The wind whistled softly through the crowded alley, barely noticed by the wizards and witches who shuffled through

Disclaimer:  la la la la – still don’t own anything.  Nothing.  Nada. 

 

Meetings

 

The wind whistled softly through the crowded alley, barely noticed by the wizards and witches who shuffled through.  Sounds of all kinds could be heard throughout the alley, echoing loudly down the streets.  Shouts of laughter, hurried conversations, and animal noises passed around the three females sitting at a small table outside of Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlor.

 

A young woman, red hair shimmering in the bright sunlight, looked intently at the slightly younger woman sitting next to her.  Her attention never wavered as she nodded and smiled every now and then.  The third companion, the youngest of the three, paid enough attention to the conversation to know what was going on.  The rest of her attention, though, was constantly wavering as she watched witches and wizards passing through the streets.  Her mouth fell open in awe more than once as she saw people openly admiring animals, wands, brooms, and many other things that she would never find in Sunnydale.  She glanced at the woman talking, Hermione, for a moment, catching up on the current conversation.

 

“Over the last couple years, we’ve had a few rather good instructors,” Hermione explained as she absently played with the ice cream in front of her.  “Professor Dumbledore has tried to get the very best instructors possible to teach us Defense Against the Dark Arts.  We’ve basically learned everything in the books that we’ve used.  Of course, some of the more advanced things we have yet to learn, but I’m not sure if most of our class is really ready for that.  Most of the advanced curses and counter-curses are learned once more experience is gained.”

 

As Hermione stopped speaking for a moment to eat a scoopful of her now melting ice cream, Willow shifted uncomfortably in her seat.  “If there are still things that you don’t know, why did Professor Dumbledore ask Buffy and I to help?  I mean, it’s great and all, but we just found out about Hogwarts and wand magic and all that stuff.  I’m not even that good at wandless magic.  How can we help?”

 

Hermione shrugged and, for the first time since they had met, looked unsure of herself.  “Both of you have lived on the Hellmouth for a number of years and you did destroy many creatures.  So there has to be some things that we can learn from the two of you, even if it doesn’t involve magic as we know it.”

 

Her eyes lit up as she leaned forward.  “Is wandless magic hard to learn?  I’ve read a little bit about it and all, but I haven’t been able to actually use magic without my wand.  I think it’s fascinating that you’re able to use magic without a power source like a wand.”

 

“It took me a couple of years to really learn it,” Willow said.  “And I’m still not very good at it.  I can do a bunch of spells but some of them don’t work and end up causing things to blow up or people to marry each other or – “

 

“But why did this Dumbledore guy pick Willow and Buffy?” Dawn interrupted as she turned back to the conversation.  “I can understand Willow being a teacher and all.  She’s all smart and stuff.  And, no offense to Buffy, but she’s never been a whole study person.”

 

Silence greeted Dawn’s question as Hermione looked away from them.  She glanced down at her hands, as if intently studying every line on them.  Willow and Dawn glanced at each other for a moment, sharing troubled looks.  Finally, Hermione sighed and looked up with shadowed eyes.

 

“He might not have had any other choice,” Hermione stated very quietly, though very matter-of-fact.  “No one else may have been willing to take the job.”

 

“Why not?” Dawn demanded as she looked at Hermione suspiciously.  “If this school is as cool as you said it was, why wouldn’t people want to teach there?”

 

“Hey guys!”

 

All three of the females at the table jumped at the unexpected closeness of the voice.  They looked up and saw an amused Buffy walking towards them, arms laden down with bags.  She grabbed a chair from a nearby table and plopped down, letting the bags hit the ground hard.

 

“You wouldn’t believe the super cool weapons they had in some of the stores in Knockdown Alley.”

 

“Knockturn,” Hermione corrected.  Buffy shrugged as she stole a scoopful of Willow’s ice cream.

 

“Whatever.  Anyway, I bought a few Friar Tuck sticks, like the ones Giles made me use a couple times.  I figured that maybe I could maybe break a few of them in half so they’re as big as the wandy things you guys use.  Then, if their wand gets broken somehow, I can show them how to use it in other ways!”

 

All three of them stared at her for a few seconds.  Buffy looked at them and arched an eyebrow before her eyes widened.  “Omigod.  Is my hair a mess?”

 

Her hands flew up and she ran her fingers through her hair, as if trying to fix whatever was wrong with it.  Willow shook her head.

 

“No, it’s not that.  You’re hair is fine.  Its super hair,” she said hastily.  Buffy’s hands left her hair and went back on the table.  “It’s just that we were surprised by your sudden appearance.  No big.”

 

 

Buffy stared at Willow for a moment before shrugging once again.  “So, what’s the what?  When are we going to get a chance to see where we’ll be living for the next year?”

 

Dawn opened her mouth to tell Buffy about the conversation that had passed between the three, but was quickly cut off as Hermione spoke before Dawn even had the chance.

 

“I’m sure you’ll be able to see Hogwarts soon enough,” she said quickly.  “But for now, I believe that we should go back to the Leaky Cauldron.  Professor Dumbledore reserved one of the private rooms in order to meet all of you and to tell you more about your teachings positions.  So, if you’ll follow me, we should probably be going.”

 

Hermione stood up, leaving a handful of sickles to cover the price of the ice cream.  She stood up and left so abruptly that Willow, Buffy, and Dawn had to scramble to get their bags in order to keep up with her.  Buffy glanced at Willow with a question in her eyes, but Willow merely shook her head and mouthed the word later.  Buffy nodded, though she still looked at Hermione suspiciously.

 

They walked through Diagon Alley quickly, reaching the end in no time.   They followed Hermione through the exit way, marveling as it disappeared behind them.  As they continued following Hermione, Dawn looked around as recognization hit her suddenly. 

 

“Hey, this is where we came from!” she exclaimed.  “We’re back to the Cauldron place again, aren’t we?”

 

Hermione smiled, the first smile she had given them since her abrupt leaving.  “Yes we are.  This is where Professor Dumbledore reserved a room to meet you.”

 

They once again entered the Leaky Cauldron, this time finding many more patrons inside.  Dawn looked around eagerly, openly staring at the robed clad figures talking animatedly to one another.  As her eyes drifted around the hazy room, her eyes fell upon a figure sitting in the back, sipping calmly from the mug in front of him.  He watched them carefully, almost as if he were studying the four of them.

 

His whitish blond hair was spiked, and Dawn could almost imagine that the ends of the spikes were sharp.  He wore robes like the rest of the figures in the room, though his were open to reveal the black clothes underneath.  He wore heavy boots on his feet.  He was slightly slouched in his seat, in a pose that reminded Dawn, eerily enough, of Spike.

 

Silver eyes suddenly turned to stare at her, and though she was surprised at first, met his eyes in a stare of her own.  His eyes were cold – nothing like Spike’s at all.  Distain seemed to radiate from his entire being as he stared at her.  He sneered at her once before he stood up and left his table.  He gave one more backwards glance to her and her group before he disappeared out the doors.

 

Dawn stared at his retreating back, for some reason or another, feeling as though an important moment had come and gone.  There was something about him that almost seemed like it was fake.  Like his whole act was a sham.

 

“Dawn?  Dawn?”

 

Dawn spun around quickly, almost losing her balance as she did.  She tried to cover it up, though, as she crossed her arms over her chest and giving her sister the I’m-a-teenager-don’t-mess-with-me look.  Buffy rolled her eyes at her sister’s antics.

 

Willow and I have a meeting with this Dumble guy – “

 

“Professor Dumbledore,” Hermione, Willow, and Dawn corrected in unison.

 

Buffy shook her head.  “Whatever.  Anyway, this is a meeting to talk about teaching and books and students and….wow, maybe I want to skip the meeting too.”

 

She frowned as she thought about the meeting, letting the rest of what she was going to say go unsaid.  Dawn looked at her expectantly for a moment, arching an eyebrow when Buffy did not continue.  Willow saw Buffy’s now-preoccupied look and immediately jumped in where Buffy had left off.

 

“What Buffy was going to say, Dawnie, was that since this is a meeting about teaching and you’re not going to be teaching…”

 

“That I’m not invited to the meeting,” Dawn interrupted Willow, finishing off the sentence for her.  “That I get to sit here and be bored to tears.  Ok.  I got it.  You drag me all the way to England so I can sit in a seedy pub.”

 

“Well…kind of,” Willow responded slowly.  She looked at Buffy desperately for a moment, but Buffy still seemed to be trying to think of a way out of attending a meeting about books.

 

“You can come along with me, Dawn,” Hermione offered.  “I’m meeting up with a few of my friends in a bit and I can introduce them to you.  After all, they will be attending Hogwarts and maybe you’ll see them around.”

 

Dawn smiled brightly at the prospect.  “Cool!  Where are they from?  Do they like Hogwarts?  What classes are all of you taking?”

 

Hermione smiled as the two slowly walked back out of the Leaky Cauldron, Dawn chatting excitedly the entire time.  Willow and Buffy, who was now out of her daze, watched them walk out, each of them smiling. 

 

Good, Buffy thought as her sister disappeared out the door.  Hopefully she’ll be able to find people to hang out with while we’re at Hogwarts.  And hey, maybe she’ll end up having fun, too.

 

“Miss Summers?  Miss Rosenburg?”

 

Buffy and Willow spun around in unison and found themselves face to face with an elderly man smiling at them, his eyes twinkling in amusement.  He wore robes like most other wizards they had encountered, though his were a deep royal blue in color.  The pointed hat on his head was also a royal blue in color, matching his robes exactly.

 

Yet, it was not the clothes he wore that captured their attention.  Nor was it the immaculate order that the clothes lay.  No, it was the wisdom and power that seemed to flow off of him in waves.  A brief glimpse of the man would give many the belief that he was a wizard, yet a frail, older one.  A second look, though, would reveal the hidden power that filled the air around him and seemed to fall on everything he touched.  Both of them stared at him for a moment before they recovered themselves, blushing at their lack of manners.

 

Buffy stuck a hand out, looking the man straight in the eye.  A normal person would not cause a Slayer’s eyes to widen slightly in shock, as hers did for a split second.  A normal person would not phase Buffy.  Obviously, this man was not a normal person.

 

“Buffy Summers,” she said.  “And you are…?”

 

“I am Albus Dumbledore, Headmaster at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry,” he smiled, shaking hands with her.  Buffy could feel a current of power running through her arm at the mere touch of his hand.

 

Wow.  Lots of power there.  Note to self:  Don’t mess with him.

 

“And you must be Willow Rosenburg,” he said, turning to Willow.  He shook her hand before turning his attention to both of them.

 

“I have heard many things about both of you,” he chatted easily.  “Shall we take a seat at the table to discussion your upcoming professorship at Hogwarts?”

 

The two girls followed him slowly into the room, eyes wide as they noticed their surroundings.  A large, dark wooden table sat in the middle of the room, an array of candles lining its length.  A deep red carpet lay on the ground underneath, not one hair out of place.

 

Red and gold wallpaper lined the room, disturbed only by an array of portraits that hung on the walls.  The portraits were of a few men and women, each standing tall.  Some had knowing smiles on their faces.  Others were somber with scowls etched deep into their skin.  Willow squealed suddenly as each of the portraits moved, craning their necks to see the people that had walked in, disturbing the silence.

 

“Buffy!” she exclaimed, pointing at the portraits.  “They MOVED!”

 

Buffy raised an eyebrow in disbelief as she looked at her friend, wondering if in the excitement of learning magic schools were real and moving to teach at one in Great Britain had caused Willow to lose her mind.  An eyebrow still raised in disbelief, she followed Willow’s outstretched hand.  Her look of disbelief dissolved into a shocked look identical to Willow’s.

 

“Um, Wills?” Buffy asked, not taking her eyes off the portraits.  “Was there something in the ice cream?  Because last time I checked, paintings didn’t move like that.”

 

Before Willow could respond, a chuckle caused both of them to turn around.  Dumbledore sat at the table behind them, a small grin on his face.  “You will both find, my dears, that there are many things in the wizarding world that are quite unexpected.  The portraits are one of them.”

 

“But how do they move?” Willow asked eagerly as she almost ran to sit down at the table.  Buffy followed at a more leisurely pace, smiling at the excitement of her friend.

 

“If a wizard or witch agrees to have a portrait done before they die, they leave a small amount of their essence in the portrait.  That way, a small part of their lives will live on forever, even after they die,” he explained patiently.

 

Willow sat up even more eagerly and seemed ready to spill forth a variety of questions, but Dumbledore put up a hand gently to halt her.  “While I do enjoy a great many discussions about the workings of the wizarding world, I’m afraid that we have more pressing matters to attend.  First and foremost being the reason that both of you were invited to work here.”

 

The mood immediately shifted from excited to almost somber.  Buffy and Willow exchanged a look before putting their full attention on the wizard in front of him.

 

“What’s the deal?”  Buffy asked.  “Why us?  I mean, magic and I aren’t very mixy in the first place.  Bad things tend to happen when magic affects me.”

 

“And sometimes some of my spells have a tendency to just go an eensy bit wrong,” Willow said nervously, biting her bottom lip.  “I mean, I do everything right and follow all the instructions just like I’m suppose to but sometimes the result of the spell isn’t exactly what I thought it would be and it causes a lot of problems and – “

 

“Breath Willow,” Buffy interrupted, cutting her off.  “Breathing is good.”

 

Willow nodded.  “Yes.  Good.  Breath.  Got it.”

 

Despite the worries he had at the moment, he could not help but let an inward chuckle escape.  After everything he had researched and all of the information he had received, he did not realize that Buffy Summers and Willow Rosenburg were such…lively females.  Both would make very interesting additions to the teaching staff – and the school – of Hogwarts.

 

“Ladies,” he said quietly, though just loud enough to attract their attention.  Both turned to him once again, quietly down immediately.  “I do realize that neither of you have ever used nor even been introduced to magic using a wand.  If I wanted the students to learn to utilize their wands for every occasion, then I would not have invited either of you to teach.”

 

“Over the last several years, the students have been introduced to a number of different professors.  Six, in fact, at last count.  They have learned an assortment of curses and counter curses, all very useful against anyone of the Dark Arts variety.  Even the first years have learned more than had been previously expected.”

 

“This year, I have decided to try something a little bit different with the Defense Against the Dark Arts Program.  In hiring the two of you, both who have battled those of the Dark Arts on many occasions, I have the ability to give the students very experienced professors.  And, you will be teaching them different ways to defend themselves.”

 

“That’s all great and everything, what with the trying new stuff, but why now?” Buffy asked, for some reason feeling as though there was something more behind his explanation.  Something…sinister.

 

“Because, Miss Summers, we are in a most desperate of times,” he explained.  “Many years ago, a young wizard by the name of Lord Voldemort came to power.  He seduced many to side with him, using Dark Arts to gain power.  Many of those who rose against him died most horrible deaths.  It was not until he went to the house of a wizarding couple, James and Lily Potter.  He killed James and Lily and tried to kill Harry, but he could not.  That was his downfall.  Leaving only a scar on the forehead of the infant, Lord Voldemort disappeared without a trace.  Many thought he was dead.  He was not.  Instead, he hid away for many years, trying to find ways to gain his power back.  After having Harry Potter thwart his efforts many times in the last couple years, Lord Voldemort returned.  Unfortunately, wizard and witches being the way they are, do not want to believe our reports.  They do not want to believe a wizard as fierce some as he is has returned.  That is the way of people, I’m afraid.”

 

“And I thought it was just a Sunnydale symptom,” Willow ventured.  “I can’t believe that people could live somewhere so long and just ignore all the evil around them.”

 

“Alas, it is true, Miss Rosenburg,” he sighed, suddenly looking much older than when they had first met him.  “This is why I requested both of you to become professors here.  Though you cannot do the magic that we do, both of you have many credentials that could not be ignored.  The wandless magic you use, Miss Rosenburg, is something that is new to Hogwarts but is an important weapon that can be utilized.  And, Miss Summers, you’re years of working as the Slayer has given you many insights on how to defend and protect yourself against any types of evil.”

 

Buffy and Willow both sat silently for a moment.  They were quite awed by the compliment given by the old wizard yet at the same time, they realized the danger that the children were in.  The danger that they too might be part of.  The silence in the room seemed to stretch on for hours as the two pondered what they had heard.

 

“If you don’t mind, Professor Dumbledore, I think that Buffy and I need some time to think right now.  What you told us…well, it changes some things.”

 

He nodded, understanding that they did have many things to think about.  He stood up and they slowly followed suit, still deep in their thoughts.

 

“Hermione will show you to the rooms we have set aside for the three of you to use for the next couple days as you stay in Diagon Alley.  I have train passes for all of you.  The train leaves in three days.  I suggest that you catch it, for it is a rather long walk from here to Hogwarts.”

 

Both nodded as he handed them their tickets.  He shook their hands once again, giving them smiles before he disappeared suddenly from the room.  Both stood there for a second, blinking at the spot where he had been only moments earlier.  As they turned to exit the room, Buffy glanced down at the train ticket in her hand.

 

“Wait a minute!  Who would have a platform 9 3/4ths??”