Back to School
Disclaimer: BTVS owned by Joss Whedon, et. al.; HP by J.K. Rowling. This work is for fun, not profit. I own none of the characters. Any failure on the humor front is, of course, mine.
A/N: Maybe 5 years post-Chosen for BTVS. Ignores Season 8-9 comics. Starts with HP Book 1 and is mostly AU, non-canon after that. All significant action takes place in Potterverse.
Chapter 1: Back to School
Buffy woke with a start. Crap. A Slayer dream. Of epic proportions. Not of the good. And so not needed or wanted right now. But this was a big one. She sighed. With all the active mini-Slayers nowadays, she'd been hoping that some of the new girls would get some of the more 'interesting' calls for action from the PTB.
But Rule #3 was in effect: she who dreams it, deals with it. In this case, the dream had been so specific that it didn't matter. It was hers. It was the Scoobies. It was high school all over again. Literally.
She rolled off the bed. Gotta call Willow and the X-man on the ol' brain link. But coffee, lots of coffee, was in order first. And maybe a chat with Giles before she talked to the other two.
"Let me get this straight," thought Xander to Willow and Buffy. "The PTB are saying that alternate worldlines are merging into ours. How's that possible?"
"I don't know, Xander." Buffy somehow managed to convey a pout through the mental link. "All I know is that this is for real. And I need you and Willow with me to make it happen."
"What do you mean, 'make it happen'?" inquired Willow.
"Are you sitting down? You'd better be for this. Slay-o-vision playback in 3 - 2 - 1 - rolling." Buffy mentally streamed the Slayer dream to Willow and Xander. At the end, she paused, waiting for the expected reaction.
Xander's was the first, naturally. "Holy cow! I get my eye back. Woohoo! I'm there."
Then Willow. "They have entire schools for witchcraft and magic! Count me in!"
Par for the course. "Guys," said Buffy, "all of that is true. Yes. Mucho goodness in the eye-restoring and witchy-learning ways. There's just one small
detail you're overlooking."
Now they were all sitting around the conference table at Council HQ in London with Giles, Faith, and Dawn. Giles was scowling at them while polishing his glasses repeatedly. He cleared his throat several times, clearly not sure what to say in reference to their current condition.
"Buffy, Willow, Xander. Are you quite sure about this?" His voice was as dry and restrained as usual, but Buffy was sure Giles was quite amused underneath the formal veneer that was his norm.
"Giles, the PTB are on the warpath. You know how this stuff works," said Buffy, crossing her fingers. "In this case, I think we have to go along with their gameplan. For the most part. Well, with maybe a few minor alterations."
"Or major ones," grinned Faith cynically, as Giles shot his two senior Slayers a sincerely disillusioned look.
"Why can't I go too?" whined Dawn. "This is just about the coolest thing the PTB have ever come up with!"
"You know the rules, Dawnie. Not in the dream, not in the game," said Willow.
"But Buffy always change the rules! Why can't we change them now?" Dawn replied heatedly.
"Dawn," said Giles soothingly, "with the core Scoobies out of the picture for awhile, you'll be one of the key players here. You and Faith will be virtually running the Council for me. Not to mention your own classes here."
"But look at them, Giles!" cried Dawn. "Look what Whistler did to them. How can I not be jealous of that?"
Giles was now openly chuckling. "Yes, Dawn. They are quite adorable. I particularly like the way Buffy and Willow have to sit on those telephone books to see over the edge of the conference table!"
"Hey, Watcher-mine. I resemble that remark!" growled Buffy. "we'll be back for apocalypse season in 7 or 8 months. Don't think I won't deliver some payback for all the short jokes you're running on me right now."
Xander grinned evilly. He'd always been fairly tall, even at age 11. What were the words to that song again? Oh, yeah. He started singing softly, just loud enough for the others to hear, "We represent the Lollipop Guild. the Lollipop Guild, the Lollipop Guild, and in the name of the Lollipop Guild, we wish to welcome you to Munchkin Land!"
Buffy glared at Xander while Willow just giggled. Giles snorted. Faith was openly laughing. Dawn didn't know whether to laugh out loud or try to hold it in, but seeing the look on Buffy's face she just bit her fist and tried to keep her shoulders from shaking too much.
"Ha. Ha. Ha." Buffy intoned sarcastically. "Just remember, Xander Harris. At least 7 years subjective time in an alternate world with little ol' me. Keep it up and I'll have you pining for the next available hell dimension long before that time is up."
That wiped the grin off Xander's face, though the others were still snickering. They filed out of the room. "God," Dawn whispered to Faith, "We've got to get copies of the security films with them looking like this. It'll be blackmail material forever!"
They were in Diagon Alley. Buffy, Willow and Xander stood in triangle formation in the middle of the busy street, trying to absorb what was going on around them. Buffy was on point, scanning the crowd for any threats. People in weird-looking robes, just like in her Slayer dream. Oddball signs on most of the buildings. What the heck was an Owl Emporium, for God's sake? At any rate, it looked like Whistler had dropped them in the right spot. I hope he got the rest of the admin details right, she thought. It's gonna be hard enough to explain ourselves even if he did get all the background stuff done.
"I still can't believe this," said Willow. "I mean, de-aging us and sending us off to an alternate worldline to go to magic school..."
"Ah, yes, Willow," said Xander, "but please don't forget exactly why
we are going there."
"But look at this place! It's pure magic! Everything I sense here is using magic, not electricity or machinery of any sort. This is awesome on steroids," exclaimed Willow excitedly. Her hair was beginning to blow around her face, without any obvious source of wind, and her toes were actually off the ground as she twirled rapidly, trying to see everything at once.
"Keep it together, Wills," said Buffy. "Focus on the mission. We need money, wands, and our school supplies. In that order. We need to go to some place called Gringo's, I think, to get the money. Maybe it's run by Mexican wizards or something?"
Willow's feet came down with a slight thump. "No, Buffy. Gringotts. It's the wizarding bank Whistler described. Run by goblins. If I'm right, it's that big white pyramiddy thing over there."
"Uh, hmm. Goblins. Nasty little guys, eh? Didn't we fight off an army of those things in Malaysia that time?" asked Xander thoughtfully. "Should I go open carry with my axe, Buffster?"
"Keep it on the down-low, Xan-man. Whistler should have this set up for us. If not, then he knows the price he's gonna pay. Ribcage. Hat." replied Buffy.
Looking around her, she added, in a truly disbelieving tone, "And that, apparently, would be the height of fashion in this dump. When we get back home, I am going to redefine the word power-shopping."
"That's two words, Buff!" said Xander helpfully.
"Not the way I do it," snarked Buffy.
"Down, girl. Keep the Alpha-Shopper in check, for now anyway. Let's go get our money," said Willow, "After Gringotts we can fill our school lists, then maybe we can hit non-magical London and do a pre-emptive strike on some real shoppery goodness."
"I have trained you well, Padawan." grinned Buffy. "And never tell Andrew I just said."
Buffy glared at the ugly little managerial goblin in front of her. "I don't have a key yet, you little geek's wet-dream. That's why we're here. To get our key and access to our vault."
Fastclaw eyed her suspiciously. "No key, no vault access," he said. "I cannot let three underage wizards enter our secure facility merely on their own declaration of good intentions!"
"Look, you demon wannabee, don't you use something else besides keys? You're sure you can't match our names to our vault numbers, then verify we're who we say we are?" asked Xander.
"No," said Fastclaw. "Without a key, I cannot access those vaults at all. Unless, of course, you have a password."
"Uh, Buffy, did Whistler give you a password?" whispered Willow.
"Of course not," said Buffy under her breath, "This is his idea of a joke. But I can guess what the password is."
She turned to Manager Fastclaw. "Ok, short and slimy. I'm gonna give you a password. Then you're gonna give us our keys and take us to our vault."
"Please do, young miss," said Fastclaw smugly. "It's the only way I or any other Gringotts goblin will ever be able to help you." He looked busily down at some unseen document on his desktop and began to write rapidly with a large quill pen.
"You could help me by dropping dead," said Buffy testily, "but let's try the password first."
She bent over Fastclaw's low desk. "Slayer," she whispered, low enough that only he could hear her. Then she let the angry predator part of her being edge forward into her eyes. Power rolled off Buffy as the Slayer came out to play. The sheer intensity and darkness made Xander and Willow jump as a black tidal wave of fear washed through the lobby of Gringotts.
Every goblin in the area froze in place. After a few seconds, as the wave of power washed back in towards Buffy, their heads all slowly turned towards Fastclaw's desk. Thinking fast, Willow cast a mirror shield around the trio that prevented anyone from seeing exactly who was standing in front of the motionless head goblin.
Fastclaw himself did not move or raise his head. In fact, he appeared to have turned to stone under Buffy's unrelenting gaze. Buffy began to tap her foot, dangerously. "Shall I summon my scythe, Manager Gripey-ass?" she huffed.
The sound of her voice seemed to move Fastclaw into action. "The password seems to be in order," he said in a low, unnaturally hoarse voice. "Do you wish to visit your vault now?"
"Bingo!" said Buffy sunnily. "That's why we're standing right here!"
"I'm not sure the goblins enjoyed our visit very much, Buffy," said Xander.
"Well, that vault was sure as hell way down there, X-man," replied Buffy, "And Fastclaw seemed to struggle to get it open until I used a bit of the old Slayer strength. Thank God it was full, just full, of money. Power-shopping: enabled. Go me!"
"Don't forget about the handy swords we found in there as well," chimed in Willow. "They feel almost as powerful as the Scythe and obviously were made with the same magic."
"I'm glad the two of you will have something like that. I know we'll all be able to use wand magic in this world, but there's nothing like a mystical weapon to give you peace of mind in a tough fight," said Buffy.
"Speaking of wands," said Xander, "I believe I see the wand shop Whistler mentioned." Xander pointed at the sign for Ollivander's.
"Lead on, Xander," cried Willow, "I've always wanted a wand! Do you think we can find some pointy hats around here too?"
"Careful, Wills," said Buffy. "Easy girl. It's too early to evacuate you from this timeline for a fashion-ectomy."
The trio wove their way through the busy streets of Diagon Alley, ignored by the wizarding crowd despite their purely Muggle clothing. Apparently, minor children weren't as inclined to wear the billowing robes of their elders. They waited outside the wand shop, wrapped in a 'notice-me-not' glamor of Willow's, until it was plainly empty except for the proprietor.
As Buffy stepped into the tiny front room of the shop, her senses went on high alert. "Demon," she barked briefly to Willow and Xander, and called the Scythe. Willow dropped an instant no-entry/no-exit ward over the entire building while Xander yanked the axe off his back and stood in front of Willow.
Buffy scanned the shadows, then darted forward in a blur of motion, grabbing a tall, ethereal individual with pale silver eyes -- who had been attempting to observe them surreptitiously -- by the throat. She raised him in the air with one hand, so his feet dangled off the ground, while laying the sharp end of the Scythe across his neck.
"Talk, Grathnar demon!" she ordered. "Why are you here? Why are you violating the treaties about handling magical weapons made for humans! And what'd you do to the real Spiro Agnew?"
"The Bolivia Transdimensional Pact of 2008," said Willow helpfully. "Self-declared peaceful demons on all planes restricted from any contact with mystical weapons meant for humans. Penalty is death by beheading, with appropriate heart removal as needed, enforceable by any mystical authority, on proof OR suspicion of violating the act."
The Grathnar demon writhed in Buffy's grip, making a strangled sound as it attempted to form words.
"Ah, Buffy," said Xander. "I think he's trying to say something."
"You always spoil my fun, X-boy," pouted Buffy. "Oh, alright."
She dropped the gasping demon to the floor. She eyed him intently, whistling to herself and stroking the blade of the Scythe.
"Wands," choked out the demon, "I make wands, not weapons! For over a thousand years here."
"You say po-tay-to, I say pa-tah-to," sang Buffy.
"Wands aren't weapons!" cried the demon. "They focus power, but it is the wizard who chooses to kill!"
"He may be right, Buffy," said Willow. "I'm not sure if wands were listed in the treaty."
"Falls under the generic clause, 'and all other such magical implements as identified or as may occur under real life conditions,' I think," said Xander.
"Besides," said the demon, "it's not even 2008 here! It's only 1991 in this timeline. You can't execute me for violating a treaty that won't be signed for 17 more years!"
"Can too," trilled Buffy, "the Treaty explicitly allows time-traveling or cross-dimensional paradoxes to be bound under the same principles, per the enforcing authority's best judgment."
"But I haven't done anything," cried the Grathnar. "And I have no idea who Spiro Agnew is. My name is Ollivander and I own this wand shop. I have made and sold virtually every wand in the British wizarding community for hundreds of years, exclusively to wizards!"
"So, guilty as charged, then?" said Buffy. "Let me just loosen up a bit before I swing the axe. I hear you Grathnars have pretty thick spines. Wouldn't want it to be too painful for you. Or me, for that matter."
"No, I beg you," he screamed, "what do you want? Do you want wands? I'll give you any wand in the shop! For free!"
"Hmmm, any wand?" asked Willow.
"Yes, anything! Just please don't kill me. I have many customers here. I even have family in this dimension!" wept Ollivander.
"Cross your heart, any wands?" said Buffy, with a predatory gleam in here eye.
"Yes, cross my heart," said Ollivander.
"You know," said Xander, "when a Grathnar crosses his heart and then lies about it, it gets sent to a very fiery hell dimension when it dies."
"Yes, yes, I know," sobbed Ollivander, "but you're going to kill me if I don't! Please, I'm begging you!"
"Fine," said Buffy in an aggrieved tone, "we'll take 3 wands and be on our way."
Ollivander leapt to his feet, remarkably calm and no longer weeping. "Great, let's start the fitting! Who wants to go first?"
Willow grinned evilly at Ollivander, "We already know which wands we want. Fitting won't be necessary."
The Grathnar known to all and sundry as the wizard Ollivander looked slowly at his clients. Who were these children, he thought? Or was it his captors? They had acted so swiftly he was caught off guard and unable to do his usual creepy but helpful act. How had this tiny blonde thing totally dominated him? And the other two! Power rolled off the red-headed witch and he could feel wards on his shop that were never there before. The boy stood casually, twirling a double-bladed axe in his hand. What was this? He was beginning to believe he'd been played. By three masters of the art. But the risk of backing down was obvious.
"Ok, so which wands do you want?" he asked. They can't possibly know what's in the safe he thought. He'd give them 30 wands apiece if they just didn't ask about the ones in the safe.
Xander shot Ollivander an equally evil grin, "That's right. 3 wands, 3 very special wands. For 3 very, very special children."
No, thought Ollivander, it's not possible...
"That's right," said Buffy cheerfully, "the 3 Wands of Sineya you're hiding in the safe in the back room. Hand 'em over. Or, if you prefer, I'll do a little chop-chop first and then I'll break in and get 'em anyway."
Light burst into Ollivander's mind. Suddenly he understood. "You are the Slayer," groaned Ollivander, finally realizing what was going on. "YOU. ARE. THE SLAYER! You bring the ... No, I can't believe it. Oh my God! It can't be true! This can't be happening!"
"'Fraid so, wand-monkey. Now give them up or else learn all about what fiery needles in your eyes feel like courtesy of the fiends of Pylea," drawled Buffy. "And make it snappy. I've got a lot more shopping to do this morning."
"That went well," chirped Buffy.
"Yep, that guy's probably flushing himself down his magical commode right now," echoed Xander.
"Well, we got what we came for," said Willow, "and at a significant discount too. Significant meaning free. Too bad there really isn't a Bolivian Transdimensional Peace Pact though."
"He should've studied law," laughed Xander. "Not wands."
"He's a demon," grunted Buffy, "And I'm The Slayer. I AM the law in his case."
"Yep, felt just like the good ol' days in Sunnyhell," said Xander. "You threaten, Willow and I confuse them with our witty banter. Truth, justice and the American way win again."
"This is England, Xander," smirked Willow.
"Shopping now, smart-assing around later," ordered Buffy.
"Yes, mein Fuhrette!" saluted Xander.
"Fine, let's march. Look right there, robes, books, potions, etc. Let's make it happen people. We've got to catch a train tomorrow and we have many shopping hours left until midnight."
Interlude 1: Dumbledore
Dumbledore was sat in his study, contemplating the start of the school year on the morrow, when a green fire suddenly whooshed into life in his fireplace. Looking closely, he saw the spinning head of Bill Weasley, curse-breaker at Gringotts and the elder son of the the Weasley family.
"Hello, Bill," he said calmly, "What's the occasion?"
"Strange tidings at Gringotts, Professor. Strange tidings." Bill looked more than a little upset as he said this.
"Let's have it then, Bill. What are your employers up to?" asked the aged Professor.
"Well, sir, that's just it. They aren't my employers any more," replied Bill.
"Tell me the whole story, dear boy. I will try not to interrupt," instructed Dumbledore.
"As best I can relate it sir, something highly unusual occurred in the London Branch today. Whatever it was, whatever it means, it completely spooked all the Gringotts goblins. To the extent that they have fired every wizard on their worldwide staff. Not to mention having closed every branch 4 hours earlier than normal today."
"Good God! What would stir up the goblins like that, short of declaring war on us wizards?" cried Dumbledore.
"That's just it. No one really knows what happened. All I have are a few facts. Nothing really to explain them."
"Go on, then," said Dumbledore.
"First interesting fact is that at 9:30 am, I and everyone in the branch felt a wave of power roll through the bank. It was so strong that every single goblin in the branch froze solid, like they'd been hit by a spell. 30 seconds later, every goblin in the branch looked directly towards Manager Fastclaw's desk, like they were all puppets dancing to the same master."
"Yes, yes, then what?" inquired the headmaster.
"Fastclaw disappeared, presumably into the vaults, with customers that no one could get a look at. Some kind of glamor around them, I presume. Exactly 15 minutes after he left, a bell started tolling. 12 times it tolled, like a Muggle church bell ringing noon. Apparently, this bell was heard in every Gringotts branch around the world."
"Well," said Dumbledore, "that's more than a little disturbing. What did the goblins say this meant?"
"They didn't," replied Bill. "They absolutely refused to speak to any of us until we were called into the sub-managers office and paid off -- our current salary plus 3 month's severance. And goblins being free with money is probably the least strange part of the story. As we were talking in the backroom, some of us noticed that the vault opening board -- which shows which vaults are open, closed, and the date and time of their most recent use -- showed that a special vault had been accessed, at precisely that same 9:45 am time."
"So the vault opening keyed this bell? Hmmm, what was special about the vault, Bill?" questioned the old wizard.
"No one is entirely sure. There are only a few things that are really known about this vault. It is the deepest and oldest vault in all of Gringotts, rumored to be accessible to any branch in the world by their vast network of tunnels. It is rumored to harbor untold wealth and be filled with objects of vast magical power. Others believe it is a goblin joke, and that the vault it totally empty."
"What else do we know for sure?" asked the aged Professor.
"As far as the records show, that vault has not been accessed in the last 2,000 years." replied Weasley.
"Really?" replied Dumbledore, "that long ago?"
"Yes, Professor. And oddly enough, it requires a password to access it. A password that hasn't been delivered to anyone outside Gringotts employees who are in the know since the last time it was opened."
"Do you know what the password is?" inquired Albus.
"Yes, and since Gringotts decided to move me along without a debriefing that bound me to not say the password, I'll give it to you."
"Well, what was this password?"
Dumbledore sucked in air quite sharply, shocked to the core. "Did you say Slayer, Bill?"
"Yes, Professor Dumbledore. It might also interest you to know that Fastclaw came back from the vault around 10 am. He set down at his desk, as always. Calm, cool, and collected. The image of a professional Gringotts goblin. Can you guess what happened next?"
"No, Bill, I can't. But you obviously think it is important, so do please tell me." said Albus.
"Well, Fastclaw reached into his side drawer. He withdrew from it a short sword. Next, he climbed on top of the desk and shouted in a loud, strong voice, 'thus begins the end of days.'"
"Then he stabbed himself through the heart," said Bill. "Ten minutes later, I was unemployed."