AN: Gasp! An update?! Yes. Yes it is… I feel as though I should mention that this isn't the start of more updates as I'm writing this story slowly, focusing on my other one. It could take another seven months for another update. All I can say is that I have no intention of abandoning it, and if I ever do, I'll let you all know…
Enjoy and please review!
Chapter 6 – Drinks and Tutoring
Harry spent the rest of that day in L.A with Angel and his group of detectives, mostly in the same bar that he'd entered during the afternoon. He and Doyle got on well together and Harry allowed himself to relax slightly more as time past. He couldn't really say the same for Angel though.
It seemed likely that the vampire didn't have a sense of humour and, if what Cordelia and Doyle told him was true, had serious guilt issues; he had no reason to believe otherwise. Harry had a feeling the talk he'd given to Buffy about enjoying herself wouldn't work on Angel and he hadn't bothered trying.
Cordelia was still a bit of a mystery to him. She acted, and seemed constantly frustrated with Doyle, and at times, himself, but there was always a look in her eyes that contradicted what she was saying. He was pretty sure that he had gotten on well with her, but he wouldn't bet his, or anyone else's, life on it.
He would say that Doyle was a friend though. Doyle was the most openly friendly of the three and the more he drank, the more he talked. Harry found that he wasn't the only one who had visions of the future, although Doyle's were more immediate and common than Harry's were and also caused great pain when they came.
With enough alcohol in him to have a pleasant buzz going, Harry called it a night. With the offer to call on him if any demon related incident proved too difficult to handle and a promise to be back soon to start his investigation into Angel's Soul, Harry Disapparated home.
(October 18th, 2000)
With alcohol in his system Harry slept for slightly longer than he usually did. This may have only been an extra half hour, but every little piece of sleep helped. The alcohol had also blurred his nightmares slightly, meaning he woke up less violently than usual. Although this was far more pleasant than most mornings, he had to be careful to avoid the trap that was easy to fall into. He knew that alcohol was a good method for dulling memories and keeping your mind off the truly painful things that had happened in his life, but alcohol, like the potions that allowed someone to sleep easily, led to addiction. He couldn't fall into that trap again.
It also dulled his reactions and, on a good day, that was still likely fatal for him. He needed to be on the top of his game and mind altering substances didn't help. He allowed himself to drink every so often; mostly on anniversaries of deaths or other equally painful things, but only then. The night before had been a bonding experience and so he'd allowed himself a few drinks.
Completing his morning ritual of a run, a shower and breakfast, he begin to read through the Soul Magic books that he'd picked up the day before. He read for several hours before deciding he was way out of his league. It wasn't that the magic would be impossible for him to replicate, quite the opposite in fact, but the books talk about magical theories and magical laws that he had no knowledge of. The books he'd picked up were obviously part of the 'Expert' category of magic, and his knowledge was of a purely different type. He'd need to pick more books on the basics before he could understand anything.
Wanting to have an idea of what he was looking for before arriving at the Magic Shop for books, he Apparated to Giles. After knocking proved that no one was at home, Harry Apparated to the University. It was lunch time just now, so maybe Buffy or Willow would be about. If he found Buffy he could tell her about his visit to L.A. like he knew she wanted and if he found Willow he could ask what books she started on. He didn't need the practical stuff just now, only the theory, so she would hopefully be able to recommend a few books.
He was also looking for one of them because he was bored.
He walked around the campus for a short while but didn't find either Buffy or Willow. As he stopped, ready to Apparate home, he froze as his sense picked up on something.
He was being watched.
He knew it wasn't in the sense of someone looking his way, but in the way that someone was monitoring him, examining him; focusing on him and him alone.
In his life, that was never good.
He continued walking, not letting his watcher know that he was on to them. He glanced around him, pretending as though he was looking for someone. Behind his sunglasses, his right eye shone blue and he glanced towards the direction of whoever was watching him.
He saw a blonde girl sitting alone on a bench looking at him. As he turned towards her, she looked away quickly and hung her head. Not the actions of a spy or anything sinister, although he'd be careful. He walked towards her whilst watching her aura. It was similar, although quite different, to Willow's.
She was definitely a witch like Willow was, but her aura was different. Noticeably so. Willow appeared to be pure power, barely controlled and… for lack of a better word, free. This girl had a strong aura, although distinctly paler than Willows. The real difference was the control this girl had. Her magic was restrained, flowing from the Earth into her at a barely noticeable rate. Harry was guessing again, and his guessed were usually quite good, but he was sure, if the control she had was any indicator, that this girl would be far more knowledgeable than Willow was about magic.
Said control wavered slightly as the girl glanced up in his direction. Though he still wasn't close to her, he saw the fear in her eyes as he neared her. She looked from left to right quickly, as if unsure of what to do. Her magic wavered again and Harry saw it 'tense.' He was guessing, but he was sure that she was preparing to use a spell on him if he proved to be a threat.
It was situations like this that made him wish he'd never heard of magic. Surely things would be simpler then.
He reached the bench the girl was sitting on. She was doing her best not to look at him and seemed to have frozen solid. He was beginning to feel quite bad about disturbing her now, but he wanted to know why she'd been examining him. He needed to know if there threats directly targeted against him here. As he looked at the girl, he knew, without any doubt, that if there was, she had nothing to do with it.
"You mind if I sit down?" Harry asked her gently.
She looked at him and the nervousness was still there. "N-n-no," she stuttered.
Harry winced slightly. Had he really made her so nervous that she was stuttering? 'Well done,' Harry sarcastically thought to himself as he sat.
"I'm Harry," he told her gently.
"T-Tara," she said, still unsure.
He thought about how to approach the subject of her watching him. She had definitely been using magic. "Tara, I'm not going to hurt you," Harry promised, hoping she might relax slightly. He could use a calming charm on her, but that would require him to either draw his wand or touch her skin and he was quite sure that she'd have a stroke if he did either.
"I-I know t-that," Tara stammered.
"Why were you watching me?" Harry asked gently.
"I-I..." she stammered again, unsure of what to say. Harry felt thoroughly awful now for doing this to her. She was incredibly timid.
"I know you're a witch," Harry told her. "And I swear I'm not going to do anything against you."
She took a deep breath. "I-I can see a-auras," she told him. "Y-yours was really s-strange."
"You can see auras?" Harry asked in surprise. Very few people in his world could do that; only the most powerful or those with magical items. "What type?"
"I-I-I can see personality and-and I can just s-see things," Tara explained.
"What did you see with me?" Harry asked; there were a few things he could think of the top of his head.
"Y-you seem different than e-everyone else," she said. She pointed at his chest, "A-and, there s-seems to be t-two of you." She frowned slightly, "It s-seems wrong," Tara said. She ducked her head quickly, realising what she had said might not be a polite thing to say, "S-sorry." Her long straight hair fell across her face like a curtain, as though it had been cut and styled to completely cover her face should she want to hide from the world.
Harry nodded, having expected that. "That was something that happened to me a couple of years ago," Harry told her. "It was necessary at the time and I'm trying to work out how to fix it."
"W-what is it?" she asked curiously, looking up at him again, her hair moving to the side of her as if by, well, magic.
Harry winced slightly, "Something I'd really rather not talk about if you don't mind?"
She nodded several times in quick succession, as though asking about it again would be akin to an unconscionable act. "O-of course," she said.
Harry smiled at her, "Thank you."
She smiled back at him. It was a very pretty, yet very shy little smile. "C-can I ask you a q-question?" she asked.
Harry made himself comfortable on his bench. "Sure," he agreed.
"H-how did you know I was a w-witch?" she asked shyly.
"I can see aura's as well," Harry told her. Her doe-like eyes widened slightly. "Although, I can't see what you can. I can see some types of magic and, well, what a person really is."
Tara blanched; her face paling. "W-w-what a p-person r-r-really is?" she asked fearfully.
Harry frowned slightly. He thought he'd been getting her to relax slightly. What had he said? "I can see if someone is a witch or wizard, or a werewolf or a demon, even if they can physically hide it."
She paled more; something that Harry would have bet wasn't possible. "Y-y-you c-c-can s-s-s-see d-demons?" she asked.
"I can," Harry told her, having no clue what was going on in the girls mind.
"W-what d-d-did you s-see when y-you looked at m-me?" Tara asked hesitantly.
Realising that she was terrified that he had seen something in her aura that she didn't want others to know, he checked her aura again. He hadn't seen anything unusual when he'd seen her, but then, he had missed the dark patch of Buffy's aura the first time he'd met her.
Behind his sunglasses his right eye shone blue again. Tara tensed. He eyed her up and down, watching her aura closely. He shut of his mage sight. "You're a moderately powerful witch, although I've not got much to compare it against," he told her. "You seem to have a reasonable amount of control which suggests a reasonable knowledge of magic, and... that's it." He hoped that he'd calmed some of her fears.
She looked surprised by his answer. Hesitantly she asked, "Y-you d-didn't see any d-demon?" She sounded so hopeful.
"I've seen a few demons and I can say with certainty that there is no demon in your aura," Harry told her. He'd only really seen vampires and a werewolf, but her aura was too similar to Willow's to make her anything more than a witch.
She smiled, shyly again and relaxed significantly. "Y-you're sure?" she asked.
Harry smiled reassuringly. "I'd bet my right eye that I was," he told her.
She smiled again and ducked her head slightly so that her hair fell across her face. "Thank you," she said with a slightly blush.
Harry chuckled slightly. She was very cute. Deciding that it was time for an actual introduction, he held out his hand to her. "Harry Potter," he said.
She took his hand in a very light grip. "T-Tara- Maclay," she said as she shook his hand once.
At hearing her full name Harry was tempted to roll his eyes. How did this keep happening? How was it that every time he decided he wanted to meet someone, they appeared?
"You shop at the Magic Shop?" Harry asked. The owner has mentioned 'Miss Maclay' and it seemed likely that this was her.
She nodded shyly. "I-I do. How did you k-know?" she asked. Harry noticed that her nervous stuttered had lessened slightly.
"I bought a few books from there the other day and Mr. Bogarty mentioned you were one of the few people that actually practiced magic."
"What b-books did you buy?" Tara asked curiously.
"'Floating Man' by Avicenna, 'Summa Magnanimitas' by Thomas Aquinas and a book by James Hillman, but I can't remember the title," Harry told her.
She looked surprised and somewhat impressed, "S-Soul magic? I h-haven't really looked at that much."
"It's something of an… obsession of mine," Harry told her honestly. "But those books are really confusing me."
"W-what's confusing you?" she asked curiously.
Harry winced slightly, "The type of magic that I know is really different to the type talked about in the books. Your magic and mine are different, so even though I know a lot, I've got to start from the beginning again and don't really know where to start."
"I could r-recommend some books for you?" Tara offered, shyly ducking her head.
Harry smiled at her gratefully; this was exactly why he'd come out today. "I would really appreciate that."
"Um, i-if I write you a l-list of books, where would I take it?" she asked, ducking her head again.
Harry thought for a moment. Seeing this girl, so painfully shy like this, reminded him a lot of Neville Longbottom during his early years at school, before he realised that he was worth something, and that he wasn't a failure like his family had told him for years. After what happened to Neville... how Harry had failed him...
Neville had told him, moments before he died, that his life had only truly began when Harry showed him that he was truly worth something. He had said that he didn't regret a thing that had happened since.
He could do something with this girl; he could try and get her out of her shell like he had apparently done with Neville and the forming of the DA. He realised that his justification was a bit askew, but he owed Neville, and helping this girl would be like be like paying a small part of what he owed Neville back.
"Hmmm," Harry muttered. "Well I could stop by here at anytime, or you could drop it off at my apartment. But how about something else?"
"W-w-what do you m-mean?" Tara asked, confused.
"I was always good at the practical side of magic, but tended to skip over the theory, which I know isn't too smart. What about if you tutored me a bit? I have more than enough money and could use the help. People do that here don't they? Pay other students for tutoring?" Hermione had done that with a few people in younger years after fourth year. She'd even taught a few older students, being far more ahead of her studies than she should have been.
"I-I could do that," Tara said, her head bowed only slightly. "Y-you don't have to p-pay me though. I like studying m-magic."
"You have to pay to go to University right?" Harry asked. "And it's expensive?" Hermione had mentioned how she would love to attend Oxford if the war ended. Her parents, being dentists, had more than enough money to send her there, but she'd mentioned it a few times as one of her dreams. Harry wondered if she'd applied now that Voldemort was gone.
He blinked away the thoughts of home; it wouldn't do to dwell on them. He'd get back eventually.
"I-it's not too bad," Tara said, although Harry could clearly see the lie.
"So would you tutor me?" Harry asked. He really wanted to get the basics down and see what he could make of the soul magic in this world. He was also curious to know if he could use this world's magic. That would be quite something to bring back to his dimension.
A new form of magic.
What could convince the magic world of his impending status of Godhood more than coming back from the dead with knowledge of magic that no one in his reality had ever seen?
Or maybe that wasn't such a good idea.
Tara nodded to Harry's pleasure, "I-if you want.
Harry almost frowned but was able to stop it. "Do you want to?" he asked. The way she'd phrased it bothered him slightly, as though she was tutoring him because he asked for it, as though she couldn't say no.
On some level she realised why he asked. She took a deep breath and answered his question. "I would like to tutor you."
Harry grinned. She hadn't stuttered. Well, he'd achieved something today and that was a cathartic experience. He'd been feeling pretty useless lately with very little to do. Sure, he stopped a few vampires, but what was he to do with himself with a Dark Lord pursuing him?
Tara smiled slightly at his reaction. "So where is y-your apartment?" she asked. Harry gave her the directions and the apartment number. "W-would it be alright if I stopped by t-tomorrow night?" she asked.
Harry nodded, "As long as you aren't roaming the streets after dark, definitely."
She looked at her watch, "I h-have to go to class now. I-I'll see you later Harry."
Harry stood with her, "Stop by whenever you want." With a look from side to side to see if anyone was watching him, he winked at Harry and Disapparated from the spot, leaving a shocked, but pleased, blonde staring at where he'd just been.
(October 18th-19th, 2000)
Having left the UCLA campus Harry had returned home and did his best to read through his soul magic books again. There were some things he understood and he made note of those that he didn't. Hopefully Tara would know a thing or two about what confused him.
He had considered talking to Giles or Willow about this worlds magic before deciding he'd see what he made of Tara. Giles's had a lot of books, sure, and likely knew a lot, but he didn't know if Giles had any personal experience with magic, or if was just book knowledge. Even if the older man had knowledge, he was, hopefully, still looking for a way to get Harry home. He didn't want to give the man more to do, and Harry had the feeling that if he'd asked Giles for help, the man would be too polite to refuse.
Willow, as she pointed out, was only just beginning to explore the boundaries created by magic. She was the curious child with more power than sense, and, whilst she could likely help him with what he was looking for, there was still a chance that things could go quite wrong. It was probably best for her to just work at her own pace and not have to think about the darker sides of magic. She also spoke very quickly in a manner that was not easy to decipher.
This world's magic seemed slightly unnatural and unstable. He didn't know how much damage it could cause. For now, he would stick to someone who was a little quiet, and a little shy; someone who appeared to have a good grasp on the ins and outs of this world's magic.
He read until early morning before trying to get a few hours sleep. After waking up after barely three hours sleep, soaked in cold sweat and screaming, he realised that his sleeping patterns were getting worse as days went by. Again he'd seen the same vision with the falling girl and he still had no idea what it meant. There was also a building sense of agitation buzzing around him.
What annoyed him most was that he had no idea what it was. He wasn't especially anxious to get home, he didn't have anything to do here, but he had the constant feeling that he needed to do something. It might have been due to the approach of Halloween, a day that had never gone particularly well for him, or it might have been from the dark magic that had seeped into every part of this town.
He tried to keep himself occupied the following day, running until he collapsed and using as much magic as he was willing to spare to modify his apartment.
Other than the large sense of space he had, the rest of what he had done to the apartment was completely pointless. It now had a second floor that led up to the flats bedrooms, just like Gryffindor tower. The place was now a near-real replica. The only things missing were the spectacular views from the windows which he wasn't sure how to replicate, and actual Gryffindors, other than himself.
He also put off going to see Buffy like he said he would after running from L.A. With his frustrated mood he'd rather get over it in solitude like he usually would. Or try, at least; he had very stubborn friends. Although Buffy was a Chosen One and therefore had a good chance of knowing what Harry was feeling – despite himself not knowing – he had never been one to share his feelings so openly.
Eventually he gave up trying to distract himself and settled on just wasting time and changing the colours of random things in his house, wondering if Tara would turn up.
He finished his evening meal shortly after 6pm and as he was tidying up, there was a knock at his door. His right eye flashed blue and he knew who was there. He closed his eyes and mentally controlled the blood wards he had cast to temporarily key his visitor in. He walked to do the door, took a calming breath and opened it with a smile. "Tara, come in," Harry said moving back from the door. The rule that Giles had told him about not inviting anyone in verbally didn't really apply to him here. Any vampire that crossed his threshold invited or not, wouldn't even be around long enough to regret it.
Tara walked in, a small smile on her face that only partially reached her eyes. She had dressed somewhat formally, and Harry was pleased to see that. That meant she planned on doing this properly. She had three books in her hands. "H-hi Harry," she said to him before stopping dead in her tracks and staring at the room in the same awe that Willow, the only other person to have this place, had.
"W-w-what?" she asked as she blinked several times in quick succession. Harry smiled slightly; he was always enjoyed getting those looks. Having always hated trying to live up to his own reputation, spectacular acts of magic that people looked at in awe made him feel as though he'd done something right.
"I've been a bit bored," Harry told her. "And it's good a way to use up some of my magic." He pointed to the couch, "Have a seat. Would you like a drink or anything?"
"Um, n-no," Tara said, still looking around the room not quite believing what she was seeing. "W-what did you d-do here?" she asked.
Harry took a seat opposite her. "Several space expansion charms, a lot of inanimate to inanimate transfiguration, some conjuration and a few other charms."
"I-I-I-f you c-can d-do this, w-w-why do you n-need m-me here?" Tara asked. Her voice was fearful and she looked around quickly.
Harry blinked in confusion at the change in her voice. The awe was gone, replaced with fear. Quickly, he realised what thoughts must be running through her head. "This is my magic. The type you can use, the theory and history is completely different to anything I've ever heard. I don't even know what your type of magic can do."
Tara took a few deep breaths, getting herself under control. "Y-you're magic?" she asked. She was still wary, but there was a note of curiosity as well.
Harry drew his secondary wand from the holster on the back of his right leg and passed it to her. "To use my magic I have to use a wand for most of it. I can do very little without it. Most of it needs proper wand movements, incantations and visualisation." Harry shrugged, "I don't know how similar this is to what you can do, but I want to learn."
Tara examined the wand in her hand, holding it delicately. "Y-you u-use a m-magic wand?" she asked. There was the smallest upturn of her lips that Harry was sure was the beginning of a smile.
"Yeah. My magic is in my blood, not drawn from my surroundings. That, as far as I can tell, is the major difference," Harry told her. A thought raced through his mind. "Give the wand a wave," Harry said. "See if it works." He hadn't thought of trying this before with Willow and he was curious to see what would happen.
Tara looked worried. "I-Is that s-safe?" she asked.
Harry nodded, "Yes, but don't aim it at me."
Tense, and holding the wand by its grip, Tara gave the wand a small wave. Nothing happened. She frowned ever so slightly and gave it another wave. Again, there was no reaction. "It d-didn't do a-anything," Tara commented, passing the wand back to Harry who holstered it once again.
Harry leaned back in his chair. "I didn't think it would. Did you feel anything when you tried?"
Tara frowned slightly again, "I-it felt... w-wrong. L-like... d-darkness."
Harry nodded slightly, "The man who had that wand before me wasn't especially nice. It's probably residual dark magic that the wand has been used to cast."
"W-why do you h-have the wand?" Tara asked, curiously.
Harry shrugged. "It works well for me and it's powerful. That's a rare combination." Wanting to get on with why Tara was here in the first place, Harry changed the topic of conversation. He glanced down at the three books Tara had brought over. "So, what are the books?" Harry asked.
"T-they're a good p-place to start at. I-I can lend them t-to you for a w-while," Tara told him, passing over the books and sitting down opposite him.
"Thank you," Harry said, taking the books. "But I have a better idea." He drew the Elder wand and tapped each of the books twice. When he picked up the books and moved them aside, identical copies remained. "Now we both have a set."
"T-that's pretty cool," Tara said with a smile.
Harry nodded. "So," he said to her. "Where do we start?"
His tutoring with Tara had gone quite well. He hadn't practiced any magic, but Tara had shown him several meditative techniques that were used in order to try and access the magic of the earth. Having practiced something similar when he began to truly learn Occlumency, this came quite easily to him. They'd spent twenty minutes on that until Tara was sure he'd gotten it right. After they talked about magical theory until Tara said she had to leave. Harry now had a minor understanding of this magic of this world, and a lot of reading to do.
Tara had stayed for almost two hours and they'd spent a bit of that just talking. Harry had quickly gotten the feeling that Tara was lonely, and from what he had worked out, had very few, if any, friends here in California. He couldn't help but be once again reminded of Neville when he first began Hogwarts, before he began to believe in himself and his abilities.
He was noticing some very strange parallels regarding the people in this world.
From what Tara had told him, and the questions he asked, he had a fairly good idea of why she was like she was.
"I was curious about something," Harry asked Tara. The books were still open and he was still taking notes, but something had been bugging him since Tara arrived.
"O-oh?" she asked. The stutter was getting a bit better, vanishing mostly when she was talking about witchcraft and the religion of Wicca. Those were the only things she was really comfortable with as far as he could see.
"You asked me earlier if I could see any demon in you. Why would you think I had?" Harry asked. Tara ducked her head, her hair covering her face like a veil. "You don't have to answer if you don't want to," Harry quickly added, seeing her unease.
"N-no, it's o-okay," Tara said, her head still hanging a bit. She took a breath, "M-my f-f-father told m-me that I was part d-demon and that i-it would show on m-my next b-birthday."
Harry leaned forward slightly, "He told you that you were part demon?" That was a bit worse than being called 'freak', Harry thought.
Tara nodded, her hair falling over her face again. She brushed it aside, "H-he told me that was w-where my m-magic came from."
"From you 'demon' side?" Harry asked, making that his disbelieve was properly conveyed to the damaged young woman opposite him.
Tara nodded again. "He s-said it was s-something that was passed on my m-m-mothers side of the f-family."
Harry just nodded, thinking about her situation. He'd noticed that she struggled when saying 'father' and 'mother'. 'Mother' was said with a deep sadness, whereas 'father' was said with a tone that said Tara didn't see quite eye to eye with the man. If that was the case, Harry definitely sided with her.
"Your mother's side of the family studied magic for a while?" Harry asked, piecing together his suspicions.
Tara nodded, "My m-mom was a witch and so was h-hers."
Harry grimaced slightly. He wanted to voice what he thought, but didn't want to speak badly about her father. That sort of thing wasn't done unless you were speaking to the child of a Death Eater.
"W-what do you want to s-say?" Tara asked.
Hesitant, Harry answered, "If I were to guess, I'd say that story you've been told was just that; a story. I've heard of things like this with families with young children who noticed magic and strange things, and called the kid a freak or abnormal. It was usually out of anger, fear, or a need to control and subdue what they saw as a sin. From what I could guess, I'd say your dad didn't like magic much."
Whilst talking about the Dursley's was something he didn't like to think about, and definitely didn't like to talk about, he could see a few similarities with Tara's childhood and his own. The weird parallels in this world just kept piling up.
Tara shook her head, "H-he didn't. He didn't s-say much about it, b-but I could sense it."
"Your aura reading?" Harry asked.
Tara nodded again, "I-I called him a-after you s-spoke to me e-earlier."
"And?" Harry asked. This might explain why she was on edge when she turned up here. Well, before she saw the impossibly large apartment he lived in.
"I-I asked him about i-it and he denied it, but, but, I-I could hear fear in h-his voice," Tara told him.
"Fear of discovery?" Harry asked.
Tara nodded again, "H-he kept telling me that i-it was true." She smiled slightly. Harry was surprised to see the mischievous glint in her eyes, "I, I hung up on him."
Harry smiled back. Whilst it wasn't much, it was a step forward. Neville had told him several times that he was a good influence on people; perhaps that was true. "Well done," Harry told her. A thought crossed his mind that confused him slightly. "Why trust me?" he asked. "You met me today, and already you believe something I told you over something someone you've known for twenty years."
Tara smiled slightly, "I-I can tell when p-people are lying. Y-you're difficult to r-read, but I still can."
If that was true, Harry was definitely impressed. "My aura?" he asked.
Tara nodded, "I-it's different, but s-similar enough."
"Well," Harry said. "I'm glad you trust me. Now, where were we?"
Harry was fairly sure that after the tutoring session ended, he had a new friend. After making sure that Tara got home safely, he continued reading through the books Tara had brought until he became too restless. As it got dark he ventured outside, looking for demons again. He'd been in this reality for a while now and he hadn't seen a single thing he'd call a demon yet. It was almost enough to make him believe that there weren't any here. None the less, he was determined to keep wandering the town until he found something.
As Willow had told him that graveyards were the best place to find demons, he picked one of Sunnydale's many cemeteries and began trying to find something, anything, to fight.
It wasn't long into his search when he came across Buffy again. Her back was to him and she hadn't turned around. Feet silenced he slowly approached her, wand out and ready. He wasn't quite sure why he was determined to keep testing her, but none the less, there was an urge. Keeping his movements slow and quiet, he slowly prowled behind his prey.
He was ten feet behind her when she quickly turned, stake at the ready. Her expression went from attack mode to fake annoyance. The slight smile was enough of a giveaway. Harry wasn't sure if the amusement came from discovering him or the fact that when she turned around he'd frozen, and remained in mid step, with one foot hovering off the ground. "You have a death wish," she said, crossing her arms.
Harry opened his mouth to argue his innocence, but stopped. He grinned at the blonde, "I was going to say that I don't, but none of my friends would agree with me." He placed his foot on the ground and looked around the quiet cemetery. "So what brings you to this charming place?"
"Patrolling," Buffy answered, uncrossing her arms and rotating her stake around in her hand. "Keeping the people of Sunnydale safe from the undead. You?"
Harry looked around again, "Looking for a fight; more specifically for a demon-looking demon."
Buffy raised an eyebrow, "That death wish thing?" she asked.
Harry snorted, "So I've been told. So, seen anything interesting about tonight?"
"Nope, it's usually pretty quiet after the summer though. That nest of vamps that you poofed the other night has been the most exciting thing," Buffy told him.
Harry quirked an eyebrow, "Evil takes a summer holiday?" Harry asked with a slight hint of disbelief.
"Halloween too," Buffy added. Harry growled silently at the name of the holiday. Buffy looked at him questioningly but remained silent.
"Hmmm," Harry murmured.
"So," Buffy said, with a bit of fake cheerfulness. "You never said how your trip to L.A. was."
"It went well," Harry said, as they stared walking through the cemetery. "Oh, Cordelia says 'hi'"
"You met Cordelia?" Buffy asked in bewilderment, coming to a stop.
Harry tilted his head, "What do you know about what Angel is doing?"
She ducked her head slightly, at kicked at the ground at her feet. "Giles says he's playing detective, saving innocents."
Harry nodded, "Cordelia is working with him to kill the time until she becomes an actress." Buffy snorted. "What?" Harry asked.
"Never mind," Buffy said with a smile. "So, she says hi?"
"Something like that," Harry said with a roll of her eyes at the thought of the odd brunette that he hadn't been able to get a proper read on.
"Left an impression, did she?" Buffy asked with an amused smirk.
Harry laughed, "If she can find someone to sort my hair out, she'll be my new best friend."
Buffy tilted her head, "I don't know. I like it."
"Yeah?" Harry asked, finding himself more pleased with that than he'd imagined he would.
"It's messy, but it looks like it's meant to be like that, not like you just woke up. It suits you." Harry looked at her doubtfully. "Trust me. Girls know a lot more about this than guys do."
"Cordelia didn't like it," Harry said to her.
Buffy snorted distastefully, "And the world can't have anything Cordelia doesn't like."
Harry laughed again, "Fond of her, aren't you?"
Buffy frowned in thought, "She's not bad," she said, making sure to put extra emphasis on 'bad', implying Cordelia wasn't all that good either. "We just didn't get along all that well."
Harry nodded, "Fair enough." They lapsed into a moment of silence.
"So, how's Angel?" she eventually, but hesitantly, asked.
"Well, I've been told he's always been that... that..." Harry said, not sure on what word to use.
"Broody?" Buffy asked.
"Er, I'm not sure that's a word, but yeah, I guess that word works as well as any. He was interested to know how you were and what you... get down!" Harry shouted. They'd been distracted and not noticed a single vampire sneaking up on them. Harry flicked his wand to where Buffy was standing. Reacting on instinct from such an order Buffy dropped to the ground. Seeing her move, Harry cast a powerful slashing spell at head height, decapitating the vampire. It burst in to dust before it could react.
"Are you alright?" Harry asked, moving over to Buffy to help her to her feet.
Buffy grabbed his extended arm and pulled herself up. She frowned, "My top is dirty," she told him.
Harry laughed at her sense of priorities. "I can fix that," Harry told her. This conversation had reached another morbid point and he thought about what he could do to try and fix that. Idea in mind, he frowned slightly, pretending to be thinking hard. "I think."
Buffy brushed herself off, "You think you can?" she asked sceptically.
Harry nodded, a serious expression on his face. "I was never great at the household charms." He tapped his wand to the side of his face, pretending to think up a spell. It was a habit that had almost given Remus several heart attacks over the years. "You'll forgive me if I vanish your clothes or, you know, set you on fire, right?"
Buffy's eyes widened slightly, before quickly cottoning on to the fact that he wasn't serious. "Go ahead," she challenged back, crossing her arms.
"I'm allowed to vanish your clothes?" Harry asked with a raised eyebrow and a smile. It was a really tempting thought.
"You might not like what happened if you did," Buffy challenged again.
Harry's grin widened, "I think I would."
Her eyes narrowed, but she remained where she was. Deciding not to call her bluff tonight, Harry flicked his wand, cleaning and repairing her clothes. With a critical eye, Buffy examined herself to make sure Harry hadn't done anything that she would have to make him regret. She was pleasantly surprised to find her clothes not only clean, but looking brand new. "My top looks brand new," Buffy told him, her surprise obvious.
Harry shrugged, "Glad you like it." They began walking again. Harry pulled out a cigarette and lit it. From the slight grimace on Buffy's face, he didn't need to offer her one. He took a drag on it and sighed as he relaxed.
"I don't get you," Buffy commented after a moment. After the near miss she was visibly alert, surveying everything around her.
"What's not to get?" Harry asked curiously. Most people didn't 'get' him, but he attributed that to his fame and reputation always preceding him.
"You're obviously powerful, yet you don't seem to care, you do the quiet brooding thing, yet every time I see you, you keep trying to liven up the conversation. Also don't seem bothered about getting home. You're very confusing," Buffy told him.
Harry shrugged. "You seem powerful as well, and I've not seen you brag about it, a lot of things in my life have been dark and depressing, so avoiding that when I can helps and, well, everything back home is very stressful. I'll get back home when I get back home," he told her, answering her questions. "I'm in no hurry."
"You don't miss your family?" Buffy asked.
Harry considered avoiding the question completely, giving Buffy some vague answer so she wouldn't ask any more questions. His family was a sore subject for him, but it wasn't for the reason most people thought. The reason was much darker and only two people knew the exact details. He decided to go for honesty. "They're dead," he told her.
Buffy blanched, completely thrown by the answer. "Oh," was all she said for a moment. "I'm sorry to hear that." She paused for a second. "Was the war you were fighting?" she asked.
"Technically," Harry told her. "They died before I was two, during the first war. They were some of the last casualties."
"There were two wars?" Buffy asked softly.
Harry nodded, "The first one ended the night my parents died. You remember that prophecy I was telling you about?" Buffy nodded and Harry continued, running a hand across his lightning bolt scar. "That was the night he 'marked' me as his equal." He lifted up his fringe to show the scar on his forehead. "He tried killing me but the curse backfired, stopping him for thirteen years."
"Well, I'm sorry to hear about your parents. I can't imagine losing my mom," Buffy told him.
"What happened to your dad?" Harry asked cautiously, hoping not to bring up any bad memories for her.
"He and my mom split up before I moved to Sunnydale a few years ago. I see him every now and then, but I don't talk to him too often. He's a busy guy," Buffy explained, trying to sound as though it didn't bother her.
"So you get on well with your mum?" Harry asked, pulling her thoughts from her father.
"Most of the time," Buffy smiled. "We have our fights, but we love each other."
Harry smiled back. "How did she take the whole 'Chosen One' thing?" he asked.
An unpleasant look passed across Buffy's face so fast Harry almost thought that he'd imagined it. As fast as it appeared, it vanished and was replaced by a smile. "She freaked at first you know?" Buffy told him. "Asked if I'd tried not being a Slayer, but she's cool with it now."
There was... something there in her voice that... he couldn't quite grasp it. With it being none of his business, he dropped it.
"So who did you grow up with?" she asked.
Harry wished he had questioned her further. Maybe then she'd have dropped into an uncomfortable silence, not him.
Harry rubbed his chest, feeling the weight that rested there. "Let's talk about something else, alright?" he asked. The less he thought of the Dursleys the better.
The two lapsed into silence again. "Did Angel wear the ring?" Buffy asked.
Harry nodded, glad to talk about something else. "He was wearing it when I left. Seemed glad of it, but wasn't really sure what to do with himself." He smiled slightly, "Doyle and Cordelia spent a good portion of the night giving him suggestions that got more bizarre per the drink. I think Doyle's last suggestion was that Angel should try and become the first vampire to reach space."
Buffy laughed slightly, no doubt picturing such a thing. When Doyle had suggested it, Cordelia, despite being well on her way to drunk, verbally disapproved it. "Who's Doyle?" Buffy asked.
"Oh, right. He's the other guy working for Angel. He gets visions of the future and lets Angel know who to save. Nice guy."
"Oh. So what..." Buffy trailed off as two vampires casually walked up to them. One was wearing a dirty suit and was clearly new at this. Their demon faces were visible.
"Look at the happy couple going for a walk. They'll be perfect for my first meal," the new vampire said, a taunting smirk on his lips.
Harry adjusted his grip on his wand, ready to start throwing curses. Buffy smiled and rocked back and forth on her feet, ready for a fight. She looked at the other vampire and asked mockingly, "Did you tell him to say that?" She looked to the new vampire, "You couldn't come up with something on your own without 80's-reject-boy over there holding your hand?"
Harry smiled slightly and the shocked looks on the vampires faces. The new vampire looked over to its companion, "Shouldn't they be scared?" he asked.
The other vampire growled at its companion, not appreciating the question. He turned to Buffy, "You are foolish not to fear us, mortal," he growled.
"Oh, I am scared," Buffy told him mockingly. The vampire smiled victoriously, not catching the sarcasm. Buffy tilted her head, "You might make my clothes dirty and I just had them cleaned." The vampires smirked faded, replaced by anger.
"I could fix you up again," Harry suggested, playing into whatever act Buffy was in to and just playing it relaxed.
"Really?" she asked, turning to face him, appearing to take her eyes off the vampires.
Harry nodded, "Sure." He wondered why Buffy was acting like a ditz, but he'd heard her taunting vampires a couple weeks ago, and he guessed that it was a common thing.
The lead vampire rushed towards Buffy. She quickly winked at Harry before ducking under the vampires punch. Still low, she swung round, attempting to kick the vampire's feet from underneath him. It jumped at the last minute. The vampire punched Buffy again but she blocked it, countering with several thundering punches of her own. The new vampire, seeing its sire was in trouble, sprung at Buffy. Having understood Buffy's wink before the fight started, Harry stayed out of the fight.
Buffy's stake appeared in her hand and before the new vampire knew what was happening, it had turned to dust, a stake in its chest. For her win Buffy got hit in the face, stumbling back a few feet. Recognition crossed the vampires face as she didn't go down. "Slayer," he growled, eyes narrowed.
Buffy twirled her stake in her hand, a grin on her face. She was clearly enjoying herself. "I wondered when you'd recognise me," she said, quite pleased that the vampire knew who she was.
Indecision crossed the vampires face. Taking what it thought would be the best option, the vampire turned and fled. Before Harry could aim his wand, Buffy threw the stake through the air like a knife, impaling it in the vampires back. Mid step, it burst into dust and vanished in the wind.
"Cool trick," Harry commented as Buffy went to retrieve her stake.
"Not as flashy as a fire whip, but I manage," Buffy told him with a smile.
"Easier though," Harry said. "I imagine."
She shrugged, "It comes naturally to me. All part of the 'Slayer' package."
"And the taunting?"
Buffy smiled, "That's just fun."
Harry nodded in understanding. They slipped into silence again, the only noise in the graveyard the sound of their footsteps. "Are there any other demons here?" Harry finally asked.
"Too many. Why?"
"Because I've still not seen one and I've been out here for two weeks looking. I didn't think it would be that hard," Harry told her.
"You've been out here every night?" Buffy asked, oddly.
Harry nodded, "For me, this is like going to Rome and not seeing the Coliseum. You have an open Hellmouth here, and I've not seen any demons beyond vampires." He looked at her, half serious, "It's getting ridiculous."
"You really want to see a demon that badly?" Buffy asked.
"Yeah. Any hints?"
Buffy pondered the question, "Well, we could go to Willy's Bar if you want."
"A bar?" Harry asked sceptically.
"A demon bar," Buffy corrected. "I usually go see Willy when we need information, but he always has... interesting regulars."
"You don't mind skipping out on your... patrol?" Harry asked.
Buffy shrugged, "Two vamps is pretty much par for a night and we've had three, so we're good."
"Alright then, it's a date," Harry said with a grin.
Buffy rolled her eyes but still smiled, "I've been to worse places on dates."
Harry offered Buffy his arm, playing the role of a gentleman. "My Lady?" he asked, grinning roguishly.
Buffy slugged him the arm using the strength he'd expect from a girl her size. She tried her hardest to frown at him. "I'm Buffy, not a Lady," she told him imperiously.
"Oh?" Harry asked, dropping the offer of his arm.
"Bad experience with a Noble women and I have no desire to tempt fate again, no matter how pretty I was in my dress."
"Eh?" Harry asked, thoroughly confused.
Buffy rolled her eyes, "A Chaos Mage called Ethan Rayne cursed the town so that we turned in what we were dressed as. I was dressed as an 18th Century noble woman."
Harry snickered. "And how did that turn out?" He'd met women who thought the world was still at the same point it was in during 1700's and acted that way; those that fainted at the sight of anything unseemly and generally made situations more difficult than they should be. He clearly remembered almost having his arm bitten off during an Inferi attack that had taken place in India because a woman in a large frilly dress had just stood still screaming as a horde of the undead swarmed her.
He'd saved her, but barely, loudly cursing his 'hero complex' as he did.
Her face scrunched up in a cute way as she answered, obviously not enjoying recalling the night. "I kept screaming at cars, calling them demons..." She trailed off, looking quite embarrassed.
"And generally making things more difficult for everyone around you?" Harry continued with an easy grin. Though she was normally beautiful, she seemed far more so when embarrassed, just like when she was angry. He subconsciously licked his lips at the thought.
Her embarrassment quickly cleared, replaced by frustration. Harry laughed and placed a hand on her shoulder. "Not your fault though, right?" he told her. He could read the guilty look in her eyes all too easily.
"I guess," she told him, shrugging it off as though it meant nothing. "You have to tell me a story now," she told him with utter certainty.
Harry raised both his eyebrows in surprise. "Really?" he asked.
"Sure," Buffy told him. "I told you one of my stories so you have to do the same."
Harry quirked a smile. "You showed me yours, so I have to show you mine?" he asked, his smile turning into a grin. Buffy blushed at his words and broke eye contact. Harry laughed out loud, enjoying her flustered look. "What do you want to know?" he asked.
He watched her think of what question to ask. She frowned thoughtfully before looking back at him. "Willow said you had an interest in soul magic. Why?"
That hadn't been a question he'd imagined she'd ask, but given her ex-boyfriend had soul 'issues', it shouldn't have been surprised. "I mentioned that when the Dark Lord tried to kill me he disappeared from thirteen years, right?" Harry asked.
"Yeah, but you didn't say how," Buffy told him.
"When he was sixteen he split his soul into something called a Horcrux," Harry explained. "That meant that if his body was destroyed, the Horcrux would anchor his soul to the mortal realm and he wouldn't be able to die." He paused, considering his words. This topic held more than a few traps for him. "When his curse rebounded his body was destroyed and his soul fled England. When I was twelve I destroyed the Horcrux that he made at sixteen."
"Shouldn't he have disappeared then?" Buffy asked, confused.
"He would have," Harry told her, "had he not seven more of them."
Buffy's eyes widened slightly and Harry chuckled. "That's what I thought. Due to some circumstances that happened just after I turned 16 I learned of these and the next few years were spent travelling the world, trying to find his soul cages."
"That's why you said you've been to places where the other Hellmouths are," Buffy realised. "That's where he hid them."
Harry nodded. "He hid one in the Vatican City and they refused us entrance to try and find it." He rolled his eyes, "They told us that no one could breach their security and that we were obviously mistaken." Harry grinned. "It took four of us three days to get in and that's why I'm no longer welcome in that part of the world."
"You found the soul-thing?" Buffy asked.
Harry nodded. "I did. We damage priceless artefacts and destroyed more than a bit of the cities interior, but we found it." Harry scoffed. "And that was one of the easy ones. Egypt was something else." He looked at Buffy and asked inquiringly. "Have you ever fought mummies before?" He paused. "Or a Sphinx?"
"I met an Inca Mummy once," Buffy told him with a meek smile.
Harry grinned at her. "Pray that's all you fight. Fire and magic resistant mummies aren't fun, but you don't ever want to fight a Sphinx." He paused again, shuddering slightly at the memory. "Or a pack of them."
"Bad day?" Buffy asked.
Harry pulled down on his t-shirt and tilted his neck upwards. Due to the body armour he was wearing, only the beginning of the scar could be seen. "The pack-mother got a bit closer than I'd have liked and almost ripped me in half." He nodded to himself. "I've had better days."
It took fifteen minutes for Buffy and Harry to reach 'Willy's Place'. The place didn't look anything special. An old neon sign hung over the door with the bar's name and the door was a bit scratched. The demon bar looked just like any other bar cheap in existence.
"And normal people just don't come in here?" Harry asked oddly, standing outside with Buffy. An aura check of the building showed that it held some minor, very odd wards over it, but that was the only sign that something was amiss. Anyone could have walked into this place without even realising what was inside.
"Yup," Buffy said as though it was obvious. "People in Sunnydale tend to just subconsciously avoid the Hellmouthy places. They call it 'the bad side of town'. That just means more demons."
"Ah," Harry muttered. He glanced to the sky. "Maybe it's the ward that's doing that," he muttered, more to himself than Buffy.
"Ward? You mean a hospital ward?" Buffy asked in confusion.
Harry shook his head and pointed to the sky. "No. A ward is typically a constant protection spell. There's a huge one over this town that stops on the outskirts." He shrugged, "I have no idea what it does, but it might divert the attention away from the supernatural."
"Huh," Buffy muttered in surprise. She shrugged to herself, "Oh well. We can tell Giles tomorrow. Now, come on. I'm tired and I want to go to bed." With that she pushed open the single door the bar and strode inside. The door creaked noticeably and Harry followed behind her.
He took a few steps in and a small grin broke out on his face. The place was quite busy. His eye shone as he scanned the room. A thin looking muggle with short slicked back hair and a weasel-like face stood behind the bar serving what appeared to be a shot of blood to a vampire. Several other demons or varying species sat in separate stalls around the small room, drinks in their hands, talon's and/or claws.
They were all staring at Buffy, looking quite worried, none more so than the man behind the bar. He was already beginning to sweat. Harry was impressed; Buffy clearly had a reputation around here.
"Hi Willy!" Buffy greeted the bar man. From the look on the man's face, Harry wasn't the only one to recognise her greeting was a bit too enthusiastic. She and Harry walked over the man behind the bar. Harry noticed several vampires and a couple of demons leave quickly.
"Slayer," Willy greeted back with a forced, nervous smile. He looked at Harry, "And, uh, Slayer's friend. Hey, uh, what can I do for you?" He paused. "I've been keeping my nose clean you know," he added in a hurry.
"Oh nothing," Buffy told the man, still playing the overenthusiastic role she'd chosen for herself. "I was just showing my friend around," Buffy told Willy. She turned to Harry, "This is the place you go when you want information." She was still smiling brightly, but Harry could see genuine humour in her eyes now.
"Come on Slayer," Willy practically pleaded. "You'll run out all my customers. A guys got make a living, you know."
"Oh, relax Willy," Buffy rebuked. "I said I was just showing my friend around."
"Hey," Harry said, taking a seat on a bar stool. He made sure he was sitting so that everyone in the bar was in his sights. He couldn't see the door behind him, but he would hear the door if it opened.
"Hey, kid," Willy greeted, still quite nervous. "Ain't seen you around here before."
"I'm new," Harry told the man, ignoring the 'kid' comment. It wasn't 'boy' so he had no real problem with it. He glanced at the drinks behind the bar. Most were clearly tailored to the preference of the local demons, but he noticed a few drinks that he recognised, if only in vague terms. The brand names were a bit different than he'd usually drink. With his comment about 'Rome' earlier to Buffy, he decided that as he was in a bar, he might as well get a drink. "A glass of whisky, please," Harry ordered. He turned to Buffy, "Anything?" he asked.
"Ewww," Buffy muttered, sparing a glance at the drinks around the bar. Harry could somewhat understand her reaction. He counted five that were clearly blood, each marked with either an animal name or a blood type. That was impressive in a morbid sort of way.
"You got ID, kid?" Willy asked.
Harry raised an eyebrow at Willy; he knew he looked over 18. He quickly cottoned on to the fact that he had to be 21 to drink in America. He narrowed his eyes at the man slightly and thought about hurting him. Willy quickly got the message and moved away to make the drink.
"You sure you don't want anything?" Harry asked.
She took a seat beside him. "If I say no again will you give me your freaky glare?" Buffy asked with a smile.
Harry grinned, looking amused and dangerous. It gave a look that people in the Hogwarts Dimension quickly associated with a wild cat hunting prey. His friends learned quickly to be careful around him during those times. "I wouldn't," Harry told her.
"So how did you do that?" she asked. "Usually, I have to threaten Willy with violence before he tells me anything." She glanced around to make sure no one was listening. "Was it like your shiny people thing?" she asked quietly.
Harry laughed, accepting the drink from Willy and handing over some money. "My aura reading? No. It's all in the eyes," Harry explained. "If you glare at someone while thinking about all the horrible painful things you can do to them, they tend to get the message faster and easier than if you threaten to curse them." He nodded sagely, "It cause's less commotion than if you start a fight."
A muttered wandless detection charm on his drink showed that the only dangerous thing in it was the alcohol. The glass briefly shone white to indicate this. "Cheers," Harry said to Buffy, downing the drink. It wasn't that bad and it didn't burn his throat like firewhisky did. He placed it back on the bar and gave Willy a nod, indicating he wanted a refill. Buffy was looking at him oddly.
"What?" Harry asked.
"Your drink glowed and you drank it? Uh uh, that's seriously of the bad," Buffy told him. She sounded as though she was chastising him.
Harry rolled his eyes, accepting his refilled glass. "I checked it for poison. The glow meant that it only had alcohol in it." It shone white again and he drank a small mouthful of the amber liquid.
"You check all your drinks for poison, or just from... dodgy places?" Buffy asked.
"Everything I don't prepare myself," Harry told her. "A lot of people want me dead at home and when I was 17 it became apparent that very few people had a chance of killing me face-to-face. That led to me being poisoned a couple of times. I'm always careful now."
"Um, wow. Definitely not of the good," Buffy said, quite surprised.
Harry shrugged, "It's normal to me; it'd be weird any other way." He glanced around the room again looking at the demons. "You know what any of these are called?" Harry asked Buffy.
"Um, I think the spikey one in the corner is a Bracket demon or something. Don't recognise the rest," Buffy told him with a frown he was quickly regarding as cute. She pointed out a demon with green skin, red eyes and blue spine all along its face. The demon, perhaps called 'a Bracket', was deliberately not making eye contact their way. Now that he thought about it, all the demons still seemed really tense.
"You don't sound sure," Harry told her taking another drink from his glass.
Buffy shrugged, not at all concerned, "Giles' says I don't remember demon names well, so who am I to argue with him?"
"Fair enough," Harry conceded. "So, as someone who slays demons, why is this place still open? Why haven't you shut it down?" In his peripheral vision he saw that the bar now had the focus of every demon in it.
Either Buffy didn't notice them, or just didn't care; he suspected the latter. "A lot of demons are friendly. Giles says that most of them don't want to end the world; just live their lives and have families like the rest of the planet."
Harry nodded, thinking that made sense. Everyone, minus Willy, relaxed slightly. "Oh, and Willy lets us know things when we... ask," she added, her smile saying all she needed to about how Willy was 'asked' things. Harry had no problem with that. Sometimes force was needed to accomplish things.
"You know," Buffy pondered. "I haven't spoken to Willy in a while to see if anything's going on in Sunnyhell. Hey, Willy!" she called to the owner, who was standing as far away from her as he could while still being behind the bar.
Willy looked panicked again. "Uh, yeah Slayer?" he asked. He glanced around uncomfortably.
"You don't know of anything happening around town just now do you?" she asked curiously, her head tilted slightly to the side, a smile on her face.
Willy's nerves spiked. Harry could smell the fear now. "I don't know nothin' about nothin'," he told her, willing her to believe him. He was clearly lying.
Harry cleared his throat slightly, catching Buffy's attention. She glanced at him confused. Harry looked her in the eyes, glanced in Willy's direction, looked back to her and the narrowed his eyes slightly. Her own opened wide in understanding and Harry turned back to the bar owner.
Buffy and Willy looked each other eye to eye. Buffy's eyes narrowed as she looked at him. Harry saw the man gulp and take a partial step back. Buffy's eyes narrowed further and then an almost infinitesimal smile slowly broke out on her face. It was dangerous, predatory and really quite frightening. Harry tilted his head slightly as he watched her successfully emulate what he'd done only a few minutes before. It was somewhat worrying how attractive that made her. He'd known, knew, another girl who could glare as well as that and she was, well, she was another story.
Willy whimpered slightly. He glanced around him, trying to make sure no was watching him, "Alright alright!" he pleaded. "I'll talk."
Buffy's glare lessened and she smiled, quite proud at her new skill. Out of sight from Willy, Harry grinned at her and nodded approvingly. "So what's the what, Willy?"
"You didn't hear this from me, right?" Willy asked, his voice low.
"Scouts honour," Buffy promised, holding out her left hand in some sort of pose.
"Alright. Word is that a lot of demons are going missing. Friendly ones, you know? The kind that never bothered nobody. Frankie, one my regulars, said he saw a group of commando's, military types, roaming the streets at night, kidnapping them. Rumours are that these military folks are experimenting on them."
A glance at Buffy showed that this was a serious situation. "How long has this been going on?" Buffy asked, the joking facade she'd entered the pub with gone.
"Couple months now I heard," Willy told her.
"And you're sure of this?" Buffy asked.
"'Course," Willy told them sincerely. "Frankie wouldn't lie about these things. Said they were shooting at demons with some electric stuns guns and the like. Scary stuff if you ask me."
"Anything else?" Harry asked.
Willy took one look at him and answered without hesitation, "That's it, kid, I swear." He glanced around his near empty bar. "Don't come in here and I promise to let you know if I found out more." The pleading, desperate look in his eyes was enough that Harry knew they'd overstayed their welcome. Their presence was only torturing the weasel-like man.
"Good to know," Harry told him and stood up. He looked at Buffy and glanced at the door. She got the message and they left.
Willy slumped down behind the bar as the wooden door closed. He hated this town sometimes. Sure, there were always demons looking for something to drink and he made enough money, but when the 'heroes' needed something and came for him, well, he could do without that.
The Slayer and her friends usually scared the bejeezus out of him, but that new kid, he seriously hoped he never meet him again. Though a normal human himself, he recognised power. He had to really; he would have died years ago if he didn't know which demons he needed to cooperate with. That kid, the one he never got the name of, scared him more than even the Slayer did. The look in his eyes screamed danger and Hell help whoever angered him.
He'd keep his promise to the Slayer, if only to make sure he never saw that other kid again.
"What do you think about this military thing?" Harry asked Buffy as they walked back to her student dorm.
"Not a clue," Buffy answered honestly. "I've seen them during my patrols, but Willy's usually good with passing on problems when he's threatened enough." She tilted her head and looked at him. "Have you seen anything odd?"
Harry laughed slightly, "Everything I've seen here has been odd, but no, I've seen nothing but vampires."
"You ever have any situations with military types?" Buffy asked.
Harry shook his head. "No, well, there was that incident with the Swiss Guard about 6 months ago, but that doesn't really count."
"Um, what?" Buffy asked looking bewildered.
"Escaping the Vatican City is as difficult as you'd think it would be," Harry told her.
Buffy was still looking at him oddly, but seeing that he wasn't going to share anymore, she shrugged to herself. "So, was seeing your first demon as exciting as you hoped?" Buffy asked.
Harry considered his answer. "It was interesting," he admitted slowly.
"But?" Buffy prodded.
"It was a bit like going to the zoo?" Harry half asked, half stated.
Buffy laughed. "A zoo?" she asked.
Harry nodded slightly, "Sure, demons are angry and vicious and want to kill you, right?" he asked.
"Usually," Buffy agreed, still smiling.
"They were sitting in a bar drinking pints," Harry told her, shaking his head. "They might as well be behind glass displays."
Buffy laughed again, louder than before. "Glass displays? Tell them that and you might have a vicious demon on your hands. It would be too bad if I had to save you."
Harry grinned at the tiny Slayer. "Still sore about me saving you?" he asked. "We still need to have our duel."
"Only if you don't use your fancy stick," Buffy reminded him.
Harry just grinned at her.
"Ewww," she muttered. "Why are you such a pervert?" Despite her words, she blushed slightly. "Your British, you're supposed to be all... all proper and drink tea and..."
"Couldn't think of a third?" Harry asked with mock casualness.
Buffy just scowled at him.
Harry laughed, "I'm sure it'll come to you eventually." Buffy pouted cutely and Harry really couldn't help but laugh again.
(1 hour before)
Tara Maclay left Harry's... apartment shortly before it got dark. Despite the sun being up she walked back to her dorm room quickly. She had lived in Sunnydale for a little over a year and she knew just how dangerous the streets could be by yourself. Given that a lot of mundane things scared her, walking the streets when dusk near terrified her.
She had no idea that Harry had silently followed her home, making sure she reached her destination safely.
It was only after she returned to her single roomed dorm that she allowed herself to think and reflect on the last two days of her life. All her life, she had read books and watched movies where one person could arrive in another's life and completely turn things around. She had thought her 'moment' was when her mother died two years ago and her world came crashing down around her.
Her family life had been less than ordeal, but at least she'd had her mother to stand by her, to teach her magic and an appreciation for the world. They were both Wiccans and proud of it.
And then her mother was gone, leaving her with her father and her brother.
It could have been worse she reflected with a frown. The abuse had been sparse, not enough to really hurt her, although she was sure her father and brother came close at times. It was more to keep her cowed and subdued. From her father's perspective, it worked just as he wanted. The stutter she had had for as long as she could remember got worse to the point that even speaking began to frighten her. People would hear her stutter and laugh.
After a few months of this she tried to just bottle up all her of fear and just live. She began staying out late at nights for the first time in her life, tried alcohol and well, doing what most people would just consider 'living'. She had dated two girls during that period, but they had gotten bored of her 'innocent and naive ways' soon enough.
The stutter had come back, irrepressible now, and she returned to her old way of life, listening to her family complain about her magic, subtly making references to the fact that her demon side, a trait passed on to the females in the family, would emerge in a few years.
When the time to leave for University came she took it and ran, moving to California. She had heard rumours that California had a strong Wicca following and other than her mother, she had rarely met another witch.
It hadn't been the escape she had been hoping for. She found herself unable to make friends, her stutter driving people away before anything could develop. It had taken her a while but she eventually joined the U.C Sunnydale Wiccans, believing them to be actual witches. It quickly became apparent that they weren't, but despite this she stayed as part of the group, just to say that she belonged to some place.
Her life continued in a straight forward pattern of going to class, learning magic and joining in the events that her Wiccan's group organised.
Until she met Harry.
It had been a good day that afternoon. The weather was good and the temperature wasn't too hot. She'd been sitting by herself, idly reading through one of her textbooks when she sensed something odd nearby. Though she had a wide range of skills regarding magic, the thing she was best at, the thing her mother told her was a special and unique skill, was reading the aura's of people. She had an innate ability to see and know if something was wrong with someone. It also gave her the slightest ability to detect lies; their aura's giving them away, even when their faces didn't.
She had looked up from her book and noticed the boy with the strange aura walking across the quad. She watched him for a minute, trying to decipher what was wrong with him. All that she knew was that it was magical in nature. There appeared to be two of him, an ethereal version of himself walking only a pace in front of him. The boy's aura looked... cracked, split, broken. Whatever he was, or whatever had happened to him was abnormal. It was wrong and the magic was dangerous.
He had then turned and looked her straight in the eye. Frightened that she had been caught snooping, she ducked her head, hoping that his sudden look towards her had nothing to do with her. In retrospect, she likely looked very guilty. She waited a minute and then looked up again and saw the boy with the odd aura walking directly towards her. She'd panicked, ducking her head again. She tried to think of a way to leave her bench and hope he wouldn't follow her again. She quickly glanced from left to right, hoping she could make a run for it. Upon realising that she was in the middle of a large open space, she knew she had nowhere to go.
As a last resort she tried chanting a spell, any spell, which would help her. Her stutter was too bad and she couldn't complete it.
"You mind if I sit down?" he asked kindly as he stopped by her.
She just managed to look at him and stuttered out a reply. She was amazed she was able to even get one word out.
The boy quickly caught on to the fact that she was terrified and tried to calm her, speaking softly and gently to her. It hadn't done anything to appease her. Her experience with boy's, and men in general was horrible. It had been no surprise to her when she'd realised she was a lesbian. She trusted women, not men. Men were dangerous and led to trouble.
He had asked why she had been watching him and she'd answered honestly, hoping he would accept her answer and just leave. To her surprise she found herself asking the boy, Harry, why his aura was wrong. He solemnly explained that it was something that had happened a while ago and that he was trying to reverse. Someone must have cursed him. He wouldn't talk about what it did.
It was then he mentioned that he could see aura's as well, the aura of a person's being. That was when her fear spiked. She'd felt dizzy and only barely stopped herself from fainting. Had he seen her aura? Had he noticed the demon presence inside of her? Would he think she was dangerous and kill her? Stuttering worse than she had in years, she'd asked him what he'd seen in her. She held her breath as he scanned her again.
Through his sunglasses she had noticed his right eye glow. The display of such magic would have usually intrigued her, but for the moment, she was simply too afraid. Then, Harry spoke the words that would begin to change her. He told her, after describing her powers exactly as she felt they were, that there was nothing else there. Just magic. It had been said in such a way that she knew that he wasn't lying.
There was no demon in her.
She wasn't part demon.
She wouldn't turn evil on her next birthday.
She had asked Harry again, scarcely believing it to be true.
He had repeated that there was nothing beyond her magic and she had never felt so relieved in her life. Despite everything her father had told her since she was a young girl, she believed that this stranger was telling the truth. She had then thanked him without stuttering once.
They'd then begun talking about magic. He mentioned having bought several books, expensive, dangerous, complicated books. He'd mentioned that he didn't understand them, that his magic knowledge was different from anything in them. Happy, almost ecstatic, to be talking about real magic with someone for the first time since her mother had passed, she recommended some good starting books and then he'd offered her something really quiet surprising.
She hadn't really known what to think. She had never tutored anyone in magic before. Her mother had tutored her. Could she tutor someone else? Being able to pass on that knowledge to someone else felt like a really good idea and while she tried to deny it, the offer of money for the tutoring would really help her. Money was tight, her only source of it being what her mother had left her. She hadn't been able to buy any magic books for a while, although Mr. Bogarty did let her borrow some. He was a nice man; one of the exceptions as Harry appeared to be.
She had accepted, only after Harry had made sure she wanted to do this and not just because he'd asked, or, that was her interpretation of the look he'd given her. She'd taken a deep breath and spoken six words without the hint of a stutter. Harry had grinned at her when she'd said that and she somehow felt he was proud of her for that accomplishment. No matter, she was proud of herself.
It wasn't until after she got home that she realised that she'd made a friend. Hopefully it would last.
Still on her high from that afternoon, she'd made a phone call home for the first time in over a month. Her father had been quite shocked to hear from her, if only for a moment. It hadn't taken long before he mentioned that she should be home with them in order for them to help her when her demon side emerged.
Tara had taken a deep breath, steadying her nerves and then, quite simply, asked if she being a demon was true. There had been a short moment of silence before he told her that yes, it was true. She'd asked again, citing that a magic reader had told her explicitly that there was no trace of demon in her. Again, he told her she was part demon, but this time she heard fear in his voice. That was the moment she knew that Harry had been honest with her. Her father, a very confident man, only got nervous when he was caught in a lie.
She'd then hung up the phone without another word, an almost giddy smile on her lips. The smile on her face didn't dim for the rest of the night as she spent her time going over her mother's old magic books, creating a lesson plan to teach Harry.
For the first time in quite a while, she found herself really looking forward to the next day.
She'd dressed in her finest clothes before going to Harry's, not knowing who else, if anyone, would be there. He hadn't mentioned if he lived alone or not, but she knew the address of where he stayed and all those apartments had two bedrooms. She had taken three of her mother's books, knowing that if Harry knew some magic already, they might be able to skip some things or work quickly through others.
At 6pm she'd knocked on the door. After only a couple of seconds she felt some magic wash over her, startling her slightly. What had it done? Had it just been an identifying spell? She felt her nerves return slightly, really not knowing what to expect. She began doubting herself. What if Harry wasn't as kind as he was yesterday? What if she'd been lured here?
Harry had answered the door before she could get too scared and run. She'd smiled, hoping it didn't look strained. Harry had kindly welcomed her in, and then she noticed his apartment.
If one could call it an apartment.
It looked like a castle tower. The room was large, far larger than it possibly could have been. There were no corners on the walls, just one big round room. She'd stepped in, her awe over clouding her fear. A bit further into the room she could she a fireplace burning brightly on a far area of the circular wall. To her right was a staircase that went up to another level. Both of those things were also impossible for the home he lived in. She'd stuttered out a word, looking for some sort of answer to what this place was. Had she stepped through a portal? Was she even still in Sunnydale?
He'd casually said he was bored before explaining just what spells he'd used to create this place. Space expansion charms? Copious transfiguration and inanimate conjuration? A lot of that was well beyond anything she could do. She knew a lot of rituals, gods to call upon, simple potions, and several spell like spells. If he could do this, why did he need her?
The fear came back in droves. Had this really been a ploy to trick her into coming here? What was he going to do to her. The urge to run came back, but again, knew she wouldn't be able to get away. Fearful for her life she'd asked why he wanted her here.
He had quickly explained, "This is my magic. The type you can use, the theory and history is completely different to anything I've ever heard. I don't even know what your type of magic can do."
He'd mentioned that to her yesterday but at the time she hadn't thought to ask more about it. Asking now, Harry explained about how he used a magic wand. She'd smiled slightly at that. It seemed silly to her that someone had to use a wand to do magic, just like in the children's stories she'd read when she was young.
He'd explained a bit more about his magic and how it was in his blood, not drawn from the earth like hers was. That brought all sorts of interesting questions to mind. Whereas she harvested magic, commanding it, asking for its guidance, praying to the gods, he was magic.
After a few minutes, she finally saw him use some of his magic, taping each of her books with his wand and copying them. He'd done it without words, without effort and it amazed her. She'd examined the books and couldn't tell them apart anymore. Thankfully, she knew which ones were the originals and she made sure they weren't confused.
Then came her lesson. She started explaining some concepts of magic, the dangers, the possibilities it could achieve and then the practices. He'd sat patiently and listened intently, taking notes the entire time in a leather bound notebook. Having seen several of them on the table near the fireplace, she knew he had a lot of them.
After thirty minutes of purely theoretical talk she began to teach him mediation, a simple practice that anyone trying to use magic had to learn. Apparently that was true for his magic as well, as he'd been able to slip into a meditative stance with ease. After making sure he had that down she began talking again, but this time he began asking questions. They came from someone that had clear knowledge of magic, even though he'd didn't seem to know the finer details of it. He'd explained this by comparing the practices in this world and the one he'd come from.
After this she decided that she wouldn't be surprised by anything he ever told her again. Her mother had told her all about alternate universes and parallel dimensions before, but meeting someone from another one was an entirely different thing.
The lesson plan had sort of dissolved after that, her curiosity overwhelming her. She found herself looking for information on his world and his magic. She marvelled at the thought of seeing some of the creatures he had seen in his world. What would it be like to see a real Unicorn living in the wild? To see a dragon breathe fire and stretch it's wings. "I'd love to be able to see it," she told him. He'd given her an odd, somewhat calculating look then that he said he'd explain next time she came round to tutor him. She wondered if he meant he'd show her pictures.
In the end, the lesson had lasted quite a bit longer than she thought it would and she was looking forward to the next one. She'd forgotten how exciting talking about magic was with someone and while she hoped he would get back to his dimension, she really hoped it wouldn't be too soon.