The Gringotts Account
See Chapter One for disclaimer.
The Plot Thickens
"Giles!" said Buffy, "I can't be twiddling my thumbs here in jolly old England any longer. That business in Cleveland is nearly come to a head, and I really need to be there, plus I think I see a way to get more money out of those Chicago gangsters, which we need right now!"
"But Buffy, I need you here until we get this financial codswallop cleared up."
"But you don't need me. Ackerly and Ackerly and the other Ackerly will be handling things for awhile, and I really hate talking to lawyers."
"So you're leaving it to me?"
"Of course, you're a Watcher, it's your job."
"And I thank you Buffy."
"Hey, you don't need to thank me, I'm thanking you, if it weren't for you, I might slay a lawyer and have to go to prison."
"But you assume that I can handle it?"
"Sure, if you could handle Travers, then you can handle Ackerly, any of the Ackerlys."
Giles sighed, "Yes, I suppose so."
"And if you need muscle there's still plenty of junior slayers hanging around, plus you have Faith. Besides, I'm only a plane ride away; so if you need me for session in court or something, just call."
"Why must Americans be so argumentative?" Giles asked plaintively.
"Because we're independent and rebellious?" suggested Dawn.
"Hmmm," he glared. "All right Buffy, you win, as per usual. And what's this about forcing gangsters to pay us?"
"Oh, now that we've won the Cleveland court case against those mobbed-up real estate developers, we're getting ready to sue them for legal costs, and I thought I'd add a generous amount for the non-legal costs, too. I think I can get it with just a little-arm twisting."*
"And by 'arm-twisting', you're speaking metaphorically, yes?"
"Well, maybe if they agree soon enough."
"I didn't hear that, you're on your own, and I trust you'll have sufficient assault weapons and solicitors at hand." Giles got up and went to his office.
The next morning, Buffy slouched into the breakfast room off the kitchen at the leased headquarters in London.
"Mornin' Buff," said Xander, looking up from his coffee.
"Hi Buffy!" said Willow, waving.
"Good morning Buffy," said Giles, putting his paper aside.
Dawn said, "Oh, oh, wait till you see what Andrew's cooking for breakfast this morning!"
Buffy raised her eyebrows. "Ah, it's a surprise, is it?" she asked doubtfully, "Will I need my scythe?"
Giles said, "It has quite a luscious aroma, a pleasant surprise, I should think, no weapons required."
"Okay, first, coffee," demanded Buffy, "second, surprises."
"Yep," said Willow, pouring a cup for Buffy.
"Mmmmmmm!" said Buffy from deep inside as she sipped dark roasted ambrosia from her Queen Anne cup. "Where's Faith and the others?"
Giles said, "Kennedy and Faith took the junior slayers out for early – or late depending on your viewpoint – patrol and training."
Andrew came out of the kitchen with a large tray; he set individual rectangular dishes in front of everyone.
Buffy sniffed appreciatively. "Whatever it is, it sure smells good."
"TA-DA!" Andrew said dramatically, "A super special breakfast in honor of our super special Head Watcher: Classic English Toad-in-the-Hole!"
"Does anyone else think the title 'Head Watcher' sounds a little fatuous in these more modern times?" asked Giles.
"Pass the English muffins, willya Dawnie?" said Xander.
Giles, puzzled, asked, "Why do you call them English Muffins? They're neither English nor muffins."
"Toad in the hole!" exclaimed Buffy, "Is there something disgusting in this? Darned English cooking..." She poked it suspiciously with her fork. "There's no actual toads in this, right?"
"Well Giles, that's a legitimate concern," said Dawn, "I mean, whose heads do you watch? And I can quickly go to a very squicky place, if you want."
"No, no, Buffy," said Andrew, "it's got eggs and butter and flour and salt and pepper and bangers – "
"Please don't go there Dawn," said Giles
"Bangers! What the hell are bangers?" asked Buffy. "It's got blood in it, doesn't it? Go on, tell me, if I taste blood in this I'm gonna hit you!"
"Oh Giles, spoil my fun why don't'cha?" said Dawn.
"Is there anymore coffee?" asked Xander.
"No, no, bangers is just English sausage, like American sausage except with some bread crumbs and a slightly different mix of spices," said Andrew. "It's really good, taste it! No blood, I promise you. You're thinking of black pudding, that's got blood cooked in, but neither bangers nor sausage does."
"A fresh pot of coffee'll be ready in a few minutes Xander, but you could have some tea?" said Willow.
Giles said, "The point being, Dawn, perhaps it's time to think of a new title." He turned and said, "You know Buffy, Black Pudding is really quite rich and delicious – you should broaden your horizons and stop being so parochial."
Andrew explained, "I think, Giles, that early American colonists were trying to make scones, but didn't have quite the right ingredients and no written recipes and came up with these muffins instead, and well, they called them English – possibly it was early enough in history that they still thought of themselves as English – and the name just stuck, inauthentic as it is."
"Willow," Xander said sadly, "Tea? Really? In what universe do you think I would want to drink tea?"
"Giles, how about something altogether more dignified and stuffy, like 'The Big Head'," said Dawn.
"Grrrr," said Giles.
Buffy looked at Giles in disbelief. "No, it can't be delicious, it's got blood in it, how could it even be edible? And you better not have been growling at me!"
"But it's cooked, Buffy," said Andrew.
"Giles! You growled at me!" exclaimed Dawn.
"So what!" said Buffy, "it's blood!"
"Of course I didn't growl, 'The Big Head' is too dignified to growl," Giles growled.
"Buffy's got a point, G-man," said Xander. "Blood, even animal blood, is just not something we're prepared to accept as an ingredient in food." Even Willow shook her head apologetically at Giles. Andrew was about to mention how much Spike liked his black pudding, but he held his tongue as that would win no arguments at this table.
Giles sighed deeply and held up one finger, "Hold on a moment Dawn; Buffy, Toad-in-the-Hole is not made with blood; taste it, if Andrew cooked it properly you'll like it. After all, it's really just Yorkshire pudding with sausages baked in."
Dawn said, "Okay, seriously Giles, how about CEO? Chief Executive Officer is nice and contemporary, and doesn't stand out. Just what the doctor ordered."
Buffy put down her fork with the untasted morsel, again. "Yorkshire pudding? Is that another one of those British code-words for something repulsive? So what is it, deep-fried fat? Or some gross organ that that no civilized person would ever think of eating? Or something that looks like industrial lubricant and tastes even worse than it looks?"
"Dawny, CEO is perhaps a little too straightforward," said Giles.
Andrew, getting a little steamed, said, "BUFFY! This is made it with organic flour, farm fresh eggs from delightfully funny free-roaming chickens, lovely whole fresh milk, Mediterranean sea salt, cracked peppercorns, delicious homemade sausage made from a pampered pig who ate well, died happy, and went to heaven, rich pan drippings from last nights roast, a little fresh thyme and rosemary from my garden, plus red pepper flakes which isn't real authentic but English food could use a little spice, and that's ALL!"
Dawn asked, " 'CEO' isn't mysterious enough for you?"
"Pan drippings...?" asked Buffy.
"Well Dawn, I wouldn't have put it that way, but yes," said Giles. "We are, after all, an organization that hunts down vampires and demons whilst identifying and training vampire slayers."
"Oh for...!" Andrew said, "Buffy, you ever eat your mother's gravy?"
Willow said, "Arrrgh! Giles, do you have any idea how stilted, ancient, and thoroughly British you sound when you say 'whilst'? I mean, sheesh, that word so grates on my ears."
"Well sure, mom's gravy was to die for," said Buffy.
"And you're shocked and surprised, Willow?" said Giles. "I'm slowly exorcising those obnoxious Californications from my speech patterns, I have high hopes that one day I will again sound as if I were a native of the British Isles."
"What do you think gravy is made from, Buff?" said Andrew. "Would you stop being so rude and picky and just taste it?"
Willow said, "Really, Giles, 'Californications'? That's not a word you'll find in the Oxford English Dictionary – you're just working at being grouchy. But if you ask me, I really don't think you have to worry about not sounding British."
Buffy frowned at Andrew but took a bite. She chewed thoughtfully and had another bite. After swallowing, she said, "Okay, I take it all back, this is wonderful! You're a culinary genius Andrew. But it sure could use a better name."
Giles smiled ruefully. "Perhaps you're right Willow."
Dawn said, "So Giles, how about Director? Or Director of something?" She took a bite of Yorkshire pudding with a generous chunk of sausage.
"That's not bad, although I'm not at all certain that I actually direct very much. Mostly I try to keep ahead of the rest of you." He thoughtfully ate half a banger.
"Chief of Running in Front as Fast as You Can," said Dawn after consuming another forkful.
"Okay 'Director' is fine. Better than 'Head Watcher' anyway." Another couple of bites.
They all gradually stopped talking as they were too busy scarfing down Andrew's excellent rendition of 'Toad in the Hole'.
Dawn flipped through the mail. "Trash, trash, trash, incredibly revolting trash, Giles, Buffy, more trash... Oooh, shoes!" A few minutes later she put aside the circular from Harrods, and resumed sorting the mail.
"Trash, Buffy, Giles, oh boy – me, and, what the hell?"
She studied the large buff-colored envelope carefully. It had only the name 'Gringotts' as the return address. No wait, Dawn thought, there's a PO box in tiny little letters. But why was it addressed to 'Edwin Travers' at the IWC headquarters?
"Giles!" said Dawn.
From the next room she heard a muffled, "Hunh?"
She got up and went to see Giles. "Hey, we got somebody named Edwin Travers working here?"
"No, unequivocally not," said Giles, looking up from a messy stack of paper. "Edwin is Quentin Travers son, and he's even more of an unprincipled bounder than his late unlamented father."
"Well then I wonder why Gringotts bank is writing to him? And why do they think he could be found here?"
"Let me see that!" Giles nearly grabbed the envelope out of Dawn's hand. He studied it for a moment, then ripped it open.
"Hey Giles, isn't opening other people's mail a Federal crime?"
"Can't be Federal, this is England."
"Okay, then a crime against the Royal Post Office? You aren't worried that they'll take you up the Tower and lop off your head after a few turns of the rack?"
Giles was deep into the letter. A few seconds later he began hyperventilating and swore, "God's teeth! Bugger and damnation! Do you know what that rotter has done?"
Dawn, worried now, said, "No, what?"
"He's representing himself as the new Head Watcher! That fucking mong is trying to steal the Gringott's Account!"
It was the first time in their long acquaintance that she had ever heard Giles drop the f-bomb – which made it all the more shocking to her ears. "Giles, what are we gonna do?"
"I think you and I, as well as Willow, Buffy and Faith, need to go back to the wizarding world and make sure this doesn't go down the wrong direction."
"Okay, except Buffy's getting ready to go Heathrow this morning. I think maybe we'll add Kennedy."
"I'd prefer Buffy to be with us, but, perhaps she's not irreplaceable for this trip."
"Of course she's irreplaceable!" said Dawn.
"Who's irreplaceable?" asked Buffy, walking in the office.
"Errr, no one," said Dawn, "no one's irreplaceable."
"That's good to know."
"Quentin Travers' devil spawn," said Giles, "Edwin Travers, is trying to steal the Gringotts account; so we need to visit Gringotts and make sure he can't. This is vitally important to the future of the Council, the Slayers, and the world, I dare say, so I want both you and Willow with me."
"Ah, yeah I see. Okay, I can postpone flying back a few days. Let's take Kenn also."
Willow wandered in with a small stack of papers in her hand, wearing a puzzled expression. "Did I hear you say 'Edwin Travers'?"
"Yes, why?" said Giles.
"Because I was going through the paperwork sent us by our Texas lawyers about the pedestrian lawsuits, you know, the people who claimed they were injured by the First's blowing up the Council building, and one of the sue-ers is one Edwin Travers. I don't suppose there's all that many folks named Edwin Travers in the world."
Giles sat down heavily. "Well, he's a persistent bugger, isn't he?"
Dawn, with a dangerous glint in her eye, said, "I'm beginning to think Edwin has it in for us. Maybe it's time to fight back."
"Yeah," agreed Buffy, "especially since we didn't even know about the fight until today. That asshole has been digging around under our feet, silently, in the dark while we've been oh-ing and ah-ing over the scenery."
"Hmmm, I'm surprised Quentin left so much money to the Council, and not to Edwin."
"That does suggest there might have been bad blood between them. I suppose it's possible that Edwin is angry at the Council, old and new, instead of us personally."
"Well, it doesn't matter, he's been outed as our sworn enemy, what are we gonna do about it? Slay him?" asked Dawn.
"Can't, he's human."
"No buts, we don't assassinate humans," said Buffy.
"Can't we make an exception in this case?"
"Make it look like an accident?"
"I'd rather stretch him on the rack," said Giles darkly.
"Yeah, but no, we can't."
"You wanna leave it up to the lawyers?"
"That's what we pay them for."
"But this is starting to look like a conspiracy..."
"For it to be a conspiracy, you need a number of conspirators, and I only see one, and one isn't enough for a conspiracy," said Willow.
"Okay," Dawn answered, "just because we haven't identified any other conspirators doesn't mean they aren't out there."
"Hmm, very possible," said Giles. "I've only met Edwin on a few occasions, but unless he's changed dramatically, he's not really clever enough to come up with something like this. In fact, he struck me as a short-sighted prig who doesn't believe civilization extends beyond the shores of England, so the idea of suing us from Texas would have been a non-starter unless someone was feeding him ideas."
"See! I told you so."
Dawn, tapping at her laptop, said, "Ah HA!" She looked up and noticed everyone looking at her. "I googled Edwin Travers, he's done time in prison for fraud, could be that's why his old man disinherited him."
"You may be right, we need to access Quentin's personal files, see if he kept any correspondence with him."
"It's starting to look like Edwin wants money and thinks we're an easy mark."
"Say, you don't suppose the First Evil could have been working through Edwin? I wonder if he's the one responsible for blowing up the old Council?"
"It's a possibility that deserves enquiry," said Giles. "If it's true, if Edwin was instrumental in killing his father, then he's even more of a..." He trailed off in thought.
"What?" asked Buffy.
"Hmm, it's hard for me to believe that Edwin is so lacking in civility that he would stoop to patricide. But what he does lack is spine, I can easily see him succumbing to the vile murmurs of the First Evil."
"Would it make any difference in court? Could he use it as a defense: 'Your honor, I was driven to murdering my father by the earthly incarnation of the First Evil'?"
"That would be a sticky defense tactic, not one likely to work."
"Well," said Willow, "this is all speculation. First we need to frustrate Edwin's attempt to steal the Council's money, and let's hope that Edwin hasn't confused the situation – goddess, I hope he doesn't have the damn key to the vault. Second, we'll investigate young Travers. Actually, let's start the investigation simultaneously to scotch his dastardly deeds."
The others looked at her strangely.
"Uh, too much drama?" she asked.
Xander laughed, "Oh no Will, I'd say just the right amount."
Dawn, who had been furiously typing away at her laptop, looked up and said, "Uh guys? You remember the other day, when we were in Diagon Alley and Faith was wandering around with that Auror girl, Tonks?"
"And she ran into that guy named Lucious Malfoy?"
"Well, I found some more of Quentin Travers private papers the other day, and I ran across some stuff... Well, never mind how I found it; what I found, and just now confirmed, is that Quentin Travers is related to the Malfoy family, although I'm not sure just how since he seems to have been written out of the family for some reason. It sure would be easier if these people weren't so frickin' secretive."
"Ah, so that's how he knew about Gringotts bank."
Dawn said, "That's not why, the Watcher's account itself is old, I mean, really old. The vaults in Gringotts are assigned in order of customers opening accounts, and the Council's vault numbers are: '5', '47', and '1283'. Apparently, back in the dark ages, when the Wizards were splitting themselves off from the rest of humanity, the Council of Watchers was right there, part of the wizarding world."
"Huh," said Giles, "that's very strange, no one has ever mentioned the Wizarding World, or Gringotts Bank to me, neither Quentin, nor my own father, nor any of the other Watchers of any generation. And I'm certainly curious as to what might be filling up not one, but three vaults."
Dawn said, "Rather than guess, I'm gonna research some more. But now I know where to look, so I'm sure I'll find out what happened. In the meantime, let's go back to the bank, and I definitely want to stop at Fortescue's again."
"Huh, that's odd," said Willow, looking over Dawn's shoulder.
"What?" asked Dawn.
"Those vault numbers are prime numbers."
"Oh I remember those," said Xander, "It's where the number can only be divided by one and itself, right? And, umm, why would that matter?"
"I don't see how it could matter, it's just coincidence," said Willow.
"Unless it's numerologically important, like those stupid street numbers," said Dawn.
"Probably means nothing at all." Willow reiterated.
*This refers to an unfinished, unnamed, and unpublished story which may see the light of day later this year.
1: I have no idea why the vault numbers being prime would matter to anyone in the Wizarding world or the Council. They're a special kind of prime, too. The story, as it came to me, insisted on these numbers. Any suggestions as to the significance would be welcome.
2: The next chapter will have more action and less talk.
3: The breakfast conversation was a little experimental on my part. It was fun to write, but I would like to know if the result was comprehensible or not.