Disclaimer:I do not own any rights to Harry Potter or Buffy the Vampire Slayer and I'm making no money off my fanfiction.

Note: Flashbacks take place the summer of '96 for both series (meaning before Buffy got to Sunnydale and before Draco's 6th year began). Non-flashbacks take place about 2005ish. Doesn't stick to the comics, but canon remains intact. And, yes, another one-shot based on a very old manip I made.

Buffy's eyes scanned the café, looking for the vague identifier, a green shirt, and spotted him almost immediately.

She'd been living in Scotland on again, off again, for over a year, and yet, in all that time, she hadn't even thought of the man. . . Well, boy. He'd been a boy when they'd met. And she'd been a girl. And they'd both been too old.

When Willow told her she should really meet with one of the local big-time magic guys (and all but beg for a couple dark artifacts the old Council had never managed to reacquire), Buffy had expected she'd be sharing tea with an old eccentric, possibly evil, probably poorly groomed, and definitely unfamiliar. Of course, she now realized she was wrong on all accounts. Well, mostly.

"Draco," she said, surprised the name had stuck with her over the years. Buffy blinked, shook her head, and took the seat across from him. "Should I really be surprised?"

He looked up, allowed his lips to curl into a small, sneering grin that didn't quite reach his eyes. "Ah,yes," he said, a smoothness to his voice that she envied, "Rumor had it, you'd evaded death."

No thanks to him. Buffy frowned. "Looks like you're a proud member of club Still Kickin', too. So, I guess that means things didn't turn out quite as planned for either of us."

Draco lost the hint of a smile on his face. "They did, actually."

"You don't understand," he snapped, the wand in his hand trembling with the words. "If I don't kill you, he'll kill me."

Buffy actually rolled her eyes when he finished, crossing her arms over the chest of her new sweater, as if the other teenager wasn't brandishing a deadly weapon in her direction. By all rights, it didn't look very deadly, but Buffy wasn't easily deceived by appearances. After all, she didn't exactly look like a vampire staking machine in her blond braids and strappy sandals.

"Easy path, not always the right one - tell me you've heard this one before..."

Buffy's own words gave her pause, but she wasn't about to let her own insecurities show. This wasn't the same. Dodging her so-called "destiny" wasn't the same as killing someone in cold blood. Not so much gray zone there.

"You're nothing," the wizard said, but his voice was lower, the grimace on his face less fierce. "You're just a muggle. Just one muggle."

Buffy had no clue what he was calling her, but it sounded bad. And if she'd thought for a second that he was actually talking to her and not trying to convince himself of the truth behind the words, she would have swooped forward and snapped the guy's little stick in two. And then she might have taken a stab at his wand as a follow-up.

"Just do me a favor," Buffy said, leaning back against the skuzzy wall.

It was broad daylight, the front of the gas station busy, her mother filling up their car and in mid-argument with a pouting Dawnie. Yet, no one seemed aware of the discussion taking place behind the building. Buffy wondered if he'd done that with magic, but she didn't ask.

Instead, she finished her last request, "Don't say you're sorry."

"Why would I ever say I'm sorry?" he sneered. But his back had straightened a little, his shoulders lowered. A lock of white hair had fallen forward, covering one of his eyes, but Buffy could still see the curiosity in his stare. The question was genuine.

"You know, for killing me." Buffy shrugged, as if their discussion was actually about him taking her last French fry. "Your type, all confused and wanna-be badass... in the movies, you always have that moment of regret when you're pulling the trigger. So, keep it to yourself. I don't want to hear how sorry you are. No passionate, 'forgive me' or 'I must'. Just, wham, bam, dead ma'am, ok?"

His nostrils were wide, flared in aggravation. "Merlin…you're so bloody strange."

No. Strange wasn't the word. Ready. Buffy was ready. Over the past year, her world had been ripped apart. Being "called," losing her friends, losing her freedom in an institution. Having the world think she was crazy. And now losing her dad to a divorce that…it was her fault. All of it. So, yeah, Magic Man wanted to put a spell on her? Fine. Buffy could take it.

Most days she was a survivor, but today…today, right then, it was her moment of doubt. The exact second when she'd thought, "I'd be better off dead." And he'd appeared, throwing a curse at her and knocking her backward. An opportunity to greet the end.

She offered him a raised brow. "I'm strange? Look in a mirror, David Copperfield."

"…So he'd never wanted you to actually kill me?" Buffy asked, confused.

Draco snorted into his tea cup, an undignified expression that didn't seem to fit him. Buffy liked the gesture.

"Oh, he wanted you dead," Draco corrected, rather upbeat. "However, as it turned out, sending me to you was a way of him testing a prophecy. You see, there was a seer once, who predicted your untimely death. But it wasn't by my hands…Some 'Master' fellow. Voldemort…" He flinched as the word left his lips, as if there was something bitter on his tongue. "He wanted to confirm that I couldn't, in fact, kill you."

"You weren't punished, then, when you came back and told him…"

Draco sighed. "Punished? Yes. But brutally murdered in front of my parents? No." He took another sip from his cup, hesitating before he added, "You see, he had another mission for me. Another mission he didn't expect me to succeed at."

Buffy wasn't sure if she wanted the answer. "Did you? Succeed, I mean."

His gray eyes strayed away from hers. "Depends on who you ask really."

The Hellmouth had a curious effect on wand users. The power of the gateway intensified magic to uncontrollable levels for some wizards but left others as defenseless as squibs. It was unpredictable, dangerous, and the reason why the wizarding community kept its distance.

Draco watched Buffy drive away with her family. There were only a few miles between her and the "Welcome to Sunnydale" sign. And Draco was fairly certain he didn't breath again until she crossed the threshold.

It wouldn't work, the excuse. As true as it might be, saying she was too close to the Hellmouth when he'd found her… It wouldn't be enough. The Dark Lord would only need to take one look into his mind to know, to recognize, what Draco had felt toward The Slayer.

Stepping back behind the building, Draco apparated away to the closest international floo connection. This, this one decision, it would change nothing. Death still awaited him, whether it was his or another's. And if he was sent back…if he was given a second chance to kill Buffy, he couldn't promise the outcome would be the same.

But today, for one more day, Draco Malfoy wouldn't be a murderer.

The sun was beginning to set by the time Buffy circled the conversation back to the land of useful:

"You're not going to be persuaded to give up your family heirlooms, are you?"

Draco raised a narrow brow. "Depends on the means of persuasion."

Buffy nearly choked on her coffee. "If that was your attempt at a pick up line, I am sorely disappointed…"

He raised a hand to stop her from going on. "Nothing so dastardly as that," he said. "I'm an ex-villain, not an idiot, and if you really must know, I'm taken." He took a breath and continued, "Also, I'd never date a muggle - you people are so very primitive. Cleaning by hand. Never." He waved his own, as if in example. His gray eyes were smiling back at her, teasing. "Actually, I was hoping your organization might be willing to make an exchange for the items."

Buffy leaned back against her chair, preparing for the worst. If he asked for blood of a virgin slayer, the deal was definitely off. "Go on."

He cocked his head, lost in his thoughts for a moment before he replied. "The school I attended. " He hesitated once more. "I am on its current board of beneficiaries, and I would like to insure that its newest generation of students has the most complete education available in the wizarding world. I believe the school would benefit from a course with more emphasis on muggle studies, specifically muggle magic practitioners. Also, a class for students who might be more interested in what your Council has to offer as a career choice."

"Wait. You want me to send a few Watchers and Wiccans your way?"

Draco straightened, picking a piece of fuzz off his shirt. "My suggestion would be made anonymously, of course, so I would prefer it if your people did not bring up my name up to the other faculty. I have my reputation to uphold, you know."

Then he chuckled to himself. Buffy didn't quite get the joke.

"So, teachers in exchange for extremely powerful items used in dark magic?" Buffy blinked, surprised at his curt nod. "Seriously? That request has Department of Weird written all over it, Draco. What are you getting out of this?"

He didn't answer at first. "One day, my wife and I would like to have children." He didn't elaborate, but a sense of understanding settled over Buffy. She could fill in the rest of the sentence: And I don't want them to end up like me. He quickly cleared his throat."Also, dark items do cause such a clutter. It'll be nice to finally unload them."

Buffy forced herself to smile. "I'll talk it over with my people, then." She didn't like the uncomfortable silence between them, so she selected a scone off their plate. "So, want to play 'guess how many time I've died over the past decade'?"

Draco smirked back. "If you've beaten Harry Potter's record, I'm going to buy you a bloody dragon."

"Don't know this Potter guy, but get your wallet out." Buffy raised her index finger, initiating the countdown. "Ok, we'll begin with that nutty prophecy Voldiwarts was telling you about…"