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Learning to Live

By: Silmedin
Rating: Pg-13
Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters represented here. I am truly in debt to Joss Whedon and J.K. Rowling for creating these two amazing series.

Prologue

An owl flew into Rupert Giles' window one evening in late July. He wouldn't have been surprised twenty years ago, but he had not received an owl in nearly that long. He gently took the letter from the owl, whom on second glance, he recognized to be Orion, Minerva McGonagall's old owl. He opened the letter with shaking hands as he read:

Dear Mr. Giles, I know that you are not expecting this letter, certainly not after the events that led to your banishment from our community. I am Headmaster Albus Dumbledore of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. I write to you concerning your young Vampire Slayer, Buffy Summers. I understand that she has undergone quite an ordeal in the past year and a half and could use a break from the Hellmouth. It just so happens that we have the Boy-Who- Lived in our school as a Sixth Year. Voldemort returned two years ago and has been after Mr. Potter ever since then. He is in need of a little physical protection. Slayers are magical on their own and do not need to be born a witch. The Death Eaters have risen again and are using some physical tactics. I am starting a new configuration for the Defense Against the Dark Arts class. The class will meet eight times a week, and five of those classes will be tradition DADA, but the other three will be Wandless Defense. Buffy will be quite capable of teaching both courses with an assistant in the form of Remus Lupin. You will be unable to accompany her, as I do not have the power to reverse a Ministry decision, but I assure you, your Slayer will be well-cared for and loved. Please send Orion back with a reply after you talk with Buffy. Sincerely, Albus Dumbledore

Giles stared at the letter in amazement at how timely Albus could be. He knew that Buffy had been nearly killed by Spike a month ago and sorely needed some time away from her familiar world. He could not think of anyplace more appropriate than Hogwarts.

Chapter 1 - Coming To England

"Minerva McGonagall will meet you in London and take you to Hogwarts. She was a teacher when I was there, and I believe she is one of the most trustworthy people I have ever met. Minerva will probably use a Portkey to take you there, for it is a dreadfully long ride on the Hogwarts Express to Hogsmeade. Don't be afraid, she'll take care of you, and I'll send you an owl if there is any change with Xander," Giles told Buffy as the tiny, emaciated girl boarded the plane to London, limping only slightly on her right with a cane in her hand.

Buffy go off the plane and looked around. Nearby, she saw a sign with her name on it held by a severe looking woman whom she presumed to be Professor McGonagall. "Hello, Miss Summers, welcome to England, my name is Minerva McGonagall, you may call me Minerva," the woman introduced herself.

Buffy's head went down slightly as she held out her hand to the witch and replied, "Glad to meet you, Minerva, you may call me Buffy."

"Now, I know Rupert told you that we would go straight to Hogsmeade and then on to Hogwarts, but first we are going to Diagon Alley, to get you some proper clothing," Minerva told the small blond girl in front of her. Buffy smiled at the thought of shopping, only for a moment. Then her face returned to its normal stoic but slightly sad expression. "Hagrid, the groundskeeper, has gotten your luggage and will be taking it to the school from here." The two took a walk through London to the Leaky Cauldron. "My dear, you must be thirsty after your long journey?" Minerva asked, staring at Buffy's entirely too-thin body and haggard features.

"Not really, they had water on the plane," Buffy replied unsteadily.

Minerva smiled and told her, "Nevertheless, I am hungry and this place serves the best butterbeer and pub food in London. You will have a butterbeer, won't you?"

"I don't drink much," she warned.

"Oh, no, it's quite weak, our third year students can have it. It isn't at all like Muggle beer," the professor told the Slayer. So Buffy sat down with her new friend and nursed a butterbeer while Minerva perused the menu. "I believe that I will have the Ravenclaw Peach Cobbler, Tom, and Buffy here will have . . .what would you like, dear?"

"Oh, nothing for me, thank you."

"Bring us two slices of the cobbler, please," Minerva told the bartender, then turned back to the blonde, "You must try Tom's peach cobbler, it's one of the most successful desserts in all of Magical Europe." After they had finished their beer and cobbler, the pair continued on to Diagon Alley. The first stop was Madam Malkin's for robes. Buffy looked through several colors before finding a black and crimson robe she liked. Madam Malkin fitted three robes to her and gave the tab to Minerva, who added another robe which she called a Dueling Robe. "Don't worry, Buffy, the school pays for four robes each year for every teacher. It wouldn't do to have the professors looking shabby." The two left the robe shop and continued on to Flourish and Blott's.

"I'm going to go look at the DADA and Wandless Defense texts, Minerva, I'm not quite sure how to teach the Wandless course," Buffy told the Transfiguration expert as she drifted towards books of her interest. Buffy soon found the fourteen texts that would be needed for the courses. One for each class for each grade. The double class would prove to be one of the most challenging that the school had ever offered, but also the most useful. Soon she had drifted towards the sports books. Happily, Buffy tramped up to Minerva with a stack of twenty books in her arms. At the teacher's raised eyebrow, Buffy responded, "I got all texts for the year, three other DADA books, a book on the Dark Arts themselves, a book on Magical Creatures, and, um, on this broom game."

"Quidditch?" Minerva provided.

"Yes, Minerva, that's the one. It looked like it'd be fun to try."

Minerva smiled happily and told her, "Our next stop happens to be Quality Quidditch Supplies. You can get a broom if you want. Teachers get quite a nice salary, really. You don't have to worry about what you buy here. Hogwarts covers all of your expenses, so all you cover is novelties."

By the time they left Diagon Alley an hour later, Buffy had her own Starlight broom. It wasn't exactly a Quidditch broom, but rather a racing broom. And a set of cauldrons and a potions book. Dumbledore had promised that she would get lessons in Potions, Transfiguration, Charms, and Herbology. Minerva glanced at the young girl and then did a double take. "My dear, is you leg alright, you appear to be limping quite badly?" she asked.

Buffy smiled somewhat sadly, "I'm fine, I just had it shattered from end to end about two months ago."

"Well then, let's be off. Grab a hold of this and don't let go," Minerva told her, holding out a piece of candy. "Say the name of your mother." Buffy complied and felt a faint tug at her navel before she was gone. She reappeared in a large room.

"Welcome, to Hogwarts, Miss Summers," a wizened old man warbled.

Chapter 2 - The Castle

"I am Albus Dumbledore, the Headmaster of this school," he continued.

Buffy extended her hand and said, "Nice to meet you, Mr. Dumbledore. My name is Buffy Summers, though I'm sure you already know that. Um, thank you for having me here."

"Tomorrow you will be meeting the rest of the staff here. A few are missing for the summer, but I'm sure you're tired from your trip. Dobby here will lead you to your room. Dobby is a House-Elf and can bring you a very good dinner. I will come to see you tomorrow once you've awakened in the morning," Dumbledore told her.

As he moved, a small creature with large, shiny eyes and a happy smile on his face appeared and motioned for her to follow him. "I am Dobby, Buffy Summers, I am here to take you to your room. If you need anything, just ask. Headmaster Dumbledore says that you are here to protect Harry Potter. If you are here to keep Harry Potter safe, then your wish is here like that," the elf said, snapping his fingers and disappearing and reappearing only feet away.

"I see you've met the main member of the Harry Potter fan club," a black haired man sneered at Buffy as he passed in the hall.

"Professor Snape does not like Harry Potter, Professor Snape was almost killed by Harry Potter's father but also saved by him. James Potter was not very kind to Professor Snape," Dobby told Buffy.

Buffy smiled at the elf and mumbled, "Someone's carrying a bit of baggage." Dobby's face formed an expression of confusion but he did not say anything because they had arrived at her room. "Your things are in your room, Buffy Summers. The password to the room is Pleasantville. Headmaster Dumbledore will be by your room once you're awake in the morning. Would you like something for dinner?" Dobby's eyes told Buffy that he thought that she really needed something to eat.

"Dobby, could I have a cup of fruit salad? Just a little bit. . ." and before she could finish her sentence, Dobby had disappeared with a crack.

Buffy moved to the door to her room. A beautiful painting of a vampire adorned the door. "Um, Pleasantville?" she whispered.

The painting swung aside as the vampire said, "Don't you just love Dumbledore's sense of irony?" Buffy grunted faintly and entered her room. It stunned her. Black and crimson adorned every inch of the room. The bed was an enormous four-poster which had fluffy black covers. Slowly, Buffy walked over to the bed and flopped down onto its downy surface.

Slowly, Buffy opened her eyes. Gleaming blue eyes stood between half-moon eye glasses. "Blue eyes!"was all Buffy could think of. And she screamed.

"Buffy Summers! There is nothing to be afraid of! It is just Dobby and Mr. Dumbledore," the now-familiar voice told her.

Buffy sat up, blinking in an attempt to clear her eyes. "W-what happened? Last I remember I asked you to bring me dinner," she asked, confused and sleepy.

Dumbledore's voice came now, explaining, "Miss Summers, Dobby returned with your dinner to find you asleep. He put you under the covers and left your room. It is nearly noon now, so I figured that someone should come wake you up. Do come, eat breakfast with me."

Buffy was about to decline his invitation so that he didn't have to wait when he moved aside so she could see the breakfast spread on a table in her room. "I brought it for you, Buffy Summers," Dobby told her proudly.

As Buffy and Dumbledore made their way to the table, Dumbledore told her, "It seems that Dobby has taken quite a liking to you."

Buffy smiled and nodded, saying, "Especially since I'm here to protect Harry Potter."

"Ah yes. I suppose that today I should explain that situation to you properly. This evening you will be dining with the rest of the faculty. Severus mentioned that he had met you in the hall last night," Dumbledore told her.

"The ooo-look-at-my-sneer guy who apparently hates Harry? Then yeah, I met him," Buffy grumbled.

"I've always found the American dialect so entertaining, Miss Summers. Trust me, Severus is not nearly as awful as he appears. Please understand that school only just let out and he's still in a rather foul mood. Grading potions exams always makes him testy. Potions is quite a difficult, and "subtle art" as Severus puts it," Dumbledore chuckled.

Buffy grinned and told him, "Well, then he'll hate me. Subtlety really isn't my thing."

"So I have noticed." At which point, Dumbledore wholeheartedly dug into his meal. Buffy shrugged and began to half-heartedly nibble on a bit of muffin.

Dobby began piling eggs and waffle onto a plate and then shoved it in front of Buffy. "You must eat! Professor McGonagall and the Headmaster said that you are too thin, I heards them last night," Dobby told her when Buffy looked at him strangely.

Buffy then shook her head and replied to the House-Elf, "I'm still working on building up a good appetite, Dobby." "Dobby, would you please go to Professor Snape and make sure he is up. Madam Pomfrey wanted to speak to him about a new healing potion he's come up with and she's leaving to visit her brother in Canada tomorrow," Dumbledore interrupted when Dobby was about to argue.

Dobby nodded and popped out of the room. Dumbledore made no effort to carry on any more conversation and the meal passed in a comfortable silence. Once Dumbledore was ready to leave Buffy to get ready to go explore the castle, he spoke once again, "Buffy, Minerva will be here in about an hour to give you the grand tour of this place. I must say, it seems that she has seemed to take you under her wing."

"I don't mind, Mr. Dumbledore, it's nice of her to think of me so fondly," Buffy told Dumbledore.

Hesitantly, Buffy made it over to the closet where Dobby had apparently stored her new robes and removed one and put it on. Looking in the mirror, she grimaced briefly and then shrugged. It didn't really matter what she looked like. The rest of the hour was spent exploring her beautiful new room.

Minerva and Buffy spent an hour touring the castle. The older lady seemed to be watching Buffy's limp carefully. "Please, Minerva, don't worry about me, I'm not too quiet, I'll say something if I need to slow down," Buffy finally said, exasperated.

Minerva nodded and agreed. The rest of the day, Buffy spent in the library, learning about Hogwarts, magic, and Quidditch. The very last chapter of the self-updating edition of Hogwarts Quidditch announced that the present Quidditch coach was Madam Hooch. Buffy set off out of the library to find Madam Hooch. As she made her way through the halls, she heard the silky sneer of the Potions Master, "Ah, Miss Summers, I see you have found your way around. Now who are you searching for?"

"Severus, let's get one thing straight here: I know you're in a shitty mood, but so am I. Stuff happens, but the least you could to is to stop sneering at me and tell me how to find Madam Hooch," she snapped.

Severus's face turned for a moment into an expression of shock, then he continued on, this time in a much nicer voice, "Madam Hooch has gone to Russia to work on the Quidditch team in St. Petersburg. She will not be back until the day before school starts. And why would a squib want to know where the Quidditch coach is?"

"For one," Buffy growled, moving faster than Snape could watch, and grabbed him and held him in the air by his collar, "I am not a squib. I am a Slayer, capish? Second, why the hell do you care? Third, I want to learn to ride a broom. Do you have any idea what it's like to have most of your agility taken away? I do. Until two months ago, I could move fast than anyone in this world for as long as I wanted to. Now I can only move that fast for a few minutes before my leg collapses. Now, since you have been so kind as to tell me that Madam Hooch is unavailable, could you please lead me to the Quidditch Pitch and tell me what to do with my broom?"

"I believe, Buffy, that perhaps another professor might be better equipped to teach you to ride a broom. Regardless, you have spent nearly five hours in the library. Both you and Severus need to come to dinner," Dumbledore informed them. "Severus, I trust you to show her the way, as I have a few contacts to make before we eat." And with that he was gone.

Buffy complained, "Does he always do that? Appear at the most important moment?"

"Yes, Miss Summers, I'm afraid Albus has quite a knack for showing up when he is needed most," Severus told her, his face formed into a friendly smirk.

"Call me Buffy."

Chapter 3 - Dinner With The Staff

Buffy followed Severus towards the Great Hall. His face had shown true shock when she had told him off just a few moments earlier. Surprisingly, Severus Snape, infamous Potions Master extraordinaire, seemed to be taking care to make sure that she could keep up. As she walked next to him, Buffy began to ask him questions, "Is potions like Muggle chemistry?"

"Though I loathe to compare such a fine art to the crude concoctions of Muggles, yes, there are some similarities that I cannot deny," Severus told her.

"Do all students take Potions?"

"Through their fifth year at least."

Buffy seemed to think for a few moments before asking, "Professor Snape, could you help me learn how Potions work? They seem to be a key part of a good Defense Against the Dark Arts curriculum and I think I need to know how they work."

"Potions is a very serious subject, Buffy, it would take up a great deal of time; time that is perhaps better spent on learning Charms and Transfiguration," Severus replied, surprised that someone just asked to be under his tutelage.

"Mr. Dumbledore said that such things will be of no concern for me once I learn to master the magic I have in me. Since I'm not actually a witch, my magic mojo apparently works differently. So, I figured I need to learn everything I can about that which I can relate to," the blond Slayer reasoned.

Snape was speechless. He could find no holes in her logic, nor did he want to. Finally, a DADA teacher who was not evil, dimwitted, arrogant, or a combination of the three had been employed. "I would me most pleased to help you, Buffy, but let's wait until you know what else you have to do before school starts to schedule anything," he found himself saying.

They had reached the Great Hall. "Thank you for your help, Professor Snape," Buffy gratefully told him.

Severus again found himself doing something completely out of character for him: he was smiling as he said, "You're very welcome, Buffy. Please, call Severus." And then he looked behind him. Apparently, Minerva and Poppy had come up behind them as they entered the Hall. Both were shocked at the courteousness and kindness the "greasy git" had just bestowed on the new teacher. "What are you looking at, Minerva, Poppy?" he hissed as he walked swiftly into the room.

Dumbledore was already seated at the table in the Hall. "Welcome, everyone. Here I want to introduce you to the newest member of our faculty, Buffy Summers!" he announced. "Miss Summers has come here from Boca del Inferno, California to teach our Defense Against the Dark Arts class with a returning faculty member, Remus Lupin. Please assist her in any way you can, she has been living in the Muggle word her entire life, so please try to help her understand your respective specialties."

A short little man popped up, waving his hand. Dumbledore nodded, and the man started, "I am Filius Flitwick, Charms teacher here. May I ask how you are qualified to teach such an important course in these times?"

Buffy responded, "Professor Flitwick, I am the Vampire Slayer. Apparently that means that I'm some sort of magical creature. Most of defense, no matter what you're up against, is physical. Physical fitness, agility, speed, and quick thinking. Four things that I have excelled in during the past eight years to keep me alive. Even now, I could move faster than any of you could fire a curse to hit me. That, along with strategy, will be my neck of the woods this year, and, according to the Headmaster, Remus will cover the magical part." Filius had started to blush and sat down. A silence had fallen over the whole room.

"Now, let's eat!" Dumbledore decided. The silence was broken as food appeared on everyone's plates. Buffy again only picked at her food, but Minerva and Dumbledore said nothing.

But Severus did. "Buffy, why don't you eat more?" he asked quietly.

Buffy looked down into her lap and mumbled, "Because I was trained not to."

"What!?" Severus cried, taken aback by her words.

Buffy leaned very near him and whispered in his ear, "For two and a half months, I was denied any food except the bare minimum to keep me alive. And that was raw flesh."

Surprised but suddenly understanding, Severus nodded and went back to his meal. All the teachers were stunned to see the normally evil man suddenly so reserved.

Several minutes later, Buffy leaned towards Dumbledore and asked, "I need to learn to do a few th9ings before school starts. Flying, Potions, basic DADA theory in practice, stuff like that."

"Remus will help you with the DADA things, Buffy, beginning tomorrow, whenever you want to. Any one of our House Quidditch coaches could help with the flying, and Severus will help you with the Potions. It isn't often that someone actually asks to learn potions," Dumbledore replied happily.

Buffy clinked her goblet and asked to everyone in the Hall, "Would any one be willing to help lil ole me learn to ride a broom properly?"

Only two hands went up: Minerva and Severus. Filius didn't like being high above the ground and the rest weren't very good fliers. Dumbledore whispered something to Severus and he put his hand down reluctantly.

"So, Minerva, um, thanks," Buffy mumbled.

Minerva smiled and told her, "Remus wants to work with you in the morning. And Severus would probably prefer to work with you before lunch because he tends to have afternoon appointments. So why don't we meet after lunch?"

"I'd love to, but where do I go?"

"Ask Dobby to show you to the Quidditch pitch," Minerva told her.

Remus found Buffy as she was leaving. "Buffy, do you know where the DADA room is?" he asked.

Buffy shook her head and then asked, "Why is there a special DADA room?"

"It's equipped to contain any wayward curses, spells, or hexes within the room so the castle doesn't randomly explode. I must tell you, it's very useful when Gred and Forge Weasley decide to test their new products," Remus told her, with a hint of sad nostalgia. He was far more youthful than the rest of the professors, except for maybe Dumbledore.

Buffy smiled and laughed with them, "Do they own the building labeled as 'Future Home of Weasleys' Wizarding Wheezes?"

"Yes, that them. You'll have them, and their younger brother and sister this year. The entire Weasley family is quite possibly the nicest, most kind family in the English wizarding world. Quite large too, three older sons, though one's a git, the twins, and Ron and Ginny. Ron is Harry's best friend. The Weasleys have pretty much adopted Harry since Sirius died," Remus told her somewhat tearfully.

"Come on, Remus," Buffy beckoned, "Walk me to my room, with all the staircases moving, I get really confused." Remus lead her towards her room. After a few moments, she mentioned, "Sirius was your partner in crime, right?" Remus nodded. Buffy continued, "I lost a couple of close friends earlier this year too. I'm sorry for your loss."

Remus nodded and asked her, "Why did leave your home and come to a world that you don't understand?"

"There wasn't much left there except for one friend in a coma, my Watcher, and a shitload of bad memories," Buffy told him.

"Escaping your past?"

"Yeah. Haven't you ever tried to escape your curse? I mean, someday, everything you know is just too much. All I've ever had in California is pain and death. Don't you get tired of being a werewolf? I was sick of being the Slayer on the Hellmouth," Buffy ranted.

Remus laughed and agreed, "Yeah, I think we all reach that point. Wait, how did you know about my curse?"

"A former boyfriend of one of my friends was a werewolf. He left a couple of years back to learn to control his beast," Buffy explained, "I can just feel one now."

"How did he learn to control it?"

"I think he went to a Buddhist monastery. He had a quite a bit of success till he got pissed."

Remus looked excoted and truly happy for the first time in months. "Could you tell me more about this person?"

"I'd love to, but he disappeared about a year ago. Giles is expecting him to come by and pick up the things that his ex-girlfriend left him in her will, so I can tell you when he visits my Watcher," Buffy told him, with tears in her eyes.

Remus saw the tears and quickly said, "I asked too much. We're at your room now. Why don't we just talk about everything tomorrow at breakfast?"

"Thanks, Remy. I'm fine, it's just still a sore subject," Buffy told him as she disappeared into her room after whispering a password to the portrait of Dracula.

Chapter 4 - A Day's Lessons

Buffy once again woke up to Dobby's smiling face. "Is this how you'll wake me up every morning, Dobby?" she asked grumpily.

Dobby nodded happily and replied, "Unless you tells me different, I will wakes you up each and every morning. Do you not like it?"

"No, no, Dobby. I enjoy having a living alarm clock versus a stupid electronic one."

Dobby began to tell her, "Professor Lupin has told me that he would like you to meet him in the DADA room for breakfast. You has slept through the staff breakfast. In fact, most of the staff did. Head Elf Tinchy refuses to make Staff Breakfast later in summer. Professor Snape has not even awakened yet."

"Dobby, give me twenty minutes to get ready to go."

Dobby grinned and told her, "I can take care of that. You wants the red robes?" Buffy nodded slightly then Dobby snapped his fingers and Buffy was spun in a circle and clothing flew onto her while a brush put her hair up neatly. "Now you is ready."

"How did you do that?" Buffy asked, astonished at the effortlessness of the spell.

"House Elves have magic especially to help their masters. But Dobby is a free elf, but I still have my powers," Dobby explained.

Buffy shrugged and waved her hand, thinking about her cane. And there it was in her hand. "What the Hell?"

Dobby was quivering with excitement as he told her, "The Headmaster told Dobby that this was likely to happen. He said that once you begins to understand magic, you would be able to do Wandless Magics beyond what the Wizarding World had ever seen." Dobby said this with a reverence that Buffy related to a freaky cult.

"Okay, Dobby, let's go to the Defense room," Buffy said, ready to head out into her first lesson in the ways of magical DADA.

When Dobby and Buffy arrived at the DADA room, Lupin was munching on a breakfast of an English muffin with a glass of pumpkin juice. "Buffy, please, have anything you want, Dobby has already assured me that anything is available," he told her.

Buffy asked Dobby, "Could I have a banana?" With two quick pops, Dobby appeared in front of her with a banana and a cup of tea. Then he disappeared. Buffy took ten silent minutes to consume half the banana and all of the tea. "Okay, Remy, let's get started."

"Have you ever done any wandless magic?"

Buffy smiled, thankful that she knew the answer to this question, and told him, "Yes, just this morning I was thinking how much I'd like to have my cane just fly to me and suddenly it appeared in my hand. Dobby told me that it was wandless magic."

"Excellent, excellent, this will be far easier with you being able to do such things. Now, apparently you've read basic DADA theory. So pretty much, I'm just going to let you explore some of the basic shields, curses, and hexes to understand how they all work. I'm going to put up a shield and you're going to try to curse me with the Expelliarmus," Remus instructed.

Buffy moved to the middle of the room and Remus muttered a spell to put a up a shield. Using the correct hand motions and pronounciation, she yelled, "Expelliarmus!" The light of the curse was not the normal blue it was meant to be but a streak of blinding gold light, which was not fazed by Lupin's shield. Seconds later, Remus's wand was in Buffy's hand.

"Bloody hell, Buffy, you have more power than anyone in documented history. That was the strongest shield in the Wizarding World, it can even block Tormenta's and Imperius's. And you broke it. With nearly no training!" Remus was bouncing up and down like a kid on Christmas.

Buffy shrugged and griped, "Can't I ever just have normal powers?"

The rest of the lesson was spent testing the level of power in her curses and hexes. They soon found that Buffy didn't even need the true incantation, she just needed to be able to picture what happened. "Remy, can you help me do some transfiguration?" she asked at the end of class.

Remus looked terrified but replied, "As we've already found out, you don't need the actual incantations. Why don't you just try, um, willing the object to change to what you want. Your subconscious imagination is drawn upon to form the personal details."

"So I could transfigure things into something else?" Buffy asked.

"You could try."

Buffy pulled out a small coin from one of her pockets. A Muggle coin, so it had no value anymore. After placing it on a table, she held her hand over it and closed her eyes. A pale scarlet light radiated from beneath her hand for a second. When she drew her hand away, in it's place remained a tattered stuffed pig.

Buffy turned to Remus, who was barely containing his laughter, and told him, "It's Mr. Gordo. I've had him since I was really little. But he was destroyed along with the rest of my things. So now I have him back." She slid the pig into a pocket of her robes and announced, "I think Severus is waiting for me in the dungeons and I would hate to disrespect his kindness by being late. Thank you so much for your help, Remy. Adios." With that, Buffy turned and headed out of the room.

Severus was waiting in the dungeons with a simple cauldron and several ingredients. "Ah, Buffy, you are on time. Perhaps the first I've seen be here actually early in all my years of teaching. I trust you brought your Potions book?"

Buffy whipped out a first-year potions book and said, "Yup, Sevvy, I got it."

"How much have you read of it?"

"Quite a bit, actually," Buffy began, "I read the first half it last night. It was really quite interesting. If only I would have ha some of the Potions during my time in Sunnydale."

Severus's face only showed one moment of astonishment at the girl's interest in the hated subject before he continued, "Today we will be brewing a basic healing potion. It is called Salud Forte. What can you tell me about it?"

"Salud Forte was invented by this wacky Moor wizard four hundred years ago. Instead of most healing potions, which have mojo of their own, Salud Forte just gives someone's natural healing a lil jumpstart."

"While I find your use of words bizarre," Severus told her, "Your description is quite accurate. Now do you think you can brew it successfully?"

Buffy moved over to the work station and began chopping ingredients. It was like all those days when she had volunteered to help Willow with her potions. Every ingredient was carefully measured and added when necessary. Thirty minutes later, Buffy was finished.

"That was tolerable, Buffy. What would have happened if I had added shredded hippogriff claw?"

"I would have been turned into a crispy fritter."

"What about a drop of vampire blood?"

Buffy grinned and told him, "Double-whammy strength potion." She went about bottling and labeling her potion. Then she cleaned the cauldrons as Severus continued to ask her questions referring to the potion. "Oops, Sev, look at the time! It's time for lunch and I have to talk to Dumbledore about a few things, so thank you so much for your help! Can we do this again tomorrow?" Buffy gave the stoic Potions Master a hug and then hurried off towards the Great Hall.

Half an hour later, Buffy had finished her conversation with Dumbledore and was talking to Minerva when Severus finally entered the Great Hall for lunch. And he was smiling. Not a great big smile, but instead of the usual gloom that his face held, Severus seemed to carry an air of happiness. "I haven't seen Severus like that since he got accepted to train with Gawain Koppel when he graduated from Hogwarts!" Minerva told Buffy, "Whatever you're doing to him, keep it up. It does wonders for him." Buffy smiled and returned to picking at her bowl of soup.

Meanwhile, Severus had taken a seat next to Dumbledore and began asking him questions. "Buffy is not the ditz that she appears to be," Severus told him.

"No, Severus," Dumbledore chuckled, "Buffy has seen far too much to be a ditz. She is somewhat akin to Harry in her view of the world."

"I have never seen someone who is so adept at understanding the reactions of magical ingredients within potions."

Dumbledore explained, "Rupert Giles owns a Magic Shop in California. I daresay that Buffy spent quite a bit of time working there. Things related to magic are probably easier for her to understand than for most of us because she is a part of her magic. The rest of us hold power within us and use wands to channel that magic, but Buffy, she is part of it and can draw upon the magic of all good things."

"How very interesting."

By lunch, every staff member in the castle had heard of Buffy's control of magic in the DADA room. So, when she went down to the Quidditch pitch with Minerva, six other professors were there to watch. Buffy could only identify four of them: Flitwick, Snape, Dumbledore, and Hagrid. "Buffy, command the broom 'up,'" Minerva instructed.

Buffy smirked and held her hand out and closed her eyes. The broom flew into her hand. Minerva did the same to her broom and demonstrated how to slowly mount the broom and fly in a low circle around the Pitch. Buffy followed her lead. "Minerva, this is so wonderful!" Buffy shrieked.

Minerva turned around and, seeing her pupil having no trouble at all, launched into a series of turns. Buffy followed her unerringly. So she sped up and rose higher and higher. The Slayer followed her and then streaked past her in a completely vertical line. So Minerva removed the object that she always kept in her pocket: a Golden Snitch. "Buffy, catch this!" she yelled to the figure streaking across the sky in a blur of scarlet robes as she released the tiny golden ball.

Buffy launched herself at the Snitch and pushed the Starlight broom to its limits, actually catching up with the enchanted ball that was trying to escape her. Her fingers grasped the Snitch and then released it again. This time the Snitch tried a different technique. It hurtled towards the ground. Fearlessly, the blonde followed the Snitch down so low. The Snitch turned just so that Buffy could turn and follow it, the ends of her robes dragging on the ground. Again, the Snitch could not outrun Buffy and the Starlight racing broom. When she finally landed after catching the Snitch twice more, Flitwick ran up to her and squeaked as he applauded, "Miss Summers, that was the best flying I've ever seen. Even in the World Cup. And on a Starlight no less. An infamously difficult to control model. Men die racing them in straight lines. And you handled it like a Firebolt."

"It's reflexes, Mr. Flitwick. Carefully honed over eight years on the Hellmouth," Buffy told him, then she began babbling, "Of course, I wish said reflexes would have revealed themselves when I was driving a car. Or during any of the five times I took the test."

Minerva walked up and told Buffy, "If you wanted, my dear, you could play for any Quidditch team in the world."

Buffy smiled, embarrassed at all the attention she was getting. She escaped from the Pitch as quickly as she could, choosing to hole up in her room to read through 101 Great Defensive Curses. When she finally arrived at dinner that evening, Buffy sat next to Dumbledore while she asked him a few questions.

"Headmaster, when do the students come back?" she asked, having realized during the day that she had only a vague idea.

Dumbledore replied, "Next week. Ten days from today."

"Well then," Buffy said, pushing back from the table and standing up, "I'd better get crackin'. I have seven years' worth of DADA and Potions books to read by then." She limped out of the Great Hall.

Chapter 5 - Los Estudiantes

Buffy was true to her word, within eight days, she had learned all of the information in all the books all the way through seventh year. DADA books were useless to her, but she read them anyway so she could relate to her students. There was no way that she was going to disappoint Dumbledore, who had given her a chance when few others would have done so. She had yet to screw up a Potion. Unexpectedly, Buffy had never opened up like the teachers expected.

Most of the time, new teachers began to make friends with the rest of the staff and be more exuberant within five days of arriving, but Buffy had, if anything, become more reclusive. She had diverged no more details to what had happened to her earlier. Dumbledore had shown her the workout room that some of the teachers used to keep their reflexes in shape. Anyone who had seen her in that room could not say that her injured leg hindered her in any way when she was fighting. For the most part, Buffy spoke only to Dumbledore, Dobby, Remus, Minerva, and Severus.

Remus had surprised everyone. He had rejected most people's sympathy and friendship for the summer, but he had accepted Buffy's friendship. She didn't pity him; she acted normal. He had returned to teaching, which was something he loved, and he had made a friend who could honestly commiserate with him.

The most disastrous event had been when Sybil Trelawney had descended from her tower and ran into Buffy. Sybil began to predict, "I see a very violent, early death for you. Pain follows you everywhere and will never let you escape its grasp. Some has been undeserved, but much deserved."

That was the last straw on Buffy's nerves. Seers weren't real in her book, but Sybil's words seemed to strike a chord with her and Buffy collapsed into tears. Sybil ran shrieking through the halls. The first person to arrive was Severus Snape. "What happened?" he asked, worried for her. She seemed to be made of a very fine crystal. Beautiful and strong, but if pushed in the wrong way, she could break.

Buffy mumbled, "Nothing. Sybil told me the truth. I've deserved everything I've gotten."

"What!?" he gasped, Sybil had never been that cruel before, then he told her, "Most of her prophecies are fake anyway."

"But she was right about dying. I have died early. Twice. Death and pain follow me wherever I go, both of which I deserve," she sobbed. Severus was taken aback by this admission.

Dumbledore had arrived by that time and he told her, "Miss Summers, Sybil predicts an early, violent death for everyone, even me."

"Oh." Severus and Minerva walked with Buffy to her rooms and made sure that she was okay. She had seemed to calm down after she realized that Trelawney was a phony. But Severus swore that he could see a level of self-loathing in her eyes. Before he left, Severus assured himself that Buffy was emotionally stabile.

Everyone in the castle was concerned for their new comrade's well being. She had grown to be like a little sister for Remus and Minerva, and Severus wasn't sure where she fit in his heart. Of course, it was only recently that he had found that he had one.

Finally, the day that the students started had arrived. Buffy walked into the Great Hall for breakfast dressed in her standard scarlet-and-silver robes and her blond hair bound tightly against her head. She came off as very stern yet also beautiful.

Before Buffy rose from her seat, Flitwick and Snape approached her seat with a box. "This is a gift from the staff here to you. So you can look the part of a DADA teacher," Severus told her.

Buffy carefully opened the package to reveal a hand carved, gilded cane. The head of a lion and the head of a snake adorned the handle. The handle pulled out to reveal a gleaming sword covered in ancient runes. "It's beautiful," she gasped.

Dumbledore explained the runes and told her, "The runes make it far more powerful against magical enemies. Its name is Anduthoniel. It belonged to the last Slayer to attend Hogwarts, two thousand years ago."

As the carriages began to approach, Buffy put her hood up so no one could see her face. Buffy managed to sit through the Sorting Ceremony and watched as Slytherin house gained several students. Most of the other students were too afraid to come to Hogwarts after Voldemort's return. Gryffindor was the only other house to gain more than one student. After the Sorting, Dumbledore stood up to make the Opening Feast announcements: "Welcome to Hogwarts. As you know, the Forbidden Forest, is obviously, forbidden, and curfew is in effect for all students. And now I would like to introduce this year's Defense Against the Dark Arts instructors: the returning Remus Lupin and Buffy Summers." With this, Buffy stood and removed her hood. Everyone gasped.

The Great Hall filled with murmurs as everyone digested this new information. The students seemed to think that she was very young and small to be teaching such a class as DADA. Eventually, Dumbledore interrupted their murmurs with, "And now, let's eat!"

During the meal, Buffy noticed that the boy everyone was so excited about, Harry Potter, was not present at the meal. She leaned over and mentioned it to Dumbledore. Dumbledore asked Minerva, "Could you please go and get Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley from their tables and bring them up here." Minerva looked up and saw that the two young Gryffindors were staring at her anyway, so she just waved them up. They jumped up and nearly ran up to the teachers' table. "Where is Harry?" Dumbledore asked.

Ron told him worriedly, "Neither of us knows. Harry was writing us regularly and told us in his last letter, two days ago, that he would see us on the train today."

"He said his relatives were being rude and everything, but that was normal for Harry, so it's possible he might have been kidnapped," Hermione blurted.

"Now, now," soothed Dumbledore, "We don't know what happened at all yet. I'm going to send two Professors to the Dursleys to see if he's there now. Please, return to your seats and see me when the feast is over. I don't want to alarm anyone."

They did return to their seats, looking very somber. Dumbledore turned around and asked, "Severus, Buffy, would you mind going to the Dursleys' house to check on Harry to me?"

"Why us, Headmaster?" Buffy asked.

"Because you, my dear, are very familiar with Muggle ways, and Severus is the most powerful dueler I know other than myself, Harry, Voldemort, and you. Could you take the Floo?" Dumbledore asked them.

Severus and Buffy hurried to the fireplace in Dumbledore's office. Severus explained, "We floo into Arabella Figg's house. She's a squib, but she has her fireplace connected."

"Arabella Figg!" bellowed the two professors as they disappeared in the fireplace.

Severus arrived before Buffy. She stumbled out of the fireplace and Severus caught her as she tripped over one of Arabella's many cats. "Definitely not my fave mode of transport, Sev," Buffy grumbled, brushing soot off her nose.

The two walked toward Number 4 Privet Drive. As they went up to ring the bell, Buffy transfigured her gilded cane into a small necklace, which she put around her neck. She could walk without her cane, but she was much slower. A horrendously fat boy answered the door and hollered as he ran from them, "Dad, the freak's friends are here!"

An equally enormous man lumbered up to the door and told them, "We don't permit that kind in this house."

"We're looking for Harry Potter," Severus told him.

The man's face turned redder and he told them, "I kicked that freak out like I should have long ago."

"Mr. Dursley, I dearly hope that you are not speaking of your own nephew in that voice," Buffy said sweetly.

"Why would you hope that?"

Buffy smiled sinisterly and told him, "Because Harry hasn't shown up for school. And I have just recorded what you said to me. And you, as his guardian, have a legal obligation to keep him or turn him over to proper officials. And my legal obligation is to report this to the proper authorities so that they may investigate your treatment of your Wizard nephew." Severus looked at Buffy and saw a hardness and courage that he had never seen in her face before.

The man only thought a second before his whole attitude changed. Surely he could not have the rest of the neighborhood find out that his nephew was a Wizard. He smiled and held his hand out as he said, "I am Vernon Dursley, and if you would please follow me, I will take you to Harry. I'm sorry about the misunderstanding, I was only joking, you see, Harry has decided that a normal school would really be the best place for him."

"Lead us."

Vernon Dursley trudged up the stairs and came to a heavily locked door. He took out a ring of keys and began to unlock all of them. Buffy waved a hand and all the locks came undone. Severus reached out and opened the door. The two rushed in once they saw the figure lying on the floor of the empty room. No one saw Vernon disappear.

Harry Potter was crumpled on the floor, apparently the victim of a harsh beating. Buffy was looking over him. "Some of these bruises and whip marks are several days old. Some have already scarred over. Sev, he's been beaten all summer," she nearly cried, her voice full of pain.

Harry was conscious, but not really in great shape. "I'm okay, miss, just need a lil sleep," he mumbled.

Severus was seething with anger as he hissed, "Mr. Dursley, do you have any idea was the penalty is for physically abusing a child?"

Buffy turned instinctively just in time to see Vernon aiming a shotgun at them. She raised her hand and shot a stunning spell towards him, but even when it hit it didn't effect him at all. Time seemed to slow as she found herself jumping up to shield Severus and Harry from the shot. Buffy caught most of the shot in the chest.

"Stupefy!" Severus yelled as he pointed his want at Vernon. Then both he and Harry crouched down to look at the wounded girl.

Buffy whispered, "You're both safe. Dobby will be so happy. So will Dumbledore." She released a weak cough as blood dribbled from her mouth.

"Will she be alright?" Harry asked his Potions teacher.

Severus gather the girl in his arms, not caring if he hurt her, for his only goal was to get her to Hogwarts. "Harry, is the fireplace in the Floo network?"

"Yes, Professor Snape, for emergencies."

The two rushed down the stairs and Flooed back to the Hogwarts infirmary. "POPPY!" Severus roared.

Poppy came rushing out of her office. "What happened?"

"She was hit with a Muggle fireweapon."

"A gun. Then, put her on the bed," Poppy instructed. She has spoken with Buffy about repairing her leg earlier, but when she looked closely at the injury, it was both too old and too severe to completely fix it. Now, she rushed off to get supplies to treat the wound.

Severus whirled around and growled at Harry, "Go get the Headmaster! Then return to get your wounds looked at."

"Please, Professor Snape, make sure she lives, I owe her my life," Harry begged.

"So do I," Severus replied, "Now go get Albus!"

Severus rushed back in to give Poppy a hand. Over the next half-hour, Severus and Poppy worked to repair the injured tissue. The lead shot had been removed, thanks to a potion, which made the lead 'float'. Most of the tissue had been repaired, but her lungs and the ribs that were broken would take a few days to heal. Severus explained the situation to Dumbledore, "She threw her life in the way for two people she barely knew. Poppy estimates only a few days, a week at the most, before she'll be fully healed, but she didn't know that when she leapt in front of it. She wants me to come by tomorrow morning to assess the potions' effectiveness on her. Buffy didn't react to some potions like other people do. Merlin, Albus, she doesn't even seem to value her life like other people do."

"Severus, Buffy values her life exactly how all Slayers have, at least the good ones: a disposable tool," Dumbledore told him.

Severus shook his head in amazement, "She hasn't always thought that way, has she?"

"No, she hasn't. Six months ago, Buffy valued her life like anyone else. She was the longest living Slayer on record, so she believed that her point of view on life benefited her slaying. Then a close friend snapped and turned on her, killing most of her other friends. Since then, she has abandoned her previous view of life and sees everything quite cynically."

"Oh. How sad," Severus mumbled, and walked off, thoroughly disturbed by Dumbledore's insight.

Harry was waiting outside the infirmary. "Professor Snape, how is the blond girl?" he asked, terribly worried about her.

Severus's face softened ever so slightly and he replied, "She's doing very well, Potter. You can expect to have your DADA teacher back by the end of the week."

"May I see her?'

"You have to ask Madam Pomfrey," Severus told him. The Potions Master walked away, rethinking his views on both Buffy Summers and Harry Potter.

Madam Pomfrey tended to Harry's wounds and then told him to come back to see Buffy when she awakened. Buffy had already reawakened briefly and was fine. The mediwitch would need to keep an eye on her for the next eight hours, but everything was healing perfectly. The small blond girl certainly didn't react to things like most people. She seemed far more resistant to injury than most people Poppy had tended to over the years.

Chapter 6 - Glamourie

Severus arrived at the Hospital Wing to hear quiet chatter. One voice was the weakened, but still recognizable voice of Buffy and the other was unmistakably Harry Potter. Poppy intercepted him before he could reach Buffy's curtained-off bed. "Severus, Mr. Potter came in at 6 this morning and refused to leave until Buffy woke up," she explained.

Severus was more interested in her well-being than Harry Potter and asked, "How is she?"

"Excellent, especially considering the blood loss and lung damage. The girl practically refuses to stay here one more night, but I can't let her stay alone. Alert spells don't work on her, so I wouldn't know if she was having trouble. Can you keep her? Just for two or three days?" Poppy nearly begged.

"Why can't Minerva or Filius do it?"

"Minerva's leaving to visit her newborn niece tonight. And Filius and Buffy only get along marginally well."

"Fine, Poppy, if Buffy agrees, she may stay with me," Severus conceded as he moved towards Buffy's bed. He hissed, "Potter, go join your housemates at breakfast before I dock you 20 points." Harry hurried out of the infirmary with a wave at his DADA teacher. As Severus came into full view of Buffy's bed, he saw the stunning red rose that sat in a glass vase on her stand.

"Harry transfigured it for me," Buffy told him.

Severus stood still, shocked for a moment, before admitting, "Maybe the boy has some modicum of humility after all."

"He does. As do I. Thank you, for allowing me to stay with you. I have . . . issues with hospitals and prefer to avoid them," the petite blonde told him.

"I see. Buffy, what you did last night for me, I can't repay you. You sacrificed yourself for two people you didn't even know. For a hero, I understand that, but for a greasy git who is mean to everyone? Why?" Severus asked.

"Because I never knew this Evil Severus that you are saying you are. All I've ever known of you has been kind and understanding under an abrasive front. You're my friend, a wonderful compassionate man who was too absorbed in helping a seventeen-year-old boy to realize the danger that your own life was in. And that made me want to protect you as much as Harry." Severus's face turned to one of shock as he heard her words. Someone liked him, as a real friend. Trusted him. No one else but Dumbledore trusted him so much. A single tear escaped his eyes as he bent down and gave Buffy a gentle hug and left a light kiss on her forehead.

"Thank you," he whispered.

Poppy came bustling in and began to chirp, "Buff you can't leave until I redo your dressing on your chest and you eat breakfast. Severus, why don't you go and eat in the Great Hall and come back in an hour? She'll be ready to go by then." Reluctantly, Severus left his friend.

An hour later, the Potions Master returned to find Buffy sitting in an Enchanted Chair, dressed in her robes, smiling. "Can I go now?" she whined.

Poppy allowed her to go and Buffy moved to keep pace with Severus. "Whoa, aren't we supposed to turn here?" Buffy asked.

Severus smiled and said, "If you wish to get there like a student, yes. I prefer to use my own way." He continued to a suit of armor bearing an eagle on its crest. "The password is 'asphodel'. These are my own quarters," he explained before uttering the password. "The doors are enchanted so that, even though there are six floors of rooms this size, you simple open the door and there is the room. This door opens to my office in the dungeons. Students will be here in five minutes, where would you like to sit?"

Buffy shrugged and replied, "Oh, where ever there is enough room."

Severus arranged for her to sit at the front of the classroom, in full view of all the desks, but not in the way. She moved to that spot and raised her scarlet hood to hide her face.

Students soon began to file in. Harry, Hermione, Ron, and Neville all arrived together. "Greetings, class. I hope none have you have forgotten everything you've learned in the past five years, but we have yet to see. Seated at the front is Professor Summers. She will be observing my class for the next two days. I wish for her to leave here as intact as possible, so do try not to explode anything. Today we will brew a Cutis Novum Potion, as someone recently used up much of Madam Pomfrey's stores." Severus swore he could see a slight smirk on Harry's face. "The ingredients are on the table, I trust you to find the instructions."

Silently, Buffy watched as the students made their potions. Near the end of class, Neville went to add the final ingredient when Buffy shouted, "No!" and leapt from her chair. She whipped the crushed bezoar from his hand. "Mr. Longbottom, crushed bezoar and gnome hair are highly explosive together," she gasped before she collapsed, coughing.

"Students, turn your cauldrons off and clean them out. I'm taking Professor Summers to Madam Pomfrey," Snape shouted. Then he felt a desperate tug at his robes.

Loudly enough for the students to hear, Buffy pleaded, "No! No hospitals! Please!"

Severus changed his directions, "Mr. Weasley, run and fetch Madam Pomfrey. Send her to my office." He carried Buffy into his office.

"Fuck," the Slayer muttered. At her friend's questioning glance, she clarified, "Must have torn through some new skin. Blood. Poppy barely needs to come, really. In twenty minutes, it'll be closed and halfway done healing. As long as it's not huge, which it's not, I'll be fine."

Nevertheless, Poppy came bursting in, ready to help. She did, by giving a Blood Clotting agent and a healing spell. After that, she left, but not before saying, "Severus, watch her, make sure she's okay."

After she had left, Severus called Dobby. "I am canceling all my afternoon classes, please tell Dumbledore." And that was it. For nearly half an hour, the two sat in complete silence, except for the petite blonde's hacking coughs.

"Thank you," were her first words after the coughing had subsided. "Thank you for the company."

"It was no problem. Neville is quite happy that he didn't have to visit the infirmary again."

"Sev, where is your, um, loo?" Buffy asked quietly. The Potions Master lifted her into the enchanted chair and directed to the bathroom. As the door shut, Severus heard a thud, followed by a short cry as every glass object in Severus's quarters shattered. He raced into the bathroom to see Buffy curled up in the corner of the bathroom, sobbing and murmuring, "No, not in there! Please! Let me go!"

Severus gently scooped her up and set her on his couch, quietly trying to stop her sobs. Eventually, she stopped and explained, "When-when I was captured, I was held in a bathtub for most of the time. Payback for earlier, he said. I haven't seen one since. I'm sorry, Sev."

"It's okay, I find it nice to have a temporary flat mate. And I do find your presence interesting," Severus told her earnestly, "Now, it is time for a Potions lesson. There is one potion that may help your leg. It will, at the very least, lessen any pain." The two spent the rest of the afternoon brewing the potion. At dinner, Severus took another passage to the Great Hall. Conversation stopped when the two entered. Neville Longbottom came up and handed her a letter.

Buffy read it. Neville had told her how thankful he was that she had helped him. She only nibbled and spoke with Minerva, assuring her of her well- being. "My dear, about four hours ago, the castle walls seemed to almost flex. Did you see it?"

He face turned to one of shock as she stuttered, "N-no."

"It turned nearly black, every surface in here, for about ten seconds, then returned to normal." Minerva explained. Buffy's face paled at this and every surface in the castle rippled and flickered white. "Oh, my dear," was all Minerva could manage.

Dumbledore stood as students began to panic and announced, "Please, follow your Heads of House up to your dormitories. Stay calm, nothing is wrong." Then he turned, nearly glaring at Buffy before uttering, "Follow me."

Once in his office, Albus explained, "It appears that you can affect this castle. No one has ever been able to do that. Unfortunately, it weakens the castle's wards, so until you can control your power, I'm afraid you must wear this." He handed her a silver cross. "It simply blocks your magical abilities while you wear it."

Buffy slipped it on and scars began to appear on her face. One ran across her face and nose, beginning at her left temple and ending by her chin. A twin set ran across her lips, as if from fangs, and a small scar remained on her hairline. "Glamourie," Dumbledore gasped.

Buffy shook her head, "The . . .cuts that gave me these happened long before I came here. I don't know how."

"It was most likely a mistake, Buffy. You didn't even know that you had glamourie."

"Oh. Well, can you cast that glammy-stuff on me so that I don't freak out my students?"

The Headmaster nodded and told her, "Yes, of course, though it must be recast every eight hours and you can't have it all the time."

"Oh, well, can you cast it now?"

"Only for a brief period. You'll have an hour before it wears off."

"So I'll be able to see Poppy before it goes away?" Buffy asked.

"Yes, my dear," Dumbledore replied. He cast the spell.

Buffy hurried out, but not before pleading, "Don't tell anyone, please?" She hurried out after seeing the brief nod from the Headmaster.

Forty-five minutes later, Buffy's chair came back into Severus's quarters. He put down Russian Antidotes and Serums and looked at his flat mate. "Are you alright?" he inquired, taking in her pale face and nervousness.

Buffy nodded quickly and responded, "Poppy just removed my bandages, but she won't let me get rid of this damn chair. Now, I need some sleep. I guess all the weepies hit me hard." With that she retreated into her bedroom, leaving a very confused Potions Master staring after her.

Chapter 7 - Demonstrations

Severus awoke with a start. He had heard a scream in his sleep and leapt out of bed, heading for the door. "Dammit!" the Potions Master screamed as he plowed into the door of his room. With a flick of his wand, light filled the room and Severus continued to the only possible source of the cry: Buffy. He arrived at her door and started banging on it.

"Come in, Sev," an irritated voice came through.

Severus quietly walked into Buffy's room. She was seated in a chair with her back facing the door. A low, annoyed tone came through, "What, pray tell, caused you interrupt my sleep?"

"I heard a scream," he uttered, surprised by her anger.

"Well it wasn't from me, you must have been dreaming. Now that you have awakened me, please remove yourself from my room so that I may attempt to go back to sleep," she nearly hissed.

Thoroughly offended, Severus turned on his heel and left her room without another word. Buffy rose from her chair and moved back to her bed, tears in her eyes and her scars clearly visible.

Morning came, and both Buffy and Severus arrived at the Great Hall looking very tired that day. Buffy with Dumbledore arrived nearly fifteen minutes after her flatmate walked in. For the first time since school had started, Buffy sat at the completely opposite end of the table, speaking quietly with Professor Flitwick about the uses of Charms in haircare.

When breakfast was over, Buffy silently slipped out of the Great Hall and pointedly avoided talking to anyone. She headed straight to the DADA room. Remus was already there because he had eaten early in order to get Buffy's demonstration ready. "Do you have them ready?" she asked.

"All you have to do is say the word and the boxes will release them. The first box is the biggest, I thought you could use it in the Slytherin- Gryffindor class first period. They're the hardest to impress," Remus informed her. "And I put all the weapons where you requested them."

"Thanks, Remy. Sorry I couldn't help, but my magicky stuff doesn't work on living things and its hard to climb up that high."

Remus smiled at his friend and told her, "It was nothing. I just can't wait to see the looks on the students' faces when they see you."

"Well, I'm off to change into proper demo clothes, so I'll see you in a coupla minutes," Buffy chirped as she headed off.

Twenty minutes later, Buffy returned. She was still dressed in her robe, but Remus could see that the clothing underneath was loose, comfortable workout clothing. Her hair was pulled into a looser style, with wooden sticks holding it back. All it all, the slight girl suddenly looked as if she was actually younger than her seventh-year students. The two teachers sat down in the two seats at the head of the classroom and waited. Buffy looked relaxed, but even Remus could see that she was nervous.

Harry, Hermione, and Ron were the first students to get to class that morning. Buffy smiled cheerily at them, then turned her gaze back to some point in the back of the classroom. "She looks like a perfect California twit," whispered a Slytherin girl as she entered. Harry swore he could see the corners of her mouth curve into a gentle smirk as if she had heard it. Four minutes later, all the students were in their seats. Neither of the teachers moved an inch until the students were completely silent.

Then their 'crippled' DADA teacher leapt out of her seat with a dancer's grace and asked, "Who here has seen a vampire?"

All of the students' faces turned to ones of shock. Obviously they had never met the things that go bump in the night. "Well, today is your lucky day. Most people, Muggle or Magical, don't believe that they exist. But someone here I assume has read something on them?" she continued.

Hermione promptly raised her hand and explained, "I've heard that vampires are immortal part-demons who drink blood and can only be killed by a wooden stake."

"And you have heard correctly. Actually though, beheading, a cross, Holy Water, and fire also kill vampires quite nicely. Now, who here has heard of a Vampire Slayer?"

Again, Hermione responded, "Vampire Slayers are teenage girls who are born one to a generation to fight the vampires."

"If that isn't a load of crap I don't know what is," Draco Malfoy sniggered.

Then came Buffy's voice, much louder than anyone had expected, ""Into each generation a Slayer is born. One girl in all the world, a Chosen One. One born with the strength and skill to fight the vampires, to stop the spread of their evil and the swell of their numbers."

At this, Draco and many of the other Slytherins burst out laughing. Buffy whirled around and winked at Remus, who jumped out of his chair and stood behind the front student's desk. "Always darker before dawn," Buffy said, her face the portrait of calm and collected. A previously unnoticed box in the corner swung open with a bang. Out stepped a huge, brawny vampire. The students gasped in horror. Their petite blond teacher had yet to make a move. "By the Christmas, I expect each and every one of you to be able to subdue an average vampire without a wand. This is not an average vampire, he's really rather large. Your exam will be to fight me," she explained as the vampire took a swipe at her. She easily sidestepped it.

Draco asked, rather loudly, "How will fighting you resemble a vampire?"

His teacher didn't even grace him with an answer. Well, she did, but Buffy's response was to flip over the vampire's head with a elegance that was not apparent in her daily movements. The two figures began to trade kicks and punches. Buffy fought as if it was an intricate dance. Soon, she leapt onto the top of the cabinet holding the weapons. "I have nearly their strength. And twice their skill. And I don't feel pain during a fight. That's the most important part of all. Pain, fear, it clouds you. Anger, hatred, that helps you. Trust me on that," she told them before dropping back down onto the floor wit the pair of knives in hand.

"Hit me!" she yelled, leaving herself wide open to a blow in the shoulder. The vampire's meaty fist connected with her shoulder, which made a distinct popping sound. The Slayer grunted before using her left leg to kick him away. The vampire lay on the ground as Buffy approached him. A knife went into each hand and with a deft, practiced movement, she decapitated him. The man turned to dust.

With a strange roll of her shoulder, the joint ground against something and then popped back into place. Remus glanced around that the students, and that motion had made their eyes bulge. Buffy had given only the slightest sign of discomfort and now she was smiling mischievously at the students. "Trust me, after fighting me, Mr. Malfoy, a vampire will seem like a piece of cake," she told him. And with that, her smirk seemed to get even bigger. "Now, as class is nearly over and I can't possibly teach you anything new today, class is done for today. Please come tomorrow in clothing that you can fight in. No skirts, ladies. And all wants are to be left in your dorms. No excuses, anyone with a wand will be docked 100 points. Now, shoo!"

The students seems to trickle out of the room at an impossible pace. Two Slytherins came up and tried to touch the vampire dust, but Buffy intercepted them. "I'm not stupid, boys. Even a speck of vampire ashes can sell for several thousands of dollars in Knockturn Alley. Precisely the reason that you will not be dealing with vampires in this class. Now, get to your next class," their DADA teacher told them. One boy made to move for the ashes, but Buffy flexed her muscles, making slight cracking sounds as she worked the kinks out of all her joints. The two teenagers scampered out of the room as if they were first-years.

Remus clapped a bit as Buffy turned to face him. "I do believe that you have surpassed Severus as a teacher never to cross."

"Oh, I hope I'm not that disturbing," she whispered, looking behind Remus.

Harry, Hermione, and Ron stood there grinning. "No, Professor Summers, you're just as disturbing, but you don't bite our heads off for messing up," Ron blurted out.

Buffy chuckled and growled, "How do you know I don't?" Ron's face paled several shades before she smiled happily and reassured him, "You're right, Mr. Weasley. Merlin knows I screwed up enough when I was your age. Now, I suppose you have something to ask me?"

"Well, um, Professor, I don't know if Mr. Dumbledore told you, but, um, I have a knack for getting into trouble. With dark witches and wizards. And I always seem to have to have someone bail me out at the very end. My godfather died last spring, trying to save me. I don't want to have to depend on adults to save me. Can you help me learn to fight? I mean, more quickly that this class will go? Everyone says I'm too young to learn to fight, but I can't stop Voldemort without being able to fight him."

Buffy caught Remus's "he's too young" look and told him, "I see that many people think you to young to learn to fight the darker things in this world. How old are you?"

"Seventeen."

"You're still a year old than I was when I first killed a vampire. And a year older that I was when I died the first time. And exactly the same age as I was when I had to kill my boyfriend. You're old enough to learn to fight what you know is out there. So are your friends. They have been with you through most of this. So, tomorrow, come here after dinner. All three of you. If you have homework to do, bring it," Buffy said, blatantly ignoring the glare that Remus was sending her. "Now, get out of here, I'm not responsible if you're late for Transfiguration." The three Gryffindors practically ran from there, clearly pleased with her response.

"What were you thinking, Buffy? Harry's too young for this! Sirius would kill me if he knew that I was letting Harry learn to fight!" Remus cried.

Buffy whirled on Remus and told him, "The boy needs to know unless you want him to join Sirius. Don't you think Sirius would be more angry if Harry died? Don't argue with me. Unless Dumbledore forbids it, Harry and his friends are going to learn."

Remus backed down and thought on what she said. He still didn't like it, but he had to agree that she was right.

Buffy and Remus had three more classes that day. The first year Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs were relatively easy to impress. Buffy and Remus simply used a swordfight. No one could deny that Buffy was obviously holding back while Remus was trying with all his might to keep up with her. Then it was lunch. Buffy simply called Dobby to order a peanut butter sandwich and a bowl of chicken noodle soup. Remus went to the Great Hall.

Remus practically skipped back into the DADA room an hour later. "Buffy, you should have heard everyone. I don't think anyone was talking of anything but you. And your flatmate was in a particularly menacing mood. What has happened between you two? Yesterday you were on quite good terms."

"Nothing, I-I have to go. I'll be back in twenty minutes," Buffy mumbled as she took off, cane back in her hand.

Buffy had taken off for the Headmaster's Office. "I heard that you have agreed to teach young Mr. Potter and his friends wandless defense privately?" Dumbledore asked.

Buffy glared at and defended herself, "He was right. We'll all end up dead if the 'savior' doesn't know how to defend himself."

"Miss Summers, I meant no offense. I think this is a good decision for them. Unfortunately, there are a few teachers that will be less supportive. Minerva and Hagrid particularly. Remus seems to have seen something in you that has given him a bit of confidence in you and Severus, well, Severus trusts you implicitly."

Buffy said shrugged and asked, "Can you do the spell? I have to go to my class now?"

Dumbledore nodded and raised his wand. He cast the spell quickly and quietly and sent his youngest teacher on her way. "My dear, I wish I didn't just have to do that," he murmured, staring after the small figure.

The day's next two classes went off without a hitch. Three vampires ended up dusted and Buffy was left with the job of taking a full jar of vampire dust back to Severus's flat to be locked away. Ashes were on the Ministry of Magic's "Top Ten Most Dangerous Ingredients" list. She locked them up and then went to her room. Just as Severus was returning from his class, Buffy was leaving. Severus did a double-take.

The usually conservative teacher was dressed in tight black clothing under her robes. Severus cleared his throat several times before Buffy asked, "What's wrong, Sev?"

"Why are you dressed like that for dinner?" Severus asked.

Buffy smiled and told him, "I'm not going to dinner, I'm going to the forest. Someone needs to go and lower the vampire population of the place. Hagrid reported some vampire sightings on the edge of the forest. This is what I wear to slay."

"Could I come?"

"No, Sev, I don't need a babysitter. I've been fighting the damn things since I was sixteen years old. You'd just get in the way," she nearly hissed as she moved past him, pulling the robe closed over her outfit.

Severus had finished dinner and was grading homework in his living room when Buffy came in. Her robes were soaked and she was obviously freezing. "Incendio!" Severus muttered, starting the fire in his fireplace. "Accio blanket!" he added, and a emerald blanket flew to his hand. Buffy removed her sopping robe and took the offered blanket. "Merlin, Buffy, what happened?" he exclaimed.

Buffy looked at him questioningly until he saw his gaze pointed at her face. A hand reached up and felt the skin. She could do little more than that. Her secret was up. Tears began to pour from her eyes.

Severus reached up to touch her face. "What's wrong?"

"I thought these were gone. Turns out it was only glamourie and now Dumbledore's spells are the only thing hiding them from everyone. They're ugly," Buffy whispered.

Severus shook his head, realizing why Buffy was spending so little time around him. He was the only person who could actually sense which spells were being used on her. "No, mo chroí, they are part of you. They make you beautiful because they show your strength." He lightly traced each mark with his thumb as Buffy slowly crumbled and curled up with him.

Buffy cried for several minutes before falling asleep next to him. The Potions Master only briefly thought about moving, but didn't want to disturb the sleeping girl. He fell asleep soon after.

Chapter 8 - Quidditch and Doublemeat Palace

Both Buffy and Severus woke up unusually late the following morning. Severus realized the time and both hurried to get dressed. Breakfast would begin in less than an hour. Severus was used to being up two or three hours before breakfast because he would work on some potions before then. Buffy rushed to the bathroom, where she was pleased to find that the tub had been transfigured into a shower with crimson and black tiles.

Ten mintues latert, Buffy emerged slowly from the bathroom, clad in her standard robes and Oxford shirt with its halfheartedly tied know. "Sev, could you do me a favor?" she asked quietly.

"Yes?" he responded.

Buffy asked, "It's too late for me to go to Dumbledore's office without being seen by a student, so could you do the glamourie? Please?"

"Of course, Buffy, one moment please," Severus said before turning around and casting a very complex charm on her face and hands.

Once he was done, Buffy raised her hand to her face. "Sev, I can still feel them."

"The charm only works outside of this room. In here, there's no reason for you to be under such heavy magic. I want to see your true beauty, exactly as you are. The marks show what you have done for everyone, your true inner beauty," Severus told her, drawing one finger down the largest mark. "I can change it if you want."

"No, no that's fine, thank you," Buffy said quickly, "Let's go!"

Severus and Buffy made their way to the Great Hall with both in a much better mood. Conversation nearly stopped when they entered the room. "Keep eating!" Buffy yelled good-naturedly.

The two Professors took their normal seats at the teachers' table. "Buffy, what do you have on the schedule today?" Remus asked.

Buffy smiled, "We still have two more classes to do demonstrations in, though I doubt it'll be much of a surprise now. After lunch, I'd like to play some Quidditch. Anyone wanna be my buddy and play with me?"

Severus, Remus, and Madam Hooch all happily agreed to a two-on-two match right after lunch. Buffy spent the meal talking with Severus and Minerva about plans for the resurrected Dumbledore's Army.

"It clearly needs some faculty support and leadership, but I doubt either Severus or I would be the right person because we're too close. Perhaps you could be the support and give some extra credit for participating. It would mask the special training you're giving Harry because most of the Slytherins would refuse to come to a class with with Harry as its ruling officer," Minerva suggested.

Buffy nodded as she ate some egg and swallowed before saying, "I'd love too, I just hope that Harry and his friends don't resent faculty interference."

Severus piped up and said, "I'll arrange a meeting for you with him after Potions this afternoon to speak to him about it. It would be easy enough to detain him for a few minutes."

"Thanks," Buffy said as she stood up, "Now I have to go decide how to kill a couple of vampires." She walked out of the Great Hall with everyone nearly silent again.

Remus walked into the DADA room half an hour later to find the front table cluttered with dozens of weapons. Stakes, swords, daggers, crossbows, Kendo sticks, throwing stars, ball and chain. A warrior's heaven. "What do you think, Remy, what should I use for the Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff Sixth years?" she asked, holding up a katana and checking its edge.

Remus replied, "You don't need to worry about impressing them, they're about the easiest class above Second Years to impress. Those twin daggers would do nicely though. Those who are good with them look like bloody ballet dancers with 'em."

"Wanna see me with 'em?" Buffy asked. Remus turned around just in time to catch the katana that Buffy had been holding. She drew the fine daggers from their sheaths and stood in a ready position. "Come and get me."

Remus went for her, not intending to hurt her, and, as it turned out, he couldn't have if he tried. Buffy seemed to being just easy enough to keep the battle going for several minutes. They only stopped when they heard a gasp from the back of the room. Buffy stopped, putting her daggers up, but Remus was in mid swing and scraped her arm. "Oww," she whined, staring at the shallow slice breifly before turning to the gasper and said, "You're Alice Croppet? Take a seat wherever you like. Remus, since you managed to cut me, you get to manage to clean my now-bloodied sword."

Remus seemed genuinely sorry until he saw that the wound was already closing. The students filed in and stared at the mess of weapons at the front of the classroom. "Today, as you all know, you will be watching me fight a vampire. I am a Vampire Slayer, and I leave you to know my job. Corinthian!" she finished, releasing the vampire from his box.

Again, Buffy fought just hard enough to keep him from hurting her for several minutes. Her blades moved quickly as she sliced off its head, dusting the monster. The students were awed, as usual. She cleaned the blades and explained the rules of the class to them. "We will begin with wandless, weaponless defense and move onto weapons after Christmas," she told them. "But weapon demonstrations will occur once a week with various weapons until we have gone through everything here." The kids nodded in understanding and filed out of the classroom, their voices bubbling with excitement.

Buffy smiled and began to bounce lightly. "Quidditch after lunch!" she said happily. Then she left the DADA classroom and headed to the dungeons. Severus was in the middle of a class, but they were all just doing their work. She slipped in and began talking to him.

"Sev, you're the best Potions Master in Europe. So, Madam Poppy doesn't have anything that can help my leg, so I thought maybe you could help me find something?" Buffy asked nervously.

Severus became interested, his face a mix of a scientist's fascination and friendly concern, and replied, "Quite possibly, yes. Do you need something for the pain or to fix the injury site?"

"Fixing it would be best, though Poppy says that it would very difficult. But some pain potion that doesn't affect my mind would be nice," Buffy said sweetly.

Severus practically scurried into the back room, eager for a new project. Buffy turned around and noticed that the entire Potions class was staring at her. "Whatcha working on?" she asked innocently.

As luck would have it, it was Ginny Weasley's class, and she responded, "A die engel potion from Germany. It-"

"Gives the drinker temporary protection from spells for about ten seconds. Can only be used once a month. Generally useless, especially since it can't block the Killing Curse or the Imperius," Buffy finished, "Anyone need help? I wouldn't want any exploding cauldrons. Remember, you can't add the Baden-Baden spring water until after the Loch Ness slime."

"Bollocks!" one Hufflepuff boy exclaimed, "I did. Why didn't it explode?"

"Because the reaction doesn't happen until the goat liver is added."

"Can I counteract it, so I don't need to start all over again?" the boy asked.

"Add an amount of Ben Nevis moss equal to the mass of the Loch Ness slime you already put in," Buffy instructed. She moved and removed a tiny vial of the powder from a cupboard and handed it to the boy. He measured it carefully and handed it back to her. She heard Severus returning with the book he was looking for and had the vial back in the cupboard and her body up by his desk by the time he entered the room.

Sev glared briefly at Buffy, understanding her grin, but let it slide because the textbook didn't explain the problem. "I found a Potion that I need to fuss with a little so it doesn't affect the balance in the pendant, but I think it can be done in about a day. It'll take care of the pain. The things I need to fix it are numerous because we have to worry about you healing during the surgery because that's how fast you heal," he told her.

"Thanks, Sev," Buffy whispered in his ear as she dropped a peck on his cheek and left the classroom.

As soon as she was out of sight of the room, she ducked and went into her room. Taking out a book, Buffy began to write her lesson plans for the next week. Demonstrations were over and they would be doing real lessons the next day. Twenty minutes later, Severus stalked in and growled, "You helped them. And you kissed me."

"You have a problem with either one? Did you truly want to have to clean up exploding cauldrons? And weren't they looks on their faces priceless?" Buffy returned.

Severus broke into a reluctant smile and told her, "Yes, it was amusing. It's been a good long while since I've been able to surprise that class."

"See, I bring life into everywhere I go!" she said before her face darkened as she mumbled, "At least for a little while, then everyone ends up dying on me."

"Buffy, don't think like that, shit happens," Severus said, bothered by Buffy's sudden sadness.

With a faint shake of her head, it seemed as if Buffy had pushed the sadness from her face as she said, "So, how long till lunch?"

"Half an hour."

"Did you find much on fixing my leg?" she asked.

Severus nodded faintly and told her, "The problem is still your accelerated healing. To fix your leg, I have to come up with a potion that subdues the healing for a while."

"Cruciamentum. Except I don't think it will slow it down enough. Giles gae it to me on my eighteenth birthday and it turned me, strength-wise, into a normal girl. But I still healed at only slightly under my usual rate," Buffy explained.

Severus's eyes raised when he heard the name of the potion and he headed to his library and returned with a thick volume labeled, "Buch der Stärke Tränke". "My great-grandfather bought it in Germany before the French Revolution. It was secretly translated from a book from England because it was said to have a very dangerous potion in it. Cruciamentum, I think it was. Ah, here it is. Merlin, it's a wonder it didn't kill you."

"Not like they woulda cared," she said bitterly.

"I know, their cruelty was famous in the wizarding world. One of many reasons the Watcher's Council has never held any ground in our world."

"But it doesn't kill me, so if you could manipulate it so it would suppress the healing more, Poppy could do something," Buffy told him. Severus looked uneasy about Buffy using such a dangerous potion. "Look, Sev, I want to be able to walk normally. I want to be able to run and flip like I could before. This is the only way."

Severus nodded and headed into his room to begin work on everything. As he left, Buffy yelled, "Don't forget Quidditch after lunch!"

During lunch the entire Great Hall was buzzing as normal. Buffy, with her advanced hearing, caught some snippets of conversation referring to her and Severus. She smirked and pretended that nothing was different. The Quidditch players ate very little and left before lunch was even over.

Buffy and Severus donned the black Quidditch robes while Madam Hooch and Remus wore white robes. There was no Snitch and the game would only last forty-five minutes, so Severus and Madam Hooch both took the job of keeper while Buffy and Remus played the field. Everyone was a beater.

Remus opened up and got the Quaffle first, Buffy was hot on his heels. He took a shot on Severus, but the Potions Master caught it and threw it back to Buffy. Everyone's faces filled with fear when they saw a Bludger aimed for her head. Buffy caught the Quaffle and whipped around and hit the Bludger away without batting an eye. She headed for the other end and shot on Madam Hooch. Unfortunately, there was a reason Madam Theodora Hooch had played for the English national team fifteen years ago. She was faster than fast and caught the Quaffle without blinking.

The teachers' Quidditch game was spotted by a Ravenclaw fourth-year who told everyone in the school and soon there was a crowd of most of the school there. The game was at a standstill because every time Remus shot on Severus, Severus would catch it and every time Buffy shot on Theodora, Theodora stopped it. The moves they were pulling had rarely, if ever, been seen on the Hogwarts Quidditch pitch.

Then a Bludger finally made its way past Remus's defenses. He had the Quaffle and it hit him on the right side, knocking him off his broom. Buffy caught the Quaffle and, like many people thought she would, began to head towards the hoops. Then she flew down at a ninety-degree angle and grabbed Remus by the collar with one hand. She pulled up at the exactly right moment and probably saved Remus's life because most of the students and staff were to dumbfounded to catch him. Dumbledore probably would have saved him, but not completely prevented any injury. Slowly she lowered him to the ground.

The game ended without anyone scoring because no one could score. But by this point, everyone realized that Buffy was holding back a lot. The afternoon classes buzzed with excitement over their new teacher. She blushed and called the classes to order.

"We will begin with how to block punches. I don't want anyone killing anyone- yet. So instead, you'll be watching Professor Lupin block my attacks and then repeat with each other. We don't have that much time, so this will have to be it for today," Buffy told her students.

The teaching went along very well in Buffy's mind: no one had to go to the Infirmary. Neville ended up with a few bruises, but Remus healed them up with a flick of the wand. "By next class, read the next chapter in your textbooks. Remember, no wands in my room. Tomorrow you're with Remus, bring your wands, so get going everyone," Buffy told her class.

The students were, for the most part, pleased with their new teacher. The Slytherins were bothered by not being dependent on magic, but most of them saw the need for Wandless Defense. The Gryffindors were delighted with the new class because they got to do something and Buffy seemed unaware of House rivalry except for forbidding inter-house pairings for practice.

After everyone had left her room, Buffy headed up to the library, curious to read the Wizardly writings on Slayers. The librarian helped her find all the books she wanted and she trotted off to her rooms and began reading all fifteen volumes. A few were Watcher's Journals that Giles never let her read.

An hour later, when Severus came in from his last class, he found Buffy howling with laughter. "Sev, did you know that some ancient Wiz thought that Slayers were tigers in a human's body?" she managed through her laughter.

Severus looked quite startled and said, "No, no I didn't actually know that. Who was this Wizard?"

"Um," Buffy stopped her laughter long enough to flip through and read the name, "Sechnall Ardghal. Irish wizard."

Her colleague began chuckling, a smirk spread on his face as he told her, "He was my ancestor. A good man, but he went a bit nutters in his later years."

"Wait, Sev, you spoke the night before last. How the heck does a little English boy learn Gaelic in a Wizarding school where they don't teach foreign languages?" she asked.

Severus responded, "My maternal grandfather, Lucas Ardghal, was Irish and a very traditional Irishman at that. He spoke only Gaelic when he could get away with it. Much to my father's chagrin, I learned the language and loved it."

"My first boyfriend was Irish, two and a half centuries ago; he liked to speak Gaelic to me. It's beautiful language," Buffy said, "But I only know a few words. Like, ten."

"If you want, I could teach you," the raven-haired Potions Master offered.

Her eyes filled with tears as she told him, "No, not right now. Angel was the beginning of everything that killed everyone I loved. I want to leave it in the past, for now."

Severus nodded and changed the subject. "Dinner is in ten minutes, shall we go?"

"Yes, yes of course," the Slayer said, glad to leave the room for the moment. Her hand found the familiar, beautiful cane that had accompanied her so much. Severus was pleased to see that she was not favoring her leg as much as the day before. "So, what do you think is for dinner tonight?"

"Remus had a little talk with the House Elves. It seems Dobby has convinced the other elves that you are some sort of goddess," Severus said vaguely.

Buffy spent the entire walk up to the Great Hall naming her favorite foods, "Chocolate, sushi, ice cream, pizza, Chipotle burritos, Mom's chicken noodle soup, sesame chicken . . ." she drifted off as they entered the Great Hall. The tables were covered with standard American fast food fare. Hamburgers, hot dogs, French fries, potato chips, potato salad, and Coca- Cola. "Dobby!!!" she squealed.

Dobby popped out of nowhere, "What can Dobby get Professor Summers?"

"Nothing, oh Dobby, thankyouthankyouthankyou," she rushed as she picked the little House Elf up in her arms and practically hugged the life out of him.

Meanwhile, at the Gryffindor table, Ron Weasley was thoroughly enjoying the change in menu. "If this is what Yanks always eat, it's amazing Professor Summers isn't huge," he mumbled through a mouthful of hamburger.

Hermione admonished him, "Ron, it's not right to talk about a teacher that way."

"You have to admit, it is good food," Ron replied. Hermione rolled her eyes and continued to eat her potato salad.

Buffy was sitting between Severus and Dumbledore at the teachers' table, happily eating a hamburger. Dumbledore looked absolutely delighted with the new food. "You know, I never realized how good American fast food was! I understand you worked at a restaurant in America?" Dumbledore said.

She grimaced, "Yes, Doublemeat Palace, the world's most disgusting place ever. Greasiest place ever, too."

Remus piped in, "French fries are wonderful!" He was eating a plate full of French fries with a big goblet of Coke.

"Freedom fries, Remus," Buffy said.

"What?" he said.

"When France refused to support the U.S. in Iraq, the government changed French fries to freedom fries. Some sort of protest," she explained.

Dumbledore commented, "How very strange."

"Indeed," Severus added as he smothered his hamburger with mustard and ketchup.

Everything seemed to be falling into place. Buffy had friends and students who liked her. She was helping Harry Potter stay alive. Severus was working on a way to fix her leg. Her grief over loss of her friends from Sunnydale was beginning to fade.

Then an unfamiliar gray owl flew into Hogwards and landed on Buffy's plate. She nervously removed the letter from it leg, as it would not leave her alone until she did. She noticed the return address on the Muggle white envelope.

Rupert Giles

4389 Fox Lane

Apartment 3A

Sunnydale, California

She read the address. Buffy Summers, Hogarts, UK. But Buffy knew that handwriting. She hadn't thought she'd ever see it again.

Chapter 9 - Something Surprising

Buffy’s hands shook as she opened the letter. She read the letter quickly, noting the irregularities in the writing. Without a word, the Slayer got up from her seat and nearly ran to her room, leaving half a hamburger lying on her plate. Severus got up to follow her, but Dumbledore extended a hand and whispered, “Let her be. Give her some time.” The Potions Master reluctant stayed in his seat.

Meanwhile, Buffy had paused inside her room just long enough to scribble a note to Severus. “Sev, I have to go home for a little bit. Harry’s first lesson is tonight, I’ll be back by them. Promise. Buffy.”

Then she raced to the fireplace and grabbed a handful of Floo powder. She yelled, “Rupert Giles, California!”

“Whoa, Buff! You’re, um here,” the long-awaited voice exclaimed.

Buffy’s face broke into one of the first true, honest smiles anyone had seen from her in the past months as she squealed, “Xander!!!”

There was Alexander Harris, the friend who she thought was just as lost to her as the dead ones. Slowly, shakily, Xander raised a hand in greeting. “It’s good to see you,” he told her, his lips stumbling over the words.

“Are you alright?” the Slayer asked her friend.

Xander mumbled, “The doctors said it would take a while before all my, um, brain functions were up to speed. What-what about you? Giles said you were hurt, the last thing I saw was you flying through a wall.”

“Xand, I’m fine, just worried about you,” Buffy tried to tell him.

“You can’t lie to me, Buff, you limp when you walk and I know you’re hiding something, you’re eyes say it,” he told her, reaching out and hugging her. “And you’re altogether too skinny.”

“Hey, I’m twice the weight I was two months ago,” she said, sadness flitting through her eyes.

“So, G-man said you’re teaching in Scotland?” Xander asked.

Buffy nodded, “Um, yeah, at a magic school. Wandless Defense stuff.”

“Really?”

“Yup, I get to be in charge of dozens of teenagers trying to beat each other up,” the blonde tried to joke.

Xander looked down at his sock-clad feet and asked quietly, “Could I, um, come and stay there for a while?”

Buffy knew exactly what he was trying to say and replied, “I’m certain you can, but lemme go back and check with the Headmaster to see if he minds. You could probably help with Muggle Studies.” With that she was off.

And twenty minutes later she was back. “Okay, you can come, he’ll be happy to have you, as long as you teach one class a week to the Seventh years. I’ll be back to pick you up at the end of this week. Day after tomorrow at seven o’clock.”

“Okay, but Buff, what is Muggle Studies?”

“Oh, Muggle is the wizarding word for a non-magical person. Muggle Studies is just a class that teaches the mini-wizards about the Muggle world. You’ll get to teach them about Superman and Twinkies,” Buffy explained.

“And I get called Professor for doing this?” Xander told her as he realized all the fun he could have.

Buffy’s smile fell as she said, “Xand, I gotta go. I have a class to teach in like ten minutes. I’ll be back in two days, remember.”

When Buffy returned to her quarters, a very distraught Severus Snape was standing there. “What in the world made you flee from the Hall like a Dementor was on your tail? Without explaining yourself? I daresay you had half of the school terrified because they could not figure out what made you flee,” he ranted.

“Shh, Sev, my friend Xander woke up yesterday in Sunnydale. I went to visit him. He’s going to stay here at least through Christmas,” Buffy informed her roommate.

Severus immediately shut up and uttered a simple, “Oh.” “But now I believe I have a lesson to give, so I will see you in an hour,” Buffy chirped as she left the room. The Potions Master stared after her in confusion. Why was a Muggle coming to stay at Hogwarts?

Meanwhile, Harry, Hermione, and Ron were waiting patiently in the DADA room for their professor to show up. She did, looking quite flustered. “Okay, in the name of safety, the first thing we’re going to learn is how to use a crossbow. There are difficult to operate and keep you out of reach of an enemy. We won’t use them in class because I don’t trust half of them not to kill each other,” Buffy announced, removing three of the weapons from the locked weapons cabinet, along with several bolts. “Ron, Harry, Hermione, there are some targets folded up next to that bookcase, get those down. Bring them here.”

By the end of the night, all three of them could consistently hit the center of the target. Harry had excelled because of his Quidditch reflexes, but they had all done very well. “I’ll see you all tomorrow night, another lesson. Probably hand weapons or hand to hand, I’m not sure yet. Why don’t you tell me your preference tomorrow at lunch? Talk it over,” she said.

Buffy finally went back to her room and flopped down on her bed. She removed a shoebox from under her bed and began flipping through the pictures. A graduation photo taken by the news and clipped from the paper, a few snapshots from junior year, and several from just after she had returned from the dead the second time. Willow had gone camera-happy.

“May I come in?” Severus asked, nearly whispering. He stood at the entrance to her room, looking quite nervous.

Buffy glanced up, “Sure, take a seat.” Her hand indicated that he should sit next to her.

The Potions Master moved noiselessly to sit on the edge of the bed. He sat there without moving a muscle. He saw the Muggle photographs. “Who are they?” Severus asked hesitantly.

Buffy pointed to the smiling dark-haired boy in front of a beat-up old Citroen. “That’s Xander, he’s the one who’s going to be staying here for a while. The Weasley twins would like him,” she explained.

“What about her, she looks like a Weasley,” Severus indicated the redhead.

Buffy’s voice got caught in her throat as she replied, “That’s Willow, she- she was my best friend since sophomore year. She was killed along with my sister, her girlfriend, and Xander’s girlfriend.”

Severus waited several moments before asking, “What happened?”

“My ex-boyfriend took my friends, my sister, and I hostage one day. He had attacked me the year before and then disappeared. It was the end for me, I wasn’t going to take him back. He went kinda, um, nuts. Crazy. This thing called the First possessed him, and I guess it was my fault that I didn’t try to help him. But he scared me, a lot. First thing I really couldn’t fight back at was my own boyfriend. Anyhow, he took us all hostage. He was after me, just me. The others just helped him try to break me. After about eight months, I tried to escape. He had gotten drunk and the Turok-han was gone, so we all made a run for it,” Buffy said, her voice beginning to waver. “For now, let’s just say everyone died but Xander and I.”

The conversation was over. The two sat silently for several moments. A lone tear made its way down her cheek as she stared at the photo, and Severus’s own eyes were watery.

The Potions Master finally broke the silence by saying, “Buffy, would you like to go for a walk in the Forest?”

“With the vampires and spiders?” Buffy said, her face brightening for a moment before she forced it to pale.

Severus smirked as he said, “Of course.”

“Let’s go, please Sev! I’ve been itching for a good fight for a long time!”

Thus the two set out from the castle and headed for the Forbidden Forest. Buffy bore the familiar cane and a scimitar. She had taken to a scimitar because it was easier to use than a full-sized sword. Some agility had been lost in her months of imprisonment, so ease of use had become very important.

However, any onlooker would be unable to tell that the small girl was hindered in any way. She moved with more elegance than a dancer as she disposed of several vampires. Her friend also killed several, though with understandably more difficulty. “Next time I’ll have to get you a sword. Much easier with these guys,” she told him as they headed back in.

Severus chuckled, “I’m sure it is.”

“Now you tell me something about your wild childhood,” Buffy told him.

“No.”

The petite slayer smirked as she said, “Yup yup, c’mon. The vampires got me excited now you have to face my hyperness. Tell me the best joke you ever played on someone.”

Severus’s eyebrows raised. “Now what makes you think I played jokes?”

“The way you trick your students? That has to be born of years of practical jokes.”

The Potions Master sighed and began, “Well, once, during Potions-”

“Of course,” Buffy remarked.

“Yes, during Potions, I decided that James Potter needed to be taken down a notch. He was the cockiest bastard in school. Captain of the Quidditch team, handsome as the devil, and smart as a whip, or so he fancied himself. Anyhow, we were doing a Hair Growth potion one day. Professor Wills was balding and decided he could use a large supply. Well, first we had to test the potions on ourselves. I managed to trade his powdered unicorn hair for dried bubotuber puss. It caused all of his hair to fall out. I don’t think he ever forgave me for that. Though apparently Lily, James’s girlfriend, liked it,” Severus said.

Buffy burst out laughing. “From what Remus said, you were supposedly the victim of most jokes. Now I found out that you were a devil in disguise.”

“I was not going to jeopardize my academic future for the thrill of playing pranks all the time,” Severus said in his defense. Under Buffy’s knowing grin he admitted, “But I couldn’t resist in some cases.”

“Let’s stop by the kitchens for some hot chocolate,” Buffy suggested. She wasn’t completely used to Scottish weather yet.

“Dobby will get Professor Summers a mug of hot cocoa,” the House Elf squeaked.

Buffy jumped at Dobby’s sudden appearance but she replied, “Oh thank you so much! Could you add mini-marshmallows to it? And bring Severus a cup too?”

“Dobby will have it there by the time you reach your rooms,” he promised before vanishing with a ‘pop’.

The two continued to their rooms, chatting quietly. It was past curfew for the students, but they both knew that curfew was often broken by students from all Houses, specifically a trio from Gryffindor. Buffy had caught them two nights ago when she went for a walk down to see Hagrid.

As Dobby had promised, two steaming mugs of hot cocoa were sitting on the coffee table in front of the leather couch. Dozens of mini-marshmallows were piled on top. Buffy began drinking it as quickly as it cooled, trying not to burn her tongue.

Meanwhile Severus glared at the mug as if it was a mug of hot dragon saliva. “Why do you love marshmallows so much?” he asked.

“They make it extra frothy and sweet!” Buffy announced.

Severus shook his head in astonishment, “Buffy, you have practically refused to eat anything since your arrival and now you are downing food faster than all the Weasley boys combined!”

“Now my best friend is awake and coming to visit and I have friends here. Things are beginning to come together,” she told him, determined to thoroughly enjoy her cocoa. “So, drink your cocoa. You’ll like it. I don’t know how, but Dobby and the House Elves make the best hot chocolate I’ve had in a long time.”

Hesitantly, Severus picked up the overflowing mug of hot chocolate and began to sip at it. After several minutes, Buffy growled, “Dobby! He made them never-empty mugs. They just keeping filling up with both the marshmallows and the cocoa!”

“Is there something wrong with that?” the Potions Master asked hesitantly.

Buffy shook her head and admitted, “No, it’s just he’s trying to trick me into eating more.”

“We all are,” her friend pointed out.

The Slayer grumpily muttered, “Oh.”

“Would you be interested in helping me with the Healing Delay potion tomorrow after lunch?” Severus suggested.

“Yes- oh, wait, no,” she said, “I can’t. I have to go to Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley tomorrow to get Xander’s clothes for when he comes here. Plus I need to look for practice weapons for the kids, I don’t want them not learning to use a knife, I just don’t want them using a real knife. Once I find the dummy knives, I need to go to someplace and have them all charmed so that no one can transfigure them into something real.”

“Hmm, busy day it seems,” the raven-haired man commented.

His diminutive companion replied, “Yup, but it’ll probably be safer than your day. You have Neville in your class tomorrow. He’s a good boy, just awful at potions.”

“I fear for my very life half the time he’s in class. Fortunately tomorrow is a test day. So, unless Longbottom manages to blow up a piece of parchment, it should be the most harmless day of the week.”

“Damn you. You get to administer a pansy little test while I run all over Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley looking for fake knives and robes!”

“Isn’t life funny that way?” Severus smirked as he said this. Buffy glowered at him in return.

Chapter 10 - Buffets and Interior Design

The days had passed and it was time for Xander to come to Hogwarts. Buffy had gotten a room for him near Gryffindor Tower. She had decided to let him choose the colors. Now they were a plain white and beige. Classes had passed marvelously for Buffy, and Severus estimated that he was about a month from completing a potion to help Poppy fix Buffy.

After classes on Friday, Buffy grabbed a handful of Floo Powder and headed to Giles’s apartment. The Portkey she had gotten from Albus was stored safely in her pocket. She would give it to Xander. It was not one of those one-time-use-only Portkeys; it was a Portkey that could be used again and again as long as the password was known. “Bye, Sev, see ya in about half an hour,” she said as she headed into the fireplace.

Severus nodded; he had agreed to get dinner for the three of them in their quarters when Buffy got back. Xander still stumbled over both his feet and his words a lot, so she didn’t want him to go to the Great Hall on his first night at the school.

“Rupert Giles!” she called. With a poof, she was there.

Xander’s cheery voice greeted her at the other end, “Hiya, Buffster. So, do I have to take that thingy?” He looked dubiously at the fireplace. A few duffle bags were piled up next to him. Giles stood off to the side.

Giles asked, “Could you stay for some lunch? Oh, wait, um, dinner?”

“I can’t stay for very long today, Giles. I have to eat dinner before I teach a class in about an hour and a half. But I can come back tomorrow and spend the day with you,” she offered.

Giles nodded, understanding the commitments that she had. “I would love to have you over. Why did you want Xander to go today if you are coming back tomorrow?”

“I wanted him to get used to the school before I have to go back to teaching on Monday. He won’t start teaching until after Christmas, but he’ll want the time to get to know the students and the castle. And learn to play Quidditch,” Buffy said.

Xander opened his mouth to ask what that was, but his friend stopped him, “I’ll explain it to you over dinner.”

“Dinner? What kind of dinner?” he asked hopefully.

The blonde smiled and said, “Anything you want.” A chuckle erupted from Xander that sounded very similar to the Emperor from Return of the Jedi. “Have you been watching too much Star Wars again, Xand?”

In response to a meek nodded from Giles, Buffy admonished, “Now Giles, what have we learned about letting Mr. Harris watch Star Wars eighteen hours a day?”

“Twenty,” the Watched admitted.

Buffy glanced at her watch and said, “Time to go. See ya tomorrow Giles.”

“Good bye, be careful,” the father-figure called after the pair.

Xander announced, “May the Force Be with you!”

“Good riddance,” Giles muttered as Buffy said, “Hindi soap operas with orange juice.”

And then they were gone.

And then they appeared again. In England. In Buffy’s bedroom to be precise. “Whoa, Buffy, who’s with all the dark and blood?” her companion asked, noticing the colors.

“That would be me. Black and red go quite nicely together, don’t you think?”

“Oh. So, where is my room?” Xander asked, trying to move past his error.

Then he looked at his best friend and his jaw dropped. “What happened?” he murmured as his shaking hands reached out to touch her face.

“Dammit,” Buffy grumbled before yelling, “Severus Snape, get in here!”

The Potions Master appeared in the doorway moments later, “Yes Buffy?” he asked dryly.

“I told you that the Glamour should work in here! Now look what you’ve done!” she whined, tears in her eyes.

Severus led her over to her bed and had her sit in it. “You’re Xander?” he asked briskly.

“Y-y-yes I am, now who are you? I mean--” he was cut off by Severus tossing a piece of candy at him.

The raven-haired man began talking, “Take that and say Buffy’s middle name. Hold on to your bags, you’ll be transported into your room. Call for Dobby and ask for some tea. Explore your room, drink some tea, Buffy will be with you in a few minutes.”

“Why would I need to say Buffy’s middle name?” Xander asked and he disappeared.

Buffy’s jaw dropped and she asked, “Did you just make Xander disappear?”

“No, no, Buffy’s middle name was the password,” Severus told her as he gently wiped a tear that escaped her eye.

Buffy’s face fell again as she whispered, “He saw them. He saw the scars. Only you and Albus have.”

“He’s your friend. Did you watch his face when he looked at you? He had only concern for you. Now you need to go take care of your friend, who I’m sure is quite distressed, seeing as how he’s stuck in his room until I decide to release him,” Severus said.

“You didn’t?!”

The Potions Master’s mouth curled into an evil smirk as he replied, “Oh yes I did. Wouldn’t want him running around Hogwarts and scaring the students would we?”

“You would,” Buffy shot back.

“You’re right, I would. But, enough of this, go! Bring him back here. I set up a marvelous little buffet in the living room,” he told her. His friend was through the fireplace in a flash.

And back seconds later with Xander, who was absolutely seething. “Your friend here was a dirty little sneak. He made me go to my room when I didn’t want to,” he raged, and then he stopped abruptly and muttered, “I just sounded like a five-year-old, didn’t I?”

“Yep, but that’s okay, someone has to be a five-year-old in this place, and it certainly can’t always be Albus. But, how about we go back to my room for dinner? Sev here has ordered up a great buffet,” Buffy said, smiling at her friend’s antics. Xander agreed and she returned to her room.

“Can I change the colors in my room, Buff? The white is just too bright for me,” he asked.

Buffy grinned at him and told him, “Severus will be happy to help you with that after dinner, while I am teaching my students.”

“I will be happy to do what?” Severus’s voice asked, his tone menacing on the top, but with a playful hint.

Xander saw his opening and moved in, slinging and arm around Sev’s shoulders and saying, “Buffy was just telling me that you’re going to help me decorate my room after dinner.”

“Do you know much about decorating?” the Potions Master asked. Xander shook his head. “Then we are all doomed, because I know little as well.”

Buffy seemed to breath a sigh of relief that her two closest friends seemed to be getting along well. Actually, she was just happy that Severus wasn’t busy glaring daggers at Xander, as he did most people. “Come on you two, dinner is waiting and I have a class in an hour. I need to get Xander settled in a bit before I go,” she said, leading her friend into the living room.

True to Severus’s word, there was a buffet there that would have filled the bellies of all of Gryffindor tower. For three people. Xander dug into it, seeing his favorite foods. Severus ate with more restraint, but Buffy seemed back to her normal eating habits. Which meant that she was eating very little food.

Fortunately, Xander said very little. “I know why Buffy doesn’t like to eat very much. If I was in Hell for six months, then she was visiting the Devil himself. God, looking at her face, I can remember how each scar was inflicted. He called me the White Knight and forced me to watch him torture her, so I realized how useless I am,” he thought as he drank some of the orange-colored juice.

Meanwhile, Severus’s mind was staying away from any deep thinking as he contemplated, “Hmm, should I have a s’more or Rocky Road for dessert? O Merlin what am I thinking? My flatmate has turned me into softie. A marshmallow. Oh, most definitely the s’more.”

The Slayer herself turned her mind to more logical matters as she debated what exactly to teach her young students in their lesson. “Bladed weapons are of the good,” she thought, “Uncomplicated, maximum damage short of a firearm. Hmm, scimitars are nice and sharp, easy to use. But so are daggers. Wait, keep them farther from harm. Definitely go with a good old short sword. It would teach them the basics. Then they could find their preferred weapon.”

Once they were finished eating, Buffy offered to show Xander the proper way around the castle. “You’re a good walk from my rooms, but once you learn the way, it’s not that far. You’re near Gryffindor Tower. That’s the tower that houses my prize trio. They’re like the Scoobies of Hogwarts. Except magical. And Sev doesn’t particularly like them, but he tolerates them,” she explained.

Xander smirked and asked teasingly, “So, are you and this Sev smoochy- pals?”

“No. Now, if you would watch the stairs, they like to move. And here we are. See, not that long of a walk unless you don’t pay attention to the stairs. But I’m not going to leave you here. Albus wanted to see you while I was teaching. He’s the Principal-guy, the Headmaster. But better than Snyder. Kinda like Giles,” Buffy hurriedly said as they arrived at the entrance to Albus’s office. “Milky Way.” The door opened. “Well, go on in, I have to go get Remus to charm some swords so they don’t kill my students.”

With that she was gone. Xander hesitantly entered the office of his new boss. “Hello my boy. I am Albus Dumbledore, the Headmaster of this institution. And also a lover of Muggle candies,” the elderly man greeted him, a smile on his face and his eyes twinkling behind his half-moon glasses.

The young man immediately relaxed and took a seat in the chair in front of Albus’s desk. “I can see that we’ll get along wonderfully,” he said.

“Buffy assured me of that. She also told me that you were a carpenter before your capture. The young lady indicated that you might find building things soothing and helpful until next semester begins. I have spoken with our Gamekeeper and the Caretaker and they both agree that there are many things that could be built around here. Would you enjoy that?”

“Love to. Just one question, may I call you D-Man?” Xander asked.

“If you like. Hagrid, one of our teachers, will talk with you tomorrow about some possible projects. Now, Buffy insisted that you find your own way back to your rooms. If you get quite lost, ask a painting,” Albus told him.

With that, Xander left Albus’s office and wandered around until he found his room. The painting covering it was strange. It depicted a familiar fairy tale character. Robin Hood. “Buffy, your sense of irony has sharpened, hasn’t it?” he muttered as he entered his rooms. Severus was waiting inside.

“Buffy must be insane to have us do this,” Xander remarked. Neither man had any idea of what to do.

Severus admitted, “I have no talent, and I don’t know you very well. So bugger off.” With that, he stalked over to the overstuffed white chair. He was annoyed. He had argued with the Head House Elf to get the huge buffet sent to his room for the three of them, then Buffy barely recognized it. Now she expected him to decorate.

Meanwhile, Buffy was busy in her own lesson. “Try to keep not just your hands, but also your feet working. Tripping over your own feet will be just as deadly as dropping your sword,” she told the three Gryffindors. All three were trying their very best to please their instructor, but it seemed impossible.

“I can’t even catch my breath, Professor Summers,” Ron complained. Buffy halted and looked at the three.

The Slayer nodded and told them, “Next lesson, come ready to run. We need to get you guys into pro-athlete shape if you’re gonna defeat Voldemort. So, running, lifting weights, martial arts until you’re ready to drop. Sound like fun?”

“No,” Hermione grumbled.

Harry’s eyes brightened and he pointed out, “Okay, pain now, life later. I want to defeat the ones who made me an orphan.”

“Ron, Hermione, you can go. Harry will be up in a few minutes,” the teacher told them.

Once they had left, Buffy motioned Harry to sit down. “Harry, are you to return to your relatives at the end of the year?” she asked.

Harry nodded and replied, “As far as I know.”

“You won’t, I’ll make sure of that. If no other arrangements are made, you are going to stay with me over summer. And over Christmas, if you wish. A trip to California may be in the cards for you,” Buffy told him. A smile lit up on the boy’s face. “I’ve talked to Albus, and he agrees that it would work out. You have a lot to learn, both magically and physically, before you take on Voldemort. He seems to think it might be best if you remained somewhere to continue your training.”

“I’d be happy to stay with you, Professor Summers,” he exclaimed.

Buffy grinned and then glanced at the time and told him, “You better get back to the tower. Though Professor Snape has softened a bit, I doubt he would pass up the chance to give you a detention. And call me Buffy.”

Harry left, an expression of elation on his face, and Buffy was left alone in the DADA room. She moved quickly over to the weapons cabinet and unlocked it. The charmed swords were put away and she withdrew a gleaming blade. It was a long scimitar, her favorite. Giles had found it where a portal had closed. According to him, it was a magical weapon, but it didn’t even feel powerful. It was just a beautifully engraved blade. But she loved it.

For over an hour, Buffy went through the familiar moves that had saved her life for years. It was comforting, to simply pretend to fight. It cleared her mind, as Tai Chi cleared the mind of Angel. Nothing really existed except her imaginary enemy.

~In Gryffindor Tower~

“Professor Summer told me that I won’t have to return to the Dursleys’ house this year. I can stay with her. She even offered to take me over the holidays!” Harry told Ron and Hermione, who had stayed up waiting to talk to him.

“That’s great, Harry,” Hermione yelled.

Ron grumbled, “Why can’t you just stay here over the holidays with us? That’s what we’ve always done.”

“I will be here; I don’t think she really has a home anymore. Her mother and sister are dead and her father is a deadbeat, so we might go to California to spend a day with her mentor,” Harry assured his best friend.

Hermione looked at the clock and said, “It’s late, Professor Summers seemed like she had a really hard lesson in for tomorrow, so I’m going to bed.”

With that, the Golden Trio headed to their rooms.

~Near Gryffindor Tower~

“What do you think of blue walls?” Xander asked. Severus didn’t answer, he was frustrated with Buffy. “Or green? Or yellow? Or black?”

Severus finally decided to shut his new ‘friend’ up and said, “Why don’t you use wood paneling in the rooms and then navy blue for the furniture?”

“Great idea, Sevvy, you’re good at this, much better than I. So, um, how do I order the paneling?” Xander asked.

The Potions Master pulled out his wand and waved it while casting a simple spell and the walls turned to fine wood paneling and the furniture turned blue.

“That was fast, I wonder where Buffy is.”

Severus told him, “Her lesson should be over; she doesn’t keep them for very long usually because it’s already so late and they have homework. Would you like to come and find her?”

“Sure, what else am I going to do?” Xander shrugged and followed the caped figure.

Chapter 11 - Asphodel

Buffy had just returned to her rooms when Albus's face flickered into the fireplace. "Buffy? How is Xander?" he asked.

She replied, "I think he's doing fine. He and Severus are supposed to be decorating his apartment."

"Now, we're quite done," Severus interjected from his office, "Xander fell asleep not long after we finished decorating. Apparently he's barely slept since you visited him the first time."

"Oh."

Albus said, "I know you are spending tomorrow in California, but could Arthur Weasley come visit Xander? He's wanted to learn Muggle carpentry."

"Ron's dad? Sure, he's talked about his father's interest in the Muggle world. Xander would like that," Buffy told him.

A grin broke out on the Headmaster's face. "Wonderful. I will see you at breakfast." Then he was gone.

Buffy wandered into Severus's office. "Did you and Xander have fun?" she asked.

Sev replied, "You put two of Hogwart's most inept decorators together to take care of a room. I'd like to think that we did an acceptable job. Now, if you will excuse me, good night." He got up and headed to the door to his own bedroom.

"Wait! Thank you for the buffet. You made Xand really happy. And me," she said. The sulky Potions Master paused briefly before continuing through the door.

Buffy headed to her own room and curled up under the covers. Sleep did not come quickly that night. Her best friend was angry at her while her old best friend was fitting in beautifully.

In the morning, Buffy woke up unusually early to find Severus gone from his room. Xander was still sleeping, so she took a walk down to the dungeons, where she thought her flatmate was. But he wasn't there. She decided to look into what she could make in the familiar lab. Using some ingredients from Severus's Class Cupboard (the other one held very expensive or dangerous ingredients), Buffy began brewing a basic healing salve for Poppy. The Mediwitch went through several quarts a month, especially during the upcoming Quidditch season.

Then an owl flew into the lab. It was an owl from a man named Moody.

Dear Severus,

Please brew some Caput Salvo for the Order. Voldemort's followers have increased in attacks, using the Cruciatus more often than usual. Be careful, though. Give it to Dumbledore when you are finished.

Moody

Seconds later, the parchment disintegrated. Buffy realized that she would have to tell Severus the message herself. Unless she brewed the potion and gave it to Albus. Removing the Medicinal Potions manual from Severus's private shelf, she began working on the potion. Two hours later, Buffy had a quart of Caput Salvo and it was seven o'clock.

She headed to Xander's quarters to pick him up for breakfast. "Come on, Xand-man, we're going off to face the school. You'll sit up front as a teacher," Buffy explained as they wound their way through the castle.

Xander let out a maniacal laugh and said, "Finally, I get to act like Snyder!"

"Please don't tell me you’re serious," Buffy said jokingly.

Her friend's face took on a completely angelic look and said in an innocent voice, "Of course I am. I just won't assign homework, or maintain discipline, and I'll be sure to teach them all my tricks for getting out of classes."

The petite blond professor shoved the towering doors to the Great Hall open and all the mouths in the Hall except for Severus and Albus dropped open. Buffy led Xander up to the Staff Table with a challenging, defiant look in her eyes. When she reached the table, Albus nodded at her. "I would like to introduce Professor Alexander Harris. He will be teaching a Muggle Studies elective next semester. He is also the new school carpenter. If there is interest, he may also offer a Muggle Woodworking class. Please welcome him to Hogwarts. Let's eat!"

About three-quarters of the school cheered for Xander. Everyone then ate as per normal. Except Severus wasn't there. Buffy sat next to Albus and whispered, "I got a message meant for Sev. 'Moody' asking for a Caput Salvo potion. It's in your office. I made it because I didn't want him to think that I go through his mail. Plus it burned up. Where is he?"

"I will be happy to speak with you after you return from Mr. Giles's house. It's very sensitive information. Perhaps Severus will explain it to you."

Mr. Weasley arrived promptly after breakfast and Xander wandered off with him, talking excitedly of building projects. Buffy left for her room and changed into Muggle clothing. She had fun, donning a little skirt and a light top. Giles would probably take her anywhere in Sunnydale for dinner. He was like a doting father to her.

She entered the fireplace and appeared in Sunnydale. Giles was waiting for her. The two spent the day talking, walking, and Buffy even talked him into renting a rowboat. He was the perfect doting father.

In two days, Giles was going to move to Bath, England. Nothing was left for him in Sunnydale. It wasn't a long train to Hogsmeade, but that didn't even matter. His involvement with the Dark Arts and Eyghon had gotten him banned from the British wizarding world.

"What, may I ask, is the pendant around you neck? I know it's magical," he asked over dinner.

Buffy replied, "It's to bind my magic. Apparently, if I get emotional, I affect the wards guarding the school."

"Really, what have you done?"

"I changed the castle black and white. Seriously, every surface in the castle."

Giles's face bore an expression of shock and pride. "I have never heard of an untrained witch capable of cutting through every barrier like that. Though the council had a theory that, since the Slayer strength is magical, it would appear in magical form once she has some magical training. And, by all accounts, you are the strongest Slayer in history."

"Stop it, Giles, you're gonna make me blush."

Giles decided to switch subjects and asked, "How has your time at school been?"

"Well, I got shot the first day of school saving Harry Potter from--"

"You were shot?! Oh, guns, what has the wizarding world come to?"

Buffy shook her head and explained, "Severus and I went to rescue Harry from his aunt and uncle. Vernon Dursley got me with his shotgun. I'm fine, Sev made this potion that made the shot float to the surface. I was totally healed in three days."

"Severus Snape!? He's a Death Eater!" Giles exclaimed.

Buffy's eyes flashed a dangerous glare as she defended her friend, "He only pretends to so that he can spy for Dumbledore. He's kind and my best friend. He let me stay in his flat so I could heal."

"You're living with him?!" the Watcher started to rant but amended his statement and told his 'daughter,' "Snape is a lot older than you and he has had a dark past. Be careful."

"Thank you," Buffy whispered and they stayed off the topic for the rest of the day. Buffy promised to visit him in Bath in a week with Xander. Giles planned to take them both on a tour of London. When Buffy returned to Hogwarts, no one was around. Severus wasn't in his office. Xander wasn't in his room. So, she sat down and pulled out a book on spells, particularly illegal offensive curses. It was helpful and it was interesting.

The next thing Buffy saw were two huge, gleaming eyes. "Dobby is here to bring you breakfast," the House Elf chirped. He presented a plate laden with a banana, a mug of tea, and a dry slice of toast. Her typical breakfast.

"What time is it?" she asked groggily.

His cheery voice replied, "10 in the morning. Professor Snape took Professor Harris to Diagon Alley for some proper robes and maybe a wand. Mr. Ollivander will judge his magical ability, says Headmaster Dumbledore."

"Oh, is the pitch free?"

"The Gryffindors are practicing."

Buffy said, "Okay, thank you, Dobby."

Half an hour later, the Slayer was off, walking down to the Quidditch Pitch. "Harry!" she called, spotting the boy zipping around after the Snitch.

Immediately, he came down and asked, "Yes, Professor Summers?"

"Could I practice with you? I haven't had anyone to play lately."

"Sure, what do you want to be?"

"Seeker." She withdrew her own snitch from her robe pocket and released it. They both got on their broom and took off after the golden ball. An hour later, Ron called them down and they were tied 1-1.

Ron yelled, "That's the most competition Harry's had!"

"Yeah, Professor, thanks, it was fun. Could you play more often?" Harry asked.

Then Minerva appeared and agreed, "Yes, Buffy, I think you'd be an asset to our team. Perhaps you could act as an assistant coach?"

"Sure. What do I need to do?"

"I think Mr. Potter has had enough practice. Why don't you work with Ron on Keeper?"

Buffy nodded and signaled Ron to follow her. "Okay, leave your broom there. Come here." She showed him a bag of ping-pong balls. "I'm going to start throwing these at you. Don't even try to touch them, just make contact." They went through 200 balls in two groups of 100. In the second group, Ron managed to touch 7/8 of them.

It was time for lunch. "I want you two and Hermione in the DADA room by two o'clock this afternoon. Wear clothes for running," Buffy told them as she left for her room. She showered and put on clean robes before heading to the Great Hall.

Xander was seated at the front table, wearing new robes. He was talking happily with Filius and glaring at Sybil. A seat was free next to him. Unhappily, she noticed that Severus had boxed himself in between Sybil and Hagrid. Two of his least favorite people.

She took the seat next the Xander and Professor Sprout. "I take you spoke with Sybil?" Buffy asked.

Xander nodded and growled, "Yes. She spouted some bullshit about death following my 'light friend.' Sev and Filius have assured me that she's a charlatan."

"I know. She scared the shit out of me when I first came. How was Diagon Alley?"

"May I just say that the ale at Warrick's Brewery is perfect!" he exclaimed. “Wearing a robe is strange though, I keep thinking that I just got out of the shower."

"You'll get used to it. How was Mr. Weasley yesterday?"

"Great. He and I are going to build a submarine to explore the lake."

"Cool. I'm the new Assistant Coach for the Gryff Quidditch team," Buffy told him excitedly.

Severus was listening from the other end of the table. "At least she's eating well today. Well, better than earlier. Mr. Harris is a nice man. Wait, she's coaching the Gryffindor team?! Hmph, I need to speak with her. Oh, an owl," he thought as a dusty barn owl arrived. It carried a letter from Moody.

Severus, Thank you for the Caput Salvo yesterday. Mundungus and Tonks needed some last night. Albus said that you worked very quickly on it. Your contribution to the Order is appreciated. Moody

Noiselessly, Severus got up and left the room, teeth clenched in anger. His flatmate soon followed.

"Sev, what's wrong?" Buffy asked.

Severus spat, "You're a selfish, conniving brat, that's what's wrong. You opened my mail, you acted as me, you volunteered to coach my rival team, and you take advantage of my kindness."

The Slayer paled. "Look, I'm sorry. I tried to help you. It wasn't addressed to anyone specific, and then it was incinerated."

"Then don't open other people's mail! You don't have anyone who could send you a letter by owl other than Rupert Giles and you already know what his owl looks like!"

Buffy looked down and replied, “I didn’t know. Please, I’m sorry, at least try to be reasonable. We still live in the same flat.”

Severus yelled, “Which is exactly why you can’t coach Potter and his friends. Conflict of interest!”

“There is no conflict of interest! I’m friends with you, not your girlfriend!” she hollered, her face now red. She headed into her room, slamming the door.

Severus turned on his heel and headed to his own room, trying to figure out how to salvage his Quidditch team.

That night, Buffy walked into the DADA room to see her three students dressed as she had requested. “Come on, let’s run,” she said briefly before jogging out the door. Five minutes later, she stopped at Hagrid’s home. “Okay, five hundred crunches, each of you.” The next hour progressed like this. Running, exercises, running, exercises. It was the single most bland and tiring lesson that she had ever given. Hagrid walked them back to Gryffindor Tower when she decided to do a patrol of the Forbidden Forest.

Three hours and fifteen vampires later, Buffy headed back to her room. Without even removing her robes, she collapsed in the bed and fell asleep.

In the morning, Dobby woke her again. Ten minutes later, Buffy limped into the Great Hall decked out in black. Black leather pants, black shirt, black robe. The gilded cane had been replaced by one of ebony. She sat next to Xander. Her plate filled with a banana and a cup of tea.

Severus sat on the other end of the table, also wearing all black. He was eating a bagel and drinking tea. Neither one did so much as glance at each other. Xander talked with Buffy about the technical aspects of building a submarine while Filius spoke a few words with Severus concerning the latest edition of Essential Charms.

Classes went by without any excitement. Combat training went by without any accidents and Severus was unusually snarky. A far cry from the softer Severus of the past week. Buffy was quiet and withdrawn. Remus controlled most of the class.

When Buffy headed back to her room after dinner, Severus stopped her in the door. “Seeing as how you’re clearly healed, I took the liberty of moving your things back to your former flat. Good night.” He closed the door.

“Asphodel!” she cried. The door didn’t budge; he had changed the password. So, she headed to her old room and changed for slaying.

Four hours, ten vampires, and one demon later, Buffy returned to her empty room. She inspected her right leg. The demon had gotten in a nice kick to her knee. It was already bruising. “That’s not good,” she mused. “I could go make a Painkilling Potion, so Poppy doesn’t fret.” She snuck down to the dungeons and set about making the powerful concoction that seemed to be the only potion that worked on her.

Two hours later, it was ready. After replacing everything carefully, Buffy headed to the hospital wing. She stole a syringe, as the potion was useful only intravenously. By the time she finally made it back to her room, it was one o’clock. After a quick shower, Buffy carefully measured out the required amount of the potion and injected it at the crook of her arm. Seconds later she hid the remaining potion and the syringe, she passed out. The petite blond Slayer had been running herself ragged for nineteen hours.

But the nightmares came. Memories of her imprisonment and torture flooded her dreams. Spike’s leering, vicious eyes, cruel teeth, and the cold. The tub had been so cold. He had never bothered heater her prison.

Flashback

“You know, I think I like you cold and clammy. Reminds me of a dying body,” the blond vampire growled as his fingers ran up her ivory arm. He stopped at the four sets of bit marks that marred her neck. One from the Master, old but originally very neat. The next one was from Angel. His marks were more pronounced. He had been more savage. Dracula’s were the most clean and neat. The scars were barely pinpricks; he had been so gentle. The latest set was still crusted with dried blood. Spike’s fangs had been cruel and repeated. It was likely that, even with the Slayer healing, they would always remain as glossy, raised scars instead of the pale reminders of the others.

Then Spike’s icy lips claimed hers. She began to struggle against his insistent tongue. Then she felt his fangs sink into the flesh above her lips and tear down. The Slayer screamed in agony as Spike chuckled as his tongue found its way into her mouth and he swallowed the blood that fell from her mangled lip.

And all she could do was scream.

End Flashback

Buffy’s eyes popped open and tears flowed down her face. Glancing at the clock, it was only three o’clock. “There’s no way I can get back toe sleep now,” she muttered as she swung her legs out of bed.

Instead, she sat in front of the fireplace and read a book. It was a Sixth Year potions text and she was nearly finished. Potions was the most exciting book for her. But today she couldn’t stand it. Severus was part of why she loved it.

Finally, the Slayer gave up on reading and decided to try a long shower. The hot water did her shoulders and legs some good. She welcomed the warmth of the shower and stayed in until her fingers and toes were shriveled. However, it was only four-thirty.

She had to get out of her room, so she went to the DADA room. Her leg was not up to a lot of fighting, so Buffy pulled out a dart board and her collection of throwing knives. Selecting a dozen of them, the knives soon found their way onto the bullseye.

Buffy managed to spend over an hour with her throwing knives before she got bored. She was in peak knife-throwing condition. And very, very bored. So she decided to sharpen her short swords.

An hour later, Buffy went to breakfast. It was clear in the Great Hall that Severus and Buffy were still at odd with each other. The petite blond professor ate a banana and spent the rest of the meal sipping at her tea. Severus ate an English muffin and drank several cups of coffee. The caffeine was welcome in his spy work.

That night, Buffy found herself patrolling again. She found two demons and one vampire. After returning she used the Painkilling Potion. Once again, she fell asleep. It was an initial side effect of the potion. A mere twenty minutes later, she had a nightmare.

Flashback

Spike sauntered in, brandishing a very sharp Japanese knife. He smiled as he recognized fear in his captive’s eyes. “Don’t particularly fancy blades now, do ya?” he whispered as he ran the blade within a hair’s breadth of cutting into the soft skin of her cheek. Then the peroxide vampire began to chuckle as he abruptly pulled away and ordered, “Hang her up.”

Twenty-five vampires descending on her naked body, cruelly dragging her out of the tub and hanging her by her wrists from the ceiling and securing her feet to the floor. “See, this make this much easier for me,” Spike explained as he sliced lightly down the length of her spine. Then, with an artist’s touch, he diligently carved a design into her neck. Buffy had never seen it, but apparently it was a Claddagh design.

“Now, as my finishing touch, so that no one shall ever think you pretty,” he drew the knife across her face to form a deep cut.

End Flashback

Buffy woke up and decided to read old Potions Journal issues. By six o’clock, six hours later, she had devoured three years of them, taking notes on each one. Finally, she pulled out a Transfiguration textbook and began to read. She may not be able to do the magic, but she needed to understand it to teach DADA correctly. Three hours later, it was time for her first class. Dobby had delivered a banana halfway through From Armoire to Armored Car: Magic to Muggle Transfiguration.

Her classes passed smoothly and quietly. Students were doing well. Neville had been paired with Annika Hildebrandt, a quiet Slytherin and they hadn’t destroyed anything. Remus noticed that her limp was more pronounced than the day before and mentioned it to her between classes. “It’s cranky. One day it’s great, the next day it’s a pain,” she replied.

Quidditch practice followed classes. Buffy worked with the Beaters to improve their accuracy. Harry asked for some help with designing a training regimen for the team like the DA regimen that she had Hermione, Ron and himself doing. At 6 am, it was decided, the Gryffindor Quidditch team would meet on the pitch for running. Many of them looked nervous but excited about getting a real edge on the Slytherins.

Three weeks passed quickly. Buffy brewed the potion two or three times a week. She ran with the team at six, read from 7:30 to 8, ate at 8:15, taught from 9-12 then from 1-4. Followed by Quidditch practice from 4:30 to 5:30. Three nights a week, she had Harry, Ron, and Hermione in special lessons. Dinner followed. Grading papers often went on late into the night. Once she was done, she’d go patrolling. Sleep didn’t come easily to her, and it was coming less and less.

On the weekends, Buffy slipped into Hogsmeade to pick up replacements for Severus’s stores. One Saturday, Minerva and Buffy went to Hogsmeade and went shopping for dress robes. Buffy got the most beautiful green robes that matched her eyes perfectly. Minerva stuck with black, but got a very nice fine wool. Xander was very busy. He and a few Seventh Years were building a few sailboats for the lake. Arthur was still collecting the parts for their submarine. Severus had barely spoken two words to her since the evening he moved her stuff.

Then one day, Severus didn’t come to his classes. Even Albus looked a little worried. Remus and Minerva looked extremely preoccupied. Buffy wondered why he was gone; he never missed class. At lunch, the Albus asked, “Would you mind teaching Severus’s Gryffindor/Slytherin First Years this afternoon?”

“I think I can, Remus is running a shielding practice today,” Buffy replied. The topic in the lesson that day was Muto Ocala, an eye-color changing potion. They were simple and safe to test. Buffy kept a close eye on a Slytherin who seemed to have the same elegance with potions that Neville had. While they were brewing, Buffy recorded the use of the ingredients in a thick record book. Severus took meticulous notes on the use of certain ingredients.

Seven-eighths of the potions turned out to be correct. One poor girl, a Slytherin, left with one purple eye and one orange. Buffy still couldn’t figure out how she managed to do that, but there were no major mistakes other than hers. One Gryffindor boy had accidently made his turned his eyes hazel instead of blue, but that was quite minor.

Once the students cleared out at the end of the period, Buffy set about cleaning up the lab. No matter how hard they tried to keep it clean, students were always messy. She ended up sweeping up some spilled powdered bezoar. Then she cleaned out all the cauldrons a second time. She had learned from Severus that he did it every evening because students often didn’t clean them out thoroughly enough. Cleaning a dozen cauldrons was no easy task, so she dug in.

The last cauldron was almost in the shiny new state that Sev insisted on when he was cleaning them when Buffy heard a pop followed by a large thud. And then a groan.

Chapter 12 - Holloween Masquerade?

Buffy whirled around and there was Severus, lying on the floor. Clearly he’d been under the Cruciatus a bit too long because he was flinching as if shocked every few seconds. Blood matted his dark hair and he had two black eyes. “Sev!” Buffy shrieked. True, she may not have been on good terms lately, but he was her best friend. He was lying in the doorway to his flat.

The petite Slayer ran over to him, dropping her cane with a clatter and picking him up. The dungeon floor was cold and one of Madam Pomfrey’s books said that Cruciatus victims are extremely susceptible to hypothermia. She dashed into his bedroom and gently deposited him on the bed. “No! No Pomfrey! Please! She doesn’t know about the Order and she would think I’m a Death Eater!” Severus screamed as he struggled.

Buffy grabbed his arms and looked at him, “Listen, I’m not gonna call Pomfrey. I don’t think you’re hurt too bad; I can treat this. Just be quiet.” Severus’s eyes widened and he passed out. “Well, not exactly the quietness I was planning on . . .” she mumbled to herself.

She headed to the small cabinet in Sev’s bathroom where she knew he kept every medical potion he ever used. One happened to be a small vial of Caput Salvo. Buffy grabbed that and another, larger vial filled with a viscous black substance. It was a very effective, though gross, sort of wizarding Neosporin. It looked disgusting, but when it was washed off eight hours later, any cut would be healed, provided it wasn’t a mortal wound.

Returning to the bed, Buffy set everything out on the nightstand. Slowly, she coaxed the Caput Salvo down his throat. Using a towel she had grabbed from the bathroom, Buffy tried to wipe the blood off of his face. It was coming from one single cut near his scalp. As soon as the blood seemed to clot a little, she spread the tar-like stuff on the wound. It dried quickly and formed a seal. No more blood. The aftereffects seemed to have worn off.

Buffy fell asleep on a couch near his bed. She woke up screaming. Her arms were waving, but a pair of hands was trying to get her to calm down. “Buffy, shh, you’re okay, he can’t get you anymore,” a tired British voice told her. She calmed down, realizing it was Severus.

“Merlin, you look like Hell,” Severus gasped as he finally saw her still.

Buffy paled and muttered, “Gee, that’s a nice thing to say to a girl.”

“Seriously, how much sleep have you gotten in the past three weeks?” he asked, his own face paler than normal.

“Um . . . two hours a night?” she tried.

The Potions Master shook his head and told her, “I know it wasn’t even that much. But you’ve neglected yourself. You have cuts all over your face.” A ‘clink’ was heard as a glass vial fell to the floor. It was Buffy’s painkilling potion. The color made it identifiable to Severus, as it was the only potion that could be stored in glass and was a sparkling blue.

“Painkilling potion? How long?” he asked. Buffy could only look down. “That long? Why?”

“Because it hurt and it helped me sleep,” she responded, ashamed.

Sev was worried now and told her, “Now, it’s not the addictiveness that I’m worried about, it’s that after you go off it, everything will hurt more. But you can’t stay on it. It will break down your heart and lungs after a while.”

“I can’t do it, Sev, if keeps everything gone. It lets me do my work,” she pleaded.

“No.”

Buffy got up to leave and yelled, “What right do you have to be ordering me around?”

“None, but you’re moving in with me again.”

“But. . .”

Severus threatened, “If you don’t, I’ll remove the Glamour and tell Dumbledore.”

Buffy sighed in acceptance and nodded. “We’re acting like children.”

“Yes, we are,” was all he said. But it didn’t change the fact that she would be obeying him.

“Okay. But, Severus, my problems can stay hidden from the general public. Yours must be attended to. Dobby!” she called.

The house elf popped right into Severus’s room and didn’t look twice at Buffy’s glamour-less face. “Dobby is at Miss Buffy’s service,” he chirped.

“Could you please get me some chocolate, two glasses of water, and some ice?” the blond Slayer asked, wincing slightly at Dobby’s cheery voice.

“Dobby gets it.” And with a crack, he was gone and with another crack he was back. He deposited the items on the coffee table and was gone. Along with the requested foodstuffs, he had also brought to mugs of hot cocoa.

Buffy pushed a mug of cocoa and a piece of chocolate towards Severus. “Chocolate helps counteract the effects of the Cruciatus. C’mon, you know you don’t want stampeding elephants in your head during Neville’s Potions class,” she goaded him. He grinned faintly and began to attack the chocolate and the cocoa. The Longbottom boy had actually managed to increase the number of cauldrons he exploded in recent days.

Meanwhile Buffy wrapped several pieces of ice in a towel and put them on the freshly healed bruised spot. It may be healed, but it would throb if she didn’t put ice on it. Severus began to complain but was quiet when it actually felt good. For several minutes, the two just ate and relaxed. “How is the vampire population in the forest?” the Potions Master asked.

The Slayer smirked and replied, “Not as good as it was a few weeks ago. They are just so darn fun to kill. They’ve run rampant for so long that they’re not scared at all. ‘Course, the demons are a hell of a lot scarier than your average, run-of-the-mill Sunnydale demon. Couple surprises, here and there. One Exploding Goo demon. Giles says it was Shor-something, but it doesn’t matter. Dead as my last hamster.”

Her friend just shook his head at that. Killing soulless monsters was therapeutic for her; much like potions was for him. “So, Sevvie, there are several stacks of potions essays for you to make your way through before Christmas. They really pile up if you don’t stay on top of them, especially that 5-footer on Egyptian potions utilizing glyphs in the brewing that you assigned the 7th years,” Buffy said with a glint of evil in her eye. All in good fun, of course.

Severus harrumphed and took a big gulp of his cocoa, only to burn his tongue and get froth on his nose. His companion burst out laughing. At least she was laughing, he thought. Once they had finished their hot cocoas, he took a look at the clock and saw that it was only an hour until class. “Buffy, we need to get ready for class. Both of us need a shower,” he said, “Why don’t you go get started.”

“But what about my. . .” she began.

The Potions Master smiled and stopped her, “Clothes? Yes, while you’re in the shower, I am going to transport your room back to where it should be, just as it was.”

“Thank you, Sev,” Buffy whispered as she headed into the showers. She was pleasantly surprised to find a bottle of her favorite shampoo still in the shower. Apparently he didn’t hate her.

Forty-five minutes later, both of them were ready to go. Buffy had once again acquired her pretty cane and was wearing colors. Severus was not looking nearly as snarky as usual. Students backed away as they realized that the two teachers had resolved their differences. No one could figure out how someone as shiny and happy as Buffy found anything to like in the dark, rude Severus. Even Draco Malfoy was at a loss.

Buffy and Severus parted awkwardly as Buffy entered the DADA classroom and Severus continued his way down to the dungeons. Remus himself sighed in relief when he saw that they had made up.

DADA class was entirely different. The Slayer was animated and gave lots of helpful pointers to everyone and even introduced some new ideas. She seemed less inclined to do demonstration sparring, but she enthusiastically gave advice.

That evening, Albus announced the Halloween masquerade. The students seemed absolutely thrilled. “There will be one condition, however,” he said after the they finished their initial cheers, “No student may masquerade as a Death Eater or a Dementor. Any student who breaks this rule will be suspended from classes for at least a week and barred from all Quidditch games for the rest of the year.”

After dinner, there was a staff meeting where Albus put forth his next announcement, “All you will be required to attend the Halloween masquerade next week. Please dress accordingly, yes, even you, Severus. You will be chaperones but also guards. It would be altogether too easy for someone to sneak in and cause trouble.”

The staff seemed to accept this, though Severus looked bothered that he actually had to dress up for Halloween. As they left, Buffy seemed to be absolutely thrilled. She babbled on about possibilities for costumes. “I’ve always wanted to dress up like Sleeping Beauty, you know from the Disney movie?” she was saying.

The Potions Master said, “Who is Sleeping Beauty? Some silly muggle fairy tale?”

“No, actually it was based on a witch from the time of Charlemagne. Athena Adenbrau was cursed to sleep until her true love kissed her. Unluckily for the witch who cursed her, he did find and kiss her. The fairy part was a bit of embellishment to cover up the truth of it, but, well, what is ever real?” Dumbledore mused before continuing on his way.

Buffy spun and told Severus triumphantly, “See, even Albus thinks that it’s a wonderful idea!”

At that, Severus’s dark eyes rolled and he grumbled, “And what would I be?”

“Are you asking me to the dance?” she asked, batting her eyes coquettishly.

Then he began to lose his calm and mumbled, “Well, um, yes, as a matter of fact, I would be honored if you would accompany me.”

“Soo, does that mean yes?”

“It does,” he said, more clearly but still incredibly self-conscious.

Buffy burst out laughing and gasped, “Of course I would love to go with you!”

Tension fled from Severus and he seemed to go back to the calm Severus that likes to drink hot cocoa with whipped cream. “Only if you’ll go as Prince Phillip,” she pushed.

“Very well,” he conceded, “And you as Aurora?”

His date’s jaw dropped open. “You were lying you sneak, you’ve seen it! You’ve seen Sleeping Beauty!” she yelled.

“Oh bloody hell woman, be quiet or you’ll wake the whole castle. I do have a reputation to uphold, after all,” Severus laughed as he bent down and kissed her lightly on the lips. She was stunned and smiled gently.

As they walked back to their rooms together, she whispered in his ear, “Sev, we can’t do that in public or we’ll be the talk of the whole castle, probably the whole wizarding world.”

“Very well; now, what do you think Xander will wear to the Halloween ball?”

Buffy thought for a moment and then said, “Soldier. American soldier.”

“Why do you think that?”

They drifted off towards their rooms as the short blonde regaled him with her tales of Halloweens past. Sadness only flitted across her face briefly which Severus took to be a good sign.

The next day, the painkilling potion’s aftereffects were hurting her. Buffy could barely walk even with her cane. Severus came in and looked over her carefully. “Buffy, we need to talk to Remus. You can’t be teaching class as normal today,” he told her. She gave only the slightest of nods, trying to keep from crying. In her mind, the Slayer knew that it was her fault, that she shouldn’t have taken the potion so much.

“Wait, Sev, put the different glamour on. I don’t want to explain any more to Remy than I need to,” she practically begged. Severus’s face softened and he cast the glamour quickly before going to call Remus.

Seconds later, the werewolf stepped through the fire. “What’s going on? I don’t think that you’ve ever invited anyone but Albus into your quarters before, Severus.”

“Buffy is having some problems. I think you should talk to her yourself,” he told Remus, the glint in his eyes telling the slighter man that he would kill him if he even made her feel guilty for anything. With that, he pointed to Buffy’s room and left, heading to his office. His door was left open.

Remus took one look at his friend and knew that something was wrong. “Remember, Remy, how in the last few weeks I’ve been particularly agile and nimble?” He nodded, not liking where this was going. “And have you ever heard of the Aphraxus Painkilling Potion?”

The werewolf’s eyes grew wide as he stuttered, “It’s the most dangerous painkilling potion out there. It is only given to patients that are in agony and nothing else will mask the pain. It is highly addictive and once the user stops using it, the . . . pain comes back threefold. Please don’t tell me that you’ve been taking it?” Tears filled her eyes, as it was her turn to nod. She tried to turn away from him, but he caught her and held her close. “It’s okay, you just needed to escape for a little bit. You’ll be fine. How about you teach from the desk today and I let them deal with a few boggarts? It will be good exercise for them anyway.”

“Okay,” the Slayer agreed.

Remus smiled at her and told her, “Good, then I’ll expect you in about an hour?”

“Yes,” she responded and her co-worker left quietly.

Severus entered several minutes later and handed her a cup of potion. “Don’t worry, my dear, it’s just a vitamin potion. Your diet really has suffered as of late,” he assured her.

Buffy smiled at him as she downed the substance. He really did care for her. “It won’t anymore, I’m under your thumb now,” she told him, “Now help me get dressed.”

Both of them knew that she could do it herself, but they also enjoyed it. Severus helped her into the bathroom, where she showered and got out. While she was showering, he called Dobby for their breakfasts. He laid out Buffy’s clothes for the day, a pair of loose black pants and a black shirt to wear underneath her scarlet robes. After Buffy got dressed, they ate in near silence.

“So, is there some secret passage to the DADA room that I can take? I really don’t wanna hobble through the halls like this,” the Slayer asked.

Severus replied, “No, there is not, but I think that Floo may be acceptable today. Albus would certainly permit it.”

“I hate the Floo. I get all dirty,” she complained half-heartedly.

“Well, let’s go.” Buffy collected her cane and Severus collected a packet of Potions essays and they were off. He went first and Buffy followed soon after.

They found that Remus had arranged the desk so that Buffy had an excellent view of the room. Two boxes filled the front of the classroom and they all knew that they contained boggarts. “Remus, would you like to have lunch with Buffy and I today?” Severus asked.

Remus looked startled that a man who had never even liked him just asked him to lunch. He stuttered briefly before accepting whole-heartedly. “Of course I’d love to, our last class is done around noon, I’ll just come back with her,” the werewolf told him.

Buffy put in, “Sev, could you extend the invitation to Xander, too? He’d like to eat with us today, I think.”

“I was thinking of stopping by his room on the way to the dungeons. Well, I must be off. Be careful, both of you,” the Potions Master said, in a voice that contained more cheer than normal. It was accompanied by another “If she gets hurt, I’ll take your head” glare towards Remus.

The morning was dreadfully boring to everyone. Buffy was stuck grading papers for the morning because she did not want to deal with a boggart. Remus just quietly advised his students. Severus was even kind to Neville that morning.

Lunch came soon and the pain in Buffy’s legs had faded a bit. She could walk with only a limp, not the hobble that was present in the morning. Nevertheless, Remus went through first to make sure that she did not stumble out of the fireplace when she landed.

Severus was already there and had set up a simple meal, though it was by no means small. He was determined to put meat on Buffy’s bones. “Xander will not be joining us today, he had prior engagements,” he said with a smirk on his face.

“Oh? What kind of prior engagement?” Buffy asked, ever the gossip.

“A girl.”

“Do you know anything, Remy? I’ve been out of the loop,” she whined.

Remus grinned and looked at Severus. “Should I tell her?”

“I think you should if you wish to keep yourself safe from her,” the Potions Master drawled, nodding his head at the increasingly frustrated Buffy.

“Apparently he met a lovely witch from Hogsmeade that sells Muggle artifacts in a small shop. By the name of Ariana Finch,” the werewolf said quickly.

The little blond girl was nearly shaking with excitement as she asked, “Tell me more about Ariana Finch.”

“Over lunch, while you eat.”

They sat down to the soup and salad that Severus had gotten from the kitchen. “Ariana Finch is a young witch who graduated from here about, oh, eight years ago. She stands about five and a half feet tall with lovely brown hair. Her specialty when she was a student was said to be hexes. Quite the practical joker. Nice blue eyes, pale skin, very fond of the Yankee Muggle who wandered into her shop a week ago. They’ve spent a lot of time in Zonko’s and the Leaky Cauldron. I’d watch any candy you get from your friend for a while. Zonko’s is beginning to carry Weasley’s Wizardly Wheezes products, like ton-tongue toffee and canary creams.”

“Eek, thank you. Xander would love those jokes,” Buffy agreed, “I’m glad Xander’s found someone. I was afraid that he’d never find someone who didn’t leave him. Ariana seems to be his perfect match.”

“It seems you two have found your perfect matches as well,” Remus dared to say.

Severus froze and paled while Buffy continued, “I think I may have. Depends on him.”

“You have,” Sev managed to whisper. A look passed between the two that Remus could not have mistook for anything but love.

“So, how long will the aftereffects of the potion last, Sev?” Buffy asked to get him out of his sudden trance.

The Potions Master was back as he replied, “About a week, though they should dissipate gradually.”

“Good.” And that was all that was said for the rest of lunch. Buffy and Remus had to take off for another DADA class and Severus retreated to the dungeons to grade potions essays.

After classes that evening, Buffy was grading a few DADA papers when a knock came at her door. “Come in,” she said. Harry poked his head in.

He asked nervously, “What happened to Quidditch practice?”

“Oh, um,” Buffy stuttered, “Well, to tell you the truth, I need your vow of secrecy. No one, not even Hermione or Ron can be told.” Harry nodded. “Okay, I did a bit of dabbling with Aphraxus Painkilling Potion and now I’m dealing with the consequences. I can’t handle flying, just for a few days. I’m off of the stuff, I promise. Sev makes sure of it.”

Harry was surprised by her casual mention of the hated Potions Master, but nodded. “It’s good that you off of it, Hermione went on about how easily it could kill after we learned about it last year.”

“So, are you going to the Halloween masquerade?”

Harry blushed and replied, “Yeah, I’m going with Luna Lovegood. She’s getting some wicked good costumes. Um, what about you?”

“I’m going with Severus,” Buffy said nonchalantly. The Boy-Who-Lived paled at the idea of Professor Snape having a date to a ball with a gorgeous professor. “You can’t tell anyone about that either. Sev would have conniptions.”

“Okay, I promise I won’t tell anyone,” Harry said, laughing. He began to head out of her office.

Her cheery voice drifted, “Good night, Harry. I’ll be back to practice by next week. Be careful!”

“Good night, Professor Summers.”

Chapter 13 - The Masquerade

Buffy was substantially better by the time the next week rolled around. She had made Minerva promise to go shopping with her in Diagon Alley on the weekend. The older woman was stubbornly refusing to tell her the name of her date for the masquerade. Buffy knew she had one because she blushed every time someone asked her about it.

Meanwhile, DADA was going quite well. The end of the Aphraxus potion meant that the Slayer could no longer do the stunning acrobatics of two weeks ago, but her temperament was much improved. The blonde always had a smile gracing her face. The ebony cane was long gone and Anduthoniel was back. Buffy had found it very useful in the Forbidden Forest on patrol.

Severus had been very reluctant to let her go back out into the Forbidden Forest, but she was adamant. She was a grown woman and perfectly capable of making her own decisions. So far, in four nights of patrolling, Buffy had managed to avoid any injuries that would prove Sev’s point. Remus periodically accompanied her; his werewolf side had heightened senses that reveled in the freedom of the fight.

Friday evening rolled around and Buffy was getting ready to head to Diagon Alley with Minerva, Poppy, and Sybil. She was not looking forward to spending any more time with Sybil that necessary. The Divination professor had not found a date for the sixth ball in a row, so she would be very loud. Poppy’s husband was coming in from St. Mungo’s, where he was a magical pathologist. Neither Buffy nor Minerva would disclose the identity of their dates. However, they all assumed that Buffy would go with Severus.

They all met near Dumbledore’s office and used his Floo to get to Diagon Alley. The first stop was Madam Branwen’s Costumes for Every Occasion. Buffy disappeared into the Muggle section. She was determined to find the perfect costumes. Two hours later, the three older women were ready with their purchases and had yet to see Buffy emerge from the Muggle costumes. Finally, she came out, dressed in a stunning blue dress. “You’re Athena Adenbrau’s muggle version!” Poppy cried out. She had watched the movie in her younger years, when her husband had been going through his “muggle phase.”

Minerva agreed, “Oh it’s perfect.”

“Oh no! The spinning wheel!” shrieked Sybil, “You’re going to be hurt and go into a deep sleep-”

“Can it, Sybil,” Buffy growled, “That’s the plot of Sleeping Beauty, you twit.” The spectacled woman blinked several times and her jaw moved up and down. She did a fabulous impression of a fish out of water. Then she just sulked.

Within five minutes, the small blond girl had bought two costumes, but she wouldn’t let them see the other one. “I can just say that you will be surprised,” she hinted.

The next day had a Quidditch game. It would be the first one that Buffy had attended while on good terms with both Remus and Severus. However, it was also Slytherin versus Gryffindor. So she was on the ground helping coach the Gryffindors while Sev was on the other side of the field with the Slytherins.

Ultimately, it was a rather uneventful game. Buffy’s work with Ron and Harry had paid off. Ron didn’t let one goal through his hoops while the Boy-Who-Lived was the fastest he had ever been. Draco didn’t stand a chance against him. “Hey Potter, you think you’re better than everyone now?” the peroxide blond boy hissed.

Harry spun around and told him, “No, I know I’m not nearly as good as half of the people on this pitch. I’m honest; Professor Summers is the best player anyone here has ever seen. Professor Snape gives her a test and would slaughter me. Ron is the best Keeper I’ve ever seen and getting better every day. However, anyone here could beat you with your attitude. Try practicing instead of talking.”

Everyone clapped. Buffy didn’t join in the clapping, but she smiled. Severus did not clap either; it would have been inappropriate. Harry could see the pride in his eyes. The Potions Master had gotten slightly fonder of him over the past few weeks, especially after Buffy’s accident at the beginning of the year.

That evening, Buffy locked herself in the bathroom to get ready and told Severus to go the dungeons to use the loo if he needed it. Severus ended up spending a long time on his hair as well. He heard the children calling his hair greasy, and he wanted it to appear nice tonight. It just might help him disguise himself as Prince Phillip.

Buffy emerged from the bathroom swathed in the blue dress. It fit her perfectly. A simple golden cross adorned her neck and her hair was down in waves. She really did look like Disney’s Sleeping Beauty. Severus was in awe. So was his date. His hair didn’t look the least bit greasy, it looked soft and shiny. The costume fit him quite well. Together, they made quite a pair. A thin wooden cane accompanied Buffy, so she was not disguised in the least.

When the two came gliding into the Great Hall, several students stopped and stared. Many of the girls were wondering who was the handsome man that Professor Summers was latched onto? For the first half hour of the dance, Buffy and Severus danced on the floor. They seemed unaware of everyone around them. Of course, they weren’t, Buffy was whispering what she heard other students saying as they danced. They laughed at some of the comments together.

Finally, Dumbledore waded through the crowd and whispered, “Buffy, it’s your turn to act as chaperone. Just keep an eye out.”

That was the end of their dancing. They moved over to the punch table to get some refreshments and then stood near Poppy and her husband. After several looks, the Mediwitch figured it out. She paled and nearly fainted when Severus asked her, “Do you think I have a chance with Aurora here?”

Then she finally managed to say, “I think you have her, Severus.” She was very, very quiet about it.

The night seemed to last forever. Severus spotted two Seventh-Years nearly screwing right on the dance floor. The girl was dressed in little more than fishnets, boyshorts, and a halter top. She obviously meant it to appear that she was a mouse. Her date was costumed as a cat, meaning that he had a set of kitty ears perched on his head. His hands had moved the black top up nearly over her breasts. “That’s absolutely inappropriate,” he sputtered and made a move to go over and speak to the couple.

Buffy put and hand on his arm and said, “Sev, wait a second. Let me do it.” Something about the evil twinkle in her eye told him that it was better to let her do it.

“Sleeping Beauty” gracefully floated into the middle of the dance and reached the happy couple. “Annabelle, you might want to hold off on that until after you leave the dance. In fact, you will have to. Payne, please get your hands out from under your date’s shirt,” she whispered. Then she turned and winked at Poppy, who smiled and waved her wand and said a scant few incantations under her breath. Annabelle and Payne were suddenly in furry cat and mouse costumes. “Those will disappear at 2am. Have a nice dance, dears.”

Buffy returned to Severus, who said, “I think our time as chaperones is up, at least for now.” He dragged her out onto the dance floor. The raven-haired potions master was more aggressive as he danced than before. “I think Payne may have had the right idea,” he whispered in her ear.

“You’ll just have to wait a while, Sev,” the little blonde muttered, her face blushing furiously.

Two hours later, as the clock struck one o’clock, Dumbledore’s voice rumbled, “Good night all, festive Halloween! Reveal yourselves and kiss your dates!”

Buffy removed Severus’s mask and smiled at the sight of his face. No one was paying any attention, they were preoccupied with kissing their dates. What started out as a chaste kiss between the two professors soon moved into one of the most thorough kisses that Buffy had ever received. It seemed like it would never end, and they didn’t want it too.

Then they heard Dumbledore clear his throat. They broke the kiss to look around. Everyone was staring at them in awe. “Professor Summers and Snape???” many voices said.

One older voice managed, “Severus and Buffy!!??” It was Xander. He was standing there with his girlfriend, Ariana. Xander was wearing a very fine tuxedo as James Bond. Ariana was dressed as a Bond girl, though it could have been any one of them. She was looking very nice and had drawn stares from all of the men.

“Alexander Harris, get you rear over year and introduce me to your girlfriend,” Buffy screeched, momentarily forgetting her own embarrassment.

It was Xander’s turn to be embarrassed. He brought Ariana forward. She was a shy girl. “Ariana, I’d like you to meet my best friend, Buffy Summers,” he said. “Buffy this is Ariana.”

“It’s nice to meet you, Ariana,” the smaller girl said pleasantly.

Ariana smiled and told her, “Same here, I’ve heard so much about you from Xander.”

“Why can all I manage to do is blush today?” Buffy ranted momentarily. Then she looked around and blushed even more. “Come on, Sev, we’re leaving. It was wonderful meeting you.”

And that was how Buffy left a stunned school. Who would have thought, the greasy Potions Master and one of the prettiest professors to come through Hogwarts in ages?

Chapter 14 - The Afterparty and the Morning After

Buffy managed to maintain a straight face until they were out of earshot of the Great Hall. Then she giggled and pulled Severus in for an even more passionate kiss. “We better get going before more students see us,” Buffy whispered.

This time, they made it to Severus’s rooms before they had to kiss again. It was like a dam had broken and they couldn’t stop it. They stumbled into the Potion Master’s black and silver bedroom. Surprisingly enough, the sheets were silk, as Buffy discovered when she tumbled onto them.

Sev’s fingers went to remove her dress and she stopped him. “You don’t want to see….” she let the thought hang in the air.

His lips curled into the sweetest smile as to told her, “I’ve told you, love, everything about you is beautiful. Each mark is a part of you, something that’s made you the most amazing, stunningly gorgeous woman I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting.”

At this, the blonde was stunned and only reacted when the dress had been pulled down her shoulders. Carefully, Severus was placing a kiss on each scar that marked her skin. He moved his way down, never pausing in his routine, determined to show the tiny girl how special she was.

Once he finished, he moved back up and gathered her in his arms. The costume from the evening still covered Severus. This did not satisfy the Slayer.

Each piece of the costume was removed with the same diligence that Severus had used only minutes earlier. Then the two were simply together. “I-I don’t think we should go any farther- yet,” Sev proposed.

Buffy was silent for a few moments before she nodded, “You’re right. I don’t want to complicate what we both know is going to be a very complex relationship. But for tonight could you just…hold me?”

The raven-haired potions master gathered her up in his arms and pulled her under the covers and did just that-held her. All night.

Buffy woke late the next morning to find Severus gone. “Sev?” she asked to the empty room.

His smooth voice floated into the room, “Yes love?”

She felt the blood rush to her cheeks as she heard him, “What time is it?”

“Half past two. I only just woke up an hour ago. Dumbledore asked me if you would mind joining him for dinner this evening at 5. It seems that some issues concerning Mr. Potter have come up,” Severus told her.

“Well then. We have two and a half hours. You wanna go for a walk? I could use it, I think,” she suggested.

“My dear, you just might want to get dressed first.”

“Oh. Yes. Um. Give me twenty minutes.”

“I’ll do better than that. Novus Niveus Oriens,” he said, waving his wand. Buffy’s hair was done and she was dressed in one of her Slaying outfits, the ones that the students never saw.

Buffy eyed him cheekily, “Now Sev, do you really want all the boys in the school to see me in this?”

“I don’t know, it might do wonders for them. What, you too scared of the little boys in this school?” he said.

“Fine, let’s go,” she challenged.

“Yn cyfareddu Dduwies,” the Potions Master managed before she left the room. Immediately, she was back in traditional wizarding clothing, except made of a gorgeous green velvet-like material. “My grandfather did know a great many lovely little spells like that.” A playful twinke glinted in his dark eyes.

“It’s lovely…though a bit much for the middle of the day.”

“Fine then,” he waved his wand, muttering a word or two under his breath. And the she stood there dressed in a pair of jeans, a sweater, and a pair of American cowboy boots.

She grinned and said, “This is good. I can deal with this. Now let’s get going.”

Buffy and Severus took a walk around the perimeter of Hogwarts. “Bloody Hell, the entire school is watching us,” he scoffed as they went to enter the building again. They looked up to see every window filled with the faces of nearly every person in the school looking at them.

“Hmm, now the question would be: to shock them or leave them hanging?” Buffy asked.

Sev began to answer, “I’m really in a bit of a playful mood today, and I do love shocking the hell out of-“

Whatever he was going to say was cut off by Buffy pulling his mouth to hers. The kiss wasn’t all the different from the one the previous night, but it was, in a way. Professor Summers wanted him, the snarky Potions Master.

“That should give them something to talk about until Christmas.”

Much later that evening….

“Good evening, Buffy,” Albus Dumbledore greeted her, looking at her over his half-moon eyeglasses. “You did ‘shock the hell out of them’ today, you know.”

Her cheeks were blushing a furious shade of red. “Umm, so, what is this about Harry?”

“Well, obviously, we can’t put him back with the Dursleys. However, the Weasleys are heading to Romania to visit the dragons and Remus is going to go to Tibet for a retreat. Neither Minerva nor I can take hime. I was hoping that you might want to apply for foster care of him.”

“Will I get it?”

“Buffy, my dear, you will. I can guarantee it. You are the only person other than myself who has proven herself completely capable of protecting Harry from anything that flies this way. And you proved your loyalty to him by nearly dying for him. All you need to do is sign right here,” he said, pulling out a roll of parchment.

“You had this all planned out, didn’t you?”

“Yes, and even checked with Harry. I knew you would say yes, you love that boy like he’s your own,” the older man told her. Her eyes watered with tears.

“Thank you, Albus,” she murmurred as she launched herself at him, hugging him so tightly that she nearly cracked his ribs.

Chapter 15: Mommy?

Buffy was nearly skipping back into her chambers at half past six. “I got him!” she was shrieking.

The Potions Master wandered out of the bathroom dressed in his black robes and slightly damp hair around his shoulders. “Bloody hell, Buffy, what are you talking about?”

The Slayer smirked and replied, “I’m Harry’s new foster mother! Dumbledore had it already set up, it was like he knew I would agree.”

“Dear, even I knew you would agree if he asked. You love that boy as if he were your brother or son. Congratulations, love,” Severus told her, pulling her slinking figure close and kissing her, “So, we’re celebrating Christmas with Mr. Potter then?”

“You don’t mind?” Buffy asked.

He shook his head and whispered, “Never, if you love him like a son, then he’s worthy of your love. Anyway, he’s not so bad.”

“Then you won’t mind if I take you two out for dinner on the next Hogsmeade weekend. Of course, we’ll actually be going to Diagon Alley. I’d just like to spend some time with my two favorite guys.”

“While I can’t guarantee that I won’t kill the impetuous boy if he steps out of line, I will try my best to get along with him, anything to please you, my love,” Severus said.

With a grimace, she pulled away, saying, “Sev, I love you, I really do, but please, do things because you want to, not for me. Being the object of some obsession is something that I-I-I can’t deal with. It never leads to any good.”

“Seriously, Mr. Potter has proven himself to be more than a self-centered young man. Humility, wits, and resolve have shown themselves lately, disproving all of my previous theories concerning the Boy-Who-Lived.”

“Thank you, Sev,” she whispered in his ear as she began to trail kisses down his neck.

The Potions Master indulged her, but reminded her, “My dear, I think this is something that neither you nor I would like to do. We’re too complex still. So many things need ironed out, and we need to work together.”

“Can I still sleep with you?”

“Good god, did you not listen to me just now?”

“No, Sev, just sleep next to you. You-you make me feel safe. Loved. Sexy. But I can handle that. You’re my safety blanket,” she said, quietly.

Severus swept Buffy up into his arms and carried her to what seemed to becoming “their” room. “While it is very tempting to simply fall asleep tonight, both of us have essays to grade. 3rd year potions for me and 2nd year DADA for you. The principles of the uppercut, I believe.”

“Oh. Yes.”

“Now, move over. I need to get these graded. I do need to maintain my image somehow,” he grumbled, “You’ve turned me into a bloody pouf. A kindly teacher. A..”

“Sev. Shut. Up.”

“Well then.” With that, the couple graded their essays. Two hours later, each had a stack of 20-40 red-marked essays sitting on the table. Buffy stood up and stretched.

“I really don’t wanna go patrolling tonight,” she complained.

Severus stared at her for a moment before replying, “Then don’t.”

“But me not going patrolling would be like you not making a potion for a week. It’s my life. It’s in my blood. Plus, who knows what’s grown up in the Forest in the past few days.”

With that, she got up from her spot on the couch and went into her room to get dressed. She emerged dressed in a pair of snug black pants, black boots, a black t-shirt saying “Bite Me,” and a long black coat. “I know I’m totally channelling Faith right now, but it just seems to…”

“Fit. You’re sexy, love, in anything,” Sev said from his seat on the couch, “Now get going so you can get back.”

She headed for the door and her tall, dark, and sometimes-handsome man called, “Be careful.”

“Well, gosh darn, that just takes all the fun out of it,” she told him before sweeping out.

Three hours later, the slim blond-haired, black-clad figure swept back in, sporting a slice in the sleeve of her long coat. “Dear, are you hurt?” Sev asked.

Buffy turned and glared at him. “Severus, that was my favorite jacket. My most favorite, favorite jacket that I stole from a friend. Who is now DEAD. And it’s torn. Ruined. God, everything I get gets ruined, friends, clothing, pets…”

“Pets?” the Potions Master asked, determined to get her attention away from her coat as he repaired it.

“Okay, that’s a lie. My pets just die. Goldfish, hamsters, hermit crabs, gerbils, AND the plants. My mom refused me a puppy after Alfred the Hamster died.”

“And how did he die?”

Buffy giggled and said, “I stepped on him while I was practicing a back handspring-roundoff-pike in my bedroom. Oh god, what if I step on Harry? I’m going to be a horrible temporary foster mom for the Boy-Who-Lived. What kind of irony is it that the Girl-Who-Died-Twice gets to be the foster mummy of the Boy-Who-Lived. I’m gonna get him killed.”

“Buffy! Breathe. You’re going to be fine. Harry’s stayed alive long enough on his own. You killed the hampster because you were young. I’ll be here to help you. And you can be confident that Almost-Headless Nick will be watching. The old boy has taken quite a liking to him.”

“But you haven’t. You have developed ‘respect’ for him. Not like, not love like a son. You’ll do it because I want you to. And Harry’ll be afraid of you and you’ll only respect him and I’ll end up letting him get killed or I won’t get him the right present for Christmas,” she ranted. Then she paused and seemed to realize something. She cried, “I’m acting like Willow. Whom I got killed. Sev, I’m going to bed.” With that she was out of the room and into her bedroom with a locked door.

Classes started the next day again with a very tired looking Slayer and a surprisingly docile Potions Master. The students took this to mean other things, and there was audible ‘whispering’ by midday.

Severus couldn’t find Buffy for the life of him all day. He finally found out from Xander that she was out running. “Hey, Severus, how’s that potion coming along for Buffy? The one that’ll fix her leg?” he asked, nervous around the taller man.

Sev replied, “Quite well, I think. I need to do some tests on it. At this point, I know it won’t hurt her, but I don’t know how effective it will be. I might do a few small tests on her later today, providing I can find her.”

“Find who?” a perky voice asked from behind him.

“You, Buffy,” Xander responded, “Sevvy here has the potion almost done for you. He needs to run some tests and stuff.”

“Regardless, we can’t do it till Christmas break. I have classes to teach. I can’t be laid up for a week. He still has a month and a half to finish it,” she told them and then limped off towards her final class of the day.

“If there is a Most Dedicated Teacher Award, she should definitely get it,” Xander said.

Severus borrowed one of the words he had picked up from Buffy as he replied, “Yep. That’s Buffy, dedicated, even to her detriment.”

“Want to go get a drink?”

“Oh hell yes, I need one,” Severus told the younger man. The two were soon headed towards the Three Broomsticks.

Chapter 16: Of Swords and Mums

A knock at the door interrupted Buffy and Severus’s daily ritual of grading papers together. “Come in,” Buffy responded before a word could leave her companion’s mouth.

Harry’s wiry frame appeared in the doorway. “Professor Summers?” he asked nervously.

The Slayer exclaimed, “Harry! Come on in. Sev and I were just grading some papers.” Harry entered and was surprised to see a real smile on Severus’s face at his appearance.

“Take a seat, Harry, anywhere you like,” the Potions Master said in a voice containing less than half the venom it used to. The Boy-Who-Lived slid into a deep leather chair that was adjacent to the couch that Buffy and Severus were sitting on.

“Professor Summers-” he began.

“In here you can call me Buffy,” his new foster mother interrupted.

“Buffy, I wanted to say thank you for taking care of me. When Dumbledore told me, I just couldn’t believe it. Does this mean we’re spending Christmas here at Hogwarts? How long do you get to keep me?” Harry asked, speaking almost too quickly to be understood.

The petite blonde took a deep breath and said, “I was thinking that we’d spend most of Christmas here, except for perhaps a trip to Bath to visit my stepfather. Unless you would rather go elsewhere? I have custody of you until you’re eighteen unless something changes.”

Harry launched himself at his new foster mother as soon as the words were out of her mouth. “Thank you, Buffy,” he whispered.

“You’re welcome, Harry.”

“Will Professor Snape be with us too?” Harry asked.

Buffy looked directly at Severus before replying, “Yes, he will be.”

“Would you and Harry come to dinner with me this weekend?” the tall, darkly attired man asked.

Harry’s face showed an expression of shock, but his new foster-mother answered for him, “We would love to. At least I think we would- Harry?”

This seemed to jerk him back to reality and he stuttered, “Uh, yes, Professor Snape, thank you.”

“Well, then both of you should be ready by six o’clock in the evening on Saturday. I have some business to take care of now, I’ll leave you two to talk things over,” Severus said, leaving the room quickly.

Harry and Buffy chattered for over an hour. Harry told her about his adventures from each year. Her eyes lit up with joy when he brought up the story of the basilisk. She told him to story of taking down Mayor Wilkins and Glory’s giant snake. Finally, Buffy stood up and stretched. “Harry, it’s time for you to go back to the Gryffindor tower and time for me to go patrolling,” she told him, smiling. Their lives had been very similar. Chosen at birth for something they never wanted but had to live with.

Harry walked out quietly, smiling like he had won the lottery. In a way he had, they both had. Both had lost a family and now they were slowly making a new one.

Hermione and Ron immediately noticed a change in their friend’s emotions as he entered the Gryffindor common room. “Harry, what’s going on? I haven’t seen you this happy since-since-”

“Professor Summers is my new foster mum!” he yelled.

“What!” his two friends asked, along with everyone else in the Gryffindor Common room.

Harry explained, “Professor Summers and Dumbledore got the papers drawn up so she’s my guardian until I’m eighteen. I never have to go back to the Dursleys again!”

“Congratulations, Harry,” Hermione’s voice chirped.

Ron added, “Yeah, congrats.”

“She’s not old enough!” one Seventh-Year boy complained.

Harry whirled and told him, “Austin, she may only be twenty-two, but she’s seen more horror in her lifetime than most of the teachers here. That includes Voldemort’s reign of terror. What she’s seen would be enough to age anyone well into their graves.”

Austin, a tall eighteen-year-old shrunk from Harry’s form. “Sorry, Harry,” he said.

Someone else said, “He only said it ‘cause he’s jealous. Potter, you’ve got the hottest mum here. She’s like--” He was stopped when a kind friend put his hand over the boy’s mouth. It was clear that Harry didn’t particularly like having his foster mum being spoken of like that. His face was red with a combination of embarrassment and anger.

Eventually, the crowd broke up and Harry dug into his Potions essay. It was due the next day and he couldn’t concentrate. Every time he started to write, he kept remembering how Snape had invited him and Buffy to dinner.

It was like Professor Snape had turned into an entirely different person since Buffy had come to Hogwarts. He was still cruel most of the time, but it was a tempered cruelty. No student had fled from his classroom in tears unless he and Buffy had been fighting.

By midnight, Harry had finished the essay and slowly dragged himself up the stairs to his room.

As Harry fell asleep, Buffy was in the middle of her patrol in the Forbidden Forest. Something in her gut told her that there was something big in the forest tonight. That was why she had a very long sword strapped to her back along with the crossbow in her hands.

“Ah, Miss Summers, have you forgotten something?” a voice echoed from the depths of the forest.

Buffy spun around and said to the voice, “What, like to take my daily multivitamin?”

“That this part of the forest is beyond Hogwart’s barrier?”

“Um, no. I know that.”

The voice chuckled, “You should be afraid, very afraid.”

“Can’t you just see me quaking in my shoes?” she retorted.

“Avada Kedavra,” someone said. The jet of green light flew at Buffy. With the fluidity of a dancer, the blond slayer had unsheathed her sword and brought it around to absorb the curse.

There was silence. No one had ever seen a sword, or anything, absorb the Killing Curse. “Are you Death Eaters?” she asked in her best Valley Girl voice.

No response was made as half a dozen figures, indeed Death Eaters, emerged from the trees. The sword was sheathed again and Buffy was doing everything the good old way: hand-to-hand. It was clear that none of the Death Eaters had ever needed to learn any physical combat.

Three of them tried to aim more spells at her, but she moved to fast. In just a few seconds, one of them was unconscious. Three more fell in her path in quick succession. The last two saw the error that their brethren made and put away their wands. One drew a small knife.

Not that it made the slightest difference. Though one man did manage to swipe at her forehead with the knife, Buffy was on a roll. All six men were knocked out cold at her feet in less than two minutes. The only injury she had suffered was a cut across her forehead, which was bleeding into her eyes.

She removed a pendant from her jacket and activated it by rubbing its face twice clockwise, once counterclockwise, and once clockwise. “Buffy?” a very surprised Severus said.

Buffy told him, “I need a Death Eater pick-up. I ran across six of them in the forest. They’re unconscious, but I assume that Dumbledore will want to turn them over to the government?”

“Are you hurt?” Severus asked, “What am I asking, I can see you’re hurt, there’s blood in your eyes. I’ll be right there and I’ll get Dumbledore to call in some Aurors.”

Five minutes later, Dumbledore, Poppy, Severus, Xander and Remus all arrived at the clearing where Buffy kept watch over the sleeping Death Eaters. “ETA of the Aurors is ten minutes,” Xander said, answering Buffy’s first question.

Severus went straight to her. He was thankful to see that she was relatively uninjured. Remus and Xander weren’t at all bothered. Poppy was preparing the simple healing potion. “Severus, I’m FINE! It’s just a little cut. Head wounds bleed a lot. That’s the way it is. Just let me go. I want to see who these boys are before the cleanup crew gets here,” she glared at her boyfriend while she said this.

Buffy stalked over to the pile of men and started pulling off masks. “Hmm, you look an awful like Linus Flint, are you his daddy?” she murmured at one rather rat-like man, “Ohh, and, lemme guess, you are Jessalyn Dinkman’s father?” She turned to the group of people staring at her like she had grown another head. “It’s like an Evil People of Hogwarts: Grown Up! Special!” she said by way of explanation.

An hour and a half later, the Death Eaters had been taken into custody and Albus, Buffy, Poppy, Remus, Severus and Xander were on their way back to the castle. Xander started saying, “You should have seen Sevvy here. Kept popping up in our fireplaces saying ‘Buffy…Death Eaters…injured…help!’ And here all you have is one little cut.”

“That’s what I said,” Buffy grumbled, “But no. Let’s bring the cavalry.”

Severus shot back, “You looked horrible in the mirror. Blood in your eyes, how was I to know?”

“Aww, you care,” Buffy whispered in his ear, leaving a peck on his cheek, “At least they didn’t find out that spells don’t affect me.”

“How did you manage that?” Remus asked, surprised.

“I’m fast. And that nifty sword worked. Absorbed the Killing Curse.”

“I’ve always wondered what that did,” Albus mused, the sword had been taken from the school’s collection of swords, “We got it about a thousand years ago from an unknown benefactor. I must admit, I never knew it had that power. The runes were unreadable, not of this world…”

“But now we know what it does. Can I keep it? Please, please please please?” Buffy begged.

Albus looked over at his youngest faculty member and said, “Of course you may. And now, I am off to bed. My body does need a bit of sleep.”

The remaining people soon split up. The cut on Buffy’s head had been completely healed. Xander was tired and had planned to meet Mr. Weasley to go shopping for parts for their submarine. Poppy had a boy who had managed to turn his hand into a head of lettuce in the infirmary. Remus…was Remus. Soon enough, Buffy and Severus were left by themselves in the hallway. She rested her head against his chest.

“Tired, love?” Sev asked her. Buffy nodded, her eyes closed. Surprisingly, he picked her up and carried her back to their apartment. She was asleep before they even reached the door.

Chapter 17: Dinners and Death Eaters

The weekend had arrived with no more incidents from the Death Eaters. Harry was getting ready for dinner with Buffy and Severus. He was putting on a nice set of robes for dinner. “Oooh, Harry, got a hot date tonight?” Seamus asked from the other side of the room.

“Snape is taking Professor Summers and I to dinner tonight,” he told him.

Ron screeched, “What in the bloody hell are you saying? The greasy-faced Slytherin is taking you two to dinner? He’s probably just trying to deliver you to the Death Eaters! I mean, Professor Summers is hot and she’s dating him?”

“Ron, Snape isn’t all that bad. You should see how much he cares for her. Plus, he hasn’t been nearly as bad lately with Professor Summers here,” Harry found himself defending his most hated professor.

“True,” Seamus mused, “Snape hasn’t taken away nearly as many points or given nearly as many detentions in the last month or so.”

“But it could all be an act!” Ron argued.

“I think Professor Summers could take him out in a heartbeat. I mean, you’ve seen what she’s done to vampires and the like.”

“He’s a Potions master, he could drug her,” Ron threw out.

Harry rolled his eyes and said, “I’ll keep an eye out for it. Even Remus doesn’t have a problem with it, so why should you?”

Ron was debating this carefully before he finally conceded, “I don’t know. But if something happens, I’m holding Snape responsible.”

“Have it your way, I’m off,” the raven-haired boy decided, leaving Gryffindor tower and making his way to Buffy’s room.

When he arrived, Severus was waiting impatiently. “You are late, Harry, though not nearly as late as Buffy,” he groaned, “Why must women take forever to get ready?”

Buffy’s voice yelled from the bathroom, “Sev, you take forever as well with all that hair…you just got to begin two hours ago while I was still grading essays until twenty minutes ago.”

“Fine, you win, love,” Severus conceded, sensing that pushing it might not be in his best interests. He turned to Harry and asked, “How was the rest of your week?”

“Umm, quite good, Professor,” Harry responded, taken aback by his teacher’s kindness, “And your own?”

“Very busy,” Severus told him, “Buffy managed to capture a half-dozen Death Eaters a few nights ago, nearly gave me a bloody heart attack when she called for a pick-up.”

“I had the situation completely under control,” Buffy’s voice said. Both men looked up to see the blonde sweep into the room dressed in a black dress the fell just below her knees and black boots. She continued, “Sevvy here just freaked because I got a little cut on my face. See, completely gone.”

“Let’s get going,” Severus pleaded. They walked to the gates of Hogwarts, then he removed a key from his robes and put it out. “This will take us to Calypso, our dining establishment tonight.”

As soon as all three hands touched the key, it was activated and the trio soon found themselves in the lobby of a very nice restaurant. They were seated immediately and Severus ordered a bottle of red wine for him and Buffy and Harry ordered a soda. “Buffy, you are of age. You can have some wine,” Severus pointed out.

“It’s red,” she said shortly. Harry looked utterly confused by this, so she covered it by adding, “Plus alcohol and Buffy are unmixey things.”

The menu came. Severus selected a filet mignon with sautéed mushroom and garlic potatoes. Harry ordered roast chicken with fennel. When it came to Buffy, she ordered the minestrone. “That’s it?” Harry asked.

Severus began to say something but Buffy put up a hand to stop him. “Harry, there are some things about my past that you don’t know. You will know, in time. But for now, you have to understand that there are some things that I am still recovering from.”

Harry nodded, pleased that she didn’t yell. The meal continued in peace, with the three of them carrying on a good conversation. The food came and went and Severus finally talked the small blonde into a glass of brandy at the end of the meal.

It was late by the time they finished. The port key transported them to the gates of Hogwarts. Just as they landed, a dozen Death Eaters appeared, this time with something new. A troll.

Buffy was already grumbling, “Oh great, a troll. Just the worst ending to the most wonderful evening. Well, not really the worst, but you know, I was hoping for like some smoochies and a night in front of the fire. And this is totally not what I expected.”

“Buffy, you are unarmed,” Severus warned her. Then she withdrew a sword from her cane.

“Not entirely. You get Harry inside the gates. One hair on his head is harmed and I will make sure you never reproduce…ever. Don’t come help, Voldemort will know. Please, Severus,” she warned before turning to engage the Death Eaters and their troll.

Three of the Death Eaters were dead before Severus and Harry had moved. Then the troll came forth. Buffy did an excellent job of ducking it several times before it finally got its hammer in contact with her. Her body went flying. But she tumbled in the air and landed like a cat on her feet. Two more Death Eaters were killed by her sword. The second the gate was closed, Severus was running to get help. Dumbledore, McGonagall, Pomfrey, Lupin. Anyone. Harry watched helplessly from the other side of the gate.

Buffy managed to hold off the Death Eaters for another two minutes before the troll hammer hit her again. And this time, she didn’t get back up. In a second, Harry slipped his arm outside of the gates, pointed his wand at one of the Death Eaters and yelled, “Petrificus Totalis!” He did it again and again, using his split-second reflexes from his time as Seeker to knock out three more Death Eaters. It gave Buffy enough time to recover and stand again. Weakly, she fought off the remaining two Death Eaters and the troll. One more Death Eater fell to her sword before the Death Eater managed to hit her with a curse. It was shining green as it hit between her shoulder blades. The Slayer dropped like she’d been shot. Harry heard several people arrive behind him just as the troll smashed his target once more with his enormous hammer. The Death Eater saw help arrive and quickly vanished, taking his pet with him.

No sooner was the Death Eater gone than Harry tried to run out to help his new “family.” Severus grabbed the boy by his collar and hissed, “Harry, she did this for you. To protect you. Do not risk yourself. She would not want it.”

Meanwhile, Poppy, Remus, Albus, Xander, and Minerva rushed past Harry to help Buffy. “Was…was it the Killing Curse?” Severus asked, his face three shades paler than normal.

Harry babbled slightly, equally as pale as the taller man, “It-it-it was green. And-and-and…yes. Yes, I think it was.”

Tears began streaming down both of the raven-haired men’s faces. Wordlessly, Severus engulfed the younger boy in a hug. They stood their, waiting for word from Poppy.

Minutes later, she had magicked Buffy onto a stretched and was taking her to the infirmary. The look on her face made everyone fear the worst. “She’s alive,” Poppy said and everyone breathed a sigh of relief until she continued, “Barely. It was the Killing Curse. I-I’ve never seen anyone survive it, not like this. She-she’s in a coma. I don’t know what to say.”

The group moved to the infirmary where Poppy called some people from St. Mungo’s to come in and consult. After two hours, she emerged from behind the curtain. “She’s still in a coma. Aside from that, the troll managed to break half a dozen ribs, her wrist, and give her a good concussion. It appears the curse dehydrated her and gave her a heart attack,” Poppy reported, “The mediwitches from St. Mungo’s agree with me that, given time, she will recover from this. Unfortunately, we don’t know much more than that. Time, fluids, and rest are our treatment, for now. We wait.”

Everyone in the room was extremely relieved to hear that the small blonde was still alive and would recover. Severus and Remus escorted Harry back to Gryffindor Tower, where Hermione and Ron immediately took him with them and promised to keep an eye on him.

Xander was waiting in Severus and Buffy’s quarters when Remus and Severus returned. “I-I just don’t want to be alone right now. Albus is sitting with Buffy right now. I thought I’d give him some alone time with her. Minerva’s working on getting Giles permission to come and visit her.”

Severus nodded. The three men sat in silence for several minutes before Remus called a bottle of firewhisky to them. Over the course of two hours, they told each other memorable stories of Buffy. Eventually, the trio passed out and fell asleep on the couch in Buffy and Severus’s common room.

Noise from the fireplace woke them up in the morning. Giles had arrived. Giles came at Severus from the first second out of the fireplace. “Bastard! You set that up! You told the Death Eaters what you were doing! You could have helped her, could have saved her, but you didn’t!” he yelled.

Xander was the one who got between Severus, who wasn’t attempting to defend himself, and Giles, who looked like he would have been perfectly happy to kill the Potions Master then and there. “Giles. GILES! Stop. Now. Severus would never hurt Buffy. Never. He loves her more than Angel or Spike or Riley ever did. Or they did combined. You know Buffy, better than most of us. She told him not to help her. She knew it would probably get him killed. The last thing Buffy needed was another death happening if she could have prevented it. Even if Severus didn’t die helping her, she probably would have done the deed herself for scaring her,” Xander pleaded.

Giles stopped, breathing heavily, and glanced at Severus, who looked completely heartbroken. “Good god, Sev, Xander’s right. I’ve never seen that look on anyone’s face. You really love her. Merlin, I didn’t know you were capable of it…” He drifted off before abruptly pulling Severus into a hug.

“I’ll take you to see her,” Severus offered. Remus and Xander were left sitting on the couch.

“Am I really imagining things or did that really just happen?” Remus asked, clutching his head.

“I’m pretty sure that did just happen.”

Chapter 18: Minerva and Athena

A week later found Buffy’s condition unchanged. Giles had received permission to remain at Hogwarts provided he wore a collar which both prevented any use of magic and contained a poison that would be released should he attempt to remove it. Even Severus argued that it was overkill for a man who had done so much on the side of good.

Everyone at Hogwarts felt the loss of Professor Summers. Her bed in the hospital wing was surrounded by flowers and chocolates and she had received dozens of visits from students from all houses. Giles and Severus had intercepted a few Slytherin children who had tried to sneak in harmful spells. Three of the Death Eaters that Buffy had killed were parents of Hogwarts students.

Harry was a ghost of his former self. He functioned, but did little more. Hermione and Ron made sure he went to all his classes. Remus was present at all Quidditch practices because the professors were afraid that he’d be too reckless. All of the professors understood what Harry was going through, even Severus. While Severus was more curt than normal towards most of his students, he appeared to take Harry under his wing.

Poppy was at a loss as to what to do. “Most spells don’t effect her. The Killing Curse is apparently the only one. And even that didn’t kill her. I can’t use my medicine, Muggle medicine has no cures for this. I don’t know what to do,” she lamented when Giles went to speak with her.

“Could we remove her necklace?” Giles mused, gesturing to the necklace that bound her magic.

Dumbledore told them, “No. Her magic is uncontrolled and dangerous when she’s conscious. We have no way of tellling what she might do subconsciously.”

Giles eventually stepped in to help with the DADA classes, Remus was happy to have him to help. The classes were not as physical as Buffy’s were, but Giles made sure that they got the book-knowledge that Buffy had always shown some disdain for. These children were not Buffy and would benefit from more knowledge of their opponents.

Three weeks after the attack, Xander came running into Severus’s sixth-year Gryffindor-Slytherin potions class. He grabbed Severus and Harry and ran out. Severus called out, “Put your things away and do your homework. If I see one cauldron dirty or see one potion completed, your House will lose all the points they have earned this year!”

Buffy’s condition had changed. Finally. Her heart was beating stronger and she seemed to be regaining consciousness. The lacerations from the attack had healed, but the broken bones were still healing. The site of the curse strike was likewise still healing, having burnt most of the flesh from the site. “Harry…” she mumbled as Severus and Harry ran in.

“Yes, Buffy?” Harry said, wanting to alert her of his presence.

Buffy opened her eyes more fully and tried to focus on the boy in front of her. “Harry! Oh thank God, you okay! Is Severus okay too? Please say he didn’t do something dumb and help me? Revealing his spy status would have been so totally dumb. I would have killed him myself. What the hell happened to my back? Hurts like a bitch. Giles! Why are you here?” she asked, babbling like Willow used to.

“Well…uh…” Giles managed, unable to come up with a good answer.

“I didn’t die again did I?” she asked.

Severus grumbled, “Nearly.”

Poppy started ordering people around at that. “Everyone but Albus, Mr. Giles, and Buffy, out. Wait twenty minutes and you can see her.”

The crowd slowly followed her orders. “Giles, tell me what happened,” Buffy demanded.

“Buffy, well…you got hit with the Killing Curse, which is, apparently, the only curse in the Wizarding world that we know of that can hurt you,” Giles told them.

She asked, “So, I’m here now. Clearly it isn’t the ‘Killing’ curse, soo…”

“For anyone but you, it would be. It killed Harry’s parents. But…you have broken the rules yet again, thank Merlin. You’ve been out for three weeks. Harry’s fine. He didn’t get a scratch on him. So’s Severus. We all are.”

“Good. So when can I get out of here?”

“Buffy, you nearly died. You can’t just get up and leave. We have no idea of the consequences of the curse on your body,” Poppy told her.

She scoffed and replied, “It’s not like I’m going that far or I’ll be alone. You know that. I have half a dozen friends who wouldn’t leave me alone if I begged.” Giles had to nod at that.

“Ms. Summers, you may leave this hospital wing tomorrow, after I have observed you for the next twelve hours. It’s not that long. Please?” she finally pleaded.

“Okay,” Buffy agreed, “I’ll stay. As long as you let people stay here as they want. You know Sev and Harry and Giles here will pester you anyway.”

Poppy nodded her head, giving into the young woman’s wishes. “Sometimes, my dear, you seem ages older than you appear.”

Buffy’s eyes acquired that faraway look that they did when she was remembering things long past as she said, “I know.”

Poppy then did a full scan of Buffy and reported, “She’s fine, except for the burn on her back, which will take a while to heal completely. Oh, and she’s also dehydrated and malnourished, but that will come back quickly. So long as she eats.”

“Which I will, as much as I was before the curse, at least,” she conceded. Poppy knew this was as much as she was going to get from Buffy.

Finally, the others were allowed back in. They all nearly fell over each other trying to get in. Harry reached her first, hugging her with all of his strength, but somehow managing to avoid the burn. “Buffy, I was afraid…” he cried.

“Shh..it’s okay, I’m fine, see, fine. Harry, I’m a good bit harder to kill than anyone you know,” she tried to assure him.

He continued, “B-but it’s my fault. You were protecting me, I could have helped you.”

“Harry, I’ve had too many deaths fall on my shoulders. You would have been just as dead as anyone else had you been there. You helped me. If anything would have happened to any of you, I would have died,” she told him earnestly while glaring at Severus, who looked tempted to scold the Boy-Who-Lived.

This seemed to both shock and comfort Harry. Once the boy had calmed down enough, Giles coaxed him into his arms while Severus got his chance to speak with her. “Buffy, you crazy, insane woman, what were you thinking?” Severus scolded her, then silenced her retort with a soft kiss. “When can I take you back to your proper room?” he asked.

“Poppy’s making me stay till tomorrow morning. But you can stay too,” she told him, her eyes pleading with him to stay. He knew as well as anyone about her fear of hospitals. A slight grin told her that he would, but then it was back to his sour face. “Sev, you can smile around them. They won’t tell anyone,” she whispered loudly enough for everyone to hear.

Xander replied, “What do you mean we won’t tell anyone, we’ll tell everyone. It’ll make the headlines. ‘Potions Master Severus Snape Smiles at Girlfriend.’ Yeah, like they’d believe that.”

At that, Severus put on a maniacal smile just for a second, much to Harry’s surprise. Everyone burst out laughing.

Harry, Severus, and Giles all took advantage of Buffy’s bargaining with Poppy to sleep near their friend for the night. Giles had a bed on one side of her, Severus on the other, with Harry’s bed next to his. Severus and Buffy fell asleep holding hands. Actually, Buffy fell asleep long before her love, who stayed awake for quite a while, watching her sleep.

The next morning saw Buffy released from the Hospital Wing. Giles was to spend the day with her, as the others had classes during the day. “Giles, tell me about your new home,” she asked him.

He began, “I bought it hoping that you and Xander would come and visit. Really, it’s just a little cottage on the beach. Big enough for three people for a week, but small enough that I can manage it. I’m close enough to the village that I can go in and get books. The National Archives have hired me to translate their ancient texts.”

“How is that?”

The true nerd in Giles came out as he gushed, “They’ve sent me about ten projects so far…nothing nearly as difficult as translating some of those codices from Egypt, but still rather challenging. I’ve had to brush up on my Sanskrit and hieroglyphs. Did you know that they regard me as something of an authority on Sumerian translations?”

“Congratulations, Giles,” Buffy told him, embracing him in a heartfelt hug, “You’re enjoying yourself? Find anyone special?”

“I’ve actually gotten to know the Squib sister of one of my Hogwarts mates recently. She runs the record store in town,” he said, somewhat sheepishly.

“Which friend?”

“Umm…Minerva,” Giles admitted.

“What’s her name? Age? What’s she look like? Tell me everything,” Buffy demanded.

“Athena McGonagall. She’s my age exactly. Her hair is short and light brown with the most piercing blue eyes. About Xander’s height. Went to school at Cambridge, got a degree in Ancient Art History.”

“So bonding over all things dusty?”

“Y-yes, indeed,” he stuttered, pulling his glasses of his face to clean. No doubt, Buffy was still the same girl he met all those years ago. Changed, but still the same girl.

“When will I get to meet her?”

“Soon. Minerva wanted us to come to the Yule Ball this year since Dumbledore is working on getting me pardoned.”

“That’s in what? Six weeks?” Buffy asked.

“Five.”

“Can Xand and I come and meet her next weekend?” she tried.

“I…I don’t think that it would be a good idea. The Death Eaters have kept a close eye on Hogwarts. Even Athena is under protection from the Aurors. And, of course, some Wiccan stuff too. But you, my dear, you have become a thorn in Voldemort’s side. More like a hot poker, perhaps, but he is gunning for you.”

“Not the-”

“First time, I know. But Voldemort has far more resources than any of your past enemies. Even Angelus or Glory.”

Buffy’s face fell as she realize his implication. “So Harry, Sev, and Xander can’t leave either? You can’t leave?”

“I’m afraid not. Not until the stir over your survival has died down or Voldemort is dead,” Giles admitted.

“Giles…I’ll go stir-crazy. I won’t have anything to do. Can I at least go to the Forbidden Forest?” she pleaded.

“Perhaps once all of your wounds have healed completely,” he relented, knowing that Buffy would go without his permission if he was too strict with her.

“Good. Now would you like to help me with grading DADA essays?”

“What’s the topic?” her Watcher inquired.

“What they think would be the most effective martial art against Death Eaters,” she replied, “It’s for First-Years, so I’m letting them have a lot of freedom. I more want them to explore what is available to them. They’re too young to really defend themselves at this point anyways.”

“Ah, well, then, of course I’d love to help you.”

And that was how Severus found them two hours later, grading a stack of DADA essays and howling with laughter over some of the more ridiculous ideas put forth by the students.

“Pray tell, what is so amusing?” Severus asked Buffy.

Buffy wordlessly handed the essay over to her boyfriend who took a few minutes to read it before he too began laughing.

“He’s not all that far off…but his reasoning is a bit…” Severus managed between laughter.

Buffy finished for him, “Insane. I mean, I agree with his logic until the second half.”

The laughter died down eventually and then Buffy asked, “Can we go to dinner now?”

“Love, are you sure you want to go to the Great Hall? I mean, you’ve only been awake for a day,” Severus asked, surprised at her request.

Buffy nodded emphatically, “I’ve already missed a week. We only have four more weeks till Holiday Break, then I’ll be laid up for a couple of weeks.”

“Well then, let’s get going,” Severus said, extending an arm to his girlfriend. Giles followed behind them.

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