Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Harry Potter and their characters are properties of their respective owner. I’m just playing with them for a bit.
All families, may they be created by blood or aggregated together through circumstances, experience those normal, boring meals that unexpectedly transform into epic memories. It might come through conversations, practical jokes, disputes or external events, but all true families undergo at least one of those meals. The makeshift family inhabiting the stately old manor was no exception. Some would even say they seemed to live by this rule. Between the rambunctiousness of its members and the odd happenings of their daily life, memorable meals came every few months.
Amongst those meals, one dating back to their initial weeks after settling in had degenerated into a long discussion on how a muggle biologist - a biologist not aware of the true nature of the world - would react to the luxurious gardens that surrounded the building. Between the walls and the wards, the probabilities for such an occurrence were almost null, but it did make for an entertaining debate. From all the theories suggested that particular night, two had been deemed worthy of remembrance. Either the poor biologist’s mind would collapse under the strain of the sight, reducing the once brilliant scientific brain to a mushy pile of grayish pudding, or he would break down in a trophy-worthy faint.
For two of the debaters, the two youngest, the discussion was still ongoing. Bafflingly for the rest of the family, each had adopted a position opposite to their personality. The more practical of the two, the girl who loved to act older than her age and favoured old historical chronicles and journals as light reading, was staunchly defending the eccentric pudding theory, even if she wasn’t the one who came up with it. The other girl, known for her overactive imagination and preference for fairy tales, deemed that only the faint was an acceptable reaction.
Their old brother-figure had once turned that conviction in a spectacle. Fixing his lone eye on the imaginative girl, he had interrogated her gruffly as in a badly acted police show, demanding that she explained herself. She had answered with her usual dreamy voice, demonstrating her peculiar logic that always made sense in a twisted way. Her argumentation was simplicity itself: she loved pudding too much to tolerate the implication that it spawned from damaged brains. When he insisted, she effectively closed the subject with him by stating that she wasn’t a zombie.
That particular afternoon, as the two girls in question were relaxing in cat-like laziness under the warmth of an early summer sun, their friendly dispute was farthest from their minds. They were too mellowed for complex thoughts of any kind as they lay in a patch of short pinkish grass.
The youngest, a blond girl, was daydreaming on her stomach. Her stained naked feet were beating the air over her in a slow, arrhythmic pattern timed to the cries of birds. Her long hairs were falling on her back and sides in a mess filled with knots, leaves, petals and even twigs. A loose summer dress that might have been white in the past hid her silhouette. Her right hand held her chin over a colourful fairy tales book while her left absently played with the lone jewel she wore, a pendant. Between her literary choice, her shapeless attire, her playful insouciance and her small size, she appeared the part of the child spending a nice day leisurely outside.
Her companion was on her back nearby, a thick book as pillow, eyes closed, recreating loss civilisations in her head. Her breath was slow, deep, regulated. She was so still, only the slow rise and fall of her teenage chest marked her as still living. She wore tan Bermuda shorts and a cyan camisole. Her long straight brown hairs were tucked on her side in a ponytail. She too appeared as her role in that summer display, that of an elder sister.
There was nothing to scare a muggle biologist in the pastoral scene created by the two youngsters basking in the sun. The surrounding vegetation, however, was something else.
Spread out amongst common plants, flowers and trees were strange specimens that would elicit quite the extreme reaction from said biologist; species that broke almost every single known laws of physic, even a few still speculated about in the highest academic circles. A tall tree, not unlike the average weeping willow, sent whip-like branches to strike birds in-flight. It was pretty accurate too, as proven by the small corpses at its roots. Nozzle-shaped flowers in flashy fuchsia repeated surround sounds for a chorus of echoes. A hovering bush was tethered to a chain. Shrubberies of astonishing colours, moving vines, glistening leaves, luminous insect-sized flying beings with tinkling voices, chameleon daisies, shadowy orchids and lion-like cats in inconspicuous patrols were amongst the innumerable abnormal sights in those gardens.
The afternoon went on. No biologist entered the gardens nor did any human being other than the two girls. As human presence went, the nearest was that of two adults that checked regularly on their charges from the second floor windows of the old manor house: a red-haired green-eyed woman nearing her forties and a mid-twenties one-eyed dark-haired man. The girls didn’t mind the rather assiduous adult supervision, the younger of the two even waving back some of the times.
With the passage of the hours, the teen’s breathing lost its regularity as she faded into slumber. The blonde’s legs slowed down; she stretched twice, nodded once; she contained a yawn. Lulled to sleep by the warmth, her head fell mid-page into her book. The one-eyed man noticed this on his next short vigil. Smiling fondly, he returned to his occupations.
A witness to this casual innocence, to this beautiful tableau of a sunny summer day would never have guessed that two secret wars were ongoing outside the garden’s defenses. Two secret wars involving the residents of the manor. The biggest, the Eternal war between humans and demons, between Slayers and vampires, was still persisting as it had been for centuries even if humanity had gained a distinct advantage in the last decade. The second war, a civil war within a small subset of the English community, was becoming worrisome. A defeat of the ‘good’ side would bring about dreadful consequences for all humanity and the one prophesied to lead it to victory had not survived his early childhood.
Those wars were important parts of the life of the manor’s inhabitants. All had loss people to them. They also explained why only the two youngest could spare the time to enjoy that splendid sun. The adults were occupied planning the survival of humanity and could only spare some time for the occasional check. Sadly, the intruders came in between two checks.
Muggle biologists, even intruding ones, would have been welcomed in the gardens and greeted warmly by the residents. They would have offered a perfect opportunity to verify which of the two theorized reactions - the fainting or the pudding - applied. The intruders that afternoon were more ominous, the kind involved in the ‘wrong’ side of the war and better received with an unhealthy dose of violence.
Scurrying around trees and ornaments, between bushes and foliage, they searched for opportune targets. Birds stopped singing; cats stopped meowing; insects stopped buzzing; flowers stopped echoing; the willow started trashing wildly. The quiet, contemplative serenity was deeply disturbed. Awoken by instincts keened to perfection from years on a Hellmouth, the older girl stood up, forsaking her book. She nudged her companion silently, alerting her through gestures of a possible menace.
The lithe blonde jumped on her feet. She reflexively seized her pendant, worn in remembrance of her mother. A simple pressure on the side released a magically isolated razor-sharp blade. This was a small sacrificial blade, used to donate blood in potion-making, too short to serve as an effective weapon. Still, that kitten had claws now.
The older girl placed a hand on the shoulder of the younger one, offering guidance. Carefully, she enforced a methodical retreat toward the safety of the manor, ensuring that their back wasn’t turned to any possible danger. She moved noiselessly, not wanting to alert any threat. Her eyes darted about nervously, stopping frequently on the willow, her best indicator of peril. They were halfway to the manor when all their care failed them. The menace was confirmed in the form of a raspy masculine voice.
“Bloody Merlin!” they heard. “Brats.”
“What do we do?” asked a fatter, vulgar and strongly accentuated voice.
“Nothing friendly.” muttered the brunette, immediately proven right by the raspy voice.
“They’re not worth it and the manors too protected. We’ll leave them a few dementors for a friendly play date.”
Dementors. Neither girl knew what a dementor was, but the name didn’t sound very engaging. I wasn’t cuddly, like puppy, or funny, like biologist. The brown-haired teen expected a rather Bad Thing. She had seen a lot of Bad Things in her short life but one more wasn’t an attractive prospect. The blond child was fond of the idea of playing with new friends however a hunch was telling her that dementors were not the sort of friends she should me making, unlike other children or biologists.
The distinct cracking of multiple disapparitions informed them that the intruders, whoever they were, had left right through the wards. The unusual stillness hadn’t ended. They didn’t felt reassured, especially with the indefinite menace of those dementors thingies. Consequently, the eldest didn’t relax her vigilance and continued backing away toward the porch of the manor and the security of its inner-wards. They were nearing their goal when a sudden draft caused them to shiver. Instead of the slightly cooler breeze they expected, it had been a gust of arctic cold wind.
“Dawn, look!” exclaimed the blonde, pointing to strange shadows on the ground,
The brunette saw and raised her eyes toward the sky. A score of ghastly tattered cloaks hovered above, just above the protecting barriers, shrouded around humanoid shapes. The nearest and biggest one brandished a shrivelled black hand from the folds of its clothes to point the children hungrily.
“Luna, run!” shouted Dawn, cautiousness discarded.
They dashed toward safety. The dementors above approached the wards. A first tendril of energy shyly left the iridescent dome to stroke the nearest dementor in a tender caress. A second tendril followed. A third, then a whole bunch of them next, getting more and more violent, burning some of the cloaked creatures. The girls were nearing the porch when the wards, drained of energy, withered. Luna, almost past the threshold, crashed nose-first into a shimmering barrier, falling back painfully on her buttocks. Dawn barely averted a collision of her own. The collapse of the first line of defense, the properties’ main wards, had caused the manor to seal itself completely to protect its occupants. Unfortunately for those already endangered, it had cut their retreat from the dark attackers. The smallest one, having exhausted what remained of her composure, gave hold to the panic inhabiting her, little tears sliding on her cheeks.
Up until that day, Dawn had always been the one protected, not the one protecting. She shouldered that responsibility with a dignity that would have earned her her biological sister’s admiration. She refused to acknowledge the direness of their current position. Instead, she came up with a daring last-minute idea, the kind of idea so stupid it wouldn’t have surface if she hadn’t been near hopelessness. She threw her hand in front of Luna.
“Cut me!” she ordered.
The frantic blonde obeyed and slashed with the bloodletting blade of her pendant, causing an ugly wound. Dawn welcomed the cold painful bite of the knife paving the way to their survival. Blood gathered in her palm. She threw most of it on the ground between her and the approaching flying fiends, saying an invocation to the goddess derived from the teaching of one of her personal heroes.
Time itself froze in expectation. Greenish lightning scurried along the spilled blood in a mesmerizing display. A sound followed, a horrible screeching, the universe shrieking in pain. It was followed by a powerful explosion that threw the dementors back. The wound on Dawn’s hand was a jagged horror that might never heal properly. The hole in the fabric of creation spawned from that wound was a green abomination pulsing nauseatingly. It closed in a second, less impressive explosion.
A boy stood over the bloody stain, physically shielding Dawn and Luna from their aggressors. He was aged somewhere between the girls and didn’t exhibit that knightly appearance female of all generations were indoctrinated to expect from their protectors. He didn’t look like a biologist either, but that last fact acted in his favour. It is notorious that biologists, especially those of the muggle variety, are useless against creepy, soul-devouring magical monsters.
Physically, he was thin yet not sickly so. He had black hairs, medium-length, in a wild nest. His green eyes, oddly familiar to both of his damsel in distress, were filled with a profound sadness. A lightning shaped scar marred his brow. He was clothed in black mourning robe fit for a wizarding lord.
The newcomer was justifiably disoriented. Moments before, he had been in a cemetery, mourning over the tombs of the two dearest girls in his life. One had been his sister in all but blood. He had aspired at creating his own family with the second. Both had died because of an imbecile too thick to understand that having the watch meant keeping it in his pants and actually watching. He had been alternating between lamenting their death and praying that their shiny souls had indeed gone to a better place. All the while, he had struggled with himself, containing his grief sufficiently to avert the catastrophe his darker emotions could potentially set off if they overwhelmed him.
Now, he was sandwiched between a fallen child, an older teen and a troop of his most hated foes. Heroic warrior to his core, he did a risk assessment. He discarded the child. She wasn’t threat, asset or liability. The teen was eliminated soon after, the moment she crouched near the youngest to help. The dementors, however, he gladly classified in the threat category and labelled for eradication. Two sticks popped into his hands in a blink of an eye: a smaller one - his wand - in his right. A longer one - the Deathstaff, a conglomeration of the Hallows - in his left. The sleeves of his robes dropped a little, exposing two finely inked silver tattoos circling around his left wrist.
Usually, the dark-haired youth was hard-pressed to maintain control of the multi-layered construct he enforced between himself and the true extent of his emotions. With the addition of the grief he was still feeling and the vile corrupting auras of cold surrounding his enemies, it was understandable that his current control was tenuous at best. He let the most damaged layers go, allowing suffering, sadness and hatred to wash over him with renewed intensity. His magic, partially unbridled, answered to his turmoil in a visible and almost physical aura of power. The three youths were now isolated at the center of a cyclone of magic battering gardens, inner-wards and dementors.
“One minute” the boy mumbled to himself, marking the approximate time left before his outpour of power left him depleted... and dead. Not that he cared much for himself, but he was protecting others.
He had history with dementors, having fought and vanquished greater forces of the beasts before. There was an issue this time. The weapon he had used in the past, his patronus, wasn’t available anymore. He hadn’t invoked the silvery guardian creature since their death, not having enough happiness in him. The weapon he did have was one of his own crafting.
Magical theory teaches that energy is channeled from its source, the core for wand-users, through two nexuses. The first nexus shaped the energy for a given effect. The second nexus acted as a faucet to regulate the power output. With nothing else to live for than vengeance against his numerous foes, he had pried his open and replaced it with his flimsier mental shields, turning himself into a walking magical bomb triggered by emotions.
Fifty seconds. Time to concentrate on the enemy. He shaped a fraction of his magic to form a perpendicular translucent blade at the extremity of his longest stick. He was called the Master of Death and he was keen on looking the part. Three wide strikes of the newly materialized scythe sliced the nearest dementors. They dissolved into smoke. Their pairs, sufficiently intelligent to strategize, moved out of range.
Forty seconds. Time for a change of tactic. The protector passed through his inventory of combat spells at a rapid pace, searching for any that worked on the creatures. Cutting curses, transfigurations, explosive hexes, miscellaneous jinxes... the dementors shrugged them off almost without damages. The few effective spells only had minor effects, not providing the defender enough relief to organize a retreat, even with apparition. Not that it really was an option. Apparating in a dementor’s aura was at best a sure splinch. The foul things weren’t guarding Britain’s lone wizarding prison for without reasons.
Thirty seconds. Time to think. A barrage of banishing spells pushed the monster back, giving him time to search for a solution.
Twenty seconds. Time to hope. His plan was made. He had this spell, a minor bone cleaning charm invented by his mother to prepare ingredients for potions. Overcharged, it revealed itself quite potent against dementors. It didn’t destroyed them but any impacted by the beam lost control and fell low enough to be dispatched with the scythe. The fray increased in intensity, both side coveting victory.
Thirteen seconds. Out of time. Things had been looking up for the young defender. He could have won relatively unscathed if he hadn’t made a mistake. Believing a grounded and impaled dementor out of the fight, the boy had lifted his gaze too early. The dissolving fiend used the last of its strength for an opportune strike, causing a nasty gash on his opponent’s leg. The physical wound was the tip of the iceberg. Dementors aren’t purely corporeal and their blows have a strong mental component. More layers of the emotional shield were damaged, unleashing additional magic. Portion of that magic annihilated the last of the assailants in a powerful blast. The last combatant fell to his knees, weakened, struggling to reassert a modicum of control on his roused magic.
Dawn was impressed. She’d witnessed wizarding combat before, trained against it, but until now it had never matched the magnitude of a good wiccan. The boy she had summoned had displayed power levels hard to match by anyone she knew and she counted one of the mightiest wiccan in generations in her family.
Luna had admired the pretty light show but she was more concerned by their saviour’s health. She kneeled in front of him, getting her first opportunity for a proper glance at his face. She couldn’t remember meeting him before, yet his features appeared familiar. Not knowing how to help him, she simply wrapped him in a grateful hug. A pressure on her body informed her that her older sister was sharing the gesture. They kept position for a while, to her great pleasure. She loved nothing more that the warmth of a hug, except maybe pudding.
Human contact helped the hero, allowing him to reclaim some control on both emotions and magic. The cosy, tender care he was receiving had been missing most of his life. Only three persons had made him experience similar before and he was grieving two of them. He lifted his gaze toward his rescuees: a younger blonde girl on the onset of puberty with permanently surprised eyes, a partially distracted smile and a cute button nose; an older brunette with a mischievous mouth, a dash of freckles and mature stare. He recognized those face, those... impossibilities.
“NO... no, no, no, no, no. It can’t be... Both of you... you’re dead.” he stammered.
“I lost you...” he added in a soulful cry.
At the verge of losing it completely, which would have remapped an enormous chunk of the surrounding topology, he instinctively dealt with the situation in a safer way. He fainted.
Aware deep down that the world itself had suddenly taken a turn for the better, Luna grinned from ear to ear.
“I won! I was right! I won!” she exclaimed.
“What?” asked a bewildered Dawn.
“Muggle biologists! They faint!”Another rescue from my stack of discarded family fics, it was originally a pure HP text. One I’ve spent tens of hours trying to create. It didn’t work as a one shot and it pushed toward the creation of too many OCs as a long story. By mixing some characters of Buffy and tweaking the plot a bit, I managed to make it in a decent (I hope) crossover while keeping the ‘Lunaesque’ elements that made it dear to me.