Story for the Lorne challenge at Twisting the Hellmouth, also answering an FFA pairing there (OK, it's one I originally posted, but I've waited nearly a year for someone else to answer it). Mid Angel S4 / BtVS S7 then a little AU for the Buffyverse, early Deathly Hallows then slightly AU for Harry Potter. The Buffyverse belongs to Mutant Enemy, Harry Potter to J.K. Rowling, there is no intent to infringe on copyright. This story may not be distributed on a profit-making basis.Fair Exchange
by Marcus L. Rowland
"How do work this infernal thing?" asked the potions master. Lorne sighed, and showed him again how to select the backing track he wanted.
"No, no, no... Don't know any of these tunes... no, no... Merlin-damned nonsense..."
The potions master adjusted the microphone (and Lorne wondered how he knew to do that, given his rather shaky grasp of technology) and flicked his wand. An unseen orchestra began to play an old music-hall tune as he sang"She's only a bird in a gilded cage,
A beautiful sight to see.
You may think she's happy and free from care,
She's not, though she seems to be.
'Tis sad when you think of her wasted life
For youth cannot mate with age;
And her beauty was sold for an old man's gold,
She's a bird in a gilded cage."
Lorne listened to the song, and opened his mind to the future. Not good... no, definitely not good. But there was something, a path that might save a lot of grief...
The wizard finished, flicked his wand again to end the music, and said "Well?"
"You know the path you're on," said Lorne. "The battle's coming, and you'll need protection."
"There's a small town called Sunnydale a couple of hours from here, little shop called the Magic Box. You'll find what you need there, and someone who'll want what you need to get rid of. Tell them I sent you."* * * * *
"It's been a long time, Professor," said Anya.
The potions master glared at her and said "Yes. I remember. Anyanka, isn't it?"
"Not any more. I lost my powers and became human again, damn it."
"Really? Quite human?" His voice was softly menacing.
"Of course D'Hoffryn still keeps an eye on me," Anya said hastily, bending the truth a little. "And I'm doing my best to atone for some of the things I did. I even work with the Slayer."
"Splendid! Then you'll have exactly what I want, I'd imagine. I'll need twenty pounds of vampire dust, the eyes of four Grolyer demons, the horn of a tolga demon..." It was a long shopping list. Anya smiled and added the prices, eventually coming to an eye-watering total.
"We can get all that, but it'll take a couple of weeks for some of it. Now, all of this is pretty expensive..."
"I'll expect a discount, of course. Considering what you did to me."
"As I recall, the most damaging version of the wish I granted would have left you castrated and dead. Don't push your luck, or I might start making a few wishes of my own."
"We'll call it twenty percent, shall we?"
"Lord D'Hoffryn, hear my plea..."
"Make it ten and you've got a deal." A thought crossed her mind. "Or we could do a trade. I could use some potions, and judging by what you're making here..."* * * * *
The battle for the high school was in full flow. Anya killed a bringer, saving Andrew. Behind her another leaped to attack, its sword raised high for a killing blow... and somehow slipped on the blood from Anya's victim. It skidded, wailing, and impaled itself on Andrew's sword. Eleswhere in the building a Turok’Han was decapitated by glass falling from a broken skylight, the glass raining down around Xander and Dawn without hurting either of them. In the cavern under the Seal, Amanda tripped over a stone and fell, just in time to be missed by the Turok’Han that would have killed her. It tripped on her and hurtled over the edge of the cliff. Buffy swung her axe backwards, decapitating a Turok’Han that would have stabbed her. And Spike began to burn, the rays from his body incinerating the remaining enemy.* * * * *
"We lost three girls," said Anya, tending to Robin's flesh wound. "It could have been a lot worse." There was a thump on the roof of the bus, and Dawn shouted "That's Buffy!" Behind them the ground was collapsing as Sunnydale imploded.* * * * *
"Okay," said Xander. "I guess that potion worked pretty well, I could feel it. But I have to wonder what the down-side is. We've been ridiculously lucky, are we all gonna slip on banana peels or something when it ends?"
"Don't worry," said Anya. "The professor does good work. Of course the luck has to come from somewhere
, that's why we had to be so careful about the time we started the battle..."* * * * *
At Hogwarts Harry, Ron and Hermione watched, astonished, as the Death Eater attack floundered under a flurry of mis-cast spells. Two brooms collided in mid-air, the Death Eaters that had been riding them hurtled down to the ground. Voldemort was somewhere out there, and sooner or later they'd probably realise what the Professor had done, but for a little while they could relish the moment. "I hate to say it," said Harry, "but after this is over I might have to think about joining the Slug Club."
"What I really don't understand," said Hermione, noticing the professor, "is what happened to the luck your potion stole?"
Horace Slughorn smiled and watched the fiasco unfold. "Oh, that part was easy. I sent it to some friends in California!"* * * * *
Lorne listened to Faith sing, and in his mind's eye saw events unfold on both sides of the Atlantic. "You know," he said to Xander, smiling broadly, "I think it's going to be a beautiful day."End.
In memorium Andy Hallet.