Author’s Note: Thanks very much to my Beta, Letomo. The following ways of notation may be found in this story. This is excluding whatever I need to represent chatting, texting and stuff like that. Speech:
“Who’s on first.” Thought:
*What’s on second.
#I-don’t-know’s on third.# The witch who came in from the cold
Kennedy Romanos shivered in her triple-lined camouflage parka with matching trousers. *How the fuck did I end up in frigging Canada? Oh yeah, the same way I ended up in charge of the East Coast, fucking Faith decided that she wanted to goof off. Bitch. Irresponsible bitch.*
The Slayer in Chief of the North American Division, Sub-director of the Eastern Seaboard was not happy. She was cold. She was cold enough that she wondered if anything would ever heat her up again. She sighed, and watched her breath freeze in front of her.
“Stupid bitch Amy Madison. And stupid bitch Alyssa. What the fuck am I supposed to do when I meet one of the most powerful witches of her generation? Does she think that just because I fucked Willow I can do magic?” Kennedy muttered as she revved the engine of her snowmobile, checked the cargo sled behind her, sighed, and moved off. The abandoned old cabin where she'd spent the night was one of the locations where Alyssa, Robin Wood’s fiancée, had decided Amy might be hiding. Apparently she was hanging out with some unsavoury people and needed to be told that it wouldn't be tolerated. A Slayer would have to be dispatched.
Kennedy had argued that the evidence was too slim, that the reports were unreliable. And even if it was true, one Slayer, unsupported was unlikely to be able to take down an experienced witch on her own, unless she was experienced.
And Robin, had agreed, and sent out Kennedy. The most experienced slayer left under his command. Faith being absent, screwing her way down the East Coast from Maine to Florida.
Not that Kennedy really blamed her. After a few weeks in Faith's old job she was ready to pulverize Wood and his bitch. Even if Faith's runner meant that Kennedy was left holding the baby.
Kennedy had studied the map and knew where she was headed. The problem was that here, in the icy forests of the Canadian wilderness, maps and reality had very little to do with each other. Luckily she had her snowmobile, and the cargo it pulled. But the next cabin was a ruin that sat on a ledge overlooking a valley, approachable only by a very narrow and precarious path, which meant she had to use snowshoes and would have to climb while using them. She really wanted to kick Wood somewhere where it would hurt.
It started to snow. Kennedy started to swear.
The cabin, about five hundred yards away from her, and at least sixty yards higher up the ledge, did not look promising to Kennedy. It was dark, what was left of the shingled the roof was sagging and the whole was covered in the thick layer of newly fallen snow that had been the bane of Kennedy's existence for the past two days. There was no trace of human life. Kennedy grunted as she started up again, her snowshoes making dimples in the thigh-deep snow. “Fucking stupid Alyssa. There’s nothing here. There won’t be anything anywhere. Madison likes her comforts way too much to be hanging out in the-”
Kennedy’s monotone monologue was interrupted when she saw the thing. It was the only way to describe it. It was standing in the snow and looking annoyed and put upon. And ugly. It had the basic shape of a very big horse, with a silvery, translucent hide, with shimmers of black. A long, black mane hung down its neck, and large reptilian head with completely white eyes.
It was covered in a horse blanket, and was munching on something in a feedbag. It was eyeing Kennedy without much enthusiasm. The blanket was red, with black trim and some sort of embroidery reminded Kennedy of a coat of arms. As Kennedy came near, instinctively drawing her knife, she saw that the blanket was also embroidered wit a name. “Buttercup? You gotta be kidding me?” she muttered.
The horse thing gave her a look that Kennedy interpreted as put upon and dove back into its nose bag, apparently delighted to ignore her.
Kennedy sighed and dug out her rifle. Alyssa had been very clear. Amy was too dangerous to be allowed to live and… Kennedy looked at the rifle in her hands. This was why they’d wanted to sent Faith. Faith had killed. Killed several people. Oh, she hadn’t been exactly sane and Willow was certain that the Mayor had been playing hopscotch with her brain and conscience, but it was still true that Faith was the only remotely sane slayer who’d ever killed a human being.
Taking a deep breath Kennedy prepared the rifle, trying to ignore her shaking hands. Suddenly she turned, aiming the rifle at whoever had been sneaking up on her. Had been doing it quite well, too.
“I know you’re there!” she called out with confidence she didn’t feel.
There was a soft crunch of snow and then a young woman waved into sight. She had red hair and wore a uniform that looked a lot like that of the Mounties, except that the Buffalo on the crest was a dragon’s head.
Kennedy’s gun was aimed straight at her chest. *And what a wonderful chest it is,*
Kennedy looked up. The young woman had clear brown eyes and pale skin, lightly freckled and in a stern bun underneath her hat and earmuffs, was her glorious red hair.
“Who’re you? And what’re you doing here?” the redhead asked, a thin stick pointed at Kennedy.
Kennedy was a slayer if some experience, and she had lived, for a short but happy time, with a beautiful and powerful witch. She had learned to sense magic. She’d never told Willow that, because dearly though she’d loved her, Willow in research mode was scary, and Kennedy had no desire to be lying naked, covered in painted runes, in the middle of a magic circle while Willow tried to find out how she sensed magic.
There were lots of other things that had involved painting and nakedness of course, but magic wasn’t one of them.
This girl reeked of magic. It flowed through and around her. Kennedy’s eyes narrowed. “You a cop?”
“Corporal Ginny Weasley of Her Majesty’s Royal Canadian Thestral Mounted Police,” the witch answered. “Who are you and what are you doing here?”
Kennedy gave the other woman a disbelieving look. “Royal Canadian… You’re a Mountie?”
Corporal Weasley glared at her. “If you must use that term, yes, I am. But a magical one. And who are you? And how could you see me and Buttercup?”
Kennedy snorted and put her gun away. “You know, I never heard of magical cops, even in Canada. But I’m Kennedy, the Vampire Slayer.”
Ginny frowned and her wand centred on Kennedy’s forehead. “Vampire Slayer? Impossible!”
“Impossible? I happen to know that it’s very possible,” Kennedy smirked. “And put that little stick down before I break it.”
“There’s only one Slayer, and you’re not her,” Ginny’s eyes narrowed.
Kennedy nodded. “Used to be, yeah. There’s more of us now. So, why are you here?”
Ginny looked at the ruined cabin. “We received information that a criminal at large might be hiding here, and has made contact with a dangerous Muggle delinquent.”
“Muggle? What’s Muggle?” Kennedy asked, confused.
“Non-magical,” Ginny told her condescendingly.
Kennedy slowly rose. “Non-magical. Yeah, right. Girl, if who I think is in there is in there, you’d have been slaughtered. Amy Madison is one of the most powerful witches in the world.”
Ginny gave her a long look. “I think I would’ve known about her if she was that powerful.”
Kennedy just shook her head. “Look, I’m pretty high up in the Council and I’ve never heard of the Royal Canadian Thestral Mounted Police, okay? Trust me when I tell you that Madison isn’t a pushover.”
“So how you were gonna arrest her then?” Ginny asked condescendingly.
Kennedy looked at the rifle on the snow in embarrassment. “I wasn’t,” she swallowed. “I was told to ascertain if she was still a risk and then… deal with her if necessary.”
Ginny’s wand lowered fractionally. “Merlin! That’s ruthless!”
Kennedy shivered. “Yeah. So. Who are you looking for?”
Ginny lowered her wand completely. “A guy called Draco Malfoy. He’s supposed to be under house arrest, he was a Death Eater, but a very junior and unwilling one. So he got off fairly lightly. Then half the house was blown up, taking the containment wards with it and he fled the country about a year ago. We think he may have joined up with Death Eaters after realising how much money and influence his family had lost. Try and regain it, somehow.”
“Ah. What are death eaters?” Kennedy inquired.
“Umm, people who believe Muggles are inferior. That’s people who can’t do magic,” Ginny explained.
“Not a very nice term, is it?” Kennedy said after a moment’s thought. “I mean, if they are equals, why do you give them a separate name? If you think black people are equals, why call them niggers?”
Ginny blinked. “Black people are not equals?”
Kennedy laughed. “Yup, just as I thought. Your discrimination runs against people who can’t do magic. I’d wager that all of you think that we’re all rather sad and pathetic and not really worth your time, right?”
Ginny glared. “I was tortured and fought a war to safeguard people like you! I do not discriminate!”
“And I nearly get killed on a daily basis and fight a war nobody knows every night. One of my predecessors was sent to an institution by her own parents because she was obviously insane. So I’d say we’ve both done our bit for mankind. Now what can you tell me about what you now about what we’re gonna do about who’s in there?” Kennedy turned away from the other girl. She might look magnificent angry, but Kennedy had noticed the gold band on the ring finger of the hand that held the wand. *Well, she probably isn’t into girls anyway…*
Kennedy’s sensitive ears picked up the grinding of teeth and then the red-clad form joined her on the snow. “They’ve got wards up. Pretty darn extensive ones, too. And odd. Never seen the like of them. But if this Madison woman is a witch, she might have set them. Odd thing is, some of the ones I do recognize are blood wards. Those are tricky. It would mean that Malfoy and Madison are related somehow, otherwise they wouldn’t work”
“And what do they do?” Kennedy asked with a sigh. “Boil our blood in our veins? Melt our brains out of our noses? Explode our eyeballs?”
“Merlin! What kind of people do you fight?” Ginny asked with a pale face. “Those are some Dark spells!”
“No shit. Look, I don’t know what kinda war you’ve fought, but we’ve been up against, well I suppose you might call him Satan, and ten thousand vampires and wizards who could melt your bones from half a mile away,” Kennedy saw that the other woman was definitely uncomfortable at that notion.
“Okay. We just had an evil wizard who split his soul, came back from the dead and had a lot of political support,” she admitted grudgingly.
“You mean a Big Bad with government support? Nasty,” Kennedy commiserated.
“He was the government when we finally beat him,” Ginny looked at the house in the distance. “So, how do we do this? Walk up to it and knock?”
Kennedy snorted. “Got a death wish? Not me! Madison would skin us and use our hides to make a leather coat. And make the rest of us do funny dances.”
Ginny grimaced. “Lovely image. So then what?”
“We observe,” Kennedy scowled as she contemplated a long, cold stay in the snow. “I think we both know they’re in there. So we wait, see if they come out. Maybe get a bit closer and try and find out what they’re up to.”
“Yeah. Sounds good to me. I was going to summon some aid, but we really should know it’s them and not some hoity-toity couple out in the wilderness roughing it. Or some bureau chief banging his secretary,” Ginny sighed. “That’s what got me shipped over here in the first place. If I mess up here, I don’t want to think where I’ll end up.”
“Antartica is lovely this time of year,” Kennedy remarked blandly. Then she rose to her haunches and scurried off, to gather the supplies needed to keep what she still saw as a ruin under observation. She spread a tarp in the hollow she’d made in the snow, then dug a number of holes in the side to store her gear in watertight bags.
“What are you doing?” Ginny asked in wonder.
“Making a hide? We can shovel snow over it later and…” Kennedy’s voice failed as the redhead waved her wand slightly and a tent, large and comfortable looking appeared for a second in the woods next to Buttercup before fading into the background again. “What the fuck?”
“A neat little trick, hmmm?” Ginny grinned. “And a lot more comfortable than your hole in the snow.”
Kennedy looked at her hide and nodded. “Practically anything would. Is it warm inside your tent?”
Ginny smirked. “Heating and warming charms galore.”
“Good. I think part of me are frozen that should only know warmth,” Kennedy shivered. “Let’s get inside.”
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Kennedy was rather surprised that Ginny was not only married but had a kid and that she and her husband were going to try for another as soon as Ginny managed to get out of her exchange program.
The Slayer sat back in the comfortable camping chair and sighed as she stretched her legs towards the fake fire that burned with lovely warmth. “Man I thought I never was gonna have warm feet again.”
“Yeah, the Canadians know how to make a weather proof tent,” Ginny smiled. “It even has a stable for Buttercup, but she was born in the wild and likes the snow.”
Kennedy looked out through the window and sipped her hot chocolate. “Man, I could get used to this.”
“It’s still cold to get here and ruddy boring to watch,” Ginny pointed out.
“Yeah, but now there’s two of us and we can take turns watching and sleeping and stuff. And this is a lot better than how I was expecting to spend my time,” Kennedy stiffened. “Activity.”
Snow was falling gently and through it a figure trudged towards the ruined-looking building. He was tall and swathed in lots of warm clothes and was looking around warily. He was carrying a rucksack slung over both shoulders and a scarf was wrapped in front of his face. He approached the door, took out a wand and made some movements. The door was opened by a woman in a sweater and jeans who smiled brightly at him as she let the man inside. The door closed, but it was clear that the two were close.
“Cousins?” Kennedy asked.
“Might be half-brother and sister. I wouldn’t bet a bent Knut on Lucius Malfoy’s fidelity,” Ginny snorted.
“Okay. So they’re both there. What do we do?” Kennedy reached for a cookie that sat on plate between them.
Ginny rose. “I say we move in now. He just came home, they won’t be expecting us. Malfoy would have expected us to attack him outside, to keep them separated. You place a few Anti Apparition ward stones around the house while I bust the wards, you break down the door on my signal. I’ll take on Madison, you head for Malfoy. They won’t be expecting us to split like that. You’re fast, right?”
“Pretty darn fast, yeah,” Kennedy rose and started pulling on her outdoors clothes. “Well, it’s a better plan than most of the ones the Scoobies came up with.”
“Go for his wand, he’s useless without it,” Ginny advised.
“Just knock her out, unless she has shields up, that should work pretty darn well. How’s your boy morale wise? Madison tends to burn through her allies pretty fast,” Kennedy noted as she pulled on her boots.
“Five years ago I would’ve said he was the most self-centered little ferret in existence. After the war I honestly thought he’d changed. But then he escaped, so now? He might ditch and leave her to die. He might stay. I just don’t know,” Ginny shrugged.
Kennedy stamped her feet into the boots. “Right. If we get fried, I’m not telling above a few ‘I told you so’s!’.”
Ginny grinned. “Understood. Come on, let’s do this.”
They moved out under the shelter of Ginny’s husband’s invisibility cloak, which he’d insisted she take.
About ten meters from the house they stopped and Ginny took out a small leather pouch, opened the draw string and dropped a two inch stone into the snow. She handed the pouch to Kennedy.
“One of these on each side of the house, in a rough circle. They will go off a minute after the last one is dropped. You can manage that, right?”
Kennedy nodded. “Easy.”
Ginny reached into her pocket and took out a rather ugly looking statuette. Kennedy gave it a look and shivered. “Ugh, that feels bad.”
Ginny nodded grimly in acknowledgment. “My brother Bill made this for me. It’s a curse breaking tool and should help with the blood wards. The others I can take down easy. But Blood wards? Lethal. So I prefer this to getting turned into fried fritters. Ready?”
Kennedy nodded and set off.
Ginny started waving her wand quickly, muttering Latin sounding words in quick-fire succession. Kennedy appeared round the side of the house and took up station by the door. Ginny nodded approval and made a few more moves with her wands and then suddenly she called out. “NOW!”
Kennedy ran at the door, kicked it down and was rolling through a fraction of a second later. The man surged to his feet, wand drawn, pushing a woman behind him. Kennedy was there and had his hand in an iron grip, her other hand ready to punch him out.
“Run Amy! Run!” the blond wizard called out in desperate tones. “Use the portkey!”
The woman stumbled away, reaching the mantle over the roaring fire and grasping a Christmas wreath. Draco paled when it failed to have effect.
“You’re not taking her, you bastards!” Draco spat and he tried to kick at Kennedy, who easily avoided the attack and forced him to his knees by nearly doubling his wrist back on itself.
Then Kennedy saw what else the woman was holding and something clicked in her mind.
“GINNY! POWER DOWN!” She called out as Ginny ran in, wand ready to blast Amy.
Amy was cowering, huddled over the tiny, crying body in her arms, a shield glowing around her, bright and blue.
“Merlin’s balls! Malfoy? Is that your baby?” Ginny asked stunned.
Malfoy grimaced with pain. “I thought better of you ,Weasley. I never thought you’d become one of them!”
“One of what?” Ginny asked confused. “And whose baby is that!?”
“Her name is Nymphadora Eileen Malfoy,” Amy hissed. “And I-I’ll kill her myself rather than let you bastards take her for your vile rituals!”
“Woah, time out! What vile rituals?” Kennedy asked.
Draco glared at Kennedy. “Watchers! You blew up my house, kidnapped me and Amy! You made us fucking breed! I’m not going to let you kill Nymphy just because she’s a girl!”
Ginny lowered her wand and let it hover between Amy and Draco and Kennedy. “Kennedy?”
Kennedy frowned. “Who did this? Do you have names? Descriptions?”
“Some tiny blond bitch. And Giles,” Amy supplied.
“Not Buffy?” Kennedy asked, surprised.
“No. That geek Andrew was there, and an old guy I didn’t know. And Ethan Rayne,” Amy answered eagerly.
“I think her name was Alyssa,” Draco offered. “Look, if you aren’t here to kill us, could you let me up? This is bloody uncomfortable. And Nymphy needs to be changed.”
Ginny almost dropped her wand. “Morgaine’s hairy legs! You change diapers, Malfoy?”
Amy smirked. “Not willingly. But yeah, he does.”
Kennedy let Draco up. “You said you were forced to breed?”
Draco flushed angrily. “Shut up.”
Amy winced. “It’s not a good subject for us. Could you drop it?”
Kennedy nodded. “Okay. We need to find out who we can trust. If Giles has gone dark, we need to find aid somewhere else. If Alyssa is compromised, then most likely so is Robin.”
“So where can we go?” Amy asked nervously. “If they knew we were here, they can find us again.”
“Mum,” Ginny said simply. “Not matter what; she would never let a baby get hurt.”
Draco blinked, then laughed. “And she killed my dear insane Aunt Bella, so she’s good with a wand,” he shook his head. “I must admit I’d never thought I’d be hiding with the Weasley matriarch.
“Willow. She’s got a thing about keeping kids safe. And Xander would help too, I’m sure,” Kennedy asserted.
“What about Buffy?” Amy asked. “And won’t Willow want to skin me alive?” she added rather anxiously.
“Show her the kid and some remorse and she will be tripping over herself to get in cooing range,” Kennedy waved her concern away. “Buffy… I’ve been hearing things that I don’t like. So we tread carefully there.”
Ginny had moved closer to the fireplace and smiled at the now quiet baby. She watched the huge, silver grey eyes and the petite, almost elfin face and then sighed. “I hope Mum and Harry have James under control.”
Draco smirked. “If there’s one thing I’d trust your mother to do, Weasley, it’s to take care of children.” End note: I own neither Buffy the Vampire Slayer nor Harry Potter