Magical Summer

Author: Michael Wilson <wyrdradio[at]>

Rating: PG to R

Disclaimer: Joss, Mutant Enemy, and a lot of other people own the characters from Buffy. J. K. Rowling own the characters from Harry Potter. I get nothing by writing this except maybe some kind words of encouragement and a few cheers... at least I hope.

Spoilers: Buffy: None, Harry Potter: Not sure if any Setting: Takes place when Xander is 14, a year or two before the first episode of Buffy and before the 5th year of Harry Potter... starting that summer then continuing on from there.

Summary: Xander travels to spend the summer with a cousin he didn't know he had... and ends up in a world he never knew existed.

Author's Notes: This is a Buffy/Harry Potter crossover. " " as always means talking... while * * means thoughts.

Feedback: If you're going to make constructive comments... then yes please, if you're going to flame me... then no thank you.

Distribution: If you like it... please feel free to place it on your site... but please tell me first.

Latest addition

Chapter 1

The day had been a lot of fun. Xander had spent the day with his best friends Willow and Jesse at the mall. It was the beginning of May and school had let out almost a month early because of construction planned during the summer. Xander didn't care the reasons for the school year ending early, he was just glad to finally be free for a few months.

"I'm telling you, Wills, this is going to be a great summer."

They were walking back to Willow's house when a car pulled up next to them.

"Boy! There you are!"

Xander flinched and turned to see his father poke his head out of the car window.

*I'm in for it now... and, oh god, in front of Wills and Jesse.*

"Hi Dad..."

Xander's father glared at him and almost growled.

"Don't you 'Hi Dad' me. What did I tell you about running off without telling us where you were going?"

Xander frowned. He knew his parents could care less about what he did or where he went. He knew that something was up.

"Um... I don't know?"

Xander's father frowned, severely angry now, and opened the passenger door.

"Get in... you're going home... now."

Xander turned to see the worried look on Willow's face and faked a smile for her.

"Got to go... see ya guys. I'll call you later, Wills."

He leaned in and gave her a quick peck on the cheek then hopped in the car. As soon as he closed the door, his father sped off in a hurry. Xander stared over at him and then looked at the speedometer.

"Are you in a hurry?"

His father nodded and glared at him. Xander looked around the car and noticed his luggage was in the backseat... his entire luggage.

"Dad... what's going on? Why is my luggage in the backseat?"

His father smirked and turned onto the street that led to the airport.

"You're leaving town... hell, you're leaving the country... for the summer."

He smiled to himself as he drove on.

*... maybe even longer than that if I can sell the damn house quick enough. Get you out of my life you miserable little piece of crap.*

Xander stared into his father's eyes and swallowed.

"Where am I going?"

His father pulled into the airport parking lot and came to a screeching halt.

"England... to stay with your cousin."

He opened the car door and jumped out then proceeded to grab all of Xander's bags at once and almost run them to the terminal. Xander followed, running to keep up.

*My cousin... I don't have a cousin.... or do I?*

As they got inside, Xander's father handed the bags over to an airport official and then handed Xander's plane ticket to the receptionist.

"There you go... he's all yours."

He turned and moved to the doors leading to the parking lot, a smile on his face. Xander watched him leave and frowned.

"What cousin!"

As his dad stepped outside, Xander could only make out one word.

"... Granger."

Xander blinked in shock and then turned to the receptionist.

"What do I do now?"

The receptionist, a nice woman in her 30's, smiled and shook her head. She handed Xander his ticket and leaned forward.


Xander looked up and nodded. She smiled and continued.

"I'm Tracie. This ticket is for flight 265 to Heathrow in London. It leaves at Gate 12 in 20 minutes and we will be boarding passengers in about 10. From the look of things you seem shocked by all of this. Do you need to call anyone before you leave?"

Xander blinked and nodded. Tracie pointed to her left and pointed out a bank of telephones.

"You go ahead and make you call. I'll have Henry here..."

She pointed to a strong looking young blond man who smiled at Xander.

"... come get you when it's time for your flight... so you won't get lost. Ok?"

Xander nodded.

"Ok... thanks."

He walked over to the phones and pulled out a couple of quarters. When he heard a dial tone, he called the one person he could trust. As the phone rang, Xander pondered what he was going to say. It rang once, twice, three times... then again and again until it was answered.

"Hi... Willow here... I'm not home right now. Please leave your name, number, time you called, and the reason you called at the beep."

Xander waited for the beep then sighed.

"Hey Wills. I'm at the airport. Dad finally snapped; he's sending me to England for the summer. He said I'm going to go stay with my cousin... but I don't remember ever hearing anything about a cousin."

He paused, considering what to say next.

"I'll give you a call as soon as I get to wherever it is I'm going. God... I'm going to miss you and Jesse this summer. I hope you'll be ok."

He looked around as he spoke and noticed that man... Henry... walking over toward him.

"Well... I've got to go. Love ya Wills. Say bye to Jesse for me."

He hung up the phone and turned to look up at Henry.


Henry nodded and motioned for Xander to follow him. With a sigh and a frown, Xander followed Henry to the Gate... not knowing what was in store for him.


Hermione Granger sat at her desk in her dorm and stared at the picture that had arrived by owl the day before. It showed a young man with brown hair and eyes. He was smiling at the camera with a mischievous glimmer in his eyes. She ran a finger across the picture, a contemplative look on her face.

*I wonder what he will be like?*

All she knew about him was that he was her cousin, that he was a year younger than she was, and that he was from America... and his name, of course.

"Alexander... Alex. Will you like me? Will you be funny like Ron, Fred and George? Will you be nervous like Neville? Will you be mean and nasty like Malfoy? Or... will you be nice and sweet like Harry?"

Hermione smiled as she tried to picture her cousin. She was looking forward to his coming to stay with her family. She had always wanted a brother... and a cousin was close.

"Hermione... come on... hurry or you'll miss the leaving feast!"

Hermione looked up and smiled.

"I'll be right down, Ron."

She turned to her side and saw, on her trunk, the letter that had come with the picture. It was from her mother. She pulled it to her and unrolled it, rereading it.

"Dear Hermione,

You won't believe this, dear, but you have a cousin. He is a year younger than you and he is Anthony's boy. I never knew he even existed, seeing as how I haven't spoken to Anthony in over 17 years. He's from America, his name is Alexander and he just turned 14. I'm sending you a picture of him. He looks a little like pictures I've seen of your father at 14. He's going to be staying with us the entire summer. I'm hoping the two of you will be good friends.

I'll come pick you up at the station and then we will both go to pick Alexander up at the airport. Luckily he is arriving the same day that you return home.

Have fun, dear, and say hello to Ron and Harry for me.


Hermione grinned and stood. She opened her trunk and tossed the letter inside before closing it shut again. Her trunk would be delivered down to the Hogwarts Express while she was at the feast and then... goodbye Hogwarts for another summer.

*I'm going to miss this place...*


Hermione laughed and ran out of her dorm, knowing that if she waited much longer Ron might faint from lack of food. She ran down the stairs and out the portrait hole to join Ron and Harry in front of the Fat Lady.

"Took you long enough. What kept you?"

Hermione sighed and smiled.

"Oh Ron... this is our last day here for the year. I wanted to make sure I had everything before the House Elves take my trunk away."

Harry smirked. He knew the real reason Hermione had been up there for so long.

*She was staring at that picture of hers again. Strange to have a cousin you didn't even know existed...*

"Come on you two... let's get down there before they decide to off and leave us here."

Harry smirked and then continued.

"... and if we don't hurry, there might not be any food left."

This caught Ron's attention and, after grabbing their arms, he dragged then quickly down to the Grand Hall.


Well, the year was over and once again Hogwarts was fading away into the distance as the Hogwarts Express took them back to King's Cross Station. Hermione took a longing look back then sighed and glanced over at Ron and Harry. She was going to her home to spend the summer with her cousin, Ron would be with his brothers and sister all summer, and then there was Harry.

*Oh Harry...*

Hermione sighed softly to herself over Harry. She wasn't sure what she felt about him. She was worried about him and wanted to make sure he was safe... but then there was this side of her that got all jumpy around him. She felt all... fluttery... inside, and warm... very warm.

"Hey mione... come join us."

Hermione looked down at the game of Exploding Snap the boys were playing and shook her head.

"No thanks, Harry, I'd rather just sit here."

Harry nodded. He understood the let down one would get from leaving Hogwarts. He dreaded the end of each year, knowing that he would have to return to the Dursley's. He looked over at her, the sunlight cascading through the window making her hair seem to glow, and smiled. His feelings for her had been subtlety shifting recently and he didn't want to say anything or do anything... because he knew Ron had 'feelings' for her.

*I can't say anything... because the moment I do, we lose our friendship.*

He bit his lower lip then went back his game... knowing that he would just have to try and get past what he was feeling...


The train pulled to a halt at the station and students flooded out like waves crashing against the shore. Hermione, Ron and Harry held back and waited for the crowd to thin out some before heading down. As they stepped off the train, they could see Mrs. Weasley coming toward them from one direction while Mrs. Granger was approaching from the other.

"See you later this summer?"

Harry smiled at Ron and shrugged.

"I hope so... if Dumbledore will let me."

Hermione looked down at her trunk and then glanced back up.

"I'll try... I'm not sure how my summer will go this year... but I'll owl you both."

Ron nodded and then moved toward his mother. He paused and waved back at them before rushing off to her. Harry and Hermione watched him leave then looked at each other.

"I hope you have a good summer, Hermione."

Hermione blushed slightly and smiled.

"You too, Harry. I promise to owl you often."

She bit her lower lip and then quickly kissed Harry on the cheek before she ran to meet her mother. Harry watched her run off, his hand moving to caress his cheek... a smile on his face... before he turned and went to go find his uncle.

Hermione rushed up to her mother and saw the eyebrow over her mother's right eye rising higher and higher. She sighed and took her mother's hand.

"Not now... please... mum."

Rachel Granger nodded, a smile on her lips.

"Certainly dear. Now... we must hurry. Alexander's plane lands in less than an hour and I'm not quite certain that the traffic will be on our side at this hour of the day."

Hermione nodded and followed her mother to the car... looking forward to meeting her cousin.


As the plane touched down, Xander looked out the window at the largeness that was the airport... and the grand expanse of London beyond.

*Damn... this place is huge.*

"You may unfasten your seat belts and disembark. Thank you for flying with Air-Cal."

Xander glanced over at the flight attendant and then unbelted himself. He stood and waited for the aisle to clear before he got into the back of the line. As he drew closer and closer to the door a sense of fear came over him.

*What if they don't like me? What if they're like mom and dad?*

Xander shuddered at the thought and hoped as hard as he could that he had at least one normal member of his family to count on.

"Have a nice day, sir."

Xander looked up and blinked. He was at the door already and the flight attendant was smiling at him.

"Watch your step sir."

Xander nodded and walked down the steps to the ground. He looked around and saw everyone else walking toward and into a large building across the way. Xander took a breath and hurried after them. As he walked inside, he looked around for anyone who might be looking for him... but seeing as how he had no clue who he was looking for, it wasn't working too well. He noticed the luggage from his flight was beginning to appear on that... spinning luggage thing... and he figured he might as well grab his bags.

*Ok Xander... look for the bright neon green and pink bags. Should be the only ones like them... and thank you Wills for your creative spark that day.*

He moved into the crowd standing and saw a flash of pink and green. Xander reached in and snagged the suitcase, pulling it to his side. He did this two more times before he was sure he had everything that was his.

*They didn't lose my luggage... cool for me.*

Not knowing what to do now, Xander looked around and noticed a series of plastic chairs all lined up in a row off to the side.

*Good a place as any to wait... I guess.*

He grabbed his bags and half-carried/half-dragged them over then sat down.

*Might as well wait... since I have no clue what's going on here.*


Rachel looked at her watch and frowned.

"Blast... we're late... bloody traffic."

Hermione stared at her mother in shock.

*She cursed... she doesn't curse... she must be really worried about Alexander.*

"It's ok, mum, we'll get there soon. We're only a few minutes late... and you know there are always crowds around the luggage carousel anyway. Alexander probably is still waiting in line for his bags. I'm sure we'll go in there and find him just sitting down in one of those neon orange chairs to wait calmly for us."

Rachel honked her horn at a passing driver and then glanced quickly at her daughter.

"I certainly hope so, dear. Poor boy's probably nervous and tired and all he needs now is to feel unwanted because these blasted drivers held us up."

Just then, a hole in the traffic opened and Rachel ducked through it and then through again into the airport parking lot.

"Ha... got you."

Rachel grinned and pulled into an empty space. She looked over at her daughter and smiled.


Hermione smiled back and nodded before climbing out of the car. They locked the car and then rushed inside.

"Do you see him honey?"

Hermione looked around and was about to say no when she saw the back of a dark head of hair sitting over in the orange chairs... exactly as she predicted.

"Could that be him?"

Rachel looked over to where her daughter was pointing and smiled.

"Let's find out."

They walked over and then walked around until they were facing Xander.


Xander looked up at the two smiling women. One was young with bushy dark brown hair and brown eyes while the older one was very similar only with straighter hair. They were smiling at him and it unnerved him a little.

"Yes... my name is Alexander."

The women smiled and the older one held out her hand.

"Welcome to England, Alexander. I'm Rachel Granger... your aunt... and this is my daughter, Hermione."

Xander smiled and climbed to his feet. He took her hand, gently, and held it loosely before letting it go.

"Nice to meet you both."

Xander felt so nervous. He wasn't sure what to do next.

"Thanks for letting me stay with you this summer."

Rachel smiled and took her nephew's arm. She pulled him into a hug and felt him flinch and stiffen... as if expecting an attack.

*What did you do to this boy, Anthony? He reacts like he expects me to hit him...*

The mere idea made her want to cry as she caught a glimpse of a healing bruise on the boy's back. His shirt had opened slightly and she had caught a fleeting look down his back. She could tell instantly that you don't get something like that from everyday childhood accidents. She would have to gain Alexander's trust and see if she could get him to talk later.

"Well... shall we head to the car? Do you have your luggage?"

Xander nodded and grabbed his bags as soon as Rachel let him go. Rachel nodded and smiled as Hermione took one of Alexander's bags from him, smiling.

"This way then, Alexander, follow me."

Rachel spun on one foot and then led them back through the crowds to the parking lot...

Chapter 2

Xander stared out the window as they drove through the insane London traffic. He was shocked by how crazy everyone seemed to drive... and the whole driving on the left side of the road thing was getting to him some too.

"Have you eaten, Alexander?"

Xander turned his head to look at his cousin, Hermione.

"Um... no, not really... and it's Xander."

Rachel looked in the rear view mirror and raised an eyebrow.


Xander looked at her and smiled weakly.

"I go by the name... Xander."

Hermione smiled and rolled the name around in her head.

*Xander... Xander... it fits him better than Alexander. He seemed to stiffen some each time we called him by that name.*

"Where did it come from?"

Xander looked at Hermione and smiled.

"My friend Willow, she thought Alexander was too long and she wanted something easier to call me. She gave me a smile and I caved... and so from then on, I was Xander."

Rachel watched the emotions crossing over Alexander... no, Xander's face... and could tell that this Willow had him wrapped around her little finger.

"You like her?"

Xander blushed and shook his head.

"She's my best friend... but I don't like her like her... you know what I mean?"

Rachel nodded, smirking to herself.

*Sure Xander... you go right on believing that.*

"Right... well, Xander, since you said you're hungry... and I'm sure Hermione could go for a bite to eat as well... why don't we pick up John and make an evening of it."

Hermione smiled and nodded eagerly.

"Can we take Xander to Ernesto's?"

Rachel smiled and nodded, her eyes twinkling.

"That sounds like a very good idea."

She activated the turn signal and pulled into the next lane over. It was a small adjustment to go from heading home to heading to the new office downtown. They would be there in no time at all.


They pulled up outside the new office and Rachel turned off the engine.

"Hermione, dear, please go get your father for us. Xander and I will wait here."

Hermione nodded and hopped outside, then ran into the building. Rachel watched her leave then turned in her seat to face Xander.

"Xander... have things been ok for you... growing up?"

Xander blinked and stared at her.

"What do you mean?"

Rachel looked into his eyes.

"I felt you shy away from me... at the airport. You acted as if you were waiting for me... to hit you."

Xander looked down, unable to look into her eyes anymore.


Rachel shook her head, tears trying to form in her eyes.

"You can tell me, Xander. I won't hurt you."

Xander swallowed and looked back up at her... and was shocked at the raw emotion on her face.

*Whoa... she cares... she really means it.*

"Um... dad... um... he gets drunk a lot and he..."

Rachel nodded, catching where this was going and not liking it one bit.

"Go on."

Xander blinked and swallowed hard again. When he spoke, his voice was soft and meek.

"He'd get drunk... then get mad... then he'd hit me."

Rachel sucked in her breath and closed her eyes.

"Damn you Anthony..."

Xander looked at her angry expression and moved closer to her. Rachel opened her eyes and reached out to Xander. Xander moved closer and let her embrace him... feeling warmth and love coming from this woman who hadn't known him longer than an hour.

"It's not going to happen... ever again... do you hear me Xander? Never again... I swear to you..."

Xander could feel her crying, her tears wetting his shirt. The emotion come off her was so tangible that he couldn't stop himself from crying along with her.

"Thank you... m..."

He stopped himself. He had almost called her mom.

*Can't call her that... she's not my mom... though I bet she'd make a better one than the one I have.*

Rachel's eyes widened in shock when she heard what she thought she heard.

*He almost called me mother. Oh Xander... how I wish that I could be your mother. You don't deserve to be treated like scum, no child deserves that.*

She looked down at his head and a thought began to form in her mind. A smile crossed her lips and she kissed the top of his head.

*Maybe I can become you mum... if I can get enough proof to get custody of you...*

She felt Xander moving away from her and she let go of the hug. She wiped her eyes then reached out to wipe away his tears.

"Thank you for telling me, sweetie. I'm not going to let Anthony hurt you ever again."

Xander nodded, smiling, and then moved in quickly to kiss his aunt's cheek before he blushed and backed away. Rachel smiled and laughed as the car door opened.

"What's this? Do I have a challenger for my lady love's heart? Shall I throw down the gauntlet, foul villain?"

Xander jerked and backed away from the man as Rachel laughed and turned to her husband.

"Oh John... you silly goose... this is Xander, your nephew. Xander... my husband and your uncle, John."

John turned to Xander and smiled, a twinkle in his eyes.

"Nice to meet you son."

He extended his hand to shake Xander's. Xander stared, nervously, at the man's hand then slowly took it. John smiled and then sat down in the passenger seat.

"So... Hermione tells us that we have a feast to contend with this fair evening. Shall we adjourn then to settle and calm the great beasts which live in my belly?"

Hermione giggled at her father's antics and nodded. Feeling calmer now, Xander smiled. He liked these people. They were so much nicer than his own family... and they seemed to have fun.

*She seems to care so much about me... and I think she caught the almost calling her mom thing.*

Just then, his stomach let out a loud gurgle and John raised and eyebrow at Xander.

"What ho... a brother at arms... alas ye too have been cursed with the ever-eating beats of the stomach. Finally... I'm not alone in this bleak world filled with dainty eaters..."

Xander smiled and couldn't hold back the laughter any longer. He joined a now heavily laughing Hermione as Rachel snickered and started the car. Xander held his sides and smiled at the family around him.

*I'm going to like it here...*


They pulled up to a small building with red and white curtains on the windows and tables scattered here and there in the building's courtyard. Xander stared at it and smiled. It had this air of family and warmth to it. He looked at the tables and saw many people enjoying themselves... and noticed many more inside.

"This place looks nice."

Hermione nodded.

"Oh it is... it's the best, Xander."

She opened the car door then took his hand. Xander looked down at their hands and smiled, his eyes floating back up to greet hers. She was smiling and had this warm loving look to her.

"You're going to love this place."

Xander grinned and followed Hermione inside... with Rachel and John following behind him. As they walked inside, a short, balding chubby man waddled up to them.

"Hermione... Rachel... John... so good to see you... but wait, who is this handsome young man?"

Rachel smiled and moved forward to embrace the man.

"Ernesto... so good to see you. I'd like you to meet my nephew, Xander."

Ernesto smiled, his rosy cheeks becoming rosier.

"Xander... so nice to meet you. I am Ernesto... chef extraordinaire. Tell me, do you like to eat?"

Xander smiled and nodded.

"I've been told I eat enough for three people."

Ernesto's eyes widened and he laughed.

"Oh my boy... you're going to fit in here wonderfully then."

He turned to the side and waved to a lovely woman at a nearby table.

"Caroline... come please."

Caroline looked up and a smile crossed her face when she caught sight of the Grangers. She spoke to the people she was taking care of then rushed over.

"Hello everyone... so good to see you again."

Xander stared at her and felt his heart stop. She was... amazing. He smiled and blushed so strongly he just knew his face was as red as a tomato. Caroline hugged Rachel and Hermione then looked at Xander.

"Well hello... who is this cutie?"

Caroline moved closer and winked at Xander. He blushed even more and bit his lower lip.

"... Xander... beautiful."

Caroline moved closer and her grin widened.

"What was that?"

Xander swallowed and looked up into her sparkling eyes.

"My name's Xander... and you're so beautiful."

Caroline giggled and leaned in to quickly kiss his cheek.

"My... aren't you a charmer."

She looked over to the right and nodded to herself.

"Come with me, please. I see a table empty for you."

Caroline moved to the right and led them to a lovely table in the corner. She handed them some menus then moved back a little.

"I'll get you your drinks while you decide what you want."

She pulled out a small pad and looked at Xander.

"How about we start with you, cutie."

Xander blushed and looked down at the table.

"Iced Tea, please."

Caroline smiled and turned the others, taking their orders as well.

"Ok then... I'll be back with your drinks and I'll get your orders then."

She winked at Xander then walked away. As she left, Xander's eyes followed her until he heard Hermione giggling next to him.

"Xander's in love..."

He blushed and ducked his head down.

"Am not... she's just..."

His eyes went dreamy for a second as a silly grin crossed his face.

"... gorgeous..."

Rachel snickered softly and then cleared her throat. Xander blinked, snapping out of it, and then looked at his menu... deciding what it was he wanted to eat. The menu was all Italian. Xander smiled, he loved Italian.

"So, Xander, tell us about yourself..."

Xander looked up at John and smiled... then slowly began to tell them his life story...


"... and it exploded all over Cordy. She was so mad at Jesse."

He took a sip of his Iced Tea and took another mouthful of his spaghetti.

"It sounds like you have very good friends, Xander. I can see why you would like them so much."

Rachel smiled at Xander and watched him eat. They had ordered while Xander was telling his story and in the time it took them to eat a third of their plates, Xander had already finished his and was working on his second plate.

*Such a healthy appetite... Molly is going to adore him.*

Xander turned to Hermione and smiled at her as she daintily ate her ravioli.

"So... Hermione... tell me about your friends."

Hermione looked at Xander for a second before she began.

"Well... there's Ron, he's got red hair and is loads of fun... always playing jokes with his older brothers, Fred and George... then there's his little sister, Ginny. She's got such a temper... but she's fun and nice to be around as well."

Hermione paused then, swallowing.

"Then there's Harry..."

A smile unknowingly crossed her face at the mention of Harry.

"He's so sweet... and brave... and strong. He's smart and all the girls think he's so handsome..."

Xander looked at Hermione and noticed the glazed eyes and smile and nodded to himself. He glanced over at her parents and noticed a similar smile on Rachel's face... while a semi-worried expression was on John's.

*She likes him... a lot... this Harry person. Aunt Rachel seems ok with it while Uncle John looks worried.*

"Do they live near you?"

Hermione jerked and blinked her eyes.

"What? Oh... no, they don't... but I go to visit Ron's family every year at the end of the summer. Harry is usually there as well."

She turned to Xander, a smile on her face, and tilted her head.

"Want to come with me this year?"

Xander thought about it for a moment... then nodded.

"Sure... sounds like fun."

He looked over at Rachel and then back at Hermione.

"It's not soon... is it? I'd like to get to know all of you first... if that's ok."

Rachel smiled, her heart so happy to see Xander wanting to fit in so.

"It's not until near the middle of July. That's... over a month from now. You'll have plenty of time to get to know us."


Xander smiled as he leant back in his chair, sighing happily.

"That was so good. I don't know when I've tasted something so good."

Caroline walked past them and paused next to their table.

"Well thank you, I'll tell papa that you liked it so."

She looked at the empty plates in front of Xander and laughed.

"The way you ate... I just know he's thinking about marrying me off to you when you get older."

Hearing this, Xander blushed as everyone else laughed. Caroline winked and smiled at him.

"I'll be right back with the check."

Rachel and John nodded as Caroline walked away. Xander watched her go and chewed on his lower lip.

"How old is she?"

Rachel grinned and shook her head.

"She's in her mid 20's, Xander, and happily dating a nice young man studying to be a doctor... so don't worry about being engaged."

Xander blushed and nodded, feeling slightly disappointed.

Caroline returned a few minutes later and handed the check to John. She then winked at Xander and smiled again.

"Don't be a stranger, handsome."

Xander smiled back and Caroline walked away to handle another table. He looked at the others as they moved to stand. John patted his belly and smiled.

"Well... the beast is asleep. Are we ready to go?"

Rachel and Hermione nodded, smiling, while Xander took one fond final look at Caroline before nodding as well. They stood and walked over to pay. Ernesto was waiting for them.

"So pleased you came tonight, Xander. You ate so heartily, it made me so happy... and I don't think I've seen Caroline look so happy with a customer."

He eyed Xander some and grinned.

"If you were only a few years older..."

Xander paled and backed away. Hermione laughed and took his hand then led him to the car. Ernesto watched the two of them rush off and frowned in confusion.

"What did I say?"

Rachel smiled and shook her head.

"Nothing... Xander just has a crush on Caroline and the idea of being fixed up with her is more than he can handle right now."

Ernesto nodded, smiling.

"Ah... I see. Too bad, that. He would make a fine son-in-law someday... such a healthy appetite."

Ernesto laughed and handed them their change then waved as they walked out to the car. Inside, Hermione had Xander smiling and laughing and Rachel stopped for a moment to talk to John.

"I want to do what I can to see about adopting him, John."

John paused and looked at his wife.

"How come?"

Rachel explained everything, watching, as John grew more and more angry.

"That bloody bastard! You don't do that to a child!"

He looked over at Xander and Hermione. They were getting on well together... like brother and sister... and a feeling of protectiveness toward the boy washed over him.

"You're right, Rachel, we need to do whatever we can to save that boy."

He smiled at his wife and kissed her.

"It would be like getting a son... without you being in danger."

Rachel smiled, tears in her eyes, and nodded.

"I want it too, love."

John grinned and took his wife's hand.

"We'll work on it... and see what we can do."

They then smiled and walked the rest of the way to the car, determined now to do whatever they could to make the rest of Xander's life a happy one.

Chapter 3

The ride to the Granger's home was uneventful. Hermione chatted with Xander about what subjects he was good at in school while Hermione made up a few to replace her wizarding classes.

*Like I can really tell him that I like Arithimancy and Transfiguration. He'd think I'm crazy.*

The car pulled into a driveway and then came to a stop.

"We're home."

Xander looked out the window at the three-story house and smiled. It was nice looking, on the outside, with a large yard semi-visible in the back. Hermione took Xander's hand and dragged him inside.

"This is the foyer... and through here is the living room... then over here is the dining room..."

Xander stared at each room as Hermione took him from room to room.

"... and this is the kitchen... and here is the downstairs toilet.... then the stairs..."

They ran up to the second floor, Hermione still playing tour guide.

"On this floor we have my parent's room... the second floor toilet and washroom... the library... my parent's home office..."

Xander glanced at each room as they walked down the hallway to the second set of stairs. As they climbed them, he couldn't help but notice the wide grin on Hermione's face.

*She's really enjoying this...*

They reached the third floor and Hermione slowed down some.

"Now we have the third floor toilet and washroom... my room... and the guestroom. You'll be staying in here."

She opened the door to the guestroom and stepped inside. It was decorated in three or four shades of blue and looked very nice. Xander stared in awe and felt his jaw drop. The room was so big... and clean... and everything was new and in one piece.

"It's so big... and nice. I... I'm not so sure that I should stay in a room this nice..."

Xander looked down at the floor, uneasy on his feet. He was used to being in a small room that was badly painted and in terrible shape. His father had told him once that since he was a little piece of shit... he should live in a room that suited him.

"Too nice? I don't understand. What's wrong Xander?"

Hermione looked at Xander, trying to look into his eyes and saw pain and confusion looking back at her.

"Was your room not nice?"

Xander nodded... not looking at her.

"Was it... nasty and dirty?"

Xander nodded again.

"Your parents... were they... mean to you?"

Xander didn't answer... he just stared at the floor and played with the carpeting with the side of his dirty shoes. Hermione took his silence as a yes and felt her heart drop into her stomach.

*He's so much like Harry... both of them hated and mistreated by their families. No wonder I feel for him so quickly...*

"Oh Xander..."

Hermione moved toward him and pulled Xander into a hug. As she hugged him, she ran her hands down his back, trying her best to comfort him.

"I'm so sorry they were mean to you. I just want you to know that you are a worthwhile person... and people here love you. You do believe me, right?"

Xander pulled back and looked into her eyes.

"I'm starting to..."

Hermione smiled and kissed his cheek.

"Come on... lets get you settled in and then we can get some snacks and talk all night in my room."

At the mention of food, Xander perked up and smiled.

"I'd like that."

Hermione grinned and moved to the doorway.

"Race you downstairs..."

She then laughed and took off down the hall. Xander blinked then followed, a few seconds behind her.


Days passed and soon Xander was feeling more at home with the Grangers. It was nearly one week to the day of his arrival that found him becoming a part of the family.


"Hermione... Xander... breakfast is ready!"

Rachel stared at the table and smiled. She had been really enjoying cooking again. With Xander living here, she had been cooking quite often.

*The boy sure can eat...*

She looked at the table and nodded. It was covered in eggs, bacon, sausage, toast, pancakes, three kinds of jam, two kinds of syrup, a bowl of fresh fruit, and a small plate of kippers... for John.

*Can't understand why he likes those things...*

Rachel shivered at the memory of the one time she tasted them and rolled her eyes. They had been terrible... but she would make them for John.

A noise from the stairs drifted in and Rachel turned to see Hermione enter with Xander right behind her.

"Beat you again..."

Xander rolled his eyes and looked over at his aunt over Hermione's shoulder and mouthed. "I let her win."

"Right... you sure did, Hermione."

Xander walked over and gave Rachel a hug before he sat down and started fixing his plate. He looked around and noticed that John wasn't anywhere to be seen.

"Where's Uncle John?"

Rachel sat down and glanced at Hermione before she looked back at Xander, a smile on her face.

"He's at the ticket agent... getting our tickets for our trip."

Xander paused in his eating, a piece of bacon halfway out of his mouth.


He looked first at his aunt then at Hermione and frowned slightly. He hadn't been told anything about a trip.

*Maybe they're going without me. Makes sense... what with me being dropped on them and everything...*

Rachel nodded.

"Yes. We go on a trip every year once Hermione gets back home. This year we've decided on Switzerland."

Xander nodded and swallowed his food.

"I see... ok."

He looked down at his plate and went back to eating... even though he wasn't hungry anymore.

"Once John gets back with the ticket, and has breakfast, we're all going shopping..."

Xander nodded.

"Shopping... nice."

Rachel stared at his head and shook hers. She knew he probably thought they were going to go without him... but she needed to continue.

"We need to get some new snow gear and we need to get you a set of cold weather clothing... and some skis..."

Xander raised his head, his eyes wide with shock, and looked at his aunt.


Rachel nodded, smiling.

"What? You thought we would leave you behind?"

Xander nodded.

"It's happened before. Mom and Dad used to leave all the time... and I'd go stay on the floor in Willow's room until they got back."

Rachel listened to the words and felt another pang of pain in her heart. Yet another nasty fact about her brother that she couldn't understand.

*My word... why on earth were you so horrible to this child, Anthony?*

"Well... you're a part of this family, Xander. We want you to be with us. You do what to come... don't you?"

Xander took a deep breath and nodded slowly.

"Yeah... I do."

He looked into her eyes and smiled. It was getting harder and harder to not call her mom with each passing day. She was warm and kind to him... so different from his own mother.

Hermione wiped her eyes and smiled.

"That's settled then. We eat then we shop till we drop."

Her smile widened as the front door opened and her father entered.

"I got the tickets. Everything is all set. We leave on flight 1256 tomorrow night at 7:50 pm."

John walked in and sat down and began eating. Everyone stared at him and he looked up, syrup dribbling down his chin.


Rachel reached over and wiped his chin then laughed.

"Tomorrow... why so soon?"

John shrugged.

"The next flight leaving, on the airline we like, is tomorrow night. There isn't another one until three days later. Plus... I've already booked our hotel in Geneva and if we don't arrive and check in on time... they will give the rooms to someone else. Why, is this a problem?"

Xander looked at the women and nodded to himself.

"They don't like it because it limits the amount of time they can shop before the trip. They're not like you and me. We men can shop and get everything we need in under an hour. If they're anything like my Willow... it will take them at least five hours just to get their clothing alone."

Hermione glared at Xander and was going to refute what he said... but couldn't... because he was right. The last shopping trip she had taken with her mother had lasted almost eight hours. She was shocked that Xander knew the female shopping mind so well.

"Ah... I see. Well then, it's just after 9 right now. Why don't you and I, Xander, go do our shopping... and then while the ladies do theirs, we can go take care of the sporting goods and maybe even do a little sightseeing. We can let them have the day to shop... and with us not there, they will probably shop a little faster. We can meet for dinner and hopefully they will be finished by then."

Xander nodded and glanced over to see the anger simmering in his aunt's eyes.

"Sounds ok to me... and it will let Rachel and Hermione shop without anyone telling them they're spending too much money. I know I'd be worried about it if I were there the whole time."

John caught where Xander was going. He too had seen the anger growing in his wife's eyes.

"Yes... so true. Why, with us on our own... I bet the ladies here will probably have more fun... knowing you and I won't be saying 'Now dear... are you sure you want to buy that? It's a bit expensive.'"

Rachel blinked and blushed. She had heard those words far too often when she really got going. She tended to get into a rhythm and forget about prices. She turned to Hermione and grinned.

"Sound fine with me then. Us girls can shop and have fun while the boys have to do all the heavy lifting and carrying. All those skis and other things weight a ton..."

She winked and Hermione smiled.

"Right... so true mother."

John glanced at his daughter... then his wife... and knew he was doomed.

"Right... exactly. Well then... let's get going... once we've all finished, of course."

Rachel grinned at her husband and then went back to her breakfast... leaving a stunned John staring at her.


Xander dropped down into the passenger seat and let out a sigh. John looked over at the boy and smiled. They had gone from shop to shop and Xander had been all smiles the whole time.

"Are we done now?"

John looked into the backseat and double-checked everything.

"Let's see. Ski pants... check, ski jacket... check, jumper... check, boots... check, skis... check, ice skates... check, gloves... check. Looks like everything."

Xander looked at the bags and shook his head. He and John had bought him more clothes in one day than his family had ever bought him in his entire life. It touched him, knowing these people cared that much about him.

"Thanks for the clothes and skis and skates, Uncle John. You're a great dad."

He turned his head toward the window and whispered to himself.

"Wish you were mine..."

John barely heard Xander whisper and nodded to himself.

*I wish that too kiddo.*

"So... we men are all equipped. It took us..."

He glanced at his watch and grinned.

"... just under three hours. If I know my wife and daughter, they have only just now gotten started. We have close to 6 or 7 hours before they come up for air. Shall we go sightseeing then?"

Xander nodded. He was looking forward to seeing everything he could... not knowing when he'd be back again.

"Sounds like fun. Where shall we go?"

John grinned.

"Let's keep that a surprise."

He started the car and pulled into traffic... a smile on his face.


"... and to your left is the main reception room. Here, Her Majesty, has entertained visitors from ever country allied with the United Kingdom. The last ambassador was the President of the United States himself. They talked and had tea before he had to leave for his return trip home..."

Xander stared at the paintings on the walls and the rooms they walked through... or past... and smiled. He was having so much fun; who would have thought visiting some old building.

"Enjoying yourself?"

Xander looked up at John and nodded.

"It's great. I had no idea there were so many neat rooms in this place."

John nodded and then glanced back at the tour director, Margo, when she suddenly stopped. He liked this woman. She was a lot more intelligent than the last person running the tour... and prettier too. Her hair had this shimmer to it that caught the eye of pretty much ever man on the tour.

*If I wasn't married... and about 10 years younger...*

He smiled and shook his head then went back to paying attention to her narration...


"That was great. I learned a lot of stuff in there... and Margo was cute."

John smirked at Xander and laughed.

"Ah... so we're over Caroline?"

Xander blushed and looked down at the sidewalk.

"They're both cute... but both too old for me. They had to be... what... 25 at least each. That's old."

John laughed and bent over, his hands on his knees.

"Oh my... then that must make me ancient."

Xander looked up and shook his head.

"No... you're just right. You're the right age for my dad..."

Xander's eyes widened and he quickly edited himself.

"... a dad... I meant a dad."

John nodded and looked over at Xander as he straightened up.

"It's ok, son. You can call me dad if you want. I know that your father... well, he isn't the nicest person. Rachel told me a little of what he's done to you."

Xander swallowed and looked down.


John shook his head and lifted Xander's chin.

"Hey now... it's nothing like that. We talked and we both agree that something needs to be done about it. We're going to talk to the authorities in America and see what we can do about getting Anthony some help... for when you go home. We think that if you talk to someone in child services... tell them what has happened to you... and if you show them your bruises... there might be enough proof to get you some help."

John crouched down to look Xander in the eyes.

"We want you to be ok. You want that too, right?"

Xander nodded and let out the breath he didn't know he had been holding.

"Yes John... I'd like that."

John smiled and stood back up. As he moved, Xander closed his eyes and for a moment felt calm and safe with this man... like he was meant to live with him and his family.

*No... can't be... I can't leave my willow...*

John looked down at Xander and grinned.

"Ready to go collect the ladies?"

Xander nodded.

"If they're done by now..."


They pulled up outside the large department store and waved at Rachel and Hermione in the cafe outside. They stood and walked over. As they climbed inside, John and Xander loaded their bags.

"Did you have fun?"

Xander looked at John and grinned.

"Yes... we had fun."

John smiled and the shadow of an expression crossed his face. Rachel raised an eyebrow and caught John's eye. He shook his head slightly and mouthed to her that they would talk later. As he turned to the steering wheel, he grinned and glanced back at the kids.

"I feel like celebrating. Let's get pizza and movies tonight."

Xander perked up at the mention of pizza and grinned.

"Pizza... oh yeah!"

Rachel laughed.

"Oh no... I think we might regret that decision, John. What if he eats like you?"

John laughed.

"Ha! Then we had better make sure us men have enough to sate our beasts... or else we might be forced to... do the unthinkable."

Hermione frowned, confused.

"Unthinkable daddy?"

John nodded.

"Yes... eat a salad."

Xander mocked a gasp... then started laughing. Soon everyone in the car was laughing along with him... like a family. They slowly pulled away into traffic, laughing the whole while home... one big happy family... or that's how some of them wished it was.

Chapter 4

Cold wind bit into the exposed parts of his face as Xander stepped down onto the stairs leading to the main airport. Snow was falling and blowing around in all directions. It was the most amazing thing he had ever seen.

*It never snows back home... this... this is amazing.*

Xander stepped carefully around a small patch of ice and followed his aunt and uncle toward the building. As he moved across the ice, he turned to glance back at Hermione and saw that her arms were full and she wasn't watching where she was going. As such, her foot was about to step on the ice. Without thinking, Xander reached out toward her and though he was a good 10 feet away, he saw Hermione jerk to the side, as if pulled away from the ice.

"What. . .?"

Hermione glanced around nervously and then noticed her foot resting next to a patch of ice.

*If I had stepped on that, I know I would have fallen. Something pushed me aside?*

She looked around her, but there was no one close to her. It was then she noticed Xander staring at her with this intense look of concentration on his face.

*Could he have... no... but maybe... I think I had better talk to mom and dad about this.*

Hermione blinked and moved to catch up with Xander. As she reached him, he took a few of her things and smiled at her. She smiled back and continued on toward the warm, glowing light of the building.


Later that night in the hotel, Hermione sat in her room and stared at the parchment before her. She had spoken to her parents and they had agreed with her that she needed to owl Professor Dumbledore on the matter, and so here she sat, debating whether or not her message was clear.

"Dear Professor Dumbledore,

I'm writing to you over a matter that has come to my attention. My cousin, Xander, is staying with me and we are currently in Switzerland on vacation. When we got off the plane, I almost slipped and fell on a patch of ice. I say almost because something reached out and pushed me away from the ice. When I looked around, I noticed Xander staring at me with a look of concentration of his face.

I'm curious to know if you can look in your books or something to see if he should have been invited to come to Hogwarts but was overlooked. What he did must have been magic, right?

Please get back to me on this matter when you have time. I will continue to observe him until I hear from you.


Hermione Granger"

Hermione reread the scroll then nodded to herself and stood. She pulled on her robe and walked downstairs to the post. There was a system she had heard about for those traveling with Muggles where you send your scroll to them and they forward it by owl upon arrival. Hermione figured that would be the best idea. She walked to the slot, slid in the envelope, and then walked back to her room. Once there, she crawled back in bed and slept fitfully until daybreak.


Later the next day an unusual owl flew into the room and Professor Albus Dumbledore looked up in surprise.

"Hello there. Do you have something for me?"

The owl swooped down and dropped a rolled parchment into his desk. Albus nodded and handed over a few owl treats then watched as the owl flew back out the open window. He raised an eyebrow at the parchment and then carefully unrolled it.

"Dear Professor Dumbledore...."

He read slowly, nodding to himself a few times, then looked up.

"I do believe, Fawkes, that we have something of a mystery handed to us by young Miss Granger."

He climbed to his feet and walked over to the Sorting Hat. It was sitting on its perch and he stared at it for a few seconds before he reached out to wake it.

"Mmm.. what... yes?"

Albus sat down in front of the hat and took a deep breath.

"Three years ago... male... from America. Are the lists accurate?"

The Sorting Hat turned towards Professor Dumbledore and was silent for a moment.

"There is nothing wrong with my. . . what's this? Someone was taken off my list."

Albus nodded, expecting this somewhat.

"Taken off how?"

The Sorting Hat shivered and then appeared angry.

"Some force has tampered with me!"

Albus nodded.

"Check the name Alexander Harris."

The Sorting Hat appeared to think for a minute then nodded.

"Alexander Lavelle Harris, age 14 now, from Sunnydale, California, home of a Hellmouth. Ah, no wonder, the energy from Hellmouths interferes with me. But if this is so, why am I able to sense him now?"

Albus smiled.

"He is Miss Granger's cousin and is currently living with her and her family. They are on vacation in Switzerland at the moment and he performed an act of wandless magic to save her from falling on a patch of ice."

Albus stood and began pacing.

"He is unaware of anything magical. For all intents and purposes, he is a Muggle... but yet at the same time, he's not."

The Sorting Hat shifted to follow the Professor as he paced.

"Do you want him invited to come here?"

Albus stopped pacing.

"Yes, I believe that would be the best course of action, but not right now. Wait until until the Grangers return from their trip. I'll deliver it personally. Things will need to be explained to Mr. Harris."

Albus nodded to himself and then glanced back over at his desk.

"Now what do we tell Miss Granger? We have to ease her fears in such a way that she won't begin investigating this on her own," he sighed and shook his head, "which is hopeless. For once she tells Mr. Weasley and Mr. Potter they will all become very interested in getting to the bottom of this."

He walked to his desk and sat down. Taking a quill in hand, he started to write his reply.

"Dear Miss Ganger..."


Xander exploded into the room, snow falling from his shoulders as he ran laughing, with an angry Hermione fast on his heels.

"Come back here you... you... you boy!"

Xander laughed louder and jumped behind the large couch in front of the fireplace.

"Come on Hermione, it's just a little snow. It can't hurt you."

Hermione glared at Xander and stalked him from one side of the room to the other a trail of snow following her falling piece by piece from INSIDE her pants.

"It's freezing and wet... and... and... you!!"

With a scream of rage, Hermione launched herself at Xander and chased him back outside. While all this was going on, Rachel and John just stared and laughed.

"So much like brother and sister, aren't they?"

John nodded. He liked seeing his formerly stuffy daughter having fun and having someone to spend time with.

"She's much more energetic than she used to be. I just hope she doesn't kill him when she catches him."

Rachel nodded, laughing. She had seen Xander tackle Hermione earlier and then proceed to stuff handful after handful of snow down her pants. She knew he deserved everything he would get.

"True, but he does deserve it. That snow is cold and you haven't seen our daughter's preference in undergarments these days. Let me just say, they are not designed for cold weather."

John winced and shook his head.

"No, don't want to know. She's my princess not some teenage girl who might possibly be thinking about sex. No, you can't make me go there. She's my little angel and she'll stay that way until she's 25."

Rachel looked at her husband and just laughed. He was so precious sometimes.

"You can't keep her your baby forever, honey. She's growing up and she's noticing boys now. I've seen the way she looks at her friends, especially that Harry Potter boy. She likes him."

John shook his head no.

"Not listening, not listening. I can't hear you..."

Rachel sighed and shook her head. John peeked at her and sighed.

"Just give me the summer, please? She can be growing up once she goes back to school, ok?"

Rachel nodded.

"Fine, this summer. Then we have to talk about her growing up on us. But for now, we don't bring it up again."

John smiled and kissed his wife. "Thank you."

He looked into her eyes and smiled warmly.

"Have I told you how much I love you today?"

Rachel smiled back and moved closer. "Hmmm... not today."

John grinned. "Then I should correct that."

He moved closer and began to kiss her, slowly then with more passion, until a loud groan of disgust filled the room.

"Dad... mom... not in public!"

They ignored Hermione and continued to kiss. Strangely bothered by it, Hermione grabbed Xander's hand and pulled him toward the stairs.

"Come on, let's get away from this scene!"

She then turned and dragged Xander up the stairs to her room. When she entered, she noticed the owl sitting on her window and blinked in shock, but quickly moved Xander into the bathroom.

"Get out of those wet clothes. I'll get the room warmer while you're busy."

With that she quickly shut the door before Xander could see the owl. Once she was sure it was secure she walked over and took the parchment. Having done its job, the owl turned and took off. Hermione closed the window completely and quickly scanned the message.

"Dear Miss Granger,

I have consulted with the Sorting Hat on this matter and it seems that because of unfortunate outside influences young Alexander was indeed overlooked for enrollment. The matter is being looked into and I will write you with any pertinent information once it is discovered. Until then, please do not discuss this with Alexander.

Thank you,

Professor Albus Dumbledore"

Hermione blinked in shock and then quickly shoved the message under her pillow as she heard the door open. She looked up to see Xander in dry clothes and smiled.

"I'll be back out in a moment."

She rushed past him and into the bathroom, leaving a stunned Xander behind her.

*What was all that about? She was acting so strangely... and I could swear I thought I saw an owl sitting on her windowsill... but that's impossible... isn't it?*

Xander shrugged and sat down on her bed. As the bed moved, he saw a flash of white come from under her pillow. He reached toward it but then stopped as he heard the door open. He turned and looked at Hermione, who quickly rushed over and sat on said pillow.

"So, what should we do now?"

Xander stared at how nervous Hermione seemed and decided to ask her about it but not tonight. He'd wait until morning...

"Hmm... I don't know... do you know of any good games?"

As the two of them compared games, they had no way of knowing that far away someone was at that moment becoming away of them - and young Xander in particular - a certain someone that did not need to know about Xander, ever.

Chapter 5

Ron stared out the window of the kitchen and watched as Fred and George chased gnomes in the garden. Mum had sent them out there earlier when one of their experiments exploded in her face, ruining her first attempt at a new recipe she had discovered. It was safe to say Fred and George would be in trouble for a while.

*I warned them not to go in the kitchen. I told them mum was in there and in a right mood.*

Ron shook his head and looked around the empty room. It was quiet, so quiet with Ginny gone. She was staying the summer with Charlie in Romania, learning everything there is to know about dragons and such. Ron was secretly jealous of her for it.

"It's not fair..."

Ron sighed. Hermione was away on vacation. Harry was locked up in with those awful muggles. Everything was so wrong.

*I wish Professor Dumbledore would hurry up and answer my note. I want Harry to come over early this year...*

He looked up into the sky, scanning the clouds for owls, but saw nothing.

"Not yet I guess..."

He got to his feet and turned to leave the room when he heard the sound of something feathery approaching fast. Ron turned and ducked just in time to miss a very excited owl. It flew around the room twice then landed on his head. Ron removed the scroll and then yelped when the owl used his head as a launch pad... its claws digging into his scalp.

"Bloody bird..."

He unrolled the scroll and smiled.

"Dear Ron,

I'm hoping you are well. My family and I are fine. We are currently in Geneva - that's in Switzerland - and it's the last day of our vacation. We've been here almost three weeks and I have so much to tell you.

Do you remember me talking about my cousin? He's living with us this summer and he's adorable. I am having so much fun with him and there is something about him that he doesn't know. He's a wizard, or can become one with practice. He was overlooked or something, I don't know. I wrote Professor Dumbledore about it and he's looking into it. I think something is strange about this. I just wish I had use of the library back at Hogwarts..."

Ron smirked.

*Yes, and if you were there you wouldn't leave for a week. Poor chap your cousin, having you as family. I wonder if he's gone nutty yet?*

He went back to reading, a smile on his lips.

"... I'm sure I could discover something.

How are you and your family? Have you heard from Ginny yet? I haven't heard from her, what with being on vacation with someone who doesn't know about magic. I mean, can you imagine his reaction if an owl flew into my room and dropped a note for me. He'd freak.

We should be arriving home in a few days. I'll write you again then. I've written to Harry as well. I dearly hope he is ok. He looked so unhappy about having to return to those awful people. I worry about him..."

Ron frowned.

*She worries about him... more than usual or just normal for her? I wonder if she has feelings for Harry. She did kiss him as she left. I saw her...*

Ron chewed on his lower lip as the thought of his two best friends dating passed through his mind. He couldn't really see it but he knew that if they did have feelings for each other that he'd just be an insensitive prat if he stood in their way.

"I'll just have to wait and see... I guess."

He looked back down at the letter and read what was left.

"... and I hope he's ok.

Well, I had better go. I'm going to be keeping an eye on Xander, that's my cousin's name, this summer and see if I can catch him doing magic. If I could prove it to him, he might accept it easier, then I could explain everything to him and see how he takes it.

Have fun, and I hope to come visit sometime before we return to school.

Love from Hermione."

Ron rolled up the letter and shoved it in his pocket.

"So, Hermione's cousin might be a wizard... and if he is, will he be going back to Hogwarts with us? I have to tell Harry about this..."

Ron smiled and ran up the stairs to his room, intent on writing to his friend....


The door slammed shut just as yet another bellow echoed from below, cutting off what the belligerent man had been yelling.

"... till it's purple!"

Harry leaned against the door and let out a heavy breath. His uncle was in a very bad mood and it had looked as if he was close to coming to blows. This worried Harry, for if something were to happen... he'd be in serious trouble.

*Couldn't stay here... but still, I couldn't leave. Professor Dumbledore has said over and over that here is the safest place for me. He wouldn't be happy if I just ran off... again. I just wish I could go live with Ron... or live with Sirius...*

Harry smiled. He missed his godfather and wished he could be spending the summer with him instead of being verbally abused by his aunt and uncle, and physically abused by his cousin. It had been an almost non-stop occurrence since arriving home, and he was so tired of it he had almost used magic against them.

*Can't get in trouble again...*

Harry listened for his uncle to see if he had followed him upstairs, but it was thankfully quiet. With a sigh, Harry moved to his bed and sat down.

"Don't know if I can take much more, Hedwig. Things are getting really bad here; worse than usual. I almost think he wanted to kill me..."

Harry shuddered and got to his feet. As he began to pace his room, emergency plans formed in his head.

*... could walk to the local bus station and then get a ride to Ron or Hermione's place... or I could use the Knight Bus again, but someone might trace that... or I could just borrow Mr. Allen's gun and shoot them in their sleep...*

Harry stopped pacing, his eyes wide with fright. He was shocked by the last thought that had crossed his mind.

"Where did that come from... and who is Mr. Allen?"

A cold chill overcame Harry's body as he realized he had no clue what had just happened.

"I don't like this, Hedwig. I think... I think something may be wrong... with... me..."

He turned slowly toward the window, feeling eyes on him, and expected to see Voldemort himself staring at him, but it was only an owl... Ron's owl in fact. Harry rushed over and opened the window and then ducked just as Pig launched himself at Harry, missing him by a few inches.

"Blasted bird. Why can't he be calm and normal and peaceful... like you Hedwig?"

As if answering him, Hedwig ruffled her feathers and tucked her head under her wing... but there was a gleam of 'I told you so' in her eyes before they closed. Harry smirked and then went about catching Pig. Fifteen minutes later he was reading Ron's note while half sitting on Pig, his hoots of indignation muffled by Harry's legs.

"... and it sounds like she's determined to turn him into one of us, Harry. I think this calls for some manly action. We need to save the poor lad from being Hermione'd to death..."

Harry laughed. It was funny, but Ron was right. He adored Hermione, but she was hard to handle in big doses when she was excited.

*Ron might be right. This... Xander... might end up going insane if he had to live with Hermione all the time. I wonder if...*

He paused, a grin coming to his face.

*I bet Ron and I could act muggle for a while. Shouldn't be too hard for me, seeing as I've done it for years, and I think Ron could last a week or so. I think we could get Xander to show his magic, if he has any, in that time. All I have to do is convince Ron of this...*

He went back to the note and finished reading it, laughing at the end.

"... and so I think we should convince Hermione to bring him along. I think I can suffer being a muggle for a few days, and you were one for so long, you could tell me what to do, and we could bribe Fred and George to help us. With all of us working together, we could get any magic in this Xander fellow to show itself in no time at all.

I'm going to talk to mum and dad about it in a few minutes. Maybe we can get their help as well.

Well, good luck to us. Hope you're being treated well... er... better than... um... oh bloody hell Harry, don't let the buggers kill you.


Harry wiped his eyes and grabbed some paper. After writing a quick note back to Ron, he lifted his leg and pulled out a very unhappy Pig. Pig glared up at Harry and rolled an eye at him. Harry snickered and attached the note.

"Take this back to Ron."

Pig stared at him, pooped in his hand, then took off. Harry winced in disgust and shook his head.

"Idiot bird, doesn't have a brain in its small head... nope, not smart at all... not brilliant like my Hedwig."

As he moved to go wash his hands, Harry noticed Hedwig staring at him and he could swear it looked like she was smiling at him.

*No... impossible.*

Harry smiled at Hedwig then left to go to the bathroom...


Xander closed his suitcases and surveyed the room. He had checked everything three times already and was sure now that he had everything.

*That's everything. I had better go see if anyone needs any help.*

He dragged his suitcases out into the main room and placed them next to the others, then headed to the next room to check on Hermione. He peeked his head into her room and smiled at the sight before him. Hermione had all of her suitcases open and was organizing everything into smaller and smaller piles before carefully placing things away.

"Need any help?"

Hermione jerked her head and smiled.

"No... I'm ok. I have everything organized and positioned. All I have to do now is place everything. It shouldn't be much longer now."

Xander nodded and moved into the room to watch. He liked his cousin. Spending the last month with her had made him feel close to her... almost as close as he felt to Willow.

*Willow! Oh God! I haven't talked to her once! She's going to kill me!*

A worried expression crossed Xander's face and Hermione frowned, noticing it.

"You ok?"

Xander shook his head.

"No. I forgot to call my best friend in the whole world. It's been almost a month and I haven't talked to her once. She's going to kill me..."

Hermione winced and stopped packing. She moved over and pulled Xander into a hug.

"Hey, it's ok, we're heading back in a few hours and when we get home, you and I can call her. You can tell her we've been on vacation and therefore you couldn't call, and if she doesn't believe you, then you can hand the phone to me and I can confirm it for you. Don't worry... I am sure she'll understand."

Xander nodded and sighed.

"She's never not talked to me for this long. We've been together for... forever. She's only been gone once, for about two weeks, but she called me almost every day, and here I am, her best friend, and I didn't even think about her till just now..."

Hermione just shook her head and sighed. She recognized a boy in mope, having seen both Harry and Ron on several occasions, and knew the best thing to do was let them be. They always came through ok in the end.

"Just remember, once we get home, we're calling her."

Xander nodded and moved to the door.

"I'm going to go wait in the other room."

Hermione nodded and smiled.

"I'll be in to join you in about 10 minutes."

Xander nodded then walked out the door...


The next eight hours or so was very hectic. They had almost been late for their flight, then the flight was very bouncy, then to make things worse it was raining when they arrived back in London. All in all, they were all a bit miffed.

"... still say they should have given us our money back. The flight was so bad, they made me spill my drink all over my new dress."

Xander dropped his suitcases in his room as he listened to Hermione complain, and complain, and complain some more. She had been complaining about the flight ever since she had gotten bumped, had her elbow hit, had her drink spill in her lap, followed by her peanuts and half her dinner... and was now in quite a bad mood.


Hermione stopped her pacing and turned to Xander.


Xander winced.

"We were going to call Willow?"

Hermione looked confused for a second then smiled.

"Right, thank you for reminding me. You're so sweet... like Harry."

Hearing herself, Hermione blushed then ran over to the phone. A grin crossed Xander's face... but he refused to make fun of her.

"Do you have her number?"

Xander nodded and sat down next to his cousin. Hermione dialed the number for international dialing then handed nodded for Xander to go ahead. Xander dialed the number then listened as it rang.


Xander smiled.

"Hey Wills... miss me?"

All was quiet for a second before a squeal came over the other end of the phone.


Xander jerked his head away from the phone then leaned back in.


Xander smirked and shook his head.

"Whoa... slow down, breathe Willow..."

He listened as Willow took a breath.

"You had me worried, Xander."

Xander frowned.

"I'm sorry. I've been with my cousin on vacation in Switzerland. It's like... really long distance from there and well, you know."

The phone was quiet for a moment before Willow sighed.

"I know. God... I've missed you Xander. I was so worried about you, what with your parents moving and all and..."

Two words sank into Xander's mind. Parents... moving?

"My parents did what?"

Willow paused.

"They moved. Didn't they tell you they were doing that? My dad heard a rumor about your dad getting some kind of inheritance and so you were moving over to Cordelia's neighborhood, but no one is sure which house you've moved into and no one has seen your parent in almost a month."

Xander shook his head, his mind shocked by what he heard.

"We don't have anyone to get an inheritance from. Willow, can you... um.. you know... and find out if they're still in town, for me?"

Xander closed his eyes and hoped for her help in this. He was getting a really bad feeling about all this.

"Sure, just let me check this out. What's your number there and I'll call you back when I have something."

Xander gave Willow the number then said his goodbyes and hung up the phone.

"Something's going on Hermione. I have a bad feeling about this."

At Hermione's confused look, he explained everything Willow had told him. By the time he was done, the phone rang. Xander answered it and nodded as Willow told him what she found.

"... and you're right, Xander. There are no listings for your mom or dad in town anymore. They've... oh god, Xander... they've abandoned you."

As the words registered, the phone fell from his fingers and the room went black as he fainted, falling to the floor....

Chapter 6

Xander's head bounced off the floor as his eyes closed. Hermione screamed in shock before she bolted out of the room.


Downstairs, Rachel looked up at hearing her daughter scream and watched her run into the room.

"Xander's hurt!"

Rachel jumped to her feet and raced after her daughter as she ran back upstairs. When she reached Xander's room, she gasped at the sight before her.

"Oh my God! What happened?!"

Rachel dropped to her knees next to Xander and rolled him gently onto his back. She checked his ears and nose for blood, but luckily found none. She then checked his pulse and found it stable and strong. Hermione knelt next to her mother as she cried.

"He fainted and hit his head on the floor when he fell. Is he ok?"

Rachel nodded and ran her fingers through Xander's hair.

"He should be ok. Go get me the first aid kit and then you can tell me exactly what happened."

Hermione nodded and ran to get the kit. When she got back, she handed it over to her mother and sat down next to her again. Rachel opened the kit and dug through it as Hermione talked.

"... and we were calling his friend Willow, because she's very important to him, and she was all worried and..."

Rachel found the small package she was looking for at the bottom of the kit. She pulled it out and snapped it in the middle then waved it under Xander's nose.

"... and she said that his parents have moved away. They've abandoned him mummy."

Rachel looked up in shock upon hearing her daughter's words.

"Abandoned him... oh my..."

Just then, Xander moaned and his eyes fluttered. Rachel looked down at him and moved the ammonia away.

"Xander... Xander... can you hear me?"

Xander opened his eyes and groaned.

"What hit me?"

Hermione smiled.

"The floor..."

Xander glared at her and smirked.

"Ha ha... very funny."

He sat up and felt the room spin.

"Whoa... room's spinning."

He blinked a few times and then felt everything stop moving.

"There... that's better."

He looked at Hermione, then Rachel, then the phone and remembered. A sad expression crossed his face as he sighed.

"I'm all alone now. They ran away... from me. They weren't the nicest parents out there... but they were mine, and now... they don't want me anymore."

He looked into Rachel's eyes as tears formed in his own.

"What's going to happen to me now?"

Rachel pulled him into a hug and held onto him tightly.

"We'll take care of this. Everything will be ok."

Rachel started to rock Xander gently as he cried softly...


"Yes, thank you."

John hung up the phone and let out the breath he had been holding. He had just spent the last hour and a half on the phone with the American Consulate about Xander. After being pushed off from person to person, he had finally gotten someone who said she would look into it. As it stood now, he and Rachel had temporary custody of Xander, until such time as a decision would be made.

*Bloody democracy. They have no idea what they're doing. For all they know, Xander could be a pregnant 35-year-old woman living in Calcutta.*

John got to his feet and paced his office. As he neared the far wall he paused and slammed his fist against the door.

"Damn you Anthony!"

John winced at the pain and cradled his hand, wiggling his fingers. Nothing appeared broken, but it bloody well hurt like hell.

*You don't abandon a 14-year-old boy like he's a piece of garbage. That just... inhuman. Xander is not garbage. I will bloody well make sure he knows that, even if I have to convince him that you're nothing but a lousy piece of shit!*

The door opened a crack and John could see Rachel peeking in.

"You ok?"

John nodded.

"Yes dear, the door got angry with me and hit me in my hand. I think he was angry with me for yelling at the phone. They're friends, you know."

Rachel giggled and stepped into the room.

"What did you discover?"

John sighed and sat down.

"They can't tell their arse from their elbow... but I finally got someone to look in on it. Until they can find something, anything, about what had happened... we have temporary legal custody of Xander."

John smiled.

"They said that if they can't find his parents, that we'll be given full custody and can adopt him legally if we want."

Rachel smiled. She wasn't thrilled that her brother was missing... but still, at the same time, a part of her hoped they wouldn't be able to find him.

"Xander would be ours... legally?"

John nodded and smiled.

"Yes love. They've put out one of those bulletin things for them. We should find out more when they call back in a few days."

He reached out and took his wife's hand.

"The woman I spoke to didn't sound too enthusiastic about searching. I have a feeling that Anthony has a record and she wasn't pleased about it. I feel that they might not look that hard and just give us custody after long enough to make the searching look good. She asked me how Xander was doing and if he looked happy. When I told her everything that had happened, she seemed more... eager to let us keep him."

Rachel smiled widely and tears leaked from her eyes.

"Oh... we can only hope."

John nodded and pulled his wife into a hug... happy that hopefully soon they would be adding another member to the family.


Hermione glanced over at Xander as he stared out the window. She felt for him and wanted to do something, anything to help him feel better... but she had no clue as to what to do.


Xander looked up, his eyes pained and sad.

"Why did they do it?"

Hermione frowned.


Xander stared at her, his eyes wide and pleading.

"My parents. Why did they treat me like dirt all my life? Why did they make me feel like nothing, like trash? Why did they abandon me?"

Hermione ran to her cousin and pulled him into a hug.

"I don't know. Not all parents are bad. Mine as nice and my friend Ron's parents are wonderful. Then again, Harry's aunt and uncle are cruel. You never know what you're going to get. Sometimes you get lucky, while other times..."

Xander nodded.

"Other times you get mean and evil people."

He looked into her eyes and tried to smile.

"Hermione... I wish your mom and dad... were mine."

Hermione smiled and felt tears rolling down her cheeks.

"So do I, Xander, so do I. I'd love to have you as my little brother... and I know mum and dad feel the same."

She took a breath and settled herself some.

"Xander... your parents have disappeared. From what I've read, this means that mum and dad probably have legal custody of you now. This also probably means that if the government people can't find your parents... that maybe, if you want, you could be adopted into my family."

Xander's eyes widened and a smile crossed his face.

"Do you really think something like that could happen?"

Hermione nodded. Xander grinned wider and then half-frowned.

"I'd like that, Hermione, but what about my friends? I'd miss them so much..."

He thought about everything he had gone through. In everything, Willow had always been there... but now, he had Hermione and she was almost as good as Willow. Could he really leave Willow behind and live in England? He looked into Hermione's eyes and saw the love looking back at him and knew his answer.

"I know I'd miss my friends... but here, I'd have a family. I hope that happens. I want to be a part of this family. I want us to be brother and sister, Hermione."

Hermione smiled and wiped tears from her eyes.

"Me too..."

Chapter 7

Light filtered in through the small windows high above the huddled couple. They shivered against the damp cold stones and stared in fear at the man watching them from across the room.

"Once again, I say to you... tell me why you hid him from us for so long Anthony."

Anthony Harris stared at the masked, robed man and shook his head.

"I don't know what you're talking about. I haven't hid..."

He jerked in pain as the man whispered something and pointed a thin wooden stick at him. Light shot across the room and into Anthony, filling his mind with pain the likes of which he had never felt before.

"You're lying to me, Anthony. You know what it is I am talking about. Do not tempt me to forget my master's orders and just kill you for the fun of it."

The man moved closer and cold blue eyes could be seen peeking out from behind the mask.

"Now... again... where is your son, Anthony?"

Anthony shook his head.

"Don't know what you're talking about. We don't have any k..."

Another scream filled the small room as the man repeated his actions again. Anthony jerked and screamed as his body was burned from the inside out. Across the room, beyond the large wooden door, someone watched and smiled.

"He'll break soon, Wormtail, and then... then he shall tell me what I need to know. The child will be brought to me... as was promised years ago."

The figure glared down at the small simpering man next to him and let out a hissing breath.

"When he breaks... I want you to bring me the boy. I do not trust Lucius as much as he thinks."

Wormtail nodded.

"Yes master. I will do as you say."

The figure nodded and then walked away, disappearing into the darkness. Wormtail watched him leave then turned back to the window in the door... wincing in time with the screams of agony from within.


"I see. Thank you."

Minerva frowned at Albus Dumbledore and raised an eyebrow.

"What are we to do now?"

Albus nodded his head slowly.

"Nothing... for now. Harry is still secure and safe. We have Arabella and Mundungus watching him. I'm sending a few members to the Grangers to keep watch there."

He stood and began to pace the room.

"Until we know more, there is nothing we can do."

Minerva sighed and nodded.

"Then I shall go back and check in with Miss Granger's cat. He will tell me what has transpired since their return."

Albus nodded and turned to stare into the fire. Minerva shifted form and ran out of the room. Once she was gone, he sighed and shook his head.

*Why do you want the Harris boy, Tom? What is so special about him... and does any of this have a connection to Harry?*

Albus closed his eyes and rubbed them gently... then walked back to his desk, a look of exhaustion on his face.


Moonlight shown down on the home of the Grangers as a solitary cat crept into their garden, then up the back lattice, and into the open window of Hermione's room. Crookshanks looked up and let the tension he had been feeling flow out of his body. She was back.

"You... you're back."

Minerva McGonagall, in feline form, nodded and moved over to the nervous cat lying on Hermione's bed.

"Yes. I have spoken with Professor Dumbledore. Has anything happened since I was here last?"

Crookshanks nodded and glanced over to Hermione. She was still asleep... so he relaxed a bit more.

"Earlier, two of the black robed ones came into town. They passed through, arguing at each other, then got into a car and left. I saw them coming out of one manor homes on Baker Street."

Minerva nodded and hissed under her breath.

"Not good... not good at all."

She looked at the cat and saw he was hiding something.

"Anything else?"

Crookshanks nodded slowly.

"The boy... he, he did something before going to bed."

Minerva leaned forward, interested.

"Go on."

Crookshanks glanced toward the door and the room across the hall and nodded.

"He was walking across the room, talking to himself about not being able to find his toothbrush. He didn't see it... but it levitated and flew across the room toward him, only to fall on his bed as he turned around."

Minerva's eyes widened.

*He's awakening...*

"I see. Thank you. please keep watching them both for me. I will check on you in a few days."

Crookshanks nodded and watched the cat that was not a cat get up and leave the way she came. He then jumped off of Hermione's bed and ran across the hall to Xander's room. As he walked inside, he could see Xander tossing and turning in his sleep. He walked across the room and jumped up onto the bed, then moved up next to Xander's chest. A low purr rumbled in his chest, getting louder and louder, until Xander began to calm. He slid an arm over Crookshanks and began petting him in his sleep... then fell into a deep sleep. Crookshanks stared up into the boy's face and blinked.

*You sleep well. I'll keep you safe... I promise.*

He curled up next to Xander and stared out at the moon through the window... wondering why everyone was so worried about such a nervous scared boy...

Chapter 8

Lucius Malfoy stared down at the man before him, a pool of blood and something best not thought about forming underneath him, and frowned. After hour upon hour of torture, he had finally died... without breaking.

*Pitiful muggle scum....*

Lucius glanced over at the red haired woman crouched in the corner. He smiled as she trembled in fear, drool dribbling down her chin. She had broken earlier, not by torture or spells... no, she broke watching her husband slowly die before her eyes.

*Shame really... would have been fun breaking her myself. Her body isn't unappealing, muggle though she is...*

Lucius kicked the corpse before him and grinned at the loud break of a rib or two before the door opened. He looked over at the door and lowered his head as his lord entered the room.

"He's dead. Did he speak before he died?"

Lucius shook his head and continued to look at his feet.

"No, my lord, he did not. I..."

Lord Voldemort raised his wand in a flash and light blasted across the room.


Lucius screamed in pain and arched his back as the spell hit him. He fell to the floor, writhing in pain, as Voldemort walked toward him slowly.

"All you had to do was get the information I want from this puny pathetic muggle... but no, you couldn't do something as simple as that."

He walked around the screaming and writhing Lucius and growled down at him.

"Now what am I supposed to do. You killed the father and the mother is useless to me! Her mind is pudding now! Tell me Lucius, tell me what I am to do now!"

Lucius stared up at Lord Voldemort, his eyes wide with pain, and tried to speak... but nothing but spittle crossed his lips. Voldemort rolled his eyes and moved toward the door.

"Maybe if I leave you as you are, you might learn something... before you loose your mind, that is."

He smiled and moved further toward the door... then paused and turned to the woman in the corner.

"You are of no use to me as well... and unlike Lucius, I have no desire to use your body. I can see nothing else but to..."

He raised his want and pointed it toward her. Seconds later, the room was filled with green light and a woman's scream as she died...


Xander jerked away in bed, knocking Crookshanks to the floor with a yowl of surprise. Xander looked around in fear, sweat dripping down his face; his sweat-soaked clothing plastered to his body.

*No... no... it can't be... it's not true...*

He looked down at an angry Crookshanks and picked him up. Crookshanks struggled for a second then calmed and let Xander pet him when he felt the fear coursing through the boy's body. He looked up at Xander and let out a soft "meow". Xander looked down and sighed, letting out a breath he didn't know he had been holding.

"Hey boy... sorry I knocked you to the floor... I just had a really bad nightmare. I..."

He stopped in mid-thought as the events of the dream played out in his mind. Everything he saw was real... too real... to be just a dream. There was an edge to it that made him think that he was seeing it as it happened... and in that moment it hit him so clearly.

"I just watched my parents die..."

Chapter 9

Voldemort walked toward a cowering woman slowly, a mad light in his red eyes.

"Avada Kedavra!"

Green light exploded out of his wand and raced across the room toward the woman. Terror filled her eyes as a second of clarity hit her destroyed mind and her scream filled the room... before it was silenced with her death. Voldemort turned to look down upon Lucius Malfoy as he writhed in pain and shook his head in exasperation.

"You will endure that for another 15 minutes, Lucius, then you will gather the corpses and deposit them on Dumbledore's front lawn with a note saying... 'Give me the boy before more muggles die.'"

He walked to the door and paused. Voldemort turned his head and looked into the darkness of the doorway. He glanced back over his shoulder and mumbled something under his breath; a ripple of light cascading from him to the writhing man on the floor. He then sneered at the blond man and glided out of the room...


Harry bolted awake and clasped his hand to his forehead. His scar was on fire. Tears of pain fell from his eyes as he crawled out of bed and stumbled to the mirror. As he looked into it, he was startled by what he saw - his scar was as red as blood.

"This isn't happening. This can't be happening. I..."

He thought back to what he saw. He quickly wrote down everything... but parts were becoming cloudy to him. Moving as fast as he could, he sketched out his dream.

"Lucius Malfoy torturing a man while his wife watched... the man saying over and over how he didn't have any children... Lucius calling the man 'Harris'... the woman screaming insanely... the man dying... Voldemort entering then attacking Lucius because he killed the man... Voldemort killing the woman... then... then..."

Harry closed his eyes and tried to remember... but it was gone now. He opened his eyes and looked down at what he had and nodded.

"It'll have to do. I'll send this to Dumbledore and hope he knows what to do about it."

He sat down and wrote a note underneath the dream...

"Professor Dumbledore,

I had a dream tonight and woke up with my scar hurting. The above is my dream... as well as I can remember it. I hope this isn't too late... but I fear I saw things as they happened and if so, then two people are now dead.

I am sending this to you because something about it felt strange to me. For once, it didn't feel like Voldemort was trying to find... me. I we might have someone else out there in a situation like mine... and if we do, then we need to find him, or her, too.

I'll be waiting to hear from you.


Harry rolled up the letter and moved to Hedwig's cage.

"Hey girl. I need you to take this to Professor Dumbledore as fast as you can."

He let Hedwig out, gave her the letter, then opened his window and watched as she flew off into the night... hoping that everything would be ok.


Pain flooding his mind was all he could comprehend as he waited for the spell to end. He had been silently counting down from 15 minutes and was close to zero.

*51 seconds... 50 seconds... 49 seconds... oh god...*

Lucius felt himself close to vomiting again but bit down on his tongue, hoping he could lock his jaw down and stop it before it happened... again.

*39 seconds... 38 seconds... 37 seconds...*

Lucius stared at the dead body of Anthony Harris, traitor to his lord, and vowed to make his son pay slowly... in blood... for everything that had happened tonight.

*You will pay, boy.*

He closed his eyes and resumed his countdown...

*22 seconds... 21 seconds... 20 seconds... soon you will die, boy, soon... 16 seconds... 15 seconds... 14 seconds...*

As the sun began to rise, the dungeon room of the Riddle House grew silent as another day began...


The morning sunlight beamed in through the large window of Professor Albus Dumbledore's office as he sat reading the latest news in from his sources.

*Death Eaters seen in lower London... random acts of violence in Knockturn Alley... and still no sighting of Tom...*

As he brought a cup of tea to his lips, a scream echoed from the courtyard below. Albus jumped to his feet and raced to the window to find Poppy Pomphrey standing over what looked like two dead bodies.

*Dear lord... what now?!*

He ran from his office, down the stairs, and out into the courtyard. As he drew close to Poppy, he caught sight of who they were... and his heart sank.

"No... not them..."

Poppy turned to Professor Dumbledore and trembled.

"You know who they are, Albus?"

Albus nodded and let out a shuddering breath.

"Get them into the hospital wing and out of sight... now!"

With that said he turned and ran back to his office, leaving a stunned Madam Pomphrey staring after him...


Molly Weasley smiled at the morning sun and took in a deep breath. It was a glorious morning and she felt, for once, all was right in the world. She was making breakfast and was about to start on the eggs when there was the sound of someone clearing their throat behind her. She turned her head then gasped when she saw Professor Dumbledore's face in the fireplace.

"Oh my... is it..."

Albus Dumbledore shook his head.

"No, Harry's fine... for right now, Molly. I'm afraid that things are bad, very bad. I need you to gather your children and take them to Order headquarters. Gather Hermione and her cousin, Xander, as well. Tell Fred and George to not use magic in front of Xander... and tell them that if they do, that I will be upset. That should be enough to keep them subdued. I fear that things have taken a turn for the worst."

Molly nodded and twisted her apron between her clutched hands.

"What happened?"

Albus frowned and sighed.

"Two bodies were just found in the courtyard here at Hogwarts. They're young Xander's mother and father.... or were. There was a note, found by Poppy, that said that if I didn't give them 'the boy' that more people would be killed. I'm not going to do that. The boy... both boys... are too valuable."

Albus's eyes glazed over as his mind drifted to what might happen and shuddered.

"Both boys?"

Albus looked back up at Molly and swallowed.

"Tom has discovered, somehow, that Harry is not the only child with power. Xander... innocent Xander... is the other boy Tom wants."

As Molly gasped and brought her hand up to her mouth, Albus nodded and looked over his shoulder. When he turned back to look at her, he had a worried expression on his face.

"Keep him safe, please, Molly. Try to explain as best you can to Hermione's parents all that you feel they can understand... and do your best, please, to keep Xander from seeing magic... until he shows his own, at least."

Molly nodded.

*Shows his own... so the boy is not a muggle after all... but why have him not see magic? If he were witness to it... it would make things so much easier... but its not my decision...*

Molly took a breath.

"I'll keep them safe... you can count on me."

Albus nodded.

"Thank you Molly. I'm going to check on Harry now. Be safe."

With that said, his head vanished from the fireplace leaving a shaken Molly Wesley alone in her kitchen... with her breakfast burning, forgotten, behind her...

Chapter 10

Xander stared down at the ball of fur sitting in his lap and sighed. He had been awake, shaken to the core, by what he had seen in his nightmare. True, he had dreamed it, but it seemed so real... and he could feel the truth behind it. He knew he should be feeling something, anything, but all he felt was numb.

*They're gone... they're really gone... and I'm alone now.*

As if sensing his thoughts, Crookshanks looked up into the boy's eyes and meowed softly. Xander blinked and looked down at the cat and smiled.

"I'm not alone, am I. I have you... sort of."

Crookshanks nodded and butted his head into Xander's petting hand, purring his heart out.

*Yes... you have me, dear boy, but you need to know you have them as well. Don't go into the dark place; don't let it eat you like it does so many others...*

The sound of the door opening caught Xander's attention and he looked up to see a sleepy Hermione peeking around the side of the door.

"Xander... what's wrong?"

Xander tried to grin, but it seemed as if the expression died on the way to his face.


His voice cracked as he spoke her name and in an instant she was at his side. There was a worried look in her eyes as she stared in confusion at her cousin.

"Xander... what is it?"

Xander took in a shuddering breath, confused by the sudden influx of emotion filling him.

"They're gone."

Hermione frowned.

"Who's gone?"

Xander swallowed and looked down at his lap.

"My parents... they're... they're dead now."

Hermione gasped as her eyes widened in shock.

"How... how do you know?"

Xander scratched Crookshanks behind the right ear and sighed.

"I just saw it, in my dream. They were in a dark, cold, damp place made of stone. There was this man, tall with blond hair, evil look on his smug face. He tortured them... but never touched them. Father died first. The man had been asking him something, but whatever it was I couldn't hear. I couldn't hear anything that was said. He killed my father then another man entered, only this man was different. His skin was... wrong... and his eyes were red - a bright, glowing red. He motioned with his hand and the blond man fell to the ground in pain. He then pointed at my mother and this green light hit her... then she was dead... then I woke up."

Xander looked into Hermione's eyes and shivered.

"They're dead, I can feel it, and I think they died... because of me."

Hermione stared at Xander in shock. He had had a dream that sounded similar to the dreams Harry dreamed... but yet how? It was all so confusing.

"Xander... I..."

She was unable to finish her thought, as there was a knock at the downstairs door.

*I wonder who that could be at this our in the morning?*

Hermione moved to Xander, bringing Xander to his feet, and then moved toward the door. Seconds later they heard Rachel's voice calling from downstairs.

"Hermione... Xander... time to get up."

Hermione took Xander's hand and walked him to the door.

"We're up, mother."

Hermione squeezed Xander's hand as she heard her mother's voice again.

"Come downstairs please... quickly."

Hermione frowned. It sounded important. She nodded to Xander and he grabbed his robe, wrapping it around himself, before they headed for the stairs...


Rachel Granger turned to look at the woman across from her and swallowed. The look of fear on Molly Weasley's face was scary. It made her feel nervous.

"Are you sure you can't tell me what's wrong?"

Molly nodded, her eyes darting to first the stairs then the door.

"It's important, Rachel, very important that I see Hermione and her cousin as quickly as possible."

Rachel frowned and was about to say something when Hermione and Xander appeared on the stairs. She looked at them and saw the remains of tears in Xander's eyes... and Hermione looked shocked.

*What's going on?*

As they neared her, she could see that Xander's eyes were rimmed with red.

"Sweetie, are you ok?"

Rachel took Xander into her arms and hugged him as he nodded, refusing to talk. Hermione turned to look at Mrs. Weasley and smiled.

"Hello Mrs. Weasley. It's nice to see you. What brings you here so early?"

Molly smiled weakly and swallowed.

"Hermione, dear, Professor Dumbledore spoke to me this morning and gave me some startling and bad news. It is because of this news that you and your cousin need to gather your baggage for later this summer a bit early and come with me."

As Hermione frowned at Mrs. Weasley in confusion, Xander turned his head and looked at the red haired woman. She looked a bit like a slightly pudgy, grown up version of Willow. As he looked closer at her, he noticed fear in her eyes... and her eyes kept coming back to stare... at him.

"Does this have anything to do with my parents being dead?"

Molly jumped in surprise and gaped at the young boy before her.

*How could he know that?!*

Rachel stared down at the boy in her arms and gasped.

"Xander, sweetie, what are you talking about?"

Xander looked up into her eyes and frowned.

"A man with blond hair killed my father... then a strange man with funny skin and red eyes killed my mother."

Molly's eyes widened as she stared at the boy who supposedly didn't know he was magical.

"How do you know this?"

Xander turned and looked at her.

"I just saw it... in my dream."

He noticed a glimmer of... something... in her eyes and knew it was true.

"I'm right... aren't I?"

Molly nodded slowly.

"Yes, Xander, you are. Some very bad men killed your parents this morning and Professor Dumbledore believes you may be next. He ha asked me to take you and Hermione to someplace safe."

Xander nodded.

"Like an FBI safe house?"

Molly frowned in confusion.

"I'm not sure what that is, dear, but I'll go with a yes on that... if it means somewhere safe and hard to find."

Xander nodded.

"It does."

He looked at Rachel and frowned.

"What about Rachel and John? Are they coming too?"

Molly shook her head.

"No, I'm afraid not, not right now at least. I was only told to gather you and Hermione."

Hermione, who had been listening intently the whole time, spoke up at that moment.

"What about my parents? Will they be ok?"

Molly nodded.

"I believe so, Hermione. Professor Dumbledore only mentioned getting you and Xander to safety."

She glanced at the door and chewed on her lower lip.

"I know this is hard to take in, but we must hurry. Do you trust me, dear?"

Hermione looked up at Mrs. Weasley and slowly nodded. She didn't like the idea of leaving her mother and father alone, what with Voldemort and his Death Eaters after her and Xander... but it looked like she had no choice in the matter.

"What about Ron, Harry, and the others?"

Molly smiled.

"Ron, Ginny, Fred and George are already on their way with Arthur. I was asked to get you and Xander while Albus checks on Harry."

Hermione nodded then turned to look at her mother.

"Are you going to be ok with this?"

Rachel, a look of concern in her eyes, nodded and let out a breath she didn't know she had been holding.

"If it is for the best, and if it will keep you both safe, then I'll agree to it."

Hermione smiled and rushed forward to grasp her mother in a hug. Rachel smiled at her and Xander in her arms and kissed them both on the head.

"You be good, both of you. Take care of each other."

Hermione looked up into her mother's eyes and nodded.

"We will... I promise."

Rachel turned to Xander and saw him nodding.

"... promise."

Rachel smiled and nodded. She then watched as her children rushed upstairs to pack while a nervous Molly paced across the room. It was only a matter of minutes later that they were suddenly back before her... only with their clothes packed away in trunks and luggage.

"I'm going to miss you two... so much. Be good."

Hermione and Xander waved goodbye as they headed outside with Molly Weasley and climbed into a waiting Ministry car... then pulled away. Rachel watched them leave and for a second wondered if they would ever return to her.

*Stay safe, my loves, stay safe...*

Chapter 11

Xander stared out the window of the car as it came to a halt in front of a grungy looking building. He looked at Mrs. Weasley and frowned.

"We're there?"

Molly nodded and opened her door. She waited for Hermione and Xander to emerge before letting the driver leave. Once the car was out of sight, she reached into her pocket and pulled out two pieces of paper. She handed one to Hermione and had her read it, watching as Hermione's eyes lit up suddenly in surprise... then handed one to Xander. Xander unfolded the paper and looked at it.

"... is Number 12 Grimmauld Place."

He looked up and blinked as he suddenly noticed a door in the wall of the building before him... but he could swear it hadn't been there just seconds before.

"Come along dears... quickly now."

Molly opened the door and led Xander and Hermione inside, then closed the door behind her. Inside, the room was dark... but there were faint lights off to either side. Molly led them to the kitchen and smiled when she saw Ron and Fred sitting at the table waiting for them.


Ron jumped to his feet and smiled at his friend. He moved to hug her and grinned when she hugged back. Fred grinned and cocked his head to the side.

"Ickle Ronniekins got himself a girlfriend?"

Ron blushed and glowered at his brother while Hermione just grinned and turned to look back at Xander.

"... and who's this?"

Fred moved toward Xander and extended his hand.

"Fred Weasley... pleased to meet you...?"

Xander smiled and took the offered hand. He felt something pass through his fingers, coming from Fred's hand, then felt it stop, reverse itself, and move back into Fred's hand... causing him to wince and jerk his hand back.

"Xander Harris... and what was that?"

Molly looked at Fred's hand and noticed the magical version of a joy buzzer he had made a week earlier. She made him open his hand completely and frowned at the red burn marks across his palm.

"Fred... you should know better..."

Xander looked at the burns and frowned.

"Did you get a defective one? I've never heard of a joy buzzer doing that to anyone before."

Fred rubbed his burned hand and nodded, staring at Xander the whole time.

"Yes... quite... must be that... uh, mum... can you help me with this?"

Molly blinked at the subdued reaction from Fred and nodded.

"Yes dear, come with me to the washroom and we'll fix that."

As they left the room, Fred turned to see that the door was closed then winced.

"Mum... he's got magic, right?"

Molly nodded.

"Yes, but we aren't to use any in front of him."

She pulled out her wand and repaired the burn... then bandaged it to mask the cure.

"Why do you ask?"

Fred looked back at the closed kitchen door.

"I felt the spell hit him... then I felt him stop it, reverse it, and send it back to me."

Molly's eyes widened and she grinned.

"It's surfacing. Well, this is a good sign. Perhaps we will be able to awaken his gift soon after all..."

She glanced at Fred's hand, making sure it was ok, then nodded.

"Go ahead back in... and where are George and Ginny?"

Fred was about to answer when an explosion was heard upstairs followed by a red blur that raced past them... and into the kitchen. Fred looked at his mother and then the stairs and laughed when his twin brother appeared... his skin a bright blue.

"Don't laugh... or I'll so do to you what our little sister did to me."

Fred nodded and took his brother's arm by the elbow.

"Come, brother dear, let's go see if we can fix this."

They turned and walked upstairs just as a loud thump came from the kitchen...


Xander stared at the door as Fred and Mrs. Weasley left and frowned.

"Is he going to be ok?"

Ron nodded and smiled.

"Of course... Fred does things like this to himself all the time... and mum's a wonder at fixing hurts."

Xander nodded and moved around to the other side of the table as Ron and Hermione sat down. Xander chewed on his lower lip and stared down at his hand. He could still feel this... tingle... in his fingers and wondered what it might be.

*Felt this before... what... three times now? Each time... something happened. If I didn't know any better, I'd think it was magic or something... like in those story books I used to read...*

As he thought, he paced and had reached the end of the table when the door opened. Xander looked up just in time to see a red blur explode through the doorway... and barrel right into him, knocking him and it to the floor.

"Ow... bloody hell.. let go you..."

Xander looked up at the girl now lying on top of him and felt his heart stop. She was absolutely gorgeous... and for some reason she reminded him of a mix of the best parts of Willow, Cordy, and that foreign exchange student from last year... only better. He couldn't take his eyes off her.


Ginny opened her eyes and looked at what she had run into... then stopped as her breath caught in her throat.

*My goodness... he's gorgeous... that hair... those eyes... that smile... and I'm... lying... on... him...*

Ginny looked down her body and saw where she lay and tried to scramble to her feet... but failed. Xander, however, managed to stand and extended a hand to her.

"Can I have you?"

Chapter 12

"Can I have you?"

Ginny blinked up in shock and felt her heart stop.

*Did he just say what I think he said?*

"Excuse me?!"

Ginny looked behind her at the angry expression appearing on her mother's face. She could almost feel the blush radiating off the boy before her as he gasped.

"Help you... I meant can I help you?"

Ginny looked up into his red face and grinned. She took his offered hand, blushed, then jerked at the electric shock that passed between them upon contact. The boy pulled her to her feet and smiled at her... but failed to release her hand.

"My name's Ginny... what's yours?"

The boy smiled and blushed and then took in a shuddering breath.

"Xander... I'm Xander... and my god you're beautiful."

Ginny blushed at the shocked expression on Xander's face... only to frown at her brothers as they began to snicker.

"Oooh... baby sister's got herself a boyfriend..."

The comment only made Xander blush more as he finally noticed he was still holding her hand. He let go and backed away a few steps.

"I... I..."

He stumbled out of the room and wandered aimlessly through the house... somehow ending up in a room with curtains on the walls. Xander walked to the nearest one and pulled the curtain open to reveal a strange portrait before him. It was of an older woman, sitting in a chair, with her eyes closed. As Xander stared at it, he could swear he saw her breathing.

"I'm losing my mind..."

Suddenly the woman in the picture opened her eyes and took a breath, preparing to scream at the boy before her... but stopped. Instead, she just stared at him.

"Who are you boy?"

Xander blinked in shock and swallowed hard.

"My name's Xander, ma'am."

The woman rolled her eyes and glared at him.

"Your full name, you daft boy!"

Xander flinched and nodded.

"Alexander Lavelle Harris."

At hearing the middle name, the woman's eyes widened.

"Finally... about time someone proper was in this house. I can rest finally."

With that said, she closed her eyes and appeared to go to sleep. Xander watched her for a minute more before he heard someone run into the room behind him.

"Xander... move over here quickly... please."

Xander looked over his shoulder at a frightened Mrs. Weasley and just nodded. He turned and walked back across the room... then paused and looked back at the painting.

"Strange woman she must have been..."

He then shrugged and walked out of the room as Molly stared on in shock... amazed that Mrs. Black hadn't screamed the whole time they were there.

*I must mention this to Albus... this is most strange indeed...*


Ginny watched Xander run out of the room and stared down at her hand. It was warm... and tingling... and it made her feel... different. She felt all warm inside, like how she used to feel about Harry, only this time it was stronger. There was something about Xander that just... clicked... for her, deep inside.


It was something almost primal to her, like he was a part of her almost... or super important to her future. Whatever it was, it thrilled and scared her... all at the same time.


She brought her hand up to her face and just stared at it, her grin growing.


Ginny blinked and turned toward the voice she suddenly heard.


Ron blinked and laughed.

"Welcome back, Gin, you've been off in your own world for a while now."

Ginny blinked and looked around.

"Where's Xander?"

Hermione smiled and shook her head at Ginny's reaction to her cousin.

"He ran out of the room. Your mum went after him."

Ginny nodded and moved to sit down.


Her thoughts drifted back to Xander's face and her silly grin was back.

"So... you fancy my cousin?"

Ginny turned to Hermione and blushed red.

"I'll take that as a yes."

Ron laughed and then frowned.

"Hey.. wait a minute... what about Harry?"

Hermione looked pensively at Ron for a moment then glanced over at Ginny... her emotions suddenly conflicted.

"Harry... I've moved on, Ron. He obviously doesn't feel for me as I felt for him... so I've moved on. Honestly... I think he's fallen for someone else..."

Ginny looked at Hermione then let her eyes drop to the table. Hermione's eyes widened and she swallowed hard.

"Well... I'm sorry Gin... but who knows, maybe you and Xander will hit it off and get along well... as long as he's not too much like Hermione."

Hermione frowned at Ron and slapped his arm.

"Hey... I'm not that bad."

Ron laughed and just nodded as his mum and Xander walked back into the room. He noticed, out of the corner of his eyes, that Ginny perked up immediately and smiled in Xander's direction.

"I think I need some help with my homework... Hermione, can you come help me?"

Hermione stared at Ron... then noticed the glances he was passing between Xander and Ginny... and caught on.

"Right... upstairs?"

Ron nodded and they got to their feet. Hermione turned to Xander and smiled.

"You going to be ok here alone? You could join us if you..."

Xander shook his head.

"I'll be fine. You go ahead."

Hermione nodded and kissed his cheek... then left the room with Rom. Xander watched her go then sat down across from Ginny. Mrs. Weasley smiled and moved to the door.

"I have a few things to take care of. There are snacks in the pantry if you get hungry."

Xander and Ginny nodded then watched her leave the room... leaving them alone. Xander stared across at Ginny and started to speak... just as she herself did too.



They laughed and Ginny smiled.

"You first."

Xander nodded.

"About earlier... with what I said... I didn't mean it the way it came out. I mean, you're beautiful and you were on top of me and we were tangled together and your arms and legs were sliding over mine and..."

Ginny's eyes widened as Xander spoke and a blush filled her face.

"... I just wanted to say I think you're really pretty and I hope I didn't upset you by what I said cause I think I like you, though I don't know you yet, and I'd like us to be friends."

Ginny blinked at the almost non-stop speech he had just made. She caught most of it, enough to get that he found her attractive and was as startled and surprised by their bodies on top of each other and wanted to make sure he hadn't upset her.

"It's ok. I like you too..."

Ginny blushed at the grin that suddenly appeared on Xander face. It gave her a warm feeling inside.

"I'd like us to be friends too..."

She smiled at him and reached out her hand across the table. Xander took it and felt the electrical shock again. He looked into her eyes and smiled.

"This feels almost like magic... all we need now is some magical creature to come bounding in to make this seem unreal."

At that moment, Ginny's eyes widened as she stared at something behind Xander. He turned slowly only to come face to face with a big... black... scary-looking... dog.


Xander's eyes widened at the loud woof from the dog and felt his eyes roll back in his head as everything went back and he fell to the floor. He failed to see the dog shift into a shaggy man who stared down at him in shock.

"Damn... didn't think he'd pass out..."

He didn't get to finish his thought for Ginny had leapt to her feet and had almost scrambled across the table to get to Xander, knocking Sirius back in the process.

"Xander... xander... come on... wake up..."

Xander slept on... unaware of the worried young woman next to him. Ginny took his hand and glared up at Sirius.

"If you scared him to death, Sirius Black, I swear I will make every hair on your body turn green and grow inward! He likes me... and he's cute.. and its not fair!"

Sirius's eyes widened as he backed away from the fiery young woman before him with only one thought passing though his mind.

*Oh shit...*

Chapter 13

There was darkness... then there was light.

Xander blinked a few times then opened his eyes to see a man's face staring down at him. For some reason, the face seemed... familiar. He looked a little like his Uncle Rory when he was younger... a lot like him.

*Maybe he dyed his hair?*

Xander frowned and blinked again.

"Uncle Rory?"

Sirius jerked his head back and blinked in shock.

*Rory... dear lord, how does the boy know that name?*

"You ok Uncle Rory?"

Sirius looked down at Xander and shook his head.

"I'm not Rory, Xander. My name is Sirius Black. I'm sorry... but you're confused."

Xander nodded slightly and sat up.

"Sorry, you really look like my Uncle Rory."

He looked around and frowned.

"Why am I on the floor... and where is that huge, scary dog?"

Ginny glared at Sirius and took Xander's hand.

"Sirius took him outside."

Xander nodded and got to his feet.

"Oh... ok. Probably a good idea."

He looked at Sirius again and extended his hand.

"I'm Xander Harris, Mr. Black."

Sirius took the offered hand and gave it a good shake.

"Pleased to meet you."

He looked at Xander's hand as it rested, held tightly by Ginny's hand, next to his side. A grin crossed his face and he snickered.

"So... Ginny... looks like you're over my godson then?"

Ginny blushed and nodded. Xander looked on, confused, but didn't say anything.

"Yes... I have. Harry never felt anything but sisterly affection for me. He's in love with someone else."

Sirius nodded.

"Yes, that Chang girl..."

Ginny shook her head.

"No... he's just attracted to her. I can tell. There's someone else he really loves more. I've seen it a few times over the previous school year."

Sirius frowned in concentration and ran through all the female faces he had seen at Hogwarts... then smiled when it all became clear.

"You don't mean..."

Ginny smiled and nodded.

"Yes... and she feels the same for him."

Sirius grinned and sat down at the table.

"Well, well, well... I should have seen it coming. They're so like James and Lily... that's Harry's parents, Xander, they died when he was a baby."

Xander nodded.

"Mine are dead too."

Hearing this, Sirius's head jerked toward Xander and he leaned forward.

"They are? How? When did this happen?"

Xander sighed and told him everything he saw. As he listened, Sirius grew more and more angry.

"Bloody Lucius Malfoy... right bastard... and to hell with you too, you snakey git."

Xander stared at the strange man before him and frowned.

"You seem very angry about people you don't even know."

Sirius looked up into Xander's eyes.

"I never said I didn't know them... I just said I'm not Rory."

He paused and glanced at Ginny... then nodded to himself and let out a soft sigh.

"I'm not Rory, Xander, you see... I'm his brother."


Chapter 14

Xander blinked in shock.

"You're my Uncle Rory's brother? How come I've never heard of you?"

Sirius pulled up a chair and sat down.

"Well, Xander, it's all like this..."


Sirius ran after Rory and tagged his arm.

"Got you... you're it!"

Rory tripped then caught himself and sneered at his brother.

"I'll get you Siri."

He turned and ran after his brother, chasing him down the hall and into the portrait room. As they passed each portrait, they would awaken and scream down at the twin boys causing them to run from the room, their game momentarily forgotten. They never understood why the paintings would yell at them but not at their mother. It just didn't make sense.

"Sirius Black! Rory Black! Get in here now!"

The boys came to a halt and stared at each other.

"Mummy's mad."

Rory nodded at his brother and they ran to their mother's room. As they reached the door, they saw her glaring at them... but she wasn't alone. Behind her stood a few men in dark robes with hoods.

"Sirius... Rory... attention!"

The boys came to attention and stood perfectly still. They knew that if they moved, they would be spanked.

"Yes... yes... twins... good... and you don't mind us taking one of them?"

Mrs. Black shook her head and glared down at the boys.

"That's fine... they're both little monsters. Not a speck on dark in them at all, no matter how hard I try to teach them. Perhaps you can have better luck than I."

One of them men nodded and stepped forward. He examined first Sirius then Rory and smiled.


His bony finger pointed at Rory and Rory began to tremble. He mumbled something and then Rory jerked and fell to the ground. Sirius yelped and dove toward his brother, only to have the same done to him. The men then picked up Rory and carried him away. They were taking him to be placed within the Lavelle family, known for their darkness, but they failed to see how young Master Lavelle had fallen for a muggle woman in America. Before they knew it, he and his bride were gone... as was Rory Black.


"... and so you see, he was lost to us. We had no idea where he was. I always figured he was dead, until I saw you and you mentioned his name."

Xander nodded and thought back to the picture gallery.

"Is your mother the picture of the angry woman under the sheet?"

Ginny gasped and turned to stare at Xander. Sirius nodded.

"Yes... why do you ask?"

Xander frowned.

"I think she's alive... somehow... she spoke to me and asked me my name. When I told her, she relaxed and was nice to me.. told me I was a proper person."

Xander looked into his Uncle Sirius's eyes and frowned.

"How did she move and talk?"

Sirius took a breath and swallowed.

"How do you think she moved and talked, Xander?"

Xander thought about it for a minute then nodded.

"I think it's magic. It would explain a few things."

Sirius raised an eyebrow.

*That's it, my boy, come on... you're almost there.*

"Oh really? Like what?"

Xander chewed on his lower lip.

"I've had things appear when I needed them. I think I stopped Hermione from slipping on some ice. I think I did something to Fred too. I felt this tingle in my body each time something happened... and only when it happened."

Xander looked at Ginny then back at Sirius and sighed.

"Is magic real?"

Sirius glanced over at Ginny then let out the breath he was holding.

"Yes, Xander, magic is real."

Xander let the words sink in and a smile crossed his face.


Chapter 15

Harry stared out the window into the oncoming morning and wondered what was going on. He had sent that message off to Professor Dumbledore but hadn't heard anything yet. He knew something was wrong, but there was nothing he could do about it.

*What's going on? Why won't anyone talk to me?*

He looked back at his homework and sighed. He had managed to take care of most of it already, if not all, and now had pretty much nothing to do and so long before he would be allowed to go to Ron's... if he was allowed at all. He sat down on his bed and was preparing to get ready for the day when he heard a tapping on his window. Harry glanced over and saw Hedwig had returned. He jumped up and rushed to let her in. She flew around, then over to Harry's hand. He could see she had a letter for him and once he took it, she flew over to her perch to rest. Harry unrolled the parchment and smiled when he saw it was from Professor Dumbledore.


What you witness was very important. Things have become very dangerous for you now. Gather your things and be ready. I will come for you at 6:15 am. Please be waiting outside with your trunk.

Professor Albus Dumbledore"

Harry blinked in shock and read the letter again.

"I'm leaving, Hedwig. We're going early. I need to get ready."

He glanced over at his clock and noticed he had about an hour before he needed to be outside. Harry quickly packed his trunk with everything he would need, then grabbed some clothes and ran to take a shower.


Harry brushed his hair again and sighed. He had brushed it twice already, but it wouldn't stay down. He had taken a quick shower then got dressed and still had almost half an hour before it was time to go outside.

*I can get some breakfast... that will use some time.*

Harry smiled and grabbed his trunk. He then carefully carried it out his bedroom door and then down the stairs... avoiding the stairs that made noise. Once he had it in the foyer, he raced back upstairs to get Hedwig and her cage. He set her cage down on top of his trunk then went into the kitchen to make something to eat.

*Since I'm leaving, might as well enjoy myself.*

Harry started to pull out eggs, bacon, and sausage... then stopped when he realized that the smell of them cooking would easily awaken his relatives. Instead, he pulled out the roast from the day before and sliced off enough to make a couple of sandwiches. He ate them quickly then cleaned up after himself. As he glanced at the clock, he saw it was just then six.

*I might as well wait outside.*

Harry returned to the foyer and opened the door then carefully carried his things out and onto the front steps, one piece at a time. When he was done, he closed the door and sat down to wait.

"What are you doing outside at this time of the morning?"

Harry jumped and fell off of his trunk. He looked around franticly and found someone watching him from the street. He couldn't make out who it was until the person walked closer and he could make out that it was Mrs. Figg, his neighbor.

"Well, are you going to answer me boy or are you going to just lay there and stare at me?"

Harry got to his feet and brushed himself off.

"I'm sorry, Mrs. Figg. Good morning. I'm outside because..."

He stopped. He wasn't how he should explain himself.

"I'm... uh... I'm..."

He was about to try to explain when there was suddenly the sound of an explosion down the street. Harry turned and looked and his face paled when he saw a large could of smoke drift toward them. It was when three men in black cloaks emerged from the smoke that Harry knew what was going on.

*Death Eaters!*

Harry moved toward Mrs. Figg and pulled out his wand.

"Run Mrs. Figg!"

He moved to throw a curse at them but was shocked to see Mrs. Figg glare at the men and growl.

"Death Eaters... not now!"

She looked at Harry and saw his wand.

"Put that away and hurry over to your trunk. We don't have time."

Mrs. Figg moved quickly to Harry's trunk and pulled out a small piece of cloth. As Harry joined her, she grabbed his hand and placed the cloth in it, then slammed his hand against the trunk. As they touched, Harry felt that familiar pulling sensation in his gut and the world turned inside out...


The world came suddenly into focus as Harry found himself in front of a dirty, gray building.

"... where is that blasted key..."

Harry blinked and looked around as Mrs. Figg dug around in her pockets for something.

"Mrs. Figg... what... how..."

Mrs. Figg looked up and shook her head.

"In a moment, Harry, in a moment."

Finally she found what she was looking for and pulled out a thin slip of paper. As she handed it over to Harry, she reached out and smoothed his hair.

"Read it, Harry, then we can go inside."

Harry frowned.

"Inside... inside where?"

Mrs. Figg rolled her eyes and sighed.

"Just read it."

Harry nodded and unfolded the paper. On it he could see one sentence.

"What does this have to do with..."

He looked up and noticed a door in the blank gray wall before him. Harry blinked and nodded. It was like the Leaky Cauldron...

"Oh.. I see."

Mrs. Figg smiled and moved to open the door. She then held it open and motioned for Harry to step inside. Once inside, Harry looked around in awe. He was about to ask where they were when he heard voices coming from upstairs.

"... and he seems to have fallen for her quickly."

Harry looked up and saw Ron and Hermione walking down the stairs.

"Ron... Hermione... what are you doing here?"

Ron turned at the sound of Harry's voice and smiled.


Hermione looked down the stairs and felt a warm rush fill her. A beaming smile crossed her face and she felt her heart catch.


They rushed down the stairs and moved to greet Harry. Ron pulled him into a brotherly hug then handed him off, laughing, to Hermione. Harry and Hermione came face to face and they both stopped. Their eyes locked and they just stared at each other. A red blush filled their faces and the moved to embrace.

"Hello Harry... I missed you."

Harry felt Hermione in his arms, warm and comforting, and found himself smelling her hair before he blinked and swallowed hard.

"Hello Hermione... I missed you too."

He pulled back and looked into her eyes. He saw a twinkle deep within them that drew him toward her. He was happy and confused and excited all at the same time.

"Uh... hello you two..."

Harry and Hermione blinked then glanced over at a smiling Ron and blushed.

"Ron... hey... um..."

Ron laughed and shook his head.

"Just kiss her already... then you can meet Hermione's cousin."

Hermione blushed and looked at her feet, not noticing Harry do the same, until she felt a hand lift her chin. She looked into Harry's eyes and saw a love there she hadn't seen before. With a smile, he leaned in and placed a soft, tender kiss on her lips. It felt like it went on forever, even though it was just a light brushing of their lips, but it was a big step for them. Hermione sighed and smiled as Harry blushed and grinned.

"Well... now that we have that taken care of... let's go into the kitchen."

Harry nodded and felt Hermione's hand slide into his. He looked at her and saw her warm smile and knew that this was something right. Together, they followed Ron into the kitchen. As they entered, Harry noticed a dark-haired boy talking to Ginny and his godfather, Sirius.

"Harry... this is Hermione's cousin... Xander Harris."

As Xander turned to look at Harry, Harry blinked in shock.

"Harris... then it was you Voldemort wants."

Xander stared at Harry and slowly nodded.

"Yes... just as much as he wants you it seems. Looks like we're in this together."

Just then, Mrs. Weasley entered and was shocked by what she saw.

"Harry... what.. what are you doing here?"

Harry looked over at Mrs. Weasley and was about to answer when Xander beat him to it.

"He's here for the same reason I am. We're both hiding from... him."

Molly stared at them and shook her head.

"Ok... tell me what's going on... everything."

Chapter 16

"... and then they attacked and Mrs. Figg brought me here."

Molly stared at Arabella, a frown on her face, and shook her head.

"Honestly, I never saw the wisdom in you pretending to be a muggle, Arabella."

Arabella Figg shrugged and smiled as she sipped her tea.

"You know Albus..."

Molly nodded and turned to Xander.

"Now you, young man."

Xander nodded.

"Well... I know now that magic is real... explains quite a lot about me recently. I'm related to uncle Sirius here, and the snakey guy wants both me and Harry dead or with him somehow."

Xander looked at Harry as he paused.

"I think he thinks that if he can kill us, that then he can take over... but there's a part of him that..."

Harry nodded, seeing where Xander was going.

"A part that sees the possibility of taking control easier if we're with him, working with him voluntarily. I can see it too. It explains why he's never really tried to kill me... not really. The possibility that he could turn me to his side is too tempting for him."

Harry frowned.

"What I don't understand, though, is why Professor Dumbledore didn't show up... unless... it must have been a trap... but why now?"

Molly shrugged.

"That is something we cannot know... but there is someone..."

She got to her feet and walked briskly over to the fireplace. Grabbing some powder, she threw it into the flames.

"Albus Dumbledore."


Professor Albus Dumbledore stared at the reports on the desk before him, a frown marring his usual jovial face.

*So many attacks. What are you up to Tom...*

So much was going on... and none of it good. There had been over a dozen attacks of muggle and wizarding society alike. At first glace, they appeared to be random, but when you took a longer, closer look at their locations... it was clear, to him at least, what was happening.

*You're attacking every place that Harry or Xander has visited within the last month or two. What are you doing Tom? It looks almost like you're...*

Just then, his fireplace roared to life and he heard Molly Weasley's voice fill the room.

"Albus... are you there?"

Albus turned his head toward his fireplace and saw the concerned face of Molly Weasley looking back at him.

"Molly... what is it? Are the children ok?"

Molly nodded.

"Harry and Arabella are here safely and the rest of them are fine. However... Xander has... awakened, so to speak, to his magic and..."

Albus's eyes widened.

"Harry is with you?!"

Molly jerked at Albus's shout and nodded.

"Yes... he and Arabella arrived just a while ago after being attacked my Death Eaters. Harry was sent a letter from you telling him to meet you outside his aunt and uncle's house."

Albus frowned.

"Can I speak to him.. please?"

Molly nodded and turned away from the fireplace... only to be replaced by Harry.

"Hello Professor."

Albus nodded and smiled in return.

"Good to see you're ok Harry. What happened?"

Harry explained everything in as much detail as he could recall then waited to see what the Professor's reaction would be.

"I'm sorry Harry. I didn't send that letter to you. I'm going to need to start sealing everything I send from now on if he can fake my signature now. At least you're safe. That's all that matters."

Albus took a breath and nodded... then recalled something he had heard earlier.

"Harry... did Mrs. Weasley say Xander was aware of magic now?"

Harry nodded.

"It appears so, Professor. We've been discussing it and we both think that what happened tonight was Voldemort's way of trying to change the balance of power... and.."

Harry looked to his right and nodded... then was joined by another face.

"Hello... Professor?"

Albus nodded.

"Pleased to meet you...?"

Xander smiled.

"Alexander Harris, sir."

Albus smiled. He could see it now. There was much of his features in those of the bodies of his parents. He could see traces of Sirius in him as well, as should be considering the familial relationship there.

"Yes... I am pleased that you are well and safe as well, Alexander... Xander. It is good that you and Harry are together now. You both are in danger alone."

Harry looked at Xander and saw himself a year or so before... and many years earlier as well... all at the same time. He could see the glow of having learned something new... and the fear of someone wanting you dead. He would have to be nice to him.

"Professor... what should Xander and I do now?"

Albus frowned and thought.

"Stay there. I'll have Severus report on what is happening and what Voldemort's plans are. You two just remain there and try to enjoy what time left you have this summer. Oh... and Xander... now that you know of the existence of magic, I will send a few of the Hogwarts teachers to examine you. I'd like for you to join us at Hogwarts in September... to learn magic."

Xander's eyes widened.

"I... I'd like that, sir. Thank you."

Albus smiled and nodded.

"I'll send the formal request to your guardians, Mr. and Mrs. Granger, and when they agree... you will be sent you admittance letter letting you know what supplied you need. This will be after you are examined, of course. Until then, perhaps you should ask your cousin to tutor you... she is quite an extraordinary student."

Xander nodded.

"I'll do that. Thank you, sir."

Albus nodded.

"I'd like a moment with Harry alone please, Xander."

Xander nodded and his head vanished from the fireplace. Harry waited a moment then nodded. Albus sighed.

"Harry... Xander was treated much as you were by his parents. I'd like it if you would speak to him, let him know that there's someone who understands. I think this would be a good thing... for the both of you."

Harry's eyes widened.

*He was abused and mistreated too. That explains a comment Hermione made...*

He looked back into the Professor's eyes and nodded.

"I'll be sure to do that, Professor."

Albus smiled.

"Thank you Harry. Now... enjoy the rest of your summer. If you need to speak with me, please feel free to do so."

Harry nodded.

"Thank you, Professor, I will."

He removed his head and vanished. Albus stared at the fireplace for a moment before he turned back to his desk and pulled out a few sheets of parchment.

*Now.. to get started...*


Harry pulled his head out and turned around to face the group.

"I'm here for the summer it seems, as is Xander. Professor Dumbledore is going to be sending a few professors to test Xander before he comes to Hogwarts with us this year..."

At hearing he was going to join them, Ginny squealed and Hermione smiled.

"This is great!"

Ginny smiled and kissed Xander on the cheek, causing him to blush bright red. Harry noticed this and smiled.

*She's moved on... good. She'll be good for Xander...*

"... so until then, we should stay here and just have as nice a summer as we can."

Molly Weasley nodded and smiled.

"I should make sure that there are enough rooms ready then."

With a warm grin on her face, she turned and headed upstairs... happy that finally she had all of her children together and safe under one roof...

Chapter 17

Severus Snape slinked quietly down the damp hallway in search of an unused exit. He had been trapped inside one of Voldemort's strongholds for almost a week since receiving word from Professor Dumbledore about what had happened. Every attempt he had made, so far, to escape and report back in had been blocked. There were more Death Eaters in this place than in any place prior. It was as if they were gathering for some massive attack. This worried Severus greatly.

*I need to get back to Hogwarts. Dumbledore must be told what he is planning. It is vitally important he know what Voldemort plans to do to Potter and the Harris boy. They don't have much time to prepare...*

He peeked down a dark corridor and saw it empty. Severus let out the breath he had been holding and moved deeper into the darkness, more sure now that he was close to finding a way outside...


"... and you swish and flick and say the words and it floats into the air?"

Hermione nodded and smiled at her cousin.

"Exactly. You won't be able to try this until you get your own wand, of course, but you know the motions and that is something."

Xander smiled and watched his cousin as she used her wand to make a feather float around the room. He was looking forward to doing it himself soon.

"Hermione... your parents wish to speak to you, dear."

Xander looked up at Mrs. Weasley as she stuck her head into the room. Hermione got to her feet and ran into the other room to speak to her mom and dad. Xander smiled and remembered something that he had only learned just recently. They had notified Rachel and John and had told them everything about Xander's parents being dead and amazingly they both were very eager to adopt Xander. Paperwork had been filled out already, it seemed, and this was the extra boost to get it all into the system faster. If all went well, he should find out in a few days whether or not he was to be adopted.

*It would be nice to have them as my mom and dad. They're much nicer than mine were. I don't know how I could stand to live with anyone else. Everything about living here is perfect. There's only one thing missing... Willow.*

Xander looked over at the picture of Willow he had on the table by his bed. It had been taken on her thirteenth birthday party in her backyard. It was a picture of just him and Willow - Jesse was busy teasing Cordelia at the time. It was a perfect moment. He could see how happy they looked then and felt this emptiness inside him.

*I miss you Willow.*

Xander reached out to the picture, wanting to hold it so badly, and was stunned to see it wiggle then jerk toward him. Shocked, Xander dropped his outstretched hands and stared at the picture in shock. He waited... and waited... but nothing happened. Thinking something strange was going on here, he reached out again. Nothing. Xander stared and frowned and reached out harder. He reached and reached and as he grew desperate to see it move again, the picture leapt off of the table and shot three feet toward him before it fell onto the floor, landing thankfully on a pillow Xander had kicked off of the bed the night before. Xander stared in awe and swallowed hard.

*Did I do that?*

He thought back to what had just happened and reviewed it in his mind. He had been reaching out with everything in him and had been wishing for the picture to come to him... wishing really hard... and then he had felt the tingle he now associated with his magic and poof, it moved. He stared down at his hands and smiled.

"Maybe I don't need a wand..."

Xander looked up when he heard footsteps and smiled as Hermione walked back into his room, a big smile on her face.

"I have such good news Xander. You're my new little brother."

Xander's eyes widened in shock and joy. His wish had come true. He had a family finally - a family that loved him and wasn't going to hit him and hurt him. Xander jumped to his feet and ran to his cousin... no, his sister, and pulled her into a hug. As he twirled her around in place, he failed to notice everything in his room suddenly float two feet into the air. Someone else, however, did notice.

"Xander... xander, put me down."

Xander laughed and lowered Hermione to the ground... then jumped as a series of large crashes happened all around him. He jumped in surprise and looked around the room. It was a disaster. Things were moved... everywhere. Books were on the floor. The lamp was on the bed. The bed was a foot to the right. So much was moved... in face, everything was moved, slightly.

"What happened?"

Hermione looked at her new brother in awe.

"Xander... remember when I told you about wandless magic?"

Xander nodded.


Hermione smiled warmly.

"I think we need to have that talk again... only this time, I think we need to tell the others too."

Xander looked confused.


Hermione giggled.

"Because, silly, you just moved everything... everything.. in your room, without using a wand. That, Xander, is a large use of magic."

Xander nodded, understanding some, but was still a bit confused.

"Yeah.. so? You told me everyone does wandless magic before they get their wand, sometimes. What's so special about this?"

Hermione sighed.

"True, I did say that, but we do small things. Harry made his hair grow back after it was cut, I moved some books, Ron snuck food... all small things. You, Xander, you moved everything in your room. There had to have been almost a dozen things all floating at the same time in here moments ago. That is something else entirely."

She noticed Xander's face change color slightly and knew something was up.

"Have you been practicing it?"

Xander blushed deeper and slowly nodded.

"The picture."

Hermione looked around the room and saw a picture lying on a pillow on the floor... more than three feet from the table it had been on earlier.

"You floated it to you?"

Xander nodded.

"Uh huh."

Hermione smiled and hugged Xander tightly.

"I'm so proud of you."

Xander blinked.

"You're not angry?"

Hermione looked into Xander's eyes and shook her head.

"Of course not. I'm happy. Just, in the future, be careful when you do that. I heard one of the professors once say that doing too much using wandless magic can hurt you. There was something about a wizard who burnt himself out. I'll have to look it up in the library when we return to Hogwarts to be sure."

Xander nodded and looked very worried for a second... then grinned.

"No need to worry about that right now, we have too much to be happy for. I finally got a sister."

He leaned in and kissed Hermione on the cheek. She giggled and ruffled his hair.

"And I finally got myself a little brother."

Xander laughed.

"Not for long. I'll be getting taller than you soon."

Hermione laughed as well.

"Yes... but you'll still be my little brother, Xander. Even when you tower over me, you'll still be little Xander to me."

Xander smiled. Slowly a devious look crossed his face.

"Hey... I just realized something. I get to be all growly toward any boy who tries to date you now. I bet that will be fun."

Hermione raised an eyebrow and stared at her new brother.


Xander grinned evilly.

"I bet I can scare the pants off Harry..."

Hermione focused her eyes on Xander and let a look she had seen on her mother wash over her face.


Xander jerked and looked at Hermione... then looked down in shock.

"Uh.. right, no scaring Harry."

Hermione smiled and kissed Xander on the forehead.

*Wow... got it on the first try. Mummy will be so proud.*

"Be good."

Xander nodded and glanced up. He relaxed some when he saw her smile.

"So I can't put the hurt on Harry?"

Hermione shook her head.

"Certainly not."

She paused and a devious grin that rivaled the one her brother had displayed earlier crossed her face.

"However... you can do whatever you want to tease him... and if he ever hurts me, you have the right to rip him limb from limb."

Xander's eyes brightened.

"Cool... dismemberment. I can do that."

The two of them looked at each other then broke down laughing.

"Merlin... how morbid are we..."

Xander nodded.

"Yeah... you are so my sister."

Hermione smiled and let out a happy sigh... then remembered something she had forgotten in everything.

"Oh... grab your jacket, we're going to Diagon Alley today to get school supplies. We're leaving in an hour... or more likely 30 minutes now... so we need to get ready."

Xander nodded then frowned.

"But I haven't gotten a letter yet."

Hermione was about to explain to him that it was ok when a screeching sound came from downstairs. They ran out into the hallway and were shocked to see Ginny, Fred and George all chasing an owl down the hall.

"Catch him! We can't tell who he's for. He won't let any of us near him."

Hermione nodded and moved to block the owl. It dove toward her and passed over her head to land on Xander's outstretched hand. Xander stared at it in shock and blinked.

"For me?"

The owl nodded once and gave a small hoot. Xander noticed a letter carefully tied to its leg and he quickly untied it. The owl nodded once and then jumped up and took off back downstairs. Xander looked at the letter and swallowed. It was the size of a greeting car and it looked important. As he examined it, he saw something that startled him. It was addressed to him.

"Alexander Lavelle Harris Granger, The fourth bedroom to the right at the top of the stairs, Number 12..."

Xander blinked and looked up.

"Alexander Granger... how did they..."

Hermione shrugged.

"They just know."

Xander nodded and opened the letter. As he read, a wide-eyed grin crossed his face.

"I'm going to Hogwarts. It says Professor McGonagall, Professor Flitwick and Professor Snape will be coming to test me in a few days. They will decide what year I am to go into."

He looked up and noticed a look of dread on their faces.

"What's wrong?"

The twins looked at each other then started humming the death march.

"Xander, my good man, you are to face that which we all dread."

George nodded.

"Aye... you're going to have Snape as a tutor."

The twins shivered in sync with each other and then rolled their eyes.

"Poor chap... we hardly knew him."

Fred nodded.

"Quite right... and such a dreadful way to go too..."

Ginny glared at her brothers and smacked them both upside the head.

"Stop scaring him. Professor Snape's not that bad. Besides, I'd be more worried about the two of you."

George frowned.

"Us.. why us?"

Ginny grinned evilly.

"What... you honestly think you'll get to do anything with three professors here?"

Fred looked at his twin and his eyes widened with fear.

"She's right... we're doomed."

George nodded.

"Yes... we had best live it up as much as we can then before they come."

An evil look crossed their faces before they ran downstairs.

"Now you've done it, Ginny. Now they're going to be terrors for the next few days."

Ginny paled and nodded.

"I know... but I just forgot is all. Oh Merlin..."

Xander looked at them and smiled... then snickered. Hermione and Ginny turned to look at him in wonder.


Xander let out a laugh and turned the letter around to let them see it. They leaned in and read the addition at the bottom and then started laughing as well.

"Tomorrow?! Oh.. this is so going to be good."

Hermione nodded and wiped her eyes.

"Xander... you're evil."

Xander grinned and nodded.

"I told them I'd get them back for turning me into a frog for five hours... I just never told them when."

He laughed evilly and wrapped an arm around each girl.

"Come on... let's go get ready. I'm looking forward to seeing this Diagon Alley you've both told me about. It sounds amazing."

The girls nodded and they walked downstairs; the sound of explosions already echoing from a distant room...

Chapter 18

Diagon Alley... it was more than he expected. Sights, sounds, smells... all seemed more intense to Xander as he walked along with the others. His head jerked from the left to the right as he tried to take it all in all at once.

*This is beyond amazing...*

Hermione looked at her little brother and smiled. She remembered her first visit to Diagon Alley and how excited everything had been. She could almost picture in her mind what he must be thinking.

"For starters, we need to go to Madame Malkin's and get your robes, Xander, then we can go get your supplies and books then head to Mr. Olivander's to get your wand."

Xander blinked at looked at Hermione and nodded.

"Right... uh.. what?"

Hermione rolled her eyes and laughed. She turned to the others and shook her head.

"You go ahead. We'll get Xander's things and meet you for an ice cream later."

Harry shook his head.

"It's too dangerous for you to go alone, Hermione. What if... they... were to attack?"

Hermione smiled and reached down to scratch the back of the neck of the large dog at her side.

"That's why we have Snuffles here. He'll protect us."

Xander looked down at his uncle and smiled. It was still a little shocking to think his uncle could turn into a dog... and apparently it might even be genetic, which would mean there would be a good chance he too could change someday... into who knows what.

"We'll be fine, Harry. We have the bestest of all guard dogs to protect us."

He crouched down in front of Snuffles and ruffled his fur.

"Aren't you just the bravest, most ferocious doggie in all the world... yes you are.. yes you are..."

As they snickered, trying not to laugh, Snuffles rolled his doggie eyes and licked Xander's face. Xander laughed, glanced around, then leaned in and whispered to his uncle.

"I hope you enjoyed that. I figured you might and so I left a little surprise for you on my cheeks... you should be feeling it... right about... now."

Snuffles's eyes widened as his tongue suddenly grew warm... then hot... then boiling. Instantly he recognized what it was... and was so proud of his nephew. He barked once then dragged Xander to a nearby fountain... then almost into it as he drank down water in great gulps. Once all had calmed, he turned his massive black muzzle toward Xander and snickered... as if to say that there would be revenge. Xander swallowed and then let Snuffles lead him back to gather up Hermione before continuing onward. Harry watched them go then left with the others...


Minerva McGonagall stared down at the pile of books on her bed and ran over the mental checklist she had created when Albus had asked her to go and examine young Alexander Granger.

*Let's see... yes, yes, no... don't need that one.*

She removed the book and sent it floating back onto her bookshelf.

*Theories in Transformation: A summarizational examination of kinetic potential and its use in discovery of magical understanding in everyday life... perfect.*

She placed the book in her bag and closed it.

"Come along now."

She walked toward the portrait hole, her bag following along behind her, then out into the hall. She was expected, along with Professors Flitwick and Snape, at the main entrance in less than ten minutes. When she arrived, Professor Snape was missing.

"Where is Severus?"

Professor Flitwick shook his head.

"No idea. He was supposed to have been here yesterday to consult with me on a project... but he never showed up."

Just then, voices echoed down the hall. Professor Severus Snape approached then with Headmaster Albus Dumbledore.

"I see Severus. This isn't good. I want you to be on guard. Nothing must happen to them."

Professor Snape nodded and joined the other two professors.

"Let's get moving."

He stormed past them then glanced back and noticed they weren't moving.

"What are you doing just standing there? We have no time to waste."

The other professors looked at each other then followed. Albus Dumbledore watched them walk down to the edge of the grounds and waited until they had aperated away before he returned to his office.


"... and we made sure to get everything in order so that when we get back to Hogwarts we can set up a more elaborate business. All we need now is to discover a location to store everything once we get there."

Ron nodded as Fred explained and smiled. It sounded like his brothers had everything planned out.

"What about the next few days? What did you get?"

George grinned evilly and opened a large bag to reveal several fireworks. Ron gaped in awe and swallowed his drool.

"Cor... I can't wait..."

A shadow passed over Ron and he glanced up.

"Can't wait for what?"

Ron blushed and smiled up at Hermione as she glared down at him. Harry laughed at Ron's expression and shook his head.

"Oh not much... just the celebration that is to come. There are quite a few things planned."

Hermione smirked and sat down next to her boyfriend. As she leaned in and kissed him, Xander made mock-gagging noises. Hermione ignored her brother then, as soon as the kiss broke, reached out and smacked him upside the head.

"Ow.. hey!"

Hermione looked Xander in the eyes and raised an eyebrow. Xander nodded and shrugged.

"Yeah.. I know... had it coming."

Hermione smiled and went back to kissing Harry. Ginny stared in wide-eyed awe and made a ton of mental notes. She slid closer to Xander and took his hand, smiling at him. Xander looked down at her hand in his then looked into her eyes and blushed bright red.

"Um... "

He laughed nervously and swallowed hard.

"We dot everything taken care of except for my wand. The shop was closed for some reason."

Harry glanced over in shock. Mr. Olivander never closed his shop.

"Really... that's strange. I think we should go see if anything is wrong."

They nodded and headed there. When they arrived, the shop's door was open and voices came from inside.

"... don't care what you say, old man, you will do this or you will regret it."

They looked at each other and looked up as a scary looking man in green emerged from the shop, knocking Hermione to the ground.

"Watch where you're going!"

He stormed past and walked off. Harry helped Hermione to her feet.

"You ok?"

Hermione nodded and glared down the street at the man as he walked off.

"Some people these days..."

She shook her head and lead them inside. Mr. Olivander looked up and smiled.

"My, my, my... what a large group we have here today. Are your wands still in good working order? Everything ok, Mr. Potter, Miss Granger, Mr's and Miss Weasley?"

They all nodded as Mr. Olivander smiled.

"What about you, Mr. Granger? I've been waiting for you for years."

Xander blinked in shock and backed a foot away.

"How did you..."

Mr. Olivander smiled.

"How did I know? I know most anything, my boy. Now... come here and let's see about getting you your wand."

Xander stepped forward and took the wand extended toward him.

"Ten inches, ash, unicorn hair. Take it and give it a swish."

Xander nodded and swished the wand... then blinked in awe as he was engulfed in blue smoke.

"No.. not that one."

Mr. Olivander took back the wand and handed him another, then another, then another... over and over until Xander had gone through over three dozen wands.

"Eleven inches, willow, and... hmm, I can't recall its core... give it a swish as I check my records."

Mr. Olivander looked through a small black book and mumbled to himself as Xander took the wand and gave it a swish. Sparky golden light shot out in all directions and with it came the sound of chiming bells.

"Ah... seems we have a winner... and here it is... hair of a Grim... hmm, when did I get that?"

Harry, Ron, and Hermione looked at each other then glanced down at Snuffles. Snuffles nodded and grinned up at them.

"This is cool."

Xander smiled at his wand and felt all warm and happy inside. He felt... loved. It was the nicest feeling he had ever felt before.

"Thank you."

Mr. Olivander smiled and nodded. They paid him for the wand then headed back outside.

"We had better get back, mum will be waiting for us."

They gathered their things and headed back. Mrs. Weasley was waiting for them and smiled when they approached.

"All ready dears?"

They nodded then headed together back toward the entrance to Diagon Alley...

Chapter 19

They entered the large house in a group, all talking at once. From the moment they crossed the threshold, Fred grinned at George and they both set off the first of their fireworks. As the screaming rockets of light blasted away from them and into the main living room, a loud bellow of surprised rage echoed out from the room. Everyone stopped talking and looked at the twins, who looked like they were close to soiling their pants.

"Uh oh."


Professor Severus Snape placed the final vial of ingredients on the shelf and stepped back to examine everything.

*This looks complete... well, complete enough to test this American.*

He nodded to himself and turned to head back into the foyer to gather the rest of his belongings when suddenly the door exploded inward as a flaming firework rushed into the room... headed... right... at... him.

"What the...?! ARRGGHH!!"

As the firework exploded, it bathed Severus with its contents, catching his hair and robes on fire... also blackening his face in the process. Moments later the door opened again to reveal Mrs. Weasley and the children... who all looked on in stunned shock, for a moment, before Molly rushed to action.


She ran to his side and started all the burn reversal charms she knew, along with some pain reducing spells. Within moments, Severus's face was back to normal and he appeared to be in less pain. In the process, his hair was set to rights and his clothing was extinguished.

"Are you ok? Do you need..."

Severus jerked himself free from Molly's mothering hands and glared at her.

"Unhand me woman! I am fine!"

He pulled out his wand and with a simple spell, returned himself to normal. Now, with everything repaired, he turned to look upon the children and noticed the fireworks not so well hidden behind the backs of Fred and George Weasley.

"You two... you did this!"

Fred and George both swallowed and took a step back, only to be blocked by Professor McGonagall, who had appeared out of nowhere.

"Yes... quite dangerous and childish. I see we will need to discuss this at greater length in the time remaining before returning to Hogwarts. In that time, consider yourselves in permanent detention..."

Severus nodded.

"... from both of us. You will learn what comes to those who play around with things best left alone!"

Fred groaned as George paled. They nodded and looked down at their feet.

"We're sorry, Professor."

Professor Snape glared down at them and leaned in closer.

"You will learn from this impertinence, boys, and I do believe you will regret your actions for many days to come."

With that said, Professor Snape turned to Xander and looked him up and down.

"You there, Mr. Granger, do you have your supplies?"

Xander nodded, awed by the imposing greasy-haired man.

"Yes sir."

Severus noticed there was no fear in this boy's eyes. Instead, he saw awe and perhaps admiration.

*Not scared of me are you... we'll see about that.*

"Good. Gather your things and meet me here in one quarter of an hour."

He looked at the others and let his eyes darken.


Xander nodded and left to go get his things from the foyer... followed almost immediately by the others. As they left, Professor McGonagall turned to Professor Snape and raised an eyebrow.

"Did you notice the young man's expression, Severus? There was admiration in those young eyes. I do believe that you may have found someone who isn't frightened of you."

Severus nodded and stared at the door.

"Yes, I noticed. He will probably be a complete incompetent who will blow up half the room. I'll be satisfied if he doesn't turn himself into a frog with his first potion."

The door opened and Xander walked into the room, dragging his things behind him. He lowered everything to the ground then looked up at the two Professors. He was about to ask them what it was they wanted him to do when a third person entered the room.

"Sorry... am I late?"

Professor McGonagall shook her head.

"Right on time."

Professor Flitwick smiled at Xander and extended his hand.

"Professor Flitwick. Pleased to meet you, young man. I am the Charms Professor. To my left is Professor McGonagall, the Transfiguration Professor... and to my right is Professor Snape, the Potions Professor. We three will be testing your innate magical abilities to see what you know and do not know. We will see how strong you are and try to attain at what level of learning you might possibly be. We will be testing you, one at a time, for the next..."

He looked at the others and they shook their heads.

"... well, until we are done. Do you understand?"

Xander nodded and smiled.

"I understand, sir. What do you want me to do first?"

Professor Snape moved forward and smiled evilly.

"First... you will face me. Now, get your cauldron set up and listen carefully..."

Xander set up his cauldron and listened as Professor Snape started telling him what to do...

Chapter 20

The sounds of bubbling liquids, the aroma of unknown chemicals and minerals, and the heat of a roaring fire filled the room. Thin gray smoke drifted in the air as Xander stirred the boiling concoction in his cauldron. It was a crisp turquoise that smelled faintly of jasmine and honeysuckle. He stirred it once, twice, three times before he examined the large spoon he was using to stir with. It had once been a light tan wooden spoon... but it was now a deep cherry.

"Now... if you haven't completely failed, the potion should be a vibrant turquoise..."

Xander smiled and looked up at Professor Snape as he paced the room with his eyes turned away. He watched as the greasy, blustery man turned to face him and smiled when his eyes widened in surprise.

"Hmmm... yes, I see... well then. Take one measure of wormwood and shave it slowly into the mixture. I want thin, papery shavings only."

Xander nodded and picked up the small one-inch cube block of gray wood. He picked up the knife he had been using earlier and carefully began to shave the wood. Shaving after shaving came free and floated down into the potion. One by one the shavings covered the surface of the potion until it was covered with a thin blanket of gray.

"Done sir."

Severus looked over and nodded.

"Good. Fold the shavings into the mixture until completely introduced then stir counterclockwise three times only."

Xander nodded and folded the potion from the bottom to the top carefully. Slowly the mixture turned back to its previous turquoise. Once the shavings were gone, he stirred counterclockwise once... twice... three times. He smiled and watched as the mixture's color shifted to a pale lavender.

"It turned purple, sir. Is that right?"

Severus walked over and looked down.

"Yes, it is. You've done well. Amazingly so..."

Xander looked up at the man he felt strangely close to and smiled.

"Will you tell me what it is I'm making, sir?"

Severus nodded. He walked over to the desk he had had the twins carry in, by hand, and sat down.

"That potion, Mister Granger, is used to cure the bite of a Manticore."

He paused and smiled, a glimmer coming to his eyes.

"It is a sixth year potion."

Xander blinked in shock.

*Sixth year! How the hell!*

He swallowed and blinked a few times.

"Sixth sir? How... how is that possible?"

Severus looked Xander in the eyes and stared.

"There are skills that we all have an innate talent for. Some find it when they have studied for many years while others stumble upon it by accident. You fit into the latter category. I believe that potion making may be your forte... but we shall have to see what the others discover of you."

Severus glanced over at the remaining potion ingredients and smiled.

*I wonder...*

He turned back to Xander and stood.

"Mister... Xander, I would like to try something, if you think you can handle it."

Xander nodded eagerly and grinned. He was very interested in learning more of what might be what he was best suited for.

"I'd like to try, sir."

Severus nodded and walked over to pick up a book. He opened it and walked over to Xander.

"Can you read the script here?"

Xander looked down at the book and nodded. The script was strange, the letters all squiggly and slanted, but he could make out what it said.

"Yes... I can read it, sir."

He looked up and saw something strange sparkling in the man's eyes. It looked like... he didn't know. He had never seen that look before.

"Is it important, sir?"

Severus nodded and closed the book.

"Yes... quite. We shall see if you are able to do the potion in this book if you make it to your seventh year at Hogwarts."

He looked strangely at Xander for a moment before his expression lightened.

"Have no worry, though, I feel you should do quite well... quite well indeed."

He placed the book on the desk and sat down on its edge.

"You have done well, Xander. You have shown to me that you have an understanding of potion making that is years beyond you. I have no problem in placing you in fourth year potions with the other students your age. I will speak to Professor Dumbledore, however, and let him know you are capable of sixth year potions as well. Would you be interested in taking my Advanced Potions class if Dumbledore agrees?"

Xander looked into the man's eyes and saw that look again. He didn't understand that what he was seeing was the look of someone who was seeing his successor before him. He was a little uneasy about the look, but he wanted to know more.

"I'd like to take the class, sir, if it's ok."

Severus nodded and smiled.

"I shall speak to Albus about it soon."

He got to his feet and walked over to Xander. He placed his hand on the boy's shoulder and gave it a gentle squeeze.

"You've done well. You can rejoin the others. Professor Flitwick will begin your instruction in Charms this afternoon or tomorrow morning. I will go tell him now so he can prepare."

Xander smiled and nodded.

"Thank you sir."

He then turned and walked quickly out of the room. Severus watched him leave then let out a small laugh.

*After all these years... finally, someone who I can picture taking over Potions for me someday.*

He laughed and moved about the room, cleaning and placing things away...


Xander ran up the stairs and looked in the rooms, searching for the others. In the third room he glanced in, he found the twins on their hands and knees scrubbing what looked like very filthy beakers.

"Fred... George... do you know where my sister and the others are?"

Fred looked up and nodded.

"We saw them earlier..."

George sighed and looked up at Xander.

"Yes... they were headed to the third floor..."

Fred wiped his forehead and let out a heavy breath.

"You should look for them there."

Xander nodded and smiled.

"Thanks. I'll do that."

He moved to leave and heard one of them cough.

"Hey... wait."

Xander looked back at them and nodded.


Fred smiled evilly.

"How did you do?"

George snickered.

"Did he scare you?"

Xander shook his head and laughed.

"Scary... naw. I like him. He said I did really well."

He paused and smirked at them.

"In fact, he's going to see if he can get me into his advanced class."

With a laugh, Xander turned and walked out of the room. Fred looked at George and they both swallowed in shock.

"You don't think..."

George nodded.

"I do think..."

They both looked at the door and shuddered.

"It's too scary a thought..."

They shivered and went back to their cleaning, both too stunned by the thoughts in their heads...


Xander walked up another flight of stairs and heard laughter from the room at the end of the hall. As he approached the door, he could make out Ginny's voice above the others.

"You have to tell me, Hermione. What's he really like?"

Xander paused and listened outside the door. He heard his sister laugh and then begin to speak.

"Xander is special. He is so much like you, Harry, that it scared me at first. His parents weren't nice to him."

He could hear the pain in her voice now and felt himself sober some.

"From what I found out from mom and dad, Xander's father..."

Xander closed his eyes. He knew what was coming next.

"What did he do, Hermione?"

He heard Hermione take in a breath then continue.

"He beat him... more than once."

He heard someone start to cry and wondered if it was Ginny, Harry, or Ron? He didn't know which one it was... but he knew that he needed to break this up before they all grew too sad to be any fun today... cause he wanted to have some fun. He wanted to celebrate his good news.

*Better make some noise...*

He took a few steps back then walked forward again, stepping hard so as to make enough noise for them to hear him. As he neared the door, he smiled and peeked his head in the doorway.

"Hey guys!"

Ginny looked up and quickly wiped her eyes then smiled at her boyfriend. She felt so much emotion for him now and wanted more than anything to hug him and not let go. She jumped to her feet and launched herself at him, pulling him into a hug.

"I missed you..."

Xander smiled and hugged her back.

"I missed you too Gin."

He looked at the others and saw the look of someone knowing more than they knew before in Harry and Ron's eyes. Hermione was smiling at him and her hand was holding one of Harry's.

"I have some good news."

Ron raised an eyebrow.

"Oh really, now what could that be?"

Xander smiled and sat down - Ginny in his lap.

"I finished with Professor Snape."

Harry grinned.

"You survived... he must have gone easy on you."

Xander laughed and shook his head.

"Easy... maybe you call a sixth year spell easy."

Hermione's eyes widened in shock.

"Sixth year! Xander... that's wonderful! What did he say?!"

Xander smirked.

"He said that it looks like potions are what I'm good at. He's placing me in fourth year with Ginny and the others my age... but he wants to place me in his advanced class as well."

Ron blinked in shock.

"Bloody hell! Advanced Potions... I'm glad I'm not you!"

Harry nodded in agreement. The very idea of Advanced Potions... it was scary.

"Ron's right... that's just, scary."

Hermione frowned at them.

"Don't you listen to them Xander. I think it's wonderful. I'm trying to get into that class myself, it will be good for my chances of getting a good career once I leave Hogwarts."

She smiled at Xander and a tear came to her eyes.

"I'm so happy and proud of you."

Xander ginned and felt Ginny hug him again.

"Thanks. I'm looking forward to it."

Ginny kissed his cheek and leaned back to look into his eyes.

"What's next?"

Xander smiled.

"Professor Flitwick is supposed to start with me next... either this afternoon or tomorrow morning. Until then... I guess I have some time off."

Ron smiled and nodded then moved to a nearby table.

"Right then... come over here and I'll finally teach you how to play Wizard's Chess. Come on now... Gin, get off him and let him come here. I want someone new to beat... er, train."

Ginny rolled her eyes and stood up, letting Xander get to his feet. Xander walked over and sat down, then found Ginny once again in his lap. Ron rolled his eyes and shook his head.

"Now Xander... Wizard's Chess is like muggle chess, only different..."

Chapter 21

The few days that followed were the most dreadfully appalling for Xander than he had ever had before. Professor Flitwick and come to get him the night he finished with Professor Snape and from that moment on... well, things just went downhill fast. His attempts at learning charms failed miserably. It was as if he just couldn't get them... no matter what he did. It was sad really. It was on the third morning with Professor Flitwick that he finally hammered the final nail in his charms coffin.

"Right... now swish your wand and say the word, Mister Granger."

Xander waved his wand and said the word... then flew across the room, his head impacting with the far wall. The last thing he heard before everything went dark was a sickening cracking sound coming from all around him...


The strange cry of fear from downstairs immediately caught Hermione and Ginny's attention. They looked at each other then tore downstairs to see what had happened. They arrived to find Professor Flitwick in a state of near panic and...


Xander was lying on the floor with a thin trickle of blood dripping from his nose and left ear. Above him was a hole the size of his head in the wall. They ran over to him and Hermione felt for his pulse. It was there, but it was weak and thready.

"Call for Madam Pomphrey!"

Professor Flitwick snapped out of his startled fugue and ran off. Ginny dropped down next to Xander and ran her fingers gently through his hair.

"Be ok Xander... please be ok."

Hermione nodded.

"He will be... trust me Ginny... he will be."

Even as she spoke the words, she didn't believe them. Blood was trickling from Xander's ear... and that was something very bad. Xander needed help... fast.


Darkness... it was all around him... surrounding him, all consuming in its thick, icy cold.

He was nowhere.

He was everywhere.

He was...

Off in the distance, a small twinkle of light flared to life. It shone weakly, popping in and out. He stared at it and wondered what it was.


He jerked and looked up and all around him, wondering where the deep voice had just come from.


He jumped again and spun around in a circle. He was alone, but yet he heard a voice. He looked toward the light and noticed it was a little brighter.

Was it growing bigger?

Was it moving toward him?

Was he moving toward it?

He had no answer to those questions. All he knew was the he was alone, he was cold and he felt that something was wrong here. He didn't know what... but something was definitely wrong.


He looked up at the light and saw it jump slightly closer to him. The voice wanted him to pay attention to the light... so he stared into it and slowly he could feel himself begin to drift toward it. As he began to move, he noticed something else... pain. He winced and tried to turn away from the light.


He winced and looked back into the light. The pain came creeping back, growing stronger and stronger, and with it came a name... Xander.


Xander blinked and looked down at himself then back up into the light.

"What is the light?"

Silence... then the voice was back.


Xander nodded and moved forward once more... wincing as the pain grew stronger and stronger, the light slowly drawing nearer...


She looked down at his still form as he lay in his bed and sniffled. She had been crying for what seemed like days.

"Wake up Xander... please wake up..."

Ginny held his hand and brought his fingers to her lips, kissing them, before letting them fall back in her lap. She had been sitting at his side, off and on, for over a week now... ever since his accident. Madam Pomphrey had come and had healed him... but he wouldn't wake up. She had called Professor Dumbledore and after he had examined Xander had discovered that something deep inside Xander's mind had been... bruised. He was in a coma and it would just be a matter of time. All they had to do now was be patient and wait.

*I miss you so much. I can't do this again...*

Ginny felt tears fall from her eyes once more and this time, just let them fall.

*Xander... I can't lose you like I lost Harry...*

She crawled up next to him in bed and rested her head on his chest, holding him close, wishing he would wake up...


They gathered around the pile of presents that lay on the floor. Off to the right lay Xander in his bed. They had wanted him to be a part of it all, even if he wasn't completely with them.

"Happy Birthday Harry..."

Harry smiled and nodded. It didn't really feel right being happy on a day when one of their number was injured so gravely... but the girls had done so much to try to make the day special. His eyes drifted over to Xander and sighed.

"Thanks everyone. I just wish..."

Hermione nodded.

"I know Harry... I know... but you know he'd want you to have your day."

Harry smiled and squeezed her hand warmly.

"I know."

He looked at the presents and grinned.

"So... which should I open first?"


It had been over a month since the day of the accident... and Xander was still in his coma. They had tried everything they could think of to wake him up... but none of it had worked. It was only a few days before they were to head back to Hogwarts... and they wanted him with them.

"What are we going to do, Harry? You know we can't leave him here, it's not bloody right."

Harry nodded.

"I know, Ron. I wish I could think of what to do, but we've tried everything. It's gotten so bad that I heard the Professors mention Professor Dumbledore going off on some mission to get something he thought might help."

Ron's eyes widened.

"Oh... what is it?"

Harry shrugged.

"They didn't say. All I know is that he's supposed to return sometime today."

Ron was about to respond when he heard someone coming. They looked up and saw Professor Dumbledore enter the room.

"Professor... did you find what you were looking for?"

Professor Albus Dumbledore entered and nodded. Behind him, in the shadows, the boys could make out someone standing there.

"Indeed Ronald, I did. I can only hope that things go well."

He turned to the doorway and motioned toward him.

"Come on in, child. You are needed."

As Ron and Harry watched, a small girl walked into the room. The light hit her and her red hair shone like flame. She looked up and Ron's eyes locked on hers and in that moment... everything stopped. For Ron, it was as if his heart stopped beating, he forgot to breath, and he felt like he was going to die... all at once. She moved across the room to Xander's side and looked down at him. Ron swallowed hard and leaned toward Harry and whispered in his ear.

"She's gorgeous... my god Harry..."

Harry smirked at Ron but kept his eyes locked on the girl at Xander's side.

"Shh... watch her."

The girl looked down at Xander and ran her fingers through his hair. Her face was calm, but there was pain in her eyes. She took in a shuddering breath and moved her face down to his ear.



Xander stared at the light. It was as big as a house now and wasn't too far away. He had been moving steadily toward it for some time, but then everything seemed to have stopped. He had remained there for who knows how long... and to make things worse, the voice hadn't said anything in such a long time.


Xander jerked. He knew that voice. He looked around, searching for the source of the new voice, and finally figured out it had come from inside the light.

"Xander... wake up Xander..."

Xander stared into the light and pushed toward it. It moved closer. He could feel that what lay beyond the light was his life... and there was someone there who needed him so badly.

"Damn it Xander... wake up right now!"

Xander jerked in surprise as all resistance suddenly vanished and he fell forward into the light.



Ginny and Hermione entered Xander's room and noticed Professor Dumbledore standing next to Ron and Harry. That in itself wasn't too out of the ordinary... what was was the red haired girl at Xander's side.

"Damn it Xander... wake up right now!"

Ginny frowned at the girl and wondered who she could be. She started to move toward her when suddenly Xander's body spasmed.


The girl, Willow, looked down at Xander's face and smiled as the others rushed to Xander's bed.

"That's it Xander... wake up. I'm giving you Resolve Face mister!"

Xander's eyes fluttered then opened halfway. He saw blurry forms over him and as he blinked, his eyes focused to reveal... Willow.


Willow nodded and smiled.

"Damn right."

She bent down and kissed his forehead... then slapped his face, causing the others to gasp in shock.

"Ow... what's that for?!"

Willow glared at Xander and he winced.

"Don't you dare scare me like that ever again, Lavelle."

Xander winced and nodded.

"Sorry Willow..."

Willow smiled and bend down to pull Xander into a hug.

"You scared me so much..."

Xander smiled and noticed the strange looks on his friends' faces.

"Guys... this is my oldest friend... Willow Rosenberg. Willow... these are my friends."

Xander motioned to his friends and smiled. Willow nodded to them and grinned.

"Thank you for being there for my Xander."

Hermione nodded and smiled.

"Thank you for taking care of him all these years."

Xander smiled at his sister and his Willow and laughed.

"Willow... that's Hermione, my sister."

Willow glanced down at Xander and raised an eyebrow.


Xander nodded.

"Yeah... I've been adopted."

He grew somber and took a deep breath.

"My dad and mom are..."

Willow saw something dark in his eyes and nodded.

"They're gone?"

Xander nodded.

"Yeah. Hermione's mom and dad adopted me afterwards and things are a lot better."

He reached out to take Hermione's hand and gave it a squeeze.

"I don't know what I'd do if I didn't have her with me... and Ginny."

Ginny nodded to Willow and smiled.


Willow nodded.


Xander smiled.

"Ginny is my girlfriend, Willow."

Willow's face looked surprised and a little hurt... but she didn't let it show for long.

"Girlfriend... well, that... that's great."

She smiled at Ginny and reached out to take her hand. Ginny took Willow's hand and found herself pulled into a hug.

"Be good to him or I will bludgeon you with a shovel. A vague threat is no one's friend."

Ginny nodded then laughed.

"I like you..."

Ron nodded and smiled.

"Cor... she'd fit in just fine, wouldn't she Harry."

Willow looked over at the red haired boy who had spoken and blushed. She felt something... unusual... from him. He was beautiful.

"She's a spitfire... like Ginny."

Harry smiled and laughed as Willow blushed and Ginny glared at him.

"Now now... time for pleasantries later. Xander needed his rest."

Xander looked up at Professor Dumbledore and frowned.

"Rest? I can't rest. I have to get back to work. I need to learn more from Professor Flitwick. He must be wondering what happened to me."

Hermione frowned.

"Xander... sweetie... things aren't as you remember them."

Ron nodded.

"It's been over a month, mate. We head back for school in three days."

Xander's eyes widened in shock.

"Three Days!"

Professor Dumbledore nodded.

"They are correct, Xander. You will be heading off to Hogwarts in three days... but do not worry, you will be placed in fourth year and your testing will continue once you arrive."

Hermione looked at the professor then at Willow.

"Um... Professor... should you..."

Professor Dumbledore smiled and nodded.

"Everything is alright, Hermione."

He placed a hand on Willow's shoulder and smiled down at her.

"It is ok to speak in front of Miss Rosenberg, Hermione...."

He paused and smiled.

"... she will be joining us at Hogwarts... also in her fourth year."

As the others stared in shock... Willow just smiled.

Chapter 22

The sun was shining down upon them as they stepped out carefully onto the streets of Diagon Alley. Xander took in a deep breath and smiled.

"God... feels good to be outside again."

He turned to Willow next to him and squeezed her hand.

"You're going to love this place, Wills."

Willow smiled and tried not to laugh as Ginny made faces over Xander's other shoulder.

"I'm sure I will."

Xander grinned at his best friend and felt his other hand being squeezed by his girlfriend Ginny.

"I can see you, Ginny. Making faces at me... really now."

Ginny's eyes widened in shock then laughed when she noticed her reflection in the shop window.

"Oh you... you had me going for a second there."

She rolled her eyes and laughed as they walked toward Olivander's Wand Shop to get Willow's wand.

"Come on Willow, let's you and me go get your wand. Xander can wait out here."

Xander frowned and pouted at them as they laughed and ran past him into the shop.


Harry and Ron watched as Willow and Ginny ran ahead, leaving Xander behind.

"Poor bloke, his girlfriend and his best friend becoming friends. He's doomed."

Harry smirked then winced when he heard a huffing sound behind them.

"Oh really, Ronald. What's so bad about that? Harry.. you don't agree with him do you?"

Harry shook his head.

"Nope... can't say I do. My girlfriend is one of my best friends, so I can't see a problem there."

He grinned at Hermione and pulled her in for a kiss. As their lips touched, a flash of light blinded them both.

"What was that?"

Ron snickered then laughed out loud.

"You both got caught by one of those pepperatsi people. I saw a sticker for the Daily Prophet on his shirt as he ran off. Within the hour its going to be widely known that Harry Potter, The Boy Who Lived, has a girlfriend."

Hermione groaned as Harry blushed.

"Well... no matter Harry... it's ok. We're just going to have to deal with whatever comes of it... together."

Harry nodded, smiled, and pulled her against his side.

"Come on... let's go cheer up Xander."

Hermione nodded and they moved ahead to join Xander.

"You ok mate?"

Xander looked back at Ron and nodded.

"Yeah... just worried is all. Willow and Ginny are in there together."

He sighed and looked in the window at his girls.

"I can see no good coming from this... no, no good at all."


Willow looked back at Xander as he pouted into the window.

"He looks so cute when he pouts... doesn't he?"

Ginny nodded.

"Yes, it's one of the cutest things about him."

She looked at Willow and bit her lip.

"You love him, don't you?"

Willow blinked in shock and turned to look at Ginny.

"Xander... well, yes... but he loves you, Ginny. I can see it in his eyes. He's never looked at me like that... but its ok. I think he'll be very happy with you, and besides..."

She glanced back at Xander as the others joined him and smiled. Her eyes were locked on Ron and a soft sigh escaped her lips.

"Dear lord no... please don't tell me you have a crush on my brother?!"

Willow blushed and nodded.

"He's so cute..."

Ginny groaned and rolled her eyes.

"Oh god.. don't tell him until after we get to Hogwarts... please."

Willow frowned.


Ginny smiled.

"Cause it will give us a few days before he gets all shy and goofy around you. We'll need that time to get ready, and if he's fawning all over you.. then we'll never get ready in time."

She turned back to Mr. Ollivander as he returned with some wands.

"Ah.. here we go.. now, Miss Rosenberg, if you would be so kind as to try this wand out..."


It was sometime later that Ginny and Willow emerged to join the others a few shops down. They were sitting on a bench discussing the upcoming year.

"... and you're going to love the library, and the grounds, and flying..."

Ron nodded.

"Quiddich, mate, quiddich. You're going to love it. We'll have to see if you can fly and then see if you can play and who knows, you might be good at one of the positions."

Xander looked up as Ginny and Willow joined them and smiled.

"Things go well?"

Willow nodded and showed Xander her wand.

"It's great, Xander. It's 10 inches, made of ash, and it has a core made of unicorn hair. Isn't it beautiful!"

Xander nodded.

"It's nice. Have a seat."

He slid over some and Willow sat down. Ginny frowned and pouted.

"What about me?"

Xander smiled and took her hand and pulled her onto his lap.

"How about here?"

Ginny smiled and snuggled against him.

"Ok.. this works. So.. what's next?"

Hermione pulled out a list and smiled.

"We need to get Willow's books and her supplies and get her sized for robes. Harry, Ron, Xander... you three can go get her supplies while us girls go get the robes taken care of. We can meet back herein say.. an hour?"

Harry nodded.

"Sounds fine to me."

They got to their feet and headed off in opposite directions...


An hour later they gathered back together then headed back toward the gate leading to The Leaky Cauldron then floo'd back home. As they arrived, they went upstairs to prepare for the upcoming day. They would be leaving early and needed to be at the station on time.


Moonlight shone in Xander's window as he lay in bed, his mind too wound up to sleep. As he lay there, he heard his door open and looked over to see Willow walk into his room.

"Xander... are you still awake?"

Xander sat up and nodded.

"Yeah Wills, I'm up."

He motioned her closer and smiled as she sat down on the edge of his bed.

"What's up?"

Willow looked nervously at Xander and sighed.

"I'm nervous about tomorrow. We'll be starting a new school where everything will be different. So much will be completely new for us. Are you scared?"

Xander paused and nodded.

"Yeah, some, I guess. I'm looking forward to it too. I already know that I'm good at potions, so I'm looking forward to going there and learning more about it. Having something to look forward to helps me not feel so scared."

He paused and took her hand.

"Besides... I'll have you there... and Ginny and Hermione... and Harry and Ron... so I won't be alone."

Xander squeezed her hand and smiled.

"You'll have me, Wills, so there's nothing to be scared or worried about. I'll be there the whole time."

Willow smiled and nodded.

"Thanks Xander. I... I feel a little better now."

She got to her feet and walked to the door.

"See you in the morning."

Xander nodded and waved at her.

"Night Willow."

Willow opened his door and waved back.

"Night Xander."

Xander watched the door close then lay back in bed, finally able to fall asleep...


"Come along now.. hurry children."

Molly Weasley beckoned the children to her as they gathered together at the station. They were on time for once and she wanted to get everyone through before the train left.

"Hurry now... that's it.... first you two... Fred, George... quickly now."

Fred and George moved to the platform and then passed through. Ron and Harry followed them... then Ginny took Willow through while Hermione prepared Xander.

"It's ok.. just run toward it and don't worry."

It was their turn and they rushed toward the solid brick wall... then passed through it and Xander looked around in awe at the station beyond and the large train that many children were boarding.

"This is... wow."

Hermione smiled.

"I know.. I felt the same way... now hurry, we need to get a compartment for us before they all fill up."

She took his hand and pulled him toward the train, following the others on board. They made their way to an empty compartment and settled in. Once inside, Hermione and Ron put on their prefect badges and moved to the door.

"We have to head forward for a while. We'll be back later if we can."

Harry nodded and gave her a quick kiss before they left and merged into the throng of children in the hall. Xander watched them leave then looked out the window as the train began to move on its way. As they moved into the countryside, a feeling of something new and fresh beginning filled him and he couldn't help but smile.

"What are you thinking?"

Xander looked at Ginny and smiled.

"Everything's starting fresh... its all new and special. Life is going to be so different from now on."

He looked out at the landscape and smiled.

"This year is going to be something special... something special indeed..."

As the train rushed along the track toward Hogwarts and their new school year, a sense of new life seemed to fill the air... filled with new possibilities and adventures for everyone. Who knows what might happen in the year to come...