I shall never again underestimate the unholy power of a truly pissed off woman.
Does that mean you'll never prank me again?
No. It just means I'll be better about getting caught.
So I am marking this as the last chapter in this particular story. I've done all I've set out to do, and hopefully it's made sense to people besides me. So thank you all for the reviews and for sticking with me while this took YEARS longer than I originally planned. I guess life sometimes gets in the way, huh? Anyway, again, thank you, hope you enjoy, and while there will not be a sequel I might come back to this Universe every once in a while for a one-shot.
BTW- Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Harry Potter do not belong to me. They belong to Joss and JK respectively.
Really Xander had no idea what was going on around him. He'd woken up and found his honorary little sister in bed (still fully clothed, but in bed damnit!) with the man who was going to regrow his eyeball (a feat he still wanted done). The shovel speech Dawn had handed out, in what seemed like a lifetime ago, was echoing in his head. Yet at the same time it was obvious the two had some kind of a history that was still shocking everyone in the manor house. He understood the shock of meeting an old friend (even if you only knew this friend in your head- seemed par for the course to him acctually) for the first time, it was like when the Soldier made himself known for the first time after the Halloween Incident. Idly musing about tactics and then having something jerk your head to a specific part of a map and the answer suddenly appear in a blindingly obvious light. That, "oh" moment.
That didn't mean he had to like that Harry's arm was around his Dawnie's waist, his fingers caressing the naked skin between her shirt and jeans.
"Ok! Time to wake up!" He screamed above their heads, snickering as Dawn shot up out of bed and almost knocked his head with hers.
"Nothing happened!" She gasped.
"To my ever-living disappointment," Harry muttered as he pulled a pillow over his head to block Xander out. Before Xander could comment on that lovely piece of rhetoric Dawn stood up and grabbed his hand.
"Lets get breakfast, huh? Let the fat ass wake on his own," she smiled as Harry merely shot them both a middle finger salute.
"OK, so the basic spell is pretty much that, basic," Hermione was explaining over eggs and toast. "It's a spell that we use mostly to replace lost items, but we'll twist it to a specific area ie: in your eye socket, and add diagnostic charms along with basic healing to make sure all the parts connect correctly."
"Seems pretty…" Xander couldn't think of a word.
"Basic, I know," Hermione smiled content.
"Complicated," Dawn disagreed. She smiled at Hermione's pout. "I know you think it's basic, but you deal with merging spells all the time. You were just talking about five, at least five, different spells there Hermione."
"And my eyeball isn't really lost," Xander offered as he took a bite of bacon. "It's squished."
"But it's missing from that area," Hermione shrugged. "I asked Tonks and even sent a preliminary to Professor McGonagall… she seems to think it will work. She asked to be present, but I told her that really, we have enough witches here of such varying skill sets that we've got every calamity covered."
"She probably just wanted to gawk as you did a brand new, never thought up, spell Hermione." Harry scoffed as he entered the kitchen and poured some orange juice. "Do you realize with all of your research you've probably created enough spells to write your own book? She's in awe of you darling, everyone is."
"Don't be ridiculous Harry," Hermione blushed.
"Not being. Anyway, when do you want to do this? And do I have to be Mr. Energizer Bunny again?"
"No, I was thinking we'd start just after breakfast," she paused as Xander started choking, having taken a sip of coffee right before her pronouncement. "Is there something wrong with that? I mean, I can put it off if you've got things to do?"
"NO!" She started as each Scooby jumped up in protest.
"After breakfast is fine!" Xander replied, "I'm just used to a big build up before a major event, so casually announcing that I'll have an eye before lunch was kind of a shock."
"Oh… well, it may take some time for it to fully regrow… um…" Hermione smiled a bit uneasily at the hunger in all of their eyes.
"Put it like this," Harry sat down next to Hermione and pointed at his arm. "It took almost a full day to regrow a bone in my arm. It'll start small and just inflate over a time period."
"I think that might work better… get my singular ocular a chance to balance with the old one again… I used to walk into walls something fierce." Xander calmed down the suddenly nervous witch.
"Yep, he's got the scars to prove it," Dawn grinned.
"That wasn't fair!" Xander protested, "That wasn't my fault! That Spit'n'Shine Demon shoved me into the hallway and the corner just happened to be on my bad side!" He reached up to scratch a small scar over his eye patch that neatly disappeared into his hairline.
"Shif'n'rine demon." Dawn corrected.
"Riiiight, well, depth perception here I come…" he sighed as he stood to take his plate to the sink.
"Yes, then, lets do this." Hermione stood as well and let her hand rest on Harry's back just long enough for him to transfer her some energy. She didn't need a battery for this, but he always wanted to make sure she had enough so she didn't drain herself by accident. He told her to think of it as an extra breakfast one time, she'd dumped her tea on his head but didn't protest the next time he did it.
"I'm not going to have to do anything strange will I?" Xander asked as they walked to the library where Hermione had set up everything she'd need for the casting. "Any phrases or burning herbs?"
"Nope, don't worry about it, I just need you to sit in the circle and concentrate on your eye…" she turned to give Harry a wry grin before pushing Xander into the library. At his faint protest she smirked at him and shouted with an imperious finger pointed down at his pants, "Now Strip!"
The rest of the kitchen was silent as Hermione closed the door behind them, until Harry burst out laughing.
"Whaaa…?" Buffy asked as Harry started to wind down.
"She's joking, she read all these books before going to Hogwarts about witches going "sky-clad" and she never really divorced herself from that. So every once in a while she tries to get us all together for a Wiccan ritual. Of course she doesn't strip herself, she just tries to see how many people she can get to strip before they realize nobody else is."
"That was bloody uncomfortable, let me tell you." Ron protested as he exited the basement. "Of course, having you all see me in my trunks was worth seeing Susie in her knickers…"
"You do realize that's your fiance in there with a naked man?" One of the Slayerettes pointed out.
"I'm secure in my relationship with her, besides, Xander wouldn't do it." Ron shrugged.
"Are you sure? Because he's done some pretty stupid stuff since I've known him," Buffy pointed out.
"Yeah, like what?" Harry asked, curious.
"I'm not sure I want to give you that kind of ammunition," Buffy temporized to Harry's disappointment.
"I'll tell you," Willow promised as she sat next to Ron at the kitchen table and started to butter a piece of toast. "I've known him longer."
The morning passed with hilarious tales of spells gone wrong, axes left up trees, shoes that mysteriously disappeared only to reappear a few sizes larger and on feet not meant for heels…
But the laughter stopped the moment the door to the library reopened. Almost as one entity the group shifted their gazes down the hall.
Xander stepped out first, his black eye patch replaced with a white compress taped into place, a soft blue glow surrounding it. Hermione came out afterwards, a hand on Xander's back as she steadied his walk down the hall.
"We could hear your laughter after we came up for air. Xander insisted on joining so he could deliver some payback."
"You okay mate?" Ron asked as he scooted over to make more room.
"Yeah, all that's left is time apparently," Xander smiled up as Hermione pulled out a chair for him. "According to my nurse I should be released later tonight."
"Only if your blood work comes back normal," she teased. Ron didn't have any idea what she meant, but the rest of them not so fondly remembered previous hospital visits and nurses that weren't half so cute.
"I just wanted to not be alone with my thoughts because it's itching and starting to drive me nuts," Xander consciously kept his hand from the herb poultice that Hermione told him was full of beneficial magical plants. "And I had to tell the story about the time Buffy managed to get pulled over by the cops for speeding and threatened to pull the cops spine out of his nostril…"
"Hey!" Buffy protested, "He was a demon! It was entirely possible! His spine was completely capable of exiting such a teeny space!"
"His partner didn't think it was so funny."
"His partner didn't know he had spikes down his back on the weekends."
"You were just pissed because he threatened to take your license away."
"Yeah, and he rethought that when I handed it to him," Buffy smirked. "You're Buffy Summers? You? Sorry Ma'am, have a nice day!" she stuttered out in imitation. "I would have gotten away with it too, if not for his stupid partner."
"Who was one hundred percent human and immediately objected," Dawn laughed out. "Had no idea why his usually by the book partner had suddenly decided to allow the drunk lady to continue on her way."
"I was NOT drunk!"
"No, but you drive like it."
"Buffy?" Xander challenged.
"Fine. But you have to admit, when the demon-cop sneezed and his horns popped up his partner had something else to think about."
The rest of the afternoon passed pleasantly, the Slayerettes returned from school and went off on various exercises or homework or after school TV, the Scoobies hung around the kitchen and told stories that some of the younger girls decided to eavesdrop on, resulting in all new rumors for the mill.
Xander managed to keep his mind off of his eyeball, except for when it started feeling like there was a balloon or something pushing against the atrophied sides. At that point Hermione and Harry decided to teach him how to make pumpkin juice, which weirded him out something good and managed to distract him as he thought up ways to get out of helping. The fact that Dawn insisted it was good just left him with a vaguely unsettled stomach. Dawn ate peanut butter and broccoli sandwiches.
By dinner time Xander was finally able to say, with complete honesty, that he thought there was something in the socket that was the same size as his old eyeball. He hadn't felt anything nudge or move against the walls in a while. Hermione sat him down and made him close his other eye, then move the orbs around as if searching for something inside his head. At first it was like stretching after a long day of sitting down at a computer or researching a demon. That pleasant movement that made you want to yawn. Then it turned into an odd pulling movement, like maybe a couple of Slayers had hold of each of his arms and didn't want to let go just yet. Hermione smiled at his descriptions and told him that after dinner they'd retreat back to the library and she'd take off the patch, see what they had to work with.
Dinner was roast beef and red potatoes, broccoli and cauliflower, and the pumpkin juice was ready for any who wanted to try it. Most of the girls braved the strange beverage and announced that while they wouldn't drink it everyday, it wasn't half bad. Then the house was oddly empty while Slayerettes grabbed brownies and weaponry, wished Xander good luck, and left on patrol.
Hermione had Xander sit in the impressive wing back chair that sat behind the massive oak desk, spun him around so that she was the only one to see what was there as she gently peeled back the white cover. Both his friends and hers were sitting around the fireplace, not even pretending they weren't holding their breaths for the result.
As she pulled away the patch, and smoothed the skin that was slightly pink from the tape, she smiled. Of course it wasn't what she was expecting, but really, when was anything?
Xander looked up at her, blinked a few times and hesitantly reached up his hand. "What's wrong with it?" was his first question.
"Hermione?" Buffy asked, nervous.
"Just the color," Hermione reassured. "It's not a complete match, but it'll probably get better with time. It's a little yellow compared to the other."
With that Xander spun around and took in the room, looking around with two eyes for the first time in years.
"Any blurring?" Hermione asked, "Weird stripes or colors?"
Xander could only shake his head, incapable of speech as Buffy and Willow glomped into his arms. The smiles on everyone's faces were probably powerful enough to power Washington DC for a few decades. Harry looked over and caught the tear that was slowly rolling down Dawn's cheek.
"Thank you, Harry," She kissed his cheek and laid her head on his shoulder.
"Thank Hermione, she did all the work," he pulled her closer in to hug her to his side.
"I will, but thank you for bringing her, this needed to be done."
"Then you're welcome Dawn," Harry looked over and basked in the pleasant warmth that permeated the room. There were happy tears apparent on each face, Tonks and Ginny sat on a window seat and watched while Ron went over to congratulate his fiancé on a job well done. Buffy and Willow were each sitting on one of Xander's knees and playing tug of war almost to examine his new eye, while he sat on the love seat with Dawn, just holding her and feeling like maybe, here, he belonged.
He could see himself with these people, sometime in the nebulous future. Fighting evil, righting wrongs, maybe having a picnic every once in a while… Now all he had to do was convince Dawn that she couldn't live without him…
"So you going to stick around for a while?" Dawn asked, pulling Harry from his thoughts rather abruptly.
"Uh…" Harry didn't know what to say, wasn't he just thinking that?
"Because, you know you can't live without me," She smirked. "Well, you could, admittedly. But it would be a miserable existence, and I'm just not sure I'd be willing to let you do that to yourself."
"Well, I don't really have anywhere else to be, at the moment." Harry shrugged. "Maybe we could just stick around each other for a while, figure things out as we go along?"
"If you want," she cuddled deeper into his side. "If that's what you really want."
"Dawn," Harry tipped her chin up so she looked him in the eye. "That's what I really, really want."
"Ok," she agreed before shifting closer to take his lips with hers. He breathed in her scent, fresh, vibrant, and just let her slip away, back into that comfortable embrace.