Fic : Alexander Harris and the Shadow Council

Rating - M

Summary - A step to one side in time, a shift to another in space, and you would be surprised at the changes one might wreak on an unsuspecting world.

( Full story available on .com )

****

Salem Massachusetts

The Explosion that rocked the small estate outside Salem would likely have gone entirely unnoticed had it been even slightly smaller. The fact that it threw debris up into the air almost three thousand feet, however, and rained it down on the town of Salem put an end to any hope the Governing Board had of keeping it quiet from the locals.

Luckily, they were tolerant of such things in Salem, having learned a long time ago that it was best to ignore the unusual as much as possible. The last time they'd really paid attention to the small estate had been in Sixteen Ninety Three, and they'd paid a price for trying to draw the Institute into their petty games of morality, religion, and politics.

Even so, the damage control was difficult, as the local media started looking for the cause of the explosion and source of the raining debris, locals began expounding on old legends and things best left quiet, and the Institute found itself rather tightly pressed and actually unable to put their normal level of enthusiasm into repairs and such.

Additionally, the explosion was proving... difficult to... well, stop.

****

"Good Lord, Arthur, what were they mixing in there?" Stephen Smythe muttered, eyeing the gout of flame that was still coming from the Alchemical Laboratories.

"I have my doubts we'll ever entirely know, Stephen," Arthur Fitzpatrick sighed, rubbing his long beard as he subtly shook his head. "I suppose we should move on to new business, however."

Stephen rolled his eyes.

Only Arthur could speak casually of new business while a third of the institute's grounds was covering in what basically amounted to lava, and choking black smoke continued to pour into the sky. He supposed that being a hundred and twenty years old had a generally calming effect on the man.

"Very well," He sighed, "I suppose that the most pressing is new students. The explosion has destroyed much of our Freshman facilities, including the Dorms."

"Yes, I know, Stephen." Arthur sighed, "I believe I have a solution, however."

"Oh?" Stephen asked, idly, his mind trying to identify where they would build new facilities.

"Until we get this under control, rebuilding is... of course... out of the question," Arthur said thoughtfully, "And I'm reliably informed that it will be at least six months before we can shut down the eruptions."

Stephen groaned.

"Six months? Sir, that's intolerable."

"I quite agree, however reality often is." Arthur said in kind. "What I have proposed, and the Board has accepted, is that we offer new students placement overseas for the next year."

"Oh, Sir, you know that's not going to go over well with the parents. Too many of their families left Europe specifically to keep their children from growing up with that bunch of lunatics."

Arthur glared at him crossly, but Stephen merely stared back unapologetically until the old man sighed.

"Yes, well, be that as it may I think we can convince them. It is only for a year, after all, and it's good for a child to be exposed to other cultures."

"Bog Rot." Stephen opined.

"Your opinion is, of course, noted. However, the proposal has been voted on and passed." Arthur told him, "We'll divide up the new names and make the presentations to the parents. If they refuse, well there is the option of home schooling."

"Five gets you ten that's what most do."

"Do I look like easy money, Stephen?"

****

Stephen Smythe sighed as he looked over the lists, casually dividing up the names and trying to determine who would go where, at least in theory. In practice it was futile, but there would be some who would accept.

He eyed the lists carefully, noting which families could afford proper home schooling, and shifted those names lower on the list. The offer would still be made, of course, but they were far less likely to accept. He bit his lower lip when one of those names crossed his attention, however, and hesitated.

This family could certainly afford home schooling, and in fact he was surprised they had submitted their daughter to the lists to begin with. That said, getting one of THEM out of the country... there were some people who'd worship him for that alone, and the family as a whole tended to be very close... who knew? They might all leave for a while.

He moved that name far up on the list.

It was wishful thinking, he supposed, but he needed what bright spots he could find.

He chuckled softly to himself then looked over the rest of the names. No standouts that he could see, not after THEM... but two names did catch his eye. Not because of the names, but rather the location.

Oh Lord, we have two possible students growing up in Sunnydale?? He stared, "Good God."

He reached for the intercom, "Sam, could you come in here please?"

A moment later Samantha Hennessy strode into the room, her tailored suit formed impeccably to her body, and she nodded, "Yes Sir?"

"I need you to get a recruiter out to Sunnydale immediately."

"Sunnydale??" Her eyes bugged.

"Yes, I'm afraid we just picked up a couple names there," He sighed, "Just showed up on the roles recently, I assume, or we'd have sent someone out there long ago."

"Uh... Yes Sir. The names?"

"Alexander Harris and Willow Rosenberg."

****

Westfield New Jersey

0001 Cemetery Lane

The recruiter winced as he looked at the house, shivering at even the *thought* of going inside the grounds. Everyone in the Community new full well to steer clear of the Addams', it was an unwritten rule so widely known that it had actually been written down. He steeled himself and pushed open the gate, steadily making his way up the lane to the house.

Once there he mentally reviewed the thirty eight poisonous or otherwise deadly species of fauna and flora living in their front yard and made a silent note to have the rest of the area combed by members of The Force who specialized in mystical cleanup. He didn't expect that they'd find anything, the Addams were many things but clumsy was not one of them, but it wouldn't do for many of the examples he'd spotted in the fifteen foot walk to make their way into normal New Jersey.

He stopped at the door and sighed, again steeling himself, then pressed the bell.

A scream greeted his efforts and he grimaced.

Footsteps were heard a moment later, and the door swung slowly open.

"Youuuuuuuu Rannnnnnnng?" A seven foot tall monstrosity demanded in a long drawn out groan, looking down at him with a calmly detached appearance.

The recruiter forced himself not to run.

It's not a Golem, it's not a Golem, it's not a golem, He told himself, hoping it was true. Again he had to remind himself that the Addams' weren't actually evil. Far from it, in truth. They were, in fact, one of the most well known mainstays against Evil in the new World. The problem was that only someone who access to their full files, and a Bureau Seer, would ever believe it.

"Yes, Recruiter Henri to see Mr and Mrs Addams."

The Golem... Not a golem. NOT a golem... just stepped back and turned away, apparently expecting to be followed. Simon Henri took a deep breath and did as he was bade.

****

Sunnydale, California

Elizabeth Berkely shuddered. She truly hated being the Junior Recruiter assigned to Los Angeles. Whenever there was some little bit of nastiness that involved one of the Institutes students SHE had to be the one sent to handle it. The entire damned state was a loony bin, in her opinion, what with the demons and hellmouth burning so brightly.

It probably had to do with the geological activity of the area, or so most people believed. Geomancy was an ancient practice, almost entirely lost today, but the power in many of those old monoliths was proof enough in it's potency. Much of the state was a power sink of one type or another, such that even the normal types were affected.

One didn't have to look much further than Hollywood or San Francisco for that.

She sighed and determined to get on with it, however, and came to her first stop.

The residence of one Alexander Harris.

She looked up at the number by the door, confirming it, and knocked.

After a long wait the door opened and she found herself looking down at a young boy of ten years.

"Yes?" He asked.

"Are your parents home, Alexander?"

The boy stared at her for a long time, then nodded. "Mom's here."

"May I speak to her?"

"I guess."

The boy backed into the house, shrugged, and left the door open. "She's in the kitchen."

Elizabeth sighed and stepped over the threshold, noting the total absence of any protective wards or even the most basic level of protections that even normal households enjoyed.

Perhaps they just moved in, She thought, then instantly recognized that wasn't the case as the place looked far too... well, 'lived in' was being charitable. She shook her head, put the thoughts out of her mind, and made her way into the kitchen.

"Mom! There's a lady here to see you!"

Elizabeth's expression soured involuntarily as she noted the open bottle on the table and the smell of liquor floating up from the woman inside. Oh lord, I hate these calls.

"Who're you?" The woman asked, with just a barely detectable slur.

"I'm Elizabeth Berkley, with the Salem Institute..."

That threw a shot of steel into the woman's spine almost instantly as she froze in place and the room became very quiet.

"Mom? What's wrong?" The boy asked.

"Quiet for a moment, Alexander," Jessica Lavelle said softly as she focused on the woman in her kitchen. "What are you doing here?"

"Alexander's name has come up on our roles and..."

"He's... He's one?"

"A Wizard? Yes, of course." Elizabeth said, sounding confused.

"I didn't think... I'm not, you see... My family didn't take it well..."

"Ah." Elizabeth sighed, beginning to get the picture. Some of the older families were still mired in the Old World, unfortunately, "I suppose they called you a Squib among other names?"

Jessica sighed, but nodded as she looked at her bottle.

The Recruiter shook her head and examined her notebook, "Yes, unfortunately that doesn't surprise me. Your husband, he's the same?"

"Yes."

"The Harris family and the Lavelles, unsurprising I suppose." Elizabeth sighed yet again. "Both originate from Ireland, your lines are not the oldest in America of course, but they are still as close to aristocrats as we tend to get. A lot of familiar inertia gets built up there, I'm afraid."

"But... Alexander is?"

"On our lists, yes." Elizabeth smiled slightly, getting a better feel for the situation. Perhaps it wasn't entirely unsalvageable after all. "He would have been enrolled in the Institute for next year, however..."

"Would have?" Jessica paled, "Why? What's wrong with him?"

"Absolutely nothing, I'm sure. No, the problem is a slight accident in the Alchemical Laboratories has left the Institute unable to handle a Freshman year in the next session," Elizabeth sighed, "For that reason we're offering support with home schooling..."

"But we can't teach him... we... we just *can't*..."

"Yes, we're aware, the other option is overseas schooling," Elizabeth suggested. "We've contacted several respected institutions, including your families traditional alma mater in Scotland, if you wish we can arrange a one year scholarship there while we work out other options closer to home."

"Scholarship? We can't afford much..." Jessica said, "Our families..."

"In this case I believe that we can arrange tuition and transport. That covers room and board, though Alexander will require any of his own spending money."

"I... I can convince Tony of that..." Jessica said, a stray gleam of hope in her eyes.

"Excellent. I'll leave you to it, then, please... contact us as soon as you make your decision," Elizabeth paused, "Uh, you DO know how to contact us, don't you?"

"Yes, yes of course."

"Excellent," She said again. "Well I have another stop to make, then I can get clear of this town."

The Recruiter made her exit quickly, not noting the confusion on Jessica's face as she spoke her parting words. Confusion quickly passed though as she turned to Alexander, who was looking at her with curiosity burning in his eyes.

"What was that about, mom?"

"That..." Jessica swallowed, trying to moisten her mouth, "That was someone who wants to offer you a place in a special school."

"What kind?"

"Remember the stories I told you about magic?"

"The bedtime stories?" Alexander grinned, "Course!"

"That kind of school."

"C'mon mom," The boy laughed, "Those were made up!"

Jessica shook her head. "No, they were real."

Alexander frowned, "But... they can't be real. They're about *magic*!"

"I swear to you, I didn't make them up."

Alexander thought about it for a long moment, then brightened suddenly. "Cool! Wait t'ill I tell Willow and Jessie!"

Jessica smiled, "I think you might have a hard time convincing them until you get your wand and learn some spells, and you won't be allowed to do magic outside of school for a few years anyway."

"Aw... that sucks." The boy pouted, then frowned, "Wait... if I go to this school..."

His face scrunched up as he thought it through, then suddenly dropped as it clicked. "What about Jessie and Willow!?"

"Alex... they can't go..."

"Then I don't wanna go either!"

"Alex..."

"No! I wanna stay with Jessie and Willow..."

"Alexander Levalle Harris!" Jessica snapped, quieting him, "This is a very big deal, and it's important for you. Jessie and Willow will be here in the summers, but this chance won't come around again. You ARE going to go."

"I don't wanna!" Alexander yelled back, "I don't wanna and you can't make me!"

"Alex...!" Jessica said, reaching out as Xander broke free and ran out the back door.

She sighed, shaking her head. Nothing was ever easy, it seemed.

****

New Jersey

"Ah! Lurch, dear boy, who was it at the door?"

"Guest." The huge man groaned out as Simon came up behind him. "Recruiter..."

"Oh? For what?" The man in the purple suit asked with a grin as he pulled the cigar from his mouth, "Have the Dodgers come to their senses and realized what they missed out on in Fester?"

Simon paused, then shook his head, "Uh no... I'm here about... umm... Wednesday?"

"I didn't know she played baseball?" The man frowned, confused.

"I don't think he's with the Dodgers, dear." a woman in a form fitting black dress glided to the man's side. "Why don't we let the man speak, shall we cheri?"

"Tish! That's french!"

Simon just stared as the man grabbed the woman's arm and began kissing it obsessively.

"Later, dear Gomez..."

"Huh? Oh, right!" Gomez Addams said, eyes snapping to Simon again, "Now, what was this about?"

"I'm with the Salem Institute," Simon began, "Your daughter's name turned up on our roles recently and..."

"But of course she did," Mortisha said simply, "We submitted her name years ago."

"Uh... yes, well you see there's a problem."

"Problem? With Wednesday?" Gomez frowned, "Don't be absurd."

"No, with the Institute, actually. You see there was an explosion and..."

"Say no more, how much to you need!?" Gomez asked, producing a checkbook from thin air. "Five million?"

"Uh..."

"Ten!"

"No, you see..."

"You drive a hard bargain, Sir... Twenty it is!" Gomez said, scrawling out numbers on the check.

"Sir, no, that's not the issue...!"

"Then what is it? Speak up, man!" Gomez said, exasperated.

"The repairs will take time, money isn't an issue, however we don't have room to accommodate a freshman class this year." Simon sighed, "We've discussed options with the board, and are willing to help with home schooling..."

"We can manage, I'm sure," Mortisha said, frowning, "But poor Wednesday was so looking forward to meeting other children."

"Well, there is another possibility," Simon said tentatively. "The Institute has contacted several schools overseas and is prepared to offer placement with them, for the first year at least. Possibly more."

"Send our little girl overseas!? Nonsense, wouldn't think of it!" Gomez countered.

"Dear, she did so want to play with other children."

Gomez frowned, "Well yes, I know, but..."

"It's not the hardship you might think, Mr Addams," Simon offered, "She would return each holiday, and all summer of course... Even at the Institute most children don't come home more than that."

"He's right, dear."

Gomez frowned thoughtfully, "Well we'll talk to Wednesday about it and let you know."

"That would be perfect, Sir."

****

Sunnydale

Alexander 'Xander' Harris bolted from his home and ran through the backyards and driveways to the one place he knew someone would listen to him. He didn't want to live his friends, couldn't his mother get that? What was so special about some dumb magic school anyway? It was probably all some stupid joke, people always played stupid jokes on him and his friends.

They didn't do it *twice*, but there was always some new moron who thought they were soft and weak and unable to look out for themselves. Xander had learned the hard way how to deal with Bullies, at least the way that worked for him. He wasn't big enough to fight them, so he took the beatings when he had to, but he didn't forget.

Don't get mad, his dad had told him once while he was sober. Get even.

Still, this didn't sound like a joke. His mom sounded serious.

Xander ran up to the Rosenberg house a minute later, frowning as he heard yelling from inside.

No one yells at Willow...

He approached cautiously, the yelling getting louder and louder, then suddenly the door flew open and he was surprised to see the lady from earlier get pushed out hard by Mr Rosenberg.

"And stay out of my home you... you... charlatan! I won't have your apostasy in my home! Come here to corrupt my daughter! Get out! Get out of here I say!"

The woman huffed, gathering herself up, and turned on her heel. Xander watched as she strode away, blinking in surprise. Mr Rosenberg never got that angry at anyone.

He was almost afraid to approach so he watched from the corner of the house as the woman looked around briefly, then drew out a stick and muttered something before vanishing in a crack that sounded like a gunshot from the movies. Xander's eyes widened in shock as he took it in.

Magic IS real!!

He swallowed, sneaking around back, and climbed the tree to Willow's room. Her dad was really angry, so he knew she'd be up there. He tapped on the window and she opened it almost instantly.

"Hey." She said, subdued.

"Hey. You ok?"

"Yeah," She said, "Dad's really mad."

"Yeah, I saw him toss the magic lady out." Xander said, shrugging. "I guess you're not going to that school, huh?"

Willow's eyes widened, "How did you know about that?"

"She came to my place first," Xander said glumly, "Mom is excited, she says I have to go."

"What? You can't! Magic doesn't exist!"

"I just watched that lady vanish right off the street, Wills... and my Mom says it does." Xander told her.

"That's impossible," Willow told him with supreme confidence.

Xander just shrugged, "Between reality and my own eyes, I'm gonna go with my eyes, Wills."

"But... but... you *can't* believe in magic!" Willow blurted, "It's... it's... stupid!"

"Hey," Xander forced a grin, "This is me we're talking about."

****

New Jersey

"Scotland?" The young witch asked laconically. "I'm to go to Scotland?"

"Only if you really want to," Gomez said hurriedly, assuring her. "You're an Addams, we can arrange a tutor and..."

"Scotland will do. It's a good school, correct?" Wednesday asked, one eyebrow raising as she looked at her mother.

"One of the best," Mortisha said after some thought, "Though it IS in Europe, and they have... different ways than here in America."

"Oh?"

"More steeped in the old traditions, less willing to see that not everything different is bad." The woman sighed. "I'm afraid that they would look very crossly on Lurch and Thing there."

To someone who didn't know her, Wednesday's expression didn't change, but her family noted the frown the instant it crossed her face and even the normally ebullient Gomez sighed and settled deeper into his chair.

"The Old World Addams' don't involve themselves much with the Wizards and their type," Gomez said tiredly. "We're not welcome with them, and to be honest we're fine with that."

"I see."

"You don't have to go, dear," Mortisha said, "this decision is entirely yours."

"I want to go." the young girl said calmly. "It feels... right."

The two elder Addams' exchanged concerned looks, but there was nothing left to say after that. Their daughter had made up her mind, and that... well, was that.

****

Sunnydale

2 Weeks to end of Summer Vacation

Xander shifted nervously, eyeing the man who'd been sent to pick him up with some trepidation.

"No need to be worried, Alex," His mother smiled at him. "You'll do fine."

"He'd better." Tony grumbled, thinking about the couple thousand dollars he'd put up for spending money for the boy.

"Now dear, don't be like that." Jessica said mildly, but shooting her husband a arched glare.

Tony sighed, his head nodded, and he turned to his Son. "Now listen to me, boy. I know a few things about what I'm going to tell you here."

Xander nodded, eyes wide as his father leaned over.

"Lots of kids in that school are probably gonna give you crap about being..." Tony frowned, looking over at the school representative from Salem. "What do they call it over there?"

"I believe you're looking for the term 'Muggleborn'," The man said smoothly.

"Yeah, right. That." Tony turned back to his son, "I know you've been reading those books we got you from Salem, right?"

Xander nodded, "Yes sir."

Tony half smirked, shaking his head at the comment as he leaned in to whisper, "And less I miss my guess you got your redheaded friend to help you learn em, right?"

Xander nodded again.

"Ok, now listen close boy." Tony said sternly, "You don't start no trouble with anyone, but don't you roll over for any of em either. You remember what i told you about bullies, right?"

Xander nodded, "I remember."

"You're no fighter, boy, but you don't need to be to take on a Bully. So you remember what i said and you'll do fine." Tony said gruffly. "Long as you don't act stupid in class and get kicked out."

"Tony!"

"What??"

Jessica shook her head, shoving her husband out of the way, "You'll be fine, Alex. Now listen you Mr Graden, try not to get in any trouble, and do your best. Ok?"

"Ok mom." Xander said, sighing as he thought about the goodbyes he'd already exchanged with his best friends. Things were moving so fast, and he felt pretty lost.

"Ok, now go along."

The representative of the Salem Institute smiled at him as Xander nodded and turned in his direction.

"Come along, Alexander. Next stop, Salem."

****

New Jersey

"Ready to go, dear?"

"Yes Mother."

"Fabulous," Gomez said, clapping his hands. "We'll run you up there ourselves. It's been ages since we've seen Salem."

"Hmmm... The witch burning museum was quite amusing," Mortisha conceded, "But I was terribly disappointed with all the false advertising."

"Yes well, it's not easy to get ghosts to haunt restaurants, i suppose," Gomez shrugged.

"Perhaps, but you'd think that the Hotel would know better."

"Come now, darling, forgive and forget... we'll try another place this time, alright?"

"Yes, of course, dear... Merci."

"Tish! That's french!"

****

Salem

The tugging sensation in his gut let go and Xander stumbled, almost falling before Grading caught him, and he blinked to find himself somewhere other than his home.

"Whoa."

"Careful there," Thomas Grading said with a calm smile. "Port keys can take some getting used to. You alright?"

Xander nodded, swallowing as he looked at what appeared to be a thirty foot tall volcano in the middle of school grounds. "Uh...."

"Oh, that." Grading sighed, "Yes, well, suffice to say that freshmen should always be monitored while playing in the alchemical labs."

"Students did THAT??" Xander stared, wide eyed, between the volcano and the man.

"Yes, unfortunately."

"Wow. I've never done anything THAT destructive before."

"I should hope not," Grading chuckled, "Very few students get a chance to blow up their school."

"A fonder dream I have never had." Xander replied with a grin.

Tom laughed, "Maybe it's better we're shipping you out to Hogwarts."

"What kind of name is that anyway?" Xander asked, humor still lacing his voice.

"Oh, I think you'll find that the Old World wizards are full of strange names and terms." Grading said, sighing now. "They're really quite backward, at least by our standards of culture. Don't underestimate them for it, however, their magical science is just as advanced as anything we've developed, and they're even more comfortable with it."

"Oh yeah?"

"Yes... this way please," Grading said, guiding Xander away from the volcano, "They isolate themselves from the normal world, what they call 'muggles', and are entirely immersed in magic. We tend to mix a great deal more here, and generally have far fewer laws on the subject... well, far fewer laws in general really..."

"Why's that?"

"Well, American witches and wizards mostly came over here to get away from the Old World way of doing things... and not very many came over, really, all things considered..." Tom said, steering his charge to the dormitories. "There was so much room here that a few hundred wizarding families could really spread out and only interact when they chose to. We didn't really HAVE a government until almost the second world war, and only created what we have now in self defense."

"Huh?"

"Let's just say that the war was a little more complicated than you probably learned and leave it at that," Tom sighed, "The European theatre was a terrible mess, entire wizarding communities were caught in the crossfire... and to make matters worse, the whole Grindlewald affair actually set off a fair portion of the war..."

"The uh... what?"

"Oh dear," Tom sighed, "You have a great deal to learn about the history of the magical world, but I'm afraid we don't have much time for it now. I'll make certain you get some reference books on it."

"Okay." Xander said, unenthused by the prospect.

It wasn't that he didn't want to know, but reading was a pain. Still, the magic books were sometimes kinda cool, with moving pictures and the like. He brightened up, there might be moving pictures of the war, and he'd always been interested in World War Two. If there was other stuff going on he'd never heard about, well he wanted to know about it.

"Here we are," Tom said, "You'll be staying here until we gather the other students, then we'll send you all on together."

Xander looked at the dormitory and his eyes widened. From the outside it had looked fairly common, but inside it was huge and filled with posters and bookshelves and all kinds of things.

"Feel free to peruse the books, you can pick any of the rooms as you're the first here. Just drop your things off and the room will automatically recognize it as yours." Tom told him, "I'll have a history of Hogwarts sent to you... please, look it over... you don't want to be completely unprepared... particularly concerning their House System."

"Huh?"

"Hogwarts divides it's students up into groups according to their... defining motivations," Tom said, considering his words. "Courage, Loyalty, Intelligence, and... well, Ruthlessness I suppose."

Xander recognized the word quickly enough and frowned, "Funny thing to have kids try to be."

"Yes well, the Old World is set in it's ways, and Hogwarts has been around for a long time. It's very much the magical world's version of Oxford, complete with some rather odd traditions, but a very high standard of academic excellence." Tom replied. "We don't use the house system here, of course."

Xander nodded, thinking about it. Where would he wind up, he wondered? He liked to think he was brave, and he was pretty sure he was loyal... ok, he probably wasn't going to win any points for brains. Ruthless, well... he had to be honest, he could be that if he had to be. Didn't like it though, so he didn't know what the school would make of that.

"I'll leave you be then," Tom told him, heading out.

Xander nodded, said bye, then went to find a room.

****

Ok, the books WERE really cool, Xander had to admit.

The 'A History of Hogwarts' was *huge*, and filled with some of the dullest stuff he'd ever imagined, but at the same time it had pages and pages of all kinds of cool stuff. Wizards sure were funny looking in Europe, Xander decided after only a few chapters.

And what was with the names?

Man, if he'd been named like any of those guys he'd have spent his entire scholastic life with his head in a toilette. When he thought of how easy it was to give someone a stupid nickname in Sunnydale, then looked at names like 'Dumbledore' and Slytherin... well, he was just real glad he was named Alexander. Xander wasn't so bad as far as nicknames went.

Probably shouldn't mention that though, He thought, they might not know how stupid their names are.

The house system was kinda cool, once he went through it. Gryffindor got the brave kids, Hufflepuff got the loyal ones, Ravenclaw got all the nerds, and Slytherin... well, there he wasn't sure. There was something wrong about the stuff printed about Slytherin, something that didn't read exactly true.

Xander wasn't a big reader, but he could read between the lines pretty easy. Lots of people didn't like Slytherin's, that was for sure. Still, from what he could tell there was nothing wrong with them on paper. The key traits weren't ruthlessness, as Tom had said, but the willingness to see a goal through to the end, even if you had to get a little dirty to do it.

Ok, maybe that was ruthless, but there was nothing wrong it that in Xander's opinion. Just kinda dangerous, since it didn't leave any guidelines for what your goal was supposed to be. Lots of room for pricks to make everyone look bad there.

He put it aside, having found out what he wanted to know, and sighed as he settled into his temporary room.

He was long way from home, he realized, and it felt pretty scary.

Maybe if he didn't like it, he could go back to Sunnydale... and Willow and Jessie.

He kinda wished Willow's dad had let her come, but then Jessie would be alone and that would suck too. He took a breath, forcing himself not to feel too bad.

Better he feel bad than Jessie or Willow, Xander was used to it. He could take it. As long as he knew his friends had each other, he could keep on moving forward.

****

It was two days later, and Xander was getting bored with reading about magic and not being able to try anything. Honestly, his interest had waned by the first night, but he'd kept reading cause he knew Willow would probably kill to be in his position.

The sound of a car outside attracted his attention, however, and he eagerly headed to the door to see who it was. The car was a classic, no doubt. Xander knew a bit about cars from his Uncle Rory, though Rory preferred slightly newer vehicles. This one was a thirties Rolls Royce, Xander thought, maybe even older, and probably was worth more than just about... well, anything he could think of.

It came to a stop and Xander gulped as the driver got out, towering over the vehicle as he stared, looking for all the world like Frankenstein's Monster.

"Whoa." He muttered.

The large guy walked around, opening the door for those in back, and one by one they climbed out. The woman was pretty, he figured, dressed in something that Xander just knew his mom would find outrageous, and looked like a vampire or something out of the story books. Xander thought about the fact that vampires were real and did a quickly glance upward.

Ok, sun really IS shining... probably not a vampire. Xander thought, frowning slightly. Too bad.

A man in a suit was next, practically bouncing on his feet as he looked around and took a deep breath.

"Tish! Smell that!"

"Yes dear," The vampire lady smiled, "Sulfur and brimstone. The students here do good work."

Ok, they're a little weird. Xander thought, listening to the conversation as the final occupant exited the vehicle.

This one was a girl about his age or so, dressed similarly to her mother, and looking distinctly unimpressed with... well anything.

"So this is Salem," She said quietly, making Xander strain to hear her. "It looks... *nice*"

The man sighed, "Yes indeed, it's sad how far things have fallen. Why I remember grandpapa's stories about running around town, making random accusations of witchcraft, just for fun."

"Do you suppose I could find someone to burn at the stake?" the girl asked.

Xander paled slightly. She's kidding right?

"Now dear, they're still a little touchy about that here," The woman said calmly. "Best you wait until you've got a few years in before you try anything as advanced as a stake burning anyway."

The girl *almost* seemed to pout, "But we did it last year at home."

"Yes, smashing time that." The man grinned, then frowned, "Too bad she got away."

"Yes, some people are rather more wiry than you expect, aren't they?" The woman said fatalistically.

They're completely nuts. Xander thought, stunned as the group walked towards him. They have to be, right

"Look, Wednesday Darling, a playmate for you!" The woman said, drawing the girl's attention to Xander.

"He looks... bright." The girl said flatly.

Xander frowned, looking down at the Hawaiian shirt he wore, "I like bright colors, ok?"

"Excellent, my boy," The man grinned, "Nothing wrong with a good splash of color now and then, makes your enemies blink before you slide the knife in."

"Darling, manners." The woman said chidingly.

"Oh right, what WAS I thinking of," The man shook his head, promptly offering his hand to Xander. "Gomez Addams at your service. This vison of beauty next to me is my wife Mortisha..."

"Cada-mia..." The woman smiled.

"Tish... that sounded like french!" Gomez blurted before snapping his hand away from Xander, who was reaching to accept the shake, and grabbing his wife's arm and kissing it enthusiastically.

Xander's mouth gaped open as he tried to determine if he was being set up for a joke or something, but the woman just sighed with a smile and pushed her husband away.

"Later darling."

"Oh. Right, yes of course," Gomes straightened himself out and looked back to Xander, grabbing his still outstretched hand, and pumping it almost violently. "This is our daughter Wednesday, and our butler Lurch."

The big Frankenstein guy moaned, sending a shiver down Xander's back.

"Uh... Xander." He said, staring up at the big guy.

"What?" Gomez blinked, looking between Xander and Mortisha, "Was that his name, or is he speaking some other language?"

Xander shook his head, "Xander Harris, that's my name. Sorry."

"Fantastic!" Gomez cried out, "Good to know, old chum! It gets confusing when people don't know each other's names or languages."

"Uh... yeah."

"Are you here for school?" Wednesday asked suddenly, peering at him intently.

"Uh... yeah. I guess. I mean, they're not taking students here they tell me, but I'm being sent over to Hogwarts or something like that."

"Oh good show! So is little Wednesday here," Gomez grinned, "I'm sure you'll get along fabulously."

"Uh..."

"Tell me," Wednesday looked at him, "Do you know how to play ritual sacrifice?"

Xander swallowed, "Do you know how creeped out you're making me?"

"I say, man, there's no need to be rude." Gomez frowned.

"Rude? She's talking about ritual sacrifice!" Xander blurted, "I'm no expert, but most of the books I've read say that's a bad thing."

"They what!?" Gomez growled, "What kind of school IS this place? Why I have a mind to..."

"Dear..." Mortisha laid a calming hand on his shoulder, "be calm. You know that many people can't wrap their minds around how we Addams' are."

"That's no excuse!"

While Gomez raged, apparently just as passionate in anger as he was in greeting, and Mortisha worked to calm him, Wednesday moved closer to Xander.

"Do I really creep you out?"

Xander looked at her, then just nodded.

She tilted her head slightly to one side, "Is that really a bad thing?"

"I'll let you know when I figure out if you're going to try and cut my heart out with a dagger." Xander grinned in response.

She sniffed, "Certainly not. I'm saving that for my wedding night."

Xander stared, his ten year old mind trying to wrap itself around that... and failing miserably. Finally he just shook his head and lifted his hand to chest level.

"Just so you know," He said, "Creep factor just went from here..."

He moved his hand up over his head, "To here."

The girl looked at him oddly, but didn't have time to reply before Xander shoved his hands in his pocket and went on.

"But I'll be damned if I can decide if it's cause of the dagger and heart thing, or the wedding night thing."

*****