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Protecting Harry

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It was all that bushy-haired little know-it-all’s fault. She just had to be better than everyone else and it made him angry. If she had just left him alone then he wouldn’t be here right now. Now Harry was blaming him for her not knowing there was a troll in the castle and the boy-wonder was dragging him along to help find her. According to Harry they were just going to try and find Hermione to warn her. So, here they were running through the halls of Hogwarts, like they knew where to go.

Ron had thought that being friends with Harry Potter would be safe. He had killed a dark lord after all, so no one would try and mess with him. They could all just relax and enjoy life. Not to mention the fame and perks that being famous brought. But no! Harry Potter seemed to have a desperate need to help and save people. First Neville and now Hermione. The Boy-Who-Lived seemed to have had a death wish.

The two boys skidded to a halt when they heard a scream. They ran down the hall, to the nearest girl’s bathroom, where they could hear a commotion inside. Harry pushed the door open carefully to reveal the huge mountain troll looming over a cowering Hermione Granger. The smell was awful.

Ron decided this wasn’t the life for him. So he left without a backward glance. He took off back the way he had just come. If Harry wanted to be a hero, he could bloody well do it without his help. He was out of here.

"Ron, any…," Harry started as he turned to ask his friend for help only to see him sharply turn the corner at the end of the corridor. Harry wondered what had gotten into him. Wasn’t Gryffindor the house of the brave? The timid boy shoved in the back of his mind for another time and turned to look at the huge monster in the bathroom. He had to figure out how to help Hermione. He wasn’t sure what he could do, small kid that he was.

That, and the bloody thing was huge!

Still, Hermione was in trouble. The poor girl was cowering under what used to be the bathroom sinks with a giant monster out to kill her. Harry noticed that the girls’ loo looked at lot like the boys’, which gave him pause. His aunt always went on and on about the comforts of women’s bathrooms. She would gloat on and on about how they had couches, and chairs. He then shook his head a such fleeting thoughts and turned his attention to the girl inside.

He needed to do something. Maybe distract the beast. Gathering up his courage, Harry flung the door open and ran inside. He yelled as loud as he could to try and distract the troll, then somehow leapt onto the huge beast’s back and began pounding away. It didn’t hurt the troll at all, probably no more than an annoying mosquito, but at least now the club wasn’t aimed at his sorta friend.

The mountain troll paused and began spinning in circles, attempting to see what was tickling his back; whatever it was, was turning with it. The troll reached behind to try and grab the annoyance, but it was out of reach. Round and round the two went, with neither having any luck. Harry was hanging on for dear life. His legs flew through the air, while his arms were locked firmly around the troll’s neck. The smell was still awful. He didn’t think he’d be able to hold his dinner, especially since it was mostly sweets. And eww the dirt and slime on this being’s neck was horrible. He might have to take a shower for a week. His wand was stuck in the troll’s nose, but he wasn’t going to let go to try and get it. The fall might kill him.

Hermione saw her savior, the young Harry Potter, and it looked like he might be in trouble. It was quite foolish of her year mate to try and take on a fully-grown mountain troll. Still, he was doing it for her. So, she gathered her Gryffindor courage and started hurling nearby pieces of porcelain debris at the creature. "Leave him alone!!!" she screeched, throwing a piece of the privy at the troll’s head. She hit her target, making it turn its attention to her. She quickly grabbed more pieces and threw them at the beast’s face, hitting him in the eye. The troll roared at her, but that didn’t stop her from throwing more. She feared she might die, but she wasn’t going to let Harry get crushed.

Just when both kids thought all was lost and wondering where the staff was, there was a strange noise. A loud bang and a flash of bright lights came from the only stall still standing.

"What the heck?" a male American voice queried to itself from inside the cubicle. "There are no bathrooms in this cave, or any cave come to think of it. Willow, did you cast a spell? I know you like your luxury, but…" the voice called out as the door opened. "Aw, man. It had to be me, didn’t it?" A tall man with longish brown hair, a sturdy build, and one eye complained when he had taken in what was going on.

The three combatants looked at one another. The troll roared, Harry squeaked and fell off its back, and Hermione cried, “Help!” She grabbed Harry and the two went to the corner, hoping the man could take care of the troll.

The man waved his hand in front of his nose and said, "Dude, you reek," He then reached up and ripped the wand from the troll's nose, causing the troll, who was so destructive moments before, to whimper.  The one-eyed man threw the stick away. Fortunately, towards the two kids.

Harry quickly picked it up and pointed it at the troll. He didn’t know what he could do, but if he could, he was going to help. Hermione drew her wand as well.

"Any chance you're gonna walk away peacefully?" the man asked, still wrinkling his nose at the odor.

The troll bellowed in anger at the newcomer.

"Yeah, I thought not," he said as he reached over his shoulder, making a sword appear from nowhere. The man sprang into motion as he shot between the beast's legs and sliced at the back of its knees, causing it to topple to ground, roaring with pain. Only its arms held it up, but the man sliced away at its elbows, causing the troll to fall to the floor. The man then placed the sword back over his shoulder and it vanished. He reached over his other shoulder to make an axe appear. With one single swoop, he chopped the defeated beast’s head off. The man placed his axe back over his shoulder, making it vanish just as several of the professors burst into the room. There was no pause as the man made two guns appear from his side, pointing them at the new intruders. He took a moment to wonder what the hell they were wearing.

"What on earth is going on?" Professor McGonagall demanded, taking in everything with a rapid glance. She sighed with relief at seeing her two lions unharmed but glared suspiciously at the unknown man in the room.

Confused, the outsider looked at the dead troll and the two scared kids and shrugged. "It looks like I am being a hero again. Stupid Scoobies,” he grumbled. “And the next person who pisses me off is going to get what he got," he said seriously as he kicked the dead troll.

"He saved us. We tried to fight off the troll, and then he came along and killed it. It was very brave of him," Hermione said as Harry nodded in agreement.

"We do not know who ‘he’ is, Miss Granger. We do not know if he is friend or foe. ‘He’ should not be here," Professor McGonagall said primly.

"Back at you, Lady,” the still unnamed man stated, not lowering his guns at all.

"I am Professor Dumbledore, the Headmaster of this school," the elderly man said placatingly. The man had, after all, just killed a mountain troll. "The lady you spoke to is my Deputy, Professor McGonagall. The other two men are Professors Snape and Quirrell."

"I'm Harry, and this is Hermione," Harry offered to their savior. It was only polite.

"This is a school?" the man asked dubiously as he looked around the demolished bathroom.

"One of the finest in the world," Professor McGonagall said proudly, which was rather ironic really after what had just happened.

"Okay, if this is the finest school in the world, then why are these two kids locked in a bathroom with that thing? You guys aren’t part of the Council, are you? That would not make me happier. We thought you were all dead," he stated, aiming at the oldest man. The last thing he needed was to run in to those guys. They thought most those control freaks were dead, but some could have survived the bombing. He had heard of a few zealots lurking about.

"Do not take that tone with me, young man. We were seeing to our duty and escorting the children to safety. Mr. Potter and Miss Granger left the group on their own. It is their foolishness that landed them in trouble," McGonagall declared angrily. While she was relieved to see them unharmed, she never did suffer fools, and only a fool would run around when there was a troll about.

"Since when is taking a leak foolish?" he asked derisively. Still not sure what the deal was.

"Mind your manners," the black clad greasy-haired man —Snape— snarled.

The man cocked one of his weapons, raised an eyebrow and asked, "Or what?"

"Or I will take away your muggle weapons, and throw you bodily from the castle," Snape growled, raising his wand in the man’s direction, only to jump when he hear a loud crack, and a slight wind whistle by his ear. Bits of plaster peppered his head, making everyone turn to see a hole in the wall behind the greasy-haired man.

"I’d like to see you try. I can put a hole in your head before you even move. Are you feeling lucky?" the man asked calmly, not once lowering his guns.

Harry dragged Hermione quickly to the corner. It should be safe there. Guns weren’t something you messed with.

"This seems to have gotten out of control. Perhaps, we can speak in my office, Mr.…?" Dumbledore stated leadingly. He didn’t know who this man was, but if he had such powerful weapons, maybe he could be useful.

"Xander. Just call me Xander," was the curt response.

"Mister Xander… I apologize for the misunderstanding. When we were informed that the children were missing, we endeavored to find them. As you can see, we arrived a tad too late. I am most happy that you came across them when you did,” the old man said, trying to reclaim the situation.

"Yeah, a tad. So, kids, what were you doing in here?” Xander asked, keeping his guns pointed at the slimy man, who was still glaring at him and pointing a stick at him. Xander had no clue why he was carrying a stick, but after his life on the Hellmouth, he wasn’t taking chances.

"Hermione didn’t know about the troll. She missed the feast, so me and Ron came to warn her," Harry said quickly. “I’m not sure what happened to Ron, though,” he added to explain why his friend wasn’t there.

"So… no kissy, kissy?" Xander asked with a smirk.

“Eww,” came the disgusted response from both the pre-teens.

“You were saying?” he asked the supposed teachers.

"Of course, they wouldn’t tell the truth. That boy was probably setting up a prank, just like his father,” the dark-dressed man said, turning his wand to Harry.  

"I do believe that is quite enough, Severus," Dumbledore said quietly, causing Snape to drop his wand, but not his glare.

Harry frowned. He wasn't angry at the slur, not really; he just wanted to know what that meant. He wished someone would tell him about his parents other than, he looked like his dad with his mum’s eyes. He wanted to know what they were like. Simple things. When did they graduate? When did they get married? What did they do for a living? Did they have any friends? Where were those friends now? He just wanted to know.

“So, where are the rest of the kids? And who’s looking after them?” Xander asked, relaxing his arms and lowering his guns. Though he still keep his eyes on ‘Severus’. His creepo radar was blaring. And if there was one thing Xander trusted, it was his creepo radar.

“They are safe in their dorms,” McGonagall answered as if it were obvious.

“You guys didn’t go looking for the troll. You just moved kids around? And didn’t go after the bigger threat?” the one-eyed man asked in disbelief.

“We had to find it,” she said defensively. Not liking that he was accusing them of misconduct.

“Lady, how could you miss it? It stank and was extremely destructive. Or did you think this bathroom came like this naturally?” he argued, waving his arms at the destroyed room.

“It’s not easy to kill mountain t-t-t-trolls," the man in the turban stated fearfully.

"Well, given I did it in under ten seconds, I’d say it’s not that hard," he said kicking the corpse.

"Actually… less than five," Hermione corrected timidly. She didn’t want to go against the teachers, but this man just saved their lives. She wasn’t about to let them disparage him.

"See? Less than five seconds."

"Lies,” Severus snapped. “These children wouldn’t tell the truth if…”

"Severus," Dumbledore interrupted firmly as he realized his Potions Master was not going to be helpful at the moment. “I do believe the rest of the staff should know that the danger has passed. Perhaps you and Quirinus, can do this.”

"Headmaster, you can’t be serious. This man just-"

"Professors,” was all Dumbledore said, causing the two men to leave. Well, one stormed and the other slinked, never turning his back on the rest. “Now, tell Mr. Xander, however did you come to be in this school?” he asked, after a minute of silence.

"I walked into a cave," Xander said bluntly. "In Africa.”

"That is… most disturbing," Dumbledore said, stroking his beard with a frown. "A portal that leads from Africa to this room," he hummed in thought. It would have to be a new portal, since it had never happened in all his years here.

"I don’t think it was a permanent one. There were people ahead of me, and a few behind me, but I’m the only one here. I’m just fates, buttmonkey," the young man sighed, wondering everything seemed to happen to him.

"Still, best to be sure. Minerva, would you escort Mister Potter and Miss Granger to their dorms?" the Headmaster suggested to his deputy. He would go to his office, and then question this gentleman more thoroughly.

"Of course, Albus. Follow me, children," she ordered crisply and turned smartly out of the room.

Harry and Hermione reluctantly followed. They wanted to know more about the man who appeared out of nowhere and cut up a troll. They gave one last look and trailed after McGonagall.

"If you will follow me, I will seal this room and we can adjourn to my office to discuss this further," Albus offered, waving his hand to the doorway. Xander shrugged put his guns into his pocketspace. Dumbledore lifted an eyebrow but held off his questions for now. He turned and sealed the doorway. “This way,” he said as he turned right.

As they walked, Xander noted there was no indication that electricity was used in the stone castle. There were no lightbulbs, sockets, or wires of any kind. He had a sinking feeling that phones would not be available either. Heck, he wasn’t even sure he was in the right dimension. The portraits followed them as they moved along. And he was sure he saw a ghost or two.  This was creepier than Sunnydale on a full moon.

Eventually, they arrived at a stone gargoyle that moved out of the way at Dumbledore's password. The old man showed him to his office and offered him a seat, which he took. The office was just as disturbing as the walk there, with the mumbling pictures, and the large fire-red bird. His hand kept itching to grab his axe and start chopping.

"Can you tell me what year it is?" he asked as politely as he could. Hopefully, it wasn’t as bad as he thought. There had been plaster in the bathroom, and the invention of that wasn’t that far in the past.

"October 31st, 1991,” the Headmaster informed him. He wondered why the young man needed to know that. Had the troll hit him on the head?

"Shit," Xander muttered, doing some minor calculations.

"You believe you have traversed time?" Albus postulated. Time travelers were rare, indeed. And for muggle to travel time was unheard of.

"Yeah, from the look of this joint I thought it was much further. I’ll just have to wait a little while to contact my friends," Xander sighed, a bit put out that he was alone. Too bad he was in the wrong country for the lotto numbers; he could make a killing.

"Actually, you're in the wrong reality," a familiar voice said as a slender woman with strawberry blonde hair appeared in the chair next to him. She gave him a bright smile and it was reassuring.

"Mrs. Summers?" Xander said in shock. He hadn’t seen her in years. Not since she died. He was completely shocked to see her now. He truly hoped she wasn’t going to haunt him.

Albus started slightly, but the strange red bird started chittering happily.

"Oh, I think after everything we’ve been through you can call me Joyce!" she stated, wagging her finger at him with a mock frown.

"Yes, ma'am," he said, grinning madly. “Anyway, I can get back?”

"No, I’m afraid I need you for this mission," she said, sitting back and adjusting her skirt as she crossed her legs. She hoped he wasn’t too disappointed, but she really needed him here for this. She cut a glare at the headmaster, which only Xander caught.

"And the mission I was on?" he asked warily. In his previous mission, he was baby slayer recruiting, and demon slaying. Who was going to take over for him? How long would it take until they knew he was gone? Well, he would miss his check-in call tomorrow, so it might not be too bad. But, Buffy and Willow would fret. Giles would clean his glasses, and Dawn would cry.

"Don’t worry, I let Giles know," she informed him, patting his leg at his loyalty. And hadn’t that taken a bit of magic? Not to mention the portal. It wasn’t as if she could pick up a phone and call. No, she had to make two portals, the first small, so only voices could get through. And then the second one that brought Xander here.

"You drafted me?" he asked in outrage.

"I am so sorry, honey, I know what you were doing was important. But Xander, I really need help and you are the only one I knew who could handle it," she said, pleadingly.

"Damn, don’t look at me like that. You remind me of your daughter," he whined, still somewhat annoyed at being manhandled across realities. But for Joyce, he’d do as she asked.

"Sorry, but could you see Buffy and Willow just letting you go?" she stated with understanding eyes. She loved her daughter, she really did, but the way she and Willow treated Xander was appalling sometimes.

"Point," he conceded. If they knew he was leaving, they’d never let him go. For some reason, even though he had been in Africa for years, they still felt he couldn’t take care of himself. Sometimes their smothering was overwhelming.

"Excuse me, I must ask, who are you and how did you come to be in my school?" Albus interrupted. This was not a good day, he was not used to being unaware of so many things happening.

"My name is Joyce Summers, my daughter was one of Xander’s best friends," she said fondly as she reached over and took Xander's hand.

"How does that pertain to you being in my office?” the old man asked with a great deal of frustration. Two unknowns wandering about his castles was enough to fluster him a bit.

"That’s because I am your office. You may call me, Lady Hogwarts," Joyce stated airily as if he should have already known that. Not that he could have. She hid very well from those she didn’t trust completely. And she didn’t trust Albus Dumbledore at all.

To say the Headmaster was gobsmacked was an understatement. He had heard rumors of this woman, but had put it off as just that, rumors. If she had been real, then why had she never come to him? Yet, here she was sitting in front of his desk, claiming to be Hogwarts.

"That sounds like something that crawled out of the Hellmouth. Hogwarts, really? Maybe it’s a description of something Buffy would cook," Xander said with a disgusted look.

“It is the name of this school," Albus said somewhat absently still going over the woman’s claims of being the embodiment of his school.

"That doesn’t make it sound any pleasanter,” Xander declared with a raised eyebrow. Turning to Joyce he asked. "So, what mission? Does it involve demons? Cause, I got to tell you, I’d rather Buffy were around if it does. She’s the leader of our little army."

"No, no demons. Unless you classify Harry Potter as a demon. He's just coming up the stairs." Joyce smiled fondly at the door.

A few seconds later, an irate Minerva McGonagall burst through the doors with Harry and Hermione behind her. She was just about to start ranting when she noticed the strange woman.

"Harry is my mission?" Xander asked with a sigh. He made the leap from teenage girls to preteen boys… at least he wouldn't have to worry about female problems this time.

"Yes,” she concurred. “He has had a hard life, and there’s a prophecy."

"Ms. Summers, I must ask that you stop right now. I do not know how you came to have such knowledge, but it should not be revealed at this time," Albus said sternly, quickly trying to figure out if he had a leak, and if so, how to prevent this woman from disrupting his carefully laid plans.

"Bite me, Dumbles," Joyce said with venom.

"Me-ow!" Xander declared with a grin.

"I could tell you some stories about this man’s hubris. He keeps things quite close to the vest. Harry deserves to know. His saving people instincts are just as bad as yours!" Joyce said angrily.

"I don’t want people to get hurt or die. Besides, they’re my friends!" Harry said defiantly. He wasn’t going to be told he was wrong for saving people, especially his friends.

"Harry, dear, I’m not saying it’s wrong. I’m just saying that I don’t like the way some people treat you. You remind me so much of Xander. He was always going off saving others with little thought to his own wellbeing or little reward," Joyce said, pulling the small boy into a hug.

Xander noticed Harry’s reaction. He stiffened up so much, the one-eyed man was afraid he might break.

Joyce looked over at Xander as if to say, ‘See what I mean’, knowing what the one-eyed-man had noticed. The motherly woman then released Harry as two more chairs materialized in the office and she led the two children to sit down.

McGonagall huffed and conjured her own chair next to Dumbledore’s. She had no idea what was going on, who this woman was, or how she got herded to this office. However, her feet were killing her, and she could find out just as well sitting down.

"Harry, Xander is here to protect and train you. The man who murdered your parent is still… well, not alive, but around. Xander is going to help you get to where you can protect yourself, and your friends," Joyce explained softly, hoping the boy didn’t feel crowded, or overwhelmed.  

"Ms. Summers!" Albus bellowed, making everyone jerk in reaction. "I must insist you stop at once. I will make you do so if I must," he stated firmly, lifting his wand.

"You know what? I’m tired of you. I think it’s time you took a vacation. Perhaps you could use the time to reflect on how badly you screwed up, and how you might fix that in the future,” the embodiment of Hogwarts stated, waving her hand and making the old man disappear.

McGonagall was shocked, and very worried. She still didn’t know what was going on, and who this woman was. However, Albus seemed to be wary of her. “Excuse me, but just who are you people and what did you do the Headmaster?”

"Don't worry, Minerva. I just sent Albus outside the school gates," Joyce explained at the woman’s worried look. “He’ll be back, ruining people’s lives in no time.”

"That does not explain who you are.”

"For all intents and purposes, I’m Hogwarts."

Minerva looked to Xander hoping for an explanation… or even a pinch to wake her up from this surreal dream.

"Don’t look at me, I just got here." Xander shrugged as he looked expectantly at Joyce.

Joyce sighed. "When I was dying a funny little man named Whistler came to me and told me my time was up… there. He said the Powers That Be had use of me elsewhere. That I could help a magical community in a different dimension flourish. I came here a thousand years ago, and one thing led to another and now I am Hogwarts. I usually stay mostly asleep, like a light nap, but when war comes I awaken and help protect the castle. I think I’ve been completely awake five times over the millennium. Anyway, I woke up when that Voldemort man was causing havoc. I’ve been partially awake for fifty years now. Only interacting when I’m needed," she explained, hitting the highpoints.

She had actually played a part in a few wars before she went to sleep, centuries ago. By the time she woke this last time, Tom Riddle had been killing people. She had thought to tell McGonagall about him, but the woman had been too focused on Dumbledore’s vigilante group. She had left clues to who the man was, but they were all ignored. So, she waited. Now, that Harry was here, she could take steps to stop the upcoming war.

"So why am I here if you protect the castle?" Xander asked her.

"Part of my duty is to ensure the safety of my occupants. The last decade or so, I have tried to subtly communicate with Dumbledore, but he is too caught up in making Harry a martyr. If I had come out and said, ‘Hey, I’m the school, and you should listen to me,’ he would have dismissed me out of hand. Now his plans include Harry, and I won’t stand for it. Harry comes from a home that is far more abusive than even yours. It was what I learnt from Albus Dumbledore that made me ask for you. You see, Harry's parents died trying to protect him when he was a baby, ten years ago, today. The man who killed them used the same curse on Harry. It’s usually instantly fatal, but it backfired and destroyed his body leaving him as a wraith. Unfortunately, this made Harry part of a prophecy that says Harry has to vanquish this wizard," she explained, holding Harry loosely about the shoulders.

"I have to kill someone?" Harry asked in horror as Minerva and Hermione gasped.

"Not if I have anything say about it. Xander here breaks prophecies, which is why I brought him here," Joyce told the young boy, giving him a gently squeeze.

"It's getting late. Perhaps we could continue this tomorrow?" Minerva suggested as Hermione failed to stifle a yawn.

“That’s a good idea,” Joyce stated, seeing everyone trying to keep awake. “I’ll take them to where they are sleeping. You should go as well. We’ll talk about Albus tomorrow.”

“We’re not sleeping in our dorms?” a confused Hermione asked.

“No, but let’s talk about it when we get there,” Lady Hogwarts stated, shuffling everyone out the door.

Chapter Text

“Aw, man, I don’t have anything, Joyce. You just plucked me out of Africa and my bag is back at the hut I was using,” Xander complained as Joyce led them through the deserted halls. Their footsteps echoed off the walls as made their way. Joyce’s high heels clipped along as his boots resounded with heavy ‘thunks’. The kids’ school shoes were quieter, but not by much. The relocated man was still a bit creeped out by the portraits, but he was getting used to it. He would have to remember to curb his remarks around them, though. Last thing he needed was for the whole place to know his business. He was well aware of how fast gossip spread among teens. The Slayers were the worst, in his opinion.

"Don't worry, Xander,” Joyce assured him. “I have plenty of money. Remember, I’ve been saving for a millennium. Buffy and Dawn couldn’t spend it all, and you know how my daughters can shop."

"Why did you send the Headmaster away?" Hermione asked Joyce worriedly. How was the school supposed to function without a headmaster? How did this woman have the power to do that?

“He was going to try and hurt me. Didn’t you notice his wand pointed at me? Besides, I’m still mad at him for not interfering with the Dursleys,” Joyce said angrily. Year after year she had to listen to that Figg woman complain about Harry’s treatment, but that old fool did nothing to stop it.

"You know about that? How?" Harry asked nervously. He didn’t want anyone to know about that. Of course, she had indicated that she knew back in the office, but how? Was it some super-secret magical spying spell? He really hoped not. He hated it when people watched him. Being alone in a cupboard for hours on end left him wary of crowds. He had had a hard-enough time sleeping the last two months with so many boys in his dorm room.  

"Let’s just say there was someone keeping an eye on you. Dumbledore kept telling them that you were in the safest place, and that a bit of hardship wouldn’t hurt you in the long run,” she answered, running her hand through his hair. She kept it vague, so that he wouldn’t freak out at the fact that his babysitter was a spy. He just didn’t need to know that. She would tell him soon, but right now he already felt betrayed. She didn’t want to add to that. A little while longer wouldn’t hurt.

"I’m going to kill him,” Xander growled as he spun around and started heading back down the stairs. Only for the stairs to start moving away from the floor they started on. "Come on, Joyce. Let me go and kill him. He’s worse than Travers. At least Buffy was a teenager."

"No! You’re supposed to protect Harry. He’s more important right now. You focus on him and let me take care of Albus," Joyce admonished, then turned and walked forward, the other following behind.

"Dammit! Okay, fine," Xander sulked, making his way back to the group. “But, I’m keeping my eye on that man. One hair out of place on Harry’s head, and I’m taking Dumbledore down,” he grumbled.

“I —ummm— well, if Harry needs a place away from the people that hurt him, he can stay with me. Well, I’d have to ask my parents, but I’m sure they wouldn’t mind,” Hermione stated softly. She was appalled at what they were suggesting. The boy who just saved her had been abused. She would make sure that her parents knew that it was important. But she would have to word it in such a way that she didn’t outright tell them that he was mistreated. That was his story to tell.

"That’s very kind of you, sweetie. Can you ask about Xander as well? He needs to stay with Harry. If they have questions about that, then have them write to me or Xander," Joyce said happily as they reached the portrait of a large woman sleeping in a chair.

"Thanks, Hermione," Harry mumbled, shuffling his feet with embarrassment. He never really had someone offer him shelter before. If it could get him away from the Dursleys, then he would be grateful. He felt a hand land on is shoulder and jerked as he looked up to see Xander smiling down to him in encouragement. He tentatively smiled back and turned towards Ms. Summer.

"Okay, Xander, this is the Gryffindor dorm," Joyce said, indicating the sleeping portrait of the Fat Lady. "It’s where the kids slept, but they will be sleeping in your spare rooms now," she said, leading them back down the hall and to the left. She wanted him to know all the dorms, and she would tell him in the days to come. But, the Gryffindor dorm was near where he was going to live.

"What spare rooms?" Xander asked absently as they stopped in front of a stationary knight's armor.

"The ones I’m going to give you. Don’t worry I think you’ll like the place,” she said with a bright smile as she stopped in front of a suit of armor. “This is Jarvis, he will guard your rooms. Jarvis, I need the rooms now.”

"It’s finally time?" the armor asked, knowing that this set of rooms had been set aside for a thousand years, just waiting for this day. He seemed quite very pleased that it was happening.

"Yeah, I want to thank you for being so patient and guarding them," Joyce said kindly. “This is Xander and his wards. They’re tired, so I introduce you tomorrow.”

"Xander? As in Xander Harris?" Jarvis asked in awe. Xander looked a little worried as Joyce nodded her head happily. She was practically bouncing like a little girl with her favorite toy.

"Hey, Jarvis, ummm, how did you know my name?" Xander asked with a raised eyebrow. Now he had some indication as to why the portraits were following him around. If Joyce was going around telling tales of his exploits in Sunnydale, then they might have the wrong idea about him.

"During summer cleaning, when she’s awake, Joyce tells us fascinating stories about you and your friends. I say, I’m glad it’s you that come and not Buffy. While she sounds like a lovely girl, she sounds a bit destructive. From what Joyce says anyway," the armor said, with a bit of awe. “Now, you’re here, and I can’t wait to see how things will change.”

“The password will be ‘hellmouth’,” Joyce said, laughing at Xander’s thunderstruck face.

Jarvis stepped aside to reveal a doorway. Joyce opened the door and they all stepped inside, only for everyone to freeze in shock.

"This is so cool," Xander stated as he looked around a room that was definitely not part of the castle. He was shocked to find himself standing in the Summers' living room. A house he hadn’t seen since the destruction of Sunnydale. Everything looked just like it had when Mrs. Summers had been alive. Right down to the television on the wall. The pictures were the same. The art that she brought home from her gallery stood on the mantle and adorned the walls. The furniture, that had been ruined after she passed, was all in pristine condition. His heart swelled from all the good memories this room brought back.

"I thought you might like a sense of familiarity, I know I do." Joyce grinned, patting him on the shoulder as she headed for the kitchen to make hot cocoa.

“Why does Xander need a password? I mean, do the teachers need one as well?” Hermione asked, looking around the house and feeling quite a home. Still it was amazing that this place was in the castle.

“It’s to keep things private. Students are nosy, and they will always try to sneak places they shouldn’t be to satisfy their curiosity. Speaking of which, Xander, remind me that I need to speak to you before you go to bed. Anyway, Patrice, the Fat Lady, knows who should go in to the Gryffindor dorm, but in order to give you children a sense of responsibility she has to ask,” Lady Hogwarts explained, leading them to the living room where they could all sit.

"That sounds reasonable," Hermione said frowning in thought as she set her cup on the coffee table. This whole evening was nothing but a huge blow to what she knew about Hogwarts.

They all sat deep in thought for a few minutes, sipping their cocoa. Each thinking of different things. Xander his new reality. Joyce on what to do with Dumbledore, Hermione was wondering how much of Hogwarts: A History was correct. Harry was thinking maybe for once in his life he might be able to trust an adult.

"Okay, Hermione, you go wash up first and then bring me your brush. I'll do your hair while Harry washes up," Xander said with a yawn as he stretched. It had been a long day before he was dropped here. Africa did not have a friendly climate, and that cave had had many traps and defenses. Now, here he was with a new set of responsibilities and worries. He just wanted to go to bed and think about it all in the morning.

"Do what with my hair?" Hermione asked concerned, hoping he wasn’t thinking about cutting it or anything. While her hair was frizzy, she liked the length.

"Brush it, of course. You don't usually brush your hair and tie it up before bed?" he asked, giving her a weird look.

"No!" she said as if he was crazy. In her experience brushing it just made it worse.

"Well, that explains why your hair is so frizzy," the one-eyed man sighed. "Joyce, you had two girls, you want to explain it to her?"

"How do you know about girls’ hair?" Harry asked him while Joyce explained the benefits of nightly hair brushing and braiding to an increasingly excited Hermione.

"I spent the past year travelling with a bunch of teenage and pre-teenage girls. Each night I had major hand cramps after having to brush their hair. I learned a lot of female secrets, which I promise to share with you when you’re older. Trust me it’s stuff you want to know," Xander said with a serious nod.

Harry just nodded, taking the man’s word for it. He had no clue how to act around people. In his experience they were all either bullies, just plain cruel, or just didn’t care. His ‘family’ didn’t really teach him much about human interactions.

A half an hour later, after Joyce showed them the around house, Harry finished up getting ready for bed, and out of habit, and because he was exhausted, he made his way downstairs and headed straight for the small cupboard under the stairs.

"Harry, what are you doing?" Xander asked with a great deal of confusion.

"Oh… I forgot… that is, I… usually…" he stammered, forgetting that he had a room assigned. Old habits were hard to break, and he was dead tired.

"Don’t worry, honey, it’s an easy mistake. Just remember you never have to sleep in a cupboard again," Joyce said calmly, putting her arm around his shoulders and leading him back to the living room.

"What?!" Xander asked sharply, sitting up angrily. "You slept in a cupboard. When I get my hands on those… argh, I can’t even think of the appropriate word. And I lived on a Hellmouth, so that’s saying something."

"You won't hurt them, will you?" Harry asked, worried that Xander might get in trouble for doing something illegal.

"There are many ways to bring someone down without bringing out an axe,” Xander stated as he paced angrily. Suddenly lights started flashing, and an alarm started to blare. “What the hell?” the angry man yelled over the noise, wondering what was going on now, and hoping rather unrealistically that it wouldn’t involve him.

"It’s the chastity alarm," Joyce sighed as she stood up. "Harry, Hermione, wait here, we'll be back in a few minutes." She led Xander back to the kitchen and to a door, that in Sunnydale, would have led outside. "This door will lead you to where you need to go. Think of it as a portal," she smirked, knowing he wasn’t going to like this. But it was one way to establish who he was and what he was going to be doing here. He couldn’t just stay as a bodyguard to Harry. He needed to have some function for the whole school, it was the rules.

"Really, Joyce, a chastity alarm? What have you gotten me into?” the poor man asked indignantly, grabbing the door and yanking it open. Sure enough, and slightly disappointedly, it looked like a portal.

"It’s your price of admission. You, my friend, are now the Head of Security," she grinned as she led Xander through. The blue and bronze common room contained multiple kids of both sexes. He hoped he didn't need to carry out an interrogation. "That way," Joyce said, indicating the flashing torch lights that led up a set of stairs.

Jogging up the stairs with an air of resignation, Xander found two older students looking very sheepish and stuck under a spot light. "Okay, you two look innocent,” he snarked. “Can we turn off the light and alarm? I think we’ve found the bad guys," he asked the air. They vanished, leaving him, Joyce and the two kids standing there. The one-eyed man had no idea what to say. Which led to the kids getting more nervous as the strange man and woman just stood there glaring at them.

"It wasn’t us!" the boy suddenly blurted out as he attempted to right his shirt, and subtly fix the rest of his clothes.

"Right, so you were performing a comedy routine, and that’s why you were under a spotlight?" Xander asked sarcastically, noting the boy’s movements. He so didn’t want this responsibility. "Dammit, Joyce, is there a rule book?" he grumped. He knew how to deal with the younger female population, but both at the same time was a bit much.

"Yes, I’ll get you a copy," Joyce confirmed, then decided to let the poor man off the hook, this time. "You know the rules. Above the waist and over the clothes!" she recited to the frazzled couple. "And you, young lady, should not be in a boy’s dorm room," she declared, pointing at the girl. “I really need to fix that,” she mumbled to herself.

"Yes ma'am. Ummm, who are you?" the girl asked as she suddenly realized they had no idea what position these two adults held. She had never seen either one of them before, and she was sure she knew the entire staff.

Xander, wanting to confirm his position, leaned over to glare at them. "I am the new Head of Security. If I find myself disturbed again because of something like this, I'll start cutting off bits and breaking out the chastity belts! AM I CLEAR?" he roared, intimidating the kids. He wanted to make sure he was completely understood.

"Yes, sir!" they both cried, jumping to their feet and clutching one another in fear. 

"Good. Spread the word," Xander said calmer as he started pushing the boy out the door of the dormitory with Joyce dragging the girl. He stomped out of the portrait leaving a frightened group of kids in the common room. "So, just to clarify, you dragged me away from my life of dealing with super-powered girls… to corral a bunch wand-waving magic children, of both genders? Do you know how hard it was to keep the Slayers in line?" he all but snarled. It had been hard enough to keep Slayers in line, especially the new ones. Now this.

"Erm… I suppose you could put it that way," Joyce said with a sheepish smile.

"You're lucky I love ya, Joyce," he said with a sigh, pulling her into a hug. "We really missed you, you know. Things weren’t the same after you died," he said as he felt all his emotions over seeing her again come out. “Buffy almost lost it a time or two, but she’s a trooper and pulled it all together. She still keeps Dawn on the straight and narrow.”

"Sorry I'm late," Minerva huffed breathlessly, causing the scene to fall apart.

"Not to worry, Minerva. We took care of it," Joyce assured her, patting the poor woman’s back. "This is now part of Xander's duties."

"Please, tell me this doesn’t happen often,” Xander begged. He hated to break up kids like that. He wasn’t that far gone from teenagerhood to not remember how young love felt. However, he knew that someone had to monitor it, or there would be unwanted babies everywhere. He just hoped Sex Ed. wasn’t part of his new job.

"No, it usually happens once or twice a year. Or after harrowing events," Minerva explained, finally catching her breath.

"Great, just as bad as Slayers. If things are going as bad a you predict, then those numbers are going to jump," Xander sighed looking at his best friend’s ghostly mom.

“I do hope not,” Minerva sighed, but she got the feeling it just might.

Joyce and Xander headed back to Harry and Hermione and put them to bed.

"Will I always be staying here instead of the dorms?" Harry asked softly as Xander showed him where to sleep. He really hoped so. Somehow, this place felt like a home, even more so than the Gryffindor dorms did.

"Yes. I need you close just in case something happens. It sounds like Hermione will be staying too, so you'll have a friend nearby," Xander said reassuringly.

"Oh, okay," Harry said as he sank under the covers. "Night, Xander."

"Night, Harry," Xander said as he left, closing the door behind him. He waited in the hall for Joyce to finish with Hermione. “You wanted to talk to me about something?” he asked with a wide yawn.

“Yeah, it goes with your new job. There’s something in the castle that we need to take care of, but not tonight. Maybe when the kids to go bed tomorrow,” she said, leaning against the wall.

"Sure. Do I need to bring my axe?”

“Wouldn’t hurt.”

“I’m hitting the hay. Are you sure you don't want your room?" he asked even as he headed towards that room.

"Thanks, but no. I don't sleep. I’m just absorbed back into the castle when I’m not needed," she smiled. "Get some sleep, Xander, you have a lot to learn tomorrow and I have to help Minerva figure out how that troll got in the building." She pointed to the bedroom door and gently nudged him in that direction.

"Okay, night, Joyce," he said, giving her one last hug before heading for his new bed. It had been a long day, and it didn’t look like it was going to get easier from here on out.

The following morning, Xander woke up at the most ungodly hour of 6 a.m. He hadn't slept in a real bed in over six months and he had wanted to sleep in. Unfortunately, his inner alarm clock seemed to have other ideas. He got up and found a sleepy Harry and Hermione wandering down the hallway.

"Okay, there is only one bathroom in this joint so…" he started, going over in his head about schedules and stuff. He had a lot of experience from when they had all holed up in this very house when the First Evil was running about. If he remembered correctly there were over 12 females and 3 males. Spike didn’t count, as he didn’t need the restroom. It had been hell on the plumbing. “Hermione you go last, since you probably need more time. Harry, go first and try not to use all the hot water. I’ll go next, I’m used to either warm or cold showers. Then when we’re all done, we’ll meet downstairs.”

“You know, Xander, I could just magic up some more bathrooms,” Joyce said as she appeared next to them.

“Yeah, but then they’d never learn to share. It’s much better to get on a schedule than to go through school, not learning that valuable lesson,” he stated going down the stairs.

“Well, let me know if you change your mind,” she said as she followed him. They headed to the kitchen, Xander in search of coffee, while Joyce kept him company.

Following Xander’s schedule, they were soon seated in the living room as the two kids went through their books and made sure they were set for the day. Xander and Joyce were going over what they needed to do today. "Breakfast is eaten in the Great Hall. I’ll show you the way. You’re going to need to learn the layout of the castle, but until then we’ll help," she informed Xander, and then turn to Harry. "Xander needs to get into your usual routine. Professor McGonagall might want to see us as— speak of the devil!" she exclaimed as a knock on the front door interrupted her.

Xander headed over and opened the door to find Minerva standing there. He stood to the side offering the standard Sunnydale invitation, and Minerva stepped over the threshold.

"You must be quite the powerful wizard to perform transfigurations of this magnitude," the Transfiguration teacher said awestruck. In all her many years at this school she had never seen such a feat that could be done in one night. The details were a marvel in and of themselves.

"Me? No, I'm just a carpenter. Joyce did this." Xander said, waving to the woman in question. “While I could probably do this if I had the right equipment. It would take me months and a full crew,” he finished as he led her further into the house.

Minerva looked at Joyce in surprise.

"I am a magical building," Joyce smirked.

"I see," Minerva said as she sat in one of the free armchairs. "Breakfast will begin shortly, will you both be attending?"

"Yes, Xander needs to get used to Harry's routine, so he knows where he is at all times. Then he’ll back off and eat with the staff. The sooner we do this the better. We don't want to disrupt his life too much," Joyce said while indicating Harry, who was sitting and listening to what was being said about him.

"Harry, where's your comb? Or brush?" Xander asked the scruffy-haired boy, noting his rat’s nest of a hair style.

"I don't have one," the boy shrugged. He never really needed one, his hair did what it wanted.

The one-eyed man started to growl low in his throat. "Let me guess, your uncle and aunt never bought you one?" he asked.

"No, sir," Harry said with a bit of shame. He never liked to talk about his treatment at the hands of the Dursleys.

"I'm just Xander, Harry," Xander said, patting the couch next to him so Harry would sit there.

"Here, Xander, I've finished Hermione's hair," Joyce said, tossing the brush to him.

"Lice?" he asked as he caught it, looking at it dubiously.

"Magic!" she grinned. “Really, Xander, it’s something you’re going to have to get used to. Magic can do many wonderful things. In this case, keep parasites off heads. We learned that the hard way, way back when,” she said blissfully, her eyes glazed a bit in remembrance.

Xander had Harry between his knees and was brushing his hair while Minerva and Hermione quizzed Joyce on the castle and herself. "I don’t know what’s different about your hair, but it just won’t cooperate," the older man chuckled as he once more brushed the hair back, only for it to fall over the boy’s eyes again.

“Perhaps a haircut might help,” McGonagall said, eyeing the boy’s hair with interest.

“No, it just grows back overnight,” Harry sighed. He really would like to control his hair.

"Really?" Minerva asked curiously. "Mr. Potter, bring your brush over here for me," she ordered gently. With a gentle push from Xander, Harry shuffled over and relinquished his brush. After a few minutes careful brushing and examination, she sat back and let out a huge breath. "I know what the problem is. Well, not a problem, but I do know someone who can help. I’ll contact her after classes. For now, just do your best, dear," she told the young boy kindly.

After finishing with their preparations and going over what would be said to the students, the five left the house within the castle and went to breakfast. The Great Hall fell silent as they entered. All eyes focused on Xander. Rumors had been flying fast about the one-eyed man who had ripped a troll to pieces with his bare hands and nearly did the same to two students. Being teenagers —and humans—of course they believed the outlandish tales.

Minerva quickly strode to the front of the staff table with the other four hot on her heels. "If I could have your attention, for a moment, please," she requested somewhat redundantly, as every face was already locked on their arrival. "I have a few announcements to make. Firstly, the gentleman  next to me is Mr. Xander Harris. He is Mr. Potter's new guardian and bodyguard. He will be the new Head of Security. Secondly, the woman you see here,” she pointed to Joyce, “is Joyce Summers, and she is going to be around the castle helping where she can. Finally, Professor Dumbledore has taken a short sabbatical and will return shortly. I am in charge until then. This should have no bearing on your classes. Please, continue with your breakfast." And with that, Minerva took her seat at among the staff, where she was instantly bombarded by questions.

Xander and Joyce followed Harry and Hermione to their seats at the Gryffindor table. The two adults found themselves fielding as many questions as the kids were. The Gryffindor students were all eager to hear more about their fight and to find out more about new ‘staff members’.

Ron glared at his friend. “You chose Hermione over me,” he growled, like he was not the one who left a friend in trouble.

“What? You’re the one who left,” Harry declared, put out that his friend was trying to make him the bad guy.

“There was a mountain troll in that bathroom,” the redhead defended.

“Look, Hermione was in trouble. I couldn’t just leave her there,” the dark-haired boy exclaimed.

“I’m confused,” Xander said, breaking the two boys apart, “I thought Gryffindor was the house of chivalry?” he said, turning to Joyce for confirmation.

“It is,” she concurred.

“Then how is leaving a girl alone with a troll chivalrous?” he asked, turning back to Ron.

“I’m just a kid, that troll was huge,” Ron stated, folding his arms in a defiant way.

“Okay, I get that, but so’s Harry,” Xander pointed out.

“He did alright,” was the mulish reply.

“You just keep telling yourself that,” the one-eyed man stated, ending the conversation. He turned talk back to what happened last night and how the troll was defeated, and the students hung on every word.

Transfiguration was the first class of the day, and Xander couldn’t wait to see the students try and turn something into something else. He hoped that it wasn’t human transfiguration. He still remembered when Amy had spent several years as a rat, while Buffy a few hours. And then there was the time Giles spent the day as a demon. And who can forget that Dawn used to be blob of energy. None of them had been happy about that but looking back he could see that Sunnydale had prepared him well for this world of magic.

He watched the class try to turn a match into a needle, and briefly wondered when that would be handy. He figured it was a baby step to the main event. He wandered the class and came across a young man sitting isolated in the back to the class. Whether or not it was from bullying or shyness, he didn’t know. Either way the kid looked like he was having harder time then the rest. Now, while he had some difficult times in school, Xander was far from stupid, so he figured this boy might just be a late bloomer.

“Hey, what’s up? You look troubled,” Xander asked the boy as he sat next to him.

“I just can’t seem to get it right,” the child moaned. “My Gran was right, I’m all muggle.” The boy lowered his head to his arms and looked like he was going to break out in tears at any moment.

“Well, that can’t be right. You got invited here, didn’t you?” the one-eyed man asked, gently grabbing a shoulder and nudging the boy to sit up again.

“Yeah, but I can’t get anything right,” the round-faced boy sighed heavily. He had been falling behind in all his classes. That’s why he sat in the back. He didn’t want the other kids to laugh at him, as they were wont to do.

“Perhaps it’s not you. That wand looks a mite old. Is it yours?” Xander asked, looking at the worn wand, which looked like it had actually seen battle. The finish was dull, and there were chips of wood missing.

“No, it’s my fathers. But, Gran said I had to use it. She won’t buy me a new one,” the kid said softly. He really hated the fact that his gran didn’t think him worthy, but did feel special using his dad’s wand. He wanted to be like him, but felt he was falling miserably short.

“What’s your name, kid?”

“Oh, um, well, I’m Neville Longbottom,” Neville stated shyly.

“Okay, Neville, I’m going to let you in on a secret. Where I’m from, we didn’t use wands. True, most of the witches I knew used rituals, and stuff. But my friend Willow got so good that she just used hand gestures. Her friend was just as good. So, you see, it’s all a matter of mind over matter. If you know you can do it, then you can,” Xander said slyly and quietly. He didn’t want to disturb the class. “So, here’s the plan. You put your wand down, don’t worry, we won’t hurt it, and close your eyes. Feel your magic, feel the warmth and strength in it, and let it fill you up and flow to your hands.” The boy did as bid and after a few minutes, and many encouraging words from Xander, his hands had a faint glow about them. Xander was glad he was right and that the boy was being held up by a faulty wand. “Okay, now do the first spell that comes to mind,” he gently coaxed, and watched with satisfaction when Neville’s finger glowed brighter than the rest of his hand. “Okay, now, cancel it,” was the next instruction. And the light was gone. “Okay, now open your eyes.”

Neville opened his eyes and saw his softly glowing hands. “Is that my magic?” he asked astonished.

“Yup,” the proud man sitting next to him stated.

“Wow,” was all the boy could think to say.

“So, you know you have magic, and you know how it feels. Watch the teachers and do what they do but feel you way to the spell. You did note that Professor McGonagall didn’t use words or wand movements, right? So, they really aren’t necessary. Just go with the flow and do it on your own.”

“But what about tests and stuff?”

“Well, learn the movements, and spells, so you can pass, but know in your head that they aren’t needed. If you keep this between us, then it could be a secret weapon against the bad guys.”

“Yeah,” Neville agreed, knowing better than some that there were bad people out there.

“So, now pick up your dad’s wand, but realize where your power comes from, and turn that match into a needle,” Xander said, softly.

Neville did just that and with great pleasure he continued to turn one match after another into needles. “This is great,” he all but yelled, getting the attention of his classmates.

“Mr. Harris, just what have you done?” McGonagall asked, wanting to rub her temples, but valiantly holding off. She had been watching him and saw what he did for Neville. She couldn’t hear, since they were in the back of the classroom, but she did see. She was just glad that the two weren’t seen by the other students, bar Harry, who had also watched them. It would be chaos, if the other children knew. She, and she supposed the other teachers, would not know how to handle it. Wandless magic was usually done by those of great power and after many years of practice. Now this child, who couldn’t do much magic earlier, was performing it easily. She didn’t even want to think about what the Ministry would do.

Xander did what he did best when he got caught. He put on a goofy grin and said, “Nothing.”

Chapter Text

“Do not give me that, young man. Why did you not tell us that you were a wizard?” McGonagall stated after she dismissed the class. She made sure to tell one of the students to inform the next teacher that Harry would be late, since he was staying with Xander.

“What!? I’m not,” Xander declared, waving his hands around in denial. “Me and magic are no-mixy. No, no, no, there has to be some mistake,” he stated firmly.

“You just helped a young man to perform magic, without a wand. I am sure that you are a wizard,” she argued. “You knew where it came from and what it felt like. There is no denying that you must have some magic.”

“Joyce!” the one-eyed man cried desperately to the air. He didn’t want the responsibility of having magic. No good came of that.

“Don’t worry, Xander. It’s not like it was back home. Yes, you now have a magical core, but you can’t make the same mistakes here since we’re not on a Hellmouth,” Joyce said as she appeared next to the panicking man. “You have to understand,” she explained to Minerva, “Xander has a healthy respect for magic. Back in Sunnydale many things went wrong. The magic wasn’t the same there as it is here. No one had a magical core, they were just more entuned to the magic in the air. Sunnydale sat on a portal to a hell dimension. It made everything turn out badly. Well, most everything. It was luck or a strong will that made anything go right. The vibes from the Hellmouth could make spells overpowered and it caused a lot of chaos,” she explained to the two magicals watching Xander have a small nervous breakdown.

"That's not respect! That's pants wetting fear!" Xander argued, causing Harry to giggle. "Do you not remember my bestest friend? Willow Rosenberg AKA Darth Rosenberg? She who would destroy the world? How about Ethan Rayne? And Amy and her psycho mom. The magic vampire dude, that got people addicted to magic. There are so many…" he ranted, naming off all the bad magical people from his reality. They had not left a good impression on him. If it hadn’t been for Tara, Willow’s girlfriend, he would have thought all those who could perform magic were prone to evil. Willow had finally mellowed out, and the coven she hung around with were okay people. But, there were far more ‘Big Bads’ than good witches.

“Destroy the world?” Harry asked fearfully. Being new to the magical world meant he researched it and learned about its bad people. But to hear that someone was powerful enough to destroy the whole world, that was scary.  

“Xander, stop. You’re scaring Harry,” Joyce snapped, going over to the frightened boy. “Don’t worry, sweetie, those things won’t happen here. It’s a completely different universe. There’s no Hellmouth here,” she soothed the whimpering child, who gave a sigh of relief.

"Leaving all this aside, we need to talk about what Mr. Harris taught Mr. Longbottom. It could have major repercussions later," Minerva said sternly.

"Huh?" Xander asked.

“Mr. Longbottom will now have troubles in his schoolwork. He needs to know the wand movements and words to pass his tests,” she stated no unkindly. “To move to wandless magic so soon will hinder him in those tests.”

“Is he going to be marked down for doing it my way?” Xander asked, worried about the kid in question. He really hadn’t wanted to make it harder on the little guy. He had only been trying to help.

“Well, yes and no. He will get the practical part of the test correct, but will be marked down on theory,” was the thoughtful answer.

“So, why don’t you just grade on the practical. I mean, it shows they got the spell right, right?” the displaced man asked hopefully. Maybe it would be better this way, anyway.

“That’s just not done,” McGonagall exclaimed. “How will we know they have the theory correct if they do not do the assigned work? That theory is needed as a foundation for further spell work.”

“Well, there’s nothing that says they can’t do both,” Xander compromised, making Harry sigh again, only this time in disappointment. “You could test them on the practical and then give a written test on the theory. I mean, homework would go a lot faster if you only tested theory once a week. Perhaps weekend homework, or something,” he added with a shrug. This made Harry happier, he hated written assignments. He still hadn’t gotten used to using a quill.

"Minerva, just write up a proposal for Albus. He can sort out the details when he gets back,” Joyce said with a shrug. She was still unsure what to do about Dumbledore. While he was manipulative, he was still very well looked upon. She was just glad Xander was going to take care of that little problem tonight. It was something she could use against the Headmaster, but perhaps not enough to ban him from the castle.

“Very well. Perhaps Mr. Harris’ idea has some merit,” she sighed as she ushered them out the door. Her next class was already filtering in.

Charms went off without a hitch. Professor Flitwick wasn’t upset that they were late. He just smiled a waved them to their seats. Xander didn’t try to help anyone, and he could see the three kids were doing their best to do spells without words or movements. The half-size professor encouraged them discreetly, with kind words and eye winks.

After Charms they had lunch, where Xander told more stories. Then it was History of Magic time. They then trooped to class and everyone found their seats, with Xander at the back of the class. The only adult in the room reached for his axe when a ghost floated through the blackboard. That was until it took its place behind the desk and stared lecturing.  The ghostly professor droned on and on. Most of the children were about to fall asleep, until the teacher suddenly stopped mid-sentence. "Oh, my!" he said shocked. "I'm dead!"

The students thought this was hilarious, as did Xander who was trying hard to be inconspicuous. Hermione was scowling at him. "What did you do?" she demanded of the one-eyed man.

The ghost was suddenly bathed in a soft, white light. “Oh, my,” Binns exclaimed, “what a beautiful light.”

“Me? I didn’t do anything,” protested Xander, all the while trying not to smirk.

“I know it was you,” Hermione insisted. “You’re the only new person here,” she accused, jabbing her finger into his chest.

“You wound me, dear girl,” the laughing man said in his best Giles accent.

“Work on your accent,” she snapped. “You do realize that without a teacher, you’re the only adult. That make you responsible for the class,” she said with a smirk, knowing he wouldn’t like that.

“Joyce!” he yelled for the second time that day.

“Xander, what did you do to Cuthbert?” the embodiment of Hogwarts asked as she appeared in the classroom. She was actually quite surprised. She had been trying to get rid of that blasted ghost for years, but she had no control over the spirits of Hogwarts. She could repel the living but not the dead, because they didn’t have a body to grab on to.

“Why is everyone accusing me?” he asked, trying, and failing to look innocent.

“I don’t know why everyone else is, but I know you, Xander Harris. So, don’t try that innocent act with me,” she said smugly.

“Fine. That ghost was boring everyone to death. I’m surprised you have any students left if he’s a core teacher. So, I just sent him on,” Xander finally admitted. It had actually been easy, all he had to do was a small spell Willow had come up with. Granted, Willow was much better at it than he was, and the ghosts of his reality weren’t quite as in the here as these were, but it had done what it was supposed to do. So, all was well. Maybe this magic gig would be okay.

“You know, when this gets out, you’re going to get inundated with requests from the other ghosts. I know for a fact that the Bloody Baron wants to move on, and I’m sure there are many more. Not all the ghosts are happy here,” Joyce stated thoughtfully. “Class is dismissed,” she finally addressed the children, who had been hanging on every word. “Go study in the library for your next class. I will know if you skive off. I’ll just ask the librarian if you were there or not,” she warned as they gathered up their books.

They all trooped to the library talking excitedly about what happened and admiring the man who did it. Rumors flew once again and Xander just rolled with the flow.

When it was time for the next class, Potions, they left the library and went to the dungeons. Xander could see the Gryffindors were very reluctant to go, so he was not surprised when Potions started out just like he thought it would. With a threat.

“You will leave my classroom immediately, or I will throw you out,” the greasy-haired professor stated, putting his hand on Xander’s chest the moment he walked into the room.

“You and what army, buddy,” the one-eyed man smirked, not the least bit intimidated.

“I do not need an army against one disabled muggle. Your blindside will be your downfall, mark my words. You will never see me coming,” the threats continued.

“Ah, but don’t you know, I’m the One-Who-Sees. You’ll never get the drop on me,” Xander said, grabbing the man’s hand and flinging it and the greasy man attached to it away from him. “As I am the Head of Security, it’s my job to make sure that the kids are safe. And from what I’m told about you, I felt the need to check you out.”

“Very well, you will sit at the back of the class and you will not interfere with my teaching. I will be more than happy to eject you if you do.”

“I’d like to see you try.” Xander pulled up a chair and settled on the wall. He watched the lesson proceed and noted that there seemed to be three sets of instructions for the kids. The ones on the board, the ones in the book, and a small notebook that only the Slytherins had. He got up to double check, and discreetly looked over the shoulder of a blond-haired boy. “Joyce,” he called for the third time that day.

“What’s up, Xander?” she asked as she materialized.

“This asshat is giving the kids not in his House incorrect directions. It’s like he wants them to fail. Now, I’m not the smartest man on the block, but I know that’s not right,” he said, snatching the kid’s book to show her.

“I should have known better than to trust a Death Eater,” she spat at the dungeon bat, who was swooping down on them.

“A what, now?” Xander asked, glaring at the man, who merely sneered back.

“The Death Eaters are the followers of Voldemort,” she snarled, ignoring the flinches from most of the class. “They were his most feared minions. The only reason this… man is here is because Albus vouched for him.” She gave said man a look of pure disgust. “Since Albus is the Headmaster, I can’t just arbitrarily throw this piece of filth out. This, however,” she said with an evil smile, “will get him reviewed by the Board. This class is dismissed. Since it is your last class of the day, do what you will.”

“Stay where you are,” Snape snapped, only for the Gryffindors to ignore him and bolt from the room. Harry, however made his way to Xander, which earned a sneer from Snape. The Slytherins maintained their seats, until Xander turned his one good eye their way. What with the rumors that had been flying around the castle, they, too, fled. Xander put his hand on Harry to keep him there.

“You are to report to Minerva this evening. She will be discussing your actions and if she feels the need to take it to the Board, then we will support her. If I were you, Snape, I’d be more careful. Albus isn’t here to protect you right now,” she purred maliciously.

Snape just nodded his head, not the least bit worried. He had his ways of getting out of trouble, he didn’t need the old man to guide his hands. He wasn’t in Voldemort’s inner circle because he could brew a good potion.

That evening Minerva joined the two students with Xander and Joyce in their apartment. “I cannot believe the chaos you have caused in one day. Not even the Marauders created this much, and they tried,” she sighed as she sat on the couch. “I can understand what happened in Potions, I even understand what you did in my class, but please, tell me why you sent Cuthbert on,” she begged. “He has been teaching here for many years.”

“Yeah, but what have the kids been learning? I mean, really? I was in that class and most of them were falling asleep. How are they going to learn like that?” Xander defended his actions once again.

“How did you even do this? There are no spells to send on the dead. Raise them, yes; send them on, no,” she asked very curiously. As an educator, knowledge was always welcome.

"Should have asked the non-magical world,” he answered with a shrug. “They’ve been exorcising ghost for centuries,” he added.

"They can't see ghosts,” she sputtered. This can’t be true, muggles don’t have magic.

“No, but they can feel them. It’s more of a spiritual thing,” he explained. “It’s usually done by a priest, but I’ve heard it done by others. Well, if this reality is close to mine that is.”

Changing the subject, but making a mental note to research it, she asked, “What are your plans for the weekend? I do hope they don’t include anything like today.”

“Hey now, in my defense, I didn’t plan any of it,” Xander protested. He seemed to be doing a lot of that today. “I need to go out and see how much your world differs from mine. I might be able to do a few things if the timelines are close. I really hope the nightlife is different, or that if it’s the same that the Slayers are here as well. Probably not, since we didn’t have you guys back in my world.”

“It’s different,” Joyce assured him, “One of the first things I looked for when I got here was the Slayers. There’s not even a rumor of demons or Slayers anywhere. There are vampires, but they are a different breed. They aren’t soulless, and they mostly live on willing donors. There are a few that violate that, but they’re usually dealt with by the Ministry.”

“Oh, well, that’s good, I think,” Xander said, a bit morosely. “Anywho, I still need to see how much is the same. I mean, I can make a killing on the stock market.”

“Do you plan on taking Mr. Potter with you?” she asked, looking at said boy, who was talking quietly with Hermione. Though, she could see that they were paying very close attention to the adults.

“Yeah, and Hermione. I’m hoping she can guide me around.”

“Miss Granger is a muggleborn. While she knows of the muggle world, she knows very little of the magical one,” McGonagall stated, not wanting him to get lost and cause more chaos.

"You don't provide orientation trips in this school?" Xander asked perplexed. It would only make sense.

"Those would be great!" Hermione chimed in excitedly. Harry nodded quietly in agreement. He knew he would be completely lost without a guide. Hagrid had been great, but he didn’t really tell Harry what he needed to know.

“No, unfortunately. It has been asked for in the past, and while we do accompany them to get their supplies, the budget is only for the one day,” the transfiguration teacher sighed. There was so much to teach them, but so little time and money. The Board was a greedy group of purebloods who had no qualms on denying the ‘mudbloods’ of anything that would help them. “Harry’s mother, Lily, asked the same question when she came to Hogwarts. She was a muggleborn witch.” She smiled at the dark-haired boy who perked up at that bit of information.

"She was?" he said, with a huge smile.

“Yes, she was,” she answered kindly. “I will tell you more about her another time. As for you, Mr. Harris, I know a recent graduate I was going to invite over for another reason. I will ask her if she wants to show you around as well. She is a half-blood and well versed in both sides of this reality.”

“That would be great,” Xander said and then he frowned when he noticed Harry looked rather down, despite his best efforts to smile at Xander's antics. "What's up kid?" he asked softly.

"Nothing," Harry said, trying to be relaxed and not give anything away.

“Harry, as your guardian and bodyguard I am responsible for you, and that means your happiness as well. So, what gives?” Xander said firmly.

The boy gave a small sigh, “It’s nothing, really. Just… every time I hear someone talk about my parents, they either stop or say they’ll tell me later. I don’t know anything about them, except how they look. And really, that’s only my dad. I just know I have my mum’s eyes.”

McGonagall felt guilty seeing the sad look in the young boy’s eyes. “I'm so sorry, Harry,” she said, using his first name for emphasis. “I knew your parents well. We fought together in the last war. They were very brave people. It hurts to think about them, but I should not have brushed you off earlier. I just thought you knew more. I suppose I should not have thought that. Still, I will do my best to tell you all I know. Perhaps, a few stories tonight to hold you over?” she asked, petting his hair to calm him down, while Hermione held his hand.

“That would be brilliant,” the boy enthused.

“Then when you are finished with your homework, we will do just that,” she promised.

The adults spoke of menial things, knowing the children were listening in while the kids finished their homework. When it was time for bed, Minerva tucked the children into bed, making sure to tell Harry a few exploits of the Marauders, and some things about his mother. She talked until the child fell asleep, and then she joined the adults in the living room. She still marveled over the ‘house within the castle’. "Thank you for letting me put them to bed," she said with a warm smile.

“Not a problem. So, did you know Harry from before?” Xander asked, wanting to know more about his charge and the Dursleys.

“I knew him as a baby. I was there that night when we left him with the Dursleys. I will always regret not protesting harder,” she answered with a scowl. Albus had a lot to answer for, but his biggest crime, in her eyes, was abandoning that baby to those monsters. He had told her over the years that Harry was well taken care of and wanted for nothing. She had been mortified when she first spotted him enter the castle with the rest of his year group. He was so tiny, so scared. She had never seen a child so skittish. She had laid into Albus for hours that night. Not that it had done her any good.

“Don’t worry, they’ll get theirs,” Xander promised. He needed to learn more, yes, but he still had a few ideas that he could do to make sure those child abusers paid.

After a few more seconds, of silent sipping Joyce spoke up. "Minerva, I need you to teach Xander how to become an Animagus."

"May I ask why? It is not an easy discipline to teach. It will be a lot of hard work on your part," she warned the man in question. With him being new to magic, that was a great leap. However, if he could control magic like he spoke of in her class, then perhaps it might not be as hard as she was making it out.  

"Xander wasn't wrong when he claimed magic doesn't react well to him. I just want to see what happens. Xander is a unique individual. If things go the way I think they will, then he can teach a few others, and there may be a whole new type of Animagus. When he was brought to this reality, his… issues were tweaked slightly. They will hopefully give him an edge in this world," came the thoughtful explanation.

"You mean in dealing with You-Know-Who?" the ‘older’ woman asked worriedly. "I thought the prophecy says Harry has to face him?"

"Not if I have anything to say about it!" Xander growled, but damn he hated prophecies. They were a bunch of drivel that people, especially magical people, took them way too seriously. Didn’t they know what a self-fulfilling prophecy was? "What's an Animagus?" he asked, changing the subject. He knew if he brought it up, it would be banging his head on a wall. Besides, if Joyce said he needed to learn it, then it would probably be very helpful. Mrs. Summers was a very intelligent woman. She has shown this time and time again in dealing with the nightlife of Sunnydale. She had stood toe-to-toe with Angelus and came away with just a sprained wrist. He smiled blissfully at that memory.

"A magical person who can change into a specific animal. Minerva, could you give us a demonstration?"

Shortly there was a small tabby cat sitting on the coffee table.

“Well, look at you. You’re the most adorable thing,” Xander gushed as he picked up the kitty. Who in turn scratched his hand, so he playfully dropped her on the couch.

The cat changed back into the professor, who straightened her skirt. “Behave yourself, young man,” McGonagall chastised, with a small smirk.

“If I’m right, Xander will be different,” Joyce stated, hoping what she was thinking was right. “It’ll give us an advantage over Tom,” she finished, throwing the little-known name out on purpose. She knew Dumbledore wanted that kept secret, but for the ‘life’ of her, she couldn’t figure out why.

"Tom?" Minerva asked, knowing the other woman was not talking about Tom the Bartender.

"Tom Riddle. He was a student here some fifty odd years ago,” the blond woman explained. “He was Head Boy and got an award for so-called stopping the Chamber of Secrets incident. You know him as Lord Voldemort."

Minerva gasped, she never knew that. She wondered if Albus knew, and then realized that that man had to know and was once more keeping secrets. Shouldn’t everyone know this? Wouldn’t it lessen the impact the name had on people if they realized he was just a man? Or it might have the opposite effect, and make others wary of family and friends, to know that anyone could turn evil?

Xander just shrugged. "Tom, Voldemort, they both bleed red, right?" he asked, not the least bit worried. He had faced the First Evil after all. This two-bit ‘Dark Lord’ was nothing compared to that.

Joyce shrugged in agreement but glanced at the contemplative look on the professor’s face.

"Right, we’re gonna have to hit the books," the one-eyed man sighed, wishing Willow and Giles were here. If they ever needed information, those two could ferret it out. They were whizzes at this type of stuff.

"Why would you want to hit books?" Minerva asked.

"Just an expression, basically means to use the books for extensive research. At least, it's what it means to me," he said wistfully, as he thought back fondly on all the research night he had shared with the Scooby gang. It was times like this, he even missed Spike. That thought made him come down from the clouds. "I have a question," Xander said as he set his drink down. “It’s about what we talked about earlier. Is there anyway the kids can get out of doing essays, or do them only on weekends, like I suggested? I mean, I get that they need to know this stuff, but can’t they just show you? It’ll save both you and them tons of time.”

“Essays also let them practice their penmanship and show that they have a good grasp on English. They will need those skills when they leave Hogwarts,” McGonagall explained.

“Oh, I guess that makes sense,” he said thoughtfully. While he had never been a studious person, he did know that good grammar and writing were essential to functioning in the adult world.

"Teaching English was my job, when I was alive. Sure, it wasn’t the English we know today, but to still have a good grasp on the language of the time is essential. I assume that it simply fell to the wayside in favor of actual magical classes," Joyce said wistfully as she recalled days gone by. "There are several classes not being taught anymore: English, Math, Geography, the sciences."

“Yes, we have been asked to bring those back on many occasions, and I will once again point you to the Board,” Minerva sighed. She really hated that the children were being so undereducated. They would need to know even the simplest of those things to make it when they graduate. Arithmancy and essays did a lot to make up for the lack, but, they didn’t help in blending in with the muggles. Many muggleborns went back into the muggle world and took night classes just so they could communicate well with their families.

“We should see about getting them started again,” Joyce said.

And the rest of the night was spent discussing just that. They began to come up with plans to thwart the Board and Dumbledore. They only hoped they weren’t planning in vain.

Chapter Text

The following morning, after a long night of planning, Xander and the kids ate in the Great Hall. Xander stood apart from the kids, giving them room. Instead, he sat with the older boys, talking mostly to the Weasley twins about the layout of the castle. Those two boys seemed to know where everything was. The smirks on their faces said they had a secret weapon. That was all right, as long as they were willing to share their knowledge.

“So, are you two ever coming back to the dorm?” Neville asked curiously. Hermione had been one of the few people that was nice to him, before he understood how to use his magic. Now, everyone was trying to get him to tell the secret, but he wasn’t sharing. He didn’t know if he should, for one, and they had all picked on him, for another. No, it was his secret to keep, and if Xander wanted to teach them, well, that was his prerogative.

“According to Xander, we’re staying with him,” Harry answered, with a shrug. He certainly didn’t miss sleeping with the other boys. “He says that’s the only way he can keep an eye on me. But, we’ve got our own rooms, so it’s cool. Hermione’s is even enchanted so only Joyce or McGonagall can go in.”

“Oh, okay. What happened after Potions yesterday?” the round-faced boy asked, wanting to hear all the juicy details. He didn’t think there was anyone he hated as much as Snape. Sure, the man terrified him, but he was unbecoming as a teacher. Heck, he was unbecoming as a human being in Neville’s opinion.

“Let’s just say that Snape will be behaving for a while. I wouldn’t hold hope that it’ll last, but relish it while you can,” Xander answered with a smirk as he came and sat by the boys, having wrung a good deal of the layout out of the twins. Minerva told him that she had threatened the Potions Master with having him fired, and would do her best to see if she could get him arrested. If he didn’t stop his harassing of the students. The man had done his best to talk, yell, and stare her down, but she was made of firmer stuff.

This caused a good portion of the table to look at Snape. The dour man sneered at them, causing the students to look away quickly. Xander pulled a large knife from his space and started cleaning his nails, which made Snape neutralize his expression rapidly. Without Dumbledore there to act as a buffer, and with the dressing down he got from McGonagall, he was going to behave.

They finished off their breakfast and Xander and his ward, plus Miss Granger, went to prepare for the day. McGonagall showed up just as Hermione was once again getting her hair brushed by Joyce, who popped away as soon as she was done. “Mr. Harris, this is Nymphadora Tonks,” she introduced as she came through the door. “Nymphadora, this is Xander Harris.”

“It’s Tonks,” the young woman stated, folding her arms over her chest. She really hated it when people gave her first name. She would never understand why her mum picked it. Didn’t she know how teased she would be when she hit puberty? If she had to hear one more sex joke, she’d scream. “Just call me Tonks,” she repeated.

“Why not Dora?” Xander asked, completely understanding why the girl might hate her name. He loathed his middle name with the same passion. “Tonks makes you sound like a dude. And I can tell you, you don’t look like a dude.” He looked her up and down. She was a fine-looking young woman.

“That works better, I suppose,” the young lady now called ‘Dora’ stated. He was right, it did sound more feminine. She could still go by Tonks at work.

“Great. So, what’s up?” the one-eyed man asked, looking between the two women. They were still standing in the entryway. He wanted to know who the girl was before he let her further.

"Did they not teach manners where you’re from?" Minerva questioned with a scowl. She had gone out of her way to get… Dora here. He could at least be polite.

"We rarely had time for niceties. Getting information out if people was more important," was the casual reply.

"Were you an Auror?" Dora asked with a great deal of excitement. She was a newly sworn Auror, and if he had been one, maybe he could teach her some things. That, and he wasn’t exactly hard on the eyes.

"A what, now?"

"Wizarding police,” Hermione chimed in, reminding the adults that kids were about, prompting Xander to guide the two women to the living room.

"Ah… no, I was very much not a cop," he stated with a bit of a chuckle as he took a seat.

"A criminal?" she asked hesitantly. The last thing she wanted was to mess up her new job by hanging around criminals.

"No… ummm… I was… ummm… it’s complicated. I guess you could call me a Night Ranger, or something along those lines. My friends and I dealt with things that went bump in the night. Stuff real police wouldn’t —or couldn’t— deal with,” Xander explained, trying to come up with a complete description without going into the gory details.

"I'm sure this will be an interesting story. One that you can share when you return," Minerva interjected. She had a few things to do today and she wanted to get these people moving. "Miss Tonks was raised in both the muggle and magical world. She will make a much better guide than I could. I need to remain here, especially now that the headmaster is not."

At that moment, Joyce popped back in, tapped Dora on the shoulder, and was instantly crushed in a hug.

“It’s so good to see you, Aunty Joyce!” The pink-haired witch beamed.

“You two know each other?” Xander asked, happy to see someone knew Mrs. Summers. When she was describing her… existence, he had worried that she was a recluse. That Dora knew her was a great relief.

"She helped me train my Metamorphmagus abilities. We met up when I was in the Hospital Wing," Dora replied, still hugging the woman who had helped her so much.

"Meta-morpha-whatta-gus?" He asked. It sounded like one of Giles’ world-ending monsters. He hoped this wasn’t just another girl who was going to try and swallow the poor Xandman.

"It’s an ability that lets me change how I look,” Dora explained, cycling her hair into many different lengths, styles, and colors, making the children go ‘Wow.’

"Oh, you're a shapeshifter. I ran into a few of you before… well, before. I'm guessing you think Harry is one?" he asked, turning to Minerva. Really hoping that was true. Shapeshifters were great at hiding. If they could develop that, Harry would be able to hide until he had no other choice. When he got more trained up, he could use it for spying and what not. This was going to be great.

"Yes, his hair did give me an indication of that," Minerva said kindly. "Speaking of which, Dora, I'd like you to meet Hermione Granger and Harry Potter."

"Harry Potter? Little Harry!" she squealed, reaching out and to hug the boy, but he darted out of the way and hid behind Xander.

"Dora, he's not used to hugs," Xander warned, gently pulling the boy from behind him, but keeping his hand on his shoulder.

"Oh, sorry. You loved to be hugged as a baby. Have you told Bill?" she asked McGonagall, hoping the older Weasley could help get Harry back to the happy baby he used to be. They along with Neville and the younger Weasleys used to be together a lot when the war was happening. Not Ron and Ginny, though. They were left with Molly. Bill and Dora’s job was to watch the little ones while the adults had their meetings.

"No, but it’s been a busy few days. I will do so after you leave," Minerva said, a bit guilty. She knew how the poor man had searched everywhere in his spare time. Now though, perhaps he could finally settle down and have children of his own, knowing that Harry was fine.

"Okay, and Bill would be…?" Xander asked as he watched the kids pay very close attention. Harry’s brow furrowed in thought, and Hermione’s head was swinging back and forth trying to take in all the new information.

"Bill and I used to watch you kids during the war. Well, there were a few older kids, but we stuck together. It was hard with all of you, but we tried to make it fun,” Dora explained, looking at Harry. “We used to play house. We even made ourselves a new family name — the 'Wee-Tonk-Potter-Bottoms'." Tonks grinned, causing the others to snicker. "You vanished after your parents were killed, and Neville's Gran kept him in hiding. Bill had his family, but he never stopped asking for you. When he grew up, he joined Gringotts to see if he could dig up information. He had to work his way up to get to where he is today, but he still isn’t high enough to get what he needs." She could see that Harry was hanging on every word. His body language was more relaxed, like he was happy that he wasn’t forgotten. It made her wonder just what type of life he had that even a hint of devotion from a stranger had such an effect on him.

"I know I'm gonna be doing this a lot, but-" Xander sighed in frustration. There was just so much he didn’t know. He was trying hard to keep up, but the words these guys threw around were confusing. They had no connection to the life he was used to. It was a bit like when he was in Africa and learning the language. His guide knew English, but only barely, so he had to learn a lot fast to understand what he needed to know. This wasn’t quite as bad, but he wasn’t going to remain ignorant much longer, not if he could help it.

"Gringotts is the wizarding bank," Minerva answered, seeing his confusion.

“That’s where you will be going to access my accounts,” Joyce added as she led them all to seats. Xander was never big on manners, and with parents like his, it was no wonder. There were many times she wanted to march up and punch his father, Tony, in the nose.

“Your accounts?” Dora asked, sitting next to Xander, while the other two adults took their seats. Harry and Hermione sat on the other side of Dora.

“That’s where all the tuition fees and donations go. It’s where all the updates and supplies are supposed to come from. For some reason, the Board of Governors has control over it,” Joyce growled. It was times like this she was angry that her school was run by that bunch of popinjays. It was supposed to be the headmaster’s job. How it got out of the school’s control she didn’t know, but she was determined to get it back. She was going to have Xander take over soon. He didn’t know yet, but he was going to get this school back to the glory it once was.

“Well, that’s something that’s going to change,” Xander snarled. He, too, didn’t like the lack of equipment in the school. Harry and Neville had told him about their first flying lessons.

“How are you planning that?” Minerva asked, disbelieving and wary, “The Board of Governors has been around for quite some time.” She would know; they had been cutting wages for years. If she didn’t have a small savings set aside, she would be hurting for money. All the teachers were the same way. Albus swore that he would fix it, but never did.

“Everything dies without a head. I find out where the head is, and then I remove it. Simple,” the one-eyed man said with a shrug.

“Xander, you can’t just go around killing people!” Hermione missed the metaphorical meaning he implied and gasped. She didn’t want to believe that the man she was starting to admire would do such a thing. She couldn’t get the image of Nearly Headless Nick out of her head.

“Who said anything about people? I was talking about paperwork, documents, money, whatever is keeping them in control.”

“Oh,” was the chagrined reply.

“If it makes it easier, Hogwarts is supposed to be independent of whatever government is in place. We made sure of that when we built the school. So, you just have to find out what happened while I was sleeping, and I’ll make sure you have the correct documents,” Joyce added with a vindictive smile.

“Sounds good. Maybe we should—” Xander started.

"I did it!" Harry suddenly squealed happily. Everyone turned to see that Harry's hair was now down to his ankles, and bright pink. He looked like a demented Cousin It.

"Wow, on your first try! That’s great, Harry," Dora grinned as Xander patted his back. The touch made the boy start, and made his hair revert to normal.

"It didn't last very long," Harry whined. He had been hoping to catch on quickly for the same reasons Xander thought of earlier.

"And that's where Dora and practice comes in," Joyce told him.

"Right, sounds like we have a lot to do today, so we should get started," Xander said as he stood up and stretched.

"You can leave from the Floo here. I’ve diverted it for the day. Dora, make sure Xander goes to Ollivanders. He needs a wand," Joyce instructed as they headed for the fireplace.

"Flu? I’m not going to start sneezing and getting snotty, am I? ‘Cause I gotta tell ya, I don’t look good like that,” Xander stated, remembering when he had the demon STD. While Anya had stayed by his side, she did make sure to let him know that his appearance led much to be desired. If there was one thing you could count on from Anya, it was brutal honesty.

"The Floo is a method of magical transportation involving stepping in and out of a fireplace," Minerva explained, stopping near the Floo and indicating it.

"Oh… so named in connection to a chimney flue?" Xander asked.

"Of course!" Hermione suddenly shouted in realization. She blushed when the adults grinned at her indulgently.  

Harry, however, startled so bad, he almost tripped. He still jumped at loud noises, and tensed in anticipation of the punishment he would’ve received back at the Dursleys. He felt a large hand on his back and looked up to see Xander staring down at him with a sad expression, and Harry forced a smile and tried to relax.

“You’re fine. Don’t worry. It’s going to take awhile to stop jumping like that. We’ll get in some practice later,” the one-eyed man said calmly, trying to think of ways to get the poor boy over that kind of reaction, but keep the need to be aware alive. Perhaps a mild prank war.

“I’ll go through first,” Tonks volunteered. “That way you all will see how it’s done. Just remember; do what I do and say what I say, and you’ll be all right.” She then took a pinch of Floo powder and threw it in the fireplace and called, “Diagon Alley,” and disappeared. Hermione quickly followed.

"Well, that looks easy enough. You go first, Harry, I'll be right behind you," Xander assured him.

Harry stepped into the fireplace and blurted out nervously, "Diagonally!" and vanished.

"Okay. He didn’t say the right word, did he? Or did I hear that incorrectly?" Xander asked worriedly.

“No, you are correct, but if you say ‘diagonally’ and follow him, you will most likely end up at the same destination,” Minerva said, shooing him to get going.

"Shit!" he yelled and jumped into the fireplace. He needed to find Harry and fulfill his role as a bodyguard. Who knew where the kid had wound up.

Harry looked around the gloom of where he landed and didn’t see anyone, never mind Dora or Hermione. His glasses had flown off his nose when he shot out of the fireplace, so he really couldn’t see anything, but there were no people here. He was very relieved when Xander appeared.

"Harry, even I know that enunciation is important in spell work," Xander admonished as he picked Harry off the floor. "Where are your glasses?"

"They fell off," Harry said glumly.

"I’ll see if I can find them. If not, we’ll hit an optometrist, after I get some money from… Gringotts,” the older man said, as he started to look around the shop they landed in. There were jars, books, knives, swords, and other trinkets that he had no clue what were for. He was pushing aside a book when a gnarled old hand attached to a stand on the fireplace grabbing his wrist. “Mother fu— I mean bloody hell,” he said. He was trying to curb his cursing, but in the rush of panic there wasn’t much time to select more kid-friendly options. He was just going on what he heard Spike mutter all the time. “Listen, you no good piece of – whatever you are, let me go or I’m going to…” he let the threat hang as he shook his hand around vigorously trying to free his wrist. The agitation loosened the base, that was holding the hand, which broke and flew off, destroying some glass displays.

"Oi! What's going on in here? We're closed," a grumpy looking man with really horrible hair called out as he stormed in from a backroom.

"Little help, here!" Xander yelled as he lifted his hand to show the man his problem.

The man stalked over waving his wand as he did, and the displays to repaired themselves.

"Why would you put your arm in the Hand of Glory?" he asked incredulously as he squeezed the base of the thumb. The hand popped open and released Xander.

"I didn't! It grabbed me when I was looking for his glasses,” he answered, pointing at Harry. “Hey now, are you anywhere near Diagon Alley? Cause we’re a bit lost,” he added, putting his newly freed hand on Harry’s shoulder.

"Ah, you said 'Diagonally', didn’t cha'?" the man chuckled, gazing at the younger of the two. “First time Flooing?” he guessed.

"Yes, sir," Harry said, hanging his head, only to have Xander squeeze his shoulder reassuringly.

“It happens often enough. Usually to first timers. I’ve complained, but the Floo office won’t fix it. They said it’s my problem and that I should just change my Floo address,” the man complained bitterly. “Anywho, you’re in Knockturn Alley. You gest need to go outside, and head left, you'll soon hit Diagon Alley."

“I’m Xander, this here is Harry,” Xander said, squeezing Harry’s shoulder.

“I’m Borgin, of Borgin and Burkes. This here is my store,” Borgin said proudly, puffing up his chest importantly.

“Oh, where’s Burkes?” the one-eyed man asked curiously.

“We don’t talk about that backstabbing bastard,” the man answered, making Xander quirk an eyebrow.

"So, what is this Hand of Glory?" Xander asked, gesturing to the severed hand still in the man’s possession.

"A light source, providing guidance only to the holder," was the answer.

"Wow, what I wouldn’t have given to have that back in the Dale," Xander grunted. "How much?"

"100 Galleons."

“Now, I don’t know the money system you guys have going on here, as I only got here a week ago, but from what I do know that’s highway robbery,” Xander said, pointing his finger accusingly at the shopkeeper. “I’ll give you 50.”

"I'll take 60, and not a sickle less!" Borgin said, offended.

"Uh… 55, and that is my final offer. And dude, judging from the amount of dust around it, you’ve been unable to sell it for years."

Borgin opened and closed his mouth indignantly as Xander just stared at him. "Fine 55," he groused. "Don't touch that boy!" he snapped as he saw Harry reach for a locket. "It's killed 19 people already."

Harry snatched his hand away and moved to the middle of the aisle and placing his hands behind his back. He didn’t even know things could be charmed to kill. They didn’t teach that at Hogwarts.

That didn’t sound good to Xander at all. His usual Modus Operandi was to burn the joint down and salt the ashes, but since he was in a new reality, and he was pretty sure Borgin wasn’t a demon, he’d have to do it by the books. “So, how much do you want for this joint? And please, don’t waste my time.”

“You want to buy my store? Well, I’m not sure about that. I built this store from the ground up, and it means a lot to me,” the proprietor said, greed shining in his eyes.

“I’ll buy everything here. Look, do you have insurance?” Xander asked pointedly.

Borgin knew what that meant, now he had to weigh a decent buyout, or what he could get on his insurance. The problem was that he didn’t put much of what was in the store on his policy. Most of it was banned, illegal, or borderline illegal. If, for some reason, the store went up in flames, then he would take a major loss. He looked the man in front of him up and down. Who was this guy? He had never heard of a wizard that looked or talked like him. The one-eyed man had off handedly threatened him as well, so perhaps it was for the best.

“Dude, you are wasting my time. I have to get Harry to the Diagon Alley. I’m on the up and up, so let get this over with,” Xander said impatiently. He really did need to go, and he could always come back in the middle of the night. However, he did want to do this by the books, so he would give the guy a chance.

“If you’re serious and won’t rat me out, then I suppose I could let it go for 150,000 galleons; lock, stock and barrel. It’ll give me enough to buy a place to retire,” the tired man said. When he had opened the store, business was booming. Now, the ministry was on him all the time, and more people wanted to sell, not buy. He was going to cut his cost and leave, as long as this bloke was on the up and up.

“All right, let me see how things go at the bank, and I’ll get back to you. I want to do this as legally as possible. No matter what though, I want this Hand of Glory, so could you hold on to it for me?”

“Sure. That’ll be two extra galleons,” Borgin stated, with a smirk.

“Yeah, right, sure, whatever. That Burkes guy, is he going to be an issue? I mean, his name is on the store.” Xander asked, tilting his head to one side.

“Burkes will never be an issue to anyone,” came the vague answer

“Okay. Hey, have you seen a pair of glasses?” the one-eyed man asked, looking around the shelves but carefully not touching anything.

"Have you tried summoning them?" came the question instead. Borgin wanted to see if this guy was even a wizard. He didn’t see a wand, and the man didn’t seem to know much. Still, he was a Yank, so it might be a cultural thing.

"Nope, but Harry, why don’t you give it a shot?” Xander looked down at Harry and smiled encouragingly.

“How? I can’t see,” Harry asked, squinting in the dark room.

“Just picture it, like I taught Neville," Xander instructed as Borgin watched curiously. He chuckled derisively at the thought of this young kid performing a fifth-year summoning spell. He was, therefore, shocked when the young boy did it wordlessly.

"By Merlin, that was amazing!" he declared.

“Ah, man, they’re broken,” Harry grumped, looking at his poor glasses, which were cracked beyond repair.

“Harry, remember? If an adult can do it, so can you. You saw this guy fix all the glass I broke, so…” Xander said encouragingly.

Harry once more waved his wand and impressed Borgin once again by doing the impossible. He beamed at Xander and put the glasses on his face. He scrunched up his nose at the depressing store. Now that he could see, he really didn’t want to touch anything. Well, maybe those snitches. How bad could a snitch be?

“Right, I’ll get back to you,” Xander stated as he ushered Harry out of the shop. The trip to Diagon Alley was short. With Xander waving his knife, sword, axe, or gun at anyone who looked at them funny, they made good time. When they got to where they were supposed to be in the first place, they spotted the two girls. Dora was easy to find with her pink hair.

"Thank Merlin, you found him!" the older of the two said, exasperated. She and Hermione were at their wits end with worry. The poor girl was about to call in the Aurors to come search for them.

Hermione took Harry’s hand and gave him a brilliant smile. “We were very worried. I’m glad you’re okay.”

“I’m fine. Xander found me right away,” he replied, giving her a warm smile. It was so new having people be concerned about him. He wasn’t sure how he was supposed to react to that.

"Yep, he even managed to perform two wordless spells." Xander said proudly.

"Xander bought this ugly hand and wants to buy a whole shop!" Harry said excitedly. Not that he liked the shop itself, but there were some really cool looking things there.

"Wot's this?" Dora asked.

"No'ing much Guv'nor," Xander answered cheekily. "We landed in Borgin and Burkes, and he had this hand which is supposed to hold a candle that only gives light to the bearer. After hearing that he also had a necklace that killed people, I figured it might be safer to buy the shop and close the place down.”

"Borgin and Burkes?" Dora asked incredulously. "You took Harry to Knockturn Alley?!!" she screeched, causing half the population of the street to stare at them and the other half to move away even quicker.

"'Took'? There was no 'took-ing'!" Xander defended. This brought back some not-so-good memories of his friends. They were always jumping to the conclusion that he was the one in the wrong. They got better, but, to be truthful, he had pulled off some stupid stuff when he was younger. He still remembered his harrowing brush with becoming a singing demon’s ‘queen’. That was just wrong on so many levels. "He went, and I followed."

“Oh, Harry, you said ‘diagonally’, didn’t you?” she asked knowingly. "Borgin calls it in, but he won’t let us set a time to come and fix it. We think that’s because of all his shady merchandise. He just calls it in so we have a record and he can’t be held liable."

"Well, if all goes well at the bank. Hey, maybe you can jump start your career by going through everything when I buy the shop. That is, if Joyce is correct, and I have the funds for it,” Xander offered, always one to help a pretty lady. Sure, they were usually trying to kill him, but that never stopped him. At her gobsmacked look he chuckled. “The bank?” he asked, prodding her to stop gaping.

"Sure, right, the bank,” she said in a daze as she stumbled her way through the crowds. What he was offering would jump-start her career. Heck, most seasoned Aurors didn’t get a break like this. She’d have to get permission from Bones, but the Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement seemed to like her. Bones would keep it out of the Minister’s slimy hands. She hoped.

She almost ran into a wall with shock, so Harry and Hermione grabbed and elbow each and led her to the bank.

"Please tell me that's not the bank," Xander begged as he noticed the huge white building looming in the distance with domineering script etched over the doors.

"Yeah, that’s where Hagrid took me,” Harry explained, not seeing the issue. The goblins were grumpy, but they weren’t mean.

"Right, and the guys running this bank, what do they look like?" the one-eyed man asked, running through what he knew about these guys. If they were who he thought they were…

"About waist high, pointed ears, sharp teeth," Dora answered, shaking herself out of her daze. She smiled at the kids and reclaimed her arms.

"And how many wars have you been in with them, and when was the last one?" the ex-demon hunter sighed.

"Quite a few over the ages. The last one was a couple of centuries ago,” this time Hermione replied. It was one of the few things they learned in the History of Magic. That, and she had actually read the book.

"Yep," Xander sighed, "couldn't be easy." He looked around the street quickly. He instructed Dora to take the kids to get an ice-cream and that he would be back shortly. He then hefted his axe and wandered to the bank, leaving behind three very confused people.

It was getting late in the afternoon and Joyce and Minerva were sipping tea, fretting over where Xander and the kids were. They should have been back quite a while ago. Joyce hoped Xander didn’t have any issues with Gringotts. She knew the goblins could be surly, but she had given him the key. It never crossed her mind that he might have run across them in his previous reality.

Minerva was concerned they might have run into a Dark wizard. Especially since Harry had called the wrong Floo destination. Xander didn’t know any defensive magic and she wasn’t sure if he could handle an adult wizard. So, they both sat silently and worried.

That worry increased when Harry stumbled through the Floo saying, “Xander says you might need to get Dora a stiff drink. They’ll be here in a second.” He was a mite concerned, as most of his bad punishments happened when Vernon had a ‘stiff drink’. It usually meant a bad day at the office, which translated into a bad night for Harry.

A few minutes later, Hermione and Xander came through together supporting a shocked Dora.

“Oh, dear, whatever happened to you, Nymphadora?” McGonagall said, helping her to the nearest chair.

"Xander… Goblins… Borgin’s…" she mumbled incoherently, trying to make sense of all that had happened this day. She didn’t know if the man was unlucky or just plain crazy. Perhaps both.

Xander and the kids were chuckling at the poor girl.

"Xander! Make with the 'splainy!" Joyce teased, using her daughter's atrocious verbal mannerisms.

So, he did, explaining what happened in Knockturn Alley, and the buying of the shop. "No one told me the bank was run by demons," he finished, frowning at the two older women.

"It is run by Goblins," Minerva argued. Sure, they weren’t human, but to call them demons was uncalled for. She had no idea the man held such prejudices. She’d given him the benefit of the doubt since he wasn’t from this world.

"That's not what we called them back home!" Xander retorted, knowing what she was thinking. It wouldn’t be the first time someone misunderstood him. He didn’t hate all demons; Clem was a great guy. But the ones these guys called goblins were nasty buggers. They didn’t want to take over the world, but they were a pain in the neck if you didn’t show them who was boss right away.

"What did you call them?" Hermione asked, hoping for more information on his reality. There was so much about her hero that she didn’t know.

"Something with too many hyphens and a really unhealthy vowel-to-consonant ratio. Past experience has shown me that you need to conquer these guys, and do it fast. Giles is their king back home. Long story short, I sent these three to get some ice-cream and took care of it. I don’t want to have to deal with a war with… goblins, if we still have to deal with Voldyshorts," he explained, making everyone feel a bit better about the whole situation.

"You conquered the goblins?" Minerva asked in disbelief. That was unheard of, the goblins were a warrior race. You didn’t just go in a takeover. It was against all the treaties. Oh, how she hoped this didn’t start a war.

“Yeah, it was easy,” he shrugged. “Their pride is so big that they believe they are stronger than humans. They will never give in until you make them. I called a non-magical challenge, and when he came at me with a knife, I picked him up by his shirt and held him in a half-nelson. Then I proceeded to give him a noogie until he cried uncle,” Xander explained, looking at Dora to see how she was handling it. Not well, judging from her still-cycling hair.

Joyce burst out laughing. "Oh, my! Sally did pretty much the same thing when he conquered them!" she exclaimed happily.

"Sally?" was the chorused question.

Chapter Text

“Oh, don’t be silly,” Joyce said with a smirk. “You know exactly who I mean. Well, maybe not Xander.”

“You cannot be talking about Salazar Slytherin,” Minerva gasped, cutting a glance at Dora, who took another shot of firewhiskey.

“Of course, I am; who else would I mean?” the embodiment of Hogwarts replied.

“Now, I know what you told me, and that this Salazar was one of the co-founders of the school, but why are these guys freaking out?” Xander asked as he watched the magicals of this world have mild panic attacks. He had only seen reactions like this when that Voldyshorts guy was mentioned.

“They believe the rumors that Sally was an evil man. I did my best to stop those, but they grew beyond my borders and nothing I said was taken as truth. It’s one of the reasons I went to sleep the first time. I couldn’t stand the fact that they made him out to be such a horrid person. I thought of the founders as my adopted children, and to hear such drivel made me mad enough to sleep,” Joyce pouted. She hated that one of the men she thought of as a son was so vilified that no one would take her word as proof of his innocence. They said she was biased, and wasn’t seeing the bad side of him, which was ridiculous. She saw Buffy’s faults, after all, didn’t she?

“Well, if it makes you feel better, Joyce, I believe you,” Xander offered. He saw how much it hurt the woman who was once like a mother to him.

"How did the shopping go?” she asked, changing the subject.

“Well, you see, I kinda spent most of our time at the bank setting things up. I’ll have to go again soon. Maybe we’ll finish shopping when things settle down there,” Xander replied sheepishly. Gringotts had a good system set up, so there was little change there. No, he had spent all day with Harry’s account manager, and the former King. He wanted them to set up some investments in the non-magical world and get rid of some that were losing money. Things may not be the same, but investing was a gamble anyway, it just happened to be legal. That, and he needed to understand just what running his new kingdom entailed. He didn’t want to start a rebellion when the whole point was to stop one. The ‘goblins’ were simple enough to understand; most warrior nations were. It was all about showing their bravery to everyone. There were some intricate things he needed to research, but all and all it was of the good.

"Did you at least get a wand?" Joyce asked with a knowing smile. Like she had a secret that she wasn’t sharing.

Xander slouched and folded his arms over his chest. “We tried,” he pouted. “That crazy man kept putting wand after wand in my hand. The problem is most of them worked. Just not good enough for him. Then he did some spell on me and said I didn’t have a core.”

Harry giggled, since he had gone through a similar experience. Ollivander was just plain creepy, he still remembered the dire words he received from his time in the wand shop.

“That’s ridiculous, of course you have a core. You would not be able to perform magic without one,” McGonagall stated firmly. She had seen the few things the man had tried since her class. Not many, as he was still feeling his way, but she could see that he was quite powerful.

“Do me a favor, Minerva, run the spell over his whole body,” Joyce said slyly.

The women of the group gasped when the spell showed that Xander’s core was in his head.

“The-One-Who-Sees?” Xander growled. He really hated that title. It was given to him by a madman, and he didn’t like to remember the day he lost his eye.

“Sorry, Xander, you are who you are. This gives you something more in common with Harry. He hates his ‘Boy-Who-Lived’ title as well,” Joyce said, patting the grumpy man on the arm.

“Wots ‘The-One-Who-Sees’?” Dora asked, a bit slurred. She had just shot down three firewhiskeys. McGonagall harrumphed and sent a sobering spell at the girl.

“A story for another time,” Joyce said smoothly.

"Pray tell, how do you expect to perform magic without a wand?" Dora asked. She had heard only powerful wizards could do wandless magic, and this guy, while well-built and cute, didn’t look all that powerful.

"Like this," he said with a grin as he caused a small ball of fire to appear in his right hand.

"Cool!" Harry exclaimed as Hermione, Tonks and Minerva gasped in shock.

"That’s what I’ve been trying to explain,” Joyce said, pointing at the fire as Xander closed his hand and snuffed it out. “Magic goes peculiar around him. He once had a witch cast a love spell for him to get his ex-girlfriend back. The whole town’s female population, including myself, fell in love with him for the afternoon.” She blushed a bit remembering how forward she had been with the then teenage boy. It had been awkward for weeks following that incident.

“That wasn’t the creepy part. No, the worst part was when Drusilla, the crazy vampire lady, started calling me her kitten,” Xander confessed with a full-body shudder. Searching for a change of subject, he observed Harry looking very hard at his hand. “Harry, try something simpler, like a Lumos.”

“All right, Xander,” Harry agreed.

"Minerva, can you cast the same detection spell on Har-OWWWWWWW!!!" Xander, and everyone else, shrieked as Harry succeeded in creating the light. Harry was a tad zealous, however, as the light appeared exceptionally bright and very painful to the human eye.

Harry quickly doused the light, but the damage was done.

Hermione immediately panicked. Dora pulled her into a hug while the adults remained calm. “Can anyone see?” Xander asked.

“I can,” Harry and Joyce answered.

“Figures,” the older man laughed. “Harry, run and get Pomfrey. Joyce, can you be our eyes?” he said, turning to where he last saw the two of them.

“Okay,” Harry stated as he got up and ran from the room. As he ran, he contemplated the last week. He knew from his reading that Xander’s conquering of the goblins gave him the upper hand.  The older man now commanded an army of vicious warriors. That was great. If Voldyshorts ever came back, then Harry wouldn’t have to stand alone like he had done his whole life.

The Dursleys were cruel and spiteful, and Harry was their favorite stress release. He had spent most of his free time reading in small corners of the school and in town libraries. He had learned a lot there. One thing he knew for certain was that knowledge saved lives. And the knowledge that Xander had imparted this last week was going to do just that. All he had to do was sit and learn from the man, and he’d never have to be afraid again.

“Potter!” came a voice that he really was starting to hate.

“Yes, Professor?” Harry answered politely.

“What are you doing, running about the castle so close to curfew?” Severus Snape’s silky voice asked as he stopped in front of Harry.

“I’m on my way to get Madam Pomfrey,” Harry answered as he tried to edge away.

“And why would you need her? Have you been into mischief? Did you hurt one of your little friends, or perhaps your bodyguard?” came the snide inquiry.

“No… well, yes, but it was an accident.”

“Your friends will suffer the consequences of being friends with such a stupid boy. You will come with me, and I will escort you to your dorm,” Snape said, grabbing Harry’s arm and dragging him back the way they came.

"But it's an emergency, sir!" Harry stated loudly, pulling the opposite direction with all his might.

“I highly doubt that a first-year student could do such harm as to call anything an emergency. You are just as arrogant as your father,” Snape said as he pulled the much lighter child along.

“Lumos!” Harry cried, and suddenly a bright light filled the corridor. Snape screamed in surprise, giving the boy the chance to pull away. He ran to the infirmary and yelled, "Madam Pomfrey! You have to hurry. I’m not sure how, but I’ve blinded everyone in Xander’s rooms."

“Oh dear,” she said, grabbing her emergency kit, which was needed at least three times a year, and followed the running boy out the door. “Tell me what happened along the way,” she instructed. They ran into Snape arguing with a suit of armor, who was holding the recently blinded man captive. But said suit would not let Poppy treat Snape, and Harry said that they needed to hurry along. She gave the Potions Master a bit of a glare, knowing that if the castle’s protections were preventing him from treatment than he must have done something very wrong.

Back in the apartment, Joyce was fuming. "Minerva, you have to do something about that Snape!" she said angrily. "I just received word that he accosted Harry and tried to take him back to the Gryffindor dorms and wouldn't believe Harry when he said you sent him to the infirmary! What if Harry was ill and needed help himself?" she said in exasperation.

"Is Harry all right?" Hermione asked worriedly.

"He's fine. He escaped Snape by blinding him like he did you all. He's already on his way back with Poppy," she assured her.

"Cool! If this is how he reacts under pressure, then training him will be a cakewalk," Xander grinned. Now he hoped that he could break the boy of the bad habit of flinching whenever anyone touched him.

A few minutes later, Pomfrey and Harry entered the room. Seeing everyone except Joyce staring blankly at the wall, she quickly made her way to the youngest. “Joyce, what is going on? I just saw Severus having an argument with a suit of armor. The armor wouldn’t let me treat him, so I came here to find out what was happening,” she said as she examined Hermione’s eyes.

“Harry was trying to do some wandless magic and accidently blinded the room. I’d wager that he did the same to Snape,” Joyce said with a smirk as she ruffled the young boy’s perpetually messy hair.

"I see, well, let’s try and keep the accidents down to a minimum,” she lightly admonished the worried-looking child.

“I’ll try,” Harry said shyly.

"Poppy, do you perhaps know Joyce? You seem very familiar with each other,” Minerva said in mildly clipped tones. How could a woman who both Dora and Poppy knew have been hidden for so long? Didn’t Joyce say she was sleeping for centuries?

"Simply put,” Joyce explained while Poppy healed Hermione, “I have found, over the decades that I have been awake, that it is much easier for me to get to know the on-duty medical personnel. That way, if I arrive with a student that requires attention, I don't have to keep explaining who I am. I used to do it all the time before I went to sleep."

“And the reason why none of this is ever mentioned to the staff in charge?” the transfiguration teacher inquired, still put out that she didn’t have prior knowledge of Joyce. She had been here longer and was higher in the school hierarchy.

“Oh, well, I just help them think that it’s unimportant,” Joyce answered slyly.

“Wait a cotton-picking minute here, you created a Sunnydale Syndrome?” Xander asked with a bit of awe. While frustrating, the Sunnydale Syndrome had saved them a lot. Basically, what it did was make people believe that the demon activity was caused by gangs hopped up on PCP. This did make it bit difficult when people believed Buffy to be the leader of that gang, but it kept the people from panicking. On the other hand, it made the citizens of the community victims, since they didn’t watch out for things that went bump in the night.

“Kind of,” she confessed, knowing what he was thinking. “Though I prefer to call it the Summers Syndrome. I did get if from Sunnydale, though. I can’t tell you how frustrated I became after dying to realize that I missed so much of my daughters’ lives because of that… spell… curse… whatever,” she huffed. So much time lost.

"Well, Harry, you didn’t cause any serious damage, just some very temporary blindness. I can heal it up with no problem,” Pomfrey stated as she waved her wand over the young girl’s eyes.

"I can see!" she exclaimed happily.

"Any spots in your eyes?” Poppy asked, waving her wand once again, checking for any lasting effects.

"No, ma'am," she said respectfully.

"I'm sorry I blinded you all," Harry said worriedly. Things were going so well with this group of people, and he really didn’t want to mess that up by doing damage that couldn’t be reversed. Hurting someone you cared about had to be on that list.

"No worries, Harry," Xander assured him, blinking now that he could see. "You wouldn’t believe how many times me and my friends accidently hurt one another. We got over it and still loved one another,” he added, knowing just what the boy was thinking.

Pomfrey healed everyone else and started for the door. "I suppose I should go and fix Severus," she stated, wrinkling her nose at the prospect of having to treat the vile man.

"Just a moment, Poppy," Minerva said firmly. "Joyce, can you have Snape brought to the Headmaster's Office? Poppy can fix him there."

“Not a problem,” the blonde woman stated and left to do just that, followed by the two staff members.

“Well, this has been an interesting day, but I’ve got an early morning. I think Joyce put the Floo back in the Head Office, so I’ll just join them. Harry, it was wonderful to see you again, and I will see you soon to start your lessons,” Dora stated as she and Xander got up.

“I’m going to head there, too; you guys do what you want until bedtime. Why don’t you go see how your friends are doing? I’m sure Neville would be glad to see you,” Xander said as he passed the two children. He really didn’t want them here without supervision, so sending them to the Gryffindor common room would give them something to do.

“Okay, Xander,” the kids said together, then giggled at one another. They followed the adults out the door, but turned toward their old dorms. They found Neville sitting with the other first years and went to join him. The rest of the Gryffindors saw them come in and started to ask some questions they couldn’t with Mr. Harris around. Questions like, “How did he lose his eye?” and, “Is he single?” Harry and Hermione gave what information they could and told the whole of Gryffindor about their adventures since the man had arrived. Many of the young Gryffindors has their doubts, and it wasn’t until they were asked to prove that Harry could cast a blinding Lumos that Percy called a halt. He took the kids back to the ‘house within the castle’ and stayed with them until they fell asleep.

While Harry and Hermione were undergoing their interrogation, Severus Snape was being dealt with in the Head's Office. “I want that brat expelled. He assaulted a teacher, and that is a punishable offence,” the greasy-haired man ranted as he paced in front of the room. Poppy had fixed his eyes and returned to the infirmary. Joyce and Dora were sitting behind McGonagall, watching the two battle it out. Xander was standing guard at the door.

“And just why did he feel the need to assault you, Severus?” McGonagall asked from her place behind the desk.

“He was running through the hall close to curfew. Celebrity or not, he should not be able to break the rules without consequence. He gave some lame story about needing to get Madam Pomfrey,” came the silky answer. “As if a child his age could do enough harm to warrant such an emergency.”

“I, for one, can tell you that first-years can and do cause untold damage,” Minerva stated with a bit of force. “You, as a professor, should know this. I know for a fact that you send many children to the Hospital Wing every year for exploding potions,” Minerva raised her eyebrows, daring him to refute her claim.

“That is because they cannot read simple instructions, it is no fault of my own. That is neither here nor there, that child needs to be punished,” Snape insisted. He wasn’t going to let this discussion derail into an argument about his teaching habits. He knew the staff didn’t like him and were biased against his House.

“We could always use Veritaserum,” Dora suggested slyly, practically itching to get the man under the potion.

“Yes, that will get to the heart of the matter. I will be more than happy to open my stores to you. You are not as big of a dunderhead as you were in school,” the Potions Master claimed.

“We’d be using it on you,” the Junior Auror stated firmly. “The Ministry doesn’t allow its use on children. You’re the one who’ll have to prove your complaint. We know Harry was out for a reason. You’re the only one stating he was breaking the rules.”

“We’ll forego that route for now,” Snape said quickly. There was no way he was going to let anyone put him under the truth serum. He had far too many secrets that needed to be hidden. His life would be forfeited if anyone knew what he knew.

“Too late,” Dora chirped with a vindictive smile. She truly hated this man. She had to take remedial potions to get into the Academy. Her mother had to pay out of pocket for that to happen. She was one of the lucky ones that could afford it. Since this man started teaching, the price of the tutors doubled, since demand was so high. “You just admitted having a Ministry controlled potion in your stores. So, I’m going to have to report you.”

“It’ll never stick,” Snape said snidely. “Albus will get me off.”

“Yes, but in the meantime, you will be out of my castle,” Joyce said sweetly.

Snape tried to storm out of the room, only to be confronted with an angry Xander.

"Take a seat," Xander said calmly, pointing to the chair in front of the desk. “Hey, Dora, can you get someone in charge here?” he asked, never taking his eye off the greasy-haired man as he watched him throw himself into the indicated seat.

"Yeah, I’ll call Kings, he’s my trainer,” Dora said with a smile as she headed toward the Floo.

"Minerva, you might want to find a new Potions Master. I’m not letting this man back into my home,” Joyce said viciously. She had been waiting years to throw Snape out.

“That might be a bit difficult,” Minerva said fretfully. “Severus is the best Potions Master in the United Kingdom.” It was bad enough she had to find someone for History, and now Potions? If this kept up, they would have a whole new staff come New Years.

“Can’t you hire from abroad? Or, I could ask the goblins,” Xander suggested, throwing a smirk at Snape.

“The Board will never agree to that,” Snape smirked back. “Nor will Albus.” He knew those stuck up purebloods would never admit that foreigners were better, and there was no way they’d let creatures teach their children.

“Well, we’ll just have to work around both of them,” Joyce said snidely. This would go nicely with their plans anyway. Get competent professors in here, and then add new classes. Yes, this could work.

“I have a question,” Xander stated, glaring at Snape, who paled a bit. “Why didn’t you just toss him out like you did Dumbledore?” it was something that bugged him a lot. How could the headmaster allow this man to abuse the children without fear of reprimand? He just lorded his authority over the children like the tyrants of old. This was the twentieth century. Stuff like this shouldn’t happen.

“Well, it’s politics mostly,” Joyce confessed. “While I am here in spirit, and can interact with anyone within my area, I can’t just throw people out without just cause. Not without a lot of political ramifications. That, and I don’t really have the power to make it stick. Most people don’t know I’m here. I didn’t have any power until now. You will be my hands outside these walls. You can make the Ministry understand that this Death Eater broke the law,” she tried to explain. Her hiding for so many years had reduced her influence on what was happening in the school. Now that Xander could act in her stead, he could enforce her rulings.  

“Yeah, but…” Xander started, only to be interrupted by bright green flash of the Floo.

Any further discussion was halted by the arrival of Dora, and the man they assumed was ‘Kings.’ Introductions were made, and the events of the night were told.

"We can take him in for questioning, but we’ll need permission to search the dungeons," Kinsley warned, knowing that without evidence the whole thing would get thrown out.

"Xander can give you that. He owns the school," Joyce offered with a smug look.

"He does?" the other occupants, living and portrait alike, exclaimed.

Xander’s eyes bulged. "I do?"

Chapter Text

“Of course, he is. Do you think I’d bring him here without giving him the means to protect me and my home?” Joyce asked as she went to a painting in the far corner. She tapped on the frame three times, and said to the lion-like being portrayed there, “Regulus, could you give me my documents?”

“Is it time, my Lady?” The being yawned and stretched as if he hadn’t moved in over a century, which likely he hadn’t. Not since the last time Joyce talked to him.

“Yes,” was all she said. The painting popped open and Joyce removed the large stack of pristine parchments from inside. She carried them to the desk and waved Kingsley over to test them. “You’ll find that they are all in order.” Joyce smirked and went to stand by Xander.

“You gave me a castle?” he murmured to her. He knew she had given him the run of her accounts, but not the whole shebang. What the heck was he going to do with a school? The small group of Slayers he had overseen had been hard enough.

“And the surrounding land,” she stated with a huge smile.

“What am I supposed to do with all that?” he whined.

“Protect it, and use it to protect Harry,” she answered as if it were obvious.

“Merciful Zeus, that’s a lot of responsibility, Joyce. I have a hard time keeping my socks in order,” he complained as he watched the dark-skinned Auror perform an age test on the papers.

“You’ll be fine. I have a lot of faith in you,” she commiserated, patting Xander on the arm. “Unlike my daughter,” she mumbled under her breath. She always hated the way Buffy would put Xander down. Oh, her oldest daughter liked him well enough, but she had no faith in him whatsoever. No matter how many times the man who stood by her saved the day, even the simple things, like confronting a centuries old vampire, Buffy still saw Xander as a lackey. Sure, when he was a teen, he had been the class clown, but that didn’t stop him from throwing himself into whatever danger needed to be resolved. She truly hoped that he could give Harry some of that bravery and loyalty. Her thoughts were interrupted by the documents flashing green.

Kingsley nodded at the indication that the documents were indeed valid and went to Xander. “I’m going to need a drop of blood to verify that you are the person named in these papers,” he said.

Xander shrugged and reached behind his waist and pulled a sharp dagger from nowhere.

"Wow! Where did you hide that?" Dora asked, looking for some sort of bag or holster and seeing none. Something like that would help her career a lot. An arsenal that no one could see? Yeah, that would be super cool.

"I’m not entirely sure. A friend set it up for me, something about a pocket dimension… I call it my pocketspace. I just reach in and get what I want." Xander frowned, wondering if he could set that up himself now. Obviously, it would be useful for Harry, and especially Hermione. That girl carried far too many books. She was like a mini-Willow. “It cleans whatever I throw in it. Clothes, weapons, even dishes. Saves a lot of time on the road.”

"Tonks, pay attention." Kinsley admonished as he made his way back to the desk. He tapped the papers with the blood-tipped knife, and the blood spread out and glowed green. A name appeared above them, hovering in the air: Alexander Lavelle Harris – Lord Hogwarts, King of the Goblins.

Xander groaned. "Couldn't you have magicked that away?" he whined at Joyce, who just stuck her tongue out at him.

“Tampering with your name would have made the documents invalid,” she smirked.

Meanwhile, the spell continued to list what seemed to be his genealogy, only instead of his parent's names, the spell added a single name above his: Joyce Summers – Lady Hogwarts. The names flashed a bright white and then disappeared.

"Immaculate conception?" he asked Joyce with a grin.

“Divine intervention,” she countered. “When I was brought here, I made sure that you, and the girls, were counted as my children. I always wanted to adopt both you and Willow, but mostly you. That blasted Sunnydale Syndrome kept interfering.”

"Does this mean I can call you mom?" he asked cheekily.

“Of course,” Joyce said with a smile and opened her arms.

Xander strode over and pulled her into a hug.

"Oh, somebody please kill me," Snape groaned in disgust.

"Oh, oh! Me! Me!" Dora said, jumping excitedly like a hyper child after too much candy.

"Control yourself, Miss Tonks. Even in the line of duty, you would not be permitted to do so,” the greasy man sneered.

“No, but I’d love to try. The battle would be half the fun,” she said snarkily. She, like 85% of the school, hated this man. If she hadn’t had her mother to get her a tutor during the summer, she might not have made it into the Auror Academy. She had even invited all her friends to her lessons. Because of those summer teachings, the Academy had a good class her year. She felt really bad for those that didn’t have a parent who could afford it, or a parent who could teach potions. This man alone was the reason why many professions were lacking in apprentices and employees.

"Well, it all seems in order," Kingsley said, tapping the parchments, which produced copies and filed to their appropriate offices. He turned and handed the original papers back to Joyce, who disengaged from Xander and accepted them with a smile before placing them back behind the portrait.

"Search away, my good man,” Xander said to Kingsley, smirking at the ever-paling Snape.

“I need formal permission,” Kingsley stated.

“You have permission from me, Alexander Lavelle Harris, to search the office, classroom, and living quarters of Severus Tobias Snape,” Xander stated, standing straight up. “And I thought my middle name was bad,” he grumbled under his breath. “Of course, with a name like Severus…” he mumbled, letting the unheard comments drift off. Poor guy must have been teased terribly as a child. Not that he felt sorry for the man, but still.

"Excellent. Tonks and I will transfer him to a holding cell at the Ministry and return immediately to conduct the search." Kingsley said with a smile. "If we find what we think we will, then Mr. Snape will undergo questioning by Veritaserum." Snape somehow managed to pale even further. He even took on a hint of green. With that, they frog-marched the Potions Master away.

"It’s going to be a long night,” McGonagall stated, slumping in her chair.

“I’ll handle it,” Xander stated. “It’s kinda my responsibility, seeing as it’s my castle now.”

“As Provisional Headmistress, I should be there as well,” she sighed. Not that being provisional was much different than being Deputy Headmistress, since Albus handed most of his workload to her anyway. His many offices made his time very short, so she was responsible for most of the paperwork and day-to-day running of the school. The difference was that she could now sign off on a lot of things she couldn’t before. With the owner here, it would be much easier, and far more permanent. Those plans they had made might just come to pass after all.

“Well, I’m going to make sure the kids are in bed and that no one else is blinded,” Joyce said, popping away. She found both of her charges in bed and a very tired Percy Weasley slumped in a chair. She praised him for taking initiative and sent him on his way.

It was a long night and they found many things that would put Severus Snape in Azkaban for a long time. They hit the jackpot with his journal, which documented a great many crimes. He had abused the students in his care, plain and simple. Mostly it was verbal abuse, but with his harsh detentions, it traversed to physically as well. The only line he didn’t cross was sexual deviancy. Why he would keep such a thing on hand, no one knew. Perhaps he felt that Albus Dumbledore would keep him from prison no matter what may be found. The journal did give them reason to question him under Veritaserum, and his many crimes as a Death Eater came to light. He was not the good guy Dumbledore would have had you believe he was.

No, things were not looking good for Severus Snape. Kingsley promised to keep them informed and was quite pleased to say that this would be a career maker for both him and Dora. To Dora, it was better than the seizing of Borgin and Burkes, though she wasn’t going to sneeze at that opportunity. She was already making great headway in that and it had only been a day. The dark objects they were recording, and destroying, were many items that had vanished during raids. Those and the books they found were putting many purebloods in the scope of the Auror department. They were going to be keeping a very close eye on those bastards.

Both Minerva and Xander were exhausted the next morning. Xander was introduced to the lovely potion called Pepper-Up. When the smoke came from his ears, the poor man freaked out a bit.

“What the hell was that?” Xander shouted, batting at the smoke spewing from his head.

“It’s normal, Mr. Harris,” Poppy stated, patting him on the head like a child.

“There is nothing normal about smoke coming from any orifice of my body. That way lies trouble,” he disagreed. He really didn’t want to be turned into a demon.

“No, Poppy’s right, Xander. It’s the potion releasing extra adrenalin from your body,” Joyce said, snickering at his plight.

“I better not sprout horns, or anything,” he stated, pointing his finger at the three women and two kids giggling at him.

“Can I try?” Harry asked, not really needing one, but wanting to see what his new bodyguard would say.

“No,” came the resounding rejoinder from all four adults.

“Aw,” he pouted, then smiled to show he was kidding. “So, is Snape really gone?” he asked to change the subject and get Xander’s mind off the smoke.

“Yeah,” the one-eyed man said, ruffling his hair. “Hopefully, he’ll be put in that prison, Arzkabin,” he stated, looking at the older women.

“Azkaban,” Hermione immediately corrected.

“Wherever he goes, he’s not welcome back here,” Joyce stated firmly, folding her arms across her chest.

“Hear, hear,” Xander stated cheerfully.  “Why don’t you kids go get ready? I’m taking us to London to get kitted out, as Spike would say.” He waved them to the bedrooms. The kids scurried off and the staff left. While he waited, he flipped on the TV to the news to try and get used to being back in 1991. He snickered to himself as he realized that technically, he was about the same age as Harry and Hermione. He grabbed a stick from near the fireplace and began whittling a stake just to have something to do.

A few minutes later Hermione came bounding down the stairs where she saw Xander and stopped.

"What are you doing!?" she screamed.

Causing the poor, sleep-deprived, yet very awake man to jump and wield the half-carved stake. “It’s just a stick, honest,” he said, taking deep breaths to calm down.

Hermione just stared at him in confusion. "No, the TV! You can't use electronics around magic," she explained.

Xander looked between Hermione and the TV, currently showing the BBC morning news. "You sure about that? 'Cause it looks to me like you can."

Hermione opened her mouth to retort, but found she had nothing to retort with.

Xander thought Hermione might have a nervous breakdown as her knowledge betrayed her, so he called in an expert. "Joyce?" The Lady of Hogwarts appeared. "Hermione says you can't use electricity around magic… the TV says otherwise. Care to explain?"

"Ah, yes. That used to be true when electricity was first discovered. But with all the improvements in insulation and conduction, they work just fine now. However, after the first failed attempt, the magicals didn’t try again. They feel that the non-magicals messed up and that they were as stupid as they first thought they were. That, and someone put a ward up to prevent them from working while I was asleep. I don’t know why they would if they thought electricy couldn’t work, but someone must have learned of the improvements. I’ve taken it down, but…" she trailed off.

"I’ll never understand that attitude. I mean, don’t they know that a press of a button could see the end of them?" Xander snorted.

Harry soon joined them, and they headed for breakfast while Hermione grilled Joyce about phones and other electrical devices. Xander listened with half an ear and made a few tentative plans to get some of those items in Hogwarts. He did own the building, and if he wanted to update, it was his prerogative. He’d have to sit down with Joyce to see if they could. Even if it was only phones so the kids could call their parents, that would go a long way in keeping them from acting out. He’d have to talk to the goblins about installing some in Gringotts as well. Business would be more conducive that way.

Xander joined Minerva at the staff table with Joyce, leaving the two kids to spend the morning with their friends.

The three adults fielded questions from the staff regarding last night’s events. Dora joined them after breakfast, and a little before 10 am they headed out. It being a Sunday, the shops closed earlier. Xander headed off the females that would have seen them hours in Harrods. He felt that Harry didn’t need to shop upscale. The boy only needed casual clothing. They did stop at movie stores to pick up a wide variety of movies. Xander, being a kid of the 80’s, felt that much could be learned by the media. So, he made sure to grab novels and comics as well. If he had his say, Harry was going to get a well-rounded media education.

It was an exhausted group that arrived back at the castle that evening. Xander was worried that Harry had been traumatized by the whole shopping deal, but he was still asking Dora and Hermione questions. He realized during dinner that he hadn't spoken with the goblins yet about replacement teachers. He and Minerva left Dora with the kids as they Floo called a goblin advisor to discuss what or who was available. Flooing made him concentrate more on the fact that phones would be so much easier, and his tentative plans became a bit firmer. There was no way he was ever going to be comfortable sticking his head in fire.

It was eventually decided that goblin teachers would be provided for Potions and History of Magic. The goblins would commute, since they really didn’t want to live with smelly humans, and everything was set up for next week. They even snuck in some weekend teachers for the three R’s. Reading and Writing would be handled by Joyce, but who better than an accountant to teach the kids math? There would even be a course on how to handle your finances, but it would only be a few days a month, taught by a goblin. They didn’t want the children to burn out with too many changes at once. They would be electives right now, and Xander was paying for them out of pocket. That way the Board couldn’t say anything.

The following week passed without much incident, though a lot of purebloods, mostly Slytherin, found themselves in detention for commenting derisively on the new teachers and classes.  Not much was said about Snape being gone, though there were those like Malfoy who grumbled about not getting away with things they had in the past. Many students signed up for the new electives. Hermione, and quite a few Ravenclaws, were ecstatic that they didn’t have to give up the basics.

The professors were happy with the new arrangement because the new classes would help improve things like essay writing and Arithmancy. Though, with a word from Xander and Minerva, many of the old teachers were happy to cut down on written homework and assign practical work. They set aside an hour each day for the students to come and show they could to the spells taught in class. Those that couldn’t were assigned written homework until they could. Foundation was important. Everyone seemed happy with this arrangement.

Saturday was the first Quidditch match and Harry was very nervous. Hermione encouraged him to eat that morning, but his nerves were getting the better of him. Xander could see the worry on both his charges faces, so he decided to have a word with them.

“What’s up, Harry? Nervous?” Xander asked as he took a seat next to the very anxious boy.

Harry just nodded his head in agreement, not trusting himself not to spew anything that was in his stomach, which wasn’t much.

“Now, I don’t know much about this game, but you’re the Seeker, right?”

The poor boy nodded.

“So, it’s your job to fly around and catch the… snitch? And doesn’t that sound wrong,” Xander chuckled. “Reminds me of a guy named Willie.”

“It’s a small winged golden ball,” Hermione said helpfully.

“Okay,” the one-eyed man drawled. “Still, you get to fly above everyone else, while the other players actually score until you find this ‘small winged golden ball’, right?”

Another nod.

“Sounds to me like everyone is going to be watching the other players. By the time it’s your turn to win the game, most of the job will be done,” Xander said, clapping the shaking child on the back. “Try and eat some toast. Don’t want you to fall off your broom from being lightheaded.”

“Xander,” Hermione chastised.

“Just kidding. You’ll be fine. I’m sure there are lots of precautions for such an event,” the one-eyed man chuckled as the ruffled Harry’s hair again and left the table.

Harry picked up a piece of dry toast and started nibbling on it, not sure if he was relieved or even more anxious. He was thankful that Xander would be there to prevent any mishaps.

Soon enough, it was time, and the teams left, and the students and staff made their way as well. Joyce decided to stay in the castle, as she never liked quidditch. So Xander walked with Minerva down to the stands as older woman told of some of her antics as a Chaser during her schoolgirl days. They were seated by a young boy with dreadlocks named Lee Jordan. According to Minerva, if she didn't sit right behind him, he tended to become slightly unruly with the commentary. As the players took their places, Xander became very uneasy as he saw how high Harry was going. He squashed it quickly, hoping what he had said earlier was true and that there were precautions to prevent injury. There should be; it was a school after all. He soon got caught up in the game, even to the point of occasionally forgetting Harry was up there.

After thirty minutes and no sign of the snitch, a scream was heard from the Gryffindor corner. "Harry!"

Xander recognized Hermione's voice immediately. He followed her gaze to see Harry barely hanging on to his bucking broom.

“Potter has lost control of his broom!” Lee Jordan yelled through the mic, and all eyes focused on the struggling boy.

“Xander!” yelled Harry, who was gripping his broom like a life line, which it was. Even if it was trying to kill him.

“Shit,” Xander said, standing up and blocking quite a few teachers’ views. “Hang on, Harry! I’ll get you down!” he bellowed up to his charge. Harry’s broom stopped bucking and the boy quickly climbed back on, but that was not good enough for Xander. “You guys do have safety measures, right?” he asked Minerva, without looking away from Harry.

“No,” she answered with pursed lips.

“What!? Why the ever-loving hell not?” the one-eye man asked, almost looking away. “These are just kids, you know.”

“It was never deemed necessary,” she replied, bitterly. “It is tradition, something about toughening them up.” She, for one, had never liked that policy, but was denied every time she tried to change it.

“Well, I’m going to change that right now. Tradition be damned,” he said and shot a spell at the ground, which didn’t seem to change much. “I’m going to get Harry, and we’ll be discussing why school quidditch isn’t professional.” He then shot out of his seat like a superhero.

“Adult on the field,” Lee called. “Does that make him a streaker?” was the confused question, which resounded throughout the stadium, causing the tense air to lessen a bit, as a few girls giggled.  

Xander made it to Harry, who was hugging the front of his broom. The broom had started bucking again, only to stop when Xander reached him.

“Xander, what are you doing? And how are you doing it?” the scared boy asked. He was also a bit disappointed; it was his first game, and then this happened. How was he supposed to win for his team if he couldn’t fly?

“Ummm, flying?” Xander said as he grabbed the now-still broom.

“Without a broom? I was told that was impossible,” Harry said, easing to an upright position.

“I’m not totally sure, but it’s just like I told Neville, if you want it, you can do it. I wanted to fly, so I am. I just made it so gravity around me doesn’t exist,” he tried to explain. “You should try it,” he suggested. He really wanted to see if Harry could do it. It would be one more thing that could save his life.

So, Harry closed his eyes and willed gravity away. He did feel lighter, but for some reason Xander kept ahold of him.

“Easy up, Harry,” came Xander’s chuckled suggestion.

“Why?”

“Because you’re putting too much power into it and everyone is floating off their seats.”

“Oops,” Harry said sheepishly and lowered his intent. He pictured a bubble around him, so that only the air in that bubble would be gravity free. He was still flying and now Xander let his arm go.

“Dude, you’re like a nuclear reactor to everyone’s lightbulb,” Xander chuckled again. "Okay, Harry. We better head down now. I think the game has been called off on account of a rogue—" He was interrupted as Harry's hand snatched past Xander's ear and came back with the snitch. "—broom. Or that works." He shrugged.

"Potter caught the snitch, does that count?" came the confused announcement.

“I made it so the ground was like a spongy trampoline. That way if anyone falls they’ll be okay. Wanna try?” Xander said with an evil grin.

“Sure,” Harry smirked back. And the two of them freefell to the ground, causing the whole stadium to scream. When they bounced and shot back up, some cheered and others yelled.

“XANDER!” came the angry voices of two different females.

"Oi! Xander!" George Weasley called out from his position floating next to his brother. "Can we do that?”

"Have at it, guys," Xander shrugged as he paused in mid-air.

The twins looked at each other grinning before they literally leapt off their brooms, eliciting more screams from the stands.

Having seen Xander, Harry, and the twins successfully and safely fall to the ground, the majority of Hogwarts population started leaping from their seats, and a good few teachers did as well. Hagrid caused a great many of them to fly in the air when he took his turn, giving a mighty roar as he did so. Teens and teachers had a great time bouncing around the field as Harry and Xander joined a very irate looking McGonagall. He shrugged and said, “It worked. It’s better than his broken body splattered on the ground.”

Harry grabbed Hermione and made her join in the mayhem, leaving Xander to his fate.

"You do realize that every student in the school will be wanting to know how to fly? I dread to think how many accidents are just waiting to happen!" Minerva ranted, worried for the students.

“Meh, don’t worry. Harry doesn’t know enough to teach them. Well, maybe Hermione, but we’ll get them to promise not to teach anyone else. As a matter of fact, we’ll make them take vows of silence to put off anyone who asks. Do you want to learn?” he asked the prim teacher.

“I believe I am too old to be taught such new magic,” she answered a bit despondently.

“Nah, it’s easy, actually. Probably easier for you since you really don’t know much science,” he disagreed. He grabbed her and flew off towards the castle, talking her into making herself weightless. It took the better part of the day, but by the end she got it. They sat the children down before bed and talked to them about how important it was not to teach anyone. Harry and Hermione agreed that it would be a secret until such a time that Xander gave them the go-ahead.

Tonks came the next evening to help Harry with his Metamorphmagus ability. Xander was delighted to see him pick it up so quickly. Harry spent all of Sunday as someone else, which was a blessing and a curse. He listened in on what the school was saying, and many were upset that the way of flying was denied to them. Quite a few were blaming him. The students complained that he was getting special privilege, which he was, but for a very good reason that they didn’t know. They didn’t have a semi-dead Dark Lord after them. His soon-to-be-ex-friend Ron was the biggest whiner, but the twins and Neville were his biggest defenders. This made him sad and happy at the same time.

When he told Xander, he said, “It’s better you know your real friends now, then get stabbed in the back later,” which Harry took as truth. He vowed to continue to spy, and make sure he knew who his enemies were.

Chapter Text

The following Monday brought bad news: Snape got off. Once more, Albus Dumbledore had spoken for the man and he was released from all charges.

“And Dumbledore can do this...why?” a very confused Xander asked.

“He’s the Chief Warlock. He can do just about anything he wants,” Dora answered as she slumped in her chair. Her hair was cycling through various dark, depressed colors.

“What’s that when it’s at home?” the one-eyed man asked, looking to Minerva.

“He is the head of the court system,” she answered primly. She always hated it when Albus threw his weight around. He had never listened to her pleas to get the Potions Master out of the castle and it looked like he was going to win again. She braced herself for another difficult year.

“Wait, your head judge can just wipe a slate clean? Just like that? No trial of his peers?” Xander asked, flabbergasted. He stared at the magicals in the room. “Doesn’t Dumbledore have someone he has to answer to?”

“He is supposed to answer to the Minister, but that idiot is scared that Dumbledore is after his job,” Dora replied, her face almost in a pout. This was supposed to be her big break, but now it looked like a mar on her record.

“Well, he’s not getting back in here. Snape, I mean. I won’t let him. I have the right and duty to protect the children residing in my home. He violated them, and he won’t be getting a second chance,” Joyce said firmly. “Xander, if he shows up again, you can show him the door,” she said with a wicked grin. “Use any means necessary.”

“It’ll be my pleasure,” he agreed with a matching smirk.

“Please, don’t do anything I’d have to arrest you for,” Dora pleaded. She liked Xander, but she couldn’t turn the other way just because she wanted to.

“Don’t worry, Dora, as long as Xander confines his activities to the castle and Hogsmeade, he’s safe. We have autonomy, appointed by King Arthur himself. He wanted us to self-govern ourselves. He said, ‘Schools should not be run by governments.’ It was one of his free-thinking ideas. He truly hated oppression. Godric owned the land and we built the castle. While it is not a country, per se, it is its own municipal and the Lord of the castle is supposed to be in charge. We try to follow the laws of the country, and that means Great Britain, not the Wizarding World, but we police our own. There is a dungeon in the lower part of the castle, and I am a noted judge. Although, what I do know of the laws of the land is very out of date. I’m not sure how the Ministry got it hands in my pie, but Xander is going to do everything he can to get them back out again,” Joyce lectured smugly. “I’m not even going to mention what was done to Sally’s home,” she added ominously. She had been devastated to learn what they had turned her son’s home into. She gave a full-bodied shudder, glad the man was dead and didn’t know.

“What? How am I supposed to do that? I don’t even know half of what this castle teaches,” Xander groaned. Every time he turned around, she was heaping more on to his plate. He’d only been here a short while, and already he was guardian to Harry, Head of Security, King of the Goblins, and now Keeper of the Castle. He didn’t know how much more he could take.

“Don’t worry, Xander, I’ll help, and so will Minerva,” the embodiment of Hogwarts reassured, giving the overwhelmed man a one-armed hug.

“Me too,” Dora chimed in. “I’m not sure how, but I’ll do anything I can to help.”

“Mr. Harris, you are not alone in this,” McGonagall stated. She, too, wanted the Ministry out of Hogwarts.

“See, Xander, you’ll have all the help you need,” came the teasing reply from Joyce. “He always was a favorite of female teachers,” she told the other women.

Xander gave a cheeky grin. "Yep, that's me! ‘Teacher's Pet’!" he exclaimed. He remembered a great many of Sunnydale’s teachers fondly.

"I thought you were ‘Teachers Post-Coital Snack’?" Joyce smirked, throwing M. French in his face.

"Traitor!" Xander cried theatrically.

“Now that is a story I want to hear,” said Dora, sitting forward in her chair.

“Perhaps another time,” Minerva deflected.

“Fine,” she pouted. “I’m going to go and see what I can find out; any information could help. Bye, everyone,” she stated as she headed to the Floo.

Good-byes were given, and McGonagall turned the topic back to the Headmaster. “We need to discuss Albus. You said Severus would not be returning, but what of Albus?” she asked, wondering if her temporary position was permanent. Not that she minded, but she thought she would have more time to prepare. Things would have to be shuffled around to make it work.

“I don’t know. I don’t like the man,” Xander said, folding his arms over his chest. “He reminds me too much of Travers. He treats Harry like he’s Buffy, or something. I don’t want to tell the horror stories about that man and his ‘tests’.” Xander really didn’t like the old man. He strongly reminded him of the old Watchers Council. Those stodgy old men grated on his nerves something fierce.

“I have a beef against that man too, but, Xander, Dumbledore doesn’t have the money the Watcher’s Council did,” Joyce said, trying to calm him.

“No, but he does have the pull if he can get Snape off without a trial.”

“Correct, which is exactly why we should not dismiss him. Until you get Hogwarts back as a sovereign state, we need to keep the status quo,” Minerva argued.

“Just how much pull does the Ministry have here?” Joyce asked. It was something she never got the answer to.

“You have to understand; the purebloods of this society hold a lot of power. They control just about everything. If you were to dismiss Albus, they would try to control the school as well,” McGonagall explained.

“And this would be a bad idea...why?” Xander asked.

“Because they have no problem… removing muggleborn children so that their heirs do not have to go to school with ‘mudbloods’,” Minerva stated coldly. She needed them to know the state of what they were dealing with. “They could not do it publicly, but if they had control of the school they could get ahold of where the muggleborns live and pay them a visit. Very few in the Ministry would care.”

“Okay, I get that. All right, we let Dumbledore back. But, he needs to follow some rules,” Xander said mulishly. He vowed to himself that if anyone started killing children, they were going to meet his axe, up close and personal.

"Fine, we’ll place Albus on probation. You’re right, it’s too big of a political headache to keep him out. That, and the public adores him. They might just pull their children if he’s not here," Joyce admitted, hating the truth of it. “We’ll keep an eye on him, and if he messes up, we’ll get proof. Then I’ll boot him out.”

“And I’ll take great pleasure in helping,” Xander stated.

“Who will take his place? I need to know in case things need to be moved around,” McGonagall stated, worried that it might be a quick upheaval like this last week had been.

"There are only three candidates, Minerva. Yourself, Xander and me," Joyce assured her.

"Oh, God! I think Snyder just rolled over in his grave," Xander shuddered, and then smirked, just imaging the vile man screaming from his place in hell.

“Well, I think I’d better set things up in case that happens,” the Transfiguration teacher stated primly. “Mr. Harris, I will give you some reading so you do know what the rules are, and what classes are taught.”

“Great, homework,” the poor man moaned. With that, the three called it a night.

The time until Yule break passed in a flurry of lessons and spying. Harry had taken to spending more time as an unidentified student. He couldn’t change his height much, only by a few inches. So, he continued to pass off as a first-year or a short second or third-year. He snagged robes from all Houses, so he wouldn’t be discovered. He learned that most students really didn’t talk about him, once the gossip finally turned away from Xander and his new magic. The whole school had figured it was just a fluke, some sort of accidental magic. Mostly they talked about girls, relationships, school work, and other teenage things. He felt a lot better, but knew that if something were to happen, it would turn back to him in an instant. It was a life lesson he would keep with him.

Hermione had received permission for Xander and Harry to celebrate Christmas with her family. They would be staying in the guest room at her house, so Xander went to meet her parents and set a few things up. He had the goblins come and put some wards on the house and made sure that they were impenetrable. He informed the Grangers about Harry’s former homelife, and that he might be a bit skittish. They understood, and said they would help as much as they could. There were a few things that Xander needed to do in the non-magical world that might help Harry in the long run, so he spent most of the school hours walking to Hogsmeade and catching the Knight Bus back and forth, using Hermione’s house as a base.

The lessons between the two kids went well. Both now knew how to fly, and they could do all first-year work wandlessly. Xander taught Harry magical self-control, since he still tended to blind people with his Lumos. It took a lot of meditation, something neither was good at, but they both could now control their output. Xander, on the other hand, was learning what magic was and what it could do. His imagination went wild, and he came up with the most ridiculous things, like eating without his hands. McGonagall actually smacked him on the head for that one, and told him that he would get lazy and unfit if he continued. Xander smirked and showed her his workout room.

It was an unused classroom that he had the house elves clean out. He had brought back a lot of exercise equipment and worked out every day. He hadn’t brought the kids here yet, because they were too busy learning the new magic and control. He planned on starting after the break or next year, hoping that if Harry felt strong bodily, that maybe it would help the kid mentally.

On the 20th of December, many of the students made their way to the train station in Hogsmeade. Harry and Hermione had spent time with Neville and were discussing having him join them in the extracurricular lessons. He was very excited, and said he would have to ask his gran about it, but he was sure that if she knew that it would make him strong like his dad, she wouldn’t mind.

Xander became very excited as they reached the brick wall that acted as a barrier between the magical and non-magical worlds. “This is great,” he said, “I’m going to learn how to do this with my body. That way, no wall would ever be an obstacle again. Never again would I be left out because I couldn’t get into a damn room.”

“But, Xander, what if a bad guy learns it? They’d be able to get into any house,” Harry said worriedly.

“First of all, we won’t teach it to them; remember the vow. Second, I’ll just have to think up some kind of forcefield that will keep me, and them, out. I promise, I will make it safe before I ever teach it to anyone,” he told the concerned kids.

After saying goodbye to Neville, they caught the Knight Bus, much to Hermione’s dismay, and journeyed to the Grangers. A thin man, about Xander's height with glasses like Harry's, and a woman, about a foot shorter with thick, curly brown hair, met them as they disembarked. Heartfelt greetings were given, and the small family had a quick discussion on how everyone was faring. Then they turned to their guests.

“Xander, great to see you again. It’s been what, three days? I’m not sure how we made it without the Great Xandman,” Dan Granger teased the one-eyed man. Xander had been helping around the house, as his carpenter skills were unparalleled. They had saved loads of money on repairs and had more to spend on their little girl.

“That’s me, the Great Xandman, Carpenter Extraordinaire,” Xander said, puffing up mockingly.

“Knock it off, you two,” Emma Granger said, smacking both the men in the chest. “This must be Harry. It’s so nice to meet you, young man. Xander and Hermione never stop talking about you,” she said, offering her hand.

Harry reached over warily and gently shook the woman’s hand. “It’s nice to meet you, too, Dr. Granger. Hermione has said nice things about you, as well.”

“Well, come on. Let’s get you boys settled,” Dan said, slapping Xander on the back and grabbing a trunk, which almost made him stumble.

“Ummm, yeah… you might want to pretend it’s heavy,” Xander said with a bit of a chuckle.

“Thanks,” the elder man stated as he grabbed the trunk again and made it look like it was an effort.

“Hermione, would you show Harry where he’s sleeping? It’s the guest room at the end of the hall. He and Xander are bunking together,” Emma said, gently pushing the children in the direction of the house. They had two guest rooms, but Xander didn’t want Harry to be alone in a house he didn’t know.

“Okay, Mum,” Hermione nodded as she grabbed the Harry’s hand and pulled him away.

The two men lugged the luggage into the house, left them at the foot of the stairs, and joined Mrs. Granger in the kitchen.

"The confirmation came through today. We need to be there first thing tomorrow," Emma said somewhat cryptically, thwarting little eavesdroppers as they sat at the kitchen counter.

"Sweet. My… people have also confirmed everything," Xander added. "Hopefully, Harry will like his first real Christmas present," he said with a hint of worry. It had taken a great deal of wheedling, dealing, and whining to get everything set up as quickly as they did. However, the goblins played a major role in it. They greased a few hands, threatened a few people, and called in a few favors to get the ball rolling.

“I can’t believe the changes in Hermione,” Emma said, changing the subject. “She’s not near as bossy as she was when she left. Does it show in her schoolwork?”

“She’s fine, and her work is just as perfect as before. I had a bit of a talk with her. It was a major blow to her ego when she found out that books could actually be wrong. Her favorite book was Hogwarts: A History, but then she met Joyce and her whole outlook changed,” Xander chuckled, remembering when Hermione tried to throw the book in the fire.

“Still, it’s a bit of a change,” Dan stated, worried that it might be too much for his little girl.

"I’ve been teaching them a special magic, which I’m sure she’d be happy to show you,” Xander said, hoping to get the looks of bewilderment off their faces.

“That won’t happen,” the father said bitterly. “Children aren’t supposed to do magic outside of school.” He hated that fact, and was pretty sure that it was only muggleborns that had that restriction.

“I’m sorry, did you just say you can’t see what your little girl is learning?”

“Nope,” Emma said, just as bitterly as her husband.

“Well, that does it. I’m going to open the school during summer holidays for a parent/teacher day, so everyone can see what goes on at Hogwarts. There’s no excuse for this,” the displaced man huffed, folding his arms defiantly.

“Muggle aren’t allowed at Hogwarts,” came the cold reply from the father. It was a bone of contention with him. He had always paid close attention to Hermione’s education, so when he was told that he couldn’t anymore, because he was non-magical, he almost forbade her from going. Eventually, his wife and daughter had talked him around.

“They will be. I own the school,” Xander stated as fact.

"They can't. It's in Hog-" Hermione said, joining the conversation as she and Harry came down the stairs.

"And you know how accurate that book is," Xander interrupted, giving her a knowing look.

“However,” she debated, “there are muggle repelling wards. Joyce told me.”

“I’m sure she can change that. Why are you arguing with me? Don’t you want your parents to see what you’ve learned?” he asked, giving her a pointed look. Sometimes, this girl just argued for the sake of arguing. He was going to break her of that, if only so that she didn’t do it to Harry.

“Of course, I do,” she said aghast. “What kind of question is that?”

“Then stop picking fights,” he countered.

“All right, enough,” Emma interfered. “We’re ordering out to eat tonight. We have an early morning and you two need to get to bed soon. So, what do you want to eat?” she asked the kids. A short debate on dinner ensued, in which Harry didn’t really participate, since he had never had takeout. Soon enough, Chinese was ordered, eaten, and set to digest. The kids were sent to bed, while the adults discussed the next day.

The next morning, everyone got up, got dressed in their best clothes and made their way to the Inner London Crown Court. Xander had asked about congestion charges, but was informed that they had never heard of such a thing. He told them he’d tell them about it later.

As they were standing in front of the courthouse, Harry asked, “Why are we here?”

“We’re going to punish the Dursleys. It’s their day in court,” Xander answered, kneeling down and looking him dead in the eye.

“Can’t I just be shot of them?”

“No, Harry, they need to be punished for what they did. What if they turn their anger on your cousin. Do you really want that to happen?” the one-eyed man asked. He never got to have his parents arrested for their abuse, and he regretted that to this very day.

“They would never do that,” protested the young man. “They’d let Dudley get away with murder.”

“That’s just a different form of abuse. Don’t you see? They are setting him up to fail in life. He will believe that he can do anything to anyone and get away with it. Someday, someone is going to hurt him badly, and even then, he might not learn,” Emma said, also kneeling to Harry’s level. “You can prevent that just by answering a few questions.”

“I’m not sure that will work. He’d just go to his Aunt Marge, and she’s worse,” Harry argued with a body shudder. He hated that woman more than Uncle Vernon. Her vile words about his family and her vicious dog were five times worse than being hit.

“I’ll try to make sure the judge knows that, okay?” Xander said, patting him on the shoulder. He knew that Harry was a good person and would do the right thing.

Not wanting to prolong the waiting and Harry's suffering, Xander put an arm around his shoulder and shepherded him inside the tall building. The courtroom was simple: a judge’s bench, a witness chair, the stenographer’s table, two lawyer’s tables, and the galley.

They made it to the courtroom and sat in the front. The Dursleys, minus Dudley, tried to cower Harry, but Xander soon put them in their place with a well-formed scowl.

They sat and talked for a few minutes, when the door in the back opened and McGonagall and Tonks came through.

"Wotcher, Harry!" Tonks greeted happily.

“Hey, what are you guys doing here?” the small boy asked as they sat behind his group.

“Are you kidding? We’re here for you,” the pink-haired girl answered.

“It will be most educational to see how non-magicals handle such a case,” Minerva stated, looking fondly at the child. She always knew the Dursleys were hateful people, and she wanted to see them brought to justice.

They had barely sat down when the doors opened again and a middle-aged man with graying hair marched in with a younger man. The younger man took a seat in front of his little typewriter, and the man sat down behind the desk on a raised platform where a nameplate declared him to be Judge Matthew Finch.

"Good morning, all. I am Judge Finch. This is a custody hearing for one Harry James Potter. Is the young man in question here?" he asked kindly.

After a nudge from Xander and Hermione, Harry stood up.

"Here, sir," he said quietly.

"Ah… excellent. Now then, this is going to be rather informal. It’s just to make sure that everyone has your best interests at heart. If necessary, we will hand certain proceedings along to criminal courts. However, whatever testimony you give here will be used there. So, don’t worry."

Xander was pleased with the way the judge handled Harry. He obviously knew his way around children.

"Now then. Mr. Rothsby, would you care to proceed?" he asked the man representing Harry.

"Of course, your Honor. It is my belief that the Dursleys willfully and maliciously abused and neglected one Harry James Potter. Evidence shows that he was kept in a cupboard ten years of his young life, and only when they thought they were being watched did this change," Mr. Rothsby stated, shuffling photos on his desk. He held one that said ‘Harry’s Room’ up for the Judge to see. “As you can see, we have a physician’s report of all the damage done to the child over the years. He will never grow to his true height, and his eyes are damaged from be enclosed in a dark room for many hours. There are signs of broken bones and wear and tear on his organs. We are hopeful that the child will heal with time, but these atrocities need to be addressed.”

“Has the child been removed from the premises?” Judge Finch asked, concerned, looking through the photos and papers in front of him. They painted a very bad picture of young Harry’s childhood, and he wanted to make sure he was out of that damaging environment.  

“Yes, Your Honor. He is currently attending a special boarding school in Scotland. Mr. Alexander Harris is his temporary guardian. We have the papers to show this,” the lawyer stated, again holding up the evidence.

"And you want sole custody granted to Mr. Harris?" the judge enquired.

"Yes, sir. Mr. Harris is the owner of the school and is also the Head of Security. It was he who brought this case to the attention of the courts with Dr. and Dr. Granger."

"He is unmarried?" Judge Finch asked.

"Yes, your Honor."

“Isn’t there another child in the house?” the judge asked, concerned that one might slip through the cracks.

“Yes, your Honor, but Dudley Dursley shows no sign of abuse,” Mr. Rothsby answered, looking at the parents of the child in question. “Statements from the neighborhood show that young Mr. Dursley is a spoiled bully who has never been disciplined in his life.”

“Nevertheless, we’ll send Social Services to the house to interview the child,” Judge Finch stated, making a note.

Petunia stood up and declared angrily, “I would never abuse my son.”

“But you would abuse your nephew?” the judge questioned.

“Sit down, Mrs. Dursley,” her lawyer ordered, grabbing her arm and forcing her down. “I apologize, Your Honor,” he mumbled.

“Forgiven. It’s your turn. What is your initial response to these allegations?”

The lawyer for the Dursleys stood up, shuffled a few papers, and explained, “My clients believe they did what was best for the unruly child they were given. They maintain that they gave the child clothes, food, and shelter. As he was an undisciplined boy, they felt the need to make sure that he would not inflict harm on their family.”

“Do they have proof of these acts of rebellion?” the judge asked, lifting his eyebrow. He saw the reports and noted the child in the galley. The poor boy looked like a firm wind could knock him over. “I see in front of me pictures of a small room with no windows and locks on the door, which, by the way, is against fire safety laws. There had better be something that will back your clients claims.” Not that it mattered; the evidence was overwhelming. However, one must do the judicial dance to see justice.

There was a very subtle change in Mr. Charles's expression, but everyone caught it. "Mr. and Mrs. Dursley claim they have managed to negate the need for reports via judicious repudiation and recompense," he said quietly.

There was a stunned silence.

Eventually Mr. Rothsby cleared his throat and began, slowly, "I've run that phrase through my mind several times, and, like Mr. Charles, I am an Oxford graduate… but I find that translating to 'we bribed and threatened people'."

Mr. Charles remained impassive, seemingly desperate not to let his emotions and thoughts slip through.

"Yes, well… I'm an Eton man myself, and I can assure you that I am, as such, well versed in the ways of deciphering that type of snake-oil sales pitch. And you are absolutely right, Mr. Rothsby," Judge Finch said with a scowl as the Dursley's turned white. "It doesn't matter how you dress it up, you have just stated that the Dursley's have committed criminal acts to cover up alleged criminal acts."

"My clients deny that, Your Honor," Mr. Charles said stiffly. "I have a character witness who would like to speak on their behalf."

Finch sighed, "Very well, have them take the stand."

"He does not appear to have arrived," the lawyer said, beginning sweat just a little.

"You have a character witness who can't even turn up on time? This doesn't exactly speak well of the character of the character witness," Finch stated. He was beginning to think this whole fiasco was all a joke. As far as he was concerned, once Harry told him he wanted to go to Mr. Harris, that was it, and the case would then be turned over to the Crown Prosecution Service.

"He assured me he would be here on time, and that it was imperative for Mr. Potter's own safety that he—" Mr. Charles was interrupted as the doors at the back banged open, and a tall wizened figure in an immaculate suit strode in.

Albus Dumbledore had arrived.

Chapter Text

The man stepped into the courtroom as if he were on stage for a play. In this play, he would have been the overdramatic good guy, with flourishing poses, sparkling smiles, and twinkling eyes. Everyone expected that any moment he would spout off, ‘Worry not, for I am here to save the day,’ which, thank God, he didn’t.

"Oh, God. It's a member of the Amateur Dramatics Club," Xander groaned quietly, putting his face in his hands. Harry and Hermione giggled, while Dora and the Grangers flat out laughed. Minerva just thinned her lips and looked at her boss in disgust.

Judge Finch looked at the overbearing man and then to Mr. Charles. “I take it this is your witness?”

“Yes, Your Honor,” the poor man said, trying hard not to groan.

“Your character witness?” came the disbelieving question.

“Yes, Your Honor,” was the equally disbelieving answer.

“Have him take a seat. We’ll call him in a moment,” the judge sighed, waving his hand at the galley.

Mr. Charles quickly gestured for Dumbledore to sit behind him. The old man looked put out that he was not recognized immediately. Didn’t these people know he was a very busy man?

“What were you about to say, before we were so rudely interrupted?” the judge asked, looking at Mr. Charles.

“It pertains to my witness, Your Honor. Professor Dumbledore has expressed to me that it is in Mr. Potter’s best interest that he continues residing at the Dursleys. He stated that it is a matter of life or death,” the sweating man replied, knowing that his statement would not go over well.

“Judging from the evidence before me, I find that very hard to believe. Do you have any other evidence that will support this claim?” Judge Finch asked. He didn’t seem sure there could be such a thing, but appeared willing to play along for now.

“Well, Your Honor, Professor Dumbledore states that he is willing to testify to this fact,” was the feeble response.

“Very well, call your witness.”

“Albus Dumbledore, please take the stand.”

With a flourish, the old man stood, took the witness seat, was sworn in, and smiled genteelly to what he perceived as an audience. This was going to be one of his finest performances, after all.

"Carry on, Mr. Charles," Judge Finch said tersely.

“Thank you, Your Honor.” The nervous lawyer turned to the man who could make or break his case. “Professor Dumbledore, you have led us to believe that you can give proof to the fact that Mr. Potter needs to remain at the Dursleys. Will you give your testimony now?”

“Of course. Eleven years ago, there was a mad man out to slay the Potter family. A terrorist, if you will. On Halloween of the year 1981, he murdered young Mr. Potter’s parents, Lily and James. By some miracle, young Harry survived, and the terrorist did not. However, there were those that followed the terrorist fanatically. They would look to complete the job their… leader failed. I needed a safe place to put young Harry, and Petunia Dursley is the last remainder of his blood family. There is little known generally about Lily Potter, she was unimportant to her killer. They would not know how to find him. It is imperative that he remains hidden there, so the followers this mad man do not kill him. It is the only place, outside of school, where he is safe,” Dumbledore stated as fact, prevaricating as best he could.

“You were the one to take Mr. Potter there for his safety?” Mr. Charles asked, hoping to deflect some of the blame off his clients.

“Yes. After the attack, I had one of my most trusted comrades go and retrieve the poor lad from his destroyed home. I then left Harry in the Dursley’s care, warning them of the necessity that he remain there. They are his only family, as I have stated before,” was the gentle answer.

“Mr. Dumbledore—” Judge Finch started, only halt when the witness cleared his throat importantly.

“Professor, if you please.”

“Do you have proof of identity?” the Judge asked, clearly upset that he was interrupted.

“Alas, I did not think to bring any with me,” Dumbledore stated, looking over his glasses at the judge condescendingly.

“Then you will remain Mr. Dumbledore throughout these proceedings. Now, Mr. Dumbledore, are you saying you kidnapped the child and took him without consulting the authorities?” Judge Finch asked, shuffling through the paperwork. He turned his attention to the old man, who was quickly getting on his last nerve.

“The local authorities were not equipped to handle such a case. This terrorist had been about for many years, and no one was able to stop him until young Harry did. The Potters were with a group that was designed to capture the man. They failed, and it cost them their lives,” the old man stated, looking patronizingly at the judge.

Xander and Minerva glared at the old man for saying such a thing, while Harry was almost in tears at the Headmaster’s disparaging words. His parents were heroes, and nothing this man could say would change that, but to downplay their courage in public made him want to cry. Dora put her arm around the despondent boy and Hermione held his hand. The Grangers were confused, as they really didn’t know the story behind Voldemort. The Dursleys looked smug.

“So, you took it upon yourself to do so? What authority did you possess? Are you a sworn judge?” the man behind the bench asked, flabbergasted that this man put himself above the law.

“James Potter put his faith in me. I was merely carrying out his last request that his son remain safe,” chastised Dumbledore, as if he were speaking to one of his students.

“That is not your call,” the judge stated firmly. “That is a serious offence, and you will remand yourself into custody for questioning when we are done.” He banged his gavel. “Now, Mr. Dumbledore, I have in front of me a slew of evidence that states that the last place Mr. Potter should be is with the Dursley family. As a matter of fact, unless I receive irrefutable proof otherwise, this case will be taken to the criminal court system. I ask you again, where is your evidence?” Finch said irately.

Dumbledore was fuming. Who did the upstart think he was to dictate to him? He, of course, was not going to do as ordered, and while that would make him persona non grata in the muggle world, it really didn’t affect his life in the wizarding world. "I am afraid I cannot go into too much detail. I can only reinstate that there are elements out there who wish young Harry great harm."

Mr. Charles, knowing that Dumbledore hadn’t helped his case in the least bit, sighed and said, “I have no more questions for this witness.”

"Good choice," Xander muttered, causing the group to chuckle.

The Dursleys were silent. They knew it was over, and would not further harm their case.

Rothsby wasn't quite sure how he was winning, but he was. He had no idea how to proceed, though. "Your Honor, I-"

"No, Mr. Rothsby, I believe we have heard enough from this… witness. Mr. Dumbledore, the bailiff will take you into custody to answer for your crimes,” the judge stated, pointing at a burly, mean-looking man in the back, who seemed to take a dim look on kidnappers.

Not wanting to cause a scene if front of everyone and break the Statute of Secrecy, Dumbledore silently went with the man.

Xander and a few others knew it was all for show, and they’d be seeing the Headmaster soon enough. They watched him hold his head high as he left the courtroom, and all rolled their eyes.

"There are only two people I wish to hear from before I make my decision. Mr. Harris, could you take the stand please?" Judge Finch requested.

Xander was sworn in and sat waiting, patiently.

“I need to know that I will not be putting Mr. Potter in a worse situation, so I must ask: do you have proof of who you are and how you will be able to support him?” the judge questing, very tired of this case already.

Xander took out his paperwork from his inner pocket, handed it to the judge, and replied, “I am owner of the school and I have a lot of experience with children. Granted, mostly girls, but you see my point.” The goblins had created a background for him, even putting in citations for traffic violations. According to these papers, he was a former teacher at an all-girls school in LA. He grew up in the area, moving to Britain at the request of a friend’s mother to help her rescue Harry. All of that was based on the truth, so he wouldn’t get his story mixed up.

Judge Finch chuckled. "You poor, henpecked soul," he remarked. “Where do you plan on living? I am sure that the school is not year-round,” he asked, looking at the paperwork. The school was listed as a boarding school in Scotland with a mailing address as a P.O. box, but no phone number. It was named Hogwarts School for the Gifted.

“No, Your Honor. I am looking for a house right now, having recently relocated. We’ll be living near the Grangers, and they have promised to keep an eye on us, given that I am unmarried,” the one-eyed man stated.

"Good, that answers my next question," Judge Finch declared happily. "You may step down, Mr. Harris. Harry, I need you to come over here with the lawyers, so we can have a little talk. Don’t worry, we’ll be right back,” he said, indicating a door off to the side, which was a chamber set up for just such a purpose. The four went into the little room and all settled at the table. Harry was asked to promise to tell the truth, and the judge asked him, gently, “Were the Dursleys as bad as the evidence shows?”

“Yes, sir, I mean, Your Honor,” came the nervous response as Harry looked at the table.

“Do you want to stay with them?”

“NO! I mean, no, sir,” Harry exclaimed quickly, snapping his head up, clearly desperately hoping he wasn’t going to be sent back.

“Don’t worry. As far as this court is concerned, you will not have to, if that is your desire,” Judge Finch, comfortably patting the child on the hand. “Now, do you want to stay with Mr. Harris? I understand that he has been taking care of you for a while.”

“Xander is really nice to me, and if I can, I’d like to stay with him,” Harry replied shyly.

“There would have to be visits with a caseworker. Since you are at a boarding school, you will have to come to their office and talk to them,” warned the judge. “That way, if Mr. Harris does turn out to be bad, you can let them know.”

“Xander’s cool, he teaches me how to protect myself,” Harry defended his hero immediately.

“Okay, we’ll see how it goes for a year. If all goes well then, he can have permanent custody,” Judge Finch said with a chuckle.

“Thanks, Your Honor,” the messy-headed boy said enthusiastically.

They all went back into the courtroom and the judge banged his gavel for attention. Harry quickly rejoined his group and all eyes turned toward the front. “I am afraid I have no choice but to hand the Dursleys on for prosecution. Quite frankly, today's hearing was appalling. I have heard many tales of abuse of a child, and this was one of the worse I have seen, due to the length and breadth of the conspiracy surrounding and causing Mr. Potter's torment. I am ruling that Harry James Potter is to be held in the custody of Alexander Lavelle Harris. There will need to be a probationary period, and Mr. Rothsby will explain the details, but as I explained to Harry, he can never be legally forced to return to the Dursleys. This hearing is closed."

As the Dursleys filed out quickly with their solicitor, Judge Finch signaled quietly that he wanted the rest to stay. He quietly dismissed his scribe and Xander told Mr. Rothsby he would call later. As the scribe closed the door, Judge Finch sighed. "I assume the Hogwarts listed is Hogwarts of Witchcraft and Wizardry?" he asked tiredly.

Everyone but Xander seemed shocked at that question. How did the muggle know about Hogwarts?

"Justin's dad?" Xander asked. He had run across the boy in question a few times in his job as Head of Security. The kid just couldn’t help getting lost.

"Yes, how's he doing?"

"He’s doing okay. He’s made plenty of friends, but he still has a bit of a stick up his butt at times." Xander commented, earning a scowl from Minerva and a snicker from the others, including Judge Finch.

"Sounds about right. It's one of the reasons I didn't want to send him to Eton. He has older brothers there, you see,” Judge Finch chuckled. “Now, I know that Mr. Dumbledore is going to escape. I want it noted that there will be a record of this and he will have a warrant out for his arrest. I beg you to remove him as headmaster of the school. These papers say you are the owner, do you have that power?” the judge all but pleaded. He didn’t want a criminal in charge of the school his child attended.

"I’m sorry, nothing done here today will affect his standing in the wizarding world. In their eyes, he’s done nothing wrong. We can’t boot him out on that. However, he has done other things that call him into question, and he’s currently on a year’s probation. I’m going to be keeping a very close eye on him. If he screws up, I'll be kicking him out so fast his over-long beard will be left behind," Xander said seriously. "Professor McGonagall will assume the head of the school if that happens," he said, waving to the prim teacher sitting next to him.

Judge Finch sighed in frustration. "I suppose that will have to do for now. At least I know you have the children's best interests at heart. Harry, you made a good choice today. Take it from someone with years of experience in these situations," Judge Finch said kindly. “You’ll be going in to your rebellion years soon, try and pay attention to what Mr. Harris has to say.”

"I will, sir,” Harry said surely.

“Sure, you will,” said a doubtful Xander.

“I will,” protested the shy boy, thinking he would always listen to the one-eyed man. He had come to save him, after all.

“Do me a favor and keep me in the loop. I want to make sure that Justin is well protected. If I find out that he is in any danger, I will pull him from Hogwarts and send him to Eton,” Judge Finch warned.

“I wouldn’t have it any other way,” Xander said understandingly. He’d do the same if he could.

Then the bailiff came running into the courtroom. Dumbledore had escaped.

Chapter Text

The group assembled in front of the courthouse. They were all upset and happy at the same time: Happy that Harry was finally free of the Dursley’s, and upset that Dumbledore had slipped the bobbies so soon. They’d been hoping he would behave, at least until nightfall. Xander was just glad that he had put wards up on the Grangers’ house so they couldn’t be found by magicals, not that he planned on staying there long. He was going to take them all to Hogwarts after Christmas. Right now, they were wondering how, exactly, they were going to get to the Grangers’.

“Well, we have the car, but it’ll only hold five, or six if we squeeze,” Dan said, looking at McGonagall and Dora. They had indicated that they wanted to come to celebrate with the family.

“We can Apparate, but I don’t know where your house is,” Dora offered, having never been to the Grangers’.

“It’s strange; I used to know. I seem to remember the address, but I’m unable to get a fix on the location,” McGonagall said, confusion evident in her voice. She distinctly remembered sitting in the Grangers’ home, telling them about magic. She remembered reading the address on the letter, but then it was fuzzy. As if it had happened in a dream.

“Good, then the wards work,” Xander smirked. “What’s Apparate mean?”

“It’s a means of instantaneous travel--” started Hermione.

“Wait, we can teleport?” The one-eyed man was all but bouncing in place with excitement. That was one of the things Willow never had figured out. Actually, she couldn’t get a lot of things that he was doing here to work there, and he had to wonder whether the reason was how much magic was in this reality, or her own limitations. That couldn’t be right, though, because Willow could do many things these magicals had never heard of. Until him, that was.

“Not exactly. It’s more like opening a wormhole, a very small wormhole, and getting sucked in,” Dora answered. “You need to know where you’re going and have confidence in what you’re doing or you’ll splinch, which is leaving parts of you behind.”

The Grangers and Harry leaned against the courthouse wall and watched the four. They all shuddered at the splinching part, but they listened intently to the rest. Harry and Hermione didn’t want to pass up an opportunity to learn, and Dan and Emma were fascinated.

“Give me a minute; I want to see if I can figure it out,” Xander said as he started to pace. When he bumped into a passerby, he said, “We’d better take this to an alley. Wouldn’t want to break the Statute of Secrecy.”

“Good idea,” McGonagall agreed, leading the group to the nearest back street. After they all entered, she cast a notice-me-not charm on the entrance and returned to the subject. “While I have great faith in your ability to perform magic, Mr. Harris, are you sure you want to try something so dangerous without any formal training?”

“Why is it dangerous?” Xander asked, unconcerned. He was already going through ideas in his head.

“As Miss Tonks stated, the ‘wormhole’ grabs ahold of you and quickly transports you to your destination. If done incorrectly, body parts may be left behind,” she explained in her best teacher voice.

“Oh, well, I’ll make sure that I don’t do that. I think I’ll try something else,” Xander stated. He scrunched up his face and disappeared without a sound.

“Woah,” said the two kids and the Grangers.

“I don’t think that was Apparition,” Dora commented.

“I believe you’re correct, Miss Tonks,” Minerva agreed, looking hard at the spot he disappeared from.

“Where do you think he went?” Dan asked after a few minutes had passed. He hoped Xander would get back soon. It was freezing standing in this alley, and they still had to get the car.

“Knowing Xander, he might have tried to go to the moon,” Harry said with a bit of pride.

“You can’t breathe on the moon, silly,” Hermione disagreed, which set off arguments on where the overly-ambitious man went and what he was doing there.

“That was great,” Xander said as he suddenly popped back into view ten minutes later. “Home never looked so nice, you know, since it’s not there. Good riddance, I say. No Hellmouth is a good Hellmouth.”

“Wait, you went to the States?” Dora asked disbelievingly. No one she had ever heard of could do that, not even Dumbledore. They all needed Portkeys. And even then, it took much longer.

“Well, yeah, it’s one of the few places I know well,” he answered. “Anyway, I popped over to Hogwarts on my way back, and Joyce wants to celebrate, too. So why don’t we, as in the Grangers, Harry, and I, drive back to the house, and you two go back to the school? Then either Harry or I,” he waggled a finger between him and Harry, “will teleport us there,” he suggested, hoping no one would argue. It was cold, and he was a Californian, born and raised. Not to mention the fact that he was pulled here from Africa. Cold weather was something he was the not least bit used to.

“You’re going to teach Harry?” Dora asked with a bit of a pout.

“Don’t worry, I’ll teach you, too, but I want us to get out of the cold. I’m dying, here.”

“Oh, right, I forgot you were raised in a warmer climate. Okay, we’ll see you at Hogwarts,” she said, and then she Disapparated.

“I don’t know what you did, but do be careful,” McGonagall cautioned, then she, too, left with a sharp crack.

“Right, I’m with Xander, let’s get out of this cold,” Emma said as she herded them to the car. It was an excited drive home as they talked about Harry’s freedom and where he was going from there. Now he could do many things he never could under the hateful watch of the Dursleys, like have friends over, do well on schoolwork, or buy things for himself that he never would have had there, for fear of them being destroyed or taken away.

When they made it to the house, Xander said, “Okay, I’m going to take Harry to the back yard, and we’ll hop around it a bit. When we’re done, I’ll teach Hermione. That way, we’ll have three people who can take us anywhere in an emergency.”

“What about the underage magic rule?” Hermione asked in concern.

“I’ve been thinking about that. Minerva said even adults with wands can get caught in non-magical homes, if they use it too often. Something, about the Statute of Secrecy. Now, I’ve been doing magic here for days and no one has said anything to me. I think that if you don’t use a wand, you’ll be okay. Besides, if anyone gives you grief, just direct them to me, and I’ll handle it,” he said as he led the kids outside.

“Okay, but you’re taking the fall if something happens,” Harry said, relieved that he wasn’t going to get in trouble. He had great faith that Xander would protect him.

“Okay, so here’s what you do. Just picture a portal over your head, with the other side being where you want to go. Or, like I did with Sunnydale, feel the place. It’s like, if you wanted to go to the zoo, but it’s been redesigned and you don’t quite know what it looks like, then you remember the feel of looking at the lions, or something,” he directed Harry while the Granger family looked on. “This should be easy, since where you want to go is right next to that bush,” he finished, pointing at a shrub a little ways away.

Harry closed his eyes and visualized what Xander was saying. He saw the portal above his head; it was like someone cut out reality and replaced it with a new one within the space. He focused on the far corner of Hermione’s backyard, and then the portal simply swallowed him, and he was through. He turned around and looked back at the group, which was giving him a round of applause. They did this a few more times, and then Hermione tried. After a dozen or so mistakes, she got it right.

“Right. Now, take an adult each, and try it again,” Xander declared, pointing to the two awed, adult Grangers.

Hermione grabbed her mum, and Harry took Dan. They teleported a few more times, and then Harry tried to take the whole group without touching them. He succeeded.

“Okay, kiddos, let’s let Harry take us to Hogwarts,” the one-eyed man said, rubbing his hands together in an evil villain-like way.

The next thing the group knew, they were standing in the Great Hall of Hogwarts.

"Congratulations!" rang out several voices when they appeared. Joyce, the teachers, a few students, several people Harry didn’t know, and armor from practically the whole castle was standing there, clapping joyously.

"Great Merlin! How did they manage to Apparate into the castle?" Professor Flitwick gasped.

“I don’t think that was Apparition,” Kingsley said, noting the absence of the telltale sound.

Harry was grabbed and passed around in hugs, until he was approached by a man he didn’t know. “Ummm, who are you?” Harry asked, standing stiffly.

"Oh, Merlin, you don’t know me, and here I am hugging you. Sorry. I’m Bill Weasley, and I’ve been looking everywhere for you. When Percy told me that you were here, and that you looked so abused, I almost stormed the castle," Bill said as he released Harry. "Then, when my brothers told me about Halloween night and Xander, well, I figured I’d wait to see what happened. You’re okay now, right?”

Harry nodded. "They said you used to look after me."

"Aye. When I got older, I started searching for you. I took the job at Gringotts in hopes of getting information. The goblins knew, but they couldn't tell me outright because it was against the goblin code. I hoped to work my way up so I could find out more," Bill said ruefully, barely holding in his emotions with mental fingernails.  He had been so worried when Harry disappeared. He had spent most of his adult life looking for this child, and now that he was in front of him, Bill didn’t know what to think. He looked so tiny and fragile. Bill really hoped that this Xander person would bring back some of the loving, laughing baby that he once knew.

"I had Bill transferred back to London once Dora told me who he was," Xander said as he measured the man in front of him. Even if Bill had been looking for Harry, he, Xander, didn’t know the guy, personally. Still, he hadn’t yet met a Weasley he didn’t like. Even that Ron kid was just that--a kid. He’d grow up one day.

The party was roaring success. The kids had fun telling stories about the judge, and the adults quietly discussed what to do about the Dursleys. Now the teachers knew that Harry had been abused, and they would treat him as well as they could. He wouldn’t get special treatment, but perhaps a bit more praise on deeds done well, and some encouragement that wouldn’t go amiss. Xander made sure that everyone knew that the non-magical courts system would handle Harry’s relatives, and that no magical intervention was required. The party broke up around midnight, and the Grangers, Xander, and Harry were a weary group. Harry transported them back to the house, and they all slept in the next morning.

After they had awoken, they looked at a few houses for Xander and Harry. Harry wasn’t exactly sure what he wanted, but Xander noticed that none of the ones he approved of had cupboards under the stairs. Harry greatly approved of a single story, three-bedroom, one and a half bath house. He liked the smaller space, and told Xander such. Xander said he’d see about prices and talk to the real estate agent.

The next day was Christmas Eve, and Xander could be found walking straight into doors and walls. After a great deal of teasing from everyone, he finally explained what he was doing. “I’m trying to phase through the wall.”

“Why? Doors aren’t good enough?” Dan asked, giving him an ‘are you that lazy’ look.

“What? No. I’m just seeing if I can do it,” the one-eyed man said defensively.

“And again, I ask, why?”

“Well, I feel like I should use this magic stuff for all it’s worth. You never know what you’ll need later in life. This could save lives one day,” Xander answered, taking a seat at the table and thinking over the problem. It was true. He couldn’t count how many times walking through a wall would have saved a whole lot of trouble back in the Dale. Jesse might even be alive today if they could have just gotten out of that building.

Harry and Emma finished cooking and called Hermione, who was the only one still sleeping in, down to enjoy it.

“This is really good, Harry,” Emma said after testing the eggs the boy had made. “Where did you learn to cook?”

“Oh, ummm, well, you see…” Harry stuttered, not really wanting to tell them that he had been cooking since he could see the top of the stove.

“Never mind, dear,” Mrs. Granger said, silently cursing herself for bringing up a sore subject.

“Still, this is a good thing, cause the Xandman can’t cook at all,” Xander said, playing down his ability. He could cook, but he couldn’t make eggs taste like that.

“What was all that thumping I heard?” Hermione asked as she joined the table.

“Xander’s trying to walk through walls,” Harry answered, glad to get away from that subject.

“Oh. Are you making the walls intangible, or yourself?” she asked, taking a bite of bacon.

“The walls, but it’s not working,” the one-eyed man muttered.

“You should try it the other way,” the slightly-less-bushy-haired girl suggested. Her hair looked much tamer since Joyce had helped her, and she was happy that she could now style it instead of just letting it just frizz out.

They all sat and enjoyed the breakfast, and after an hour or so of running into walls, Xander got it. He tested it throughout the house to make sure it worked on every surface. He had a harder time going through stone, but wood was easy. He then promptly taught it to the kids, and told them not to use it at school unless the situation was dire.

The next day was Christmas, and Hermione woke Harry up as soon as the sun was up. Gifts were exchanged. Harry got mostly better-fitting clothes, but he received a few wizarding toys and games as well. The poor boy was confused and excited at the same time. This was his first Christmas that he could remember wanting to savor every moment of it. He kept all the paper and ribbons neatly folded in one of the smaller boxes. He received large gifts from those he was quickly thinking of as family; Xander, the Grangers, Joyce, and Professor McGonagall. There were smaller gifts from the kids in his dorm, and he was glad he was told to do the same for them. There were more cards than gifts, and they, too, were treated as treasures. He didn’t know he could send cards, and vowed to do so next year. Mrs. Weasley had sent both Harry and Hermione gifts of fudge, and the little group was happy to chow down on it all day.

Harry was glad that it was a small celebration. He didn’t know what he’d do if it was lavish. He was sure he would feel greatly out of place, to the point of being scared.

The small family, Xander, and Harry were having Christmas dinner at Hogwarts, where they would spend the rest of the holiday. The adult Grangers were excited to spend time with Hermione in the castle. That, and they were hiding from Emma’s sister. After breakfast, they all gathered what they needed and took ‘Harry Air’ to Hogwarts, where Joyce and Minerva greeted them. It was a great day, and they spent time with the castle residents until dinner. The Great Hall was reduced to one table, with adults on one side, children on the other.

When the meal was done, Xander and Joyce took Harry to Minerva’s office. She had left the meal early to catch up on some paperwork. Not even the holidays could stop her.

“Harry,” Xander said, sitting on a chair and indicating that Harry take the one next to him. “We have a proposition for you.”

“What kind of proposition?” the boy asked warily as he took the seat.

“Well, now that you’re free from the Dursleys, we wanted to ask if you would let us foster you until the year is over. If all works well, then we would adopt you magically. I’ll be doing that non-magically when that year is up. That way, you’ll have guardians that can take care of you until you’re an adult,” the older man stated. He had had to talk the two witches down from doing the adoption now. It would be too much too soon. Harry didn’t know any of them well enough to ask that.

“Will that change anything?” Harry asked, worried that it might make Xander more… well, not mean, but forceful.

“Not really, but it will give me some legal rights. This way I will be able to handle your finances, give you permissions you need a guardian for, and stuff like that. That, and if you’re hurt, I can sign off on your treatment,” was the answer.

“Oh, okay. I can see where that could be helpful,” Harry said, giving the three worried adults a small smile.

“We talked it over, and since I appear older, I will take the role of grandmother,” Minerva said, taking out the ritual bowl she had stashed.

“I will be your mom,” Joyce added, moving to join McGonagall.

“I will be your other mom,” Xander said with a serious face.

“Xander, quit playing around,” Joyce chastised, even as she laughed.

“Sound good,” Harry said with a boyish giggle. “Does that mean you’ll start wearing dresses?”

“I’ll have you know, young man, very few women I know wear dresses,” the one-eyed man proclaimed.

“Let’s get this done,” Minerva said, herding the group around the bowl. “I still have plenty of paperwork to get through, even if it is Christmas.”

A potion was poured, a bit of blood added, a spell spoken, and then Harry had a loving foster family.

“We’ll do the full one on Christmas next. Until then, you will be well cared for by the three of us. Remember, Minerva can’t treat you differently, but you can go to her if you need something,” Joyce said, giving the boy a hug.

“This is great; I feel like I have a loving family for the first time in my life,” the boy preened.

“That’s wonderful,” the new foster mother said, giving him another hug. The new family joined the rest of their group in Xander’s house. They sat, drinking cocoa and basking in a good Christmas.

“Mum, Dad,” Hermione started off tentatively, “I was talking to Madam Pomfrey earlier, and she said that she could fix my teeth. She said it was an easy procedure, and that it wouldn’t hurt me at all.”

“I’m not sure, Hermione,” Emma started, clearly worried that something might go wrong.

“She said that there’s no danger. All she’s going to do it shrink them a little bit, so that they’ll fit right,” the young girl stated hurriedly.

“There’s no surgery?” Dan asked, intrigued.

“No, just a small spell,” was the quick answer.

“We’ll see. Let us talk to her and see what she says,” Emma stated, not wanting to make a commitment without all the information.

“I will be more than happy to take you there, if you want to go now,” Minerva stated, politely stifling a yawn. It had been a long day for her.

“I’d like that. Do you want to come, Hermione?” Mrs. Granger asked, feeling her daughter might benefit in seeing the discussion.

“Yes,” was the exuberant reply.

“I think we should all go,” Xander said, getting up and stretching.

“Okay,” agreed Harry, copying his foster father.

They all trooped up to the hospital wing. They entered with a lot of noise, as Hermione could barely keep her happiness at bay.

“Poppy,” McGonagall called as she entered the room.

“Goodness, why all the noise?” the matron inquired, coming out of her office.

“Hermione’s parents wanted to ask you some questions,” Minerva answered, taking a seat on one of the beds.

“Is this about her teeth?” the portly woman asked, settling next to the Deputy Head.

“Yes, we want to know the risks involved,” Dan stated, sitting on the bed opposite.

“Well, there really are no risks. It is a simple spell. The only risk is if I don’t pay attention, she might have smaller teeth for a few minutes until I correct it.”

“So, it’s that simple?” Emma asked as she looked in awe and confusion, as if trying to wrap her head around how magic could fix something it would take her and her husband years to correct.

“I promise, it is really that simple,” the mediwitch supplied.

“Can I, Mum, please?” Hermione begged.

“Let us think about it. You may be used to all the wand waving, but your father and I are not,” her mum answered.

“Perhaps you can do so at the start of new year,” Minerva stated. “I wish to have Xander try his Animagus transformation at that time. It will give a few days to get used to the idea, and Hermione some time to persuade you,” she added, with a wink to the young girl, who smiled back.

Xander groaned. He was very afraid that he was going to turn into a female hyena. His possession in his junior year of high school by the spirit of a primal female hyena had been horrible. It left mental scars that would last him a lifetime. He really didn’t want to go that route again. It wasn’t that he had physically changed, but the thought process was a bit much. Brghhh.

McGonagall smiled, as if knowing what he was thinking. Xander had told her the story and she had told him many times it was not like that, but the young man was just too caught up in his memories to be reassured.

“Let’s go back to Xander’s house and enjoy the rest of Christmas. You can come if you like, Poppy,” Joyce said, getting up and heading for the door.

“Thank you, no. I have work that needs doing. The students will be back soon, and I need to brew the potions now that Severus is not here,” the matron stated, getting up and heading to her office.

The group headed once more to the house within the castle, and when it was time for bed, Harry went to his room. There, on the bed, was a wrapped gift. “Xander!” he called out the door.

“What’s up, Harry?” the one-eyed man asked as he came running up the stairs, closely followed by Joyce and Minerva.

“There’s a package on my bed,” the boy answered. “I don’t know who it’s from, so I called you.”

“Smart choice,” Xander said, clapping Harry on the back.

“I recognize that,” McGonagall stated. “I saw it in Albus’ office.”

“Do you know what it is?” the one-eyed man asked, peering at the present as if it would bite. Who knew what the old man was up to.

“No, I am sorry, I do not,” she answered.

“I do,” Joyce said with a smile. “Go ahead, Harry, open it.”

“Wait,” Xander said quickly, gently holding Harry back. “Minerva, check it for foreign magic, would you?”

McGonagall waved her wand and found nothing malicious on it. There was a small compulsion charm, which was quickly removed.

“Go ahead, Harry,” Joyce repeated.

So, Harry opened it and put the wrapping aside. Inside was some shiny, silky material. “It’s a sheet,” he said, looking unsure how he felt about that.

“No, it’s something much more than that. Put it on and look in the mirror over there,” Joyce encouraged.

Harry did as asked. He moved to the mirror, only to find his body gone. He could feel it, but he couldn’t see it. “Wow, what is this?” he asked in awe, turning one way and then the other.

“It’s your father’s invisibility cloak,” she answered, standing behind him so he could see her reflection through the cloak.

“This is awesome! Did it really belong to my dad?” That was even more exciting than the cloak. He didn’t have anything that belonged to either of his parents. Heck, he didn’t even know what they looked like.

“Yup, it’s how he got away with so many pranks while in school,” she answered, smirking at McGonagall.

“Please, don’t encourage him,” the professor moaned. James and his group of miscreants had been enough. She still had the Weasley twins to deal with, she didn’t need Harry to start mischief.

“Oh, no, I think that’s a great idea. I might even recruit the Weasley twins,” Xander said with a smirk of his own.

“Dear Merlin, why?” the transfiguration teacher groaned, as if seeing many sleepless nights ahead.

“It’ll help with stealth and evasion later in life,” came the logical answer.

“I guess it can’t be helped,” she sighed.

“Put it away for now, Harry. You can play with it later. Minerva, could you charm his trunk against thieves?” Xander asked, knowing that this cloak would be a great temptation to other kids. Well, if they found out about it, and could get into the house. Still, better safe than sorry.

“I feel that you could do it better,” she stated, knowing that he just needed a nudge to do wonderful things.

“Yeah, I think I can do that.” So, he went to the trunk thought a moment, then tapped it. Now, if anyone tried to open it, their hands would get stuck and a loud car alarm would sound. It would be so loud; the whole castle would hear it. Only Harry and those he granted permission would be safe from this. “There you go, all secure. Not that you need it here, but it doesn’t hurt to be sure. Go to sleep, Harry. We’ll visit Hagrid in the morning. I wanted to ask him a few things, anyway.”

The next morning dawned bright and white. The seasonal snow covered the land in a soft white blanket. The gang ate breakfast and then they all trooped to Hagrid’s. The giant man welcomed them in and gave them his infamous rock cakes and some tea. The children tried to hide the rock cakes, but Xander took a bite and almost broke his tooth.

“Hagrid, not all of us have granite teeth and a jaw like a trash compactor,” he said, putting his rock cake in his tea to soften it.

“What’s a trash compactor?” Hagrid asked, looking at the rock cakes with fresh eyes. He thumped it on the table and then agreed that maybe it was too hard for the smaller humans.

Hermione launched into a description of what a compactor was and how it worked.

Hagrid looked as if he wasn’t sure if he was being insulted or not.

They enjoyed the rest of their tea and settled in to have a wonderful morning with a good friend. Xander asked a few questions about the security of the grounds. He found the answers somewhat lacking for his satisfaction, but he could change that. Hagrid gave the kids a small Christmas gift. For Hermione he had gotten a book on Kneazles, and for Harry he had carved a wooden flute. They thanked him and hugged him, both saying they would give him something extra special next year.

The rest of the day was spent in the castle, just having fun with the Weasleys and a few of the other students left behind. The Grangers talked with Hermione’s teachers and got a progress report on their little girl. They were both happy that Hermione was at the top of her class, though they would have to talk about her need to answer every question asked.

The next few days were spent as a family: eating, playing, and just relaxing in front of the telly.

New Year’s Eve came, and everyone was excited. Well, everyone except Xander, he was dragging his feet. The idea of becoming a female hyena was still plaguing his mind. He just couldn’t shake the image. His meditations showed that it was a dog type animal of some sort, and even though he knew they were more closely related to cats, hyenas looked like dogs. So, he reluctantly followed everyone to the Hospital Wing and was soon sitting on a bed. He was glad Hermione decided to go first.

“Okay, now, Miss Granger, are you ready?” Poppy asked as she stood in front of the girl. Hermione’s parents hovered right behind her, but she was able to maintain a calm professional demeanor.

“Yes, ma’am,” the hyped-up girl replied, trying to sit still. She had been looking forward to this all her life, especially since she found out about magic. Her parents never really understood what a burden it was to have large front teeth. The teasing, the name calling, and the just plain hurt she felt when she looked in the mirror was something she was looking forward to leaving behind her. She tried not to be a superficial person, but it was hard sometimes not to get caught up in it. Now that her hair was tamer, she wanted to look pretty for once in her life.

“Open wide and hold very still. It will be over in a few seconds,” the matron said, pointing her wand at the enlarged front teeth. With a flick of her wand and a muttered spell, Hermione’s teeth shrank. Madam Pomfrey stopped the spell when the incisors were in line with the other teeth.  Hermione Granger had a perfect smile.

“I still wish we could do that,” Emma sighed as she examined the work. It was flawless. Since Hermione took very good care of her teeth, her little girl looked wonderful.

“We’d be out of a job,” Dan said, smiling at his little girl. “You look lovely, sweetheart.”

Hermione ran her tongue over her teeth and yelled with joy. She promptly got up and hugged everyone. They all laughed and hugged her back.

“I thought you were very pretty before, but if it makes you happy…” Harry said as he was hugged. He had stiffened, and tried to relax, but it was hard. He was still very uncomfortable with touching of any kind. Xander tried to keep it to touches on the shoulder, and that was usually for encouragement. Still, Joyce hugged him often, so hopefully he’d get used to them soon.

“Thank you, Harry,” Hermione said, flashing her wonderful smile at him.

“Okay, Xander, it’s your turn,” Minerva stated, hustling everyone to the side of the room. In her experience, newly changed Animagi had a hard time remembering who they were. So, it was better to have everyone out of range.

“I’m blaming you if I turn female,” he mumbled.

“Why would you become female?” Emma asked, not knowing the story.

“Let’s just call it left over high school anxiety,” the one-eyed man sighed. He deliberately hadn’t told the Grangers about Buffy and gang’s nighttime activities. They only knew that Joyce was Buffy’s mother and that they had been friends in high school. He might sit down and tell them one day, but they really didn’t need to know the past right now. The demons in his reality were a far cry from the magical creatures in this one. “Here you go, young man,” Minerva stated, handing him a vial of Animagus potion. Joyce had made Xander make it. She had tested it, and it was brewed correctly, but it felt different; more potent, or something.

“Well, here goes nothing.” Xander sighed and downed the potion. For a few moments, nothing happened. Then, with a flash of light, the man was gone, and in his place was a huge wolf. Minerva whipped out her wand and backed everyone into a corner, waiting to see if he was in control.

“He’s a werewolf!”  

Chapter Text

The room feel silent at Hermione’s exclamation, until Harry’s young voice broke it.

“Really!?” the young man said excitedly, trying to get past his transfiguration teacher. Since he had read about werewolves in muggle books, he had always wanted to see one.

“Are you sure?” Emma asked, holding Harry back by his shirt. “He looks like a regular wolf to me.”

“You will notice, he has a shorter snout, there is human intelligence in his eyes, and he has a tuft tail,” McGonagall pointed out, keeping her wand trained on the werewolf, though it hadn’t moved since transforming. “Though he is quite a bit larger than any werewolf I’ve seen.”

“And he can hear you,” the werewolf stated in a growly voice, looking at all the scared people and sat in a non-aggressive manner. He marveled at being able to see with both eyes. That was something he missed. He cocked his head to the side, had a thought and looked between his legs. Whew, he was still male. That was a relief.

“Xander change back so everyone settles down,” Joyce said from his side, were she was petting his massive head.

“Fine,” he grumbled and once again a flash of light he was back to the one-eyed man they all knew.

“Well at least you are not a female hyena,” Minerva said helpfully as she guided the still shell-shocked family to a bed. The Grangers decided to let that statement go, one shock a day was quite enough thank you very much. Harry already knew, as did Hermione, but Xander made them promise not to tell. Since it wasn’t dangerous they agreed.

“There is that,” Xander conceded. “Hey now, do you know why I was so big? I don’t remember Oz being that big,” he asked Joyce.

“That’s because you’re a Conri, named after a Roman wolf god. They are the biggest and most feared wolf. Next comes the Alphas, then Betas, then at the end of the social ladder is the Omegas. Conri, were Omegas that survived being exiled from the pack. They are rare, since they never formed another pack and became loners. You will only find the werewolf version in magical communities. There are only about five in the entire world at a time. They are revered because they can control the werewolf population in to being docile during the full moon. However, they are also hunted by Alphas who fear they will try and take over their pack. So, it would be better if we don’t tell anyone not in this room about you,” she explained, going into as much detail as she knew. There had been one Conri when she was living in the castle long ago. He was a kind man and gentle to everyone. He died of old age, and she hadn’t heard any stories of one in Britain since.

“Great! King of the goblins, Owner of Hogwarts, now a wolf god. This is not what I signed up for,” he groused to Joyce.

“You were recruited, remember?” she stated with a smirk.

“Dammit!” he yelled.

“Mr. Harris, language,” Minerva chastised, looking at the children.

“Will I turn at the full moon?” the one-eyed man asked Joyce, since she seemed to know a bit about these Conri.

“No, but you can if you want. Think of yourself as an Animagus. That is what we were doing after all.”

“I had forgotten,” Minerva said thoughtfully. “There has not been a record of a magical Animagus in many centuries. I wonder if they, like you, just didn’t report it?”

“Could be. I know I don’t want the hassle of the public knowing,” Xander said, doing a full body shake. He really felt he needed a bath. And maybe a shave.

“Now all we have to do it get the kids to where they can take the potion,” Joyce said happily.

“You’re expecting them to be magical as well,” Minerva asked, hoping they would turn into something a bit less frightening, like a unicorn or something.

“Yup,” was all the answer she got.

“Awesome,” Harry said, vowing to practice his meditation every moment he got. He wanted to be a werewolf like Xander. Then they would be closer.

Hermione, on the other hand, was hoping to be a post owl.

It took two days of trial and error, but soon Xander was walking around with two eyes. He had superimposed his wolf eyes over his regular eyes. Sure, they were yellow, but he could see correctly. The bonus part was, now he could see even better than before. It took an entire day to get use to using two eyes again, but he was much happier not to have that blind spot. Both Minerva and Joyce told him that his eye color would not be commented on. It was not unusual for others to have strange features. There was a lot of mixed blood in the wizarding community. Some had the features of the Veela, much like the Malfoy’s bleach blond hair, and effeminate faces. Others had instincts for hunting, and gardening, related to woodland creatures. Filius Flitwick was part goblin, and no one had mentioned it in more than passing. Madam Hooch’s eagle eyes were also not that irregular. So, Xander was more than happy to walk around with two bright yellow wolf eyes.

The morning the train was scheduled to return, there was a bit of an argument.

“What do you mean they have to take the train here? They’re already here?” Xander stated, looking at Joyce and Minerva. The two kids were watching from the sidelines. The Granger parents were wondering the same as Xander. They had spent the whole holiday here at Hogwarts, their business partner had taken over the practice for the Christmas season, which was slow. They’d let the man have a long vacation come summer. He wanted to attend his daughter’s wedding at that time, so it was an even tradeoff.

“It is tradition. This way they can spend their day reminiscing with friends in a comfortable atmosphere. The only adult will be you, and you will be patrolling,” McGonagall explained. She wasn’t sure what the problem was, but she was going to have her way in this.

“They can do that when the others get here. It’s not like you’re going to make the Weasleys do the same,” came the logical argument.

“The Weasleys signed on to stay. Harry and Hermione did not. The train takes a count on who is returning in order to make sure the castle is prepared for the correct number of students,” she explained as well as she could.

“It is a magical train, Xander,” Joyce added pointedly. The train had not been around in her time, and she could say that if that was one of its purposes then it was a good one. She remembered the many times students never came back from vacation; be it illness, finances or they were killed for being magical. In any case, the castle was always unprepared for their departure. Not that it was a big hassle, but it did throw things off for a few days.

“How can two students affect the running of the school?” the confused man asked. That didn’t make sense.

“The house elves leave nothing unaccounted for. Every scrap of food, linen and resources are tallied. It was a small hassle to provide food for you and your guest this holiday. However, since you have your own living accommodations and ate most of your meals here, it was not that large of a burden. The school is on a tight budget, thanks to the Board.”— “Not for much longer,” came Xander’s grumble. — “If Harry and Hermione are not on the train, amenities will be adjusted to compensate. Their beds will be gone and anything they left behind will be banished. While the running of the school itself will not be affected by much, it will throw everything out to sync,” Minerva tried to explain again.

“Can’t the house elves count them now?” came the logical question. It seemed simple enough to him.

“I do not know, it has never been done. Everyone who has ever stayed was marked present. Pippy,” she called to the air.

“Yes, Professor Kitty,” the small female elf, dressed in a nice floral tea towel with the Hogwarts crest on its left shoulder, asked when it popped in.

Harry and Hermione gasped, they had never seen a house elf before, sure they heard of them, but they had never seen them. To them it looked like something out of Tolkien. Much like the goblins at the bank. Whose personality was nothing like the Hobbit’s goblins, thankfully, but they looked the same. It made Hermione wonder how many other creatures depicted in non-magical novels were real.

Harry couldn’t wait to meet more of these house elves. They appeared to be non-threatening, so perhaps he could make friends with them. They would also help with his spying. If they were the workers of the castle, they must know a lot of what goes on.

“Can you add Miss Hermione Granger and Mr. Harry Potter to those who stayed over Yule break?” she asked, feeling foolish for having the argument in the first place.

“Yes, Professor Kitty, Pippy will bes adding them,” the little elf stated with a firm nod.

“Very well, you may go,” the Deputy Head said, with a small smile. The elf nodded and popped away.

“Wait!” cried Harry a moment too late, the house elf was already gone. “I want to go on the train. It’ll be fun catching up with Neville.” He loved being around people who cared but getting away from the adults would be relaxing. He always felt like he had to be on his best behavior, and being around kids his own age, he wouldn’t feel that way. Xander had to patrol the train, so it would just be him and his friends.

“I want to go too. I don’t want to stay here without Harry,” Hermione insisted. She wanted to get some time alone with Harry and Neville, for much the same reasons. That wouldn’t happen if they stayed here. As big as the castle was, there was little privacy.

“Of for the love of Twinkies… Pippy,” Xander called the little elf. He was still getting used to the little buggers, they were very much like demons in his eyes, but benign ones. Still, he understood where the kids were coming from, but they should have spoken up earlier.

“What can Pippy be doing for Mr. Wolf God Kingy, sir?” the very nervous elf asked. The elves were very impressed with the new man. He saved Harry Potter and he was kind to them, but they had never worked around a god before. Even if he wasn’t a real god, he was the closest thing to one here at Hogwarts.

“First off, don’t call me that,” he said with a bit of a growl, which didn’t help his cause. To his way of thinking just because his Animagus form was a Conri, that didn’t mean he was any sort of god. He shuddered to think of the last ‘god’ he and the Scoobies had faced. He wanted nothing to do with being anything that could be related to Glory. That women was a bitch of the highest proportion. “Second, Harry and Hermione want to go on the train, so take them off the stayed here list, please.”

“Yes, sir, Mr. Wolfy, sir,” she squeaked and popped away.

“That’s better I suppose,” the wolf-eyed man sighed. He then turned to the kids. “You two, go get a bag together with stuff you’ll need to keep you entertained for few hours or so,” he ordered, still finding the whole thing ridiculous.

“Okay, Xander,” they both said as they hurried away, excitedly talking about what to bring to show Neville.

“I’m going to take the Grangers home, I’ll be back to welcome Dumbledore, then get on the train. I didn’t sign up for this,” he grumbled to himself as he stomped away. The two women just giggled.

After seeing the Granger parents to their home, Xander came back to Hogwarts, and met Joyce and Minerva at the gates. All of them were bundled up against the cold. Snow was falling, and it would have been a nice morning, if they weren’t there to hand out ultimatums. Speaking of which, at the gates, waiting to be let in, stood Dumbledore and his lackey, Severus Snape.

“A world of no. No way. No how. Not in this life time. That man is not coming back in here,” Xander said, pointing at the greasy-haired man with the permanent scowl.

“I’d love to see you try and stop me,” Snape sneered. This upstart muggle got the jump on him once, he would not let it happen again.

“Dude, you aren’t even worth the effort. Joyce,” the wolf-eyed man said, turning to the fuming embodiment of Hogwarts.

She smiled an evil smile and waved her hand. A flaming wall burst up between the school and the former professor. A continuous rain storm fell on the younger man, leaving him soaked to the bone in a moment.

Snape jumped away from the fire and tried to dissipate the storm. His hair was plastered to his head and stuck to the front of his face. Like dark rivers of water against a white background. He tried to conjure an umbrella, but the wind would just kick up and blow it away. “Release me, foolish woman,” he demanded of Joyce.

“No, I don’t think I will,” she said smugly, shaking her head.

“Now see here, is this truly necessary?” Dumbledore started, waving his wand trying to dismiss the spells. He couldn’t, and it was getting very frustrating. He needed Severus to stay at the castle. His uses were not over yet. When Voldemort came back, the young man would be invaluable.

“No, you see here,” Minerva countered, spitting angry. “That man has no reason to be here, and for you to bring him was beyond the pale. Severus Snape is a child abuser. We cannot in good conscience allow him within the walls of this school. I do not care if he has your confidence. He does not have ours.” She was still fuming about what they had found out about the man who she had worked beside these many years. She knew he was spiteful, but to be downright abusive… Well, she was going to pay better attention to her coworkers from now on.

“Yeah, I don’t know what political mumbo-jumbo you pulled to get him free, but it holds no weight here at Hogwarts. You are on thin ice as it is. Chose, the school or him,” Xander stated, hoping the man would fight more and give them a reason to bar him as well.

“Very well,” the old man sighed, wondering when he had lost control over the situation. “Severus, I will contact you in the near future,” he said to the man whose clothes were starting to steam.

“Headmaster, you cannot be serious. Where am I to go? I gave up everything to follow you,” Snape snarled. He had nothing to fall back on. No career, little money, and only a small house at Spinner’s End, which everyone knew about. He knew if Albus could not get him reinstated into the school, he would have to flee the country. He had too many enemies to live here, at least he had trusted contacts abroad. Here, without the old man’s protection, he would be hunted.

“It seems to be out of my hands, Severus. However, all is not lost. Go to the area where we met during the war and I will meet you there posthaste,” Albus said, giving the man a knowing look. He wasn’t going to abandon the poor man. While there was little he could do right now, he would do his best to see he was provided for. He needed him in the future, and it would not do to have the Potions Master disappear.

Nodding Snape twisted and disappeared, taking the storm with him. Seeing he was gone, Joyce released the spelled fire until there was nothing but a blackened area in the snow, where it had stood. She waved her hand new grass sprung up, looking very much out of place in the surrounding snow.

“You do not realize what you have done,” Dumbledore stated in his grandfatherly manner, making sure to let them know he was disappointed in them. Not that they cared. “That man will be needed in the future, and you have alienated him. I do hope this does not come back to haunt you,” he added ominously.

“Oh, you mean your little spy? Yeah, I’m not worried about him in the least. If this Voldy guy shows up, we won’t be needing your pet Death Eater,” Xander said, shaking his head in disbelief. “Look, let’s get this over with. I have a train to catch,” he said as he stomped away. They had decided not to show off his new talents. Dumbledore would learn when and where the rest of the school did.

McGonagall looked at her longtime friends and sighed. “Albus, we have conditions that you must follow to retain your headmastership. Come to your office and we will discuss them. I warn you that they are not debatable. You will abide by them, or Joyce will be more than happy to remove you, again.” She then turned a followed Xander. Joyce just smirked and caught up with the other two.

“Why are we giving him a second chance?” grumbled Xander when the women reached him, even though he knew why. It still made him angry.

“Politics, mostly,” was Joyce’s answer.

“I hate politics,” he sighed. They made the rest of the way silently. “What about his escape from the police? Doesn’t that constitute his removal?” He knew it wouldn’t, as he had told the judge, but he was grasping straws.

“There’s a few things you need to learn about this world, Xander, and first and foremost is that what happens in the non-magical world has very little consequence on this one. You know this. The only time the Ministry will interfere is if the Statute of Secrecy is broken. Things like underage magic, and muggle baiting, but only if they’re caught. Other then that they could care less. However, we can use this to keep a tighter rein on the esteemed Headmaster,” Joyce said with a small sigh. She hated the division. It made the magicals fall far behind, and it was going to be their job to catch them up.

“So, wait a cotton pickin’ minute here, I could go and kill someone, and if I don’t break this statute, then all I have to do is hide in the magical world?” Xander asked aghast. He knew it was bad, but not that bad.

“Yeah, pretty much,” Joyce confirmed.

“I’m so going to change that,” the wolf-eyed man grumbled. He seemed to be doing a lot of that today.

They continued their way silently, Dumbledore trailing behind. When everyone had finally met in the office, Joyce sitting in front of the desk and Minerva sitting beside her. Xander was leaning against the wall. Dumbledore took the seat behind his desk. Everyone started at one another for a tense few minutes.

“Albus,” Minerva started, hoping this went smoothly, “it took a lot of convincing, and it is only because of your years of good service that I could, but I finally persuaded Joyce and Xander to let you come back. However, there are rules you must abide by.”

“First off, it is your job to make sure that the school is supplied correctly. There is no reason for some of the equipment to be in such disrepair. I know for a fact that it is within the budget to replace the brooms,” Joyce started, going for the least important thing first. They would build up to the more important ones as they went along.

“The Board…” started Albus.

“Has nothing to do with the supplies. It is your job, not theirs,” interrupted the embodiment of Hogwarts. “I don’t know when the Board was created, but they should not be in control of the budget. They are only there to make sure that it is not abused. Getting new brooms doesn’t constitute abuse.”

Dumbledore sighed. He had tried for years to get control of the budget, with little success. How was he supposed to do so now? He told them as much.

“Lucky for you, I am the owner of the school. If they give you grief, then let me know and I’ll come and give them a what for,” Xander said, smirking at the thought of the scare he would put into those jackasses.

“Second, we have started a few important classes. We feel that they are necessary for the development of the children. As part of your probation, it will be up to you to make sure these classes are not cut. It is one of your duties to make sure the children are fully educated. If you cut these classes, it will tell us that you don’t care if they make it in the world after they graduate,” Minerva said, handing him a list of the classes they had installed, and what the curriculum of each was.

He took the papers and read over them. “I do not see an issue with these. However, if the budget does not cover them, then it will be out of my hands,” the Headmaster said distractedly as he continued to read. They were not harmful, so he could work with this. He put them on his desk, and he turned back to the people in front of him. It still galled him that they thought they could dictate to him, but he would play along for now.

“Thirdly, the only time you should interfere with the students is; if they are failing academically, have broken the rules, or have a health issue that needs to be addressed. At no time are you to interfere with their home lives. Unless, you think they are being abused. From what I’ve seen, you couldn’t tell abuse from a hole in the ground, so heed the word of your medical personnel,” was Xander’s input. That should cover Harry and anyone else this man thought he could control. 

“Harry…”

“Mr. Potter,” McGonagall snapped harshly. “You will address all the students formally. Mr. Potter is not a special case. He is your student and only that.”

“Very well. Mr. Potter’s life is in danger now that you have taken him from his relatives,” Dumbledore said, mildly chastising the group before him.

“See, I’m pretty sure we just laid out your duties, and not one of them state that you have any control over that,” Xander said casually, not jumping to anger just yet. “So, we’ll just jump to the last issue. Since you cannot be trusted to hire confident teachers, all postings will have to be previewed with us. There will be no more Snapes or Binnses, if I can help it.”

“Now see here, Severus and Cuthbert were very good professors,” Albus argued, he saw nothing wrong with either of them. They had served the school well in the years they taught.

“That right there, is why you cannot be trusted. You think a child abuser and a ghost detached from reality are good instructors,” the wolf-eyed man stated. “I had a few creepy teachers in my day and I can tell ya, they taught better than those two.”

“Will you be vetting my every move?” the old man asked, worried that he would have no wiggle room to exploit what was needed for the war he knew was coming.

“For the time being, until you prove that you have the students’ best interest at heart,” Minerva said, hoping that perhaps the man she knew when she was hired would come back. She didn’t know when he had changed, but the man that hired her all those years ago, was not the man she was looking at now.

“Look, Dumbledore, we aren’t going to just jump all over you for every mistake. It is only those that you are not supposed to be concerned with in the first place that will make us step in. If you do your job, and not interfere with things that don’t concern you, we’ll get along just fine,” Xander offered as a compromise.

“Very well, and thank you,” Albus said, looking at the three expectantly.

“There is one last thing,” Joyce said, her face taking on a stormy look. “If you ever, and I do mean ever, bring danger into this school again, I will personally take great pleasure in removing, dropping you in non-magical London and telling the world all the dirty secrets that I know about you. Remember, I am the embodiment of this school, and in this case, ‘the walls have ears’ is a very true phrase,” she finished, grinning evilly. She knew things about this man, that she was sure he wanted no one to know. The portraits loved to gossip. They remember well when Albus was a student and a professor. He had not been the good little boy he portrayed being.

“Wait, you have dirt and you’re not sharing,” Xander exclaimed, almost hurt that she didn’t give him the juicy details.

“Xander, do you want me to share some of the things I know about you?” she asked sweetly.

“I’ll be good,” he said immediately. He didn’t know what she knew, but Buffy was her daughter, so he wasn’t going to take the chance.

“Back to the issue. That stone has been removed, the Cerberus taken back to Hagrid, and those lame traps were dismantled. I don’t know what you were playing at, but those ‘traps’ were a joke. Nevertheless, they are gone as is everything you put in that hall that was a danger to the children. I will not have you making this school your personal playground. If you want to protect something do it somewhere else,” Joyce snarled. She was so angry. She was holding on to her temper with mental fingernails. It would take quite some doing to get her to trust this man again. And if he didn’t wield such power in the Wizarding World, she’d make sure he never crossed her threshold again.

“I had nowhere else to put it,” Dumbledore protested, cursing silently. That was one plan destroyed. How was he going to capture Tom if he didn’t have the Philosopher’s Stone? What was he going to tell Nicholas?

“That’s complete bullshit. I know for a fact that the stone was in good hands. The vault was allowed to be ‘robbed’, because they were trying to capture the man who dared try. Unfortunately, he got away. The goblin don’t think it was a man, but a wraith. The wraith entered the vault, saw it was empty, and in its anger, let off a blast of magic, which sealed the vault. By the time the goblins got there the vault was empty. So, there wasn’t a real ‘robbery’. If it had been and actual person, they would have been sealed in the vault and killed. The stone would have been safe, since the wraith couldn’t touch it. It was probably there to case the joint,” Xander explained, going through what the goblins had told him.

“How did the public know, if this farfetched tale it true?” Albus inquired dubiously.

“The alarm closed the doors to the bank,” was the succinct answer.

“Nonetheless, Voldemort is after the stone. There is no safer place than Hogwarts,” the Headmaster said with pride.

“Again, I call bullshit. Don’t you remember the day I got here? There was a huge mountain troll in a girls’ bathroom ready to kill two students,” Xander said, looking at the man as if he had gone senile.

“Don’t forget that someone tried to kill Harry,” Joyce added, glaring at the old man.

“When, pray tell, did this happen?” Albus asked in dread. He knew that something like this would happen if he were not here.

“Don’t worry I saw to it. It’s part of my job,” the wolf-eyed man stated proudly.

“Yes, about your job. What exactly does it entail? There has never been a Head of Security,” the Headmaster asked, intrigued that such an office was formed. He wondered how they got it past the Board of Governors.

“Pretty much what the title says. I see to the safety of the school. If something comes up, I haul out my axe and fix it,” Xander replied with a shrug. It seemed obvious to him.

“May I inquire where the stone is now? I was asked to protect it,” Dumbledore asked, hoping that if he got the stone, he could once again set a trap. Harry needed to be trained on how to react to Voldemort. He needed to know that the man was not gone, so he could prepare himself to fight him. The prophecy demanded it.

“Like I’m going to tell you. No, the only thing you need to know is that it is safe, and far from anyone’s reach,” the relocated man said. He had put it in his pocketspace, where he kept his weapons. No one could get it there. He’d talk to this Flamel guy and see what he wanted done with it. Until then, no one, not even Joyce or Minerva, knew where it was hidden.

“Very well,” Albus sighed disappointedly.  He would look for it in his spare time. There wasn’t a stone in this castle he didn’t know. At least that’s what he thought. “It appears there is little left to discuss. Therefore, I will look over what you have given me and set my course to repairing any damage that has befallen in my absence,” Dumbledore stated importantly, thinking of the two professors that had been removed while he was gone. He didn’t know who was teaching the classes now, but they would need to be interviewed to see if they were capable to teaching. If not, then he would have to find new ones. Albus growled internally, remembering he had to put any applicant pass the three making demands. It irritated him that his wings were being clipped so neatly. It gave him little to work with.

Minerva growled. “Do you believe me so insufficient that I could do ‘damage’?” she snarled at the old man. Never had she been so insulted.

“Of course not, my dear. I am only speculating on the state of the school, since you do not have my authority to sign off on many things,” Dumbledore quickly replied.

“Ah, but I do. However, I left it in the hands of those more knowledgeable than me. Minerva simply asked, and I authorized,” Xander said with a smirk. They had gotten a lot done when the old man was gone. And he’d be damned if he let Albus mess it up.

“Xander, you need to get to the train,” Joyce said, looking at her watch. It was time to wrap this up anyway. She gently took the fuming transfiguration teachers elbow and led her from the room. Not saying another word to the Headmaster. They had said all that was needed. The ball was in his court now.

“One last word of warning. Leave my son alone,” Xander growled. “He’s not your responsibility, and if I find you have taken liberties, I will react accordingly.” And with that he left the thoughtful man to think on what he said.

Albus sat and wondered, ‘Who was the man’s son? He hadn’t come with a child, did the portal open up again while he was away?’ He quickly dismiss the idea and went to talk to Severus. They needed a plan of action. He would give the poor man the key to the wards of his own house, which he used to get away from the pressures of his many offices. It was under a Fidelius, so well hidden. Then, perhaps, Severus would not leave. His house had a well-stocked potion’s lab, a house elf and plenty of room. The Potions Master would want for nothing there. It would take some doing, but he was determined to keep his protégé here in Britain.

Chapter Text

Xander finally caught up with the kids at Platform Nine and Three-Quarters, where they had been dropped off earlier, with orders to stay on the magical side. He made sure they were in a compartment with Neville and that they had money for the food cart. He then patrolled the carriages. He had been gone only a few minutes when Malfoy, with his thugs, decided to try and bully Harry and his friends.

“Potter. I thought you were going to spend time at the castle? It’s not like you have a family to go home to. Or did your little Mudblood take pity on you and take you home to Mummy?” he sneered around the room, glaring at those he thought beneath him. He truly hated the fact that people like these were allowed to enter Hogwarts.

“Malfoy. I see your mouth moving, but all I feel is hot air. Are you saying something important?” Harry asked, not the least bit concerned with this bigot’s words. Xander had told him that he needed to stand up to bullies or they would run all over him. His bodyguard had regaled him with tales of his own school years. He, too, was picked on quite a bit, but never gave into the peer pressure of others. Well, maybe his friends, but he learned from it and imparted the wisdom to Harry.

“Watch it, Potter, or you’ll come to the same end as your parents,” Malfoy repeated his words from their second meeting.

“Wow, I’ve never heard that before. I wonder, do you ever have an original thought in your head, or do you just repeat everything your father says? Because, you said the same thing to me only a few months ago. If all you can do is recycle the same empty threats then I have no need to talk to you any further.” And with that, he waved his hands, and Malfoy and his goons disappeared.

“Where did you send them?” Neville asked with a wide grin. He loved the way Harry stood up to Malfoy. He only hoped he would have the courage to do the same one day.

“The loo,” Harry laughed, and the others soon joined in.

“Isn’t it a little tight in there?” Hermione asked as she giggled at the thought of the three boys crammed into the small space.

“Yeah, but I’m sure they won’t stay there for long,” the dark-haired boy predicted.

And he was correct. Xander found the boys when he walked by the bathroom and heard a lot of moaning and complaining. He opened the door and saw the three boys shoved together in what must have been very painful positions.

“Draco, Vincent, Greg, what are you doing in there?” he asked as he widened the doorway so they could get out. He then looked at the bathroom, and with a touch of his finger to the outer wall, he extended it and added a few more toilets so that more than one person could use it. Then he remembered he was on a train with mixed sexes, so he added a chastity charm. If there was a girl in the room, then a sign on the door would show such, and only other girls could enter. Same with the boys. Never could both sexes be in at the same time. He did all this quickly, so the boys, who were still straightening themselves out, didn’t see. Hopefully, they would think a teacher fixed it after they disembarked. Just to be safe, he put a mild compulsion on the door for people to believe just that.

“Potter put us there,” the blond boy snarled as he straightened his robe.

“Really? How did he do that?” Xander asked, knowing it was probably true.

“With magic,” Draco replied, as if Xander were a simpleton.

“That’s not what I meant, and you know it,” the wolf-eyed man snapped. “As far as I know, Harry is a first year with only has a few months of magical training. You’ll need to come up with a better lie then that.”

“He did!” Malfoy insisted.

“I’m going to have to give you boys detention for this badly played prank, and for lying,” Xander admonished, hiding a smirk.

“When my father hears about this you’ll be sorry, muggle trash,” Draco snapped, his anger getting the best of him. Who did this man think he was to talk to him in such a way? He had no authority over the students. Draco was convinced that this man was a muggle; he didn’t even carry a wand. He was sure what had happened at the Quidditch game was all in his head. No one could fly unassisted. If his father couldn’t, then this man couldn’t either.

“That’s another week added. Do you want more?”

Malfoy just snarled and stomped off, his goons following.

“Mr. Harris, can I go in now?” a voice from behind Xander asked, making him turn around and see a young boy doing the potty dance.

“Huh? Oh, yeah, sure, sorry,” Xander stuttered, and moved out of the way. After hearing the boy’s relieved moan, he added a silence spell on the door. Only if someone was in trouble would anyone hear what was happening in that room. He went about doing the same to the other bathrooms on the train, and then went to find Harry. “So, Harry, what made you put Malfoy and his goons in the bathroom?” Xander asked tiredly as he settled next to the kids.

“With all the shi--” “--Language, Harry,” Hermione gasped--” “coming from his mouth, I figured that he needed the loo,” Harry explained simply.

“Well that explains it, but do me a favor, please, and try not to put me in another position that I need to lie my way out of,” Xander requested quite reasonably.

“Sorry,” Harry said sheepishly, running his hand through his hair. “I’ll try, but that bast--I mean, prat--makes me so mad sometimes.”

“He did call Hermione a mudblood,” Neville inputted. He hated that term as much as Harry did. Hermione hadn’t known what it had meant until they had told her. Harry only knew because Dora had told him.

“A what, now?” Xander asked, thinking he might could make out what it meant in context, but wanting verification.

“It means dirty blood. They call muggleborns that,” Neville offered, shooting an apologetic look to his female friend.

“Well, it’s a stupid word. Blood can’t be dirty. There’s a built-in cleaning system, called antibodies. So, I’m sure mud wouldn’t last,” the wolf-eyed man stated.

“I’m not sure that’s how it works, but thanks for the effort,” Hermione said, smiling at the man she still saw as a hero.

“You’re welcome. I’ve seen many types of blood, but I’ve never seen any made of mud, so rest easy. Those morons don’t know what they’re talking about,” Xander said, leaning back and closing his eyes. It had been a long, emotion-filled morning. Holding one’s anger in is tiring. He was going to take a short nap. Surely, the train would be all right while he slept.

The rest of the train ride was uneventful. Xander had a nice nap and woke when it was time to disembark. The kids didn’t follow any orderly pattern that he could see, and he made a mental note to change that as well. His head was getting fuzzy with all the things he felt needed to be changed. Perhaps he needed to keep a diary, or something.

The Return Feast went off without a hitch, and Dumbledore’s presence was well received. There was one thing that they could all agree upon, and that was that the old man was well loved. Classes resumed and life at Hogwarts moved on.

Every month, Xander and Harry went to the meeting with the social worker from the Department of Health and Social Care. So far, so good. The woman they met with was nice, and she seemed to think that Xander hung the moon. Anyone who rescued and took on an abused child was a hero in her book. She had no issues with them, and said that if they continued as they were, then the adoption would go through without a problem. At first, Dumbledore tried to protest the meetings, but he was soon dissuaded from interfering. In other words, Joyce threatened to boot him again. Because he felt he was needed to mold the children of tomorrow, he desisted.

For the kids, the school year was going on quite nicely. Harry and Hermione were doing well in classes. Heck, even Neville was pulling ahead now that his confidence was skyrocketing. Xander would take him aside once a week to work with him. He even snuck the boy to Diagon Alley and got him a new wand, just so he could have one all his own to use. Like Harry, his wandless spells were a bit overpowered. He needed the good focus to mute them down. They were worried that they’d burn his father’s wand out since it didn’t match. Xander barely escaped, as Ollivander kept putting wands in his hand. He grabbed Neville and they ran as soon as he could.

The main thing the three children worked on was control. It would be easy to take what Xander had taught them and use it in a classroom setting, but they were all firmly warned not to do that.  Threats of scrubbing loos with toothbrushes and no magic ensured their good behavior.

The group didn’t know how they did it, but somehow it was kept a secret that the three first-years were learning the new magic from the ex-demon hunter. At least, that’s what they thought, since they weren’t being hounded to teach anyone anything. Rumor had it, the Quidditch match flying was a fluke. No one wanted to believe a child of eleven could do more powerful magic than they could themselves.

Xander kept his own abilities on the downlow, too. He didn’t want to have to deal with the likes of Dumbledore. They did practice a lot in the ‘house’ with McGonagall and Tonks, and the kids were growing by leaps and bounds, both magically and mentally. Harry was not as skittish, Neville was far braver, and Hermione was not as prone to answer all questions asked.  

Poppy made sure to visit daily, just in case anyone else was blinded or whatnot. There was one funny incident where Harry accidentally changed Xander’s voice to that of a high-pitched helium tone. The poor man spent the entire day sounding like Mickey Mouse. Needless to say, he avoided encountering anyone that day. How would it look if the Head of Security sounded like a demented preteen girl?

The new classes were a hit, and essays were much easier to read for the teachers and easier to write for the students. Not that many were assigned. The professors had taken what Xander had said to heart, and only assigned essays over the weekend, or during the week for those who needed a better grasp on the theory. This had the strange side-effect of many more clubs popping up. They were for the oddest things, like magical bugs in England, dresses through the ages, sightings of the Quibbler, and Ron started one for fans of the Chudley Cannons. He had five members. The teachers were just glad that the students had found something ‘constructive’ to do.

Basic understanding of the written word was emphasized. The adults wanted to make sure that the students understood what their textbooks were trying to tell them. They did discover a few students with learning disabilities, and Xander was ‘volunteered’ to go get literature from the non-magical world on how to deal with it. The children and teens that were affected were much happier. The goblins, on the other hand, warned Xander that they did not want to stay on teaching after this year was over. Dumbledore had found them all lacking, for some reason or another, except the Accounting teacher. No one could refute the goblin’s knowledge of math. That was okay, because Xander had a plan.

Even the well-off purebloods were content with the classes. They were learning a lot on balancing their fortunes, handling the money they would inherit, and corresponding with businesses. For that, they put up with the goblins teaching them.

During all this, Dumbledore mostly attended to his duties, barring his shots at keeping Harry in the castle, and he had no problem taking the credit for what was happening. He had sent letters to the student’s homes, outlining the classes and how they would help their heirs in the future. He didn’t outright claim the glory, it was more like he omitted the truth on who reinstated the classes. Xander, Joyce, and Minerva didn’t care, as long as the students were learning.

It was about the middle of the school year that Harry heard something in his spying. Since he still had his stash of House robes, he had morphed into a third year Ravenclaw who was on the short side and in the library at that time, and was sitting in their common room. He noted a large group in the corner, and upon further inspection, he found out that those kids were going to confront him. They wanted to know what he had done with all the letters and presents they had sent over the years. From what he had heard, they were very upset that he never wrote them back, and he, Harry, seemed to be so stuck up that he didn’t even acknowledge them in the hall. There was even talk about bringing the other Houses into the deal. He left, morphed back, and hurried to his ‘house’, shouting for Xander.

“What’s up, kiddo?” the man asked as he met him at the door. He had no idea what had Harry so upset, but he’d do his best to fix it.

“I was… using my Meta…morphmagus… ability to spy on… a group of Ravenclaws... just… like you and Dora taught me. And I heard… they were getting together with… a bunch of others… to confront me,” the breathless boy said as he bent over, hands on knees, to catch said breath. He really needed to start working in Xander’s gym. He was told he could start during the summer, since Xander was setting one up in the house that he had purchased.

“Really? About what?” Xander asked, leading his charge into the living room, where Joyce and Minerva were sitting. He settled him on the couch and conjured him a glass of water.

Harry took a long drink, set the glass on the table, and looked mournfully at the adults. “They want to know what happened to all the letters and stuff they sent me. They were pretty upset that I never got back to them. But, Xander, I never received any post. Not until my Hogwarts letter. I don’t know what to tell them,” he said, starting to panic. While he was doing much better at moving around the school without being skittish, he still didn’t take confrontation very well. Ron had finally backed off, so they were talking again. Though, they would never be the friends they had been before. Weirdly, it was Percy Weasley who volunteered to shadow the group of first years. He said it was his duty as a prefect, but Harry suspected it was more that the teen wanted to be closer to Xander. He wasn’t far off.

“Minnie, do you know what he’s talking about?” Xander inquired, turning to the Deputy Headmistress.

“I have a general idea, but no, I don’t know what happened to all the post,” she answered, thinking hard. She would never have thought that Albus would steal the boy’s letters and gifts, but there was a good reason that she could think of. The Dursley’s would have had fits over all the owls. Still, to just keep it from Harry? Well, she’d see what that was about.

“I think I know,” Joyce offered, her face taking on a bitter twist. “Dumbledore would hide a lot of mail in a vacant room in the castle. Once the pile was big enough, he would go note down the addresses and then burn it. I had, and still have, the house elves replacing it with blank parchment and forged envelopes, the gifts with empty boxes. It’s in a different part of the castle.” She sighed, thinking along the same lines as Minerva.  “Since you received all your Christmas gifts, I had forgotten all about it. But, if you want, I’ll have it brought to you. Feasibly, bits at a time. That way you can go through it and answer accordingly. Of course, I want either Xander or Professor McGonagall there when you do. I don’t want any nasty surprises to hurt you.”

“That was pretty clever of you, Joyce,” Xander said with a winning smile to take the bite out of his words.

“Hush, you. I know what I’m about. Anyway, Harry, we can start tonight. I warn you, it’s going to take months to go through it all. Maybe you can have Hermione and Neville help you. Even Ron, if you want. Xander and I will go and tell the students what happened, and Minerva can stay here,” Joyce said fondly.

The two adults nodded in agreement at the plan, and that’s exactly what they did. McGonagall helped the children sort the mail, and she even helped write up some form letters to send to the correspondents explaining what had happened, why it had taken so long to respond, and to ask not to send anything in the future. She also said it might be a good idea to put an article in the Daily Prophet. They drafted that and settled in for a long night of post-sorting. All of the Weasleys in the castle were helping, though they were being paid. Percy had protested, but Xander and Harry wouldn’t let them help without some form of compensation. Ron was just glad he would have a bit of dosh to spend this summer. The twins were happy to add to their savings. Neville said that if they tried to pay him, he’d give them a what for. Xander was so proud.

After dinner, Xander got up to stand in front of the students just before afters. “So,” he said loudly, getting everyone’s attention, “I heard a rumor today that many of you want to confront Harry. I can tell ya right now, that would be a very bad idea. You, Drake, what is going on in your House? That’s where the rumor started from,” he stated, pointing to a seventh-year Ravenclaw prefect.

The boy in question stood reluctantly and said, “I’m not completely sure, but I did hear the same rumor as you. From what I gathered, some of my housemates think Harry has been skiving his ‘duties,’ as it were. He never replied to any post sent to him, and they feel that he’s rebuffing them. As an idol and a public figure, they feel they have the right to know all about him,” Drake said, glaring at the main conspirator.

Xander noted the glare and pointed to the boy. “What gives you the right to pry into Harry’s life?” he inquired with a glare all his own.

“We wrote to him. Sent him letters and gifts. He ignored us,” was the mulish reply.

“Did you ever think there may be a reason for that?” was Xander’s rebuttal.

“What reason could there be? Everyone knows he’s a spoiled rich kid,” the still-unnamed boy said defensively.

“Where did you get that from?” Xander was shocked, everything he knew about Harry never suggested that others thought he was anything but an abused child.

“The books,” the boy said condescendingly, as if it were obvious.

“The what, now? I don’t know of any books that say that,” the wolf-eyed man said with a great deal of confusion.

“Xander, he’s talking about the children’s adventure books,” Joyce added, looking down her nose at the fifth-year Ravenclaw. “There are fantasy novels about the life Harry was supposed to lead, but I never thought anyone would take them seriously. You need to look into that,” she added.

“Oh, I’ll get right on it. You can believe that,” he vowed, then turned back to the student body. “Okay, first off, those stories can’t be true. And I will be finding out who wrote them, and Harry will be getting his due. Because I know for a fact that he was not spoiled. I won’t tell you his story, but you can take my word for it that the people who raised him will be jailed for their treatment of him,” Xander replied, shaking his head at the misinformation spread to the whole the public. “Second off, he never -- and I do mean never -- received any mail while he was growing up. The only mail he ever received was his acceptance letter. You can blame that on Headmaster Dumbledore, but we’re going to give him a chance to explain his actions.” With that, the entire hall turned to face the Headmaster.

“As Mr. Harris said, Harry’s caregivers were not kind. I had not realized how much so until recently. Nevertheless, can you imagine how they would have reacted to a large parliament of owls converging upon their home on a daily basis? They are muggles, so it would have been close to breaking the Statute of Secrecy. I have been screening his post and keeping record of it. When he is older, I will give him that record so that he may reply thusly,” the old man stated calmly. In his eyes, he did no wrong. And judging from the reaction of many of the students, they felt the same. When he had talked to the Dursleys after the court hearing, he recoiled at the hatred they held for his kind. Still, he felt that even with a protector like Mr. Harris, Harry should go back to reinforce the wards. Perhaps they could accommodate the man as well. It was something to think about. He didn’t realize that all his planning was for naught. The Dursleys were enjoying the comfort of the Queen’s prison. They would be there for years. Dudley was in the system now, and he would not surface until his parents did. Then they would all disappear, just like magic.

“I will see to it personally that Harry replies to everyone he can. I want you to know that what you were planning would have seen many of you in detention, or worse. Bullying is not allowed in this school while I am the Head of Security. You’d better remember that,” Xander stated firmly and then took his seat.

“Thank you for that, Mr. Harris. I’m glad that this was nipped in the bud. Now, students, enjoy your dessert,” Dumbledore said, waving his hands in a grandiose manner, making the sugary confections appear. Inside, he was silently fuming that this upstart was slowly taking over his school. Still, the man had a point, and the last thing Harry needed was to be confronted by an angry mob. At least, not this year. Perchance when he had matured a bit, it would be time. He needed to see how the young man would react to the community vilifying him. He knew from experience that the public was fickle with their heroes. Harry needed to be able to handle such ridicule.

And with that, the school went on. Post was answered, classes were tended, homework was done, clubs were attended, and playing commenced. Harry was getting a much better reception from his fellow students now that he had answered all the mail. They were now treating him like any other student. The public would more than likely react the same since they had put the article in the paper. Harry was just glad that the disappointed look seem to vanish from most of his peers’ eyes. He had always felt that he just didn’t measure up. Now that he knew why, he had drafted another article stating that the storybooks were just that: stories. Xander was working on remuneration. With the goblins on his side, he was very hopeful.  

It was toward the end of the year when Harry and Hermione found out that Hagrid had obtained a dragon’s egg. They, of course, went straight to Xander.

“Oh, for the love of Twinkies. Come on,” the beleaguered man said as he stomped out of the room.

“Are you going to get him in trouble?” Harry fretted when he saw they were headed to the Headmaster’s office. He still didn’t like Dumbledore much, but unless he screwed up, he was still in charge.

“Nay, I can take care of it. But I’ll need Dumbledore’s permission to do what I want, and I hate asking permission,” Xander complained as they reached their destination. He just waved the gargoyles away and they quickly stepped aside. When the group got to the office, the perturbed professor sat behind his desk. “Dumbledore, Hagrid has done something stupid. I need your permission to create a pen to raise a dragon.”

“Why ever do you need my permission? I thought you were the owner of the school,” Albus asked, looking over his half-moon glasses. He felt shunted to the side on many issues. Even though quite a few changes were for the better, he held little power to alter them. At least, not while he was on this ‘probation’. When it was over, he would gain control again. He still had Severus hidden in his home. The dour man was not a good house guest. Sometimes, he wondered if it were worth it to put up with the steady demands the younger man made. It was not like he was made of money. Still, Severus had a point. It was his fault that Snape was in the dire straits he was.

“Yeah, but if you sign off on it as Chief Warlock, then I won’t have to deal with the bureaucrats,” was the tired answer. The year had been going so well these last few months. Now, he didn’t know how having a dragon on the premises would affect everything.

“If Hagrid has acquired a dragon, as your question might suggest, then should we not take it to a preserve?”

“I was thinking of training it, or having the goblins train it, for an extra security measure,” Xander said, perking up a bit, as if the thought just came to him. It would be a great boon to have the large reptile guard the castle if they could train it up right. “Isn’t the motto of this school, ‘Don’t Tickle a Sleeping Dragon’? I mean, I’m just making it true.”

“Ah, I see. Very well, I will sign off on it, as you say,” the old man stated, pulling the required contract out of his desk. It was much the same one that he had used to get Fluffy on the grounds. Hagrid being gamekeeper had facilitated a great need to have such documents on hand.

“I appreciate that,” Xander said truthfully. He could have just hidden the creature in the forest, but someone, sometime, would have found it and probably killed it. This way they had the paperwork to keep it and train it. He conjured a piece of paper and wrote a quick note to one of the goblins still on staff. It asked for a dragon trainer to come to the castle. They would work with Kettleburn to keep the dragon contained. He would stipulate that the dragon was not to be tortured, but hopefully, since it would be a newborn, they could work with it more easily. He folded the paper into an airplane and sent it out the window. It would go where he needed it to.

With all the paperwork done and signed, the two adults and two kids went to see Hagrid.

“So, Hagrid, you know it’s illegal to raise dragons without the proper parchments, right?” Xander asked as he moved into the sweltering hut.

“My dear man, wherever did you get that egg?” Dumbledore asked as he applied a cooling charm to himself and the children. He leaned toward the fire to look at the egg in question. It looked to be a Norwegian Ridgeback. One of the more dangerous of the creatures.

Xander, upon seeing the cooling charm, waved his hand and created a personal air conditioner. Then he set up everyone in the hut with one. Hagrid sighed with relief.

“Dumbledore, sir, I, er, won it in a poker game, at ‘og’s ‘ead,” Hagrid answered his boss’s question first.

“Hagrid, I can legally take that egg, as King of the Goblins, and have it raised here at Hogwarts. That way you can still see it grow up. But, if you’re caught with it, it’s jail time for you,” Xander tried again, handing the paperwork over to the giant.

“You’ll let me name it?” the half-giant asked, worried that his precious baby wouldn’t know him. He read over the contract and nodded. It was a good deal. Xander would own the dragon, but he would have a say in how it was raised.

“Sure, why not. It’s not like I’m any good at naming things.” He cringed at some of the names he and Buffy had come up with for some of the demons they had fought. In his defense, some of those names were unpronounceable to the human tongue. Unless you were Giles or Wesley. Or Spike and Angel. Okay, so he and Buffy were lazy.

“We can help too,” Harry offered, glad that his friend wouldn’t be in trouble.

“Well, a’ righ’ den. We ‘ave a deal,” Hagrid said, signing the contract and taking Xander’s hand, almost dislocating the man’s shoulder by shaking it so hard.

A large stone pen was erected in the back of the keep, toward the Forbidden Forest. It sat just within the borders and was sunk three and a half meters in the ground. It was surrounded by large stone walls about six meters high except for the stone gate, which worked on an outside pulley system. It was fifteen meters in circumference. There was a free-standing, thick cave molded out of lava rock, so the dragon would have a place to nest.

The Care of Magical Creatures class took on a whole different meaning when Norberta was hatched. Hagrid tried to name the female dragon Norbert, but the goblins corrected him on the creature’s sex. Now the school had XXXXX and XXX magical creatures, the latter being Fluffy, and the students were of two minds about it. Some, like the Weasley twins, were ecstatic. Others, like Percy, were nervous. Sure, the baby dragon was harmless now, but it would grow.

Fluffy decided that Norberta needed a father figure and could be seen in the pen most days, tussling and playing with the baby dragon. On many occasions the poor dog needed his fur regrown due to the haphazard flames of his adopted daughter. However, because of their playing, Norberta was learning when not to spout her flames.

Life went on, and Norberta was widely accepted over time.

It was the last week of the year, and the end of the year tests had just finished. Xander was once again called away to help find out what had been killing the unicorns all year. They had looked before, but had found nothing. He and Hagrid were in the forest looking for clues when they came across a hurt mare.

“She’s ‘urt real bad,” Hagrid said with tears in his eyes as he kneeled next to the bleeding unicorn.

“Can you help her?” Xander asked, petting Fang with one hand and Fluffy with the other -- making sure to get all three heads -- to keep them away from the hurt animal. The two dogs had taken a liking to Xander since he had completed his Animagus form. They knew an alpha when they smelled one, and the Conri was a great alpha. Sometimes, when he was bored, he and the dogs would run around the forest.

“Step away from the unicorn,” a voice to their right said.

“Why? Hagrid can stop the bleeding,” the wolf-eyed man asked, confused as to why the… being would not want them to save the mare. Surely, she was important to the herd.

“She is beyond saving,” the centaur stated morosely as it stepped out of the tree line, bow drawn and aimed at Xander.

“No!” Hagrid yelled, startling the injured animal. He petted her neck to calm her, whispering softly in her ear. “I ken save her,” he insisted softly, pulling ointments and bandages from his pockets. He worked feverishly, applying everything he thought would help. Xander wanted to give him a hand, but he knew from experience that he would just agitate the poor thing. So he silently sent some soothing magic to hold the unicorn to this side of the living while the gentle giant continued to work on her. It took a half an hour of sending magic and applying balms and plasters, but the combination worked, and soon the unicorn was on its feet. It wasn’t healed completely, but it wasn’t knocking on Death’s door, either. The entire time they were working, the centaurs surrounded them with their bows ready.

“Tha’s the bes’ I ken do,” Hagrid stated tiredly.

“We will bring her to our healer. You have done well, Hagrid. Who might you be, stranger?” the largest centaur inquired, motioning another centaur forward to take the unicorn to the village.

“Me? I’m just Xander,” the wolf-eyed man said, a bit drained himself. He had never sent magic like that before, and it was exhausting to do. He’d have to figure out a better way to help if there was a next time.

“A human,” spat a dark-haired centaur.

“Yeah, one that just helped heal a unicorn,” Xander said angrily. He knew that some centaurs hated humans, which was why he generally stayed away from them. When he and the dogs went running, they mostly chased the large spiders. Well, Fluffy ate them, but they didn’t let Hagrid know. Still, the colony was moving further and further away from the school as the nest got smaller and smaller. “I got a question, too. Do you know who did this?” he asked, changing the subject.

“No. We’ve been hunting them since the first unicorn died, however, they are very elusive,” the leader said with a great deal of scorn.

“Do you mind if me and the dogs try and pick up the scent?” Xander asked, not wanting to get fired on if he changed.

“How would a human pick up a trail that we could not?” the dark-haired one asked with disdain.

“I can turn into a canine,” was the elusive answer. Sure, wolves were canines. Big honking canines, but canines nevertheless.

“I am the leader of this herd, Magorian. I give you my permission to hunt these woods for the cursed being that killed the unicorns,” the largest centaur stated, wanting to see just what type of dog this man was.

“Yeah, thanks,” Xander said, and he turned into his Conri form and started sniffing around. He picked up the scent of unicorn blood and noted it was headed straight the castle. “Hagrid,” he said, still in his wolf form, and startling the centaurs, “I’m headed back to the castle. The big bad is there. Bring Fluffy and Fang as fast as you can.” With that, he disappeared.

“I be’er git goin’. Xander isn’ one to be kep’ waitin’,” Hagrid said to the centaurs and then started running. For a big man, he moved quickly. The dogs ran by his side, and soon the castle came into view. He just hoped he wasn’t too late.

Chapter Text

Harry, Hermione, and Neville were walking towards the Great Hall when suddenly Harry was hit with a Stunning Spell, grabbed from behind by his robes, and lifted over the shoulder of Professor Quirrell. The other two first-years screamed and yelled at the professor to let their friend go, grabbing Harry’s feet and trying to pull him off the obviously crazed man. Other nearby students drew their wands to help the first-years. Quirrell then stunned the other two kids, erected a strong barrier, and ran down the hall. Some tried to give chase, but the barrier was too strong. A few went to get the professors and Mr. Harris.

When Harry woke again, he was tied with a rope around his upper body and arms, and everything was a bit blurry. His glasses had fallen off. He didn’t know who had taken him, or why. He could hear a man muttering about a stone, but he couldn’t see him. There was a blur he thought might be the teacher-turned-traitor moving back and forth in front of him, muttering wildly about the stone being gone, the traps being dismantled, and other things Harry had no clue about. He kept lamenting about a whole year wasted, unicorn’s blood, and how he was cursed for nothing.

“Quirrell, the boy is awake,” hissed a voice that seemed to resound throughout the room.  

“Potter, tell me where the stone is. The protections are gone, and I know your bodyguard has something to do with it. He must have told you,” a voice that Harry recognized as Quirrell’s demanded without a single stutter. The only people who knew the traps were gone were the Headmaster, McGonagall, Joyce, and Xander. The corridor had an age line on it. No one under the age of 20 could cross it. The teachers still patrolled, and they thought were still protecting the stone.

The reason for this was that the trap had already been laid and they wanted to see who would be caught. Never had they thought that it was Voldyshorts, or that he was in the school. It had never crossed anyone’s mind that he would bring a child with him. How he got Harry across the age line, only he knew.

Quirrell realized a few weeks ago that the Cerberus was gone when he’d seen him with the dragon. He then set out to make plans.

“Um, I don’t know what you’re talking about. What stone?” the poor boy said, quivering with fear. For all Xander was teaching him, he still reacted adversely when adults made demands. Years of abuse from the Dursleys had made him fearful of punishment. He slowly wiggled his hands to see if he could get free and retrieve his invisibility cloak from his pocketspace. Xander had set it up so he could store his precious items and use them in emergencies such as this. His fingers moved, but the ropes just tightened. Magical ropes then. He’d have to think of something quickly; he didn’t want to die here.

“Don’t give me that, boy. I know that Harris has let you in on many of his secrets,” the angry professor growled, grabbing the tied-up child and shaking him.

“Fool, let me speak to him,” the hissing voice said.

“Are you su--?” was all Quirrell got out before he dropped Harry and clutched at his head in pain.

“Do not question me,” was the venomous reply.

“I’m sorry, Master, forgive me,” the professor pleaded, tears of pain running down his face as he quickly unwrapped his turban. When he turned, Harry saw a face on the back of his head. Well, he thought it was a face, since he still couldn’t see. However, the bottom half moved like a mouth, so he figured he was right.

“Harry Potter, do you see what you have reduced me to? A parasite that must survive from the lives of others. I will regain my body one day and I will have my revenge,” the face said menacingly.

“Voldyshorts?” Harry asked incredulously, using the name Xander called the… man.

“Do not call me that insipid name,” Voldemort said, incensed, making Quirrell turn and fire a pain spell at the tied-up boy.

Harry screamed. Nothing the Dursleys had ever done to him had prepared him for the pain he felt now. Every nerve of his body was on fire. Then, just as quickly as it had started, it stopped. He lay shaking on the floor, yelling in his head for Xander.

“Tell me Harris’s secrets, boy, or I’ll make the next one last longer,” the vile man threatened.

“I…I... don--don’t know any,” the hurting child lied. He wasn’t going to tell the person anything. He’d die first.

“You lie.” The wand turned on Harry again. Pain-filled cries filled the air once more.

Harry could feel nothing but pain. He wanted so bad to do something, but the agony he was in made it so he could not think. In his mind he continued to call for Xander to come and end the pain. Sending out mental signals to his foster--soon to be adoptive--father. The love that he realized he felt, for the first time in his life, overcame some of the pain. He breathed a bit easier, and with that thought the ropes fell away, which did not help his thrashing at all. He raised a shaky hand and cast the blinding Lumos as he writhed on the ground. The spell stopped, but his body still shook with painful tremors and all he could do was lie on the floor and whimper.

That’s when, out of nowhere, Xander appeared at the end of the chamber.

Taking in the situation quickly, the blinded man, his son crying, Xander pulled his 12-gauge shotgun, pumped and fired. The noise in the small room was deafening. One side of Quirrell’s head flew apart in a great mass of blood and gore. The coppery smell of blood filled the air. As the body fell, a black smoky-like spirit rose from it, screaming. When shields were erected over both Xander and Harry, the angered spirit flew through the wall, all the while vowing revenge. Xander dropped the shields and put his gun away as he ran to his son, cradling him in his arms. This seemed to hurt Harry, so he gently laid him back down.

“Harry,” he said softly, frustrated that he couldn’t take his foster son in his arms and reassure him, “I’m going to get you out of here. Hold on, okay?”

“It hurts, Xander,” Harry said softly, trying to hold back his tears, trying to be brave. They leaked anyway, running down the side of his face and wetting the stone floor below.

“I know, Harry. You were very brave. I’m going to take you to Poppy. Do you know what he hit you with?” the distraught man asked, trying not to jostle the boy as he attempted to give comfort. It appeared that everywhere he touched made the pain worse. Even Harry’s hair.

“I…it was a p…pain spell. I…I’ve never f…felt anyth…anything like it,” Harry stuttered out. Then he realized that the pain had dissipated some, and he sighed with relief and promptly passed out. Xander was here. He was safe.

Xander levitated his still shaking son, vanished, and reappeared in the Hospital Wing.

“Poppy!” he yelled, bringing the matron running. He eased Harry on the nearest bed, and Harry grimaced at the contact even in his unconscious state.

“Do you know what he was cursed with?” Madame Pomfrey asked upon seeing the prone figure. She waved her wand to diagnose the boy, but firsthand accounts always made it faster.

“No, but it caused a lot of pain. And I mean a lot of pain. I’ve never seen anyone in that much agony,” Xander explained, stroking Harry’s hair. And that was saying something. He had seen people tortured by ‘gods’ and other supernatural beings, but he had never seen anything like he just witnessed.

“Oh, the poor lad, it must have been the Cruciatus Curse,” she sighed, waving her wand to make Harry more comfortable. The bed grew softer, akin to a mattress of air, the pillows fluffed, and the blanket became lighter. There was little else she could do to help him. He would recover on his own, but it would take time. She held hope that he was only held for a short period of time. “It’s a pain curse. I’ve heard it described as thousands of white-hot knives being plunged into the body at the same time. Since there is no real physical damage, we don’t have a cure. We think it effects the pain receptors, making them send out signals that the body is in pain. If used long enough, it causes such severe mental trauma that the person goes into a catatonic state. It has been studied, but research has stalled since the end of the war. Politics, you know. All I can do is make him comfortable. He will recover on his own.”

“I’m going to kill that ‘Dark Lord.’ The last thing he sees on this earth will be my face,” Xander vowed, meaning every single word. He was determined to protect his child. He conjured a chair and sat vigil.

Harry woke the next morning. Xander was sitting at his side. He looked like he had slept in his clothes, and there was a five o’clock shadow on his jaw. He must have been here all night. Harry smiled softly.

“How did you find me?” the tired boy asked when he saw that his father was awake. He looked over to find his glasses, but they weren’t in sight.

“I heard your call,” Xander answered, giving him a warm smile. He didn’t let him know that he had felt his pain, even if it was a muted version.

“Really? I need to study that. If I can mentally talk to people that would be awesome,” Harry enthused from his prone position. Then he frowned. “Do you know where my glasses are?” he asked, not liking that everything was a blur.

“I didn’t see them anywhere, but we’ll get you new ones. Or contacts. I don’t like that you were put at the disadvantage like that. I’ll ask Poppy if there are any magical ones,” Xander said, trying to be reassuring.

“Okay. How long do I have to stay here?” he asked, struggling to sit, but giving it up as a lost cause. His body was still shaking, and he couldn’t make his back move the way he needed it to.

“Not long. Poppy said there wasn’t much she could do. Your shaking will go away on its own in about a day, so don’t worry about that,” came the reassuring response.

“Good. Hey, are Hermione and Neville okay?” Harry inquired anxiously.

“Yeah, they were only hit with a stunner. Considering who cast it, they got off lightly,” Xander said, gently stroking the boy’s hair, noting that it didn’t seem to cause him any pain now.

“Good.” And then the room fell into silence until Xander spoke once again.

“Harry, I know you don’t want to hear this right now, but we’ve gotta talk to the cops. I killed a man, so I needed to report it. I Floo-called them yesterday and they came and looked at the scene, but someone will come talk to us today. So, if you want, we can give them your memories, or you can tell them what happened,” Xander explained. He hoped Harry went for the latter. It would do him good to tell someone, even if it was only the police.

“Do I have to talk about it?” the shy boy asked, not really wanting to relive the night before.

“No, but take it from your old man, it helps,” Xander replied gently. He knew that to be true. Giles made them recount all their missions. It did help make it seem less real. Like it had happened to someone else. Well, it did for him and Buffy. Willow never got over some of the nastier things. She held onto them like a dog with a bone. It was one of the many reasons why she had tried to destroy the earth. Too much pain, she had said. He really hoped talking about it did for Harry what it did for him.

“Okay, I’ll try,” Harry said softly. He wanted to do all he could to help catch Voldyshorts.

“Thatta boy.”

Half an hour later, Dumbledore led someone into the room. “I am sure we can do this quietly,” he was saying to the woman.

She was middle-aged, with greying, dark hair. A sturdy woman, who wore a monocle on her left eye. She looked like she didn’t take crap from anyone. “We will do what is necessary,” she countered. She was still majorly pissed that this man had gotten Snape off, making two of her Aurors look incompetent, when she knew for a fact the Potions Master was as guilty as sin.

“Very well,” the old man sighed, bring her to Harry and Xander. “Mr. Potter, Mr. Harris, this is Amelia Bones. She is the head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement.”

“It’s nice to meet you, ma’am,” the ever-polite Harry stated. He squinted his eyes to see if he recognized her, but no, he had never met this woman from what he could tell.

“Yeah, nice to meet cha,” Xander said, looking her over to see what she was made of. He liked what he saw.

“And you both, as well. Let’s get started. Mr. Potter, can you tell me what happened?” she asked kindly, taking a seat on the bed next to the boy and pulling out a parchment notebook and a never-ending-ink quill.

“I’m not really sure. I know I was walking to the Great Hall for lunch with my friends, Hermione Granger and Neville Longbottom. I was hit from behind and woke tied up without my glasses. I know that it was Professor Quirrell, and that he had Voldemort sticking out of the back of his head. He kept muttering about a stone, traps, unicorns, and wasting the year. But I don’t know what he was talking about. Then Voldyshorts hit me with a spell that made me feel a lot of pain. He wanted to know something that I wouldn’t tell him, and so he hit me again. It hurt really bad,” Harry described his short encounter with the Dark Lord.

“What did he want to know?” she asked jotting it all down.

“I can’t tell you, ma’am. I made a vow,” he said shyly. It wasn’t a real magical vow, more like one the non-magicals would make. But Xander had said to say that if anyone asked.

“Well, it can’t be helped then,” Bones said, fuming inside that someone would place a vow on a child.

“I know what it is, and I can tell you in private,” Xander said, giving Harry a brilliant smile. He did well.

“Very well. Mr. Harris, can you tell me what happened after that?” she inquired, quill poised to take notes.

“I popped in, saw that Harry was in pain and that he had blinded Quirrell, so I shot Quirrell. He hurt Harry,” were the succinct answers, accompanied with a shrug.

“Shot him with what?” the confused woman asked. The wounds on the deceased didn’t indicate an arrow.

“A gun,” Xander answered simply.

“Oh,” she said. While she had heard of guns, she had never witnessed firsthand what they could do. Seeing the remains of Quirrell, she now knew, and she was going to stress to her Aurors not to take them lightly anymore. “May I see it?”

“Sure.” He reached behind him, pulling out the long gun.

“What type of gun is this?” Bones wondered aloud. She had only ever seen small handguns.

“It’s a 12-gauge shotgun. I wanted to make sure the bastard died,” Xander said with a shrug. He then put the gun away, glad the pocketspace cleaned everything. He hadn’t even thought about it last night. He had been too worried about his son.

“I see. I noticed that the man’s hands are gone. Do you know what happened to them?” Amelia asked, shaking her head and making a mental note to research all muggle firearms. She didn’t realize that it would take quite a while to read them all.

“Goblin trophies,” Xander answered with a vicious grin. He liked that aspect of goblin victories. Since the head was mostly gone, the hands that hurt his child would work just as well. He had removed them when Harry was asleep, right before he called the cops. A quick pop down, a severing charm and presto… trophy. He had only been gone a few seconds.

“So, the rumors that you are now the Goblin King are true?” she asked. She had heard and dismissed these rumors, even if they did come from one of her Aurors. If it was so easy to rule the goblins, why had no one done so before? Why had they had so many wars? It didn’t make sense to her. There had been references that said that Salazar Slytherin had done so, but it was ruled as dark magic.

“Yep,” was all the answer she got.

“I see,” she said again. She seemed to be saying that a lot, but these two were confusing her.

“Harry,” started Dumbledore, only to quickly change it to “Mr. Potter” when Xander glared at him, “I was wondering if Voldemort said anything else?” He wanted to know everything Tom had said. It might be important in the future.

“Not really,” Harry responded, rubbing his nose with a shaky finger, thinking hard. “I mean, he did mention that he was going to get a body.”

That made Amelia gasp. She had ignored the mentions of Voldemort before, thinking they were the imagination of a frightened child, but she was going to have to start paying attention to the rumors if so many of them were true. “A body?” she questioned aloud.

“Yeah, he said he was living as a parasite, though I’m not sure what that means. He didn’t look like a worm. He said he was living off the lives of others… oh, okay. Anyway, he said that he was going to get a body and get his revenge. Does he mean on me?” That question made him scared. He was in no shape to take on a paper bag, let alone a Dark Lord.

“Not if I can help it,” Xander snarled, grabbing Harry into a hug. He known Harry for less than a year, and already thought of the young boy as a son. He wasn’t going to let some namby-pamby Dork Lord take him from him. He had faced down pissed off slayers, vampires, ghosts, demons, gods, and the First Evil. Voldyshorts didn’t compare to any of them.

“I fear, you may have no choice, what with the prophecy,” Albus said, forgetting Amelia was not in the know.

“What prophecy?” she demanded.

“Oh dear,” Dumbledore said, bringing up his wand and pointing it at her head.

“No!!” Harry cried, putting out his hand and calling the wand to him. He didn’t know what the man was going to cast, but he wasn’t going to let the old man spell the nice woman.

“What do you think you are doing, Dumbledore?” Bones asked with righteous fury, quickly standing and pointing her wand directly at the old man.

“Forgive me, Amelia,” Albus said, shaken that the Death Stick was now in the hands of a child. “What you heard was a state secret. I was only doing my duty as Chief Warlock.”

“I see,” she muttered, lowering her wand, but keeping it ready. It was in his remit to make sure state secrets didn’t come to light. If it was a state secret. She couldn’t even check. If she didn’t have clearance, they wouldn’t allow her to find out. She quickly recited a vow to not tell about the prophecy, hoping the man would leave her mind alone.

“Mr. Potter, may I have my wand?” Dumbledore asked rather desperately.

“I can’t give it to you,” Harry said, trying to hand it over. “It won’t let go.”

“Oh dear,” mumbled Dumbledore.

“Harry, put it away for now. We’ll sort it out later,” Xander suggested, wondering how a wand could have control over Harry’s actions. He was going to have to research that.

“Okay, Xander,” Harry said, tucking the wand in his recently created pocketspace, making it look like he just put it under his pillow.

“I believe that is my wand,” protested Dumbledore.

“You heard him, it won’t let him give it away. Besides, don’t you guys have the rule of ‘to the victor go the spoils?’” Xander inquired unsympathetically. He wasn’t going to let the headmaster push Harry around.

“Yes, we do,” Bones intervened. She had no idea why the air was so tense around these three, but she had a job to do. “Let it go,” she told Albus.

Dumbledore sighed. He would have to figure out a way to get it back later. “Very well. I have duties I must attend to. Amelia, you know your way out.” And with that, the old man left, plotting his next move.

“Now, Mr. Harris, if we could go and discuss the secrets You-Know-Who wanted,” Amelia said to Xander, gesturing to the other side of the room.

“Sure, why not,” Xander said as he followed. He wanted her to think that he had kept more secrets from Harry. No one needed to know what Harry knew. “Call me Xander. Mr. Harris makes me feel like I’m about to be yelled at,” he offered, his mind shuddering at all the times he was yelled at when someone called him Mr. Harris. Principal Snyder was the worse. “I’ll be right over here, Harry,” he called over his shoulder.

The two adults went a short distance away, keeping Harry in sight. They put up a privacy charm and conjured chairs.

“What are these secrets?” Bones asked, not really expecting much.

“Well, there’s the fact that I can fly without a broom. Or hey, the fact that I can walk through walls. Or even the fact that I don’t use a wand. Take your pick,” the smug man replied.

“How did you accomplish these things?” Madam Bones inquired, completely flabbergasted.

“Magic goes wonky around me. I just use it to my advantage. It’s a secret though. Not even Dumbledore knows, and I’d like to keep it that way,” Xander stated firmly. He had learned the Obliviate from Minerva, but he really didn’t want to use it on the head cop.

Amelia quickly gave yet another vow. “Is there any chance you can teach these things to my Aurors? If not now, then in the future?” she asked. It would be a great boon for them. No criminal would hide away in secret rooms anymore. Broken brooms would no longer be a problem. The things they could do…

“Right now, we’re keeping it on the downlow. But, if my plans play out, then everyone will know. We’ve gotta set up safeguards and all that. Don’t want the criminals to do what we do,” Xander said, deflating her hopes.

“I see,” she sighed. “Well, I must be off. I want to say hello to my niece. If I have any questions, I will contact you,” she said, dismissing the privacy charm and dispelling the chairs. She made her way back to the bed and gathered up her supplies. “Mr. Potter, it was nice to meet you. I wish you a speedy recovery.”

“That wasn’t so bad,” Harry said with relief after she had gone. He thought it would be much harder.

“No, it wasn’t, but we are going to up your training. I’m going to get you in shape this summer, so be prepared to work hard.”

“I’m used to hard work,” the boy said, slightly miffed that his foster father thought he was lazy.

“Chores, even all the ones you did, are not the same as a good old-fashioned workout,” Xander chided.

“Whatever you say, Xander,” Harry said, rolling his eyes, showing that he was going to hit puberty soon.

“You’ll see,” the wolf-eyed man warned.

Poppy came to check on Harry and conjured him a pair of glasses that would last him the rest of the school year. The two males then spent the rest of the day making summer plans. The house Harry had liked had been purchased, and Emma was decorating it. She swore it was going to be manly, so they had to trust her. Harry was given the all-clear around dinner time, so they made their way to the Great Hall. When they got there a silence fell over the student body. Xander turned to Harry and put up a silencing bubble.

“Okay, Harry, we can do this one of two ways. You can tell them what happened or ignore it and live with the rumors that will spurt up,” the older man said quickly. They had learned after the First that you needed to get your story out, even if it was bending the truth until it squeaked.

Harry thought deeply about what Xander was saying. He remembered all the rumors about when he didn’t answer his mail. The misinformation that almost saw him mobbed. If he got it out of the way now, then perhaps that wouldn’t happen again.

“Okay,” he said shakenly. He trusted Xander.

“Good man,” Xander complimented, clapping him on the shoulder.

They made their way up to the front of the Hall and stood before the staff table.

“Okay, listen up,” Xander said, projecting his voice with his own charm. Anyone up by the Staff Table would be heard. “Harry is going to tell you what he remembers. If you don’t believe it, too bad. This is what he knows to be true. If you have questions, we’ll answer a few. Hermione, Neville, Hagrid, come up here and verify what you can,” Xander stated as he pointed to the three people.

They quickly made their way toward Harry and Xander.

“Mr. Harris, I must protest--” Dumbledore said, standing from his throne-like chair.

“Yeah, see, I’m Harry’s guardian, so you can’t protest this. It is for his safety,” the wolf-eyed man said firmly.

With nothing left to argue about that wouldn’t see him booted, Albus sat down. He frowned at what he thought might be something that would stroke Harry’s ego. That was the last thing he wanted.

Joyce and Minerva decided to stay silent and let only those that were there handle it. They did get up and stand behind Harry for support.

The five of them told everyone what had happened from their point of view, from the killing of the unicorns to Voldemort fleeing, and then opened the floor to questions.

“Were you scared?” asked a small first-year from Ravenclaw.

“Very,” Harry confirmed. That caused quite a few snickers, which were quickly quelled by Xander’s yellow-eyed glare.

“Yes, he was scared. You would be too. The important part is he did his best to get away. Remember, bravery is being courageous despite fear,” the wolf-eyed man stated, then pointed to another child.

“The unicorn lived?” came the question from a fourth-year female Hufflepuff.

“She’s alrigh’,” Hagrid said, beaming at the girl.

“I don’t believe it was the Dark Lord. He would not fall to the likes of you,” Draco Malfoy stated, glaring at the group on the platform.

“Believe what you like and sit down. You know what happened ten years ago, quit being facetious,” Xander growled, twitching a finger making the boy sit with magic. He had the feeling this kid was going to be trouble all through Harry’s years here.

The ‘when my father, blah, blah, blah,’ refrain was heard and was promptly ignored.

“Can we see the gun?” ask a muggleborn boy from Gryffindor.

Xander pulled it out and raised it in the air. “This is as close as you’re getting to it,” he said, moving around a bit to show what it was. There was no way he was letting a bunch of kids get up close and personal with a gun. That way led to disaster.

The muggleborns in the Hall were quickly telling the disbelieving purebloods what it was and what it could do. It was too radical of a notion for them. However, many of them had heard the Aurors talking about what the body looked like, so there might be some truth in what they were hearing.

“He wants a body? Does that mean he’s not dead?” asked a seventh-year pureblood Slytherin. He didn’t want the Dark Lord to come back. The last war had seen his family fall to poverty, and it was only now that they were climbing back up the social ladder.

“No, he’s not dead,” Xander confirmed. “However, I will do my best to make sure he never comes back,” he vowed loudly, over the murmuring.

A lot of the kids relaxed. Mr. Harris had made quite an impact on the student body. His killing of the troll and Quirrell made them believe he would do what was necessary to protect them.

“Perhaps we should eat now,” Dumbledore suggested decisively. He didn’t want any more questions of that nature to float about Hogwarts. Things like ‘how was the Dark Lord alive?’ and ‘what magic did he do?’ Those would only raise interest in topics that he needed to keep to himself for the time being.

“Sure, we’re done,” Xander said, releasing the charm and herding the kids to their table. “You guys heard the story, so don’t go asking anymore questions,” he told the Gryffindors, looking pointedly at the first-years. The girls were known gossips, and Ron, while not as bad as he had been, still threw fits of jealousy now and then.

“We won’t,” Lavender and Parvati said quickly.

Ron just slumped in his chair at the look Percy gave him.

Chapter Text

The next morning there was an article in the Daily Prophet that declared Xander to be the King of Goblins, Lord of Hogwarts, and Guardian of the Boy-Who-Lived. Next to Xander’s smiling, wolf-eyed picture was a pair of dead hands with the caption stating that they had belonged to Quirinus Quirrell. The gist of the article was that now he was the king of a warrior race and that he would do what he needed to protect his family and his people. That the man whose hands those were, was now dead. That Xander had killed him for harming Harry. He maintained that if anyone hurt Harry, their detached hands would be shown next.

It had the community in an uproar. There were pros and cons being fought over in taverns and pubs. Quite a few fights had to be quelled. The Aurors were not happy.

Xander didn’t care. He had said his piece and he would stand by every word.

That very afternoon, Madam Bones came to visit. “I have orders to bring you in for questioning,” she said wryly. The last place she wanted to be was here, bothering the man who had killed You-Know-Who-- well, drove him off. She had a department to run, and a covert operation to arrange. Something needed to be set up in case the Dark Lord did come back. And it had to be subtle. The Minster could not know about it, so she would set up a small group of trusted Aurors to monitor the situation.

“Oh?” Xander replied as he showed her into his ‘house within the castle’. This should be good. Bones didn’t know he was innocent of violating any crime. Well, she might, but the people who sent her--that was different. The situation had to be important, or they would have just sent a regular Auror.

She looked around with awe at the home. The amount of magic that must have been used…. She shook her head and replaced her look of awe with one of professionalism. “Yes, Minister Fudge demands that you be brought to justice. He claims that if you are Goblin King, then you broke many treaties by killing Professor Quirrell.”

“Ah, but I took his life as guardian of the Boy-Who-Lived,” Xander parried. “Besides, Hogwarts is self-governed. The only reason I called you in yesterday was because it was one of your citizens that was killed.”

“How can you be self-governed with so few people that can claim this land as home?”

“You know what? That’s a good question. Joyce!” he called, then settled in and waited.

“Yes?” Joyce asked as she appeared beside him on the couch, shocking Amelia in the process.

“How can we be sovereign if we aren’t a country?” he asked.

“Hogsmeade,” was her succinct answer, but when she saw that they didn’t understand, she went further. “At the time that we were given that power, the town was much larger. The whole country was split into small kingdoms; we were one. They pay their taxes and a portion of their revenues to Hogwarts: it’s in their leases and mortgages. Merlin was our king, but the throne has lain empty since he died. The ruling was that only the Lord of Hogwarts was to rule, which we all know is now Xander. I’ve held it as proxy, but since I’m technically dead, well…. When all the other kingdoms were conquered, we never were. No one could find us or knew about us. Only the magicals knew and they used us as a refuge. The non-magical parents were charmed not to talk. All the wars passed us by. Diagon Alley is a result of the witch hunts before the Statute of Secrecy. We’re an offshoot of Avalon,” she explained with a shrug. “King Arthur wanted us to be self-sufficient, so he set it up. I gave my papers to that Auror, Kingsley.”

“Yes, I read those, and… I’m sorry, who are you?” Amelia asked, wondering how this young-looking looking woman would know all that.

“Oh, sorry, I’m Joyce Summers. I’m the embodiment of Hogwarts. I was around when it was built, and I became the building when I died,” Joyce said, leaning forward and holding her hand out to shake Amelia’s.

Bones took the hand and shook it limply. It was like meeting a radio star: someone who knew the founders. “I have a question. Was Salazar Slytherin as bad as they say?” Then she reeled back at the glare she received.

“No! No, he was not!” Joyce snapped as she stood with her hands on her hips, ready to defend the memory of the man she thought of as her son.

“I didn’t think so,” Amelia quickly said, waving her hands placatingly. “There are too many holes in the story,” she added. It had always been a mystery to her. Why would the others build with him if he were evil? Why were there no other stories of him before or after he left? Why were there no trials, or accounts of criminal activity on his part? Too many unanswered questions.

“Well, that’s fine then.” The spirit of Hogwarts relaxed, sitting back on the couch.

“Mr. Harris, Minister Fudge wants you to come in. Perhaps, if I can question you, that will appease him,” the Head of the DMLE said, hoping to get few more answers for the record.

“Sure. School lets out in a few days. Let me get Harry settled and I can come by in, say, a week?” Xander suggested, not seeing an issue with that request. If things got hairy, he could just teleport out. It was one of the things he hadn’t told Bones about.

“That would be lovely. Owl me and let me know when you are available,” Amelia said. She stood and held out her hand to Xander. “I look forward to our talk.”

“Me too. And hey, if you can get this Fudge fellow to come, that’d be great,” he said with a smirk. He and Buffy had loved riling up officials, something poor Giles was well aware of. Wesley never stood a chance. Poor bastard. At least it had made him grow a backbone.

“I’ll see what I can do. I can see myself out.” With that, Amelia Bones left the ‘house in the castle’. She still marveled at the amount of magic that it must have taken to design the seemingly muggle home within the magical school.

“She’s good people,” Xander said as he sat back down.

“She was a good student. Hufflepuff, if I remember correctly,” Joyce agreed, calling a house elf for some butterbeer.

“Really? Well, that takes the cake. I’d have pegged her as a Gryffindor. She is a cop, after all,” Xander stated. He took one of the butterbeers and settled back into the sofa.

“You should never stereotype the Houses, Xander. That is never a smart thing to do,” Joyce said, settling back on the couch with him and just enjoying time spent with one of her sons. They then discussed him being at Hogwarts for some days over the summer. As it was, most of the residents were being sent on a paid vacation. The Muggle Studies professor would be sent to get caught up on the 20 th century, and the rest were to learn more about the non-magicals. It would do them good to know --and teach-- what they were up against. Xander knew they would not stay hidden forever, and if they wanted to survive, they needed to know how to blend. That, and they were upgrading the castle. The teachers would need to know how to use the stuff they were bringing in.

An hour later Harry came in. “Hey, what’s up?” he asked, settling on the couch across from them and grabbing a butterbeer.

“Madam Bones came to visit, and I have to go and answer a few questions for the cops next week. Where’s Hermione?” Xander replied, not worried in the least. His casualness showed, so those around him didn’t worry either.  

“She wants to get some studying done for next year,” the dark-haired boy answered with a frown. All she seemed to do was study. He was going to have to get her to have some fun, sooner or later. It was downright unhealthy.  

“Harry, I wanted to ask you about Dumbledore’s wand,” Joyce said, leaning forward a bit. “I heard what happened, but I never got a good look at it. The portraits are telling me that he’s really mad that he doesn’t have it. Can I see it?” she asked gently.

“Sure,” Harry replied, and he pulled the wand out of his pocketspace. “It’s a weird wand. It calls to me at night.”

“It’s not telling you to kill anyone, is it?” a very worried Xander questioned. Cursed objects were not new to him. The demon Sweets came vividly to mind. He’d never look the same at singing and dancing again. He still had nightmares.

“No. I don’t think so. It just wants me to use it,” was Harry’s confused answer.

Joyce looked at the wand in the boy’s hand and knew exactly what it was. She remembered the Tale of the Three Brothers; it had been read many times within her walls. She now had a niggling feeling that Harry’s invisibility cloak was the one of lore too. No cloak lasted that long. Not one to keep secrets from family, she said, “Harry, that is a very powerful wand. The bodies it has left behind are numerous. You need to put that back in your pocketspace and only use it in the direst of circumstances. I mean it, young man, put it away,” she added when Harry didn’t do as she said right away.

“Joyce, something I should know?” Xander asked, eyeing the space that Harry tucked the wand into.

“The Tale of the Three Brothers tells of three men who defeated Death and were awarded. One got that wand, and he died not long after. Many wizards have fought for that wand. It is said to be the most powerful wand there is. I say, if it’s so powerful, then why are people dying over it? However, I don’t know the full history. Still, it is not to be toyed with. The only way to claim that wand it to either kill the owner or rip it from their hands, like Harry did. It is not a good wand. I’m worried others might find out he has it and do their best to take it,” she said almost in tears. She didn’t want to go through the process of losing a family member so soon after meeting him. The founders had lived a long time, but these two would only stay on earth a short while. She knew this, and wanted their relationship with her to last, at least until they married and had children they could send to her.

“I won’t use it,” Harry promised, not liking seeing his foster mother so worried.

“I know, sweetie, you’re a good boy. I want you to promise me you won’t tell anyone you have it. Claim ignorance, if you have to, okay?” Joyce pleaded.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” the boy said with a smirk, hoping to lighten the mood.

“Not even Neville and Hermione,” Xander warned. He didn’t know the story, but if Joyce was spooked, it was not good.

“I promise,” Harry said. “I’m going to go pack. We’re leaving soon, and I want to make sure I haven’t lost anything,” he stated, moving to do just that. He wanted to get away from the tension in the room.

“Okay, sweetie. If you’re missing anything, call a house elf,” his foster mother advised.

“I will. Bye.” And with that, he bolted from the room.

“Do you think we should take it away?” a very concerned Xander asked.

“No. If you do, then you’re the owner, and they will come after you,” the equally concerned Joyce replied.

“Better me than him,” Xander said forcefully.

“No, actually, this works better. Only you, me, Amelia and Dumbledore know who has it. Amelia doesn’t know what it is, and I don’t really count, since I’m dead and I can’t be tortured. Dumbledore won’t talk. And only you know exactly where he has stored it. Besides, I have a feeling it’s right where it was always supposed to wind up,” she said ominously. She knew the family history of many of her students, and Harry’s went back as far as the Peverell brothers. The ones from the tale.

“Okay, I’ll trust your judgment for now.” Xander backed down, making plans for if or when this became an issue.

“I have to go. Don’t fret, Xander, it will all work out in the end.” And with that she disappeared.

“It better,” was all he could say to the air.

The rest of the week went slow. With no class, and nothing to do but wait for grades, most of the students were bored. Still, time passed and now it was time to go home. Harry reveled in that. Home. He had never had one outside of Hogwarts, and now he did. It felt wonderful. He, Hermione and Neville sat together on the train and just chatted about things they would do over the summer. Hermione was going on a trip with her parents. Neville had a few parties he didn’t want to go to. Harry was just going to relax. It had been forever since he could. He did offer for Neville to come and visit. During their talks, they had a small visit from Malfoy.

“Still claiming you beat the Dark Lord, Potter?” the blond boy sneered. Inside he was actually nervous that what the boy had said was true. He, like many of his dormmates, didn’t want the Dark Lord back. His was a jealous reason. See, then his father would be paying attention to someone else, and Draco would not be the center of attention that he was used to being.

“Like Xander said, you can believe what you want,” Harry answered negligently. Xander told him not to worry about what others thought, especially bullies like Malfoy.

“You will meet your end one day, Potter,” the blond wizard vowed, and turned and left before Potter could send him to the loo again. Or the prat’s bodyguard showed up. Draco knew the man was lurking around somewhere.

“We all do,” the dark-haired wizard called after him. A shiver ran down his spine, though he couldn’t say why. He wasn’t afraid of dying. Sometimes, when he was in is cupboard, he longed for death, he had come to welcome it. Now that he had family, he still knew that one day he would die. So, he had no idea why his words rang untrue. Brushing it away, he turned back to his friends.

The group giggled and went back to their talks of summer. When they got to the train station, Harry and Xander, being comical, hugged like they hadn’t seen each other on the train. Silly boys. Hermione hugged her parents, and Neville just slinked off with his formidable grandmother.

“I don’t think she’s very nice to him,” Harry said as he watched his friend’s shoulders slump further and further the more the woman talked.

“I know. We’ll get him to come visit soon,” Xander said, knowing that while she belittled the boy, she did love him. He had had a discussion with her about Neville’s wand, after Xander had replaced the boy’s father’s wand. The woman was tough, that was true, however, she did worry about her grandchild.

“Okay,” was the sad reply. Harry never liked to see anyone sad, and Neville was sad.

“Come on, we’ll go see what Emma did to the house,” Xander offered, picking up Harry trunk and hoisting the lightweight item on his shoulder, and they joined the Grangers.

They made it to their house, via Harry Air including the family’s car, and marveled at the nice décor. Emma had done a great job, she kept the colors mostly deep brown, forest green, and tan. The walls were dark, the floor was tan, the furniture was brown, green and tan with splashes of burnt orange in there. She also kept is sparse. There was only a couch, chair, coffee table, lamps and rug in the living room. A picture of a forest scene hung over the large fireplace.

The kitchen/dining room was equally sparse. The counters only had a microwave and coffeepot. The regular refrigerator and stove was a contrasting white to the brown counters. The dishes were a deep dark brown, with coffee cups to match. The six-seater wooden table was just the right size.

The bedrooms had a bed, dresser, desk, and nightstand. Xander’s was a king size, but Harry’s was a twin. She didn’t want to overwhelm the poor boy. The third room was left empty for the work out equipment.

“I wanted to leave most of the decorating to you. I figured you would want to add your own personal touches,” Emma said when they finished looking around.

“This is great,” said Harry, enthused. It was more than he had his entire life.

“Thanks, Emma, it’s really male friendly,” Xander said, mussing Harry’s hair. “You guys enjoy your trip. We’ll be okay from here,” he added, knowing they wanted to get going.

“Okay. See you soon,” she said, waving as she went.

“Bye, Harry, I’ll bring you back something,” Hermione called as she turned and walked backwards.

“Have fun,” he called back.

The duo had a great time shopping for their house. Since it wasn’t clothes, though they did pick up some summer ones, it wasn’t a hassle. They spent the next two days rearranging everything and making it a home. Just for them. The rest of the week was spent setting up a schedule. Mornings were for workouts, breakfast and cleaning. The rest of the day was spent to whatever came to them. Harry finished most of his summer homework the last week of Hogwarts, and so had the whole summer to relax.

Xander had to pop over to Hogwarts every day to help with the upgrading. They had found some muggleborns what were more than happy to set it all up. Hogwarts would be a much brighter, warmer place when the kids came back.

Joyce, being able to move every stone in the castle, helped a great deal. If they needed to get behind a wall, she simply made an entrance. The only place she couldn’t go was under the foundation. The basement and dungeon were above that, meaning the kitchen and Hufflepuff and Slytherin dorms would get upgrades as well.

Since the plumbing worked, it was left untouched for now.

Central heating was to be installed in each of the used classrooms, offices, common rooms and dorm rooms; with insulation added. They had plans for the whole castle, but it would take more than one summer to accomplish.

Each common room was going to sport electric outlets for entertainment purposes, and electric chandeliers instead of candles. They kept the outlets out of the dorm rooms for now, but if the kids proved they wouldn’t stick metal stuff in the outlets, they would add them later. When set up, there was going to be a charm to keep the less informed from doing just that. If it wasn’t an actual plug, it would not get into the outlet. Still, some of the upper years might dispel that, so they kept them in the common rooms. They had plans to do the same to the offices, but the teachers didn’t need to know that.

All the most trafficked halls would have electric lights, and the Great Hall would have massive electric crystal chandeliers, which would dim during the evening afters, so the ceiling could still be seen. Joyce had told Xander the story of how all four of the founders got together and created that marvelous work of art. Xander hoped one day that he and Harry could do something similar. Well, they probably could now, but not without being exhausted.

TV/movie rooms would be set up for those with passing grades and current on their homework. And educational game rooms was planned for those needing help. Anyone could use them, but they were geared towards those who were behind in the non-magical classes. Club rooms were also designated and powered up. They would have outlets for those who wanted to use media to prove points or just entertainment. With the same kiddy-proof charms, of course.

A phone room was going to be added. Now, if the parents had a phone, they could call, or the kids could call on weekends, or emergencies. They would upgrade a classroom to a computer room in the future. No need to bombard the kids with too many changes at once. They were hoping to sneak in a computer teacher in the near future and make it an elective class.

The offices also were to be given phones, and magical computers, thought up by a muggleborn. They ran on electricity but were more comprehensive than non-magical computers. They ran faster, and the search engines were quicker. They couldn’t get on the Internet, but they could do paperwork, print, have filing and send internal emails. The house elves were taught to scan all the files into each computer. They would have what was called a campus network, so they could communicate with each other and share files. A room was created by Joyce to hold the brain and router.

The house elves were beyond ecstatic when they got new appliances. They mostly did everything with magic, and the new appliances were electrically and magically operated, also created by a muggleborn. Nothing spoiled or burnt with these babies. They were also bigger and better. And shiny. The deep walk-in freezer was well received. The whole kitchen was a more moderate temperature and lit better. They could see what they were doing now, and all the elves jumped for joy.

Filch’s job was made easier with a floor buffer and a large vacuum for all the tapestries. The vacuum washed and cleaned as it went, without water. It still ran on electricity, as did the buffer, but it was enhanced. Those sneaky little house elves were taking joyrides on the buffer, making Filch have to hunt it down to use it.

Norberta’s pen was going to be reinforced with electric fences, which had a separate generator. She was prone to try and escape. For some reason she thought Harry was a nestmate and kept trying to get to him. Fluffy was good at keeping her in the pen, but backup never hurt.

All these upgrades were to be fed by the sun and magic, with a transformer to make sure they were compatible and didn’t overload. It was another muggleborn design. The whole roof of the castle, that couldn’t be seen from the lake, now housed solar paneling. The elves were in charge of keeping them clean of debris and making sure if one was broken, either they fixed it, or they told Xander, who was taught how to fix them magically.  The generator was in one of the many disused classrooms on the top floor and the wires fed thusly. It was warded six ways to Sunday, the whole roof as well. It was the first thing set up.

They were even planning a large windmill to be built next to Hagrid’s hut to supplement for the winter when the sun was gone. It was a magical windmill, so it would go faster than non-magical’s and work three times as hard. It would stand 100 meters tall, and the arms 35 meters in length. It would be built like the ones in Holland and face the lake. In the summer it would spin lazily, but in the winter, it would rev up. A silencing charm was to be added to it, so only a muffled ‘thuamp’ would be heard.

Xander was looking into geothermal power, but it was still new, and he wanted to make sure it was safe.

Right now, it was all just starting, the roof, the kitchen and the halls were done, but they hoped to have it completed by the end of summer.

Along with electrical updates, the wards were updated as well. The Chastity Ward was boosted to include heavy bullying. If someone was about to be hurt the alarm would blare. With Xander being able to jump anywhere in the castle, there was little chance to escape. Passive or mild bullying was recorded and sent to the Head of House as an email. That way they would be able to step in and stop it. There was a weak intent ward added to the perimeter. It would warn Xander, Albus, and Joyce if someone with ill intent was entering the school. They thought about a stronger one but decided that hormonal teenagers had some strong emotions and the ward would set off every time the kids decided they hated their parents, or their siblings, or their boy/girlfriend, or even just everyone in general. But, in time of war the ward could be boosted.

The week flew and Xander made his way to the Ministry. He was led to Amelia’s office, and took the seat indicated. With her was a small, pudgy man, who seemed to like the color green a bit too much.

“Thank you for coming, Mr. Harris. Minster Fudge feels you violated goblin treaties in killing Professor Quirrell,” she started, poising her quill to take notes.

“Nope. I acted as Harry’s guardian, not the goblins’ king,” Xander denied, looking at the man and finding him wanting.

Fudge bristled. “Now see here,” he said, “you killed a man. A wizard. I have been told you’re a muggle, or a squib. You don’t even own a wand,” he scoffed. He knew everything about this man. Or so he thought.

Xander held out his hand and created a flame. “I don’t need one,” he sneered. This would not give away too much.

Cornelius was flustered. Lucius had said the man was a muggle. His son swore it was so. “I… I… nevertheless, you must be tried for killing a British wizard,” he demanded. “We don’t hold to such acts. I will see you in prison for this,” the self-important man threatened. Well, he was important, just not as much as he thought he was.

“Who was attacking a British child. I have Harry’s memory. Do you want to see it?” Xander asked slyly. This way the truth could not be denied.

“That is a sound idea,” Amelia stated firmly, getting up to get the pensieve. She brought it to the desk and poured the memory in. They all put a finger in the bowl and were sucked in. The memory started when Harry first woke and finished when he woke again in the Hospital Wing. They were pushed out at the end, and Xander retook his seat. He was so proud of Harry for having bravely faced such odds.

“This proves nothing. The boy is as blind as a wimblebat. We couldn’t even see who the man was,” Fudge denied quickly. He could not believe that the person was He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. The Dark Lord was dead.

“All it needs to prove is that he was being tortured. And he was. Whatever else you take from it, is up to you,” the wolf-eyed man said firmly, leaning forward and glaring that the idiot. “Besides, you fool, even if it isn’t Voldyshorts, it is a Dark Lord. Moron,” Xander scoffed.

“Now see here, I am the Minster of Magic. You can’t talk to me like that,” Cornelius said, puffing up importantly.

“And I am Lord Hogwarts, King of the Goblins, and Guardian of the Boy-Who-Lived. So what,” Xander said snidely.

“Gentlemen, stop. It is obvious that Mr. Harris was innocent of killing in cold blood. This is a case of protecting his foster son. No charges will be filed. We will make note and move on,” Bones said when she got tired of all the posturing.  

“But… but… Amelia,” Fudge stuttered.

“No. That is my final word,” she stated firmly.

“Fine, but you had better watch your step, Harris. I am the Minister of Magic, and I can see you deported,” the pudgy man blustered.

“Sure, go ahead. I’ll just close Hogwarts and take my ward elsewhere.” Xander shrugged and brushing the man off as unimportant.

Cornelius paled and quickly left the room. He needed to talk to Lucius.

“That’s your leader?” the wolf-eyed man asked in disbelief. He knew some weak leaders in his time, but this guy took the cake.

“Yes,” was all Bones would say to that. She shuffled some files on her desk. They all seem to be held there by magic.

“You should go and see what we’re doing to the castle. I’m having it upgraded to include phones and electricity,” Xander advised with a smug look. It would help her in the long run if she had a computer to hold all this paperwork.

“Really!?” she exclaimed, excitedly. “I thought electricity didn’t work in magical areas?”

“Nope, that was just propaganda. It works just fine. If it were true, all the non-magical buildings around this one and Diagon Alley wouldn’t work. Now, I’m not trying to change your culture, but you guys stumbling ignorantly around in this age to technology is just plain stupid. I’m from the future, a different future granted, but mostly the same in the non-magical area and you’re gonna get caught, mark my words. In a few years, cameras will be on all the streets of London. Everything you do will be recorded. It will be a matter of days before the secret of magic gets out. You need to come in to this century or you’re all going to die,” he warned forcefully. It might be a bit of an exaggeration, but he felt it was not far from the truth. From what he had seen with the teachers at Hogwarts, they were just asking to be killed. Really, not knowing what a phone was, or how to use one, was just wrong. A world of wrong. “I mean even if you don’t wire the building up, at least get a phone system. They are much faster than the paper airplanes I saw buzzing by. More useful too. You can reply right away, not have to go back and forth with all the parchment.”

“Yes, I’ve heard some of my muggleborn Aurors complain about the lack of phones. I will definitely look into those, now that I know they will work,” she said as her brain ran a mile a minute. She was very concerned about his prediction and would have to research these cameras. She’d have to take her finding to the Wizengamot. If what he said was true, they were all in danger. “How did you get the clearance to add all of your ‘upgrades’?” she asked, knowing that the board would never had approved of such muggle things.

“I do own the building. If the Board doesn’t like it, they can stuff it. I mean really, no TV that’s just criminal. That I haven’t had a Twinkie since I got here. Therein lays badness,” Xander said sorrowfully. It was a small white lie, he had been in the non-magical world a few times and stocked up. However, the house elves couldn’t get their faux Twinkies quite right. They were very upset over this and determined to try harder. It was the chemicals, Xander was sure of it.

“Well, like I said, I will look into it. For now, we are done. No charges will be filed. If I need you, I will owl you,” she said, looking at her busy schedule.

“Not a problem. I’m at your disposal,” Xander said, getting up and shaking her hand. He left with a jaunty whistle and made his way home. He liked the sound of that ‘home’. It had been years since he had one. He, like Harry, never considered his father’s house a home. Now, he had Harry and that was home.

Chapter Text

The first thing Xander did after talking to Amelia and Fudge was hit himself in the head. Then he went home, released his wolf eyes, and grabbed Harry and went to London proper. They made their way to a walk-in optical shop.

"Okay, Harry," he said, clasping the boy on the shoulder right before they went in and turning the nervous boy to face him, "we're going to get you some contacts. I talked to Poppy, but she said they didn't have any in the magical world, so here we are. Don't worry, this stuff is easy. You just have to look at things."

"Okay, Xander," Harry said, keeping a brave face. He was worried that his eyes were in worse condition than he thought. He had read that bad nutrition could cause really bad eyesight, and added to that was the fact that he spent a good part of his childhood in a dark boot-cupboard, which didn’t help at all. What he didn't know was that his magic had spent most of his life preventing the effects of malnutrition. So his bones weren't weak, and his eyes weren't that bad. He was still short and genetically nearsighted, since there was only so much his magic could handle and those weren't potentially damaging. It did what it could with what it had.

They walked through the door, and a little bell on the door rang. It was a fairly bright shop, with large windows and glasses frames everywhere. A few tables and a large receptionist desk were right in front of them. Behind them was a nice-looking young woman. She was petite and a brunette. Her smile looked like she should be working at a dentist’s office, it was so big and bright.

"Hello there! Welcome to Dorie's Spectacles. What can I do for you today?" she asked as they approached.

"Hello, I'm Xander and this here's Harry. We need to get him some new eyewear. Harry was playing sports at school, and he lost his glasses a few times. We've talked it over and decided that he's old enough to try contacts," Xander said, keeping his hand on Harry's tense shoulder.

"Not a problem. Let me see who's available. May I have his Health Card?" she inquired as she picked up the interoffice phone, still smiling. Harry was a minor so his exams would be covered, but Xander would have to pay for contacts.

"Oh, yeah, give me a minute," he said, pulling out his wallet and grabbing Harry's card. It was one of the first things he did when get got non-magical custody of Harry. The Dursleys had never bothered, since they never took him in for treatment. He handed it over and they watched the girl run it while talking to someone in the back. Free health care still boggled his mind. He had heard a few congressmen had tried to get it passed in the States, but with the money that could be made with a private practice, he never saw it working there.

"This is Dr. Allen. He's going take care of you today," she said, handing him back the card and indicating the average looking dark-haired man who had just entered the room.

"Hello, Doctor, we need some eye exams and contacts for Harry here," Xander repeated.

"Are you sure? Contacts are a big responsibility," the optometrist inquired, waving them into the back.

"He wants to try," the one-eyed man said.

"Okay. Well, let's see what we can do," the doctor said, and then proceeded to test Harry's eyes. He spent the entire time warning Harry the pitfalls of not using or caring for contacts correctly. He wanted to make sure the boy knew what he was getting into. Xander wasn't worried; they'd magic the contacts to prevent most of these things. However, Harry would have to take them out every night and soak them. It would give him a sense of responsibility. He did want Harry great at magic, but it shouldn't be the end of everything.

The tests took about an hour, since Xander wanted him completely examined. He too was worried about the effects of Harry's childhood.

"Good news, young man," the doctor said to the now-relaxed Harry. The exams weren't as bad as he thought. Xander was right, besides the dilating, it was just looking at stuff. "Your eyes are in fine condition. A bit nearsighted, but we can fix that with the contacts. Go give this to Sharon at the front desk to settle the bill and get your contacts ordered," he said, handing Xander the prescription. He led them back to the front and nodded to where Sharon was.

Xander ordered the contacts and paid the bill. They would be ready in a few days. They went home, reassured for different reasons. Xander because he was glad that liability was gone, and Harry because he wasn't as blind as he thought. The night with Voldyshorts must have been due to a hit on the head or maybe the aftereffects of the stunning charm. He didn't know. Still, he was glad he was getting contacts as it took a great deal off his mind.

A few days later, and everyone could see Harry's beautiful eyes. It took a while to get used to not grabbing for his glasses first thing in the morning and sticking his finger in his eye instead, but he was getting there. He'd have to go back every six months since he was still growing, but to be able to see so well was well worth it.

A few weeks later and summer was in full swing. Harry was having a great time doing absolutely nothing. Well, not nothing, he still had his chores, but cleaning his room and helping with the dishes were child's play to what he was used to. Xander was great, he taught Harry how to use the equipment in the workout room. And Harry had to admit, his dad was right, housework was not the same. The first few days he ached in places he didn't even know he had. He started out very light and worked slowly upwards. Xander said that it had to be done slowly or you could damage yourself, especially since Harry had not hit puberty yet.

Xander also took the time to teach some basic carpentry skills, so Harry now knew how to nail a nail and screw in a screw. It was fun. He got to build a birdhouse that now sat in the tree behind the house. Hedwig claimed it, so Xander expanded it to fit her. Harry couldn't be happier.

They had a great birthday celebration with Neville and Hermione. Harry learned that Neville's birthday was the day before his, and he made sure to get him a gift. Well, Xander had to run out and get it, but the thought was there. They got him a small plant terrarium with a few Venus Flytraps that would fit in one of the windows in Neville's bedroom. The round-faced boy was ecstatic. He never knew the non-magicals had carnivorous plants. He vowed to take very good care of it and to read the booklet that came with it. Harry just hoped he didn't feed it magical fertilizer. It might become a man-eating plant if he did.

The upgrades to the castle were done. The teachers were back and learning how to use the new equipment. It was funny to watch them flounder a bit, but they soon got the hang of it. They all marveled on how much easier it made their lives. Even Dumbledore was happy about it. His paperwork was cut in half. Professor Sinistra was over the moon at the new telescopes. This opened up a whole new world of magic theory.

Today Harry and Xander were going to visit the Weasleys. Bill wanted Harry to meet his parents and youngest sibling. The young wizard was excited. He had never been to a friend's house before, besides Hermione's. But this was a magical household. And while Bill wasn't a friend, per se, he was a really great guy. If Harry wasn't so leery of strangers, men specifically, then Bill might have rated an uncle. However, Harry could not shake his childhood off that easily. He did wonder why he had taken to Xander so well. There was something about the man that just screamed 'trust me'. Every day that went by, Harry felt closer and closer to the Xandman.

"Harry! Are you ready to go?" Xander called across the house. He had told Bill they'd meet him in ten minutes. They would have left earlier, but Harry was working on something and they lost track of time. Good thing he had set an alarm spell, and it went off fifteen minutes ago.

"Be there in a minute, Dad," Harry replied unthinkingly, while he slipped on his sandals.

Xander blinked, then teared up a bit. That was the first time Harry showed affection in any form. Heck, he still didn't hug for bed. He would just politely say 'goodnight' and then scurry off. This was a great breakthrough. He was so proud of his son's progress. "Come on, then," he said loudly.

"I'm here," Harry said as he entered the room, a bit breathless. He had tried on at least three outfits, not wanting to make a bad impression. He settled for a dark blue t-shirt with tan shorts and sandals. Xander was dressed in a bright red Hawaiian shirt and long blue shorts, also sporting sandals. They looked at each other and gave each other the thumbs up.

"All right, why don't you get us to Diagon Alley, so we can hook up with Bill? He wants us to take something called the Knight Bus. It's supposed to be safer than Flooing," the wolf-eyed man said as he made sure the house was locked up. He grabbed his keys, not that he needed them, but it was a force of habit, and nodded to Harry. In a wink, they were gone. They appeared in an alley not far from the Leaky Cauldron. They had scoped it out a few weeks back, so they always had a spot to teleport to.

They walked to the pub while Harry talked excitedly about what a magical house could look like. Xander nodded his head in all the right places and just basked in the fact that Harry was happy. They met up with Bill, who called the Knight Bus.

'BANG' was the sound the triple-decker bus made when it stopped not two feet in front of them. Xander almost pulled his gun.

The Knight Bus was a huge purple monstrosity. Inside was lined with huge, comfortable-looking armchairs with small end tables next to them. The group boarded, declined the drink, paid the fare, and Bill warned them to grab a seat. No sooner were they seated than the big bus took off at sonic speeds. The chairs were all thrown back and the two newbies held on for dear life.

"It gets easier once you've taken it a time or two!" Bill shouted over their screams. Xander's bellows of frustration at not being able to sit up straight, g-force be damned, and Harry's whoops of joy.

"This is great!" Harry yelled back.

Xander finally relaxed in the chair and had to agree. It was like being on a ride in Disney World only enclosed, and through crowds of traffic and people. He just never expected it on public transportation. He wondered if he could get a car to do the same. That would be nifty. There were times when teleporting wasn't feasible. And he knew that the CCTV cameras would be about soon. He was going to have to tell a few people about those like he had with Madam Bones. Mostly the students, so they would then tell their parents, and so on. Hopefully even the most foolish would learn not to Apparate in crowded areas anymore.

Soon they were in Ottery St. Catchpole and getting off the bus.

"We live right up that trail," Bill said, ignoring the loud BANG from behind him. Xander and Harry jumped.

"I can't wait to meet the rest of your family," enthused Harry, as he followed the two adults down the trail.

"They want to meet you, too. Me, Percy, and the twins won't shut up about you and Xander. Mum's going to kill you, Xander," the redhead said with a smirk.

"What did I do?" the wolf-eyed man asked indignantly.

"You're letting the twins teach Harry how to prank," came the truthful answer.

"It's teaching him stealth," Xander corrected proudly. Harry had pulled quite a few pranks this summer -- without his invisibility cloak -- and had yet to be caught in the act. The only way he knew it was Harry was because he was the only other person in the house.

They made it to the towering house. It was held together by magic alone. The carpenter in Xander was having raging fits on the design. He itched to fortify the place because logically it shouldn't be standing.

"Mum, Dad, look who I brought home!" the oldest Weasley called as he went through the door.

There was a stampede of children as they came from all parts of the house. Only Charlie wasn't there, and Percy came at a steadier pace.

"Oh, Bill, it is good to see you. You were not at supper last night," a plump redhead woman said as she engulfed her eldest as if he had been away for years.

"Mum, I am an adult now. I have my own life," the very embarrassed man said, patting his mum on the back.

"Pish-posh, you will always be my baby," she said as she released her child.

"Mum, Dad, this is Harry Potter and Xander Harris," Bill recovered nicely, making the two adults focus on the new people. "Xander, Harry, this is my mum, Molly, and my dad, Arthur."

Xander held out his hand and said, "Nice to meetcha."

Harry was a bit politer and said, "It is very nice to meet you, Mr. and Mrs. Weasley."

"Oh, Harry, look at you, all grown up. Why the last time I saw you Ginny was a newborn," Molly gushed as she tried to pull Harry into a hug.

The boy in question quickly ducked behind Xander, who let him hide here. "I've taught him that he doesn't have to take hugs that make him uncomfortable. Since you are a stranger, you'll have to get to know him better before you try that," he said unapologetically. It was a small way Harry could stand up for himself. Never take affection from those he didn't know. A lot like Stranger Danger. Even though he was sure Molly was harmless, she should not be hugging children that were not hers.

"What silliness is that? Not taking hugs? Just what are you teaching the poor child?" she questioned, very insulted.

"I didn't say he couldn't get hugs, just not from strangers," Xander said firmly.

"How will he ever learn affection?" she asked, thinking that maybe Dumbledore was correct, and this man was bad for Harry.

"Changing the subject. Hello, Arthur, I hear you work with the Ministry," the wolf-eyed man stated, turning from the woman, who he felt was being invasive. It was none of her business how he raised Harry. As long as Harry was happy and healthy, he could teach him as he pleased.

"Yes, I'm head of the Misuse of Muggle Artefacts Office," the redhead said proudly, glancing at his fuming wife. He wasn't sure why the man didn't want Harry to be hugged, but it was Mr. Harris' prerogative.

"So, you know a lot about non-magicals?" Xander asked, still ignoring the irate woman. Bill and the rest of the Weasley children looked on. They had never seen their mum snubbed and weren't sure how to take it. Harry was just glad he wasn't forced to take the woman's affection. He hated hugs unless they came from Joyce or Hermione. Or Xander, right?

"I like to think I know a fair bit," Arthur said with a tilt of his head, wondering where this was going. According to Bill the man used to be a muggle. Surely, he already knew about them.

"Good, you're just the man I was looking for. I already told Madam Bones, but I thought the more people who knew the better. You see, the non-magicals are going to be putting CCTV cameras all over London soon. Nowhere will be safe. They will capture all forms of magic used in the area. They will record it and send it to the higher-ups. Then someone will hack it and it'll be all over the Internet. Things like the Knight Bus and Apparation will be taped. You need to get the word out, not to use magic in the non-magical world or you will be discovered. Precautions must be made and implemented," Xander explained. Then he saw the blank look on Arthur's face and decided to spend the day's visit explaining a few things to the man who was supposed to know all of this. "Harry, go play with the kids," he suggested, nudging him in the direction of the twins.

"Okay, Xander," Harry said, just glad to be out of the tense room. And with that the children scattered. Harry and the twins went to the garden.

"Why didn't you hug mum?" George wanted to know. Everyone hugged his mum.

"I don't know her. I am uncomfortable getting hugs from people I don't know," Harry replied. He knew that Xander hinted to the student body about his terrible childhood, but these guys didn't know the whole story. He would have to tell them a bit, so they weren't offended that he snubbed their mum. "Look the Dursleys, my relatives, aren't nice people. The only time I got touched by them was to be hit. I don't like it when people touching me. Hugs are worse because I feel trapped."

"Can't say I really understand that, but I do get the gist," George stated. He didn't go a day without hugging someone, his mum, his sister, sometimes his dad. It was not something he ever gave a second thought to.

"It's all right, Ickle Harrykins, we won't hold it against you," Fred agreed. He, like his twin, was an affectionate young man. Still, he was growing up and didn't think it was manly to hug all the time. His twin was slowly getting to where he was.

Harry sighed with relief. Then he spotted a flash of red ducking around the corner. "Who's that?" he asked, pointing to the disappearing girl.

"That's our sister," Fred said with a smirk.

"Yeah, she madly in love with the Boy-Who-Lived," George added, his smirk identical to his brother's.

"'Madly in love?' How can she be 'madly in love'? She's what, nine?" Harry asked flabbergasted.

"Eleven. She's starting Hogwarts this year," Fred said, looking fondly at his sister's shadow, which could be seen from where she was hiding.

"Yeah, she's all grown up now," George wailed, wiping fake tears.

"That's still a bit young to be 'madly in love,'" the dark-haired boy commented, wrinkling his forehead.

"It's a bit of Mum's fault," Fred started.

"She read Ginny all the storybooks about you."

"Built you into a right shining prince, she did."

"Ginny thinks she's the princess who's going to marry you," George finished.

"She's going to be disappointed. I'm not getting married," Harry stated decisively. Then he saw something scuttling in the vegetables. "What's that?" he asked, pointing at the potato-like creature darting through the lettuce.

The twins shared a look, shrugged, and explained what a gnome was and how to fling them. The three boys spent a good hour flinging gnomes, and then played as boys were wont to do. They spent some time teasing Harry's shadow. And then it was time for Harry and Xander to go home.

The kids trooped back into the house and noted that Arthur looked dazed.

Earlier, Xander had taken him and Bill for a quick tour of Harrods, where they went to the entertainment department. The one-eyed man showed them what cameras were, and how they could record everything. Xander stood in front of one, making sure they were alone and created a small flame in his hand. Arthur saw it on the TV and blanched. He was now officially worried. He needed to report this as soon as possible. Bill wasn't much better. He needed to tell the goblins, if they didn't already know. Then he remembered Xander was their king, and that he had probably already told them. Dig sites needed to be more secure. Especially if these satellites Xander talked about could do the same as the cameras.

Molly was very upset that Xander had her usually jovial husband and son in a twist. She had never seen Arthur so serious, not since the war. To say she was peeved was putting it mildly.

"It's been a great day," Xander said, ignoring the glare he was getting. "We'll have to do it again. Hey, I know, the book list will be out soon. How about we all go together? That should be fun," he added, winking at the youngest Weasley. He had seen the glances and thought it was cute, the way she was crushing on his foster son. He didn't know it was hero worship. That was a whole other ball game.

Harry glared at him when he saw the wink. He'd have to talk to Xander about this.

Arthur, shaking himself out of his daze replied, "That's a lovely idea. We can meet in two days' time at the Leaky Cauldron."

"We'll be there. Say around ten in the morning?"

"Yes, that will be fine. The kids will have eaten by then."

Arrangements made Harry and Xander went home via Harry Air, after they left the wards. They had learned it was rude to go through wards, that and they didn't want anyone to know they could. The first time they did, when they went to Hogwarts after the trial, McGonagall had sat them down and explained it. They had passed off that incident as another fluke and no one was the wiser.

"Xander, why did you invite them? Not that I don't like them, but I thought we'd go alone," Harry asked as he settled on the couch in their living room.

"I thought it'd be fun. You know, shopping with friends, ice cream and stuff. If you really don't want to I can go back and cancel." Xander threw himself into the chair. He wondered if he hurt their relationship with the spur of the moment invite.

"No. It's fine, but you owe me a day out," Harry said cheekily, hoping to get that father/son day. He didn't care what they did, as long as it was together.

"Sure, we'll go do something manly, like hunting, camping or something," Xander said, watching the boy's reaction. He wanted to go hunting, he was getting rusty, but he was unsure how squeamish Harry was.

"That'd be great. I've never been camping before," the young man enthused.

"Hey, since we're not going school shopping alone, can we invite Neville and Hermione?" Maybe that would make the hero worship better if she saw him being just a kid. "Xander, you know that Ginny is 'madly in love' with me, right? I mean, she's in love with the Boy-Who-Lived."

"Shit, really? Damn, I'm sorry, Harry. I thought it was just a crush."

"Not according to Fred and George. They say she's been 'in love' with me for years. She's eleven, shouldn't she be playing with dolls or something?"

"Harry, girls start thinking of marriage from a young age. It's actually why they play with their dolls. House, I think they call it. A mommy and daddy and lots of kids. Willow never played, but she still dreamed of a husband when we were kids. I just never knew it was me she was dreaming of marrying. I'm not sure if it's nature or nurture, but they start young. We men just simply nod our head and try not to catch their eye until we're ready. It doesn't always work, but we go with what we have," Xander explained to his clueless son.

"I'll take your word for it. We're going to have to do something, cause I'm not getting married," the dark-haired boy stated firmly.

"You say that now…"

"Nope."

"Na huh."

"Nu… I'm not arguing with you, Xander. You sound like a two-year-old," Harry said with a smile. He loved when Xander got childish. It was nothing he ever remembered experiencing. But he was firm on this. He really didn't want to get married. That way led to kids, and he wasn't sure he'd make a good father.

"Wait until you hit puberty, then talk to me, okay?" Xander said, getting up and ruffling his son's hair. "I'm going to call the Grangers, then Floo the Longbottoms. We'll get everything set. Why don't you go and see what we have for dinner?" he asked as he passed by.

"Okay," Harry said, scrambling up and going to the kitchen. Maybe the day in Diagon Alley would go okay.

The next two days were filled with Xander going to Hogwarts to vet the new hires. He wanted to make sure the kids got a good education. He, Joyce and Minerva, weren't sure about the new DADA teacher, but he was the only one that applied. He looked good on paper, but his 'style' was overbearing. Still, they didn't have anyone else. They still didn't have anyone for History or Potions. No one applied at all. Xander was wondering if they even posted the advert. In reality, no one wanted to pick up the major learning deficit that was left by the former teachers.

His problem was solved when he returned the stone to the Flamels, who were at the point in their lives where they thought dying would be a good thing. Not suicidal, per se, just very tired.

"We have nothing left to learn," Nicholas lamented, looking to his lovely wife. Neither of them looked a day over forty.

"When was the last time you went to the non-magical world?" Xander asked, picking up a stray rock from the desk in front of him, then dropping it when it stung him.

"I must admit it has been quite a while. I think that Einstein fellow as just getting popular," Flamel admitted.

"Well, a lot has changed since then. Don't you use Astronomy in your calculations?" the one-eyed man asked.

"A bit," Nicholas hedged, not seeing where this was going.

"How far can you see with the magical telescope?"

"To Mars, thereabout."

"What if I told you that we can now see to the edge of the galaxy?"

To say the Flamels were gobsmacked was fair. They were completely floored.

"Come on. I'll show you a whole new world," Xander promised as he rose. And he did. In doing so, he also got them to teach Potions and History of Magic, after consulting Albus. However, since Dumbledore knew both of them to be good teachers, he was all for it. They were neutral with the Headmaster, since it was his warning that made them give up the Stone in the first place. They did have a caveat; they would teach, if they could learn more about the non-magical world and amalgamate it with their lessons. Xander was all for that.

Now it was time to go to the Alley. Xander and Harry were in the Leaky Cauldron waiting for all Harry's friends. They were sipping butterbeer and just relaxing. Harry was donning blond hair and his scar was replaced on his hip, so people didn't recognize him. His friends would recognize Xander. The first family to appear was Hermione and her parents. They waved them over and spent the next few minutes catching up. Xander and Harry had kept in contact with this family all summer. Hermione spent a good deal of time with Harry, and it was by her insistence that he got the rest of his summer homework done. Which admittedly wasn't much.

The next to arrive was Neville and his gran. Neville was still enthusing about the Venus Flytraps, going on and on about how they were fed. Augusta was just primly sitting, sipping tea and listening to her happy grandchild. She was glad he had come out of his shell. She blamed Xander.

Then the Weasleys entered, like a small storm in a calm sea. They loudly came to the table, the whole family was there, bar Charlie.

Xander took control. "Does anyone need to go to the bank?" he asked loudly, getting everyone's attention.

There was a lot of shaking of heads, so he moved on. "Since we have a bookworm with us, we're going to do Flourish and Blotts last. However, we should hit Second-Hand Bookshop first to see if they have what we need. Harry, let me see your list," he added, kicking himself for not looking sooner. He thought he knew what was on it, but he remembered the interview with that Lockhart fellow. If he hadn't been the only applicant, Xander would have booted him so fast his oh-so-white smile would have been left behind. As it was, he was going to keep a very close eye on the man. He took the list from Harry and saw the long list of the blowhard's books and frowned. "Okay, change of plans, we're going to Flourish and Blotts first." He was going to nip this in the bud.

Everyone gathered up their belongings and moved to the entrance of the Alley. Making their way to the bookstore, wondering why Xander was so upset. They whispered to themselves as to what it could be and followed the angry man. They decided to wait outside, just in case, it got bad. The twins were pressed against the window. The others were talking to the women who were lined up.

The store was set up for a book signing event, but Xander grabbed Harry and bypassed the line. He marched up to the counter and demanded to talk to the manager. After having some words with the man about the list, he relaxed.

Xander then went outside and addressed the waiting crowd. "Listen up parents of Hogwarts students, the book list has changed. Lockhart's books are no longer a requirement. Get the standard DADA book for the grade level of your child. If you have already purchased the books, Flourish and Blotts has agreed to give you back your money in store credit." With that, he went back inside. He penned a quick note to Minerva stating just that and used the bookstore's owl to send it. A notice would be sent out that afternoon.

Lockhart, who had just come out of the back room, was flabbergasted. "I say, my good man, just who do you think you are?" he asked Xander, only seeing the back of his head.

"I am your boss," Xander said as he turned, his yellow eyes glowing with anger. "Don't you remember me from your interview? I don't know how you got your books on the list, but if you want people to buy them, you will not be using the school to do it. Fly on your own merit, jerkface," he said menacingly, destroying the image with the babyish name, but he was in public.

"Oh, Ummm, Mr. Harris, how lovely to see you again," the fop tried to recover.

"I'd say the same, but it's not," Xander disagreed. "Come on, Harry, let's get to the other stores," he said to Harry, leading him out of the store.

"Okay, Xander," Harry said, glad to be gone, but worried that this was his new Defense teacher.

They went back outside to a muttering crowd. "Let's go to the Second-Hand Bookshop, we'll get what else we need later," Xander said to his group.

The rest of the shopping went well, and at the end of the day, they went back to Flourish and Blotts. The line outside had greatly diminished, Lockhart's popularity had taken a hit. The group quickly gathered the books they still needed. They were outside, making plans for dinner, when a cultured voice interrupted them.

Chapter Text

“Arthur Weasley, I see your standards of acquaintances has not improved,” Lucius Malfoy drawled, peering at the motley crew with disdain. They ranged from purebloods to muggles. Muggles, they were polluting the Alley. He would never get the stench off.

“Lucius,” was all Mr. Weasley said, then he turned around and resumed his talk with Xander about dinner arrangements. The rest of the group ignored the blond as well.

Malfoy ignored the snub, he was quite used to it when it came to Weasley, and he eyed the muggle man with yellow eyes. Fudge had said the man had magic, wandless magic at that. But how? According to Draco, and his many spies, the man was just a muggle. But for one fanciful tale of the man flying he had never been seen using magic. At all. True he had killed Quirrell, but it was with a muggle weapon. His yellow eyes, and how he obtained them, could not be explained away though. Perhaps they were all mistaken. The paper said he was King of the Goblins. But rumor said that he beat the former king without magic. The whole thing was a conundrum.

Wanting answers, Lucius tapped the man on the shoulder with his cane. “You there…” was all he got out, when suddenly his cane was ripped from his hand and snapped at the middle. His eyes went wide. He hoped that his wand was okay. However, the sparks coming from the cane belied that thought.

“Don’t ever touch me,” Xander said, his eyes glowing with a touch of wildness. “I will see you as a threat and act accordingly, if you touch me again,” he warned, throwing the broken cane at Lucius.

Lucius looked at the damaged cane and was dismayed that his wand was indeed now snapped. He would need a new one from Knockturn Alley. One of the Dark Lord followers made top-notch custom wands and gave discounts to all his brethren.  It would not be the first time he ventured there, his wand had been broken many times during the war. Angry over his wand, and never one to back down, Malfoy said, “You, Harris, would do well to respect your betters. You will be paying for my cane and wand, and you will be apologizing to me for you affront. That cane was an heirloom, handed down for ten generations.”

“Not in this lifetime. I don’t put on airs, and I don’t cater to those who do. You touched me first. Your cane was a weapon that I rendered useless. The fact that your wand was in there, was not my fault. If you don’t want your toys broken, don’t touch people,” the wolf-eyed man said, taking a step closer and making sure the kids were with adults. He didn’t want anyone else to get hurt if things got out of hand.

“I was merely trying to get your attention,” scoffed the tall blond. He looked around and was pleased to see that many people were watching. This would put the man in his place when he handed out some discipline.

“You don’t get people’s attention by touching them with a weapon. I am not one of your toadies, Malfoy.” He smiled at the man’s surprise. “Yes, I know who are, Lucius. Your son looks just like you. He puts on airs too.” Xander nodded to the quiet boy who was sneering at him. “Now the way I see it, this can go one of two ways. You can leave and forget this ever happened, or I can embarrass you and you will still leave, but no one will forget this day,” he said, taking another step closer and getting in the man’s face.

“I don’t know who you think you are, Harris,” Malfoy sneered at who he deemed was the lesser man. “However, I will not be spoken to that way by a muggle,” he spat, not backing down one wit. He still needed to get the Dark Lord’s diary to the youngest Weasley. He had no idea how to do that in this situation. The Weasleys and the Grangers were fanned out, surrounding the two men and Draco. There would be no opportunity to get to the youngest child. She was shielded by her oldest brother, and Lucius knew better than to mess with William Weasley.

“The hard way it is,” Harris said cheerfully, stepping back. He conjured a clay-pigeon, making it look like it had come from his pocket, and threw it in the air. He then drew his gun and fired. The pigeon shattered, and the fragments showered down on the now screaming crowd. “If you don’t want your head to explode like that, you’ll leave,” he said menacingly, pointing the gun at said head.

The audience for this little drama had settled down, but stayed far back, especially the muggleborn, and were looking at Xander with fear and respect. The muggle-raised admired at how quick and accurate the shot was. The wizard-raised were just in awe, period.

Lucius Malfoy, right hand man of Voldemort, pissed his pants. He had heard the rumors of how quick Quirrell’s death was, but he had brushed them off. Now, he witnessed something he had never seen before. He didn’t know anything that could do that, it was faster than a bludgeoning spell. The man didn’t have a wand. He didn’t cast a spell. He simply pointed a muggle object, created a loud bang and the disk exploded. It had to be enchanted. There was no way a muggle weapon could do this. Harris must be as powerful as the Dark Lord. He, Lucius, was defenseless, no wand and no way to protect himself or his only child. So, he took the coward’s way, and without saying another word, he grabbed his son, who was also shaking in fear, and Disapparated. He was going to get Harris for this embarrassment. He’d figure a way to get the diary into the school.

The crowd outside the bookstore exploded with whispers and clapping. They had never seen anyone put a Malfoy in his place.

“Come on, let’s go eat,” Xander said to his group.

“What was that?” Arthur asked, a very wary.

So, Xander, Harry and the Grangers spent the next hour at dinner explaining the workings of firearms to the magicals. Arthur and Augusta paled at every word. This was something else the magicals would have to report. Longbottom to the Wizengamot, and Weasley to his boss.

A few days later Harry and Xander came home from a weekend camping trip. It was great. They camped in the woods and reveled in serene nature. Xander taught his son how to cook on a fire, catch small game, and find water. All with and without magic. If Harry ever got caught in the woods, he now stood a better chance of not starving. Well, maybe after they did this a time or two.

When they got home, Harry went to pack for school. They’d be leaving in a few days, and he wanted to make sure he had all his books put in his trunk. He entered his room and on his bed was a house elf. The elf was in sad shape, the coloring on parts of his exposed skin looked to be bruised. Harry was immediately concerned. He stunned the elf and laid him on the bed. “Xander!” he called.

Xander came running. He saw the abused elf on the bed and asked, “What’s up? Who’s this?”

“I don’t know. I didn’t give him time to talk. He looked like he was in pain, so I thought we’d treat him first, then find out what he wants.”

“So you just knocked him out?” he asked with a chuckle, pulling out potions and balms that he had put in his pocketspace for the camping trip.

“Have you ever tried to get an elf to take care of itself?” Harry asked incredulously, picking up the bruise balm. He had once, when one of the Hogwarts elves had cut itself. The poor thing tried to continue what it was doing, but Harry argued with it for a half an hour to get the cut treated. He didn’t want to have to do that with this guy.

“Point,” Xander conceded, helping Harry apply what was needed.

The two worked on the unknown house elf, until the bruising faded, and all the wounds they could find were healed. They then revived the little guy to find out what he wanted.

The elf jerked awake and marveled in how good he felt. “Harry Potter has healed Dobby,” he said in awe. He always knew that Harry Potter was a kind wizard, but to heal a house elf was not something he had ever dreamed of.

“Is that your name? Dobby?” Harry asked, sitting on the bed next to the elf.

“Yes, that is being Dobby’s name,” was the answer from the still shocked elf.

“So, Dobby, what are you doing here?” Xander asked as he conjured a chair next to the bed.

“Dobby is coming to warn Harry Potter and Mr. Wolfy. There is to be bad things happening at Hogwarts. My master is being very angry at Harry Potter and Mr. Wolfy. He is saying terrible things,” the elf confessed coming out of his shock. His bulbous eyes wide with sadness and fear. He looked up to Harry Potter and wanted him to live a happy life. His master was a mean and vile man. Master would kill Harry Potter, and his wolfy father. Oh, the temper on Master when he returned last week. It was horrible. All the house elves had hidden away and stayed out of the man’s way. Dobby was not so lucky.

The two humans shared a look. It didn’t take much to figure out who Dobby was talking about, but they stayed silent for now.

“What bad things?” Harry inquired instead. Hoping to head anything off early.

“Dobby cannot say,” Dobby said, hanging his head in shame. He truly wanted to help. He tried to hide Harry Potter’s post, but the young boy did not write to anyone. The fan mail still went to the castle. Dobby was confused. He was sure that Harry Potter was more popular than this. What he didn’t know is that the house had a Floo, and Harry kept in touch with Neville via that, and Hermione the phone.

“That’s okay, Dobby. I understand,” the dark-haired boy said, putting his hand on Dobby’s shoulder, making the poor elf flinch and sigh at the same time.

“What can you tell us?” Xander asked, hoping to get as much information as possible.

“Only that Harry Potter and Mr. Wolfy must not go back to Hogwarts,” the elf warned.

“Well, seeing as I own the building, I don’t think that’s going to happen,” Xander said with a chuckle.

“Harry Potter and Mr. Wolfy have healed Dobby. Dobby will stop you. Yes, he will.” And with that the little guy disappeared.

“Well, this should be a fun year,” Harry quipped.

“Yeah,” Xander agreed, clapping the boy on the back and gathering up the balms and potions to put away.

No more visits from Dobby occurred during the rest of summer, and it was time to board the train. The two went to the train station, via Harry Air, and they boarded without issue. Harry was safely sequestered with his friends, and Xander did his patrols. They were halfway to Hogwarts, when Neville noticed the train slowing down.

“Are we there already?” he asked, peering out the window.

“We shouldn’t be,” Hermione answered, also looking outside. “Oh no, we’ve stopped,” she wailed, then went on a small rant on how they were going to be late or miss school all together.

“Hermione, calm down. I think I know what happened,” Harry said mysteriously. He wasn’t worried, they’d get to school one way or another. Though he thought it a bit funny that this bushy-haired friend seemed to be getting worked up.

“What?” the other two kids asked.

“I have a stalker,” he answered with a smirk.

“Who?” was the next question.

“We’re pretty sure it’s the Malfoy’s house elf. Dobby.”

“Why would a house elf be stalking you?” Neville questioned. He had never heard of an elf that went outside the household without their master’s permission. Maybe Malfoy wanted the elf to hurt Harry, which didn’t make sense, elves were pacifist.

“He’s trying to protect me,” Harry replied.

“Okay,” the round-faced boy drew out, not sure how to take that.

“Anyway, we should just wait for Xander to come and get us. He’ll figure how we’ll get to the school,” Harry said, settling back on the bench. He could hear the rest of the students in car running around, trying to figure out what happened. He knew that Xander would come. He always did. And he was right.

Xander popped in a minute later and looked around. “Well, this is a fine pickle,” he said with a chuckle. “Harry, want to pop us to the school? Put the car at the gates, so it doesn’t block the tracks” he suggested.

“Do you really think I can?” the dark-haired wizard ask, wrinkling his brow.

“Yup. It should be as easy as transporting a group, just include the car,” Xander said encouragingly.

“Okay,” was the reply. And with more wrinkling of the brow, Harry did as was asked.

The two other children noted the change in scenery outside and looked at Harry with wonder. They knew Harry was powerful, but this was amazing. He had to have moved the train car over hundreds of kilometers.

“What do we tell all the other students?” Hermione asked, knowing they wanted to this stuff kept quiet.

“That it’s a safety feature of the train. Since it’s never happened before, no one will question it,” Xander answered, that and it would be easy to make it one. He then stood and stretched. “I need to get back to the rest of the train. You guys head to the castle.” He made a small announcement to the rest of the car, via the magical loudspeakers, and then he disappeared.

“Let’s go,” Harry groused. He knew it was going to be an interesting year, but did it have to start so early?

Harry, Hermione, and Neville explained to the rest of the carriage the story Xander told them to. They all went to the castle most everyone, but the trio were in wonder what all the lights were for and how they worked. The trio of second-years said they would learn at the feast.

When the rest of the older children came to the castle from the carriages, they were in awe. Hogwarts was brighter than before. It was like a shining beacon in the night. They marveled at the electric lights that lined the hall and were completely floored by the crystal chandeliers in the Great Hall. In a daze they all took their seats, hoping the Headmaster would explain. They got their wish when the old man stood.

“As you can see, Hogwarts has been supplemented with electricity. We will explain after the Sorting is done.” He then sat and waved McGonagall to get the first years.

The Sorting went off without a hitch and soon it was time for further explanation. Albus and Xander stood and the Hall silenced.

“As the new owner of the building, Mr. Harris, felt it was his duty to make sure you, the students, had as easy of a life as one can get in a school. He will now explain what he has done,” the Headmaster said, then waved to Xander then retook his seat.

Xander nodded to him and rose. He then addressed the students. “I have added lights so that you can read and write without a headache. I am surprised that half of you are not blind. Though I suppose that your magic heals you. Think of it this way, if you magic is not healing you, then you have more to do spells with. We added outlets for things like computers, radios, and even small televisions. It is up to you to use them responsibly. There will be punishment if you are disrespectful of your fellow dormmates. We only added lights and heat to the sleeping areas, no outlets, so that no one is kept awake by their friends. You can have battery operated clocks, but nothing else.” He heard a few groans at this announcement and added. “There will be no cooking, or potion making in the dorms. We have rooms set up for that with enough fire-retarded spells on them to prevent the burning down of my home.”

That seems to perk a few up. There were many kinds of food they missed during the year, and now they could make some and share with their friends.

“One other thing, there will be a mandatory class, held on Saturdays, taught by me. This class will explain how we got the electricity, what can be done with it, and how to safely use it. I do want to state right now, we are not trying to stomp on tradition, nor are we trying to replace magic. These are tools to help you get further in life. They will educate you enough that you will not accidently break the Statute of Secrecy. And you can have fun with them as well. Now, let’s eat,” Xander said, waving his hand for the feast.

The children talked excitedly while they ate, and soon were reconnecting with their housemates. They all had a wonderful time, and for Harry it was a relief. He loved Xander, and it was because of that man’s tireless patience, that Harry was able to be around people without flinching. Unlike his first year, Harry got to know the people he was to spend the next six years with. He found them to be just like him, mostly. They had quite a few of the same worries, and expectations. Most of them just wanted to do well at school and get a job after.

Xander was not having as good a time. He was next to Lockhart. He hated that man’s bragging and vowed to get rid of him first chance he got.

“I heard what happened to you during my book signing,” the blond man said, smiling in a knowing way. “I would have come to help, but my adoring public needed me.”

“What happened?” asked Dumbledore, hoping to catch something he could use against Harris.

“Malfoy decided to try and make an example of me. He failed,” Xander answered succinctly. He hoped to stop the story from being elaborated on.

“Oh dear, I do hope you did not alienate the man. He is quite powerful in the Wizarding World,” Albus said, actually hoping the opposite.

“From what I hear,” Gilderoy said, tossing his long blond hair over his shoulder, “Xander here made the man urinate on himself. I would have caused the same effect, had I been there.” He wanted to make Harris look bad. The man had had his books nixed from the syllabus, and now he was out a lot of money.

“Meh, I don’t like braggarts or stuck-up people,” Xander said pointedly, pausing to take another bite of his meal. “They both run when the chips are down,” he declared when he finished his piece of steak. He gave a meaningful look to the blond next to him.

Lockhart fumed at the slight. He would find a way to get back at him for this too. He seemed quite close to Harry Potter, perhaps he could play nice until he got closer to the boy. Then he’d tear the yellow-eyed man down.

“I know what you’re thinking,” Harris softly stated right next to Lockhart’s ear, almost gagging on the man’s overwhelming aftershave. “Your face is like an open book. I will just say one word. Don’t,” he threatened, his voice dripping with dangerous tones, his eyes flaring with power.

All Gilderoy could do was nod, his fear evident.

Classes, new and old, were attended, practical and written homework finished, new teachers gawked at since they were the famous Flamels, and time moved on. The only bone of contention with his Housemates that Harry had was a new kid that had taken to following him around. Colin Creevey. The kid was okay, but he had a bad habit of taking Harry’s picture randomly. Xander had confiscated a great deal of film from the boy and Colin was warned not to take anymore. That didn’t stop him from following Harry around.

The other stalker Harry had was Ginny Weasley, but she followed from a distance. She would peek around corners, and blush madly when the Boy-Who-Lived looked her way.

Harry just hoped they didn’t get together and form the Harry Potter Fan Club or something equally stupid. Little did he know there already was one, and his two stalkers were new members. Xander knew about it. His dad thought it was funny, so didn’t let him know yet.

Xander had asked Harry to keep a lookout for the ‘big bad’ that was supposed to happen. So far, all Harry had seen was a few rundown looking students. He used his metamorphous ability to go into all the common rooms, but he heard nothing about any monster. He had no idea what he was supposed to be looking for, but duly reported everything to his dad. Xander said he’d keep an eye out for those that looked worn, but they were probably OWL or NEWT students.

Lockhart continued to show his incompetence, with every class. After the first class where the man had released Cornish Pixies on the kids, and then ran when they got out of control, Xander had taken to sitting in. After seeing Gilderoy reenact scenes from his books, he told the man if he didn’t teach from the textbook, he’d be fired. Still the braggart… bragged. He would read from the book and then would tell the kids how he would use the spell, making up stories as he went. The girls from all year groups were now staring dreamily at the man. Even Hermione. He didn’t teach them any practical lessons. Harry hoped the man was gone soon.

It was a week from Halloween that Harry came running into the ‘house’. “Xander!” he yelled. “Norberta can talk!”

“Now see, I’ve been to her alcove, and I’ve never heard her talk,” the wolf-eyed man said with a lifting of his eyebrows.

“Not like humans,” Harry huffed. “She hisses,” he added as if it were obvious.

“He’s a parselmouth,” Joyce said excitedly, jumping up and giving the Boy-Who-Lived a hug. “Sally was one too.”

“What’s that when it’s at home?” Xander asked Minerva. They had been sitting down to tea when Harry burst in.

“A person who can speak to snakes and larger reptiles,” she answered with pursed lips. This would not be good if not handled correctly. Xander gave her a questioning look. “There is a bad cognation with parselmouths. They are said to be inherently evil.”

“I’ve always understood snakes,” Harry confessed, looking down at the floor. “I thought all wizards could.”

Joyce held the sad young man tighter. “Harry, you listen to me,” she said, pulling them apart and holding Harry at arm’s length so he could see her serious face. “You are not evil. Sally wasn’t evil, though I’m sure that’s where the rumor started. There have been hundreds of parselmouths in this school over the years and only a handful have been considered evil.” She pulled him back into a hug and ran her fingers through his hair trying to reassure him.

“I wonder if that’s what I’ve been hearing in the walls,” Harry speculated, reflecting on the voice he heard just yesterday. He nudged out of the hug and sat on the couch next to his foster grandmum. Joyce sat on his other side. “They keep saying they are hungry and want to kill things.”

“You heard murderous voices in the walls and didn’t tell me?” Xander asked, perturbed. “How can I do my job if I don’t have the intel?”

“I’m sorry,” Harry said, looking at his father with sorrowful eyes. “When Hermione and Neville said they didn’t hear anything, I thought I should keep it to myself. Being the only one to hear voices that talk about killing is not a good sign.” He had been really scared to. The voice kept talking about being hungry and wanting to kill. He had wanted to tell his dad, but his friends said that it would not be a good idea.

“Mr. Potter, if you hear voices that talk about murder, then we need to examine you right away. There are many spells that can be cast on a person that will force them to do something against their will. Come over here and let me make sure none have been cast on you,” McGonagall said, standing and pulling her wand from her sleeve.

Harry slowly stood and turned towards her and she cast her spell. They all sighed with relief when it came up negative.

“So, we have a snake in the walls who wants to kill. Do we call an exterminator?” Xander said joyfully. He was actually hoping it was something to hunt. He had not hunted anything but small game since he got here. He didn’t include the troll, that was not hunting.

“It sounded really big,” Harry offered. Not sure an exterminator would help.

“How big?” the wolf-eyed man inquired eagerly.

“Um… as big as this room,” Harry guessed.

“Great,” Harris said, all but jumping in place.

“Xander, this is a school,” Joyce reminded him. “And if it’s in the walls, then it is dangerous to the whole school.”

“Phooey. Well, we’d better find it fast,” Xander said, his shoulders squaring up and ready to go. “Any ideas?” he asked Joyce. She was the school after all.

“Sally’s room. He had a pet snake, though I’m not sure what kind, he said it was a surprise and that it would protect the school. But the idea that a snake lived a thousand years is iffy. He made the room before I was the school and hid it from me. I know it’s somewhere below the lake. I’ll reabsorb and tell you when I feel the snake come out and where it came from. I can try to block off the pipes, and hold it off before it attacks the children,” she offered and then burst into particles and flew through the walls.

“Until then, we should declare a state of emergency. I want all the children to walk in groups with some escorts. If one child gets hurt, then we might have to close the school,” Minerva said, straightening her dress. She wasn’t sure how Albus would treat this. It might be a test of his true feelings about the safety of the children.

“I’ll hit the books. We know it is a large snake that might be a thousand years old, but we don’t know what kind. How many snakes can get this large?” Xander asked, getting up as well. Harry followed suit.

“Quite a few magical snakes can grow the size of this room and live that long. Unfortunately, they are all deadly,” McGonagall answered as she made her way to the door.

“Do you guys have magical mongooses?” was the playful question.

“No,” came the serious answer.

“Geesh, just asking,” Xander pouted at her stern look. “Okay,” he said, clapping his hands together, “we have a giant, possibly old snake. We need to kill said snake. Any suggestions?”

“Nope,” Harry answered. He was still new to this world, and he hoped Xander would fix this.

“Then I better get to cracking,” Xander said, and the three went their separate ways. Harry’s job was to listen and report. He was to let the adults handle the ‘big bad’.

The school did go into a state of emergency. The kids walked in groups and the teachers were to escort them. Since they had no real proof, Albus said that these measures would do for now. Xander, after doing his research, had hung mirrors all over the halls. He read that one snake could kill with a look and was hoping to prevent that. He knew his movie mythology, and reflections worked for Perseus against Medusa. He only hoped it worked in reality.

Days flew by and the Halloween Feast was in full swing, with candy, pies and treats for everyone. The kids were enjoying the non-tense atmosphere and Harry was relaxed for the first time in days. He and his housemates, with full bellies, were getting ready to leave. Harry thought he heard whispering in the walls, but it was too faint to be sure. He had not seen Joyce in days, and he had faith that she would prevent injury to his schoolmates.

The Gryffindors were on their way back to their dorms, and were almost to the Fat Lady, when they came upon a stiff Mrs. Norris. She was hanging from a candle holder and there was red writing on the wall.

THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS HAS BEEN OPENED. COME FIND ME, POTTER.

To say the kids were disturbed was an understatement. They all looked to Harry as if he had the answers.

Harry was standing there pale and scared. His name was in what looked to be blood on the wall. That could not be good.

“Mum!” he yelled.

Joyce appeared next to him and the Gryffindors relaxed, slightly. “Oh my,” she said, looking at the scene. She had felt the snake and thought she had it cornered near Myrtle’s old bathroom. How it got here was a mystery.

“Can you get Xander,” Harry begged.

She only nodded and disappeared, only to reappear seconds later with Xander.

“Shit,” the wolf-eyed man said as he read the words.

“Yeah,” Harry replied sorrowfully.  

Chapter Text

“Joyce, you had better get Albus and Minerva,” Xander advised. He sniffed the air to see if he could catch a scent, but there were too many people. “Harry, I want you and the rest of your house to get to the dorm. We’ll handle it from here.” He never took his eyes off the words on the wall. It bothered him how close to the floor they were placed. That meant someone of a short stature wrote them. The fact that it named Harry made his blood boil. Plus, the taunting way it was written also indicated a child.

“Okay, Xander,” Harry said and waved the rest of the Gryffindors on. They all huddled together, scared that they might be next. Slowly, silently, but surely, they made their way. Harry and Hermione, not wanting to be alone, went to the common room.

Joyce appeared next to Xander with Dumbledore and McGonagall. Both the senior staff members gasped at the scene.

“Well,” Xander started as soon as he heard them, “this narrows it down.” He had really hoped it wouldn’t be this snake. The others were easy to trap, but this one, not so much. It also showed that seeing itself in the mirror didn’t turn it to stone it as well. So much for myths. Still, the mirrors had prevented a death.

“Narrows what down, Xander?” Joyce asked, looking hard at Mrs. Norris.

“It’s a basilisk,” he sighed. This made the job much harder, and more dangerous. Still, not as bad as some of what Willow called the oogly booglies, but he didn’t have a Slayer or the Red Witch to help. However, he did have his own magic. Things might not be as bad as he was thinking. He had wanted a hunt, now he had one.

“How do you know?” Minerva wondered.

The wolf-eyed man pointed to the mirrors and then the cat, and said, “She’s petrified. I put the mirrors up in hopes that if it was a basilisk then no one would die.”

“That was very smart of you, Mr. Harris,” McGonagall stated, with a relieved and proud smile.

“Professor Sprout has some mandrakes in her greenhouse. Unfortunately, they will not be matured for many months,” Albus said, standing from his investigation of the cat.

“You can’t import them?” Xander asked, appalled that anyone who fell victim would have to stay that way for such a long time.

“No, they have a short shelf life,” Joyce answered, thinking hard on what could be done.

“Isn’t it different seasons all over the world? Can’t we get some almost mature ones from other countries?” Xander inquired. That made sense to him, he knew some of the herbs the witches back home used had to be imported.

“No, they all grow at the same time all over the earth. Something about star alignments and planet rotations. It’s magic,” the spirit of Hogwarts again answered. “Ask Nicholas tomorrow if he knows any other formula,” she added. Maybe Alchemy had a different approach.

“Well, we’ll just have to make sure no one else is affected,” the Head of Security stated. “I’ll have the goblins here by morning. Then I’m going hunting. Where did you feel it come out?” he asked Joyce.

“Moaning Myrtle’s bathroom. A floor down from where your portal dropped you. I thought I had it trapped, but somehow it escaped. We’ll have to investigate that,” she answered thoughtfully. “Oh, and after Harry called me, I felt the snake slither back in. There was one person with it, but since I’m in body form, I don’t know who. They’re gone now, but the feast let out and I couldn’t track them.”

“I need you to have the suits of armor patrol. If it’s a basilisk I don’t think they’ll be affected. I need a report by tonight that no one else is hurt. Albus and Minerva, you guys make sure that all the kids are in bed. Tell the other Heads and teachers. Let them know I have it under control for tonight. Joyce, close off that bathroom for all but me,” he ordered, looking at the wall.

Albus bristled at being commanded.

Minerva nodded.

“Okay, Xander,” Joyce said, and then she disappeared.

“Okay, I’m going to go check out that bathroom. Someone get Argus, tell him Mrs. Norris is with Poppy. He’ll want to know,” he suggested. He waved his hand and the cat was now in the infirmary.

Then he left, not realizing that his show of magic had left a stunned Albus behind. The first thing he did was to go to the phone room and call Gringotts. He needed an army here by morning. Then he went to the bathroom Joyce had indicated.

He saw nothing of note. He checked as quickly as he could and only saw that one sink had a snake on it and that it was out of order. He wondered if that was pertinent. He did his evaluation, and when the sledgehammer did no damage, he figured there was magic involved. He then closed the bathroom and sealed it.

Making his next stop at Gryffindor dorms where he told the kids to go to bed and that the staff was handling it. He gathered his ward and Hermione, and they went to the ‘house.’ He sent the kids to bed and pondered the problem some more.

If what he was thinking was correct, he’d need Harry to open the sink. That way lay badness. He didn’t want the kid anywhere near this. He wondered if he could just have Harry seal the sink. With that happy thought, he went to bed.

The next morning Xander and the kids waited for the rest of the Gryffindors as they would all be going to breakfast together; all the Houses were staying together for safety. The words were still on the walls, but the contingent of goblins would let no one stand and gawk. One goblin handed his king a piece of paper, but that was all that was allowed. So, the students and Xander moved quickly to the Great Hall. When they were about halfway there, Lockhart appeared and fell into step with Xander.

“Ah, Mr. Harris, I heard you had a hairy night. I would have come to help but was told that my services were not needed. Next time do not hesitate to call, and I will come to slay the monster,” the braggart said with a bright smile that made half of the girls, even Hermione, swoon.

“If I ever need your help with anything, remind me to get checked out by Madam Pomfrey for love potions. Because that is the only way I’d call on you,” Xander quipped back, not slowing down a single step.

“Oh, that was a good joke indeed,” Gilderoy said with a nervous laugh. Then he sped up to remove himself from further damage.

“Idiot,” Xander grumbled.

They made it the rest of the way unmolested and they split up to take their seats. Xander read the report. It stated that six students were not at the feast at the time of the attack. Two seventh-years, two fourth-years, one second-year, and one first-year. His eyes narrowed at the fact that the two older ones were from Slytherin, two of the fourth-years were from Ravenclaw. That left one second-year Slytherin and one first-year Ravenclaw. None of them had any reason to not be at the feast and he made a mental note to keep an eye on them. Since it was Saturday, he’d take Harry to close the sink after the mandatory class, which was held here in the Hall. Hopefully, that would stop the attacks until he figured out a way to get to where what was behind them led.

It was announced that there would be restrictions effective today. The professors made it clear when the state of emergency was called that no one was to wander the castle. All first-years were to be in one of two places today. Those places happened to be the TV room and the library. So, other than a few squabbles as to what to watch in the TV room, it worked out very well. Second-years and up were only allowed in club rooms, the game rooms, the dorms, or the TV room and library. Ghosts were set to watch with a couple of armors at the doors. If the restroom was needed, then one or the other would escort them.

After the meal cleared, everyone settled in for the class. Starting the lecture, Xander moved in front of the staff table. This lesson was about solar powering, and how it worked. He touched on the windmill and the possibility of geothermal power. The class was one hour long, and everyone went away with some understanding of the lecture. Even the purebloods were starting to understand electricity and see its merits.

Harry, Hermione, and Neville stayed behind after Xander had finished. “Okay, guys, we’re going to the restroom that the snake came out of, and I’ll show Harry what I want him to do. I need you all to stay close. If you hear me give an order, follow it without question. Okay?” Xander said as he led them away.

“Okay, Xander,” they all agreed.

Once there, Xander took Harry to the sink. “See this snake? Try talking to it and see if you can get it to open.”

The boy wonder shrugged and hissed, “Open.” At first, nothing happened. Then a loud grating noise filled the air. The sink split down the middle, then each piece moved to the side, revealing a long dark tunnel slanting downward. It was so dark that they could not see more than a half a meter into it.

“Now, see if you can close it.”

Close.” The sink closed.

“See if you can seal it shut,” Xander said hopefully.

Seal,” Harry hissed, but nothing happened. “Shutdown.” He tried three more times with different words, but still nothing. “I can’t. Something’s preventing me,” he complained.

“Besides,” Hermione interjected, “couldn’t anyone who can speak parseltongue unseal it? Whoever opened it last night has to be speaking that.”

“Right, thanks for pointing that out. I was hoping Harry’s seal would be too powerful. But anyone who can control a basilisk might be able to break it. Okay, Harry, open it back up.” He waited for the boy to comply. “Now, you three get to the door and close your eyes, but don’t leave until I tell you to,” Xander ordered, pushing Harry toward his friends. “Actually, strike that. Go outside the door and wait there with your eyes closed.”

The three did as bid and stood holding onto each other’s hands, Hermione in the middle. They were terrified but also knew that Xander was there with his axe and gun in his hands.

Xander looked down the deep hole and decided he’d check it out. But, to do that, he needed Harry in case there were any more roadblocks. He hemmed and hawed about what to do. Then it came to him. He called Joyce. “Hey, can you block this room? I need to talk to Harry a minute,” he asked when she appeared.

“Sure, but this time I’m staying right here,” she said, determined to make sure nothing escaped.

“Okay give me five minutes and I’ll be back.” With that, he went to the kids, who still had their eyes closed, and moved them further away from the room. After the door sealed, he told them they could look now. “Okay, Harry, I need you to hiss at this rock. I’ve magicked it to record your voice. Just hiss ‘open’ and any other form of the word. That way you don’t have to come with me. Just start hissing when I say ‘record’, okay?”

“I think I need an image of a snake,” Harry said after trying a few minutes.

So Xander took out a knife and carved a small snake on the rock. “Now try,” he said, holding the rock so Harry could see what he needed.

“Okay, Dad,” he said unthinkingly. He hissed at the stone, trying everything he could think of to open a door, short of foreign words. When done he stopped and said, “That’s all I can think of.”

Xander spoke the command to replay and was delighted when it worked. They did the same with another rock for ‘close.’ Xander pocketed the recordings and said, “Okay, you guys head to the library with this suit of armor, and I’ll grab some goblins. I’ll find you when I’m done so you don’t worry.”

“Okay, Xander,” they all said again, albeit reluctantly, and with worried looks, they moved toward the library with their armored guard.

Xander volunteered a ghost to let the goblins know he was going on an adventure. He waited until a large group appeared and then knocked on the wall where the door was supposed to be. After they entered the room and the door was sealed again, he addressed the group of vicious warriors. “Okay, guys, this is the opening to the Chamber of Secrets. I know a basilisk is down there, but I don’t know where. I need volunteers to come with me. Who is looking for a good but possibly deadly fight?” he asked, which was stupid because all goblins were always itching for deadly fights. To prove the point, they all raised their hands and grinned. “Right, let’s do this.”

Spears and axes at the ready, they moved to the hole. Jumping one by one, goblins first, Xander in the middle and goblins last. The slide down was long and dark. And slimy. Xander hated slime. He could still remember all the times demons exploded on him and the gang. He still laughed at all the excuses Buffy came up with when Joyce didn’t know she was a Slayer. He shuddered as he was sliding in. The crunching noise they all made when they landed didn’t help either. One brave goblin opened his eyes and noted there was no snake. “All clear,” he said, and they took in the dripping walls and mass quantity of small bones on the floor. There was a large, shed skin that had the goblins excited at the size.

“Creepy,” was all that Xander could say.

“Quite,” one goblin replied, looking at his king funny.

As they moved down the only tunnel the walls seemed shaky, so they stayed as quiet as they could. One or two goblins snapped their fingers to fortify the rock. Still, they needed silence, so it was only every couple of meters or so. The tunnel was dark, and the Lumos in his hand and the goblins’ globes didn’t cut the dim as Xander had hoped. All they did was cast crawling shadows, making the walls seem alive. They crept onwards, and soon they came across a large double door. It was lined with snakes that crisscrossed the center. Xander activated the ‘open’ rock and the snakes hissed and slithered around the door until it slid open. They moved into a large, cavern-type room that was littered with statues of people holding snakes. It was like a serpent cult had created the scene. There was a huge face of a man that Xander supposed was Salazar. He was either an ugly brute or the sculptor was an awful artist, he wasn’t sure which.

The dripping of water was loud, and their footsteps were mostly quiet, but even with their soft footfall, they echoed. The goblins examined the entire room but found little to concern them. Xander was holding the stone to each statue, even the ugly one of Slytherin, to see if it opened another door.

Nothing.

Greatly disappointed that no battle was to be fought, they exited the room with Xander using the ‘close’ rock to shut it.

“I’d leave one of you guys down here, but there’s no way out, that I can see. I want to seal the sink, but it’s warded to prevent that. So, I’m going to have you guys patrol this hall the most. If you hear anything slither up behind you, use the mirrors and don’t hesitate to kill it. We’re dealing with a basilisk here. Don’t take chances,” Xander said as they made their way back to the pipes.

“Yes, My King,” a great many said. The rest grunted.

Xander popped them all up in teams of four and then closed the sink. He had Joyce seal the room and added a few wards of his own. No one was getting in or out of that room.

In the library, Harry and Neville were staring at each other. Hermione was studying from a large tome and taking notes.

Xander came across them and chuckled. “What are you guys doing?” he asked, taking a seat next to Harry.

“Telepathy,” Hermione answered. “Neville figured that if you heard Harry’s cry for help last year, then it might work.” It sounded like a very exciting concept to her. If it worked, then the boys could ask for her help from anywhere in the castle and she wouldn’t have to hunt them down to answer.

“Oh, okay, that makes sense. Did you guys crack a book first?” the wolf-eyed man asked the boys.

That got both boys to stop staring and blush. They sheepishly shook their heads and looked at Xander, a bit embarrassed.

“No,” Harry replied, “but Hermione was reading up on it.” He pointed to his bushy-haired friend, who held up a book on mind arts.

“It’s not quite the same. You will understand better if you read the research yourself. That way you get the feel of it. Imagination is a wonderful tool. How do you think I do all the things I do?” Xander said, mussing Harry’s hair.

“Did you catch the snake?” Neville asked nervously. He really didn’t want to be here if there was a huge snake in the walls.

“No,” Xander replied, heaving a great sigh of disappointment. “However, we did find a nifty room down there. Slytherin must have really loved serpents.” At least it was something. They had a point of contact, they just needed to get the snake to show for the contact to begin.

“Does that mean we’re still in danger?” Harry asked. He, too, was nervous. He had read up on the myths, and any snake that big was worthy of being frightened of.

“Well, we know where it comes out, so we blocked the way. Joyce is going to be monitoring that room. The goblins are going to patrol the corridor. You guys will walk with the armor and ghost. Hopefully, we’ll get it trapped soon enough. I’ll have Albus write the parents. Anyone who wants to pull their kids should at least have the option. If anyone gets hurt, we’re going to have to close the school until the snake is found,” the older man explained. It was not something he wanted to do, but needs must, and all that. “I’m going to have to go to the Ministry tomorrow and let them know what’s going on. You guys stay in the appointed areas and don’t wander. I mean it. Let me and the goblins handle the snake,” he warned, knowing that if something went wrong, Harry would jump straight into trouble.

“We will,” the three kids said.

“Okay, let’s hit the books on telepathy and see if we can’t get this done. Great thinking, Nev,” the wolf-eyed man said, beaming a smile at the shy boy.

That night, Xander addressed the school.

“Okay, listen up. We are in a state of emergency. Your parents are being phoned, owled, or Flooed as we speak. They will be told what’s happening and have the choice to take you home. If you do leave, you will be expected to read your textbooks and do the homework, the teachers are putting together in a package for you. Unfortunately, we can’t assign practical homework, so it’ll be essays. However, when you come back you will be expected to have it done,” he said firmly, then smiled. “Now, I don’t want you to panic. I’m going to the Ministry tomorrow and ask them for support. You’ve already seen the goblins about, do what they say. They have the power to take points and assign detention if you don’t. Don’t push them. Enough of the gloom. Eat,” he said and clicked his fingers to have the meal served.

There was a great deal of murmuring and whispering, but not the overshadowing fear.

“Nicholas, do you have something that can combat paralysis?” the wolf-eyed man asked the immortal.

“I do,” Flamel answered with a nod. “It would be mass marketed, but it’s alchemy, so can’t be produced by regular wizards. I have a batch in the works as we speak.”

“Great. I look forward to not using it,” Xander said, and then returned to his meal.

“I could unspell anyone to is infected,” the faux-blond blowhard jumped in. “I ran across a basilisk in my journeys. I know how to fix someone who has been caught by their eyes.”

“Then if the snake shows, you’ll be the first person we throw at it,” Xander promised. His eyes flashed with a clear warning. “And if anyone dies because of you, you’ll be next.”

That shut the man up quickly, and the rest of the dinner was eaten in blessed silence.

The next day Xander went to the Ministry. While he was gone the school was on tenterhooks. Half the student body went home with homework packets for at least a month. They all hoped it would be over before then, but everyone wanted to make sure the kids were kept up to speed.

While he was gone, which stretched into the night, something terrible happened. The major bullying alarm went off. Someone was about to hurt… bad.

The alarms blared, and Harry ran out of the ‘house.’ “Jarvis!” he yelled, “Who and where?” He would have called Joyce, but she was still the school and watching for the snake. Hopefully, she’d show up when he did.

“I don’t know who, but whoever it is, is in Fluffy’s old room,” the armor answered.

Harry didn’t hesitate, he disappeared, reappearing in the room. A loud snarl was heard, then three thumps were sounded on the cold stone floor. There was a girl, who looked to be disheveled and still in nightclothes. He could see bruises on her arm from where she cowered in a corner. Harry tried to return to his human form, but his anger was too strong. He was stuck the way he was until he calmed down.

Just then Joyce appeared. “Harry, what’s happening?” she asked, not even blinking at his new form.

“I’m not sure, but it’s not the snake. So, you should go. The teachers will be here soon.” He didn’t want this to be the distraction that would cause someone to die. Joyce had an important job to do. She couldn’t do it here.

“Okay, but you should try and calm down before they see you,” she said, glancing at the downed teens, the frightened girl and the larger Harry. “I’ll keep an eye on what’s happening here. Call me if you need me.” And with that she reabsorbed.

“Miss,” Harry said hesitantly, his voice a soft rumble, “are you okay?”

The little blonde girl slowly lowered her arms and looked at the sight in front of her. Never, since she had come here, did she feel so safe. Which was strange, since she was looking at a teenage dragon. He was black as the midnight sky, with only a white lightning bolt scar on his forehead. “Harry Potter?” she inquired, getting up and crossing the room, then she started petting the dragon’s head. Well, they always did say she was a bit strange.

“Yes, but I’m a bit out of body right now,” the dragon said sheepishly, thumped his tail at her ministrations, causing the walls to shake a bit.

“Perhaps, if you calm down,” she suggested, still petting the smallish dragon.

“Okay, keep doing that and it’ll help.” And with an enormous sigh, that almost knocked the girl over, he relaxed. One minute he was a dragon, the next he was a little boy. “Thanks,” he said, with a huge smile. Then he remembered why he was here. “What happened?” he questioned as he snapped his fingers tying the three older boys up with so much rope, they were lucky they could breathe.

“I’m not sure,” she said. “One minute I was in my bed, the next I was here with bruises on my arms, and these boys were talking about doing some bad things to me. One mentioned adult things. I didn’t like the look on his face, so I hid as well as I could. I don’t know how I got here, but the nargles must have helped. They’ve been stealing my things, don’t you know,” she said with a detached dreamy voice like it didn’t affect her anymore.

Harry was going to ask what a nargle was but decided to leave it for now. Obviously, the girl was being bullied by her Housemates, it must be passively so to not set off the alarms. Still, to trap her in a room with only nightclothes and three older boys was pushing things way over the line. “What’s your name?” he asked instead.

“Oh, I’m Luna Lovegood,” she replied, holding on to his arm, like a lady being led to dance.

“Nice to meet you, Miss Lovegood. I’m going to pop us to the Hospital Wing. After I take care of these guys,” he said, then waved his hand and they disappeared to the dungeons that Xander had told him about them shortly after he had arrived. He’d tell someone about them soon, maybe. They could wait the night. Just as he was about to leave the room, a group of teachers and a contingent of goblins stormed in.

“What happened?” McGonagall asked, pointing her wand around the room, looking for danger that wasn’t there anymore.

The goblins spread out, looking for something to kill.

“Miss Lovegood, what are you doing here?” Professor Flitwick inquired, going to the girl, who backed away from him, making him frown.

“Yes, do please tell us what occurred,” the Headmaster put in, lowering his wand. He had had to get a new one from Ollivanders. His old one long disappeared in the last war. Since Harry still had the Death Stick, he needed a new one.

“We’re not sure. Luna was here when I got here,” Harry replied, holding the girl’s hand on his arm, which was trembling. “When I came, there were three boys about to hurt her. I was just about to take her to Madam Pomfrey.”

“Where are the boys now?” Dumbledore asked, looking over his half-moon spectacles, with a raised eyebrow.

“I sent them away,” Harry said with a shrug.

“How did you do that?” was asked.

“Accidental magic, I think,” he answered, furrowing his brow as if to think. He didn’t want to tell them it was on purpose.

“Where, might I inquire?” was the next question from the old man.

“Somewhere in the dungeon,” was the answer.

“Are you going to say where?”

“Nope. Find them yourself.”

Mr. Potter, show some respect,” McGonagall said firmly. She might be the boy’s foster grandmother, but that didn’t mean she was going to let him get away with bad manners.

“Fine,” Harry huffed as he started walking out the room, the goblins surrounding the couple. As I said, they are in the dungeons. In one of the cells.”

“We have cells?” Flitwick asked, still glancing at a worried Luna as if to figure out why she feared him.

“Yes. At the bottom of the castle,” Albus answered, following the two students. “They will be fine there, for now.”

“Do you know who it was?” Minerva asked the kids.

“Three upper-years. Two had Slytherin robes, the other was in Ravenclaw. All boys, alone, in a room with a scantily dressed first-year girl,” Harry snarled.

“We will address them later. Are you hurt, Miss Lovegood?” the Headmaster asked.

“Harry saved me,” she said in that detached voice of hers.

“From what I wonder,” the smallest professor mumbled to himself.

“Do you know how you got here?” McGonagall asked as they walked on.

“No, I woke up here,” Luna answered, holding tight to Harry’s arm.

“Filius, you’re going to have to interrogate the girls in her room,” the Deputy Headmistress said, knowing that boys could not enter there.

“Yes, I will do just that,” the diminutive man stated, thinking the same thing.

After that, the walk was done quietly. Harry would have popped them, but they were still hiding that from the others.

The exam showed Luna mostly unharmed. Shaken, but not hurt badly. The bruise was easily healed. The theory was they were caused by tight ropes around her arms. She had nothing further to tell them.

Xander was pissed that this happened on his watch, it didn’t matter that he wasn’t there. He stormed down to the dungeons and questioned the boys. They confessed that they were going to do unspeakable things to the girl, that her Housemates had set her up, and that they had been paid. Bullets were a wonderful incentive to get people to talk.

All three were arrested on the spot. Six of the Aurors, that had come with Xander, took them into custody and Joyce had the house elves pack their bags. They would never appear in Hogwarts again. Since two were still minors there was little hope of them seeing Azkaban. The other was a rich pureblood, so they didn’t hold hope for him going there either. However, they were expelled and were now considered shames to their family. Albus didn’t interfere, Xander figured the man felt it was not worth losing his fragile hold on his job.

Flitwick finally realized why the girl feared him. Her Housemates had told her horror stories about what they’d do if she told. They made him out to be a full-blooded goblin that would eat her if she caused trouble. And while she didn’t believe it completely true, her father ran stories about mythical deeds goblins had done. So, she was very wary. It broke his heart.

Ravenclaw was gone through with a fine-tooth comb, and a great deal of them was either suspended or had year-long detention. Two were expelled, but they could not be held culpable for the kidnapping. They were minors, only forth-years, but they had been seen giving the boys money. They too were never seen at Hogwarts, or even Britain, again. Their families fled in shame.

A great many students and parents, when the notice was sent to those at home, were relieved that Hogwarts was changing for the better. Too many years had passed that this would have been swept under the rug, so this was good.

Luna still feared going to Ravenclaw dorms and was put in Hermione’s room in the ‘house.’ Both Harry and Hermione treated her like a younger sister. To make things even, Neville was asked to move in with Harry. It was working well.

Xander found that the mirrors had had a large part in this little caper. The kidnappers used them to sneak the halls and avoid the goblins, ghost and armor. Still, they had to stay up until the basilisk was dead. That also left the one second-year Slytherin as his likely suspect, since the other five that missed the feast were accounted for. Luna had been spelled to sleep that night, missing the feast. The others were now expelled. So that left the one second-year, he just had to figure out how.

Chapter Text

“You know, Xander, you could just use roosters to kill the snake,” Joyce said as they drank their morning coffee. She was taking a break from being the castle, but she had half her attention on the restroom. If that sink even dripped, she’d be there.

“Why would I need roosters?” Xander inquired. That didn’t make a lick of sense to him. He had read that roosters were fatal to basilisk but hadn’t believed it for a moment. How could a bird kill a snake? Though there were times that something weird killed demons, so maybe there was some truth in it. Still, he needed to hear it. “You mean that’s true? I thought it was something someone like Lockhart made up.”

“Well, yes it’s true,” she said a bit startled that he wouldn’t believe it. “I remember all the weird things that went on in Sunnydale, how could you not believe this one?” she asked, perplexed.

“Joyce, you should know that I can’t believe everything I read. I mean, yeah there were some bizarre stuff in Sunnydale, but do you know now many times we thought the easy way would save us, only to find out someone lied?” he said in frustration.

“No, remember I wasn’t ‘in the know’ for most of your exploits,” she replied, with a lifted eyebrow. “You had been fighting the creatures of the night three years before Buffy brought me in. I only know at sometimes the easiest is correct.”

“Oh, right. I keep forgetting. Sorry,” he added sheepishly. It was hard to remember she had been kept in the dark for so long. He wondered if it had anything to do with the Sunnydale Syndrome, because some of the excuses Buffy came up with for being out late, or blood on her shirt, were very lame.

“Anyway, yes that bit about the rooster is true. You could use those recording stones and put them in the room below and the restroom. That way if the snake does appear, they’ll kill it without a fight,” she suggested, taking a sip of her coffee. “I missed this when I came back in time. There was no coffee at Hogwarts in the Middle Ages, and by the time there was, I was a sleeping building,” she mused quietly as she took another sip.

“Yeah, coffee is God’s gift to mankind. Still, what I wouldn’t have given for that easy of a solution to have happened on graduation day,” he said with a sigh. The fact that the mayor turned into a huge snake and killed a great many of the graduating students still pissed him off. A rooster crowing and killing that monster would have been a godsend. Though he still got a bit of a thrill blowing up the school, hurray for soldier boy memories. “Okay, I’ll go down to Hagrid’s and do the recording.”

They finished their coffee right when the kids came down. Joyce greeted each child with a hug and then reabsorbed. Xander, and his ever-growing group of children, waited for the rest of Gryffindor. They all made their way to the Great Hall. It had been many weeks and no sighting or petrifying. The school was starting to relax, some of the kids taken home were coming back. The longer it was quiet the more they thought the danger was gone. Xander didn’t relax one iota. He knew better and made sure the teachers and goblins stayed alert as well.  

While the kids ate, he ran to Hagrid’s and got the recording he was back just in time to hear Gilderoy tell his false tale, yet again.

Lockhart, being the idiot that he was, continued to take credit for running the beast off. His stories grew with each telling. When asked for proof, he just brushed it off and said that he didn’t want to frighten anyone. Xander was getting tired of the fop, but so far, he was sticking to the textbook, even if they still weren’t doing any practical work. Still, most of the kids formed study groups and practiced with supervision. The ones fretting the most were the OWL and NEWT students, but Flitwick held study groups for them, after the mandatory classes on Saturday.

The state of emergency was lifted, slightly. They could now go to the grounds, but only in groups. Since it was getting colder and snow was in the air, most declined.

Harry was with Luna every chance he got. He had recruited a few girls from all ages to keep an eye on her. He felt drawn to her in a way, like she was a long-lost twin, or something. He wanted to make sure that she was safe. Her quirky ways only endeared her more to him. He was the first to understand that she was a seer. She saw a lot. Most of it didn’t make sense to her young mind, so she invented some fanciful creatures, derived from her father’s writings, to help her cope. It was this understanding that helped Hermione live with the girl better.

Ginny volunteered to stay with Luna when she could. The poor girl was driven crazy by her brothers and wanted a break, that and she got to see Harry. So, she was seen in the ‘house’ at least twice a week.

Xander kept an eye on the second-year Slytherin that missed the Halloween feast, and was actually starting to worry about the child. They looked ill and had lost a bit of weight. They seemed to be angry at something and were snapping at everyone. Which, Xander was told, was very out of character for them. However, the child had done nothing wrong, and was now being more pleasant. Perhaps, he had given up on releasing the basilisk.

It was around Christmas that Lockhart decided to have a dueling club. He tales of the basilisk had boosted his ego so much that he wanted to show off. It was scheduled for the weekend before the break. Xander and all the other teachers were there to supervise.

The day of the event arrived, and the Great Hall was packed with star struck girls and grumpy boys. The teachers, and Xander, were waiting for the amusement to start.

“Can everyone see me?” Lockhart asked as he swagger onto the dueling platform, dressed in a salmon colored suit. With a lavender open-faced robe.  His blond hair was coffed perfectly. His smile was brighter than usual.

“I wish we couldn’t,” Xander called back. “Who picks your wardrobe?”

“Yes, well, today I am here to show… teach you a few things that will help in if you are in trouble. One of the first spell will be the disarming spell.”

“How is that going to help us with the snake? Is it going to be carrying a wand?” Harry heckled. Because of this man’s bragging, everyone knew the monster was a basilisk. They had been hoping to keep it quiet. The teachers were no supposed to tell.

“If done correctly the disarming spell will repel someone away from you long enough for you to get away,” was the flustered answer.

“Can’t we use the Knockback Jinx?” asked a first-year Ravenclaw.

“Well yes, but don’t you want to learn something new?”

“I think I’d like to learn something that will save my life,” the little girl replied.

“Nevertheless, we are going to learn the disarming spell,” Lockhart said, gathering his wits about him and trying to wrestle back control. “Mr. Harris, perhaps you will join me in a demonstration?” he said sweetly. Gilderoy had never seen that man to any magic, and he figured this might take him down a peg or two.

“Sure, whatever,” Xander said, jumping onto the stage.

“Now don’t worry children, I won’t hurt your Head of Security,” the fop said, brandishing his wand. He stood sideways and aimed it toward the unarmed man. “Expelliarmus,” he yelled, only for Xander to move. “Did you see him move?” the man asked rhetorically. “Now, Mr. Harris, I need you to stand still, so that they can see how effective the spell is,” he chastised.

“Not going to happen,” Xander replied. “Only a fool would let you hit them with any spell,” he said, smirking at the man.

“Come now, my good man, how will the children learn?”

“They can duck too,” was the answer.

“From a basilisk?”

“A basilisk won’t be throwing spells. Besides, if they see the snake, they should run and hide in the smallest hole they can find,” Xander said, folding his arms defiantly. Though wizards weren’t known for being physical. He had Harry, Hermione and Neville in the gym every morning. He tried getting Luna there, but she said she would not need it. And the way she said, he believed her. The girl was strange. Still the average wizard, or witch, did little to improve themselves bodily. He had opened his gym to everyone, and only a few muggleborns that had played sports before Hogwarts, took him up on it.

“Okay. Let’s get some of you up here to see what you have learned,” Gilderoy said, in a bad attempt to change the subject.

“No, I think this is enough for this year. Perhaps, next year, we can try again,” Xander rebutted, jumping off the stage. “Professor Flitwick might be a better choice. Hopefully, by then the basilisk will be gone and we can have a proper club,” he said as he grabbed Harry and made for the door. A great many kids following. Only the ever dwindling fanbase stayed. Including Hermione. When asked later what went on, she said the man told more of his stories. Even the hearts in her eyes were getting smaller.

Christmas came and Xander and Harry went home to celebrate with the Grangers, they would be back Christmas day. They were happy in their home and wanted to make sure the final inspection from the caseworker went off without a hitch. They spent the better part of the first day back cleaning the house. When they went to bed the woke up to an even cleaner house.

“Who do you think did this?” Harry asked, as he looked at the sparkling floors and counters of the kitchen. It was so clean the appliances looked like they were giving off their own light.

“I’d guess to say Dobby. He might think that if this goes through, we will be too happy to return to Hogwarts, or something like that,” Xander guessed.

“He is one strange fellow,” Harry sighed.

“I’m going to dirty the place up a bit. You can help by smudging the fridge and stove. This just looks unnatural.”

“Okay, Xander.” Then they worked on mussing up the house they had spent the day before cleaning. It was much easier than straightening it.

The caseworker was impressed with the house, them and the whole situation. They were cleared for adoption. Since the papers had been filed and were only waiting for her go-ahead, they went the next day and signed them. In the non-magical world, they were now a small, but happy, family.

Christmas Eve the Grangers, the Longbottoms and Luna, who was staying with the Grangers, were all gathered to celebrate. They had a wonderful time, drinking cocoa, opening presents, and eating the huge dinner the two males cooked. Christmas day, all but the Grangers went to Hogwarts, Augusta was there on Minerva’s invitation. The magical adoption was done and celebrated as well. The family grew.

Harry was the happiest he had ever been. He now had the family he had always wanted. He had no problem calling Xander ‘Dad’ now and then. Xander an Joyce were just as happy. They were grateful they could protect and love the boy. Xander more so, knowing what it was like to live the life that he did. Many times, as a child, he wanted a new family, now he could give that deep wish to someone special.

When the kids came back from break, no new sighting were seen, and life moved on.

Now it was time for the Gryffindor/Slytherin game, Xander opted to stay in the castle, since he had made the field safer. The twins assured him they’d keep an eye on Harry.

The game was going strong, and the score was 160-20, Gryffindor. Harry was not overly concerned with finding the snitch but was on the lookout in any case. He zoomed across the top of the field, and was watching the Chasers score another ten points, when suddenly he felt the need to duck. So, he did. A bludger passed where his head would have been. There was something off about that ball. It came around and aimed at Harry again. The youngest Seeker took off like a bat out of hell. He zipped and swerved, doing what he could to avoid being hit. The iron ball followed.

He was passing the Gryffindor stands, and realized he needed to get the bludger away from the crowd. So, he shot straight up in the air, but not before he heard Hermione’s “Harry, look out!”

He glanced behind him and the rouge ball was gaining speed. Suddenly one of the twins appeared and hit the ball away. Harry stopped to see what would happen and when the ball turned again and avoided the Beater, he took off. “Someone get Xander!” he yelled as he passed the middle goal.

Wood saw the bludger chasing his Seeker and called a time out.

Something gold flitted across Harry’s field of vision to he set off after it. If he was going to be doing crazy flying, he might as well catch the snitch. Draco Malfoy was soon giving chase as well.

“Malfoy, call it off. There’s a rogue bludger after me!” he called to the other Seeker.

“Piss off, Potter,” was the ever so polite return.

“Your death,” was the rejoinder.

And the two followed the uneven flight of the golden ball.

The bludger, in the meantime, was still chasing Harry, and when the young boy was slammed into by his rival, he took a minute to straighten out his broom. He was just about to break his promise to Xander and fly without one, when his shoulder was hit from the iron ball.

That hurt, badly. And it knocked him off his broom. He fell to the ground and was thankful when the cushioning charm made him bounce, partly. It still hurt like the dickens. He was pretty sure his shoulder was dislocated, and the bouncing didn’t help. Still, it was better than broken. He was about to get up when the ball came at his face. He moved to the right and stood up. The ball slammed into the ground and bounced as well. Madam Hooch came and wrestled the ball into the game box and now the threat was over.

Malfoy caught the snitch, but it didn’t count since the game had been called. They would have to replay it the next weekend. That didn’t stop the blond boy from gloating.

Harry could see Xander running from the castle with Dumbledore and McGonagall close behind. He also saw Madam Pomfrey coming to the field, when he smelled some overpowering aftershave. Lockhart. He quickly turned, grimacing in pain, and backed away. The cushioned field was not easy to walk on, his feet sank with every step, but he moved as quickly as he could.

“Come now, Harry, I can fix this,” the fop said, holding his wand towards Harry’s useless shoulder.

“That’s okay, Professor, it’s only dislocated,” Harry replied, holding his good hand as if to ward the man off.

“Nonsense, it is a simple spell. Hold still now.”

Harry quickly turned to prevent the spell hitting him, when suddenly his good arm went dead. It was completely useless as well. The bones from the shoulder down were gone. And he was having a hard time breathing. His world went dark, right when Poppy came to him.

He came back to the land of the living, to hear Xander yelling at Lockhart. “You’re fired. You have twenty minutes to get your things and get off my land. If you are not gone, I will personally take great pleasure in killing you… slowly. If I were you, I’d run.”

The man went to protest, but Xander pulled his axe out of his pocketspace and Lockhart changed his mind. The faux-blond ran from the infirmary and was soon seen running out the gates.

“Why did you wait until now to fire him?” Joyce wondered.

“Because if Harry died, so would have he. I’m going to have him arrested, but right now he is given a false sense of security. He’ll think that because he’s not at Hogwarts he’ll be safe. He’s wrong,” Xander answered, turning back to Harry and seeing his son awake.

“Do we know what happened?” Harry inquired.

“Yeah, I’m pretty sure it was Dobby. I’ll be paying a visit to Malfoy Manor soon. But first, how are you feeling?”

“Worse then I felt when I started. What did that man do to me?”

“He vanished most of the upper bones on your left side. Your muscles were pressing on your lungs and heart. If Poppy hadn’t gotten there so quickly, you’d be dead. Sorry, but I don’t want to sugar coat it. You’re fine now. She’s got a spell, like paralysis, to keep them all in place while the bones grow back. You’re going to be here a few days.”

“Bugger.”

“There will be no need to call the Aurors, though you can if you want. The Magical Medical Counsel will be here in the morning. They take a dim view on those that practice medicine without license. He’ll see some time in Azkaban,” Poppy said as she bustled towards them.

“Are we sure that is necessary?” Dumbledore asked from where he had been sitting observing the interaction with the Boy-Who-Lived and his guardian.

“Don’t be foolish, Albus, of course it is,” the matron replied, waving her wand over Harry to make sure her spells were working properly still. “You know as well as I do, that man broke the law.”

“Dumbledore, perhaps you have someone who can take the DADA post,” Xander suggested, hoping the man would just go away and do his job.

“I do have a man in mind,” the old man replied. “It will take a few days to get ahold of him, but I am sure that once he learns that Harry is here, he will come and help.”

“Oh?” the wolf-eyed man inquired, not sure if he wanted someone that knew Harry here right now.

“A friend of his parents. I will send the note posthaste,” Albus said as he turned and left before more questions were asked.

“Harry…” Xander started, when he noticed the boy was fast asleep. “Well, Joyce, Poppy, you two keep an eye on Harry. I have a man to visit.” He then disappeared.

First, he went to the Ministry, and got the address he needed. Then he vanished from there and went to the house he wanted. He appeared the bedroom of the peacock posing as a man. Conjuring a knife of ice, with a wooden handle, he slowly made his way to the sleeping man. He enveloped his face in a cloud of darkness and pressed the knife to Malfoys neck. “Lucius,” he sing-songed in his best British accent, which had improved greatly.

Malfoy woke with a start and opened his eyes wide as he felt something sharp on his neck, and what felt like blood trickle down. He didn’t dare move.

“You’ve been a bad boy, Lucius,” Xander said, shrouded in darkness with only his yellow eyes glowing in the dark.

“I’ve done nothing,” the scared man protested, though his eyes showed just how worried he was. There were a great many things he was guilty of. Who knew what this unknown man knew?

“Oh, but you have, and you know it. Tell me what’s going on at the castle. If you tell the truth you might live,” Xander said in a threatening manner.

“How would I know what goes on at the school?” Lucius tried to reason, there was a note of resignation in his voice, as if he would rather die now, then when his Master returned.

“You are on the Board of Governors, it’s you job to know,” was the dark reply.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about. I see to the budget not the day to day running. Talk to Dumbledore, it’s his job.”

Seeing as he wasn’t going to get and answer this way, Xander pressed the knife harder into the man’s neck. He would kill him now, if he had any proof, but this was not the time. “If I find out that you have done anything to anyone in that school, I will personally come and take your head. I hope you know that I’m not play around. I could kill you now and no one would know.” The melting ice trickled down the man’s neck faster.

“I swear I know nothing,” Lucius said, knowing that he’d rather be dead than tortured by the Dark Lord when, if, he returned. Nothing this person could do to him would even come close.

“Fine have it your way but heed my warning. Now, I want you to call all your house elves in here and free them. I don’t care how many you have, just do it.”

That confused the man greatly. He felt the knife press harder and immediately call the three elves to his room. “I need socks,” he croaked, sure that he was bleeding to death.

One of the elves quickly gave the man four pairs of socks.

“Dobby, Sessy, Sham, I give you clothes,” Malfoy said, tossing each elf a sock as he spoke, his neck was now covered in liquid.

“All of you, go to Hogwarts,” Xander ordered. After they left, he started to intimidate the frightened man. “If I find you have done anything else to threaten my son, you won’t see me coming,” he threatened, and then disappeared.

He learned later the Malfoy made a fool of himself at St. Mungo’s, claiming that he was bleeding to death, when nothing was wrong with him, but a bit of water. He laughed his ass off when he got that news. The man had also called the Aurors and tried to have Xander arrested. That fell through as well, since he was uninjured and there was no proof it was him, but the glowing yellow eyes. He called the elves to him and gave them the choice of bonding with him, or the castle. Sessy and Sham chose the castle, but Dobby, now that he could protect Harry in the open, chose Xander.

Harry wasn’t sure how he felt about that. The elf had tried to kill him, after all. Still Dobby’s excitableness was a bit catchy, so eventually he just went with the flow. Luna was overwhelmed with pleasure that the elf would be there full time. She foresaw that he would be a great bonus to the family.

A few days later Luna about gave Xander a heart attack. She came to him one night and asked, "Xander, can I call you Dad?”

“What about your real dad?” was his confused reply.

“Professor Flitwick took me home after the incident, and Daddy was not really well. He has been taken to St. Mungo’s to heal,” she answer, her large eyes wide and wet with sadness. “I have a feeling he’s going to be there a long time. Something broke in him when Mummy died.”

“Why didn’t anyone tell me?” Xander asked, very concerned about this new development.

“It wasn’t time for you to know,” came the vague reply.

“Okay. That’s not what you came to ask, so spill.”

“I need your help to publish the latest addition of the Quibbler."

"Quibbler?"

"My family newspaper," she said handing over the rough draft of the aforementioned paper. "My Daddy has been running it alone since Mummy died. He taught me a lot on how to put it together. It was really the only thing we bonded over. It seems that he threw himself into printing it in her memory. That’s what the healers said. Now that he is sick, I need to keep it going.”

"Ok… and why do you need my help?"

"I just need an adult’s signature and Daddy is at the hospital," she said, settling on the couch and snuggling into her newfound father.

Xander sighed and looked through the papers she handed him. he was quite impressed that she put it all together by herself. He handed them back and said, "You did a really good job, sweetie, but I want to see it all before you print.”

“Thanks, Xander Dad,” she said and went to put it all together. It only needed to be type-faced and laid out.

The next evening Xander was handed a copy of the next edition of The Quibbler to read while Dora was over for her weekly fun time with Harry and his friends. It was quite amusing, a conspiracy rag of sorts. Xander had done a little research and spoke to Dora and Minerva to see if there was anything to worry about. But he had been assured that most people thought it was a joke paper.

The articles that piqued Xander's interest were the nature watch articles. Piqued in so far that he went deathly pale and nearly had Joyce put the castle on lockdown.

"Luna, honey, where did you see these… Crumple-Horned Snorkacks?" he asked, holding a drawn picture of the beast.

"In my dreams. They’re very cute. Daddy and I were going to go on an expedition to see if we could find them when I was older," she explained, with innocent wide eyes.

Xander paled. The things did look very cute. With golden shining eyes, round body and white fur, and a sharp yet crumpled silver horn on the forehead. "Luna, under no circumstances are you to go searching for these creatures without a fully trained Harry, myself and two squads of US Seal's," he said seriously, cursing the fact that there were no Slayers here.

"But why? They are cute," she asked with a pout.

"It's a disguise. I came across these guys back home once. One of them decimated an entire village and it took a whole group of Slayers to kill it. They use that horn to impale you before sucking out your innards. They’re very fast and hard to see as they are like chameleons," he explained, hoping she got the drift. "I really hope that they don't exist in this world, because if they do, we are in a lot of trouble."

Luna's bottom lip quivered.

"Luna, how about I write up the details of any encounter I know of about creature. It’ll make great sales. Think of it, an adventurer stalking through the jungle and capturing these deadly beasts. The readers will eat it up,” he offered instead. He really didn’t want her to go looking for them. They were that dangerous.

The water works dried up and the bottom lip stilled. Luna suddenly grinned. "Okay," she said, and bounced happily away.

"I think you've just been played," Dora said with a smirk.

Xander sighed. "Wouldn't be the first time."

“Are they real? I’ve never heard of them, and I’ve had to read on the deadliest of beast to be an Auror,” the Metamorphmagus inquired.

“Oh, they’re really alright, but I get the feeling my new daughter in seeing into different worlds. Like through a camera, or a window. She sees them and then tells about them. I’m sure you’ve heard her speak of Nargles,” he explained, shuddering of the thought of some of the things from his world coming here. He really hoped not.

“Yeah, are they real too?”

“They are dimension hoppers, like the goblins. They’re invisible to the naked eye. There are some glasses that can help you see them, but they are there. They are just like Luna says, they muddle the mind. It’s a good thing they actually only infest those that are dimwitted, and only for a short period of time. Not really dangerous, but annoying. Think of them as parasites, like a mosquito. They come in grab a bite and leave, leaving you confused and irritated. It’s easy to get rid of them, you just have to learn to drive them away with your thoughts,” he said, once more picking up the Quibbler and rereading some of the articles.

“Oh, it looks like I’m going to have to pay better attention to the Quibbler,” Dora said thoughtfully.

“Yeah, but be assured that most of these things are in worlds where they can be killed, by apex predators, like Slayers and such.”

“Yeah, okay,” she said distractedly as she looked over his shoulder to read with him.

Chapter Text

They held a small ceremony, much like Harry’s first one, where Xander, Joyce, and Minerva fostered Luna. Now Harry had a sister and he couldn’t be happier. He loved Luna and did what he could to protect her. There were many times he snuck around with his Metamorphic abilities and followed her to make sure she was safe. She always knew who he was, and at one point threatened him with the taking of his Twinkies, a habit he picked up from Xander. Sure, you had to search to find them in the UK but going to the States was no problem for them, so they had a large supply. Still, she threatened to cut him off, so he cut back and only checking on her once a day to make sure she was unmolested.

He also recruited a few girls in her year to make sure she was okay. Luna took this with a grain of salt, it was almost like having friends. The girls that walked with her would talk to her, but she could tell they were just humoring Harry. She was too quirky for them to really get to know her.

The new teacher was due in a few days, and until then Xander took over the class. He really didn’t know much about DADA, so he did what Lockhart did and they read from the book. Unlike Lockhart, he asked the kids what situations would be best to use the spells and got them to think about it. This was well received over the former teacher’s approach, and the kids were learning. He did hold practical’s homework, with Flitwick’s help, which appeased the students.

The days passed with little fanfare, and the whole castle felt safer. It had been months and there was no sighting of the basilisk. The goblins were still patrolling, and the bathroom was still watched by Joyce. The only people who didn’t relax, and wouldn’t until it was over, were Xander and Joyce. Both had been taught hard lessons in Sunnydale and they would see this through until the beast was dead.

Xander had made many trips to the hidden underground rooms, but he had not seen the beast. Joyce for some reason could not enter, and it frustrated her something fierce. She blamed Salazar.

Valentine’s Day was coming soon and Xander was starting to feel lonely. He remembered fondly, his time with Anya, with her blunt ways of telling him just what to buy her for that day. Which was good, he was never good at picking presents. Dora was nice and all, but she didn’t feel like the type of girl he would hook-up with. She was a lot like Anya in many ways, but there was something missing. They tried a few dates and decided to be good friends. Dora was okay with this, she liked older men anyway.

The day the new teacher was to come had arrived and Xander, Albus, Joyce and Minerva were all waiting at the gates. It was a quarter to two when the man came through the gates. He was tall, scruffy man, whose robes had seen better days. His face and arms were marred with scars, but his eyes showed his gentleness.

“Bless my soul, Remus Lupin. How have you been?” Minerva asked, giving the old student a hug.

“Minnie…” he started but was interrupted.

“Wait,” Xander said, flaring his magic and making the other man look at him for the first time, and then with a smooth motion Remus disengaged the hug and bared his neck.

“Conri,” he said reverently.

“Yes,” the wolf-eyed man growled out, showing his dominance. “How to do you protect the innocent on the full moon?”

“I take Wolfsbane and lock myself away,” the other werewolf answered automatically, still in awe at being in the presence of one of the most respected kind of werewolf.

“What’s Wolfsbane?” Xander asked Albus since he was well versed in potion making.

“It is a potion that helps the inflicted keep their minds during their transformations,” the old man replied. “Alas, it does its job, but not without taking a toll on the body of the human part of them. It is very difficult to make and quite expensive. I have a Potions Master who will be brewing it as a favor to me,” he said, not once mentioning Snape, knowing how that would not be well received. Though they could see the slight harried look on his face. Xander had to wonder what had put that there.

“If it is needed, Nicholas can brew it. Tell … your Potions Master, we don’t need him,” he instructed Albus, then turned to Remus. “However, I think I can help you keep your mind. My research shows that the Conri can control the lower werewolves, so we’ll test that theory,” the Conri said, looking at the Lone Alpha wolf. “We’ll go to the forest with a Cerberus and a wolfhound. We’ll run the night and keep the students safe. There’s plenty of game to hunt. If you once don’t appear, I will hunt you down and make sure you don’t make that mistake again. Am I understood?”

“Yes, of course,” Remus said quickly. Not even thinking for a moment he would disagree. “I will follow your lead.”

“Good. Now, I hope you’re better than the last guy. He was a nightmare,” Xander said cheerfully, not liking the tense situation.

He tried to keep the anger of the letter he received this morning from clouding his day. There was no reason to take it out on the new guy. Still, he was pissed that Lockhart got away with almost killing Harry. Some moron spoke up for him and since the Minister didn’t want the bad publicity, the charges were dropped. Amelia was just as mad as he was, but her hands were tied. Politics, how he hated it. The Magical Medical Counsel was beyond upset, they barred the man from even doing a Finite Incantatem on someone. If he pointed his wand at anyone again, with the thought of curing them, they’d take it to the ICW. They had already filed a warning with the International Department of Magical of Defense Association. The man would be watched.

“Remus, my boy, you will start classes tomorrow. Since Xander has been teaching this last week, he will tell you where everyone is in their studies. I do fret that the fifth and seventh-years all need to be refreshed in practicals. I will leave it in your hands, my good man.” And with that he turned and strolled away, thinking that this just won him some brownie points with the three that held his leash.

“There are times…” Xander growled, causing Remus to once more bared his neck. Harris wasn’t sure that having a werewolf around was a good thing. It would make the full moons fun, sure. But they had yet to take care of the basilisk, there was a dragon and a Cerberus on the grounds as well, and now having another dangerous creature in the school might prove too much.

Still, the Scoobies took care of Oz well enough, and this time there was a big honking forest to corral the wolf. That and the difference in werewolves would be interesting. They only turned once a month in this reality, while Oz turned three days a month. He couldn’t wait to see if they looked different as well.

“Come, Remus, let’s get you settled,” Joyce said, walking up the path.

“I’m sorry, who are you?” the confused werewolf asked.

“I am the embodiment of Hogwarts. You will see me a lot, when I am not the castle. There is a basilisk in the school, but we think that it is locked up at the moment. Hopefully, asleep. Come, we will tell you all about it as we walk,” she said, taking his elbow and leading him away. The rest followed.

The weeks flew by and Remus was well received. His easy teaching style had won him top professor. OWL and NEWT students loved him most. Not to mention a pink-haired Auror. To the students, it was the first time in years they felt that they would pass DADA without months of revising. Nicholas Flamel was the second favorite teacher in that he made sure everyone understood what they were doing. His upper-year students also felt they would pass the Ministry tests. Snape had not done the Wizarding World any favors.

Remus was impressed with the updates on the castle and used them to his advantage every time he could. Overhead projectors that moved, helped those in back see the wand movements they had a hard time seeing before. He made sure to educate the other teachers on how to use the tools provided as they still had not gotten the hang of them. If not for years of having to work in the non-magical world as a substitute teacher, he would be just as lost.

The first class Remus had with the second years was saddening. Due to the Bogart, Harry learned that his greatest fear was that this was all a dream. However, he cast the counter spell and was relieved to see his malicious Xander turn back into the adorable clown that he was. Sure, he toted guns, and shot the balloons, but that was just Xander.

Valentine’s Day came and, to the confusion of everyone, so did some dwarves in nappies. They were already all over the castle by the time Xander had come to breakfast. The huge table in the Great Hall that advertised they would be delivering Valentines was the cause. Girls and boys alike were giving up Knuts to have their Valentine delivered with a diddy. Some were paying the extra price for a full-on singing Valentine. If Xander hadn’t slept in, he would have stopped it sooner.

“Okay,” the wolf-eyed man drawled as he approached the table. “Why are you guys here, and who paid you?” he asked,

“Some fool Lockhart approached us a few months ago and told us to be here today. He said that we get to keep the money made and get a large bonus,” the lead dwarf said, stamping a Valentine to be delivered.

“How much did he say he’d pay you?” was the next question.

“100 galleons an hour,” came the answer.

“You know he isn’t here anymore, right?”

“What?! That fool promised us money. If we didn’t need this job, we’d have told him to stuff it,” the grumpy dwarf in a cloth diaper said as he stood from his chair and came to Xander.

“Look, I am the owner of this school. Now, I don’t mind a person making a living, but I need to see the contract that you signed.”

“Do I look like I’m carrying papers on me?” the dwarf asked incredulously.

“Right, never mind. Okay, how about this, I let you stay until lunch. I’ll pay you 50 galleons per hour and you keep the delivery charges, no jacking up the prices either, but, I want you out at noon,” Xander compromised. He really didn’t want them to lose out on the pay, but he didn’t want them here all day.

“Fine, but we’re going after Lockhart,” the tiny being grumbled.

“Have fun with that, and give him a knock or two from me,” Xander said cheerfully, and turned and walked away.

The grumpy dwarfs in nappies handed out cards and sang songs until lunch. The last Valentine they sang was to a very embarrassed werewolf. It was Li'l Red Riding Hood—Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs, with a note that the person who sent the card would be his Little Red Riding Hood anytime. Xander laughed his ass off, he had a feeling on who sent it. Remus was confused, and hoped it wasn’t a student. That would be awkward. He was also a bit concerned that someone knew his secret.

The whole school was laughing at the bemused man. Still, it was a nice finishing touch to the afternoon, and a great stress relief.

After the Valentine was delivered the dwarves cheerfully changed clothes and went after the fop. Xander heard they chased him up and down Diagon Alley until he coughed up what he owed them. He and Joyce had a good laugh about that. Served the fraud right.

The next night Xander and Dora were on patrol. Kingsley, who was Dora’s normal partner, was taking a well-deserved night off.

“Did you send that Valentine to Remus?” Xander asked Dora slyly, glancing at her to see if she confessed. Her cheeks did pink up.

“Yup, I thought it might cheer everyone up,” she said cheekily.

“How did you know he was a werewolf?”

“He’s registered at the Ministry. I had to do a stint on checking that they checked in after the full moon. I remembered his name. Do you think he knew it was me?” she asked hopefully.

“No, the poor man is confused, but it will relieve some worry when he finds out. He thought it was a student,” was the answer, accompanied but a cheerful grin.

“Well, phooey, I’ll just have to try harder. Hey, can I ask you a personal question?” the pink-haired woman inquired. She had been dying to find out since she met the man.

“It was an evil preacher that was set on world annihilation,” he replied, not even bothering to hear the question.

“How did you know I was going to ask about your eye?” she asked, stopping in the hallway and looking at his profile.

“Everyone does eventually. It was one of the first questions most people ask. Well, the rude ones, anyway,” he said with a shrug as he too stopped. “Doesn’t happen much anymore, now that I have my wolf eyes, but those who met me before that can’t help themselves. I think the only person who hasn’t asked is Harry.”

“Oh, world annihilation, huh? That’s big,” she said, changing what appeared to be a sore subject. Though, she wasn’t sure if this one was better.

“Not that uncommon where I come from. It happens every month or so in my reality. That’s why we have Slayers,” he said, looking up and down the hall. He wasn’t going to let a conversation stop him from keeping a look out.

“Wow, I wouldn’t want to be part of your world. I don’t think I could handle the stress.”

“I have a feeling you’d be okay, but yeah sometimes it was too much. My best friend, who was the sweetest girl I know, snapped when her lover was killed, and did her turn at trying to destroy the world. Good thing I was there to talk her down,” he stated as he started walking again. “My other friend, the Slayer, had some moments of despair too, but it’s part of her makeup to save the world, so we never had to worry about her. If that had happened, I don’t think anyone could have stopped her. Well, maybe Faith, but she went bad for awhile too. Buffy had to stop her. Good thing she was there. A bad Slayer is not someone you want to deal with. So, yeah, stressful.” He turned and started walking again.

“Do you think that the person opening the chamber has stopped?” Dora asked as she followed, hoping this subject was an easier one.

“No,” was the firm answer. “I think they are just laying low. I’m pretty sure I know who it is, but I can’t prove it. I’m getting worried about them, but whenever I approach them, they say they’re fine. I can’t force someone to get help. Especially since I don’t know what’s wrong.”

“What are the signs you’re seeing?”

“They’re temperamental and seem to be under a great deal of stress.”

“That’s it? That describes most of the school,” she stated.

“I know. That’s why I’m having a hard time helping. I thought the diary they keep writing in would help, but it’s not.” He mused on that a moment, it was unusual for a male to keep a journal at that age, but not overly rare. Perhaps he might take a look at it, if he got a chance. He quickly banished that thought as he didn’t want to infringe on someone’s personal thoughts. Still, he’d keep his eye open.

The two quickly changed the subject and started talking about the improvements of the school. Dora lamented that she wished it had happened in her time. The extra classes she had to take just to get into the DMLE were expensive. Well, what her mother couldn’t teach her.

Nothing happened that night, and the two went their separate ways.

A few days later, Xander learned that Remus kept his mind around him and the two had a great time chasing each other around the forest with Fluffy and Fang.

Another week went by and once more the peace was shattered. Somehow the snake found a way out that wasn’t the bathroom. Joyce was beyond consolidation. She had been keeping such a watch on the bathroom that she didn’t feel where it had come out of. Xander told her that is wasn’t her fault, he too dropped the ball by not getting the rooster rocks all over the school. Still, a student was petrified, and would be down for a week while Nicholas brewed more potion.

The student, Colin Creevey, had been outside when it happened. He was taking pictures of the plants that grew near the forest. He had been told that they would help him better his film development and disregarded the warning about going alone. It was due to his camera that he lived.

Xander had one of the house elves try and get the diary from the Slytherin boy, but the boy carried it everywhere, even held it in his sleep. He only wanted to read the last entry to see if the boy was culpable.

The whole school was back to where it was at the beginning of the year. Kids were called home, and no one went anywhere alone.

Xander and the goblins went to the chamber and found a small piece of cloth on the floor.

“Huh, I wonder what this is. It looks like a part of the school uniform,” the wolf-eyed man mused.

“Must be a student then. Any markings on which house?” one goblin replied.

“No, just the black part. Could have come from the back, or a sleeve,” Xander said, thinking of his suspect.

“There’s nothing here, but that, and it’s not much help. I think you had better find a way to keep someone down here. Maybe, three of us could stay and you can switch us out every six hours or so,” the lead goblin suggested.

“You don’t mind being in a place where you can’t leave?”

“There has to be a way out, the snake didn’t go through the bathroom. We’ll scout the area and report what we find.”

“Okay, as long as you’re sure.”

And so, it was set up, three goblins stayed and would be switched out every six hours. Xander had no problem with this. The goblins would stay out of the main area and hide in one of the many coves. They were ordered to simply watch and keep the snake from attacking. If they had the chance, to kill it with the rooster rocks. However, if a student was there, they were not to interfere unless the student was in danger. Then they were to do everything they could to save them. Xander wanted to find out who was doing this, that way he had a reason to act.

It was only a week later that a goblin, who Xander thought his name was Reaper, reported in.

“My king, a young man in green lined robes made his way to the Chamber. He was nervous and twitchy. He held a book close to his chest. The young man looked like someone was holding a wand to his head.”

“You feel he’s being threatened?” the worried man asked. There might be something bigger going on here than he thought.

“Yes, sire. The boy was not acting like someone who was out to kill,” Reaper said very thoughtfully. “Then as he got to the middle of the room his whole demeanor changed. It was like he was an entirely different person. This person was angry.”

“What happened?”

“We started a recording rock,” he handed it over, “right as the boy entered. We put up the wards to prevent the snake from leaving the area. The boy called the snake, but we averted our eyes, so we do not know from whence it came. There was a grating sound of rocks so we’re sure there is a hidden room. The snake and the child sounded to be having an argument. We heard the snake leave, and the boy moved to the back of the chamber. I followed and came here once he entered the castle.”

“What did he look like?” Xander asked, looking at the rock he knew he was going to have to have Harry listen too.

“A younger student, about twelve. Tall thin, dark skinned, he looks to have lost a great deal of weight recently. Green and silver lined robes, dark hair,” was the brief description.

Xander sighed, it was who he thought it was. Now, he had to confront a child of all things. First, he wanted to know what was on this rock. He nodded to the goblin and said, “Good job, go tell Joyce where the back entrance is so she can try and monitor it.”

“Yes, sire,” the goblin said as he ran to the guarded bathroom.

Xander heaved a great put-upon sigh, he knew what he had to do, but didn’t want to do it. He made his way to the castle and searched for Harry. It was almost dinner, so the boy was probably in the library. Making his way there, he spotted Harry and went to join him. “Harry, I need you to come with me,” he stated.

“Why? Did something happen?” Harry asked as he put away his books.

“Yeah, but I don’t want to discuss it here.”

“Okay, Dad,” was the reply as he got up and joined Xander.

“What about us?” Hermione asked, looking up from her book. She started to put her things away.

“Not this time. You guys stay here, and Harry will tell you later. I want to talk to him first,” Xander said in a kind but firm manner.

“Alright, Xander,” Neville said, as he glanced at Hermione. She made a face but started reorganizing her books back on the table.

The two made their way to the ‘house’ and sat on the sofas. “I need you to listen to this rock and tell me what’s on it,” Xander said, putting the rock on the table.

Harry listened for a moment and his face went through a myriad of emotions, from laughing to worry. “Well, I don’t think we have to kill the snake. It’s very upset with the person who is talking to it. It said that it was not supposed to hurt students, and that the last person it attacked was too small to be a threat. The person talking to it is very angry and wants the snake to kill the whole school. It said it would not. And that’s the end of the conversation. Though, the person wants you dead more than anyone, and he almost had the snake convinced that you were a threat. Still, the snake wants proof. Do you think I should talk to it?”

Xander pondered on that, it might end the whole thing, but it could put Harry in danger. “Yeah, we’ll go talk to the snake, but we’re taking a contingent of goblins with us. And maybe Dora and Kingsley and some of the teachers. We’ll go tonight after everyone is asleep. If anyone asks you tell them that we know who did it, and the adults will handle it. I have something I have to do first,” he said, getting up and patting Harry on the shoulder.

“Okay, Xander,” Harry said a bit nervous. Sure, he didn’t think the snake was a threat, but still, it was one big snake.

“Go back to the library and try and finish your homework. Hopefully, this will all be over tonight.” With that Xander walked Harry out of the ‘house’ and went to find the Slytherin student. He wanted to make sure the kid was okay. He found him pacing up and down a wall on the seventh floor.

“Blaise, can I talk to you a moment?” he called, interrupting whatever it was the boy was doing.

“No, go away, mudblood,” the boy snarled, holding the diary close to his chest.

“Well, too bad. I need to speak to you on a matter of security,” the wolf-eyed man said firmly as the caught up with the boy.

Zabini pulled his wand and started throwing curses. Some that were way above his age level. “Die, mudblood. I don’t know how you convinced everyone your magical, but I will take you down.”

More curses were thrown, but Xander’s shield held true.

“Okay, this just got more real,” Xander said as he pulled a small handgun out of his pocketspace. He aimed and fired at the boy’s foot. His aim was true, and it grazed the outside of the left foot. Hurting the child just enough for him to drop his wand and the book. Xander quickly called them to him and put them in his pocketspace. There they wouldn’t do any harm. Then something peculiar happened. The young man fainted dead away. “Huh,” was all Xander could think as he levitated the boy and walked him to the Hospital Wing.

“Oh dear, what happened?” Poppy said as she bustled over.

“I’m not sure, but I think it was a possession,” Xander said as he put Blaise on a bed. Then he got sheepish. “I might have shot him in the foot.”

“What? Xander, how could you? He is only a child,” the patron said as she waved her wand over said child. Since Quirrell, she looked up guns and now had an inkling as to what they could do. She really never wanted to see what she had seen again.

“He was firing deadly spells at me. It was the only thing I could think of to stop him. I didn’t want to kill him, so foot shooting,” the wolf-eyed man defended himself. Sure, he felt a bit bad about it, but what else could he do?

“Well, what’s done is done, but I’ll thank you not to shoot students in the future,” Poppy stated, then heaved a sigh. “You were right, he was possessed. Something is draining him. You needed to find out what he is connected to and destroy it,” she said, quite worried, casting blocking spell after blocking spell. “I’ve blocked it enough that only a trickle was there. Still, the item needs to be gone for it to stop” she instructed, and then tended the wound on the foot and tucked the boy in.

“That’s what I thought. Don’t worry, I’ll take care of the item he had. Don’t tell anyone, not even Albus,” Xander said, thinking he might go to the forest and dispose of the diary. There was no way that was a normal book.

“Okay, Xander, but you better have a very good reason. It is my duty to report all happenings to the Headmaster,” she chastised, taking one last diagnosis of Zabini and then turned to the man who brought him in.

“I do, but I don’t want it to get out. So, trust me I’ve got it handled,” he assured her. ‘I hope,’ he thought. This world was still relatively new to him, but he had dealt with cursed items before. Hopefully, it would come in handy now. He then left the Wing and went to the forest. He put the book down in a clearing that was far from the castle.

The first thing he did was shoot the book, but it only bounced off. The next thing he did was try and cleave it in half, but the axe did little damage. He picked up the book to see if he could find out what made it tick. The book was blank, and as he thumbed through it, he felt something try to attach itself to him. Doing something really stupid, he pulled out a pen and started to write.

Alright, you stupid book, what are you? he wrote.

And who might this be? the book wrote back.

Someone who is going to find a way to end you, Xander replied.

Well, then I feel no need to speak further, was the comeback.

No matter what Xander wrote the book was like a dead weight. Still he used everything in his arsenal to destroy the book, but no weapon he had would kill the damn thing. Giving up for now, since it was getting late, he tucked the book back in his pocketspace and returned to the school. He might talk to Remus. The man knew more about the Dark Arts then anyone in the school. He made his way to the Great Hall and sat next to Lupin, who was still in awe of him. “Remus, can I talk to you after dinner?” he asked, scooping up some mashed potatoes.

“Of course,” was the reply. The man didn’t even ask what for. If Xander told him to do something, he’d do it. Unless it went against his morals, but even then, he’d have to fight with himself.

“Great. Now tell me how it’s been going. Classes are doing well?”

“The kids have a lot to catch up on, but since most homework is practical’s, it makes it much easier,” the werewolf replied.

The two spent dinner talking about nonessential things and soon it was time to depart. Xander got up and Remus followed. They went to the DADA classroom and Xander threw up a shield to keep people out and to prevent being overheard. He pulled out the book, and Remus growled.

“That thing is evil, I can smell it. There’s a spirit trapped in there and it’s dark,” the man said, his eyes glowing yellow.

“That’s what it thought, but can you tell me what it is and how to destroy it?” Xander asked, keeping calm and broadcasting the same. It worked, Remus settled down and took a good sniff of the book.

“That’s a horcrux.”

Chapter Text

“Okay, what’s a horcrux?” Xander asked, placing the diary on a desk.

“It’s where an evil wizard, or witch, hides a piece of their souls. The only way to make one is to kill an innocent,” Remus answered, still growling at the book.

“So, how do I destroy it? Nothing I’ve done so far has worked,” the wolf-eyed man said, giving the book a hateful glare.

“Fiendfyre, a fire that is partly sentient. It burns so bright it eats everything in its path. Stone, metal, the ground; everything. Only the strongest of wizards can control it. And basilisk venom are the only ways that I know of. Though, the Killing Curse might work, but you have to be able to cast on efficiently,” the werewolf stated, finally looking away from the evil item. “For example, I can cast the curse, but it will not be as effective as You-Know-Who casting it. I don’t have enough hate. Though, when it’s closer to the full moon, I’m able to kill small rodents.”

“Hmm, I wonder if acid would work? Not that I have any on me, but something to think about. Still, isn’t it great that we happen to have a basilisk handy,” Xander said cheerfully as he picked up the book and put it in his pocketspace. Now that he knew the snake wasn’t as dead set on killing the students, he was more than willing to give it a chance. Maybe, Harry could talk it into biting the book. “I have a plan,” he said, getting up and heading to the door.

“I guess that means you’re going after it soon,” Remus said thoughtfully as he too got up. He wondered if he would be invited. It’s not often you get to see a real live basilisk. Especially one that’s over a thousand years old.

“Yup, tonight. You can come if you want. Who knows, we might need the help. Harry says, it’s not out to destroy the school, so he’s going to talk to it. I want you there in case it doesn’t listen. Here take this. It’s a recording rock of a rooster. Just say ‘start’ right up next to it, and it’ll crow. The goblins already have some, but it never hurts to have more,” he said, handing over a small stone with squiggly lines on it. Remus looked at the rock and wondered how the man had created it. Putting it aside for now he pocketed it, and with that, the two left the room and made their way to the ‘house’.

Remus had never been there before, and he was in awe on how different it looked from the rest of the school. He followed Xander to the living room, glancing at everything. There were somethings even he, who had lived in the non-magical world, didn’t recognize.

Harry was still up doing homework. “Hermione and Luna went to bed early. Neville just went up. He said he’s still getting used to being here. Luna had adapted well, but I think Neville likes the TV too much,” he said as he put his books and parchment away and then standing up.

“I’ll have to set a curfew for him then. Okay, come on, we’ll gather the goblins and make our way down. Remus is coming with us as back up as well. I know you said the snake doesn’t want to kill anyone, but it never hurts to have a contingence plan. I want this done with soon. One way or another,” Xander said, putting a hand on Harry’s shoulder and steering him to the hall.

Harry was nervous as they walked through the quiet castle. He had read about basilisks and was fearful the snake wouldn’t listen to him. He absently nodded to the rules Xander was laying out, with Professor Lupin chiming in every now and then. Mostly it was just stuff like ‘listen to me’ and ‘don’t do anything stupid’. Stuff he already knew. They picked up the waiting goblins and went to the bathroom.

Joyce was waiting there, wringing her hands, as if fretting that Harry was there. “I can’t go with you,” she said, hugging Harry and straightening his hair. “It’s not really a part of Hogwarts, so I have to stay here.” So many times, she had to watch Buffy go into the night to save the world, while she sat at home waiting. Now she had to do it again. She hated every minute of it.

“Why don’t you head to the hospital wing. If Zabini wakes, keep him there. He might be able to tell us how this diary came to be in the school,” Xander suggested, hoping that would give her something to do.

“Good idea. Harry, you listen to Xander, Remus and the goblins,” she said firmly, grasping his shoulders and then drawing him into another hug. “Don’t do anything stupid and keep Xander out of trouble.”

“Hey,” came the mocking protest from the yellow-eyed man.

“I will. I promise,” the dark-haired boy said, hugging her back.

She let him go and then with a nod she disappeared.

“Okay, let’s get this done,” Xander said, straightening his shoulders.

Harry turned to the sink and hissed, “Open.”

The sink ground open and then stopped.

“Stairs,” Harry hissed, hoping it worked. And it did, steps came from the walls and soon the group was walking down the creepy pipe. Xander and Remus had to lean down a bit, but the goblins and Harry fit just fine. Harry wondered if that meant that Slytherin was short, or that the pipe was added later. Harry stopped and turned, then he closed the opening and turned back around and lit the way with an overpowered Lumos.

They came to end, and Harry saw the bones and almost freaked out, but then gathered his Gryffindor courage, squared his shoulders and moved on. They came to the snake covered door and Harry once again opened it. The snakes slithered aside, and the door swung open. They walked in and those that hadn’t been there looked around. It was still a creepy place.

“Okay, Harry, do you know how to call the snake?” Xander asked, hefting his axe. They were in the middle of the room now.

“Yeah,” the boy said, looking around the room, his eyes stopping at the ugly head statue.

“Okay, hold off a minute and let us get ready,” his dad requested.

Everyone spread out, making sure they were near a pillar or statue, stones in hand and weapons at the ready. When they were all set, Xander nodded.

Taking a deep breath, Harry hissed out, “Speak to me, Slytherin, greatest of the Hogwarts Four.”

“What did you say?” Xander asked. It certainly sounded longer than just ‘open’.

“Speak to me, Slytherin, greatest of the Hogwarts Four.”

“Wow, portentous much?” Xander said with a chuckle.

“I know, but…” he started, then the ugly statue started moving. The mouth opened wide, causing everyone to scramble for cover. The air was so tense that the goblins shivered in anticipation.

“Who calls me?” the giant snake hissed, smelling many beings in the room. He could identify three of the goblins that had been hiding out when he talked to the boy last. They didn’t make any aggressive moves, and had cast a ward to keep him in, which protected the school, so he let them be.

I do,” Harry hissed back. “We want to talk to you,” he added hurriedly.

“Are you going to try to make me kill the students?” was the angry question.

“No, we’re trying to stop that, actually.”

Xander, Remus, and the goblins all stood at the ready. They had no idea what was being said, but they didn’t want to stop Harry in case it caused the snake to strike.

“Who are you then, little speaker?”

“I am Harry Potter. I only want to talk, I promise,” Harry replied, edging towards the snake, while remaining hidden behind a pillar.

“Come then, little speaker, let me gaze upon you. I will not hurt you. Speak your piece,” the snake offered, sliding closer to Harry’s hiding spot.

“He wants to meet me,” the frightened boy said to Xander.

“Not happening. Tell him you will speak to him from here,” the man said, lifting his axe, ready to strike.

“My guardian won’t let me,” the boy hissed.

“Smart guardian. Who is he?” was the amused answer as the basilisk coiled up into a more comfortable position.

“His name is Xander Harris,” was the confused reply.

“Truly,” the snake said, perking up.

“Um, yeah,” Harry answered, his brow puckering.

“Salazar will be so happy,” the serpent exclaimed, wiggling like a little puppy.

“Um, Dad, he knows you. He said that Salazar will be happy,” Harry said, causing just as much confusion as he felt.

“Ask him how he knows me,” the wolf-eyed man suggested.

“Um, how do you know my dad?” Harry asked, sneaking a peek at the very large snake, only for Xander to pull him back.

“He is Salazar’s brother,” the basilisk replied. “Many of nights did I listen to him tell tales of the Great Xander Harris. He will be so happy to meet the legend."

“Do you mean Salazar Slytherin is still alive?” came the incredulous question. He waved his dad silent as he listened to the answer.

“Why yes, he is resting within the statue.”

“Dad, he said Salazar is in the statue and that he’s alive,” Harry said, turning his awestruck face to an equally surprised man.

“Okay,” Xander drawled. “Will he let me go check?”

“Let me ask,” Harry said and did just that.

“Of course. He’s the only one who can wake Salazar,” the snake said smugly.

Harry relayed the answer, and just as Xander was about to go and see what it was all about, the Sorting Hat fell on his head.

“What the heck!” Xander said, swiping the hat off.

“Fawkes tells me you’re about to do something stupid. So, I thought I’d be your eyes, since Slinky can’t hurt me,” the hat said with a shrug.

“Slinky!” came the response from quite a few there.

“Salazar’s pet basilisk,” the hat said with a shrug. He did that a lot, but really without a face and body how else was he supposed to express himself.

“You knew what it was this whole time and didn’t tell anyone,” Harry accused.

“No one asked me,” came the answer with another shrug. “I don’t know why. After all, I was here when Sal hatched the thing. But, no, no one thinks to ask me anything.”

“Fine, whatever, you can be my eyes. Fawkes, are you coming with?” Xander said donning the hat and looking towards the bird.

The phoenix nodded and landed on Xander’s shoulder. The three made their way out in to the open. The snake just watched. Soon they were at the ugly statue and Xander pondered how he was going to get up to the mouth, which was the only opening. Fawkes solved his problem by grabbing his shirt and lifting him up. He was dropped at the opening and he gazed at the dark tunnel, wondering what he’d find at the end. He cast a wandless Lumos and crept forward. He could hear Harry talking to the snake in the background. When he got to the end of the mouth, in the back of a large round room he saw a glass coffin.

In the coffin laid a man. Tall, dark and not bad looking. His robes were green and silver and looked to be made of thick wool. He was laid out like Sleeping Beauty, hands folded across his chest, and a peaceful look on his face. Xander wasn’t going to kiss him to see if he’d wake though.

On the foot of the coffin was writing, in cuneiform, which Xander was sure only he could read. Well, in the Wizarding World anyway. The writing said, Tap here, dummy. There was a small target painted under it.

Xander shrugged and grabbed a knife from his pocketspace. He tapped the target and stood back. The coffin splintered and spiderweb cracks spread across it. Soon the whole thing just fell apart, leaving the man inside stirring as if waking from a long sleep.

“Dè tha dol?” the man said in a language Xander didn’t know. He sat up and shook the glass off his face and body.

“Who are you?” Xander said in English, which is the only spoken language he knew. Well, maybe a smattering of Spanish and French, but mostly cuss words.

The man looked at him and smile, “Xander?” he said in accented English.

“Yeah, who wants to know?” he asked, shuffling further away from the man and looking around the room with mild interest, keeping one eye on who he was sure was Salazar. There wasn’t much to it, just a smooth round room that was much warmer than the Chamber. A few runes here and there, but nothing else.

“I am Salazar Slytherin,” came the not so surprising answer. After all, Slinky had just told him that.

“How come you’re speaking English? I’m pretty sure that wasn’t spoken a thousand years ago,” the wolf-eyed man wondered. He knew enough to know that.

“Mum taught all of us. She said it would be a secret language. We only spoke it to each other. Made the students crazy trying to figure out what we were saying,” Salazar chuckled and got off the coffin. He walked to Xander, looking him up and down, trying to measure if he was a good as his mum always told him. Xander did cut quite a figure, with broad shoulders, longish brown hair and yellow glowing eyes.

“Okay, why are you here?”

“A funny man named Whistler told me that if I slept until now that I would meet you. I have wanted to meet you for so long, I took him up on it,” was the sheepish reply. It was all true.

He remembered the strangely dressed man and how he had almost gutted him the first time he saw him. Still, after much fast-talking on the demon’s part, he listened and then discussed the happenings with his friends. They told him that it would be a wonderful adventure and that he should do it. His wife was dead, and his children were grown. So, they made plans. Rowena had been a great help, forging papers in English that he would need.

He didn’t tell his mum though. She would have stopped him. The story they had come up with was that he left to explore the world. He would just disappear to the history books. Now here he was a thousand years in the future. He couldn’t wait to see what had changed.

“Whistler, huh? Man, I hate that demon. He screwed everything up in my world. Balance demon my ass,” Xander grumbled. There was no love lost between him and the balance demon. If he ever saw that slime again, he’d cut him in half with his axe. Powers-That-Be be damned. He couldn’t stand those asshats either.

“He said that there was a great evil right now and that I could help save a boy’s life,” Salazar said, turning towards the opening. He could hear someone talking to Slinky and wanted to make sure his snake was behaving. That snake did have a strange sense of humor.

“Well, I wouldn’t say no to help,” the wolf-eyed man said as he followed.

The two made their way out of the room, with the help of Fawkes, and the first thing Salazar did was hug the huge snake. “Slinky, have you been behaving yourself?”

“I was tricked into killing a student by a boy who said he was your descendant,” he replied sadly.

“Really, well we’ll just have to talk with him. Where is he now?” the out of period man asked, then realized that only he was still hissing so asked in English.

“We don’t know,” Xander said as he waved everyone to the open.

“I do believe that that book your carrying is his horcrux,” Remus said thoughtfully.

“Oh yeah, I had forgotten about that. Hey, Sally, can you get Slinky to bite it?” Xander said, pulling said book out of his pocketspace.

“Egad, please call me Sal. Only Mum can call me Sally,” the man said with a grimace, then turned to the greater subject. “A horcrux, you say. Let me see it a moment. Does anyone have a quill?” the man asked, taking the book and examining it.

“I have a pen, it’s similar,” the wolf-eyed man said, handing over said item.

“Thanks,” Sal said, and then wrote, This is Salazar Slytherin, I am told you are my descendant. Who might you be?

Slytherin is dead, the book wrote back.

I have been resurrected.

Truly?

I would not lie.

Will you help to bring me back as well?

If you tell me what has been going on since I ‘died’, I’ll think about it.

With that the book rambled on and on about the mudbloods and how they were destroying the Wizarding World. He told of how he had used Slinky to kill his first mudblood fifty years ago. He went on about the steps he had planned to purify the world in Salazar’s name. As it wrote, he expounded on the virtues of the purebloods. How filthy muggles and mudbloods were. Using the great war his creator had been through when he was made as an example.

Salazar read these ramblings for about ten minutes until the book started repeating itself. He only learned that the boy that was trapped in the book was named Tom Marvolo Riddle. Then he nodded to the snake and threw the book in its mouth. Slinky bit the book and then spit it out. A dark cloud burst from the book, screamed a dying scream then dissipated.

The Hat on Xander’s head said, “Can we leave now? This place is depressing.”

“Rick, you old dog, what are you doing here?” Salazar exclaimed, grabbing the hat and tossing it in the air.

“Damn, I was hoping you wouldn’t recognize me yet,” the Hat said as a body formed under it. A large man with long red hair stood there folding his arms and glaring at his best friend. Fawkes trilled happily and went to roost on his shoulder. He reached up to pet the bird as he explained. “A funny man named Whistler said you’d be coming back and that I needed to be here to help. I remembered you talking about him and figured, why not. I can tell you from what I’ve heard, our help will be needed. Albus, that’s the headmaster, is a good man, but very delusional about his own power. Your descendant is running around trying to kill everyone who isn’t a pureblood. He’s a wraith at the moment, but as you just learned, he’s not dead. And Harry here is supposed to fix it all,” the man said, waving at the awestruck boy. “There’s a prophecy,” Godric finished.

“That scrap of a lad?” Salazar said, looking at the young boy. While Harry had gained much of his weight back, he was still short and thin.

“Hey,” came the cry from both Harry and Xander.

“Besides,” Xander continued, “he’s not going to be doing much of anything if I can help it. I am a destroyer if prophecies. That’s why Joyce brought me here after all.”

“Mum is still here?” Sally said in great surprise.

“Funny thing that,” Godric stated. “She made a wish one day to always be part of the school and some ugly woman popped in and said ‘Granted’. She’s now a living embodiment of Hogwarts. That Whistler fellow had already put you to sleep, and me in the hat, Rowena and Helga had died, so she wasn’t too upset. However, it was a hard first hundred years.”

“Oh gods, I hope it wasn’t Anya,” Xander groaned. “Did the ugly woman have blonde or black hair?”

“It was blonde,” Godric confirmed.

“Damn it, Anya, what have you done now?” He just knew that his ex-girlfriend had done this to make sure he was never alone. Still, he didn’t know that the wish demons operated in this reality. He was going to have to make sure the kids never used that word.

“I have a question, how are you guys going to convince everyone you’re alive?” Harry asked, looking at the two men who had been dead for a thousand years.

“We’re not. I have an identity ready for me. I’m going to be a descendant of myself,” Salazar answered smugly. “Ricky here isn’t alive, per se. He is more like just existing.”

“That’s right. I left everything to the school, which is now Xander’s. I don’t need food or clothes. I can just go back into the hat. Think of it as a genie bottle,” the red-haired man explained.

“Oh, I guess I can see that.”

“Seriously, can we go now? There is no battle to be fought, and it is getting late. Now that the danger is over, we would like to go home,” a goblin grumbled. Goblins were not much for human emotions and it made them uncomfortable to be around emotional scenes. That and they wanted to tell the Nation about Salazar and Godric being alive. Not that they had vaults, but it was history in the making. Songs would be sung about this day. The foolishness of humans and how they marred history. Slytherin was nothing like he was portrayed.

Remus was in too much shock to do much of anything. People returning from the dead was not normal, not even in the Wizarding World.

“Mum is going to be so happy to see you, Sal,” Rick said, then cringed. “She’s going to yell at me for hiding for so long,” he whinged.

“You mean to tell me that all this time you never told her you were here? Someone’s in trouble,” Salazar sing-songed with a huge grin. He then turned to his quiet snake. “We have to go. You stay here and I’ll come to see you later. I’ve been asleep for a thousand years; I don’t think I’ll be sleeping tonight. We’ll catch up then.”

“Yes, Salazar, I have much to tell you,” he hissed back, then turned and slithered back into the ugly statue.

“I have a question, who’s that supposed to be?” Xander asked, pointing to where the snake just went.

Salazar actually blushed. “I thought it was what you’d look like,” he mumbled, not looking at anyone, like a kid caught with the cookie jar.

“Um, thanks, I guess. Right, let’s get out of here,” the wolf-eyed man said, grabbing Salazar and Godric, and transporting them straight to the Hospital Wing. Fawkes flamed away.

Harry shrugged his shoulder and moved everyone else. Remus sat on a bed as soon as they got there, in complete shock. First the horcrux, then the basilisk, then two of the Founders show up, and now Harry doing powerful wandless magic. He didn’t know if he could take much more.

“Sally,” Joyce exclaimed as she threw herself at the dark-haired man. “What are you doing here?”

“Not just me, Mum, Rick is here too,” Salazar said as he hugged her tight.

“Ricky?” she asked confused, looking around the room as best she could while still hugging him.

“He’s the hat,” Xander said, grinning at the hidden man.

Joyce let go of her grown son and twirled around at the now exposed Godric. “All this time?” she asked completely bewildered. “Why? Why have you hidden from me? Please, explain to me why you didn’t tell me,” she inquired, her eyes filling with tears.

“Please, Mum, don’t cry. I had no choice. You don’t know how many times I wanted to hold you when things weren’t going right. However, that Whistler bloke made it so I could not come out until Salazar woke. It was part of the deal.” He hugged her tight.

Some of the goblins grumbled and with Xander’s permission they left, going home to spread the news. It would stay in the Goblin Nation, but the word would be spread by morning throughout said nation. After all, Gringotts never closes.

“I really hate that demon,” Xander stated under his breath. He really hoped that damn man never showed up again.

Just then Blaise stirred. Poppy, who had been monitoring him, ran her wand over the now awake boy and claimed him to be influence free.

“Merlin, what happened?” the boy said as he struggled to sit.

“You were possessed,” the matron said softly. “Whoever it was, is gone now. Can you tell us how you came across the diary?”

“It was on my bed one morning. At first, I didn’t use it, but Mum is getting married again, and I wanted to get my thoughts straight. I almost threw it away when it wrote back, but Tom seemed willing to help me clear my head. After writing in it for a month, I didn’t think I could live without his help,” the boy confessed with a slight darkening of his cheeks. “I know better than to use something like that, but Tom was really sympathetic. He helped me so much that I just went with it.”

“Well, it’s destroyed now. I’m going to get a mind healer here to help you with the aftermath. Perhaps, they might help you deal with your issues about your mom,” Xander said, thinking about getting a full-time counselor here for such things, so no more kids would pick up ‘helpful’ cursed objects. “Remus, do you think you could do a class on such things? Express why it is a bad idea to trust something like that diary.”

“Yeah, not everyone will listen, but I’m sure it’ll help some,” the werewolf said, with a nod of his head.

“Good,” the wolf-eyed man said, then yawned. “It’s late, I need to get Harry to bed. Where are you going to sleep, Salazar? You’re welcome to a room in my house. It’ll help you get caught up with the current with the times.”

“I’ll take you up on that, good man. I need somewhere to go when I’m not about the school. My rooms are probably gone now. Cassy changes too much for them to be there.”

“You call the castle Cassy?” Harry asked, he too yawning. He was just glad everything worked out well. No fighting was a good thing. That and now he had three ‘people’ to talk to in parseltongue. Norberta, Slinky, and Salazar.

“Yeah, I know it’s not alive, but it seems like it. Rooms moving and stairs changing direction. Now that Mum is part of the castle, I’m sure it’s worse,” the man said with a cheeky smile.

“Hey, why do you change the stairs. Isn’t that dangerous?” Xander asked, looking at Joyce. It was something he always wondered.

“No, it’s not dangerous. A ward on the stairs keeps people from falling. And if you haven’t noticed there’s not much to do around here. So, I just keep the kids on their toes. Make them work a bit harder to get to class and such,” she answered, with a nonchalant shrug. “Sally, you and Ricky stay here. I want to talk to you. I’ll show you where to go when we’re done.”

“Yes, Mum,” the man said, hoping they were in too much trouble. He may be an adult, but nothing made him feel worse than disappointing his mum.

Just then Dumbledore came into the wing.

Chapter Text

Godric hid in his hat as soon as the door opened.

“I see we have a guest,” Dumbledore said, taking in all the people crowding the room. His hands may be tied on many things, but strangers in the school was part of his duties. “May I inquire who this gentleman might be?” the old man asked.

“I am Sal Slytherin. I am a descendant of the great Salazar Slytherin. I came here when I heard the school was being terrorized by a giant snake,” Sal made up on the fly.

“The last man who claimed such, tried to take over Wizarding Britain. How do we know you will not do the same?” Albus asked, very leery of anyone who sported that surname. He was also confused, last he heard Voldemort was the last descendant of Slytherin. Where did this man come from?

“Because I just said, I’m here to help?” the man replied, looking at the colorfully dress man as if he was an idiot.

“We only have your word on that,” was the response.

“No, you have my word that the danger is over, and it is all because of this man,” Xander said forcefully.

“The monster is slain?” Dumbledore inquired, hoping that Harry had somehow been involved. The boy was sitting right there after all.

“It has been neutralized,” Xander stated.

“You must tell me how,” the old man said, casting one more glance at the tired boy.

“Who are you, anyway?” Sal inquired, still trying to get over the colorful robes.

“I am Albus Dumbledore, the Headmaster of this school. I really need to know what transpired this evening. Why are these students here? Why was I not informed?” Albus asked, getting infuriated that he was being kept in the dark. Harris was getting too much control if he could make Poppy not do her duty.

“We’ll talk about it in the morning. The boys are tired, and it can wait. The school is safe, and no one is hurt. Blaise, Harry, go to bed. Don’t talk about what happened. Blaise, not a word on what you’ve heard here tonight,” Joyce said, gently nudging the two boys out of the room.

Blaise, who had been staring at the man he was sure was Salazar Slytherin in great awe, let himself be shuffled out of the room. He nodded to Joyce and had a huge smile on his face.

Harry, on the other hand, wanted to try something. “Dad, can I try waking Colin?”

“Do you think you can?” his dad asked, wondering what Harry was going to do now.

“I want to try. I know I’m not all powerful and such, but I read something that might work,” the dark-haired boy hedged, cutting a sly glance at Dumbledore.

“Go to bed, you can try in the morning. Or tell Poppy how,” Xander said in relief. Colin could wait another night.

“Okay, Dad. Good night everyone,” Harry said and shuffled out of the room.

“I wanted to speak to him,” Albus stated as he watched the boy leave.

“I was there, anything you need to know I can tell you,” Xander countered. There was no way he was going to let this man talk to Harry. Even though Albus had been behaving, there was still a good chance he still thought Harry was the only one to kill Voldemort. This made him wonder if Dumbledore knew about the horcrux, and what else he might know.

“How did you get to the Chamber? To my knowledge it can only be open by a parselmouth,” the old man asked, looking at the newcomer warily. He still didn’t trust he man.

“I opened it,” said Sal proudly. “I am a Slytherin. Of course, I’m a parselmouth.” He preened, proud of the fact.

“I have kept the opening a secret. I sent every parent a letter stating that the beast had been sighted and that they could take the children home until the danger passed. Nothing about the Chamber. How did you even know to be here?” the Headmaster questioned, even more leery. Parselmouths are not someone you trust readily.

“You are in a school, with hundreds of children. There are no secrets,” was the reply. “The word on the street is that someone opened the Chamber of Secrets and that no one could find it,” Sal said, making it up on the go.

That made the old man sigh. This stranger was correct, there were no secrets in Hogwarts. At least as far as he knew.

“I let him in. He’s been mailing me for a month now,” Xander added. “When he said he could open the Chamber, I asked him to come.”

“Why was I not informed?” asked the indignant man.

“I’m the Head of Security, I took care of it,” the wolf-eyed man answered with a shrug. “It’s my school. I can invite anyone I want. That and the man is a descendant of one of the Founders. Who am I to say no?” He shrugged as if it wasn’t a big deal.

“They are correct, Headmaster. Any of the children of the Founders are welcome here,” the Hat stated.

“Very well. You say the threat is over, I will write the parents and call back the students,” came the defeated reply.

“Sal here is going to stay at the castle. He is part owner, and as long as he doesn’t interfere with the school, he can stay,” Joyce stated, glaring at Albus as if to say, ‘argue with me’.

The old man sighed once more. What she said was true, it was in the charter. The Founders and their family could view the castle as their home. He was just glad that Headmaster Dippet didn’t know that. Still, “I need proof he is of the Slytherin line.”

“I have my papers right here,” Sal said, searching his robes for the papers he needed. After finding them he handed them over, glad that Rowena had done such a masterful job at forging them. Her being a seer helped keep the family tree in line. He should have listened to her when she told him that his story would be mistold. Still, he had wanted to meet Xander, so had took the chance.

Dumbledore sighed again, going over the documents and seeing they were legit. He was indeed a Slytherin, from the main line. “Very well. Do not interfere with the school and you may stay.”

“Like you had a choice,” mumbled Xander. Only Godric heard him, which caused the hat to chuckle.

“Please tell me what happened in the Chamber. Who was letting the basilisk loose and how did you slay it?” Dumbledore asked, trying to be patient.

Xander wove a tale that included him, Sal, the goblins and Remus. Sticking as close to the truth as he could, he stated that Harry only followed without permission, and when he did, he didn’t like the look in Albus’ eyes. It was like Harry had passed a hidden test. A few questions and much debate and finally the headmaster left. Xander and his group split up. Xander went to bed, as did Remus.

After everyone left the hospital wing, Joyce turned to her sons. “Which one of you wants to tell me why you’re here?” she demanded.

“Aren’t you happy to see us?” Godric asked, mock pouting.

“Of course, I am, but you could have told me,” the embodiment of Hogwarts sighed, giving both men a hug.

“That bloke Whistler warned us not to. He said something about creating chaos if we did. Like if you knew I was coming back, you might have tried to wake me early, and that would have killed me since only Xander could,” Sal explained his side.

“He told me that if you knew I was in the Hat, that you would have relied on me more than you should have and that you would not have brought Xander here, and all would have been lost in the end,” Godric stated, seeing where the man was coming from.

“I suppose I can understand that, but still…”

“Don’t worry, Mum, we’re here now and we’ll be a family again,” Sal said smoothly, putting his arm on her shoulder and giving her a loving squeeze.

“Yes, and now you have a big brother and a little brother,” she smirked.

“Aw, that means I’m not the oldest anymore,” Sal pouted.

“Well, technically you are, but I’ve known Xander longer, so…” she shrugged, and gave him a winning smile.

“That also means I’m not the youngest,” Godric cheered.

“That also means that you’re going to have to keep a close eye on your baby brother,” Joyce warned.

The three talked for a few hours, then Sal not tired after his long rest, went and talked to Slinky. It was talking to his family and pet that he learned much about his descendants, and how they had turned a once noble family to a bunch of evil pansies. Never in his day would he have done the things he was told his was famous for.

He had much to do to get his reputation back on track. Still, his mum and Godric knew much about his family that he could spin a good tale on who they were and what they did. He also had with him a diary that he had ‘slept’ with. It could be ‘found’ in the Chamber of Secrets, along with his office/lab. This would help out greatly.

The next morning Harry returned to the Hospital Wing with Xander and Joyce. Poppy was there to witness what Harry was trying to do.

“Okay, Harry, how are you going to do this?” Xander asked, getting comfortable on one of the beds.

“I think I can put enough magic in him to jolt him awake. A bit like an electrical shock. You know, like when they shock patients to get their heart started,” Harry said, looking at his stalker, and wondering why he was trying to wake him. Sure, it would be a great experiment, but the boy might follow him more.

“Well, if it does not work, Nicolas has the potion ready. He brought it this morning. Either way, that boy will be up and around in a few moments,” Poppy stated, her wand at the ready in case anything went wrong. “Be very careful you don’t apply too much magic; it could shock his system.”

“Yes, Madam Pomfrey,” Harry agreed, and then took a deep breath. “Okay, let’s do this,” he mumbled and laid his hands on Colin’s chest. He blasted the boy with a small amount of magic, causing him to arch on the bed. That didn’t seem to get the job done, so he tried again with a larger dose. A few seconds later there was a groan the Colin opened his eyes. Harry quickly moved to Xander and waved Madam Pomfrey over.

“Merlin, what happened?” the first-year asked, looking around the room. “The last thing I remember is taking a picture. Hey, where’s my camera?”

“Your camera was destroyed when you decided to take a picture of a basilisk,” Pomfrey stated, waving her wand over the child. “Foolish though it was, it did save your life,” she added.

“Aw man, really? Now I have to ask Mum to buy a new one,” Colin whined.

“You’re going to have to wait until next year. I talked to your mom when you were hurt. She’s very upset with you. I think you’re grounded the whole summer,” Xander said jovially. Mrs. Creevey had been so angry that her child had put himself in danger that Xander had to give her two shots of whiskey to calm her down.

That bit of news caused the boy to groan again.

“Come on, Harry. Poppy has this,” Xander said, clapping his son on the back and leading him out of the room. “Why did you decide to do that?”

“I just thought that I could. I mean, what if something like this happened to my friends? I wanted to make sure that I could save them,” the dark-haired boy explained the best he could.

“Yeah, I get that,” the wolf-eyed man commiserated. He too did things like that to make sure he was helpful to the Scoobies.

By the afternoon, word had spread. The Chamber had been opened and the monster slain. Word got out that is was Harry who had done the deed, and soon enough the poor boy was bombarded with questions. He quickly went to Xander. They needed a cover story that was close to the truth. Xander told him what he had told Dumbledore. They conferred with Sal and Godric, Joyce chiming in now and then. Soon they had a believable tale.

So, once again Harry and Xander were in front of the school, right after dinner.

“Okay, once again you guys have started rumors about Harry. Now, I know it is human nature to talk about others, but none of you are correct. Harry did nothing more than follow us down. He is being punished for that, but the real hero is Sal. Sal come over here and tell your tale,” Xander said, looking at the man seated with the teachers.

The dark-haired stranger got up. He cut a fine figure in his emerald robes. He calmly went around the table and stood at Xander’s side. His face was open and honest, like no words of lies never passed his lips.

“I am Sal Slytherin,” he stated is a smooth cultured voice, which had an accent no one could place. “I am the last descendant of Salazar.” That statement cause whispers to break out. Especially at the Slytherin table. “I heard there was trouble at the school and came to help. We, Xander, Remus, and the goblins, and I, went to the Chamber of Secrets to confront the beast. Harry followed after. I don’t know what he thought he could do, but he’s a Gryffindor, so there you are. I was just ready to kill the basilisk when it pleaded mercy. The snake told a good tale, but in the end, it was neutralized. You no longer have to worry about Slytherin’s Monster,” he said, taking a bow when the Hall exploded with applause.

“Sal here gave up everything to come and help you. He will be staying here for now. If you have any questions about Slytherin and his family, come speak with him. Since he was not close to his family, he only has a vague description of the original Salazar, so he will be getting help from the Sorting Hat. Okay, now that you’ve heard what happened, time to eat.” With that he snapped his fingers and the food appeared.

“Wait, can we ask questions?” piped a seventh-year Slytherin.

“Sal?” Xander asked, turning to the man who would give the answers.

“Sure, why not,” Sal said with a shrug.

Hands flew in the air, and Sal pointed to the first student.

“Are you really a descendant of Slytherin?” came the skeptical question from the same seventh-year.

“Born and raised.”

“Will you tell us what he was like?” the same boy asked.

“I plan on exploring the Chamber. If I find anything, I will be sure to share.” That answer caused another outburst of whispers. Sal pointed to a third-year Hufflepuff.

“What did you kill the snake with?” she asked, not really sure if she liked the thought of even a deadly monster being killed.

“I charmed him to sleep. He won’t wake again,” the man said with a smirk. Half-truths were wonderful.

“You’re a snake charmer?” came the inquiry from Ravenclaw.

“Yes, all my family are. It is part of our makeup.”

Again, the room exploded with the sound of soft voices exchanging thoughts and comments.

“Last question,” Xander said, making everyone quiet down.

Sal pointed to a Gryffindor.

“What are you going to do here?” a sixth-year girl asked.

“Right now, I am going to get a feel of the school. If there is anything I can do to help, I will let the Headmaster know and we’ll work something out,” was the surprising answer.

“Right, that’s enough. The food is getting cold. You guys eat up and start your day,” Xander said in a voice that all had learned not to argue with.

Harry quickly went to the Gryffindor table and sat with Hermione and Neville. The students only asked a few clarifying questions and soon the chatter was about the mysterious man.

The next day students started to return, and weekend classes were scheduled for those who had gone home. They needed to turn in their worksheets and show they knew the spells/potions that were assigned.

Sal went to Gringotts to open an account. With Xander being the king, it was easy to establish himself and his family line. He used the gold he had stashed in the Chamber, under the coffin, and was soon set up as one of the elites. He was very upset that his home was now used as a prison and vowed to make it right. Either the government would be paying him for the home, or they would be giving it back. That would be in the future though. To start it off he hired Dora’s mother, Andromeda Tonks (nee Black), to start the process.

Xander introduced him to everyone in the know. Hermione and Neville were overjoyed to meet the Founder, but they were more excited to meet his brother Godric. They were sworn to secrecy on both. Luna was a bit upset that Rowena was not coming back, but soon joined Hermione in bombarding the two with questions about the old days.

Minerva was over the moon to meet the Founders, and she too asked many questions on how the school was set up and what they thought of it now. Godric expressed his disappointment over the lost classes and the fact that the Board was in so much control. Sal said he’d have to see more to give his opinion.

Xander took Sal around and introduced him to the modern improvements. To say Sal suffered from culture shock was an understatement.

“You mean to tell me that with this device I can talk to anyone who has a similar device?” the out of place man asked, holding up a telephone receiver. “Anywhere in the world? No fireplace needed?”

“Yeah, they aren’t really popular yet with the magical crowd, but most muggle homes have at least one,” Xander confirmed, taking the receiver and placing it back on the base.

“And this box,” Sal said, moving over to the TV, “shows plays, and some of the actors are female?” he said in awe, as he watched a drama playing out.

“Yeah, I forgot you come from a time when they were all male,” Xander chuckled, as he watched Sal take in the curves if the leading actress.

“Wow, things have certainly changed since I was around. If she had dressed like that in my day, she would have been burned as a scarlet woman.”

“I don’t think that will go over well with today’s society,” Joyce commented from her place on the couch. She was amused at her son’s astonishment. “I told you about most of these things way back then, but it seemed that you had not believed me,” she added with a smirk.

“No, I suppose I did not. Sorry, Mum. It is just so unbelievable. So, who’s going to teach me about all this?” the man asked, waving his hand at the room in general.

“Harry! Hermione!” Xander yelled up the stairs.

The sound of little feet came as the two ran down.

“What’s up?” Harry asked as he pulled even with his dad.

“You guys are going to teach Sal here all about what’s in the house. Answer his questions as best you can and if he asks something you can’t answer, just tell him. He can find either me or Joyce,” Xander instructed.

“Oh, this will be so much fun,” Hermione said, excitedly, bouncing up and down at the prospect of helping a Founder. With that the two took the bewildered man’s hands and started their lecture. Well, Hermione lectured, but Harry chimed in now and then. Sal Slytherin got a crash course on muggle technology, and after that Joyce gave him a brief history lesson. All and all the man had a busy week.

Later that week, Amelia came to get firsthand knowledge on what had happened. Dora and Kingsley had come to tell her the danger was over, but since they were not part of the operation, they didn’t know what had happened. So, here she was to get the story. She made her way to Xander’s quarters and knocked on the door. The Armor, Jarvis, told her someone would be there in a moment.

Xander opened the door, wearing some jeans and a black t-shirt. He smiled at her and said, “Amelia, I’ve been expecting you.” He held the door open in the Sunnydale greeting, and after a moment’s pause, she entered.

“My Aurors told me that the danger was over. I wanted to hear from you what had happened.” She made her way to the living room and spotted a well-dressed man who seem to be fascinated with a box that had moving pictures on it. She, herself, was amazed by the phenomenon. She had never seen such a thing. She walked woodenly to the couch and sat next to the stranger. “Is this a play?” she asked after a moment.

“Shhh, Verna is about to break up with Cliff,” the man hissed at her, his eyes never leaving the screen. If anything, he leaned closer.

Xander chuckled and switched the TV off.

Sal groaned dramatically and let his head fall back on the sofa, with eyes closed and a hand over his forehead. “Xander…,” he whinged.

“It’s recorded, you can find out what happens later,” Xander said with little sympathy. He sat in a chair across from them and called Dobby for refreshments. “Amelia, you wanted to talk to us.”

“May I ask who this is?” she inquired instead. She didn’t want to get into a discussion without knowing who she was talking around. They might not have the right to be there.

“Oh, sorry, I’m Sal Slytherin. I helped calm the monster,” he said with a chuckle.

“Ah, yes, Dora told me Xander had help. I am Amelia Bones, Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement of Great Britain. Can you tell me what transpired that night?” she asked, giving the man her full attention.

They gave her the story that they had given Albus. It was not that Xander didn’t trust her, just that he knew somethings needed to be told differently to those in charge. He didn’t want a conflict of interest on her part. From what Dora had told him, they had to make magical vows upon becoming an Auror, so he wasn’t going to put Amelia in a position that would go against anything that would cause her to lose her magic.

“And your plans now?” she asked Sal.

“First off, I’m going to explore the Chamber, then I’m going to see what changes have been done to the castle. As you can tell from my accent, I am not from around here. I think the community I come from is further behind the times then Xander says you are. I want to get caught up,” he explained, taking a sip of coffee.

“I see,” Amelia stated, putting her teacup down and looking to Xander. “We’re behind the times?” she asked, lifting an eyebrow.

“Oh, big time. You just got a taste of what muggles can do,” he said, waving to the TV.

“That is a muggle invention?” she asked, awestricken.

“Yeah, it’s been around for a few decades,” he said with a smirk.

“Truly?” was the impressed reply.

“Yup, and non-magicals are much further along than that. Surely, you have some muggleborn in your department,” he suggested, really wanting to know that tidbit.

“Of course, but work is not the place to discuss such things,” she answered in a no-nonsense voice. She never fraternized with her Aurors. It just wasn’t proper. Though, she had asked a few about the telephone and if it would be advisable. She was still working on a pitch to sell it to the Wizengamot.

“Right, okay, well, I’ll leave it up to you to get caught up. Anyway, was there anything thing else you needed? I, too, have a job to do,” Xander said, putting his cup down and getting up to show her out.

“No, but if I have further questions, I will return,” she replied also getting up and going towards the door.

“Not a problem, we’ll be here.”

With that, the Head of the DMLE left and Sal looked to Xander. “Please turn it back on. I want to see Cliff’s reaction,” he pleaded, with folded hands and all. His eyes going large and hints of tears started to form.

“Gods, you’re worse than Spike,” Xander mumbled and switched the TV back on. He then left Sal to the wonderous world of soap operas. Meh, maybe it’ll help him adjust.

Sal chuckled to himself, “Works every time.” He then got engrossed with the TV and spent a good two hours watching the drama unfold.

Chapter Text

Towards the end of the month the diary of Salazar Slytherin was ‘found’. Sal had to rewrite it all into modern English, but it was worth it. He made sure to keep the original to validate the copy. It took most of March to do so, but he felt it was well worth the time. He was glad that his tale of how he met his wife, Luanne, was there. She had been a New Blood, only one wizard in her family tree, many times removed. They were instant friends upon her hiring as the Runes professor. It had been a whirlwind romance that had ended with three children, and many years of happy marriage. She had died from the pox.

The diary hit the bookshelves and took the Wizarding World by storm. Most believed it to be fantasy, even with the note that stated it was from the original. Still, the women ate up the romance and fantasied about the debonair Salazar and the feisty Luanne. Many sighed at their less than dapper husbands and dreamed of riding off on broomsticks into the sunset.

Funny how things worked, the public thought the Boy-Who-Lived stories were true, but this was not. Harry didn’t like the irony either.

After the book was published, Sal didn’t know what to do with himself. Until he heard of the repression of werewolves. He then brushed up on DADA so that if anything happened to Remus, he’d take over. His time was well spent, as he let himself out as a tutor for the OWL and NEWT students.

Nicholas was over the moon to meet Sal. They spent night upon night as Nicholas caught the man up on what had changed in potions and alchemy, and Sal showed Flamel some old recipes. Added to that they set up a goal to cure lycanthropy. To say that they got along was putting it mildly.

Albus on the other hand did not trust the man. He felt that anyone with the last name Slytherin was not to be trusted. He too thought the book to be tripe. He thought the man was just trying to put his family name in a better light. He used his influence to make others see his way. He was determined that another Voldemort would not happen on his watch. He put a bug in a few people’s ear, and soon rumor was spreading that the man could not be trusted.

Still, the man was in his castle and Albus hated it. However, his hands were tied. He attempted to trick the man into leaving but with his popularity, Sal wasn’t biting.

When Sal found out about this, he laughed and said that his actions would speak louder than words. Still, he made sure to keep his nose clean and help as much as he could. His tutoring helped in that regard. His was an accomplished professor and was easy to get along with.

Dumbledore had cornered Harry once to ask about the Chamber, but he was disappointed when the boy told him that he had remained hidden until it was all over. The truth, to a degree. When Xander found out he went to the Headmaster and told him off.

One day, much to everyone ‘in the know’s’ amusement, Harry, Slinky, Sal and Norberta were talking by the Forest. Slinky had snuck out the back way and was hidden behind Norberta’s enclosure. They chatted for hours in parseltongue and were seen laughing at jokes only they could understand.

It was shortly after that that Norberta was seen flying over the Forbidden Forest toasting the remaining Acromantulas. Hagrid was distraught, but Xander and Sal stood firm. The spiders were deadly and had no love for humans. They needed to go. Xander offered to find a place for Aragog, but the old spider had fled. They could only hope that he had left the forest. The arachnid was old, and probably would not breed another colony.

With this new duty, Norberta was happy to take up the job of forest security. With Slinky’s help she now understood that if she protected the castle she would be fed and sheltered. The two could often be heard speaking to one another through the fence. Slinky, being the smarter of the two, made sure that no one was about, except Sal or Harry.

One day mid-April, Dobby came to Xander, while he and Sal were watching TV.

“Master Wolfy Kingy God, sir,” the little guy started only to quickly change it to, “Master Xander, I is being telling yous that I is thinking that bad master is being the one who sent the book to Hogwarts,” the small being said, wringing his spindly hands.

“Oh, do you know this for sure?” Xander asked, shutting off the TV so he could pay attention to the little guy. Much to Sal’s protest.

Dobby nodded his head firmly and quickly. “I is being seeing it in old master’s house. He was being making plans. It is being the reason that Dobby came to save the Great Harry Potter,” he said shyly.

“Oh really,” Xander drawled, quickly thinking over scenarios to make sure Lucius knew he knew. He didn’t want to do the ice knife again.

“Hey, I have a question,” Sal said, looking between Xander and Dobby. “How did that diary even get into the castle? I mean, there should be wards to warn you about stuff like that,” he added thoughtfully.

“Good question. Joyce!” Xander called to the air.

“Yes,” she said as she appeared.

“How did the diary get in the castle? We put intent wards up,” the wolf-eyed man asked.

“They were mild, remember. We didn’t want angsty teens setting them off. Only those who thought of harming someone immediately would trip them. When the diary was about in the castle all it did was make Blaise resent his mom. At least that’s my theory. I think the only time it had overly evil thoughts was when it was in the Chamber, which I can’t feel. Sal, we need to change that,” she added as an afterthought.

“I guess that makes sense,” Xander said thoughtfully. “At least as much sense as anything to do with magic. Hey, Sal, you’re a Rune’s master, can you put up an evil object ward. That way we can nip stuff like this in the bud,” he asked his new brother.

“Sure, easily done,” Sal answered, inching his hand towards the remote.

Xander smacked the hand, put the remote on the other side of the couch and turned to the elf. “Dobby, do you know if Draco is the one who brought the diary in the school?” he asked, getting back to the main topic.

“Dobby is not being knowing,” the little guy answered, his head hung in shame.

“Don’t worry about it. It’s not that important. I’ll just have to keep an eye on that one,” the wolf-eyed man said, waving it away. “Thanks for the info, dude. You can go back to what you do when you’re not here,” he added, giving Dobby a thankful smile.

“Dobby will,” Dobby said and disappeared.

“What do they do, when they aren’t serving their family?” Xander wanted to know.

“Clean,” Sal said.

“Clean what?” was the confused question.

“Everything. They like cleaning,” was a reply.

“Wow, really? Damn, I would’ve thought they would want to do something fun,” the carpenter stated thoughtfully.

“That is their fun,” Joyce said with a giggle.

“Huh,” was the only reply.

“So, what are you going to do about this Lucius person?” Sal asked.

“I think, I’m going to take on him and the Board at the same time,” Xander answered with a wicked smile.

“Lovely,” Joyce praised, while Sal laughed.

Later that week, there was a Board meeting. Albus was ordered to attend, and Xander decided to go along. He borrowed Harry’s Cloak and snuck in behind the headmaster. The minutes were boring and the people pompous, and soon Xander was nodding off in a chair by the door.

“Now, to new business,” Lucius stated importantly. “Headmaster Dumbledore, tell us what is going on in the school. Why were we not told about the state of emergency? It is our job to issue such, therefore you overstepped your bounds,” the blond accused.

“I do not believe I was outside my remit. To my understanding the charter for the Board is to help allocate funds for the school. Nowhere in this does it state that you have any control over emergencies,” Albus said, stroking his beard in thought.

“There was a chance of lost revenue,” came the puffed-up reply. “Therefore, it was in our remit,” Lucius stated, shuffling papers as if to seem useful. “If the parents of the mud… muggleborn had pulled their children, the school might have closed, and we could have lost a great deal of money.”

“That’s the biggest pile of bullshit that I’ve ever heard,” came a voice from near the door. “You guys seem to think you’re essential to the running of my school,” Xander said as he pulled off the cloak. “Now see, I think, you guys are pretty much worthless. So, as owner of said school, I’m telling you to… how do you guys put it?... oh yeah, bugger off,” he stated to the stunned group of men.

“Wha…”

“You’re fired, dismissed, let go, sacked, not important enough to keep. I can keep going if you need more examples,” the grinning man said, kicking his feet out in front of him and leaning the chair back against the wall.

“Now see here, good sir, I don’t know who you are, but we are the Board of Governors, and we decide who stays and who goes,” a man in dark blue stated.

“Nah, you guys are just puffed-up popinjays. You really shouldn’t exist at all. I own the school, moron. I can do what I want, including, but not limited to, firing you. You can tell the Ministry, that Hogwarts is independent, and that we don’t need it’s money,” came the casual reply.

“How will you fund the school without Ministry money? I know the budget and what it takes to run Hogwarts. You won’t last a week without us,” Lucius sneered.

“Buzzzz, wrong. You see you were never given the true assets,” the wolf-eyed man laughed. “I know for a fact that we have more than enough money to run Hogwarts and possibly two other schools besides. However, I’m done talking to you, leave, and don’t worry about Hogwarts again. It’s no longer your problem,” Xander stated as he stood.

“Now se…” Lucius started only to stop due to the extreme pain his shoulder was in.

Xander stood with his hand raised, he had just blasted the blond with a piercing hex. “I warned you, asshole. I told you if I found out you did anything to harm my school, I would take vengeance. Now, I don’t have uncontroversial proof, but I do know you set the basilisk on the school. This is your final warning, leave my school alone. Next time, you die.” And with that he threw on the Invisibility Cloak and open the door, but he didn’t leave.

“Who does that man think he is?” demanded one of the governors as he looked to Dumbledore for answers.

“He is the owner of school,” Albus answered slightly reluctantly as if he didn’t want to give Xander that kind of power. “It is within his authority to do what he did. You would do well to heed his words. I have known him since Halloween last year, and I can tell you that he is not one to be trifled with.” He stroked his beard as if to contemplate how to turn this in his favor.

“I will speak to the Minister about this,” Lucius threatened as he attempted to heal his shoulder. “I won’t stand for some muggle to come and change our ways. I’ve heard about electricity being installed in the school and I won’t stand for it, I say. We must do something to stop this madness. What next? Muggles in the school?” he preached, looking at all his peers with demanding eyes.

‘That’s a great idea. I did tell Hermione’s parents that I would implement Parent Day,’ Xander thought as he listened to the idiots try and overturn his dismissal of them.

Soon enough, the windbags died down and left. Xander followed behind Albus. He wanted to see what the man would do. However, Dumbledore only went to his office and retired for the night. So, Xander took himself to the ‘house’.

Joyce was there with the kids and she was regaling them with some of the stories from Sunnydale. To say they were impressed was putting it mildly. Most of them were just glad that they didn’t live there, well, not Luna, she was fascinated, and taking notes.

Joyce looked up when Xander entered the room. “How did it go?” she asked, getting up off the couch and leading him to the kitchen, away from prying ears and eyes.

“Great, the Board is gone,” the wolf-eyed man stated, sitting at the table, and accepting a mug of hot chocolate.

“Good. I never liked the hold they have over the school.”

“Hey, Joyce, I have an idea. I know you’re going to check me for curses for suggesting this, but can you bring Spike here. I hate the guy, but even I can’t fault his ability to make people’s lives miserable. I want to sic him on Lucius,” he asked, rubbing his neck. He had no idea where this was coming from, but deep down inside he felt that maybe, just maybe, the guy deserved someplace better than his reality.

“You’re right, I want to check you for spells. Spike, really?”

“It’s just a thought. I mean, he is the Big Bad,” Xander said, shrugging his shoulders.

“Let me think about it. Bringing Spike here could have major repercussions. Like introducing kangaroos to America. It could upset the entire Vampire community,” she said, thinking hard on it. “I, unlike you, like Spike, but he is a different breed of vampire.”

“Yeah, I didn’t think of it like that. Maybe if you give him magic too, that might start a whole new type of vampire. Like Angel or soul having Spike. I do get what you’re saying though. It’s just a thought.”

“A good one. Let me think on it. I’ll let you know in a few days.” With that they two sat sipping their hot chocolate.

“Xander, come and tell us about the time the teacher almost ate you,” Harry called from the living room.

“Which time?” Xander laughed and joined the kids, telling them about Ms. French, leaving out the sexy bits. Soon enough it was time for bed, and they all said good night and went to sleep.

The next day Hogwarts received a visitor. The Minister of Magic decided it was time to put that uppity Harris in his place. He slammed into the Great Hall, followed by Amelia and some woman in a pink getup. “Harris, I should have you arrested!” he bellowed as he walked down the middle of the room.

“Great Zeus, what the hell are you wearing?” the unperturbed man asked, looking at the great amounts of lime green the other man adorned. Though, he had to admit it matched nice with the pink thing following him. Who knew all his time with girls would make that statement come easy?

“What?!” the impotent man stuttered, then he cleared his throat and decided to ignore the slight. “Never mind all that, who do you think you are, dismissing the Board of Governors? I don’t know what power you think you have, but you will reinstate them, or I will be cutting off all funds to this school,” he threatened, pointing a finger at the completely relaxed Xander.

“Okay, we don’t need your funds anyway,” Xander shrugged and went back to his discussion with Sal.

“Hem, hem,” came an irritating noise, which was ignored.

Fudge stood there in shock. He was so shocked his hat fell from his hands.

Amelia was sitting with her niece, Susan, and chatting away, while her boss made a fool of himself.

The rest of the staff took Xander’s cue and resumed their meals. All but Dumbledore, who was also staring at the wolf-eyed man in shock. “Surely, you cannot be serious,” he said quietly. “We need those funds,” he added, worry laced his voice.

“No, we really don’t,” Xander said clearly. He waved his hands to the door of the antechamber and a goblin came out. “This is Steelblade, he is in charge of the school’s accounts. Steelblade, tell these two we’re cool,” he requested as he waved the goblin over.

“I have gone over the accounts and can tell you quite concisely, that this school will never run out of resources. Even with all the upgrades and improvements, the books are so far in the black it would take rebuilding the school three times over to run out,” the goblin stated precisely.

“Then why did we never see these funds?” Albus asked, perturbed.

“I can answer that,” Joyce said, standing to be heard. “I’ve done a lot of investigating these last few months, and I found out that Headmaster Black wanted to get into the good books of the Ministry, so he doctored the budget to make it appear that the school was floundering. I’m not sure if he wanted to embezzle the remaining money, but he wouldn’t have been able to if he tried. Still, this caused the goblins to seal up the accounts to the barest assets to run the school. When Black died, he took his secrets with him, not even his portrait could reveal them.”

“And the goblins did not explain this to us, why?” was Dumbledore’s question, a perturbed look on his face.

“The next headmaster never asked,” Steelblade answered, shuffling papers to get to the right date. “By that time the Ministry had its hooks firmly in the school.”

“Hem, hem,” came that annoying noise. The pink monstrosity looked to the goblin with great disgust. “And we are to take your word for this?” she asked sweetly, as if saccharin was produced in her mouth. Overly sweet and false.

“You,” Xander said, pointing directly at the woman, “I don’t like. Get off my property and don’t come back,” he demanded. Joyce smiled and waved her hand and the woman was gone. “Look, Fudge, I don’t know what you thought you’d accomplish here, but I don’t want or need your money. Now, if you don’t have anything important to say, I will bid you good day,” he added, and once again resumed his meal.

The man sputtered and postured, but when he looked around, he noted that no one was paying the least bit of attention to him. So, he picked his hat off the floor slammed it on his head and stomped out of the Great Hall. Children’s laughter followed.

Amelia sighed and got up from the Hufflepuff table. She waved at the Head Table and followed her boss.

It took two weeks to implement, but Xander got the notice out that the last week of school would be Parent Week. All parents were invited and could come and talk to the professors about their children’s schooling.

Chapter Text

HP-BTVS-HP-BTVS

“So…” Joyce started, late one evening a few weeks later, “I thought a lot about your request on Spike.” She sat next to him on the couch in the ‘house’. She turned slightly to make sure they were facing each other.

Xander groaned as he turned off the TV. He almost regretted asking for that little favor, but the more he thought about it, the more he liked the idea of having someone on the payroll to do all the dirty work. He had the goblins, but they were too tied up with treaties. Bringing in someone who had no ties to anything in this reality was a better idea. “And?” he questioned.

“I’ll bring him, but… there will be stipulations. One, he cannot stay in the castle during the day. As much as I like Spike, he would be to distractive. However, I do want you to try and get along with him. He can help Finch at night. That’ll free up the teachers.”

“That’s a good idea,” the wolf-eyed man said, thinking hard on that. Either the two would get along, or they’d kill one another.

“Two, I want you to remember he’ll be here all alone, like we were in the beginning, so we should at least give him somewhere to go now and then. That means you are to invite him into your house, and your rooms here,” she stated firmly, giving him that ‘or less’ look.

“Ah, Joyce, do I have too,” the grown man whined.

“Yes, you’re magical now, and can do an uninvite spell if you have to. I don’t think it will come to that though. Spike was a strange vampire before he got his soul. So, you should be fine,” she said with a small smile.

“Strange is right. Batshit crazy, like his sire,” Xander mumbled, then waved her to continue.

“No one was as crazy as Drusilla,” she countered, then ticked off the second finger. “Three, you cannot ask him to kill anyone. He earned his soul, so don’t ask him to lose it. Three, you will pay him for any task you give him,” she listed, with another ‘don’t mess with me’ look.

“Those are reasonable. I wouldn’t want him in the school during the day, anyway. Can you imagine the fan clubs that would pop up? I know the slayers had some. For both Angel and Spike. It was disgusting. Girls…” the wolf-eyed man shuddered.

“Excuse me?” Joyce said, raising an eyebrow.

“You’re a grown, intelligent woman and not likely to fawn over the over-charismatic asshole, but can you really see the girls not fawning over him. Sure, he’s an asshole, but he’s got a certain… je ne sais quoi,” Xander stated quickly, hoping to appease her enough she won’t do that mom eyebrow thing that made him feel five.

“Got that right,” she smirked. “Four, you will provide him with blood. That means you get the potion used by vampires here, or you donate,” she added.

“I’ll see if Nicolas can make some,” he agreed quickly. He wasn’t opening his veins for anyone. “How do vampires differ here? I mean, Spike can pass as human, can they?” he asked, deep in thought.

“No. The vampires of this reality have long fangs, are really pale and have gaunt faces. They cannot pass as human,” she replied.

“Can you kill them with a stake?”

“You can kill them anyway you can a regular human. They don’t have many metaphysical powers, not like those back home.”

“So, no Drusilla popping up?” was the hopeful question. “Her and her freaky mind control.”

“No, no Drusilla.” She smiled at him knowingly. “However, they can thrall the willing. There are those that like to donate blood for them. It’s easier to make them happy while doing so.”

“Whew,” he said, sagging into the couch in relief. The last thing they needed was that crazy vampire running around. “Still, it’s creepy that people volunteer to be meals on wheels, as Spike used to call them.” He did a full body shudder.

“According to the what I’ve read, and what I know of the suck-houses back home, it’s supposed to induce some sort of euphoria,” she said, making his shudder again at the thought.

“Are you going to make him magical?” Xander wanted to know, hoping not.

“No, he has enough of an advantage without giving him extra powers,” she answered, making Xander exhale in relief. “Though, I might give him some ability that will help as well. Like a sixth sense or something.” She tapped her chin thoughtfully.

That was something she would have to think on. The sixth sense is what drove Drusilla crazy and she didn’t need a crazy vampire that very few would be able to handle, running around. Still, magicals had a few things that would protect them. Maybe instead she’d give him the sun. He might like that better. Hmmm…

“So, when will this happen?” he promptly changed the subject.

“During the summer. That way none of the kids are here. And I can make sure that I don’t upset the other reality too much. I want to make sure that he is willing. Unlike you I can’t justify just snatching him up. I have to see if bringing him here will make things worse for Buffy, or anyone that relies on Spike. I know he was working with Angel, and I don’t want Wolfram and Hart coming after me,” she said with caution. That was one group she never wanted to even glance in this direction.

“How do you know this? I mean, all that went down after you… died,” he asked, leaning forward a bit as if to catch the answer quicker.

“Whistler,” was all she said.

“Damn Balance Demon,” he grumbled, sitting back and folding his arms.

“I wouldn’t put him down too much. He is the reason we’re all here. Albeit because the Powers-That-Be tell him to. Still…” she chided, wagging her finger playfully at him.

Just then Luna drifted in, half-asleep, and sat on Joyce’s lap. “There’s going to be a major battle, one that will change that reality. The LA part, anyway. You can snatch him right after he’s injured. I’m sure he would appreciate your intervention. He really doesn’t like spending time with the blue goddess,” she said dreamily as she snuggled into Joyce’s shoulder.

“Why not before he gets hurt?” Joyce ask, fretting over the fact that Spike would by injured.

“He needs to kill the demon. Only then can the battle be won,” the sleepy girl stated as she burrowed into her foster mother’s shoulder. “It’s a very important demon. It has to die, or all will be lost.” Her dreamy voice caused them to shiver with foreboding chills.

The two adults shared a look of concern. They didn’t know what she was talking about, but they felt that she was telling the truth.

“Luna,” Xander said cautiously, “how do you know all this?” He reached over and stroked her long soft hair. Worry etched his face as he looked at the fragile girl.

“The nargles told me. They said that the blond souled vampire should appear at the end of June. They said that a big battle would be taking place and that you should have a healer ready. One that can help your friend,” she stated, sleepily. Her eyes full closed now.

“He’s not my friend,” Xander grumbled, letting his hand fall to his lap.

“What of those he leaves behind?” Joyce asked, hugging the girl to her anxiously, gently nudging head of the tiny girl to her shoulder, and holding her there as if to shelter her from the pain of being a seer.

“They all live. Well, all the non-humans. Though, Gunn will not like being a vampire. Angel will be fine, even though he loses his second face. Anyway, Spike will do his part and you will grab him when he’s kills, but gets hit by, a grey three-armed demon, and they will all live,” the blonde girl answered, her eyes at half-masts.

“Okay, honey, we’ll plan for it, but don’t think we’re not going to talk about this gift of yours,” Xander stated as he reached over and rubbed his foster daughter’s back.

Luna drifted off to sleep and Joyce took her to bed shortly thereafter. “I’m worried,” she stated as she came back and settled on the couch, turned slightly so they could face each other.

“Me too, but what can we do? You know that seer gifts are unstoppable,” the worried man stated as he ran a hand down his face.

“Trelawney?” was the sceptic question.

“Great Zeus, no.” came the quick answer.

“Who then?”

“Does she need a teacher? I mean, isn’t the gift instinct?” Xander wondered out loud.

“Hmmm, I will feel better if she has some guidance,” Joyce answered, thinking hard. “That and we need to keep this a secret as long as we can. Her ‘crazy’ persona will help.”

“Oh? Do you think people will try and kidnap her and use her for nefarious reasons?” he asked, more concerned than before.

“Yes,” came the blunt answer.

“We’ll do our best not to let this get out. Until then, we start with books, and work our way up from there,” he replied. “Do you think she even realized what she just did?” he asked, perplexed. He really didn’t know much about seers.

“I don’t think so,” Joyce answered thoughtfully, her brow scrunched in thought.

“I’ll ask her tomorrow. It’s late and I’m bushed. So, I will bid you a goodnight.” He gave her a hug and went to bed.

The next morning Xander took Luna aside and asked if she remembered anything from the night before. When she answered that it was a dream that she could vaguely recall, he patted her on the head and sent her on her way. He then hit the books and studied all he could on seers, but there was little there. There was a note that the best seers were the centaurs, but they tended to keep to themselves. Since there was a herd in his forest, he’d see about getting Luna a tutor.

The rest of the year passed without issue. Xander talked to the centaurs, and they said they would send one of their own, Firenze, to come and talk with Luna during the next school year. He was a strange centaur anyway, the horseman like humans. So, he was almost an outcast in his own herd.

They would have to meet outdoors, but Luna didn’t have a problem with that. Xander, because he helped with the unicorn was listen too, but he did have to threaten them with removal to get them to comply. That didn’t make them happy, but Xander owned the forest and they were at his mercy. He did say he’d make it up to them, but they really needed to learn to play nice.

After the exams, which had Hermione in fits, the school was gathered for dinner. Xander stood, and said, “Alright you little cretins, I have an announcement to make. We’re going to have a parent/teacher day. It’ll be next Saturday. All day long. That means all you parents are being invited to came and speak with the professors. All of your parents,” he emphasized. “Yes, the non-magicals too. If I hear one word of disparagement, you will be punished. That is your one and only warning. Keep your thoughts to yourself.” He then sat down and watched those that were mumbling.

There were a lot of excited kids, and a great many unhappy ones. Draco Malfoy could be heard that his father would stop this. Xander figured the kid didn’t know there was no Board yet. Or at least he was in denial, since Fudge came and announced to the whole school. Perhaps, Lucius told the child that it was all a mistake and would be fixed soon. Times like this, he couldn’t wait to have someone to send Lucius’ way. That guy needed to be brought down a peg or five.

“How are you planning to get them all here?” Dumbledore asked, peering at Xander over his glasses.

“Harry,” Xander replied with a shrug. “He needs the practice.”

“Do you think it wise to give a child such a responsibility?” the old man inquired.

“That’s rich coming from you, since you want him to save this world,” the wolf-eyed man scoffed.

“The proph…” was as far as Albus got before Xander interrupted him.

“Is bullshit,” the younger man snapped. “You have no idea who it is pertaining to. The only reason it is even remotely valid is because you made it self-fulling. If you had left good enough alone, then all of this would have been avoided. Don’t talk to me about prophecies. You don’t know Jack shit.” He threw down his napkin and stormed away from the table.

The next Saturday saw a mass of non-magicals in the castle for the first time ever. Sure, the Grangers had been there over Yule, but this was a horde. They wander around in wide-eyed wonder. Taking in all the things their child/ren had told them about. It was quite a reality check for most. The magic in the air seemed to welcome them.

They all came in groups, having been told to be at King’s Cross for Harry to pick up. The magical parents were in a bit awe if the non-magicals roaming about the place. They were torn in many groups; the purebloods, who were being held back from speaking by the wards and the fear of Xander, who had warned them all in a letter, and in person when they came into the school. Then there were half-bloods who either liked non-magicals, or just didn’t care. Then there were those like Arthur Weasley, who were enchanted with the novelty.

The Grangers went from teacher to teacher, like the would in the non-magical world, with Hermione. They would ask questions and get to see their daughter preform her magic. The other non-magical parents did the same. The rest of the parents took their cue and followed suit. Many were happy to hear how well their child/ren were doing. Though there were those like Molly who either didn’t believe that so-and-so was doing well or were upset on how poor such-and-such was doing. There was a lot of yelling coming from her that day.

Still, all-in-all, it went well.

The rest of the week went by quickly and soon everyone was on the train heading home. It had been a good year, barring the short time Lockhart was there, and, well, the basilisk, but, still, Xander handled it all. So, everyone went home happy. Maybe not Dumbledore.

Harry and Xander did nothing but relax for the first week of summer, then it was training and chores. Dobby was with them, so Xander had to put his foot down and tell the little guy that Harry would do his own chores. He explained that it gave the boy a sense of responsibility. Dobby reluctantly agreed.

Then it was time to bring Spike. Joyce was readying herself, and Salazar and Nicolas were waiting with blood and replenishers. Everyone was on tenterhooks. Dumbledore was at the ICW meeting, so he wasn’t there to interfere. The rest of the staff were home for the summer.

Xander was pacing, having second and third thoughts about what they were doing. He was worried. He never really liked Spike, but had to give the guy credit, he was tenacious. Xander never got over what the vampire tried to do to Buffy, but Buffy had explained that Spike had gone through Hell to get and cleanse his soul as punishment. So…

Joyce was ready, she placed her hand on the wall, and a portal opened. The fight going on the other side was brutal.

There were demons everywhere, and Spike, Angel and the gang were fighting for all they were worth. Angel had just felled a dragon, and Wesley had just fallen to a red demon. Illyria’s screams of denial chilled everyone to the bone, as the goddess unleashed mass destruction on the enemy. Joyce didn’t know Wesley well, but still felt a pang of sadness that the man didn’t make it.

Spike was fighting for all he was worth. He was a blur of fist, teeth, and leather.

The gang readied themselves. Spike was approaching the demon that Luna warned them about. It seemed to be high up on the hierarchy. There were many bodyguards around it, and they all deferred to him. Spike went through them like toilet paper and was soon facing the head honcho.

“So,” the blond vampire said, sneering at the demon, looking like he was ready to light a smoke, “you’re Wolfram, then,” he stated, looking the being up and down like he was less than impressed. “Not sure what all the fuss is about, but you’ll fall like any other demon.”

“Spike, William the Bloody. Just because you have a soul, boy, doesn’t mean you are equal to me,” Wolfram sneered, readying himself for a fight.

“No, you’re right about that,” Spike said, twirling a steel pole he had just kicked into his hand. “Means I’m better,” he added, swinging for the fences.

The two fought a bloody battle and in the end, Spike drove that pole into the demon’s head, killing off one of the most powerful beings in existence. As he pulled away, and gloated, as he was wont to do, the demon’s arm shoot up and impaled him in the stomach.

“Now,” Joyce said loudly, causing the men to jump.

Xander made a grabbing motion and pulled Spike through the portal. Salazar and Nicolas were ready with the blood and potions. They quickly spelled the blood into Spike’s system and started casting what healing spells worked on vampires.

Spike groaned and laid still. He must have noticed the lack of fighting. He turned his head and saw Joyce. “Joyce?” he croaked out.

“Hello, Spike,” she answered with a smile.

“I always hoped I’d go to heaven,” the blond said with a sad smile. “Good to see you, Joyce. We missed you,” he stated, and then passed out.

Chapter Text

“Well,” Xander said, clapping his hands together, “that’s going to be fun to explain.”

“Won’t it though,” Joyce said fondly, as she stroked the vampire’s hair.

“Let’s get him to the ‘house’,” Xander said reluctantly. He still wasn’t sure if he wanted the man to have that kind of access, but the trusted Joyce so on they went.

So, Sal lifted the wounded vampire with a spell, and floated him beside him. Nicolas waved his want to keep… vitals. Or something. Joyce led the way. When they got there, she raised her eyebrow at Xander, who sighed.

“Spike, I invite you in,” he said with great reluctance. He knew it would work on the unconscious vampire. They had done it a few times in his old world.

Joyce beamed at him and led the way to the room they had created for the blond. It was as in newly created the basement away from the rest of the family.

At least it was a nice basement, not like it had looked in Joyce’s old house. It was just like a bedroom, with plastered walls, cream carpet, and a window, which looked over the lake. The ‘basement’, itself, was on the fifth floor, two floors below the ‘house’. Magic made it so it was really only a step through a door in the kitchen to get in, but you had to climb stairs to get out. The door at the top of the stairs led to the ‘house’ and that was the only way out, besides the window. There were no locks on the door, from the outside, but Spike could lock people out if he chose.

Sal floated him down and laid him on the bed. Nic checked his spell, shrugged, like he wasn’t sure it was working, then removed it. Spike seemed to be coming too, and his eyes showed movement. The two men moved back.

“He’s coming too,” Nic said, waving to the prone man.

“Great,” both Joyce and Xander said, albeit in different tones. The one Xander used made Joyce glare at the man.

Spike’s head turned towards Xander. He opened his eyes then blinked. He closed his eyes, took an unneeded breath and the opened them again. “Lovely, first I get heaven, now I’m in hell,” he mumbled then sighed again. “Harris, what happened? I was fighting a right nasty bugger, now I’m here,” he asked, sitting up and patting his pockets for a smoke.

“Ask her,” Xander said, waving to Joyce.

“Oh no you don’t, mister,” Joyce said, “You’re the one who had the idea. I just provided the transportation.”

“Joyce?” Spike said, turning her way. “I thought it was a dream,” he added with a confused smile.

“No, no dream. Different reality,” she assured him softly, taking his hand to show it was real.

“Seems about right, wot with you two being here. Last I heard you were missing, Harris. And Joyce, we thought you died. Buffy went through a bit of a rough time, yeah,” his still confused voice said with a bit of chastisement. Like it was mean of her to put her daughter through that.

“I know, I did die, I was just offered a chance to be reborn here. It was a good thing I did, or some things might not have happened the way they should have,” she offered as an explanation.

“I guess, I can see that,” he thoughtfully stated. “Still, would have been nice to know you survived, such as it is.” He finished his search for smokes, pulled one out of the pack and went to light it up.

“Not in the castle. Especially, not in my house,” Xander said, snatching it away. “You can puff away outside, but inside, no smoking.”

“Bloody tyrant,” Spike grumbled. Putting his pack away.

“Here, I got you these. They’ll fix your oral fixation,” Xander said, reaching into his pocket and pulling something out. Then handed him what looked like lollipops.

“Wot are these?” the vampire said, taking the red lollies and scrutinizing them.

“They’re Blood Pops, made especially for vampires. As far as I know they are made with real blood. You can have as many as you want, but no smoking around the kids. This is a school, you know,” the Head of Security stated, folding his arms across his chest, looking menacing.

“Bloody buggering hell. You brought me to a school? With little tiny little rug rats running amuck, and such?” the vampire demanded, falling back on the bed, like it would save him.

“No,” disagreed Joyce, “they’re all over eleven. And I will have you know, my kids are well behaved, mostly,” she said with a bit of pride. The children had been very polite this year. She still felt they were a bit afraid of Xander’s temper. Especially, after seeing him run around with an axe.

“Weren’t baby Slayers enough for you, Harris?” the blond man asked the man he never really like.

“Hey, I didn’t ask to come here. I was drafted,” Xander protested, crushing the cigarette in his hand.

“You were needed,” corrected Joyce.

“Fun as this all is, we need to check your friend,” Sal said, moving to do just that. He pulled out his wand, which made Spike leery.

“He’s not my friend,” Xander grumbled again. Oh yeah, now that Spike was awake, it brought back all the reasons he couldn’t stand the vampire in the first place. Still, he might be a great asset, if only they could tolerate each other.

“Wot, are you goin’ to do with that?” he asked. No vampire he knew would let anyone with a pointy stick near him.

“I’m going to do some magic on you to see if you’ll… live, or survive, or whatever,” the man answered, waving his wand to do just that, only for Spike to dodge the spell by sitting up.

“Mojo,” Spike sneered in disgust, and a bit of fear. Mojo never worked well around Harris and he didn’t want to turn into a newt. Or worst fall in love with the jerk.

He still had nightmares on Dru’s tangent when she came out of that spell. Something about kittens being naughty. If she had been talking about stringing him up, he’d have been all for it. No, she was talking about turning bloody Harris and keeping him as a toy. The last thing he wanted at that time was for Dru to have a new toy.

Not only that, but dreams of Sweet still haunted him as well. If it hadn’t been for that King of Hell, singing and dancing demon, he might have never gone through the damaged relationship he had with Buffy. That was Xander’s fault too.

“Don’t worry, Spike, it’s completely normal in this reality,” Joyce assured him, patting his arm, breaking him from his thoughts.

“It’s a pointy stick. Don’t see myself getting used to that,” he countered, pushing himself up off the bed, to the opposite side of Sal. “I’ve spent over a hundred years avoiding them,” he stated.

“Oh, yeah,” Xander said with great glee. “They do look like mini stakes,” he expounded. “Is Spikey Wikey afraid of a wittle stick?” he teased, watching Spike move further away from Sal.

“Sod off, Harris. I’d like to see how you’d react to something that can kill you. Asshat,” Spike exclaimed, trying not to show that he was indeed wary.

“Boys,” Joyce chastised, grabbing Spike’s arm to hold him still.

“Wot? He is an asshat,” the vampire stated, tugging at his arm. He didn’t want to hurt Joyce, but he wasn’t letting that stick near him if he could help it.

“What? He started it,” Xander said at the same time, still with his ridiculous grin. He was enjoying watching Spike squirm.

“Oh, for Merlin’s sake,” Sal said as he once more cast and missed. “Hold still, you bloody fool.”

“Not on your live, wanker!” Spike yelled, avoiding another spell.

“If you don’t let us do this, something might be wrong and we won’t know until you… die, or whatever vampires like you do,” Sal said, chasing the vampire around the room.

“Goody, a big brother,” came an airy voice from the doorway, complemented with the clapping of hands.

All the adults spun around and saw Luna standing there.

“Luna, honey, what are you doing here?” Xander asked as he rushed to her side as if to protect her.

“I wanted to meet my big brother,” she said airily as she sidestepped him and went towards Spike.

“I’m not your brother,” the vampire stated, looking at the girl with a dreamy expression. “I was an only child,” he added on as an afterthought.

“He’s so not your brother,” Xander agreed, with a nod of his head. “I only have one son.” He wasn’t going to claim Spike, of all people, as family.

“Don’t be silly. You’ll be my brother, like you were Dawn’s,” she said upon reaching him. She was just about to lay a hand on his arm when she was tugged away by Xander. “Phooey,” she said, turning towards her father figure and gave him the cutest little glare.

“How did you get here?” was what was asked.

“I popped here. Just like Harry does,” came the ‘of course’ answer. “The nargles told me I was needed,” she said, slipping around Xander again.

“You’re a bit mad, aren’t you?” Spike asked, looking at her like she was off, but interesting.

“I’m afraid so, but let me tell you something, the best people usually are,” was her reply.

“You’re a bit of alright,” the vampire laughed.

“What did I miss?” Xander asked, still pulling her gently away.

“It’s from a book. Not that you’ve ever read one,” came Spike’s acerbic comeback.

“Hey, I read,” was the defensive answer.

“Yeah, but it’s not like you understand,” the vampire stated as if it were fact. “You don’t have Red around to tell you what the big words mean,” he taunted.

“Look, you bleached…” was as far as Xander got, when Joyce waved her hand and separated the two.

“That’s quite enough from you two. Is it really too much to ask that you get along?” she inquired, exasperated.

Xander nodded, since he was silenced, and Spike just glared.

“Spikey, you really need to let Uncle Sal check you,” Luna said from Spike’s side. “I feel there’s something he might have missed. Do it, for me?” she asked with big puppy dog eyes.

“Fine, right, let the man point the sharp stick at my heart,” the blond grumbled as he sat on the bed. He took one of the Blood Pops, unwrapped it and popped it in his mouth. He groaned a bit at the taste of human blood. It had been so long.

Sal stated, “Finally,” and waved his wand. The test came back that there was something off, but they didn’t know if it was because the test was for the vampires here or if there was something really wrong.

“It’s just something Mum gave him,” Luna stated, petting Spikes arm, making him look at her queerly again.

“Ah, right, Spike, since you already have metaphysical strength and such, I’ve given you the sunlight,” Joyce said proudly. “You won’t burn in the sun. You can’t stay out indefinitely, but you do have about two or three hours to frolic as you will.” She smiled at the look of pure astonishment that came over the hundred and thirty-year-old vampire.

“The sun,” whispered Spike, his eyes drifting to the window.

“Rule time!” Xander exclaimed, wanting to keep Spike here for the moment.

“Yes, we’d better get those out of the way,” Joyce concurred.

“Rules, I don’t follow sodding rules,” the vampire stated, folding his arms, though his eyes still drifted towards the window, which showed a lovely view of the sun setting over the lake.

“You’re going to want to hear these, Spikey,” Luna said, still petting his arm like it was a kitten.

Spike sighed and waved them to go on. He wasn’t sure how to take this girl, she was like a partially sane Dru.

“Rule one, stay out of the castle during the day. Since you sleep during that time, you can do that here, or pick a spot in the castle,” Xander started, ticking of his index finger, and hoping for the latter.

“Rule two, no killing, or turning any one we know. If you turn a magical, you’re giving them power they don’t need. If that person is a bad guy, you might just start a war. There’s a Dark Lord going to be running around soon, and we don’t want him to have extra power,” Luna said the second rule. “Not only that, we have spells that will dust you fast than a stake,” she added, without her usual airiness.

The bit about the Dark Lord, made the other pay attention, they’d have to ask her what she knew, later.

“Rule three, no feeding from the populace. There’s potions here for that, and I can guarantee that they are better then pigs blood,” Joyce took up the count with a reassuring smile.

“Lastly,” Xander said, holding up four fingers, “we’ll give you jobs, for which you will be paid. These are mostly scare tactics, stuff like you used to do during your chip days.”

“Sounds fair, bit of blood or dosh, and I’ll scare anyone you want,” Spike said, standing and going towards the window. “Oh, and more of these lollies,” he added, taking the one he’d been sucking on out and holding it up, then promptly put it back in his mouth.

He then looked out the window and seeing a balcony directly below, he braced his hand on the sill and vaulted. He’d be back, but he was going to enjoy the pressie that Joyce had given him.

“Well, that went well,” Xander said, looking at the running vampire. It looked like he was going to go skinny dipping in the lake. He turned away, right as Spike shucked his pants.

“Better than I expected,” Joyce said, watching Spike swim in the water. It wasn’t hard to see him; he was so pale and was in complete contrast to the dark water. Like a white fish swimming about.

“Everything will be fine,” Luna said with authority.

“Don’t think for one moment you aren’t in trouble, young lady,” Xander said, turning to his pseudo daughter, making sure she stayed far from the window and the view of the naked vampire.

“Phooey,” was all she said.