I own nothing. Sometimes it's just fun to play in someone else's sandbox.
Letters to the Past
September 1, 2005
It had been two years since we had closed the Hellmouth in Sunnydale when I went to teach at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. But I guess I really shouldn't begin there. It feels as though I'm skipping parts. I should start at the beginning.
After Sunnydale collapsed, Dawn and I went to Rome. It was always one of those places we had said we would visit if we ever got the chance, so when Faith and Robin went to guard the Hellmouth in Cleveland, my sister and I decided it was the perfect time to go to Italy. With money from the newly reforming Watcher's Council, we got an apartment and I enrolled Dawn in high school so she could get her diploma.
But even in the company of my sister, I was horribly lonely. The Scoobies and I had never really forgiven each other for the actions each of us had taken in those last months against the First, and even before that, really, and I doubted heavily that our relationships would ever improve. They hadn't even asked where I was going the last time we parted ways.
I didn't speak any Italian, and I was loathe to learn, so I began a journal. I had kept one most of my life, but after the First had become an issue, I hardly ever had time to write. Luckily, when I had packed my bag that night before the final battle, I had taken those books with me. There were seven of them, most chronicling my slaying. Giles wanted me to write a book about the things the Scoobies and I had done, claiming it might help the future generations of Slayers, but I didn't want to do that. Those experiences were ours and ours alone. To share them seemed wrong somehow. Perverse. And things in my life were twisted enough.
By the time Dawn had graduated, I had filled another book with the things that had happened that last year in Sunnydale. She got a scholarship to Oxford, so we moved to merry ole England. She lived in the dorms, so I took a flat across from the new Council building and was content, in a manner of speaking, to become Giles' secretary. And that was fine for about three months, but after that, my natural Slayer senses were making me jumpy. So much for my retirement.
It was early afternoon and I was just copying down some of the phone calls Giles had received when the phone rang again. It was the Wiccan girl at the front desk of the building, telling me that a strange old man was there to see Giles. I told her to go ahead and send him up.
It didn't happen often, but occasionally, we did get an assassination attempt. One of the many reasons I think Giles enjoyed me sitting at a desk in front of his office. Generally speaking, I can tell when the person coming in is a Big Bad trying to get rid of the Head of the Council. Even if that were to happen, there's someone to take his place until the girl he wants to train finishes school. But I don't want to see her come to that power for a long time yet. I'm just not emotionally ready to protect my sister from assassination attempts. Nor am I ready to assume the position myself until she's done with school.
But, nonetheless, I had planned to tell Giles to get one of the younger Slayers to answer his phone because I was ready for active duty again. However, all my thoughts flew out the window when I saw Giles' visitor.
He appeared to be an elderly man in age, but he walked with a distinct bounce in his step. He was tall, thin, and very old, judging by the silver of his hair and beard, both of which were long enough to tuck into his belt. He was wearing long purple robes with crescent moons and stars embroidered on them, silver buckled boots, and spectacles. He had bright blue eyes that twinkled when he looked at me.
"Hi," I said brightly. "You didn't have an appointment, did you? Because if you did, I don't seem to have it written down." I was trying to play the part of the ditzy secretary to suss out his intent, but judging by the look in the man's sparkling eyes, he wasn't buying it.
"I had no appointment. I was actually unaware that I might need one," he said with a small smile.
I motioned to the cream colored loveseat against the wall across from my desk. "Well, why don't you give me your name and have a seat and I'll see if Giles can meet with you," I said.
He told me his name and I stood, leaving the desk and entering Giles' office, shutting the door gently behind me.
My former Watcher looked up from his huge leather bound tome in surprise. I hardly ever barged into his office without using the intercom to announce myself first. I'd like to think I had grown up a tiny bit.
"Hey, there's a guy out there to see you named Albus Dumbledore. If Merlin and Gandalf had a love child, it would totally be this guy," I said quietly, so the man in the outer office wouldn't hear me as I stood before the desk. "Doesn't feel evil though."
Giles looked at me blankly for a moment before clearing his desk of books. "Show him in."
I nodded and went back out to the entryway. I motioned Dumbledore through to Giles' office Vanna White style and settled back into my chair.
It was April, and usually about this time, the Scoobies and I were preparing for an apocalypse. Since the defeat of the First, there had been an incredible lack of demon activity worldwide and I had no problems saying that I had been bored out of my mind for the past two years. Sad as it sounds, I was itching for someone to try to take over the world.
Twenty minutes later, I decided since there was no motion from the office, I was going to go to lunch. There was nothing else for me to do anyway. I called down to the Wiccan at the front desk, telling her she would need to hold the calls while I was out. Just as I hung up the phone, Giles opened the office door, his face grave and pale, and asked me to join them.
I sat down in the chair next to Dumbledore and looked between the two men in confusion. "What's the what?" I asked.
And the elderly man told me everything. About the Wizarding world. About the school he was the Headmaster of. About Tom Riddle, his name change, and his rise to power. About how the Potters, a prominent Wizarding family, had been killed, but their infant son had brought about the Dark Lord's downfall. And now he was back, recruiting demons, vampires, and wizards alike and was poised to attack the school where the sixteen year old Potter boy currently lived. And Dumbledore wanted a Slayer's help. Not just a Slayer, but me personally. Asked for by name. Not as a fighter, but as a strategist. A tactician.
I didn't hesitate. I didn't need to. It was one thing to attack adults, but some of the kids at Hogwarts were as young as eleven. No way some hyped up wizard with delusions of grandeur was going to slaughter them all I could help it.
From his robes, the man produced several maps. The interior of Hogwarts, the grounds, the countryside surrounding it, and the town next to it. He told me that he was the leader of a secret organization called the Order of the Phoenix and that they, along with the aurors from the Ministry of Magic, would be the ones to fight Voldemort's followers, the Death Eaters. And like any good leader, he had a spy amongst the bad guy's ranks. He told me he would send that man to the Council building that night so he could tell me the Dark Lord's battle plans to provide me with a jumping off place for my own.
The silence stretched out like an ocean between my former Watcher and I after Albus Dumbledore left us.
"I'm resigning as your secretary," I said abruptly. "I'm taking over the empty office across the hall. And until this battle planning gig is over, I want a personal assistant."
Giles rolled his eyes at me, but acquiesced, just as I knew he would.
When my visitor had arrived five hours later, Andrew Wells, my new assistant, led him into an office that, even though we had quickly decorated by cannibalizing other offices, looked like it had been used for months. I didn't want anyone thinking I was unqualified since I was a secretary up until earlier that day.
The maps had been tacked up on the walls for easy perusal and I was studying the one of the Hogwarts grounds.
The man was sallow, wearing black robes that made his skin appear paler than it probably was. He had black hair nearly to his shoulders and a hooked nose that looked as though it had been broken more than once. His mouth was set in a twisted scowl and his sable eyes glittered at me.
I think he was used to people cowering under his gaze, as he seemed mildly shocked when I looked at him completely dispassionately. But then he recovered.
"Miss Summers, I presume?" he said with a sneer.
I could have said something scathing or gotten defensive, but I chose to be an adult, considering what was at stake. "Yes," I replied simply. "Call me Buffy. And you must be the spy. I'm sorry, Dumbledore didn't tell me your name."
"Severus Snape," he said in his deep and silky voice. His dark eyes slid over me. "I must confess, when Albus told me I was going to meet with one of the longest living Slayers, I expected you to be bigger."
"Believe me," I said with a wide grin, "you aren't the first to have said that. But size must not mean much since I've been a Slayer for nine years now…" I trailed off and shrugged. "Anyway, what have you got for me?"
We spent the next two weeks in close contact, going over plans in defense of the school. Andrew flitted in occasionally, but his fear of Severus and his glaring and scowling kept him out fetching things for us more often than not. Coffee, Tea, Chinese food, whatever we could think of, really. I think we both enjoyed ordering the annoying boy around.
We worked out every scenario we could think of and one Sunday evening, two days before the Dark Lord wanted to mobilize, I laid out a plan that just might work.
"It's brilliant," he said in that sneering, snarky voice that I had gotten so used to. But there was something else in it this time. Grudging respect, perhaps? "But can you even pull off something of this magnitude? Albus had no intention of asking you to fight."
"Yeah, I know. This is called doing the right thing simply because it's the right thing to do."
I had Andrew call for all the Slayers over the age of 16 that had been deemed combat ready. It took almost no time at all and 15 minutes later, Severus and I stood in the largest banquet room in the Council building, facing almost two hundred Slayers and my former Watcher.
"Since you have been here in training, you have been taught not to take a human life because we aren't allowed to pass judgment. In nine years, I have held on to that belief, but the times have changed, and the world has a new crisis," I said, praying that at least some of them would understand the gravity of what I was about to say. "An evil man has declared war on the Wizarding world." An excited chatter ran through the group at this. Most didn't even know such a thing existed.
"He and his followers, dark wizards called Death Eaters, along with recruited demons and vampires, plan to attack Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in two days time. A school full of children as young as eleven and as old as eighteen. They have an army six hundred strong and the good guys, the aurors and the Order of the Phoenix, only number one hundred and fifty. These Death Eaters will think nothing of killing the students of the school to get what they want. Their target is a powerful 16-year-old boy named Harry. Fifteen years ago, this baddie, Voldemort, killed his parents and now he's going for the full set."
I looked at the assembled group carefully. "The Death Eaters can't just be knocked out. They could easily be revived magically by their comrades and then be able to keep attacking. They will have to be killed."
I took a long deep breath. "I'm not going to make any of you go with me. I know that this goes against everything we've taught you. But I can't just sit back and know that there are children out there that are going to be at risk, innocent children, and do nothing. We all have a limit, something we would take a human life for, and I guess this is it for me. The world isn't black and white," I said, my voice cracking a little. "This is a war and children may be slaughtered just so this evil son of a bitch can kill a teenager. I know that there are always casualties in war, but those should never be a group of innocent kids. I refuse to let a bunch of students become collateral damage," I said vehemently. "Will any of you fight along side me?"
The room was silent as the grave and completely still for a good thirty seconds and I was starting to think I was going to be forced to rework our battle plan. But then, lo and behold, Amanda and the rest of the Sunnydale alum that hadn't been stationed elsewhere came up and took places at my back.
When Amanda, an accomplished fighter in her own rite and instructor to the younger girls, saw the shock and awe on my face, she put a comforting hand on my shoulder.
"Once, you led a bunch of normal teenage girls into the mouth of Hell and we emerged warriors. You did that. You've stopped the world from ending on more occasions than I even want to contemplate and you've died three times. And yet you'll run to the aide of people you don't even know without fear or hesitation," she said softly, but the room was so quiet, everyone could hear her words. "And I respect you for that. And for doing what you believe in regardless of how afraid everyone else is. So, I'm coming with you. And for what it's worth, I completely agree. Kids, innocents, should be saved, no matter the cost. You got another brilliant plan?"
I looked over and caught Giles' eye. "What? I need a plan? Can't I just be proactive with pep?" I snarked. "Of course I have a plan! A good one, with maps and everything."
Giles grinned and moved up to stand between the oddly quiet Severus and me. "I am with you as well."
That started a small chain reaction and I found myself with sixty-five Slayers, willing to fight for the wizard's cause.
I dismissed the rest of the girls and turned to Severus. "Show us what we'll be up against."
And he did. The evening of the battle came and we were as prepared as we were ever going to be. We were split into two groups. Amanda was leading twenty-five Slayers and Giles, placed just inside the doors of the giant castle-like school. I led the rest, stationed at the Hogsmeade entrance to the grounds. When the demons, vampires, and Death Eaters began surging through the school's terrain as soon as they had the cover of darkness, my group attacked them from the side.
I thought it would be harder to take a human life, a fact that would haunt me for weeks after the battle. But in their long black cloaks and silver masks, it was easier to write them off as the monsters they really were. My group swept through the grounds and I was proud and sickened by their lack of hesitation.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Severus Snape tear off his Death Eater robes and declare his true allegiance once and for all. There were roars of disbelief and anger from his comrades, and like a pack of wolves sometimes turns on its weakest member, the silver masked figures turned on the traitor in their midst.
He dueled them all with precision and grace, but I made my way towards them regardless. Severus was my contact with the Wizarding world. Save Albus Dumbledore, whom I had only spoken with for an hour, he was the only wizard I even knew, and snarkiness and sneering aside, I liked him. He was a good man and I wasn't about to let him die if I could somehow prevent it.
There was only one wizard still attacking when I arrived. His hood had fallen back to reveal long, white-blond hair and he held his wand trained on the spy. Severus was writhing on the ground, face pinched with pain, his own wand lying more than six feet away, but he didn't cry out and give his tormenter that satisfaction.
The other wizard, however, was making enough noise for both of them. "When the Dark Lord defeats Potter," he was saying, "we will hang your broken body from the battlements as a warning to all those afraid to do the Lord's bidding. All this has been for naught, my old friend. The Dark Lord can never be defeated by a mere teenager. And all these muggle girls? They'll provide fine entertainment once the battle is over." He sneered as he leaned down close to Severus.
I moved into position behind him, readying my blood-soaked sword.
"I believe I will ask the Dark Lord for their leader. Perhaps you know her, Severus. Blonde. Exquisite body. I can hardly wait to see what she looks like writhing beneath me as I choke the life from her."
He began standing again and I saw him release the spell on Snape, and as he quickly waved his wand through the air, either preparing for another attack or the killing blow, I struck.
My sword had dulled over the course of the fight and stopped as it bit into the blond man's spine. He fell to the ground, his wand rolling from his grip as his hands scrabbled at his neck, trying to staunch the flow of blood. His mask had unseated itself in his graceless collapse to the grass and I stared into the grey eyes of the man I was killing. He had pointed, attractive features, but I wasn't fooled by his angelic countenance.
"The thing about bad guys," I said softly to him, knowing that even though the battle raged around us, he heard every word I spoke, "is that they never seem to realize that, while evil may triumph for a little while, it never actually wins."
I held my sword aloft and brought it down with all my strength. His head severed and rolled away on the bloody ground. I wiped the back of my arm over my forehead, both disgusted and resigned when it came away a sticky crimson.
Killing humans was messy.
I turned to find a wide-eyed Severus Snape still on the ground, staring at the headless body of the man that was about to cheerfully murder him. Holding out my hand, I called his name, drawing his attention to me for the first time.
His eyes were inscrutable, dark and fathomless as obsidian pools. There was nothing to say, so he grabbed my outstretched hand and I pulled him to his feet. I retrieved his wand and handed it back to him with a curt nod. He copied the gesture and we both turned back to the bloody battle at hand.
Two hours later, the remaining Death Eaters hastily retreated. Their leader was dead. The Slayer army had dispatched seventy five percent of the invaders, leaving most of the good guys inside the walls to deal with Voldemort himself.
When the battle was over, we left in a hurry, just as we had all agreed upon the night before. The wizards had earned their victory with blood, sweat, and tears stretched painfully over decades. None of us wanted any undue credit for doing the right thing, so we slunk off into the night and returned to the Council building.
It was three months before I heard anything else about the Wizarding world.
I had been out on a quick patrol of the city. When I came home to my flat, there was a large brown owl tapping at the window in my living room. I had been around Severus long enough to know that this was how wizards sent letters.
I opened the window and the bird flew in and settled onto my coffee table, holding out its stick-like leg so I could retrieve the rolled up parchment tied to it. It was a letter from Albus Dumbledore.
I was shocked but not displeased to find that he wanted me to teach the Defense Against the Dark Arts class for the coming school year. I thought about it long and hard as the owl watched me, waiting for me to pen my reply.
And that's how I got there. I had arrived early in the morning and had time to arrange my amazing classroom the way I liked it, with weapons and the many books I had brought with me from the Watcher's Council, before Severus Snape, the Potions Master, came and collected me for the Welcoming Feast. I sat between him and Dumbledore. We watched the students enter the Great Hall and there was hardly one among them that didn't shoot me a strange glance. Maybe it was because I didn't look that much older than them. Maybe it was because I was the only one in the gargantuan room that wasn't wearing a robe. Sure, my heather gray slacks and my white cashmere sweater stood out, but I had told Dumbledore when I had taken the position that since I was not a witch, I would not masquerade as one. The other staff members found it a bit scandalous, but what did I care?
When the Headmaster introduced me to the student body, he actually told them I was a Slayer! I mean, I knew the Wizarding community was aware of all things magical, ergo they knew of the existence of the Slayer, but to hear it like that, said so casually in front of so many people was like a hammer between the eyes for me. Dumbledore went on to say that I had lead one of the teams of Slayers at the battle with Voldemort and along with Professor Snape, had been responsible for the strategy that had allowed them to win the fight.
I received the first standing ovation of my life. I know I was blushing scarlet by the time Dumbledore had quieted them down.
For the first part of dinner, I was lost in thought. Was this what it would be like if I stayed in touch with the Wizarding world? Being heralded as a war hero? I won't bother denying that sometimes it got incredibly hard to keep sacrificing and saving the world and never have anyone acknowledge it. But I pushed these traitorous thoughts aside. I didn't need to dwell on crap like that! I didn't need recognition for the things I did. With that thought firmly in mind, I turned to Severus. He told me about more wonders of the Wizarding world, mainly about the school and how children were trained in magic. I was so jealous! It sounded like so much fun.
After the feast, I went back to my classroom. It was perfectly organized now, a feat without Andrew there, and so I decided to work on my adjoined office. It was pretty awesome. A small set of stairs set it apart from the classroom and a door on the opposite wall of the office led to my personal quarters, a large sitting room with a fireplace done in shades of blue and green, and a bedroom with an en suite bathroom colored with scarlet.
I sat at the beautiful dark wooden desk of the office, staring down at the black leather bound journal my sister had given me as a gift when I agreed to take the teaching position and the set of raven feather quills Severus had given me just before dinner. He was convinced I needed to learn to write with one and, even though it was charming, why bother when I had access to pens?
I heaved a dramatic sigh as I twirled the nubbed feather between my fingers. I opened the journal to the first page and carefully scratched out the date. My handwriting with the foreign object was better than I expected.
Well, tomorrow will be my first day as a Professor. I was a counselor at Sunnydale High almost three years ago, but there's just something daunting about being called 'Professor Summers." I'm not going to bother going all denial girl and say I'm not nervous as hell. I've never taught anyone but the potentials, and even then, I was only teaching them to slay. Only thing I'm qualified for, I'm sure. But then again…
I guess this really isn't any different. I helped to train the girls to slaughter evil and to become Slayers like me…this time I'm helping train students to fight the Dark Arts. Parallel, right?
Severus told me that the Ministry of Magic has never officially acknowledged Slayers because they are considered unstable creatures. CREATURES! Not even humans! He told me during the Welcoming Feast that Wiccans, Werewolves, and Slayers are considered, by Ministry standards, less. Lower than everyone else. Not as good.
No matter how I write it, it never sounds any better.
Funny to be considered so dangerous by the world at large. I'm so used to authority figures just thinking of me as a troublemaker or an irresponsible young woman. But other than Quentin Travers and his bumbling band of buffoons, no one has really classified me as 'dangerous.' Well, maybe Snyder… I don't want those girls to live with that kind of stigma, so I've decided to ask Giles to keep the interaction the Watcher's Council has with the Wizarding world to a minimum. Somehow I feel that, at this point in time with all the prejudice, the girls might be at risk.
Of course, the open fear they show the Wiccans and us is nothing compared to how they apparently treat werewolves. Albus told me that they're kept track of and hardly any can get jobs because people don't want to associate with them. They're treated with scorn and distain.
To think of Oz treated like that makes my blood boil! Sure, there are bad
Werewolves, Cough…Veruca…Cough, but there are bad muggles (Warren), bad wizards (Voldemort), bad wiccans (Amy), and bad Slayers (Faith), so being a bigot isn't going to change anything. Can't judge a whole group on the actions of a few and all that.
Man, you should have seen the fire in Dumbledore's eyes when he told me. Severus was just smirking at his plate, but I don't know if it was because of the subject matter or my indignation about what was said.
I think he harbors belief in things like that. Sometimes, I wonder if he views me as a monster as well. I don't think I really want to know. We have an understood respect for one another, born of two weeks of close contact and then life threatening situations. I wouldn't call us friends just yet, and I doubt we ever will be the best of buddies, but he is more so than any of the other members of the staff. He's also the closest to my age, if you can imagine that. There's over ten years separating us and he's the closest. I've been told that I'm the second youngest professor ever. Severus was the first, as he began teaching at twenty. It's hard to believe he's been doing it seventeen years.
Anyway, my first class is right after breakfast tomorrow. Slytherin and Gryffindor seventh years. I hear the rivalry between them is nothing short of brutal. I guess this will be the test, won't it?
I shut the leather cover of the book; vaguely impressed I had been able to write so long with a quill without screwing up.
I opened the secret drawer on the right side of the desk and laid the journal inside alone. I had decided earlier, when I had found it, that it would be the place for my personal effects while the left set of drawers could contain my teaching materials.
At first, I had thought the right side of my desk housed nothing, comprised of only a slab of wood, but in the flickering candlelight, I noticed seams within the piece. I sat down on the stone floor to examine it. With a bit of prying, I got it to open. A drawer that looked like it hadn't been used in years. A perfect place to hide things.
I gave one last look around my new office, the irony not escaping me that I had barely had been able to find a job in Sunnydale, but I was in London for only a few months…ok, a year…and had become an important member of the new Council, and now, a professor.
I crawled into bed, bemused by my thoughts. It was a strange world sometimes.