Tara Maclay, Counselor of Karma
Summary: After her death in the BtVS'verse, Tara is offered a chance to help other Champions in other dimensions…starting with Harry Potter.
Challenge: actually got the idea of punishing Umbridge from another fic.
Timeline: obviously post-'Seeing Red' for BtVS; let's just say OotP for HP.
Warning: Probably something of a Tara Sue.
Thanks to my betas: hmm, not this time.
Disclaimer: BtVS and AtS characters belong to Joss Whedon / Mutant Enemy. Harry Potter characters belong to JK Rowling. I claim no rights to any copyrighted material. Please do not copy or take this story without my permission.
Unknown time since her death…
Whistler greeted Tara with a smile, "Hello there, beautiful. I've got an offer for you from the Powers That Be."
Staring at the strange man who was attempting to be charming – and failing miserably – Tara replied, "And why should I care? They just allowed me to be pulled from Willow and my friends. Willow doesn't handle losing loved ones well."
"There's an understatement," Whistler muttered under his breath, glad Tara couldn't see the carnage her death was causing. "They thought you'd enjoy helping Champions of the Other Realms like you've helped Buffy. One in particular needs serious help right away if he hopes to stand a chance at surviving."
Tara was still wary. These PTB beings allowed them to pull Buffy out of her rest; surely, they could have stopped the spell.
"Just so you know, the Powers did try to stop your little girlfriend," Whistler cut in, reading her thoughts. "The Urn she got was supposed to be destroyed long ago, and they nudged the demon to damage the robot so she would interrupt the spell. Turns out we all underestimated the witch's power and determination to see it through."
As she considered her options, Tara realized that if she were given the chance to go back and help Buffy, she'd do it in a heartbeat – and not just because of Willow. How could she not do the same thing for another Champion? "I'll do it."
Hogwarts Great Hall
The Welcome Feast…
Dumbledore stood before the students as usual to introduce the professors and give the announcements, "…We also wish to welcome our new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, Professor Dolores Umbridge. I'm sure you'll all join me in wishing the professor good luck. Another new-"
His speech was cut off when Umbridge stood up to give her own speech. She had only gotten as far as, "Thank you, Headmaster…" before she, too, was interrupted.
From the other end of the table stood a young blonde woman who only the Headmaster knew about. "Excuse me, Professor Umbridge," Tara started in the same sweet tone Umbridge had used. "Perhaps you should allow the Headmaster to finish his remarks? We wouldn't want to set a bad example for the students, now would we?" she finished with a smile she remembered Buffy giving the Council representatives during their 'evaluation' when she told them off. The smile that said 'I'm being nice right now, but mess with me and I'll throw a sword at your head.'
Apparently, even without the sword, Umbridge got the idea because she sat back down with as much dignity as she could muster with half the students sniggering at her.
Clearing his throat, Dumbledore smiled at the unknown woman and nodded respectfully in her direction. "As I was saying, we have a new position on the Hogwarts staff due to last year's tragedy. Miss Tara Maclay is the first counselor we've had here. I'll let Miss Maclay explain her job for those that don't understand what a counselor does," he finished, gesturing for her to step forward.
The laughing quietly started again when the students glanced over at Umbridge, who practically had steam coming out of her ears at that point.
Tara smiled at the students warmly – even the Slytherins – and explained, "When you have a problem, you can come and talk to me about it. I will do my best not to judge you. If there is something I can do to help you, I will try. Otherwise it is simply a way for you to talk about stuff you don't think you can share with other students, teachers or adults. What we discuss will remain private unless you specifically tell me it's okay to share. Even the Headmaster or the authorities won't be able to compel me to divulge your secrets."
She paused to glance at the Hufflepuff table, then at Harry before continuing, "As Headmaster Dumbledore said earlier, I am here because of Cedric Diggory's death. In the muggle world, when a tragedy like that happens, the school provides crisis counselors to help the students deal with the pain, guilt, anger, fear…whatever they are feeling. The Higher Powers," Tara said with a secret smile, "Have determined that Hogwarts needs the same care. Please don't hesitate to come see me."
The following week…
Harry put off going to see the counselor as long as he could; he didn't want people to think he was nutters or anything. But when he saw Miss Tara – as she preferred to be called – in the hallways, and she made a quiet comment about nightmares, he decided that being called crazy wasn't as bad as actually being crazy. And if he didn't get help soon, that's where he was headed.
"Welcome, Harry," Tara greeted when he came in. "Would you like some hot chocolate with marshmallows? Perhaps something else? My friends and I always enjoyed talking about our problems over hot chocolate and ice cream. It was a joke that we used the hot and cold to balance each other out."
Since the castle was a bit chilly that day, Harry replied, "I think maybe some hot chocolate."
While she prepared their drinks, he looked around the room. She must have nymph blood in her, because it certainly didn't look like a typical wizarding room to Harry. The walls were covered with murals that looked like various landscapes. He walked to each one to check them out. The first wall had a meadow scene and in front of it was a rug that looked and felt (he crouched down to check) like grass. The next wall was the ocean with a sand rug. The next was a forest with a dirt floor. The last was a mountain with a natural stone floor. In each section, he could smell things that belonged in those locations.
He didn't realize that he was lost in his thoughts until her voice interrupted them, "If you don't like nature scenes, we can go the traditional method, too. The back room is all dark and gloomy; I just feel more at peace out here. It usually helps people relax better, too."
"Are you part nymph?" Harry blurted out.
Even her laugh had an earthy tone to it. Harry could swear he felt warmer when she laughed. And the tightness around his heart lessened just a little.
"No, just your ordinary non-wand witch. I do ask the earth for help with my spells, though," Tara replied. She gestured to the different scenes and asked, "Where would you like to sit?"
The one place he had always wanted to go – but the Dursleys never included him when they went – was the ocean. He pointed to the beach shyly.
Tara smiled at him again, saying, "That's my favorite place, too. There's something so calming about listening to the waves crash against the shore while the sun – or moon – shines down on you."
Once he started talking, Harry told her everything. From his life with the Dursleys to his fears about facing Voldemort to the pain of watching Cedric die to the way he was treated by students and teachers. When they grew hungry, a picnic basket appeared – courtesy of Dobby and the other elves – so they wouldn't need to stop. Hours passed as he unloaded his burdens.
"It's hard having all that weight on your shoulders, isn't it?" she asked when he finished. He nodded even though the question was rhetorical. "I had a friend once who was in a similar situation. She was told when she was about your age that she was responsible for saving the world…literally sometimes. She wasn't like the protectors before her who had received training and instructions from an early age; she was just thrown into it blind."
Taking a breath because she wasn't Willow and couldn't talk for five minutes straight, Tara went on, "Even before she became a protector, she was a leader. Granted, she didn't do anything important with her leadership until her life changed, but when it did…she changed the lives of countless people. Not just because she saved them, but because she befriended others that most people would ignore…including me."
"I've seen that you have done the same thing, Harry," she remarked, pride coloring her words. "Without you, Hermione would feel out of place in Gryffindor because of her studiousness; Ron would be lost in a sea of Weasley children with nothing to make him special; Neville…well, I think he would have become a complete nervous wreck if you hadn't helped him. He's still rather shy, but that takes time to grow out of. And it isn't just the students either. I've talked to Hagrid, and you were the first student to treat him like a friend. And there are more people out there, I'm sure."
A smile started in her eyes and lit up the room as she came to a realization. Tara figured out how she would help Harry. It wouldn't have been possible back in her old life, but she could feel the Powers in her mind, approving of her plan. "I couldn't do this for my friend, but with the magick here and the rules of my assignment, it's possible for me to offer it to you."
"What's that, Miss Tara?" Harry inquired, starting to feel a bit wary. Whenever an unknown person offered him something, it usually was bad.
"A karma shield," Tara replied. "What it does for you is that if somebody is kind to you, they'll receive kindness back. If they intend to harm you…" she trailed off, letting him finish the thought for her.
Which he did breathlessly, "They'll get what they tried to do to me." His mind swam with the possibilities. The secret hexes he had to endure from the Slytherins that Snape never punished them for; the beatings and neglect from the Dursleys.
"It won't necessarily be an exact copy of what they do to you," Tara warned. "Sometimes it will be subtle; other times it will be blatant. At no point will they realize that it is because of how they treat you specifically that causes things to happen, though. If that were the case, you'd be turned into a genie…kind of. They'd only do nice things because they wanted nice things in return – which goes against the nature of the spell."
He thought he understood, but he wanted to clarify, "So let's say a Slytherin," he was thinking mainly of Draco, "was to call me a mudblood lover or something similar…"
Tara knew what he wanted to know and offered an example of what could happen, "Then they might have a recurring nightmare about being a squib or muggle. The idea is to be subtle about the response to their actions. Sometimes subtle just isn't enough, though."
During Harry's detention with Umbridge…
Since Miss Tara cast her spell, Harry noticed something she hadn't mentioned. If he did something wrong and deserved to be punished, the spell wouldn't protect him. For example, when McGonagall caught him breaking one of the school rules, her punishment didn't mirror back on her – unless it was so subtle that he didn't see it.
That made him worried when he walked into Umbridge's detention. He took a deep breath and walked in, planning to talk to Miss Tara if it didn't work a second time.
Umbridge handed him the odd quill and told him to write the lines, looking very smug. When he started, though, she cried out in pain. Not wanting to get into trouble, he kept going. "How did you do this?" Umbridge screeched as he saw blood dripping from her hand.
Truly alarmed, Harry denied the accusation, "I didn't do anything!"
She ignored him, and ran out the door, racing to get to the infirmary. Distracted by the pain, she neither took the quill from him nor told him to stop writing. Which was why, when she got to the Madame Pomfrey, Umbridge was near hysterical with agony.
Tara, who had been visiting the healer, knew that Umbridge had Harry in detention for speaking out of turn in class. A glance at a clock confirmed that the detention had just begun moments ago. Then she leaned over to see the words 'I must not tell lies' neatly scrawled in her skin…in Harry's handwriting. Even when Poppy would heal the skin, they watched it happen again, as if he were standing in the room writing it in front of them.
With wide eyes, Umbridge screamed at Tara, "Tell him to stop writing lines!"
When Tara found out that the quill Harry was using was spelled to carve into the student's hand whatever they were told to write, she was glad she strolled to Umbridge's room to stop Harry instead of running there. With Pomfrey, Tara and Dumbledore's testimony that the spell was not Harry's doing, but Umbridge's, the pink-clad toad was incarcerated for using a forbidden object on minors. The authorities simply assumed the spell was cast wrong and that's why it rebounded on the owner of the quill, not the user.
A/N: This is a oneshot, but if you can give me other fandoms/Champions for Tara to visit, I'd be more than happy to turn this into a series...when time permits.