He had been floating aimlessly for what felt like forever. At the time he'd taken the fall, it had been a good plan, a marvellous plan even; one he was sure Dumbledore would praise him for when he returned to Grimmauld Place. But then, he'd lost his grip on the arch and started to fall. The voices he heard had, at times seemed to surround him, as though they were only inches away, but then he'd drift on and they'd fade. He was positive Dumbledore would find some way to get him out, perhaps even Remus would stick his head through the curtain and call to him to stop being a complete and utter prat and get back to the ministry. However, the further he drifted, and the longer he drifted the more his heart sank. Slowly the veil between Sirius and the Ministry of Magic disappeared completely from view and the voices within the Department of Mysteries faded away to nothing.
Just when Sirius had given up ever getting out of the void he'd fallen into, he came to a jarring halt and landed flat on his backside in the middle of an all too neat living room floor. Squeezing his eyes shut to keep from being blinded by the bright light that had all of a sudden appeared, Sirius missed the bewildered looks of those he had fallen in on.
It took Rupert Giles only a few seconds of stunned disbelief before he realized what had happened; his eyes glanced at the body lying crumpled in his living room then quickly to the mirror that stood beside his front door.
"Uhh, Giles," Giles quickly drew his gaze from the mirror; "You do realize a man just fell from no where onto your floor, don't you?" Willow Rosenberg was looking from Giles to the tiny blond who'd already taken it upon herself to approach the 'man' in question, a stake clutched tightly in her small fist.
"Hmmm?" he had gone back to looking at the mirror, "Yes Will - Buffy!" He moved quickly across the small space and grabbed her arm, pulling her back from the grumbling figure on the floor.
"Giles!" the small blond whirled on him, her eyes flashing with a mix of concern and anger.
"We do not stake people who just… fall in-into our homes." He stepped in front of her as Sirius began to get up, his hands rubbing at his face. "C-can we help you?" He asked cautiously, his brain already working overtime in case this turned out to be a threat to his family.
Sighing, Buffy threw her hands up in the air before tucking the stake back into her pocket, she knew Giles could handle himself, she'd seen it often enough, but still… the stranger now in his living room could be dangerous. "For all we know, he could be some demon sent to kill the Slayer," she hissed, her eyes trained on the man in front of them.
So focused on what could happen, Buffy didn't notice her Watcher stiffen at the sight before them, but Xander did, "Uh, Buffy?"
"No Xander, I'm right and you know it. How many good things, demon or otherwise just fall into Giles' -"
"Leave." Giles didn't have to look directly at them for them to know whom he was talking to.
"No Giles." Buffy's arms were folded across her chest, the glare that sent demons and humans alike scattering far and wide burned into the back of his head. "We're not leaving you to get beaten to a pulp… or worse." Willow and Xander on the other hand were half way to the front door. They knew that tone of voice and knew that it was one not to be trifled with.
Turning on his heel, Giles hefted Buffy over his shoulder, the move had taken her by surprise, and though she knew that she could break his hold, the possibility that she could seriously hurt Giles was not one she was willing to entertain. He smiled apologetically at Xander and Willow as he set Buffy outside the door. "This does not concern you… any of you. Now please, for once do as I say and leave." He looked down at his Slayer, "I'll be fine. I promise." Stepping back inside, he shut the door on all three of them and turned back to face Sirius.
"Hello Rupert," a flood of relief had washed over Sirius the moment he'd seen the all too familiar pair of green eyes. It meant that he was not completely lost, and that he was in the company of a friend.
"Accio Wand!" Giles' strong voice rang out through the apartment only moments before a long, thin piece of oak came streaking towards his outstretched hand from the loft. Clutching it, he made a small motion towards the curtains and they slid closed, a second motion towards the door and the sounds that filtered in from outside became muffled. When he was sure no one could see in and no one could hear, he held his wand and aimed it at Sirius. "You're supposed to be in prison."
Sirius felt some of the comfort he had at being with an old friend fade away, he knew that look, had seen that look often during the war that had killed many of their friends. "That was no prison… that was hell."
Giles continued to eye the man, a part of him saddened by the whole affair. At one point, Sirius Black had been on of his best friends, but in the end, he had betrayed not just Giles, but their entire circle of friends; including Giles' cousin James. Slowly, he started to circle Sirius; his eyes hard and cold. It was something he'd never be able to forgive the man for; giving Voldemort James and Lily's where-a-bouts. That night Giles had lost much more then a cousin, he'd lost the brother and sister he'd never had, along with Harry, their son. "How did you escape?" He let his gaze flicker to the other man's wand, which to Giles' amazement hadn't moved from Sirius' side.
"Padfoot," he gave by way of explanation, "But Rupert, please hear me out." He looked at the man he'd considered family ever since he'd first stumbled into his carriage on the Hogwarts Express their first year.
"Hear you out?" Giles all but roared, "You betrayed us Sirius, you betrayed your best friend, then you added to that by killing Peter. God only knows what's happened to Remus and Izzy, or did you hunt them down before coming here and finish them off as well?" He shook his head, "We trusted you Sirius, Lily and James trusted you. You were family and you turned on us," Giles' voice had become colder, "I suppose your mother is incredibly proud, killing the mud-blood and blood traitors," he spat the words out as though they left a foul taste on his tongue, "would have earned your return to the family tree no doubt."
"Rupert, you know I would never-" Sirius began.
"But you did! You were the one who gave away the Hollow! You allowed my cousin and his wife to be slaughtered! And what of Harry, Sirius, did you think about him? He's spent sixteen years living with that... woman and her family! You were his Godfather! And because of you, he's grown up without his parents, with-without his family." Giles raised his wand a little higher. "I will not let you hurt anyone else."
"Rupert! Please!" Sirius' eyes were wide with terror, and he began talking as fast as he could, "It wasn't me. There was a change at the last minute... Peter was their Secret Keeper, not me. Ask Albus if you must, ask Remus. But I swear to you, I am innocent."
Rupert Giles could not believe his ears, Peter Pettigrew, Secret Keeper for James and Lily Potter? Not in a million years. "You're lying. James would have told me had there been a change like that."
Sirius shook his head, "There wasn't time Rupert, you had just left for the Academy, Alice and Frank had been placed in St. Mungo's…" He sighed, "Regulus had come to the Order, seeking help, or rather, he'd come to me seeking help." He was exhausted, mentally and physically.
"What do you mean Regulus had come looking for you?" Giles' wand wavered slightly, "Regulus was one of his, why would he need your help unless you were in on it too?"
"He wanted out, he'd seen what Bellatrix had done to Alice and Frank, he knew what Voldemort was planning to do with Lily, James and Harry." Sirius looked away, "He knew what Voldemort was planning for me."
Giles' wand hand fell to his side, "What do you mean he knew what Voldemort was planning for you?" His face still held some of the rage he felt towards his former friend, but his eyes had taken on a curious expression.
"I mean exactly that Rupert, Regulus told me… something had gone wrong with a necklace. When he came to me, he was ill; he could barely keep his head up. He'd gone out with some of the others, and something just…" Sirius took a deep breath, shaking his head. What he would say next could very well be the end of him. "He was almost in a stupor when he spoke to me, but Regulus told me that Voldemort, along with Severus, Lucius and Bellatrix thought I would be a sure bet on gaining any and all information on Lily and James' where-a-bouts. He told me how they planned to use the Cruciatus Curse on me to find out about the Hollow.
"With that information, did you honestly think I'd want to put my friends… my family… in that kind of danger?" He shook his head; "I convinced James and Lily not long after that to name Peter as their secret keeper. After all, who would expect poor, simpering Peter Pettigrew, James' long standing admirer to be not only be their keeper, but to turn on someone he would bend over backwards for if the opportunity appeared?" He rolled up the sleeves of his robe, "I don't bear their mark Rupert, and I never have." He looked back up at his old friend, letting the sincerity of his words shine in his eyes.
Giles shook his head, "But that night… you killed twelve muggles and Peter. That alone…"
"I didn't kill anyone!" Sirius all but roared, "I managed a single cutting curse before I was Stupefied, I watched as Peter blew up twelve muggles… all eye witnesses to what had happened before he turned into that damn rat and ran off." He clenched his fists as anger at that night welled up inside of him. "He spent twelve years playing the dutiful pet to a young friend of Harry's." Sirius let out a low growl at the thought of the snivelling little bastard, "Ask Harry, he was with Remus and I the night we exposed Peter."
Giles' shoulders slumped, could it be true, Peter Pettigrew had betrayed his friends. He lifted his gaze to meet Sirius' and was amazed when the Wizard let him in. Vivid images were displayed clearly for the Watcher to view as he saw fit. The group of them, much younger then they were now, celebrating. A cold cell made of stone and steel, the terrifying sight of a Dementor closing in on him, a young woman with deep, brown hair and fiery brown eyes, laughing and throwing her arms around an equally younger Sirius, and finally… A small, round, blond haired man, his eyes red rimmed, a maniacal grin on his face as he taunted Sirius, howling as his finger was sliced from his right hand before aiming his wand and wordlessly stunning his friend. Giles' face grew pale as he watched the same, round blond man killing twelve innocent bystanders before disappearing in the smoke.
"Enough!" Giles called a halt to the exploration of Sirius' mind, squeezing his eyes shut and turning away to catch his breath.
Sirius shook his head, to clear it. Rupert knew he could have stopped him if he'd wanted, "You needed to see Rupert, and you needed to understand." He moved closer to Giles, tucking his wand back inside his robes. "Are you alright?" His voice was soft as he moved his hand to rest on Giles' shoulder. He could feel the quiet sobs wracking his friend's body and his heart went out to him, fourteen years of suppressed rage and grief was demanding to be let out and even without the use of legillimency, he could tell that the only thing running through Rupert's mind now was killing the son of a bitch who'd had a hand in murdering his cousin, his cousin's wife and raping two of his family from the lives they should have been living.
Turning, Giles threw his arms around Sirius in a brotherly hug, mumbling apologies through his tears before pulling away and offering Sirius a warm, friendly smile. "I-I think some whiskey is called for." He moved quickly, gathering the bottle of scotch and two glasses from their respective shelf and pouring each of them a liberal amount. "It's not Rosmerta's but it will suffice." Handing Sirius one of the glasses, he motioned for him to sit down.
"Thanks." Sirius smiled and raised his glass as he sat down on the sofa, "To old friends."
"To old friends," Giles repeated, sitting down in the well-worn armchair across from him. Giles drained his glass and looked across at Sirius, "How is everyone?" He asked softly, still trying to wrap his head around everything that had happened in the last hour.
"Albus is still very much Albus," he gave Giles a lop-sided smile. "I'm rather surprised you haven't received an Owl from him."
"The last Owl I received from Albus Dumbledore was five years ago, telling me that Harry would be attending Hogwarts after the summer. Two years after that, I was sent here to watch over The Slayer."
"Ah," Sirius nodded in understanding, "I did read in the Quibbler that the current Watcher to the Slayer been sacked by Quentin. No doubt Fudge had a hand in that as well." He shook his head, "Slytherin scum." He looked back at Rupert to see a tiny smile pulling at the corners of his mouth. "Remus is… Remus; he looks older then he should, much too thin and worries far too much for his own good. I haven't heard or seen Isabella since the day I was arrested, but Remus has told me that she is still the same old Izzy," he got a far-a-way look on his face when he mentioned the young woman, "In all honesty, I've been terrified of seeing her. When I first got out of Azkaban, I didn't want the Dementors going anywhere near her, and as time passed, I didn't want to face the possibility of showing up on her doorstep only to be told to sod off." His grin turned sheepish at the look of reprimand from Giles, "I know I know… she'd want to at least know the truth, which, according to Remus, she knew all along, but still…" He trailed off and closed his eyes, taking a deep breath, "And finally, Harry. Aside from spending eleven years under the same roof as Petunia Evans and her husband and oaf of a son, he is rather well adjusted and happy… when he's at Hogwarts." Sirius chuckled, "He's the Gryffindor Seeker, and looks every bit like James, save for his eyes. He has Lily's eyes."
Giles beamed, "I thought that might be the case, and what does he know of Voldemort?" His heart lurched at the name.
"Everything, including the truth about Voldemort's past. In five years at Hogwarts, he has defeated Voldemort four times. Even coming face to face with him at the end of last year and surviving to tell the tale."
The glass in Giles' hand dropped to the floor and shattered into a million pieces. "He did what?" Standing up, Giles began to pace, "That's not possible Sirius, Voldemort is dead, he tried to kill Harry and it backfired, killing him instead."
"It's very much real Rupert, last year, Harry was competing in the Tri-Wizard Tournament, when the cup had been turned into a port key. It took him and another boy, Cedric Diggory to the site of Voldemort's re-birth. With the help of Pettigrew, they used Harry's blood to return Voldemort to full strength." Sirius explained softly, "Voldemort killed the Diggory boy and when he went to kill Harry, Harry fought him off. Priori Incantatem." He eyed Giles warily; he didn't need to explain the finer details of the Priori, not to Giles.
"Is he alright?" He looked down at Sirius, his face paler then before.
"He is fine, a little guilty for the loss of Cedric Diggory, very much enraged with not just Peter, but Voldemort as well. Not to mention nearly all of the Wizarding Community. Fudge has been getting the Prophet to spit out all kinds of rumours about Harry and Dumbledore's mental stability."
"Dear Lord," Giles muttered, sitting back down on his chair with a thud. "So he's back?" His gaze drifted towards Sirius who nodded, "Dear Lord."
"He had his Death Eaters raid the Ministry this evening; he lured Harry there to retrieve something from the Hall of Prophecies with a fake image of Voldemort killing me. He and his friends gave the Death Eater's a run for their money, by the time The Order and I got there, it was just Harry and Neville." Sirius sighed, "I was in the middle of fighting off Bellatrix when I took a dive, I figured if I hid just inside the curtain long enough to catch my breath, someone would have taken the crazy bitch down so I could get back into the thick of it and make sure Harry was alright. But, I lost my grip, and somehow ended up here."
Giles nodded, "As you would have. Only five people know the truth about The Veil. Myself, the Head of the Watcher's Council - Quentin Travers, Albus Dumbledore, the Minister for Magic and Wesley Wyndam-Pryce, you make six. It's the gateway between the Slayer's Watcher and the world in which he comes from. It hasn't been used since my Slayer told the Council she quit… nearly three months ago."
"I'm sure Quentin took that well," Sirius smirked, his eyes shining at the thought of Quentin Travers being told where to shove his job.
"Quite," Giles gave an answering smirk, "I was told by Quentin to remove my end of the gateway several weeks ago, but I couldn't bring myself to do it. Good thing I did as well, as now you are here."
Sirius chuckled. "Actually, Rupert… where is here?" He asked, looking around the apartment once more.
Raising his wand, Rupert opened the curtains with a flick of his wrist, and released the sound proofing charm. "Here, is Sunnydale, California." He nodded at the look of astonishment coming from Sirius, "Yes, the Hellmouth…" he looked from Sirius to the door, "Just a moment Sirius." He held up his fingers in a silent count, 'One, two, and three.' The front door burst open and there stood Buffy. "I do hope you have a reason for breaking down my front door?" He asked his voice soft and calm.
"We thought -" a tiny noise came from behind Buffy, interrupting her, "Okay, I thought you were in trouble." Her voice full of indignation, her eyes narrowed when she noticed Sirius sitting on the sofa, his mouth agape. "Instead, once I finally manage to break through the door, I find you sitting here, having a jolly good old time." She turned her glare back to Giles, "Well?"
Sirius did his best, but could not help the bark of laughter that escaped his throat. Standing up, he ignored Giles and Buffy's twin glares of annoyance and turned to face the small crowd that had now formed just inside Giles' living room door. "You must be Rupert's Slayer," he held his hand out to Buffy, "Forgive me for the intrusion; I am Sirius Black, an old friend of Rupert's from his school days."
Buffy looked from Sirius' hand then back up to his face, taking in his haggard appearance. "*You're* a friend of Giles'?" She wasn't buying it, she'd met Ethan, and Phillip, and while Phillip had technically been dead at the time and Ethan was a weasel they both still wore decent clothes, even if they had been lacking in fashion sense, the man before her looked more like a street person then a friend of Giles'.
When it was apparent Buffy wasn't going to shake Sirius' hand, Willow brushed past her and grabbed his hand, giving it a firm shake, "I-I'm Willow," She felt the rush of warm blood creep up her neck and spread into her cheeks when he gave her one of his most charming smiles, "It's nice to meet you, well, it's always nice to meet a friend of Giles', unless you're Ethan Rayne, or like Ethan… Are you like Ethan?" She asked, her cheeks growing warmer as Sirius' smile turned into a smirk as he turned to face Giles.
"She reminds me of Izzy." He turned back to Willow, "It's a pleasure Willow, and to answer your question, I am nothing at all like Ethan Rayne. While I do like to cause a little chaos now and then, I do not worship Janus as he does." He released her hand as a tall, dark haired young man stepped forward, his heart constricting in his chest.
"Xander Harris," the boy gave Sirius a short nod before shaking his hand briefly. "Don't mind Buffy, she's just upset because she didn't get to kick a little ass."
Sirius smiled, though it felt strained, turning his head slightly he caught Giles give a little shake of his head before turning back to Xander, "Buffy… What a… an interesting name." He gave a genuine smile as the young man smirked and stepped back.
"About as interesting as the name 'Sirius'." Buffy ground out between clenched teeth, her 'glare-of-death' now focused on Sirius.
"Actually," Willow began, "Sirius is the name of a star. The dog star if I remember from sixth grade science." She grinned in return to the smile Giles shot her way over the top of Buffy's head.
Sirius couldn't contain the smirk that lit up his entire face; he could clearly see that Giles had his hands full with the small trio that stood before him, turning; he faced Giles and told him exactly that.
"You've no idea." Giles chuckled, sitting back down in his seat, "There are normally more of them, but, sadly Cordelia left for Los Angeles a few weeks ago and Oz -" He was cut off.
"Here." The small man with purple hair announced from the doorway, his gaze locked on Sirius. "Friend of yours?" He asked Giles as he entered the small flat slowly.
Sirius had caught the scent before he turned around, the part of him that was always Padfoot raised his head, growling low in his throat. Moving swiftly, he placed himself between Giles and Oz, and before anyone could guess what was going on, in Sirius' place was a rather large, black dog with it's heckles raised and teeth bared.
"Uh, Giles?" Willow asked softly, her gaze wary as she moved to stand beside Oz when the dog let out a resounding bark.
Buffy looked at Giles pointedly as though to say 'Told you he was dangerous'. Xander just gapped in awe at what was going on. He had never seen a reaction like that to Oz, then again, no one he knew owned a pet of any kind, let alone could turn into a dog. Meanwhile, Giles was chuckling softly as he bent down to run his hands along the dog's silky coat.
"It's alright, he's an Animagus." Giles told the others as if that explained it all. "Sirius," he called softly when the dog didn't seem like he was going to back down. "Padfoot," he grinned when that caught the dog's attention, "It's alright, Oz is safe." He held out his hand and giggled when Padfoot licked said hand. "Go on, it's okay." He nudged Padfoot towards Oz who looked mildly interested at the whole scene.
Oz stepped away from Willow and the others, crouching down and holding his hand out, palm down. Padfoot moved over to him cautiously, sniffing the proffered hand before giving it a solitary lick. Nodding as he stood up, giving the dog's ears a scratch, he looked up at Giles, "He could smell the wolf, couldn't he?"
"I could," Sirius answered as he turned back into his human self. "I'm sorry, but these days one can't be too careful where werewolves are concerned. No offence," he smiled at Oz and held out his hand, "The only one I know of to befriend humans is Moony, and even then he didn't really have a say in the matter." He smirked over at Giles.
"Moony, or Remus rather, is a friend of ours, he was bitten as a child. Sirius here took it upon himself when we started school to find out why he was disappearing once a month to visit sick relatives."
Sirius grinned, "And once we'd discovered, James, Peter and I," he spat Peter's name out, "secretly studied Animagi so we could keep Remus company during the full moon." He smiled at the memory of their first time transforming for Remus, he'd been so shocked and overwhelmed by the whole thing he hadn't been able to speak.
"Uh not to sound like the Spanish Inquisition but who are James and Peter, what's an Animagi, and more importantly, *how* did you get here?" Xander piped up from his place near Giles' desk.
Sirius and Giles shared a look, talking to Giles about the life they lead was one thing, but to bring in muggles and a werewolf would be solely up to Rupert. If he had been here since just after Harry had started at Hogwarts, and they knew nothing of his past, then that was Giles' decision and Sirius respected that. After a few minutes, during which Buffy, Willow, Xander and Oz all stood around in an awkward silence, Giles gave Sirius a curt nod and motioned for the others to find a place to sit.
Taking a deep breath, Sirius gave Giles a sad smile, "This looks like it could take us a while, why don't I just pop through here and organize some refreshments?" He turned on his heel and moved quickly to the kitchen, he'd let Giles take it from the beginning, explaining to them about Hogwarts and Dumbledore and how Sirius had arrived before joining them to explain about Voldemort and the War. He hummed softly to himself as he opened cupboards and draws, searching for a tea tray. But even his humming couldn't completely drown out the conversation being held in the next room, and he had to stop several times to swallow down the lump that formed in his throat when he heard tell of James and Lily. Finally, opening a cupboard above the oven, he felt tears pricking at his eyelids. There, at the very front was the silver tea tray that Lily, Remus, James, Isabella and Sirius had bought Giles just before he'd left for the Watcher's Academy. Engraved on the front was a stag, a wolf, a dog, a rabbit an owl and an eagle. As a rule, Sirius *never* cried, and so chastised himself as he scrubbed at his eyes with the back of his hand. Pulling it down, he set it on the counter top, a quick wave of his wand and the tray was laden with six bottles of butter beer, a bottle of Rosmerta's finest mead and a small plate of sweets.
"Well, here we are," he announced as he came back into the living room, setting the tray down on the coffee table, "Please, help yourselves. Although I do ask that you leave the cockroach clusters for Rupert and me." He chuckled as Giles all but dove for the sweet while the others turned several different shades of green. Rolling his eyes, Sirius reached over to the plate and eyed each of Rupert's friends. Grinning, he handed out the most 'normal' sweets, "A sugar quill for you," he beamed at Willow as he handed over the multicoloured sugar treat, "A chocolate frog for you," he handed Xander a frog, "You may want to be quick about it, and you may want to keep the card," he handed Oz a cockroach cluster, while they had all turned green at the mention of the name, Oz had still managed to look intrigued. Finally, turning to Buffy, he placed a handful of crystallized pineapple in her palm, before settling back with his own cluster.
Giles watched with a smirk as Oz bit into the sweet with no small amount of trepidation before nodding his head and quirking an eyebrow. Though, of all the Scoobies' reactions, Xander's was by far the most amusing. He'd opened the frog's packet carefully as though expecting something as revolting looking as the cockroach cluster, only to sigh in relief when it seemed to be a normal chocolate frog. That was until it tried to make a break for freedom; it jumped out of Xander's hand and clung to his shirt. Xander almost fell out of his seat, yelling in surprise and Willow screamed before shooting out of her seat to the other side of the room. When things had calmed down somewhat, the frog now stuffed in Xander's mouth, Sirius and Giles were still clutching their sides, laughing hysterically.
"Sirius did tell you to be quick about it Xander." He managed, trying to catch his breath, "Whom did you get on your card?" He leant across as Xander held it out to him; "I think the last card I ever got had Morgana on it." He smiled at the sight of the Wizard grinning back at him, "Albus." He sat back in his chair, a bottle of butter beer clutched tightly in his hand. He watched as Sirius handed out the remaining bottles before settling back, "Now, where was I?"
"You were telling us about the mirror over there," Buffy hiked her thumb over her shoulder, "and how it is or was the gate way between us and The Council." Her eyes narrowed at the thought of Quentin Travers and his crew of stodgy old men being able to get in contact with her whenever they liked.
"Ah yes, I think this could be my fault," Sirius smiled apologetically at Giles, who nodded.
"Only a few, very select people know the truth about the Archway," Giles began, "Myself, Wesley, Quentin Travers, the Minister for Magic and Albus Dumbledore whom is responsible for the Enchantments used on the Gateway."
Buffy looked even more annoyed that this information had been kept from her. Especially in light of what had happened in the last several months. "Then how did you know about it?" She asked, glaring at Sirius. It wasn't that she didn't trust Giles' judgment, it was simply that she didn't trust anyone who called themselves Giles' friend, with many thanks to Ethan Rayne.
"Ah," Sirius began, "There was a… scuffle… in the Chamber where the Archway is, and I took a dive so I could get my breath back, I accidentally lost my grip, I floated for a while, hoping Remus or Albus would reach in and pull me up until I landed here in Rupert's flat."
"Uh-huh." Buffy didn't look too convinced, "How do we know you're not just manipulating Giles into telling us a load of crap?"
Giles felt the tips of his ears burn bright red, standing up; he looked directly at Buffy, "Buffy, could I please talk to you for a moment?" He moved down the short hallway to the spare bedroom he used to house the books that had once lived in the High School Library, "Now." He ground out, stopping and waiting for her to move.
Grumbling, she moved after him quickly, slamming the door as she entered the room. "Well, I have a point Giles. For all we know he could be just as much a weasel as Ethan." She folded her arms over her chest and stared pointedly at her Watcher.
"It's endearing that you care for my safety Buffy, but I've known Sirius far longer then Ethan and it is safe to say that I know he is not lying."
Back out in the living room, Sirius looked towards the door that shut on one of his oldest and dearest friends, "Are they always like that?" He asked, turning to face the other three, smiling to see Xander testing out, albeit hesitatingly, one of the cockroach clusters.
"Pretty much," Willow answered, sucking on the tip of her Sugar Quill. "It's gotten worse since we blew up the High School."
Sirius' eyebrows nearly disappeared into his hair, "You blew up a High School?"
Willow nodded, "Well, Giles was the one who did the blowing up; we just fought off the vampires."
Sirius was impressed, during their time together at school; people often thought Remus was the most serious, the most level-headed, but that was because not a lot of people took note of Rupert Giles. The studious and quiet Hufflepuff had once confided in Sirius that the Sorting Hat had a terrible time of placing him in a house. He was devoutly loyal to any one he considered friend, incredibly smart and had courage to rival that of a lion. But it had been his loyalty that had one out in the end, swearing that no matter which house he would end up in, he would remain friends with those he'd met on the train, and so the Sorting Hat had cried Hufflepuff – much to the dismay of his cousin and new friends – but in the end that hadn't mattered a lick. So, the news that Rupert Giles, had blown up a school was amazing.
"So, Giles said you and he went to this Hogwarts place together," Xander managed around a mouthful of jelly slug. "He mentioned something about houses, but," he shrugged, "I still don't get it."
Sirius smiled, "Hogwarts is an amazing school, I'm not entirely sure how the process of weeding muggle born children and magical children and squib children out works but, when a child turns eleven, if they have any hint of magical ability, they receive a letter from the school, saying that they've been accepted into Hogwarts. The first years, equivalent to grade six, are sorted into houses. The house you are placed in becomes somewhat of your family while you're there." He could almost hear Remus laughing at him, sounding like McGonagall. "You eat at the same table, you share the same common room, and you live in each other's back pocket for the entire seven years you're at Hogwarts." Yes, there would have definitely been mocking had Remus just heard him.
"But Giles said you weren't in the same House as he was," Willow began, her brow furrowing as she tried to figure it all out.
"We weren't, Rupert was placed in Hufflepuff, his loyalty far outweighing his many other attributes. Most Watchers come from Hufflepuff or Ravenclaw, though you do get the odd Watcher or two who comes from Gryffindor or Slytherin." He smiled, wondering just what was going on down in the back room with Giles and Buffy, "Quentin, for example comes from Slytherin and Wesley Wyndam-Pryce comes from Ravenclaw, Rupert's grandmother, however, a Watcher and marvellous woman, was sorted into Gryffindor."
"What about Ethan Rayne?" Oz asked softly, sipping at his butter beer.
"Ethan Rayne was a Hufflepuff as well, though I sometimes wonder if the little prat shouldn't have been in Slytherin." He grimaced as he thought of Ethan Rayne, a name he hadn't heard in almost seventeen years. "I was placed into Gryffindor with Rupert's cousin James and our friend Remus."
Oz nodded and looked up as Buffy and Giles walked back into the living room, Giles looking a little too triumphant and Buffy looking very put out.
"I'm sorry if I was rude." She muttered, coming to stand in front of Sirius, "As a rule, I don't tend to like 'surprise' visits from Giles' old friends, they normally end up with someone getting hurt."
Sirius stood up and took Buffy's hand, giving it a warm shake, "That sounds rather fair, especially if you've had any run ins with Ethan Rayne, and from the look on Oz's face when I called him a prat I'd say you've had more then your fair share of problems with him."
Turning his head to look at Giles, he smirked, "There was no need to tell her off Rupert, she's protecting her family." Sitting down again, he conjured up several more bottles of butter beer and two glasses for the mead before pouring himself and Rupert a drink, "In the mean time, why didn't you tell me you'd blown up a school?" He clucked his tongue, "What would Professor Sprout say if she ever found out her dear Rupert had blown up a school?" Sirius laughed as Giles went bright red, his ears turning pink.
Sitting back down Giles became absorbed in staring at the amber liquid of Rosmerta's homemade mead. "The situation called for drastic measures, it was either blow up the school, or watch the world end."
Sirius nodded, "I'm sure you did the right thing, though, when I next see Madame Sprout, I'll be sure to let her know how her dearest Rupert blew up a school."
"You'll do no such thing Sirius Black," Giles looked up and glared at his former friend, taking note of the mischievous look in his eyes, "Or I'll tell her whom it was that snuck into her greenhouse and cast a freezing charm on the mandragora."
Sirius laughed, "You have no proof Rupert. In case you hadn't heard, that night I was studying for my Potions NEWT under the ever-watchful eye of one Remus John Lupin. And he *will* testify to that on a stack of bibles all etched with silver."
Giles shook his head, chuckling softly, The Marauders, still as thick as thieves.
The six of them remained seated in the living room for some time after that, the Scooby's pressing both Giles and Sirius for more information on their lives before Giles had left for the Watcher's Academy and for more information on their school. Even Buffy, after being chastised by Giles for her frosty behaviour towards Sirius had joined in the fun, teasing Giles along with the others when Sirius gave them more information then Giles had been willing to share in all the time they had known him.
It wasn't until the sun had gone down and the need for the lights to be flickered on, that the real trouble began. Buffy and Oz had been the first to notice the pair of bright dark eyes staring at them from the small window. "Giles?" Buffy's voice had gone soft, her hand automatically reaching for the stake she kept hidden in the waistband of her jeans.
Returning from the kitchen, followed by Sirius, both men laden down with more substantial food then sweets, Giles looked up, "Oh dear." He looked to Sirius and nodded to the window, a flash of bluish black plumage made them both turn slightly pale. "Nothing could have happened to Fawkes, surely?" Giles' voice was soft and worried.
"You don't think…" Sirius trailed off, his heart pounding against his ribcage.
"No, I'd have heard something long before now… I'm sure of it." He looked back to the window, "Buffy, could you please open the front door and let him in." Giles set their dinner down on the coffee table and reached for his wand. He watched cautiously as Buffy moved the door, her face a picture of perfect confusion to let the stately looking Raven inside.
It flew straight towards Sirius the moment the door had been pulled open, dropping a thick yellow envelope at his feet before turning to Giles and dropping another. With an impressive caw, it swooped once again and sat on the back of Giles' armchair, watching them with an intense gaze.
"What's going on?" Buffy asked once she'd shut the door and turned back to face them.
"This is Sorrow," Sirius told her, indicating the large black bird, now running his beak through his feathers. "He belongs to Albus Dumbledore, and is only ever used if something terrible has happened, normally a death." He turned to Giles who had bent to pick up his envelope, his hands trembling, "I saw Fawkes only this evening, he was in perfect health, you don't think…" He trailed off again as Rupert skimmed the letter he was now holding in his hand.
"No," both men breathed a sigh of relief. "Fawkes was hurt in an accident, according to Albus," he scanned the letter again, "Everyone is fine, Malfoy has been locked up along with several other Death Eaters, Bellatrix has once again escaped, and," Giles looked up, a small smirk pulling at the corners of his mouth, "Buffy you may want to open that door." He looked at Sirius who was now reading his own letter, colour coming back into his cheeks once more as he read that Harry and Remus, along with the other children and members of the order were all fine, if not a bit worse for wear.
Two seconds later, a rather gorgeous looking Eagle soared into the small flat, aiming straight for Sirius' head as though he were a delicious looking rodent. Xander coughed, Willow gave a small shriek and Sirius looked up, just in time to see brown eyes burning with a fiery rage and a tiny fist coming straight at his face.
"It's alright Buffy," Giles told her softly as she moved to stop the furious woman from beating Giles' friend to a bloody pulp. Stepping away as Sirius hit the hardwood floor, groaning in agony, "Sirius deserved that. Hello Izzy." Giles smiled at the young woman as she stopped, her small fist rose to hit Sirius again.
Isabella Skye was a gorgeous woman, even in a fit of rage. Her long dark hair hung in waves down her back, framing her heart shaped face and setting off her deep brown eyes which held a fire in them only those whom she cared deeply for could see. "Rupert," She smiled brightly at him, throwing her arms around him in a quick hug, "Good to see you, now… if you don't mind," she turned back to Sirius. "Get up before I break my own rule and kick a dog while he's down." Her voice rang out through the apartment; Giles could hear the hurt and love she felt for the man now trying to get back up off the floor underneath the anger.
Sirius stood up, a bruise already forming on his face where her fist had connected, "What in Merlin's name was that for?"
"You know very well what that was for Sirius Black!" Isabella growled, "How dare you take a dive like that! And in front of Harry no less!" She shook her head, "you are a selfish, arrogant, self absorbed bastard." She pointed her wand, "Levicorpus!"
Buffy, Willow, Xander and Oz all watched as Sirius was lifted off of his feet and hung upside down, Buffy and Willow trying not to giggle at the look of astonishment on Sirius' face, Xander and Oz both silently deciding that they would never want to cross the formidable woman.
"Rupert," Sirius managed, his face turning crimson as all the blood rushed to his head. "You couldn't give us a hand…"
"No Sirius," Giles cut his friend off, his eyes bright with amusement as he watched Sirius dangle there, "You deserve this, you know you do." He motioned for Isabella to continue, before turning to the others, "Why don't you four go out and patrol," he hurried to continue when Buffy opened her mouth to speak, "The three of us will be here when you return, I'm sure there may actually be more of us when you get back. Proper introductions will be done then." He ushered them out of his apartment, "And Buffy, do be careful." He felt his heart pound when she flashed him her one thousand watt smile.
"Always am, Watcher-mine." She hurried after the others as he shut the door.
"Okay," Xander was the first one to break the silence as they reached the street, "Anyone here think that it's strange that Giles has a friend who can turn himself into a dog, a friend who can turn herself into an eagle and a friend who – no offence Oz – is a werewolf?" He cast a sideways look at each of them.
"None taken." Oz murmured, "Though, his excitement when the werewolf issue first came up now makes some sense."
"I think its kinda neat," Willow smiled, "though, I can't believe Giles didn't tell me about that school. Imagine all the things I could have learnt, in a controlled environment and I wouldn't have to go sneaking around learning things behind Giles' back."
"Compared to hellhounds, master vampires, evil ex-boyfriends and giant snakes, this is definitely one of the less strange days we've had in a long while, although…" Buffy stopped and looked up at the others, "Did anyone else get the idea that there was something Giles wasn't telling us?" The others nodded in quiet agreement before beginning their sweep of the twelve local cemeteries.