War Against the Paint Chip-Eating Idiots
The Watchers Council library was something reminiscent of the famous Alexandria libraries. The ceiling stood thirty feet high and bookshelves lined every inch of the wall. Although a great deal of books were in possession of the Council, there were a number of empty bookshelves due to the tragic explosion at the Council headquarters last year. Soft lights lit the area, which was decorated spartanly and featured several study tables and an immense rectangular table that seated twelve people. The table was exquisitely crafted out of Brazilian Rosewood and was a dark red with fine brown streaks running through it.
Currently the members of the Watchers Council Board of Directors sat at the table. All were present except for Buffy, who was still in Tibet, and Luna Lovegood, who was finishing up her search for slayers with Spike. Giles, as President of the Board, sat at the head of the table and Faith, as the ranking slayer, sat at the other end; the latter appeared unused to her prominent seat and shifted continuously during the meeting like a restless predator.
Harold Robson and Bernard Crowley, the veteran watchers, sat at each of Giles' sides. Robson was a tall man with thinning black hair. He appeared to be in his early fifties and several wrinkles had begun to mar his forehead. His severe expression only furthered his aged look and his eyes held an unknown sadness. Crowley was short and squat, like an English muffin that had been squashed into the couch on accident. Wiry graying hairs stood at salute on his skull, as if he was attempting to go for a very low-key Don King look. Black spectacles sat on his wide nose, making him appear very studious, but a wide smile and a twinkle in his brown eyes told a different story.
Also present were Robin Wood; who had not changed in the two months since Willow saw him last, Xander, Remus, and Anya. The nine of them had gone through various pieces of business – castle remodeling updates, slayer training updates, slayer recruitment updates, and human resources regarding the upcoming position openings. Over an hour into their meeting they finally began to get into the important things, care of Giles.
"It seems that we have a problem with the Wizarding World," Giles began with a sigh as he cleaned his glasses on the soft fabric of his green sweater. "As you are aware, Spike and Luna reported to us last week that they were attacked by Drusilla – Spike's sire and Angelus' creation – and a witch accomplice of hers. That witch was Bellatrix Lestrange. I requested that Remus brief us on the woman."
Remus nodded and continued where Giles left off. "Bellatrix is a member of Voldemort's inner circle that was broken out of Azkaban earlier this summer. She's a vicious brutal creature that is responsible for numerous deaths and tortures. After the Wizarding War she was locked up in Azkaban – the wizarding prison," he clarified, "and we hoped never to see her again. However, it appears that Voldemort and Drusilla formed a partnership to kill the new slayers."
Everyone nodded grimly. They were all aware of what Luna and Spike had to deal with this summer. They were able to contact countless new slayers but some of them they never reached in time before Drusilla's minions killed them.
"Drusilla, it appears, is an ancestor of Luna's and was a Guardian before Angelus turned her. After the slayer activation spell we think that Drusilla was able to access the slayer visions through her connection to Luna. Through those she was able to find, and kill the slayers," Remus explained.
"Although it is rather confusing, apparently Drusilla wanted the slayers dead so she could have Luna all to herself – she planned on turning her—"
"If that fucking bitch even touched Luna, I'd have flown over there to play some 'Operation' with a wooden toothpick," Faith interrupted Remus with a growl. All the slayers – especially those in Sunnydale – were exceptionally fond of their dreamy fourteen-year old Guardian.
"Yes," Remus said with a grim smile. "It appears that Luna killed a flock of vampires in the Redwood National Forest, including Drusilla, after she fully activated her Guardian powers."
"Fully activated?" Crowley asked. "I was not aware the young Guardian was without that access."
"She was never trained in the ways," Giles explained. "Apparently whatever she found in the Redwood Forest helped her."
"Bellatrix was also killed that night," Remus informed them. "But that still leaves us with a problem."
"We got a dark wizard who's going to cry over his dead girlfriend?" Xander joked. His magical eye whizzed around, trying to judge who he made smile at his joke.
Remus raised his eyebrows. "Actually, I'd hate to see what Voldemort will do when he finds out." A heavy silence hung in the room. "Our problem is that Voldemort sent Bellatrix to help Drusilla kill the slayers – for whatever reason he is after our girls."
Hushed whisperers floated around the table before Xander raised his hand. "Okay, well I can see that," he shrugged. "I mean, Big Bads do always think it's a good idea to snuff out slayers. Plus, we did set up shop in his backyard. But are we seriously worried about this?"
Remus started to speak, but Xander stopped him. "I know I've been doing mostly Council stuff these last couple months and haven't heard a lot about this Moldyshorts dude, but he's just one guy with a pointy stick. How bad can he be?" Xander asked skeptically.
"A great deal more than you think," Giles said softly. "Remus has been filling me in. Remus?"
"Voldemort may not seem like anything compared to the First Evil or a Hellgoddess, but he's much more dangerous than you think," Remus warned. "During his first rise to power he nearly wiped our population."
"I remember hearing about him," Anya commented thoughtfully. "It always sounded like he either didn't get enough hugs as a kid or enough sex as an adult."
Willow snorted. Remus frowned at his girlfriend. "His true power is in both his magical abilities and his charisma. Voldemort has the capability of turning people, turning families, with his sweet words and forked tongue. Worse, he turned the populace paranoid. No one trusted each other. And it wasn't just the deaths and tortures – although those were plentiful. No, it was his mastery of twisting the political and judicial system to work for him. He is extremely crafty and his Death Eaters – many of them – are among the most well-respected and wealthy members of our society."
"I remember Sirius talking about those times," Willow added softly. "I mean, in the Wizarding World anything goes, right? You can use an Imperius spell to control someone's mind or Polyjuice Potion to impersonate someone." She winced – as did the other Scoobies who fell prey to Lucius Malfoy's impersonation of Kennedy Monroe earlier this year.
"Exactly! And that is why Albus Dumbledore reformed the Order of the Phoenix to fight against Voldemort's ways. Currently he is staying hidden, enjoying the disbelief that surrounds his return so no one expects his attacks. But we are trying to spread the word, get other magical creatures on our side, and foil the plans his Death Eaters carry out." Remus pressed his lips into a thin line. "Currently no one in the Wizarding World believes us but Voldemort is back."
"Okay, I'll admit I don't know a lot about the Wizarding World," Robin rumbled in his deep voice. "But isn't it true that wizards only fight with a wand? So we can break this Voldemort's wand and Faith can cut him up into fun-size bars, right?"
Remus appeared upset, perhaps taking it as a criticism against his world and his own method of fighting. "Yes but you have to get close to him. Do you know what a dark wizard can do to you? He can curse you from yards away before you can even get near. Even if you do come close, he can apparate away, only to reappear behind you and curse you again. I'm not saying that brute force can't be helpful but I am not in favor of sending slayers against Voldemort and his Death Eaters. They are extremely dangerous."
Everyone was silent for a while as they mulled over Remus' words. After her experiences with Lucius and Alecto Carrow this year – not to mention her run-in with the aurors of the Ministry at Hogwarts last year – she knew how deadly wizards could be. In a fair fight – no weapons – a slayer would win. But when a wand is involved? That outcome is more than murky.
"So," Giles interrupted their thoughts as he looked each of them in the eyes. "It is unlikely that just because Voldemort failed once he won't continue his assault on the girls. Willow and Amelia created our magical wards when we first opened up the school but I would like to increase those, perhaps with some of Remus' wizarding magic."
"Sure," Willow and Remus agreed.
"As for Voldemort, I am unsure what to do with him. According to Remus, the Order cannot pinpoint his location and he is hidden from every scrying spell we have all tried. Therefore, I leave it to the Board to decide our next steps in this matter."
"If I may," Robson said. Giles nodded and he continued. "I've been a member of the Council for decades and have run across or heard accounts of the Council dealing with the Ministry of Magic, the governing body of Britain's magical population. And let me say," he said with a bitter smile, "that our interactions have never resulted in positive relations."
"Meaning?" Crowley asked with a raised eyebrow that slid above the rim of his black glasses.
"Meaning that I am unsure if we should get involved in wizard's business," Robson replied smoothly. "Once we tried to get involved in the Grindelwald business and they threatened to lock our slayer up because she was an 'unregistered supernatural creature'," he bristled.
"No!" Willow spit out incredulously. "They really said that?"
"According to the files," Robson answered her, a muscle in his cheek tensing. "Quite frankly, I'm worried about how they would react if they knew we had 175 slayers here – with more to come."
"Oh, they could try to do something," Xander growled, his real eye alight in anger. "And I could try to introduce them to my chainsaw. I've found that it does wonders with the annoying bits of the wizarding world." He smiled serenely, a cold mask of deadly intent.
"Like them or not – Merlin knows I'm not rather fond of my government's view on supernatural creatures," Remus said bitterly. "But like them or not, you have to admit that the Ministry has a considerable deal of power. They could make life very difficult for the Council."
"Hence why I am unsure if we should actively work against Voldemort. Let the Ministry deal with them on their own, I say," Robson opined.
"But the Ministry is a bunch of paint chip-eating idiots!" Willow stated. "They won't even acknowledge that Voldemort is back, even though the guy almost killed Harry. Besides, just because someone is a witch or a wizard doesn't mean that they are notan innocent and not deserving of our protection."
"Why don't we just tell the Ministry we'll take care of their dark lord little problem for a few hundred million shiny Galleons?" Anya added with a cheerful smile. "Win-win for everyone!"
"Yes, well that will be a difficult deal to broker if the Ministry has chosen to remain ignorant of the wizard's return," Crowley pointed out kindly. "Personally I think we should take out this threat, but as quickly and as efficiently as possible so we can return to our own work."
"I say if Voldemort's forces have attacked our slayers and Guardian, then he's already asked to get his ass kicked," Faith said with a crack of her knuckles.
"I'm game. Let's shove his wand where the sun don't shine!" Xander cheered with his fist in the air, his lips curled into a smirk.
"Personally I feel like the Council doesn't have the resources to start a manhunt when we're trying to get reestablished and train the new slayers, but we should keep an eye on him if our girls are at threat," Robin opined.
"I'm an Order member. Clearly I am favor of the Council supporting our efforts," Remus commented with an easy smile.
Anya let out a heavy sigh. "Fine, but once we do smite Voldemort we should certainly extort a large sum of money from those wizards at the Ministry," she sniffed.
"All in favor of supporting the Order of the Phoenix?" Giles asked with a glance around the table.
"Aye," seven of them chorused.
"Nay," Robson, the lone nay replied.
Giles banged his official gavel. "The Ayes have it. I would like to assign Willow, Xander, and Faith to act as official Council representatives at the Order, in addition to Remus, who I am aware has been acting in that unofficial capacity."
"Me?" Faith asked, surprised that she was going to do something more official at the Council than just train newbie slayers.
"Absolutely," Giles said with an encouraging smile. "Willow, Xander, and Remus have ties to the Wizarding world and may not be as impartial as an outsider would be." Xander and Willow went to protest but Giles silenced them with a wave of his hand. "You both are dating a member of the Order and it is imperative we have multiple perspectives. Additionally, Faith, as our resident senior slayer it is important you stay abreast of information pertaining to our latest 'Big Bad', as it were."
Faith's glossed lips curved into a sly smile as she thought of Fleur Delacour, the Order member she had met last week. Oh yeah, she would stay abreast alright.
Thank you for everyone who has been reading and reviewing! Many thanks to those who provided nominations for the Sineya School faculty and staff! They were brilliant and all have been set for consideration as I work on the story outline. I am still taking nominations if anyone else would like to offer one.
Just a refresher from the last chapter:
Members of the Watchers Council Board of Directors
1. Rupert Giles
2. Buffy Summers
3. Faith Lehane
4. Willow Rosenberg
5. Xander Harris
6. Luna Lovegood
7. Bernard Crowley
8. Harold Robson
9. Robin Wood
10. Remus Lupin
11. Anya Jenkins
Oh, and this chapter had a whole bunch of spoilers for Crescent and Spike's Most Excellent Adventure - hopefully you've all read that by now... :) If you haven't (and shame on you!;) then you are officially caught up on everything that matters for the current story! :)