Title: Magic's Champion (A Gift of Ordinary Magic: The Hogwarts Remix) [Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Harry Potter](Part2)
Author: M. Scott Eiland
Summary: A desperate attempt to stop Voldemort has drastic consequences—and Harry and his friends are challenged to justify their actions.
Rating: PG-13, for language and themes.
Fandom: Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Harry Potter
Spoilers: All seven seasons of Buffy and all five seasons of Angel: the first six Harry Potter books (AU thereafter).
Title, Author and URL of original story: A Gift of Ordinary Magic, by Lizbeth Marcs. http://liz-marcs.livejournal.com/144724.html
Disclaimer: These characters all belong to Joss Whedon and JKR—I'm just borrowing them.
Part 2 (if you're reading this and haven't read Part 1, turn back now or risk being be very confused. . .:-P)
@ @ @ @ @
“My Lord, are you all right?”
Voldemort's eyes snapped open. Severus Snape was standing outside the ritual circle—which was no longer outlined by the translucent hemisphere—and looking at him. Nagini remained coiled around him and appeared to be sleeping. His last memory was of casting sleeping charms on himself and Nagini to ease the transition to the new world—clearly, something significant had happened. He looked at his potions master and asked, “How long has it been since I spoke to you last, Severus?”
“About fifty-one hours, my Lord.” Snape replied, keeping his tone formal. “I gave myself a slightly lesser dose than the others, so that you might have assistance if needed before the others awakened. I hope you will forgive my presumption in using an unlocking charm to gain entrance—I presumed that you would have used something more robust than a bolt if you had wished to bar my entry.”
Voldemort inclined his head at Snape to indicate that he wasn't angry, and took a moment to use a Summoning Charm on a nearby book to get a feel for the amount of magic in the environment. The book sailed into his hand with the normal force he would expect, and he stared at it in disbelief. He backed down. . .but what made him do it? He considered that the boy might have simply lost his nerve, but dismissed the thought immediately. Something happened to change his mind. . .something gave him hope of victory without having to end magic here. I need to find out what it was before I press on.
Oblivious to the turmoil in his master's thoughts, Snape looked at Voldemort apologetically and commented, “The others should start waking up in about fifteen minutes, my Lord—what are your orders?”
Voldemort was silent for a moment before he directed his gaze at Snape and replied, “Let them have a few hours to recover, then order them to assemble in my audience chamber. We are going to withdraw for some time to see how the fools at the Ministry and at Hogwarts react—we have drastically diminished their resources and terrified the general population. I want them to be wondering what we are up to for some time.”
If he was puzzled by the order, Snape gave no sign of it as he bowed and left the ritual chamber. Voldemort gave a mental command to Nagini—who slithered off to a quiet corner to continue its nap—and sat down, still thinking about what to do next.
What are you up to, Potter?
@ @ @ @ @
Harry knocked on the front door of the estate house and waited for someone to come to the door.
The reversal ritual had been anti-climactic after everything that had happened, and they had all apparated back to Hogsmeade ready for a fight—but the Death Eaters had stayed gone, and they quickly started fortifying the town against renewed attack. A quick check determined that the siege of the Ministry of Magic had been lifted as well, and Tonks was quickly detailed to head there and try to help the forces there regroup. It took most of a day to contact all of the Order members who had been cut off from contact, and Harry was relieved that casualties had been few among them. Another day had seen everyone briefed—with relief at the reversal of the ritual being the order of the day—and ready to continue to press their temporary advantage. It was as part of that effort that Harry now stood on the doorstep of the estate house, at the head of a rather eclectic delegation.
The front door opened, and a girl—no more than sixteen—looked out and blinked at the sight in front of her. After a moment, she managed to squeak, “Can I help you, sir?”
Harry smiled and replied, “We're here to see a man I met the other night. Tall, dark hair. . .has an eyepatch? It's very important that I speak to him.”
The girl smiled nervously and closed the door. After about a minute the door opened, and the young man who had so upended their world only a few days before stared at the group in front of the door. The wizards and witches he had seen the other night had been joined by the rest of the Order of the Phoenix, Hagrid's brother Grawp, Firenze, and Dobby and several other house elves from Hogwarts. All of them were looking directly at the young man, and he clearly didn't know how to react. Harry decided to rescue him: he extended his hand and said simply, “Harry Potter.”
The man stared for a moment longer, then shook the offered hand and replied, “Xander Harris.”
Hermione nudged Harry, and Harry coughed nervously and said simply, “You said you could help.”
Xander looked out at the crowd on the porch, then back at Harry. “I don't know about how much help I'll be--” Harry felt a chill of fear, and he was immensely relieved when Xander added, “But I've got a lot of friends in there who should be a big help.”
“So—are you going to invite us in or not?” Ron demanded, still not thrilled with the way things had gone.
“Don't be rude, Ron.” Hermione interjected, looking at her friend in annoyance before turning to Xander and adding, “Inviting us in could be dangerous if one or more of us was a disguised vampire or one of several other kinds of demons.”
Xander smiled and commented, “You seem to know your stuff, Miss. . .?”
“Oh, I'm Hermione Granger.” Hermione colored slightly at the attention from the older man, and Ron glared in mild annoyance as she added, “He's Ron Weasley—we can conclude the other introductions inside.”
Xander nodded solemnly, then gave ground, walking away from the door. After a moment, Harry followed him, and Hermione and Ron quickly joined him as the others trailed behind them. They entered the dining room, and Harry saw dozens of girls and young women sitting at the main table along with a few men of varying ages—and everyone was looking at the newcomers with what looked like open shock. Harry heard Xander cough once, then announce: “Merry Christmas, guys. I hope you don't mind, but I invited some new friends.”
“So this is the new office?” Xander looked around, admiring the quality of the woodwork on the walls, and looked back at Harry. “Kind of. . .big, isn't it?”
Harry groaned and sat down on one of the overstuffed sofas in the office. Xander chose the armchair across from where Harry sat, and grinned openly at his friend's obvious annoyance. Harry glared at Xander for a moment, then muttered, “I was fine in my old office; sure, it was small, but I knew where everything was and I'm only here two or three days a month anyway!”
After Voldemort had been defeated and Harry had completed his time at Hogwarts with multiple honors in his NEWT exams, he had followed his original plans and applied to train as an Auror. His old friend Kingsley Shacklebolt—who had survived the war and was now the head of Magical Law Enforcement—had hemmed and hawed for a while before coming out with it: “Harry—if anything, you're obscenely overqualified to be an Auror. All the training will do is serve as a refresher course and fill you in on the bureaucracy. That being said, if I send you out in the field and some bastard of an ex-Death Eater gets lucky and kills you, I'll be sacked five minutes later and the Minister of Magic will be sacked not long after that.” Harry had bristled, and Kingsley added quickly, “If it was just my job and I thought the situation was best for you, I'd risk it in a minute, Harry—but Scrimgeour isn't going to stick his neck out to put you at risk, so that's a moot point.” Harry nodded reluctantly in agreement, and Kingsley had smiled at him and asked bluntly, “Besides, Harry—haven't you been in mortal peril on a daily basis enough in your life? I've got a position for you that will let you keep in training, keep an eye on things here at the Ministry, and be very useful to us all without getting your arse killed: want to hear about it?”
The title of the job in question was “Consultant at Large,” and Harry accepted it for the magnificent salary of one galleon a year. For an average of about five days a month, he would come in and audit training sessions with the Aurors—making suggestions where he saw fit—stopped in on department heads with the Ministry and provided an ear for suggestions they had, and—rarely--did a bit of necessary paperwork; therefore, the need for an office. Fortunately, after he had been forcefully moved away from the Auror path he had pursued his real love—flying--and signed a contract with the Chudley Cannons—much to Ron's delight—that guaranteed that he wouldn't be idle when the Ministry wasn't in need of his services.
Harry glared at the walls of the office and elaborated, “Scrimgeour insisted on moving me into this barn—said that foreign dignitaries might want to look in on me and that the old office wasn't fit for the purpose. Bloody old meddler.”
Xander looked at the beautiful oak desk, then at the full bar sitting over in a corner of the office. “Yes, it's clear that he's torturing you. Should I owl Buffy and Willow to break you out?”
“You're one to talk,” grumbled Harry, “How many times at dinner have I had to listen to you complain about being dragged to fundraisers by either the Ministry or the Council? I seem to recall a comment about rubber chicken being made from demon parts.”
Xander was about to retort when a teasing voice came from the open doorway: “So this is what the Ministry's most revered consultant and the Ambassador to the Council do on the public's knut.”
Harry turned and saw Hermione smirking at him. He snorted and commented, “Apparently, the Ministry's Head Researcher has time to burn, too—how may I help you, madam?”
“I find myself in need of lunch and heard a rumor that you were in the building—I thought I might confirm the rumor and get lunch at the same time.” Hermione replied, still smirking. “How about it?”
“You two have fun—I've got a dispute between three Slayers and a merchant in Knockturn Alley to settle. . .yay me.” Xander sighed and headed for the door, adding “Eat something healthier than demon rubber chicken.”
Xander had reached the door when Hermione called out, “Aren't you forgetting something, Xander?”
Xander seemed to think for a moment, then moved quickly, capturing Hermione in his arms and kissing her with energy. After a moment, he released her, enjoying the unfocused look in her eyes as he added, “Let's see. . .three pounds of sirloin, four pounds of potatoes, and floo Molly for that recipe you needed, right?” Hermione managed a distracted nod, and Xander nodded to Harry in leave-taking as he concluded, “See you back home, honey” and departed.
Hermione blinked, then turned back to where Harry was shaking his head in disbelief. She raised an eyebrow and asked, “You have something to say, Potter?”
“After all this time, I really still can't believe you married him.” Hermione began to scowl at Harry's comment, and Harry grinned and elaborated, “You know I think the world of him. . .but I still don't see how you two--”
“Life is full of little mysteries, Harry—and I'm not about to question one that got me a man who kisses like that.” Hermione replied quietly, her eyes moving away from Harry and onto a rather expensive painting hanging on the office wall. She sighed, then added, “I'm not the first smart woman who fell for him—or vice versa.”
Harry laughed. “How long was Willow's hair pink after she told the Fluke story at the New Year's party two years ago?”
Hermione flushed, then muttered, “Well. . .there's a reason I stay away from Firewhiskey.” She coughed self-consciously, then changed the subject: “Speaking of odd couples—are Ron and Dawn going to be making it to the party next month? He always likes hanging out with your teammates when they're around.”
“As far as I know—that expedition to Outer Mongolia is scheduled to come back about a week beforehand. Ron will be champing at the bit for Quidditch news by then, I'd guess.” Harry shook his head and smiled. When the Ministry had established a formal alliance with the Council, one of the job opportunities that had opened up was for wizards and witches who wanted to assist the Council directly where routine wand-work would make the jobs of the Slayers easier and safer. Ron had been one of the first volunteers, and it hadn't been long before he caught the eye of the younger Summers sister—who was in training as a Watcher and to be the head archaeologist for the Council. They hadn't married yet—much to Molly's dismay—but the betting among both their circles of friends as to when they would was intense. Harry chuckled at the thought, then stood up. “Come on—lunch sounds good right now.”
They left the office and walked down the hallway towards the front entrance, nodding to people as they walked by. As they were approaching the entrance, a familiar face came into view, and Harry smiled and called out, “Hello, Luna—how are things in the Department of Mysteries?”
“Mysterious.” Luna replied. It had become a running joke with them, as there were things that Luna dealt with in her work as an Unspeakable that even Harry and Hermione didn't have clearance to know about. Harry laughed, and Luna added, “Hello, Hermione.”
“Hello, Luna.” Hermione replied quietly. Even after many years of friendship, Hermione wasn't always comfortable with the younger woman—their outlooks on life were very different. “We're going to lunch—would you like to join us?”
“I've already eaten, but I'd be glad to walk with you until you arrive there.” Luna said quietly—she knew that the restaurant that her two friends favored was within walking distance. They walked to the entrance, removed their robes to reveal their street clothes, then headed outside. After a few moments, Luna turned to Harry and commented, “I'd heard you were in the building, Harry—did Xander come to see you?”
“Yes—he came and visited me in that awful new barn of an office the Minister stuck me with.” The two witches laughed at Harry's annoyance, and he pointedly glared at them for a moment before asking, “Why do you ask? Is something going on with Xander that neither of us knows about?”
Luna smiled, and something about that smile made both Harry and Hermione shiver slightly. The Unspeakable noticed the reaction and replied, “Nothing going on right now, anyway. Do either of you ever think about the circumstances that caused us to meet Xander where and when we did?”
Harry shuddered. “I try not to—when I think about that ritual and what it would have done if we hadn't reversed it--”
Luna shook her head. “That's not what I mean, Harry. We all agreed it was the right thing to do--”
“If I recall correctly, you had doubts, Luna.” Hermione interjected, looking at her friend as she remembered the long-ago events. “You told us that it wouldn't solve the problem.”
“Yes, but I didn't know why—and I still believed it was necessary. Intuition—magical or not—can be rather frustrating as far as providing a 'why' when you want one.” After years of intense training, Luna was far more focused than she once had been, though her thought processes were still far from conventional. She sighed and added, “It wasn't until it was all over that I started really thinking about what had happened. What are the chances that we would randomly run into literally the only person in the world who was capable of telling us we were wrong and offering us an alternative to the destruction of magic, given the distances and time period involved?”
Harry blinked at the question; somehow, he had never thought about it before: there had been too much going on for the entire period after the ritual was reversed and leading up to the final defeat of Voldemort to worry much about the “how” of their new allies. As he pondered the question, Hermione provided the obvious answer: “You'd have a better chance to win the Irish Sweepstakes than for that to happen. Even without a Muggle higher education, I know math well enough to realize that. . .so why didn't that ever occur to me before?”
“We were rather busy at the time, for one thing.” Luna commented, causing her friends to laugh as she continued, “But I suspect there was more to it. . .our decision to leave Hogwarts and explore, for example. We really couldn't hope to accomplish much by going outside, and there was even an outside chance that Voldemort could have found us in that time and tried to force us to reverse the ritual—why didn't we just stay put?”
Harry and Hermione looked at each other with vaguely puzzled expressions, and Harry inclined his head towards a park nearby with some convenient benches. They sat down, and Harry voiced the thoughts that both he and Hermione were having: “It just seemed the right thing to do. . .I proposed it, and no one questioned the wisdom of it. Someone probably should have—but no one did. Why?”
“Something had other plans for us.” Luna spoke solemnly, and both Harry and Hermione were completely focused on her as she continued, “Something influenced us subtly while we were distracted to get us moving—to let us see some of the side effects of what we were doing—and to lead us to the one person who was still capable of urging us to stop while we still could. It worked.”
“Who could have done that? Every magically aware being except for us on Earth was disabled once the ritual was concluded.” Hermione spoke urgently, trying to grasp what Luna was saying and seeing the obvious objections. “Who was capable of doing what you say was done?”
Luna smiled. “Magic itself did it. It's the only reasonable answer.”
“You call that a reasonable answer?” Hermione's tone was incredulous, and Harry's reaction—while silent and therefore far more polite—was about the same. “You're saying that magic itself has a consciousness and the power to manipulate our minds to induce us to do things we otherwise wouldn't?” Luna nodded, and Hermione asked, “Why wouldn't we have known this before? Why wouldn't magic have made itself known to us?”
Harry sighed—that part actually would make sense. He turned to Hermione and commented, “If it became known that magic itself had a consciousness, wouldn't dark wizards start trying to control that consciousness to control magic itself? They'd probably fail, but they'd probably do a lot of damage while they were doing so.” Hermione nodded reluctantly in agreement, and Harry turned to Luna and said, “All right—suppose magic does have a consciousness and could have influenced us: why wouldn't it just influence us not to perform the ritual in the first place? We weren't happy about doing it—it wouldn't have taken much to push us into another decision.”
Luna shrugged. “Perhaps it couldn't—maybe it influenced us as much as it could and no more. Perhaps when we cast the ritual and temporarily trapped our own magic inside ourselves it left us open to influence more than usual. Perhaps it acted in a way that made it most likely to eliminate a possible threat to its existence and freedom in Voldemort—which caused it to risk the casting of the ritual. The only one who could tell us would be magic itself, and it's not going to: any concrete proof of its existence could fall into the wrong hands someday—but I'm convinced that for whatever reasons it did. I'm not going to tell my superiors about this theory—I don't trust them that much—but I had to tell someone, and you're among the few who know enough about what happened to be able to see what I'm talking about.”
Harry and Hermione sat, pondering the gravity of what they had just heard. After a few moments Harry sighed and commented, “It's lucky that Xander was close enough for us to reach even with magic pushing us along.”
Luna laughed. “You think that was luck, do you?” Harry and Hermione looked at Luna in confusion, and the Unspeakable smiled at them and said, “Alexander Harris has spent virtually his whole life within a stone's throw of some of the mightiest concentrations of magic in this world. He's spent over a decade fighting at the side of beings who could end him with less effort than it's taking me to utter these words. Do you really think it was an accident that he was in the right place at the right time to offer a solution to the crisis that Magic and the World itself were facing?”
“What are you suggesting, Luna?” Harry was puzzled at Luna's words. “What could it have been but an accident?”
“For thousands of years, civilizations have chosen champions in times of need to serve where the standard measures weren't good enough.” Luna spoke quietly, looking out at the pond in the center of the park as she continued, “They were chosen for being stronger, faster, more skilled, or more powerful than the others considered for the purpose. I think that magic knew that it would need someone to be its champion one day when it was in dire need—and it picked the best person possible for the job.”
“Xander?” Hermione whispered. Luna nodded, and Hermione stared at her in disbelief and asked, “How could that be? Xander's smart, and he's brave, and he'll do anything for a friend. . .but he's the least magical human being I've ever met. He's so non-magical he makes some of the magical tools we have at the house malfunction—and when I tried to surprise him by fitting him for an eye like Alastor had. . .” She looked down in sadness, both from the memory of Mad-Eye's death in the war and the disappointment at the failure of her gift to her husband.
“Exactly.” Luna replied, reaching out and giving Hermione's shoulder a comforting squeeze as she spoke. Hermione looked up, and Luna smiled and continued, “In a moment where magic itself is helpless—who better to serve as a champion than someone with no magic whatsoever, who fights with his mind and his heart and his loyalty with every last shred of energy in his body? Magic could not have found a better champion than the one we faced that day—and he prevailed.” She stood up and said quietly, “I should let you two get to lunch.”
“Does he know, Luna?” The question came from Harry, who was still processing what he had heard. “Does he have any idea about any of this?”
“Probably not, and we shouldn't tell him, Harry.” Luna whispered, looking back out at the pond. “It would probably be a hard thing to know one had a duty like that placed upon you, without asking first or even telling him that it was his charge. We couldn't advise him, as magic keeps its own counsel and will not aid us in the advising. What we can do is to appreciate what he does—and say a prayer for him now and again. It's not much, but it's something.”
Luna nodded to Harry and Hermione and departed, and they sat there for long minutes, looking out at the pond and saying their quiet thank-yous to the Champion of Magic.