astride her husband's hips, with his hands on her pregnant belly as he groaned out his release.

Xander was feeling more relaxed than he had in over a week, when he and Dawn entered the Leaky Cauldron. It was good to have his old body back. He didn't even really miss having two eyes. He had gotten used to living with just the one, and having stereoscopic vision again had tended to give him headaches. His brain had gotten out of practice working with two eyes. It was just past noon, and the place was packed. He could tell from the looks that they were getting that some of the patrons recognized Dawn from the picture of her that had appeared in the Daily Prophet.

He saw Ginny Potter waving to him from a corner table, and he and Dawn made their way through the crowd to meet with her, and Harry.

"Xander!" cried Ginny loudly, making sure that everyone's attention was drawn their way. "It's good to see you again!" She took hold of his hands, and kissed him on the cheek. She released him, and gave a similar greeting to Dawn.

Harry's greeting of them was less ostentatious, but equally warm, giving Dawn a peck on her cheek, and Xander a handshake. They all sat back down at the table and Dawn and Xander started to look over their menus.

"You haven't switched back to your old glasses," Xander observed quietly, after Tom had taken their orders.

Harry pulled the glasses from his face, and looked at their rectangular wire rims. "Well, I haven't been to see an optometrist in years, and these work better than my usual pair," he said quietly. "Plus, Ginny seems to like them."

"They suit your face." Ginny looked at Dawn and smiled. "Someone with taste helped you pick them out."

"Harry never asked your opinion of them, before?" asked Dawn.

"He's had the round rims for as long as I've known him," said Ginny. "Just like his—" She glanced quickly toward Xander. "I mean your father always wore. It never occurred to any of us to see what he'd look like without them."

Xander smiled at her. "Keep calling him Harry's father. Even if he wasn't really, it's what we're going to keep on telling people, right?"

"I suppose," said Harry, "but it's just really weird."

"You and me both, pal," said Xander. "But that's what we decided, and that's kinda why we're here, today."

There was shifting in the crowded pub, as patrons made room for someone barging through the lunchtime crowd.

"Here we go," said Harry quietly, as the last few people parted, making room for Rita Skeeter to pass through them. This was the reason they had met in the Cauldron, at the busiest time of the day: so word would reach Rita, and she'd come to see for herself.

Rita had her note pad out, with her quick-quotes quill hovering over it. "Mr. Potter! How surprising to see you here, with your wife, and … friend." She glanced at Dawn, and it was clear that she had wanted to use a different word. She didn't look at Xander at all.

"Is this the skank who calls herself a reporter, that wrote that pack of lies about us, a few days ago?" asked Dawn, sweetly.

"Yes, it is," said Ginny, "and she's lucky I've calmed down a bit, or I'd be hexing her about now."

Dawn smiled at Rita in a way that would have made most people back away from her. "Don't let me stop you."

"Now, really!" said Rita. "That's no way to treat a member of the press. I was merely reporting what witnesses told me!"

"You mean you were misquoting the responses you got to your leading questions, when they didn't say what you thought they should be saying," said Harry. "But now that we've got you here, in front of lots of witnesses…" Patrons from all around the Leaky Cauldron where looking their way now, and all other conversation in the restaurant had died out. "…let's set the record straight, shall we?"

"Really, Mr. Potter. I always strive to be accurate in my reporting!"

"And yet, you almost always fail," said Ginny.

Rita sniffed. "I have received many high awards for my writing, and am the best selling author in Wizarding Britain, alive today."

"Were those awards for writing fiction?" asked Xander.

Rita seemed to notice him for the first time. "And who might you be?" she asked.

"This is Xander Harris," said Harry. "He's a distant cousin of mine, from America, who has recently moved to England, and decided to look me up." He nodded toward Dawn. "I was helping out his girlfriend, Dawn Summers, showing her around London while she did some shopping the other day, when your photographer spotted us, and then he ran away, before we could talk to him."

"I wasn't aware that you had any living Wizard relatives, Mr. Potter."

"Not many," said Xander, "and I'm not a Wizard. "My branch of the family were Squibs. That's why they left England, over a century back."

Rita frowned at Harry. "And you brought him here? What about the International Statute of Wizarding Secrecy?"

"Not an issue." Dawn held out her hand, and a globe of light appeared in it. She held her hand up in front of her mouth, pointed at Rita, and blew on it. The globe flew through the air at the startled reporter, and broke into a cascade of sparks when it hit her. "Xander was well aware of magic, long before we met Harry and Ginny."

"Another reason we're here, today," said Xander. "The family left some of their assets in their Gringotts vault. I'm here to update some of the paperwork, check the financial statements, things like that."

"And here comes my brother, Bill," said Ginny. "He works for Gringotts, and will be helping you, today."

"He used to be a curse breaker, but ever since he got married, he's switched over to a safer line of work," said Harry. "Now he works in Gringotts' Wizard / Goblin relations department."

Bill held his hand out toward Xander. "Mr. Harris? A pleasure to meet you."

"And you, Mr. Weasley."

"Please, call me Bill."

"And I'm Xander, and this is my girlfriend, Dawn."

Bill held his hand out to her, and Dawn took it. She couldn't help thinking that Bill Weasley looked ruggedly handsome. She seemed to have a bit of a thing for guys with scars on their faces.

"Miss Summers," said Bill as he shook her hand. "It's an honour."

Dawn felt herself blushing. "Not really. It's my sister—"

"Your own accomplishments are quite remarkable," said Bill. "I read your paper on Narmer's unification of Upper and Lower Egypt, to form the First Dynasty. You argued quite convincingly that he was indeed an historical figure, and not just an amalgam of legendary characters, or a successor to the true unifier of ancient Egypt. Have you seen the Nekhan inscriptions, in Upper Egypt, depicting his father Selk, the so-called Scorpion King?"

Dawn was really surprised by that line of questioning. "Not personally, but I have seen pictures of them, of course."

"You really need to seem them in person," said Bill. "There's a concealment spell overlain on top of them that masks much of the true inscriptions from casual observation. Even without being able to see that, you managed to pull together bits and pieces from many other sources to put together an astonishingly accurate picture of the First Dynasty's political landscape."

"Did I mention that Bill worked as a curse breaker in Egypt," said Ginny. "He can go on for hours about people who have been dead for six thousand years."

"No, but it's really fascinating stuff," said Dawn. "Have you ever come across any stories about Ra's Astria Porta?"

"I think it is very strange that an Egyptian god supposedly had access to something that in Latin would be translated to mean 'Star Gate' thousands of years before there was a Latin language," said Bill. "I suppose it could just be a coincidence that the syllables of the words came together like that, or maybe Latin borrowed the roots of some words from the Egyptian. Merlin knows that English is full of words that it pulled from other languages."

"True," said Dawn, "But the Egyptian words for 'star' and 'gate' are completely different."

"Maybe they both drew from some other, older, language," said Bill. "One that we haven't identified yet. Ra just used the borrowed words, without them being incorporated into the Egyptian language. English does that too. A lot of foreign words and phrases are used in specialized cases, without those words going into more general use."

"That's a possibility," said Dawn. "But…"

Xander tried to listen as Dawn and Bill went back and forth about ancient Egyptian, and Latin, and other languages that might have preceded them. It wasn't long before their discusion went over his head. It did have one beneficial side effect: Rita Skeeter used it as cover for her retreat away from them, and many of the other gawkers got bored, and went back to their own conversations and meals.

He turned to Harry and Ginny. "So, does he go on like this very often?"

"Not really," said Ginny. "I think he's happy to have someone he can talk shop with, even though he's not really in the curse breaking business, anymore."

"I still like to keep my hand in," said Bill, "and while I don't spend nearly as much time in the field as I used to, I'm still called in to consult from time to time.

"But for today, Mr. Harris, I'm here to help you navigate your way through the intricacies of dealing with Gringotts' accounts managers."

"A couple of friends of ours already did some business with a Mr. Narlblat," said Xander. He seems to be the front-Goblin for dealing with the Council, and Slayer's accounts."

"And what are you hoping to accomplish?"

"Since the Goblins have decided that I'm the 'real' Harry Potter, what does it take to push through an official name change?" asked Xander.

"For both of us," said Harry.