Portals and People

Author: Danielle Frances Ducrest <sword_girl[at]lycos.com>

Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer belongs to Joss Whedon, Marti Noxon, Mutant Enemy, Twentieth Century Fox Productions, Kuzui Enterprises, Sandollar Television, and UPN. Stargate SG-1 belongs to Double Secret Productions, MGM, and the Sci-Fi Channel. The Harry Potter books and movies belong to J. K. Rowling, Warner Brothers, and others. Highlander belongs to Rhyser Entertainment, Gaumont Télévision, and Davis/Panzer Productions. Any copyright infringements were not intended. This story was written for entertainment and not for profit.

Spoilers and Timing: Takes place after season seven of Buffy, after the sixth episode of S7 of Stargate SG-1, and after the fifth Harry Potter book. This also takes place after an AU season four of Angel. The reasons that make it Au are that Cordelia isn't in a comma, there was no Jasmine, Angel and co. weren't given the LA branch of Wolfram and Hart, but Connor was still given a new life and everyone's memories were altered so that they didn't remember him. Spoilers are for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, the Buffy episodes "Chosen" and "All Dead Things" and the Stargate episode "Point of View".

Summary: Who the heck is that guy with the glowing green eyes?

Author's Note: This is my first real attempt at both a 'ship fic and a multi-chapter story. Hope it goes well.

This was written at the request of dulcinea for the Mid-Year Fic-a-Thon 2004 at Twisting the Hellmouth. Sorry, but I know absolutely nothing about Anita Blake. I managed to work in Harry Potter and Stargate, though, and might work in Highlander later on; I've added it in the disclaimer just in case. Sorry that it's not done yet but I'll try to get it done by the end of July. I got an idea for how to combine these universes and it just kept expanding and expanding with every new chapter I wrote. I hope you like it, and I hope I got the definition for snarkiness right.

Name: dulcinea

Genre: Anita Blake, Harry Potter, Highlander, Stargate

Max Rating: any

Characters: Willow or Xander

Type: not horror

Want To See: snarkiness!

Not Want To See: slash

Chapter One

The klaxons blared uncaringly loud in the Air Force base. It was such a normal occurrence that no one batted an eye as the SF's thundered down the corridors on their way to the Gate Room. Once there, each one took up their positions on the floor at the base of the off ramp. Weapons up and ready, they took aim at the metal-covered center of the Stargate. Shimmering light reflected off the back wall, the only sign that a wormhole had been established. Once they were in position, the iris retracted and the rest of the room was flooded with the blue and white shimmering light of the pool within the Stargate's ring.

A few seconds passed before ripples within the pool heralded the arrival of four people. The members of SG-1 stepped through and walked at a steady gait down the off ramp.

General George Hammond called for the SF's to stand down. They did. Hammond left the Control Room and entered the Embarkation Room. It appeared that, for once, nothing had happened to SG-1 while they were off world. Hammond wanted to know how they'd managed it.

"Welcome back, SG-1," he greeted them.

"Thank you, sir," Colonel Jack O'Neill said after snapping off a salute.

"How'd it go?"

"Just spiffy, sir," O'Neill replied with a sarcastic smile. "Daniel got to play around with some rocks, Carter had fun scanning the place for naquada or naquadria, and Teal'c and I got to play tic-tac-toe for a few hours."

Hammond had to fight to keep down a smile. "No unpleasant natives? No unexpected visits from the Goa'uld?"

"Not a one, General," Major Samantha Carter said, smiling also.

"Very well, SG-1," Hammond said. "Report to Dr. Fraiser for the post-mission physical. Debriefing will be in an hour."

Jack saluted again before leading his team from the Gate Room. None of them even thought to pause and reflect on past missions where everything supposedly went well or the events that transpired afterward. If they had, they would have realized that there was a whole lot more to come.


Buffy Summers frowned down at her boots. She'd just stepped in demon icor and it had painted her stylish black boots an ugly yellow color. "Remind me why we're here again?"

"Last night's patrol said that there were some nasties here," Xander Harris reminded her. "And, since tonight it was our turn to patrol, we got stuck with dealing with it."

"Right." Buffy sighed. She glanced around the not-so-clean room that was now covered in demon gore. Lying on the ground were three of the six demons that the other Slayers had reported seeing last night. They only had to find the other three and then they'd be good to go.

Xander and Buffy proceeded into the next room. They didn't see any more demons, but what they did see was worse.

A man with graying hair knelt with his back to them. From what Xander could see of him, he was large yet skinny and his black and gray hair was pulled back in a ponytail. He held a knife over his open palm. Blood from a shallow cut dripped into a bowl at his knees.

Before the Slayer's and the Slayerette's eyes, as the man continued to chant, the air seemed to shimmer before him. Something took form there. It floated in mid-air and resembled a pool of water turned sideways. Waves rippled across its shimmering blue and white surface.

"Woah," Xander commented.

"Whatever he's doing, we have to stop him," Buffy said.

She stepped out from behind the pillar and walked across the floor. Her shoes echoing loudly on the floor. The man whirled around. It was only then that Buffy realized he wasn't human.

His face was white and not just from a lack of suntan. His deep red lips stood out in stark contrast. The irises of his eyes glowed a bright, inhuman green.

He didn't even bother rising to his feet. Instead, he called out, "Guards!"

The three remaining demons rushed out from a room in the back. Xander rushed over to help Buffy deal with them. It had taken both of them to kill the other three, and the same went for their friends.

"Xander, can you get to clown-faced guy?" Buffy asked as she blocked a punch, grabbed the demon's other arm and pulled, using all of her Slayer strength to twist the demon in the air so that he landed on his back. She was then busy trying to avoid getting hit by her second attacker. Meanwhile, Xander was keeping his opponent at arm's length because of his axe, but he had yet to score any hits.

"Not at the moment!" Xander called back, barely ducking in time when the demon got through his guard.

The sorcerer had returned to the chant. As more of his blood poured into the bowl, the wall of water increased in size, growing from the size of a beach ball until it touched the ceiling and floor both.

There was a loud crack. Xander stared at his axe handle in surprise. The end holding the blade had been torn completely off; now, all he had was a nicely sharp stake. Too bad he couldn't use it on these guys.

The demon grabbed his forearms and grinned. "Bye, bye," he said. Then he swung Xander around, lifting the mortal off of the ground before releasing him.

Xander let out a startled cry as he soared through the air.

Buffy heard him and risked a glance in his direction. Her eyes widened. "Xander!"

It was too late. Xander collided with the portal and sailed on through.

The sorcerer had also glanced up when he heard the young man's cry. His eyes widened in dismay. "No!"

He stood up, unwittingly knocking over the bowl in the process. His dismayed look turned to the bowl. "Oh, no…" he said, this time in fear.

"You asshole!" Buffy yelled. "Where the hell did you send him?"

One of the three demons tried to take advantage of her distraction. She turned her attention back to them and started fighting even harder than before, determined to finish the lackeys off so she could get to the sorcerer.

The sorcerer glanced at her, then at the bowl and the portal. Then he turned tail and ran out of the building as fast as he could.

"Come back here!" Buffy cried, indignant, yet unable to stop him.


Hermione Granger smiled and rolled her eyes. She suppressed the smile before making her way across the shop.

"I should have known I'd find you two in here," she told them.

Harry Potter and Ron Weasley, her two best friends, glanced up from the display of new chocolate frog cards. Both boys smiled widely. "Hiya, Hermione!" Harry said, pleased to see her. He hadn't seen her all summer, not since…he shook off those thoughts.

"Hi, Hermione," Ron said.

"Hello, Ron, Harry," she replied. She glanced around in confusion. "Where is everyone? Surely you aren't here without an escort, Harry?"

Harry looked guilty and wouldn't met her eyes. Her eyes narrowed and she crossed her arms, waiting for his explanation.

"We sort of…sneaked out," Ron replied, looking just as guilty.

Hermione let out a short huff of anger. "I cannot believe you! V-Voldemort's still at large, and Diagon Alley is the last place where you'd be safe, and you know it."

Harry scowled. "Fine! Let's go back to the Leaky Cauldron, then. Excuse me if I was just trying to have some fun."

"Oh, Harry!" she said in further exasperation.

Ron and Hermione followed him out of the store. Ron scowled at her. "You have to be the perfect little Prefect, don't you, even when we're not in school."

Hermione glared at him and continued walking. "That's not it and you know it. Harry has to be careful. We all do."

Harry stopped and whirled around. "Look, if I could go to Hogsmeade last year, there's no reason why I can't walk around Diagon Alley."

"That was different," Hermione insisted. "Last year, Voldemort was still in hiding. Showing up in Hogsmeade was the last thing he wanted. Now, everyone knows he's back. He could attack you at any time if you're not careful."

Harry scowled and crossed his arms but still wouldn't look at her. He knew she was right. He was just tired of it. He was tired of hiding. He was tired of wondering when the Dark Lord would strike next. All he had thought about all summer was his godfather, Sirius Black, falling between that curtain. He wanted to do…something, something normal. The problem was that no one would let him.

Someone's voice caught his attention. It was a man's, but it was faint. He sounded like he was chanting. Harry frowned and concentrated, listening. After a moment, he heard it again. He turned left in the direction the sound was coming from. The mouth of an alley - just a narrow strip between two shops - began only a foot away. He couldn't see down it, but he was certain that the chanting came from that direction.

"Do you hear that?" he asked, thoughts of Sirius and Voldemort gone for the moment.

Before his friends could answer, Harry took off down the alley. "Harry!" Hermione called after him before she and Ron followed him.

"Where you going, mate?" Ron asked.

"I thought I heard something…" Harry said, stopping when the alley intersected with a larger alley. The larger alley ran behind all of the shops on this side of Diagon Alley.

Harry looked right. No one was in sight. He looked left. "Look!" he told Hermione and Ron as the two Prefects ran up to him.

Hermione gasped.

"Bloody hell!" Ron exclaimed.

A man with long, graying black hair knelt in the middle of the paved ground of the alley. His back was facing them, but they could clearly see what he was doing. He held a knife in his left hand over a cut in his right palm, which he held over a wooden bowl that he'd set at his feet.

"Hey! What do you think you're doing?" Ron called out, even as Harry and Hermione both tried to shush him.

Obviously started, the man stood and whirled around to face them. All three teenagers took a startled step back. The man's skin was unnatural pale, but that's not what got their attention. Rather, it was his glowing green eyes.

"Get out of here!" he said urgently.

Something shimmering took form in the air behind the sorcerer. Harry saw it first. "What is that?" he asked.

The green-eyed man turned back around. Then, casting one last glance back at Harry, Ron, and Hermione, he knelt once more and held his hand back over the bowl.

"That's dark magic!" Hermione said. "He's opening a portal!"

"A what?" Ron asked, confused.

The man resumed his chant. Within a few seconds, the blue-and-white shimmering thing grew in size until it had formed a wall from one side of the alley to the other.

"I think we should get out of here," Harry said.

He turned and started leading the way toward the side alley, only to gasp in sudden pain as his scar seemed to explode on his forehead. He cried out as he staggered to one side. There was only one thing that could cause such a reaction in his scar. Voldemort was nearby.

"He's here!" he gasped out. "Voldemort, he's-"

"Harry, look out!" Hermione shouted.

Harry collided with someone as he felt hands on his arms, trying to pull him in the opposite direction. Ron pulled him off of the sorcerer Harry had run into. Harry's foot kicked something.

The sorcerer let out a cry of dismay. Harry opened his eyes a slit to see the bowl, which he'd kicked, turned upside down. It's contents lay splattered everywhere.

"Oh, no," the sorcerer said as he tried to stand and back away from the now-ruined spell. Unfortunately, he knocked into Ron and Harry, who both went stumbling away from him.

Hermione, watching, gasped. "Ron! Harry! Look out!"

It was too late. Harry and Ron hit the surface of the portal and passed through.

The sorcerer scrambled back up to his feet, turned, and ran. Shocked, Hermione didn't even turn as he ran past her. Then, shaking herself out of it, she pulled out her wand and pointed in at the fleeing man. "Stupefy!" she cried.

The spell flew at him and hit him square on the back. The sorcerer stumbled but quickly regained his footing. Reaching the other end of the alley, he turned and disappeared within the throng of people wandering up and down Diagon Alley, barely missing Hermione's second spell.


Jack whistled as he walked down the hall in the direction of the elevators. Because of the lack of a crisis this time around, Jack planned to get a good night's sleep in his own bed that night. He'd already dressed into civilian clothes and was looking forward to sprawling on his couch, beer in hand and a hockey game on his TV set.

He rounded the corner and smiled. Five feet away and he'd be in the elevator and headed for the surface.

Of course, it was that exact minute that the klaxons decided to start blaring.

Jack paused with a curse on his lips. He looked longingly at the elevator, and for a moment he entertained the notion of just leaving this one up to the general. But, his conscience and his duty got the better of him and he turned and jogged back the way he'd come.

He reached the Control Room to find it in its usual state. General Hammond was already there, and so was Sergeant Siler and a few more tech's. The rest of Jack's team wasn't in sight.

Down below, the SF's had taken up position in the Gate Room even though it was clear that the Gate wasn't active. The SF's commander glanced up through the glass at them, an obvious question in his expression.

"What's the problem, general?" Jack asked.

"We're not sure," Hammond replied. "The alarms just started blaring suddenly. Hopefully, it's just a technical error. I've called Major Carter down here to check it out."

Jack nodded. He heard footsteps behind him and turned to see Carter, Daniel, and Teal'c, in that order, mount the short flight of steps into the room. Carter sat down next to Siler. "What happened, sir?" she asked.

"Not sure, Major," Jack replied. "Think you can tell us?"

"According to this, sir," Sgt. Siler said, "someone's attempting to dial out."

"The Stargate appears to be inactive," Teal'c commented.

"I know, sir, but that is what the computer says," Siler said, sounding as bewildered as the rest of them.

Everyone glanced up sharply as the outer ring of the Stargate began to turn. "Major? Sergeant?" Hammond demanded.

"It's not us, sir," Carter said.

"Shut it down!" he ordered.

"We're trying, sir!"

Jack suddenly found himself faces the stairs. He watched as Carter, Daniel and Teal'c mounted the stairs and entered the Control Room. Carter sat down in the seat next to Siler. "What happened, sir?" she asked.

"What the-" Jack said, blinking.

He glanced down into the Gate Room. The wormhole had been established, even though he couldn't remember any of the chevrons being locked.

"When did a wormhole get established?" Daniel asked, sounding just as puzzled. Jack turned to him. Daniel now stood on his left, even though the last time Jack had checked, the archeologist had been standing to Carter's right.

Something walked back in the corner of Jack's right eye. He whirled in that direction and saw something pass by in the corridor at the bottom of the steps. He didn't get a good look at it before it was gone. "Did anyone see that?" he asked.

Suddenly, Jack found himself once again walking up the steps into the Control Room. His team was gone; only General Hammond, Siler, and the other technicians remained in their original positions. Jack glanced down into the Gate Room. The Gate was inactive once again. The SF commander was glancing up at them with the same questioning look.

Reality shifted around him again, and Jack now found himself standing in the Gate Room at the base of the ramp. The Stargate was active behind him, and its light bathed the room. Half of the SF's lay unconscious on the ground. The rest were fighting tall figures dressed all in black.

"O'Neill, behind you!" Teal'c cried. Jack turned and barely ducked a punch in time from one of the figures.

He stood once again in the Control Room. "Chevron 5 locked!" Sgt. Siler said.

He faced the stairs once more. A figure dressed in black darted by. "Did anyone see that?" he heard himself say.

"See what, O'Neill?" Teal'c inquired.

"Who's that down there?" Daniel asked from Jack's left. He motioned down at the Gate Room.

Jack turned and saw someone kneeling on the ramp, facing the Stargate. The SF's become aware of him at the same time. Their weapons came up to bare as the commander called out for the man to freeze.

Jack found himself in the corridor at the base of the steps. He ran into the Gate Room in time to see half of the SF's fall down, attacked by an enemy, the black-clothed figures, that appeared to shimmer in and out of sight.

He stood once again in the Control Room. "Chevron 3 locked!" Siler announced.

The Gate Room again, fighting for his life. Two of the intruders grabbed his arms from behind, effectively holding him even as he struggled to break free.

"O'Neill!" Teal'c cried, hurrying over to help free him.

A cry came from the direction of the ramp. Everyone turned and saw the man with graying black hair clutch his upper left arm where it had been shot. The knife he'd hand in his left hand had fallen onto the ramp, and his right hand was no longer being held over the bowl.

The black-clad figures disappeared, followed by the sorcerer. Jack panted as he glanced around the Gate Room. Over half of the SF's had been knocked on unconscious or worse. Jack stood at the base of the ramp and Teal'c stood a few feet away from him. Carter, Daniel, Siler, and Hammond stared down at them from the Control Room.

He waited, but when reality didn't shift again, he turned to regard the Gate.

He watched as the surface rippled. Two figures fell through, landing in odd positions on the ramp.


Buffy had succeeded in killed one of her opponents, now she was down to two. She was so focused that she didn't notice the young man drop out of the portal, landing face-first on the floor.

These two were better than all of their friends combined. Buffy knew that unless she got an edge soon the odds of her winning this fight were slim.

Like every time before, she got that edge just in the nick of time.

"Stupefy!" an unknown voice shouted.

One of Buffy's opponents stiffened before falling over as stiff as a rock.

"Petrificus Totallus!" The other opponent became as stiff as a post before he, too, collapsed to the floor.

Buffy turned to face the voice's owner, still on guard, only to blink, startled. He was the last person she expected to see. He looked to be a year or two younger than Dawn with hair as red as Willow's with freckles to match.

Ron took in his surroundings. He gulped. "Um…hullo."


His body aching from the impact with the metal ramp, Xander struggled to remove his face from the ramp. He pushed himself off of the ramp and glanced around. His eye patch had been pushed over onto his good eye, and he shoved it back to its proper place in front of his left eye socket.

He glanced to the right. A teenage boy, lying in a similar position on the ramp, was also struggling to lift himself up. Xander glanced at their surroundings.

They were in a large room made of metal and concrete. It was quite unlike the abandoned house he and Buffy had been in a moment before. What got his attention, however, were the various military personnel aiming guns at him and the kid.

"Oh, boy," he said, gulping.

Chapter Two

If one of the SGC personnel had been tossed through the Stargate-framed portal, they would have been transported to Diagon Alley. However, since none of them were, Hermione was alone on the trip to retrieve help.

She ran into the Leaky Cauldron, glancing around for a familiar face. She caught a flash of bright green hair and skittered around some tables to where the person sat. "Tonks!" she said, breathless, as she came to a stop next to the booth. "Harry and Ron are in trouble!"

Auror Nymphadora Tonks' eyes widened. "What?" she exclaimed. "What happened?"

Hermione hastened to explain, keeping her voice low. When she finished, Tonks looked angry. "Damn that boy! Harry is certainly good at getting himself in trouble, isn't he?"

She stood. "Let's go find Mad-Eye and Mr. Weasley. They'll need to hear this."

"Then what?" Hermione asked.

"Then we hunt down that spell-caster, arrest him for illegal practice of Dark Magic, and then get him to bring Harry and Ron back."

Hermione hesitated before plowing on. "Um, I'm not sure that was Dark Magic."

"Of course it was." Tonks looked at her, eyebrows furrowed. "What else could it be?"

"I don't know, exactly," Hermione said. "But it was definitely something else."


Harry and Xander were escorted to a holding cell while Carter and the technicians figured out what damage had been done to the Stargate and Fraiser and her medics saw to the injured. The mountain was placed under lock down while the remaining personnel divided into search parties in the hopes of locating the intruders, assuming they were still on base. So far, they had found no one.

Xander paced while Harry sat on one of the bunks. He continued to pace for a quarter of an hour before he finally collapsed onto the bunk across from the wizard. Xander studied Harry and Harry regarded him back.

"You're Harry Potter, aren't you?" he asked after a while.

Harry started. "Yes, I am," he said. "Who are you?"

"Xander Harris," he responded with a friendly smile. He held out a hand and Harry shook it.

"How'd you get here?" Harry asked him. "You weren't in the alley."

"I got shot through a portal in Cleveland." Xander raised an eyebrow. "Alley? As in Diagon Alley?"

"Um…no, but it was nearby," Harry said. "I went through a portal, too, but I was with my friend, Ron. I hope he's all right."

Xander shrugged. "Maybe he landed in Cleveland. If he did, my friends will find a way to fix this."

"Yeah, and Hermione's going to find a way to get me back home, too," Harry said. "Do you know where we are?"

"Stargate Command," Xander answered automatically. "Converted missile silo located under the NORAD base in Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado Springs, Colorado." He paused, then added, "USA."

"Stargate Command?" Harry's brow furrowed. His eyes widened. "Stargate SG-1! But, hang on-that's a TV show."

"How do you think I know so much about it?" Xander asked him. "It's a TV show where I come from, too. We've just both traveled to an alternate reality where Stargate is real."

Harry raised an eyebrow at him. "You don't sound too surprised."

Xander shrugged. "I'm not, really. After the things I've been through, very little surprises you anymore."

There was bitterness in his voice. Harry wondered why.

"It can't be anything like I've been through," he said.

"Oh, I wouldn't place any bets on that if I were you," Xander told him. "You've only been fighting the bad guys for - five years, right? I've been fighting them for longer than that."

"How do you know so much about me?" Harry asked him. The light dawned in his eyes. "I'm not a fictional character in your universe, am I?"

Xander smiled understandingly at him. "Bingo. My turn to ask the same question."

Harry took a few minutes to process that his entire life wasn't real in another reality before he answered Xander's question. "Um…I don't know. I don't watch a lot of television."

Xander shrugged. "That's okay. I probably wouldn't be the focus of a syndicated TV show, anyway, being just the average Joe sidekick. Buffy would probably get more recognition."

"Buffy? As in Buffy the Vampire Slayer? The TV show?" Harry asked.

Xander sighed. "Yep. The Buffster gets her own TV series. Not that she doesn't deserve it, but still…so there's a TV show, huh? You ever watch it?"

The wizard shook his head. "Sorry, no."

"Oh, well. So, Mr. Wizard, think you can get us out of here?"

Harry's shoulders slumped. "They took my wand."

Xander shrugged. "It was worth a try. Still, if these guys are anything like the characters of the TV show, then they should be willing to help us."

Harry looked at him incredulously. "They locked us up!"

"Just a precaution," Xander assured him. "They looked like they had bigger problems to deal with first. At least I hope that's why we're in here. We'll know soon enough."

Harry sighed. Crossing his arms, he leaned back against the wall and stared at the little window set high inside the door of their cell. He hoped Xander was right and that their captors hadn't forgotten about them.


The building that Buffy took Ron to was on the outskirts of downtown Cleveland. The building was actually two buildings, a hotel and a gym, combined into one. An older Slayer of thirty-five owned the hotel while the parents of a younger Slayer owned the gym. It had been a blessing and a welcome donation to the New Watcher's Council, and the Slayers and Slayerettes had set up shop in them immediately.

Ron didn't know any of this, of course, and he probably wouldn't have understood all of the references to Slayers and Slayerettes if Buffy had told him the headquarters' history. He couldn't help but stare as the Alpha Slayer led him inside the front door of the gym half.

Sitting at the secretary's desk out front was an older woman. She was, in fact, one of the owners of the gym. She worked there as a secretary during the summer while Buffy and the others used it.

"Good afternoon, Buffy," she said, smiling. She didn't even blink at Buffy's torn, goo-splattered clothes or the sword she still held. She glanced at Ron. Her brow furrowed as she tried to remember where she'd seen the boy before.

"Afternoon, Katlyn, although whether it's a good one remains to be seen," Buffy said, glancing at Ron. Ron didn't notice; he was still looking around.

"How goes the plumbing in the second story bathrooms?" Buffy asked.

Katlyn Prairie only winced. "Not good. A good number of the girls are upset, too. Fortunately they've taken their frustrations out on the training equipment in the gyms. Unfortunately, some of those have broken beyond repair because of it."

"Wonderful," Buffy deadpanned. "Oh, by the way, this is Ron Weasley. Ron, this is Katlyn Prairie, the mother of one of the girls that go to summer camp here."

"This is a girl's camp, right?" Ron asked, thinking over what Buffy had told him in the car.

Buffy nodded. "Right. But a lot of guys are here, too. They're mostly relatives of the girls, though."

She turned back to Katlyn. "Have you seen Dawn or Willow anywhere?"

"Dawn's upstairs, I think. Last I heard, Willow and Kennedy were still in their room," Katlyn replied with a grin.

Buffy rolled her eyes. "Those two really need to give it a rest."

Katlyn smirked and looked back at Ron. Her brow furrowed again. "Ron Weasley, was it?"

Ron just nodded, wondering why she was looking at him like that.

Katlyn's eyes widened. "Oh, my god! You look just like him!"

Ron was understandably confused by this comment. "Look like who?" he demanded.

"Like Ron Weasley from the Harry Potter movies! Added to the fact that your name is the same and-" Her eyes suddenly widened even further in sudden understanding. "You're not-"

"Uh, Ron, let's get started figuring how to get your back, shall we?" Buffy said, grabbing Ron's arm and dragging him toward the stairs.

"What was she talking about?" Ron demanded as they headed up the steps. He tried to shake himself loose but Buffy's grip was unnaturally strong.

Buffy hesitated. "I'll explain as soon as I round up the gang. Then we can figure out a way to get you back home."

"I'd really prefer if we talking about it now, thanks," Ron said as they walked onto the second floor landing. He glared at her. "What was she talking about when she said 'Harry Potter movies'? A movie is a moving picture thing that tells a story, right?"

"Yeah," Buffy said, sighing. "Look, you came from a portal, and my guess is that you came from an alternate universe. Hate to break this to you, but here, you're a fictional character from a bunch of books."

"I am not!" Ron protested automatically. He stopped to think about what she was trying to tell him. "You're saying I'm not in my universe anymore?"

Buffy smiled sympathetically. "Yep."

"And I'm in a bunch of fictional books? How the bloody hell is all of this even possible?"

Buffy shrugged. "Beats me, but don't worry. We'll find out."


Mad-Eye Moody and Arthur Weasley had been retrieved from their rooms at the Leaky Cauldron, and Tonks had been sent to the owlry to send a message to Dumbledore as well as call in an Auror team from the Ministry. Hermione led Moody and Mr. Weasley to the spot behind Diagon Alley where the events of less than an hour ago had taken place. Mrs. Weasley had stayed behind with Ginny, Fred, and George, despite the fact that all four of them had wanted to help.

The portal had closed, and only the bowl splattered with dried blood had been left behind as evidence that a ritual had taken place there.

Moody examined the area with his magic eye while Arthur picked up the bowl and performed a few revealing spells on it. After a moment, Arthur sighed in frustration. "Nothing but blood and a wooden bowl. No traces of any spells left on it."

"Anything, Professor Moody?" Hermione asked, worried. Like the others, she too was eager to find out what had happened to the two boys.

He only shook his head. He looked puzzled and weary. "Nothing I can see. It's as if nothing happened here."

"But it did. I saw it," she insisted.

"We know, Hermione. We're not disputing that," Arthur assured her. "It might have something to do with the ritual. You said it didn't look like Dark Magic?"

She nodded. "Yes. I've read about Dark Magic, and it didn't look anything like I remember. I mean, there was a blood ritual involved, and chanting, but…it just didn't feel right, somehow." She felt her cheeks burn as she struggled to explain it.

"Whatever it was, there's nothing here, now," Moody growled. "Arthur, Hermione, you two should get on back to the inn. I'll stay behind and wait for Dumbledore and the Aurors."

Hermione tried to contain her helplessness as she and Mr. Weasley left the alley behind. She sincerely hoped that her two best friends were all right, and wished there was a way to make it stop feeling like they were running out of time.


Two more hours went by before there was finally some commotion outside of their cell. Harry and Xander stood, exchanging glances. Harry wished he still had his wand; he felt naked without it. Xander hoped that everything in the next few minutes went smoothly.

The door opened and both young men steeled themselves. When she walked into the holding cell, Xander felt his jaw just drop. "Ay, carumba!" he said before he could think coherently enough to get his mouth to shut up.

She blinked at him and actually blushed before she could stop herself. She was a blonde and her hair was cut short and crips, all military-like. She wore olive green fatigues and had the clearest blue eyes he'd ever seen. He knew who she was, of course, and he'd always known she was hot. He just never thought she'd be this gorgeous in person.

Thoughts of Anya flitted into his mind, accompanied by the usual pangs of remorse and the newer pangs of guilt. Anya may have been dead for close to a year now, but he knew he'd miss her always.

The rest of the group entered behind the major. General Hammond came first, followed by Col. O'Neill, Dr. Jackson, and Teal'c. Xander couldn't help but feel in awe. He felt like Andrew when one of the Trainee Slayers had given the geek a gift certificate to his favorite video game store for Christmas because she had a crush on him.

"My name is General Hammond," the general began, all business. "I'm the Commander of the SGC. These are-"

Smiling, Xander interrupted, "Colonel Jack O'Neill, Major Samantha Carter, Dr. Daniel Jackson, and Teal'c." SG-1 and Hammond certain looked surprised. "I'm Xander Harris. The other guy is Harry Potter."

They didn't appear to recognize either names, which Xander found strange. Sure, he'd see how the supporting cast's character names of Buffy might not be known, but where he was from, the Harry Potter books and movies were really, really big.

"How do you know who we are?" Dr. Jackson asked.

"That's a long story, believe me. It might be better for all concerned if we went to the Briefing Room for this."

After a little more discussion, the seven of them moved to the Briefing Room. Immediately upon being seated, Col. O'Neill said, "All right. Explain."

"Okay," Xander said, taking in a deep breath. "We're from alternate universes. In mine, Harry's world is completely fictional and is composed of a group of books and movies that I imagine have made one British woman in particular very rich. In Harry's universe, my and my friend's lives can be viewed weekly on a TV show called Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Now, here's in the clincher: in both of our universes, the Stargate, the SGC, SG-1, all of you – you're all fictional and are from a TV show called Stargate SG-1."

"Riight," O'Neill drawled. "Sure. Tell us another one."

"Actually, it is possible, sir," Carter said.

Xander breathed a sigh of relief upon hearing her words. At least some of them were considering it. He gave the major a lopsided smile. He was fairly certain he saw her blush again before she looked away.

"Major?" Hammond questioned.

"We already know that alternate realities exist, sir. It's not improbable that in at least one of those realities we're the characters of a TV show."

"But they came through the Stargate, Sam," Daniel argued.

"I don't think the Quantum Mirror exists in my reality," Xander said. "If it does, then it's just as a prop for the Stargate set.

"Then how did you accomplish traveling across realities, XanderHarris?" Teal'c questioned. "The Stargate does not possess such capabilities."

"I don't know about Harry, but I got here by magic," Xander said.

"Oh, right, and now you're going to tell me that where you come from, monsters do live in the closet," O'Neill countered.

"Don't know. Haven't met any," Xander quipped. "I do know there are vampires and demons in my world. I've fought them on a regular basis, even."

"How exactly did you get here? If we're just fictional characters in your universe, you couldn't have used a Stargate," Daniel pointed out.

"Right," Xander said, nodding. "My friend Buffy and I were fighting these demons who were protecting this warlock. The warlock was opening a portal using this blood ritual or something. I got knocked into the portal and the next thing I know, I'm here."

Harry looked at him with some surprise. "That's how I got here!" he said. "Only there weren't any demons, just a wizard. He was opening a portal, too, and my friend Ron and I ended up getting sent through."

"Ron?" Carter asked.

"He's one of my best friends. Xander thinks he may have gotten sent to Xander's universe."

SG-1 and the general exchanged glances. "What exactly did this guy look like?" Jack asked. "Not that I'm saying magic exists, which I'm not."

"My guy was in desperate need for a tan," Xander said. "He had black hair that was turning gray too, not to mention the glowing green eyes."

Harry nodded. "That's what the wizard in my universe looked like, too."

The SGC people exchanged a look again. Xander caught it and asked, "What happened here before we showed up? Did you guys have a visit from Mr. Pale-and-glowy-eyes guy?"

"As a matter of fact, we did," Hammond said.

"Well, that's great!" Xander said. "All we have to do is find him and then maybe he can help us get back home."


"What do you think, Teal'c?" Jack asked after their two guests had been taken to the infirmary for physicals.

"I believe that XanderHarris and HarryPotter were telling the truth, O'Neill," Teal'c said.

"But magic?" Jack objected. "Teal'c, even you would have to admit that's a little crazy. Even if they are from an alternate universe."

"I don't know, Jack," Daniel countered, deep in thought. "The leader of the base's attackers did look like he was performing some sort of ritual."

Jack couldn't believe him. "For crying out loud, Daniel!" He turned to the remaining member of his team. "Carter, help me out here."

"Well, sir, it might not be magic. It could be some sort of technology that's so advanced that it only appears to be magic. Obvious, that man did something. The chevrons hadn't even engaged, but the computers did say that an outgoing wormhole had been established."

"Then how did Mr. Harris and Mr. Potter came through, Major?" Hammond asked.

"I don't know, sir," Carter said. "Of course, considering the chaotic moments that preceded and followed the wormhole's opening, two wormholes could have been established and closed without our even realizing it."

"That's another thing I don't like," Jack said. "How did they do that? Advanced technology again, Carter?"

"Either that or magic," Daniel said with a half-smile. Jack glared at him.


Dawn, Willow, and Kennedy were all retrieved and sent to Buffy's second floor office. They, along with Xander and Buffy, made up the scope of the Cleveland Scoobies. The Slayers-in-Training and their various relatives didn't count in these kinds of matters, and Giles, Wood, Andrew, and Faith were in other parts of the world.

Buffy went looking for them and returned with the three girls in tow. She'd already filled them in on the situation, and all three viewed Ron curiously. The attention made him shift uncomfortably.

Willow and Dawn were both ecstatic. "Wow, you like just like Rupert Grint!" Willow exclaimed. "Can you do the magic with the wands from the movies? 'Cause that would be so cool. I've always wanted to compare J. K. Rowling's version of magic with wiccan magic."

Ron was confused again. "Rupert Grint? J. K. Rowling? Who the hell are they?"

"J. K. Rowling wrote the Harry Potter books," Dawn explained. "Rupert Grint plays you in the movies."

"Oh, yeah? I'd like to see these books and movies, myself," Ron said. "See how much they got right and all. Although it is still weird that there are any books or movies about my life at all."

"Actually, they focus more on Harry, but you're in pretty much all of it," Kennedy said.

"Hey, Buffy, where's Xander? Didn't he go with you on patrol?" Willow asked, noticing that her other best friend wasn't present.

"I hadn't gotten to that part yet," Buffy said, wincing. "Xander got sent through the portal before Ron arrived."

"What?" Dawn exclaimed, shocked. "We have to get him back."

"We will," Buffy assured her, biting her lip in worry for her friend. "And we'll send you back, too, Ron, and find out what happened to your friend Harry."

"Harry Potter got sent through with you?" Kennedy asked. "What happened to him?"

"I think we got separated," Ron explained. "I'm not really sure what happened, exactly, but it's obvious he didn't wind up here." His brow furrowed and he turned to Buffy. "Where is here, anyway? Besides being in an alternate universe. And what's wiccan magic? And how come all of you aren't more freaked out?" He hesitated. "You are Muggles, aren't you?"

Willow giggled. "Muggles. I always thought that was a cute name. Yep, we're all Muggles. Although, maybe I'm not a Muggle, seeing as how I know magic even though it's not your kind of magic."

"Here would be Cleveland, Ohio," Buffy answered. "As to the other question, well, ever heard of a Vampire Slayer?"

Ron blanched. "Vampires?" he repeated. "Bloody hell. Werewolves and giant spiders were bad enough. You're telling me there are vampires here?"

"Yep, and we fight 'em," Kennedy responded.

"You fight them?" Ron repeated, incredulous.

"We fight demons, too," Dawn said. "And Willow's a witch. Although not your kind of witch. She's a Wiccan Witch, but she'll probably be able to get you back home and figure out what happened to Harry. She's, like, wicked powerful."

Willow blushed and looked away when Ron glanced at her. "I don't know any specific spell to use, so we'd have to research it first."

"Wonderful," Buffy said with a sigh. She smiled in delight. "We can always get the trainees to do that." She looked at Ron. "Word of your arrival has probably spread by now. They'll be wanting to meet you."

"Who will?" Ron asked, not liking the look in her eyes.

"Our personal in-training fighting squad against the vampires, demons, and the forces of darkness." Buffy smirked. "In other words, over a hundred and twenty-five hormone controlled teenage girls-"

"I think I speak for all teenage girls when I say, 'Hey!'" Dawn protested.

"Don't count on it, Dawn," Kennedy said with a smirk at Willow.

Buffy continued as if she hadn't been interrupted. "-hormone controlled teenage girls who have been around very few males all summer who aren't family members. A large number of them are also Harry Potter fans. They'll be wanting to meet the real Ron Weasley."

Ron gulped. He really didn't like the evil glint in her eyes, not at all.

Chapter Three

Never in his life had Ron been in the same room with so many teenage girls. Discounting those many meals in the Great Hall, anyway, but those were different. For one, most of the witches at Hogwarts didn't pay him any mind. For another, these girls were.

He couldn't believe he'd been jealous of the attention Harry received for so long. Sure, it was brilliant having at least a hundred girls' attention, but after being asked for his autograph he didn't know how many times, his arm was getting tired. Still, it was great, and although he didn't think he could live with it twenty-four/seven, he did think it was good for a few hours at least.

Many of his new fans volunteered to help research, although many were saddened to hear that he wouldn't be staying for very long. Some of them, he noted, wanted to get Xander back, and others hoped that they'd get to meet the Boy Who Lived himself.

Ron was grinning when Dawn came to his rescue. She smirked at him as she pulled him out of the gym where the crowd of fan girls had gathered and led him back up the stairs. "Come on, Willow wants to talk to you."

"That's fine," Ron said, smiling smugly. He was full of confidence now. Being a celebrity felt good.

She rolled her eyes at him. "So how many of them asked for autographs."

"Thirty-three," Ron answered, dreamily. He turned to her with a grin. "I'd be more than happy to give you one, too."

She looked at him for a minute as she tried to fight the smile from forming. "Thanks, that's-" She couldn't take it anymore and just let it all out. "Great! Oh, you have no idea how much I love the Harry Potter books! They are like my all-time favorite." Her eyes widened in embarrassment. "Not that I absolutely have to have your autograph or anything. I mean, if you'd feel uncomfortable…or something."

Ron's smile fell a little as her words sunk in. He'd forgotten that little detail: his and his friends' lives were nothing but some unknown women's creation here. Those girls had been his fans only because his life was some big-screen box-office sell-out.

He sighed. He'd been spending way too much time with Hermione and Harry. Just when things got good, he was already looking for the catch.

Willow and Buffy were waiting for them in the office. "One of the Slayers found this location spell," Willow said, "That should work across dimensional boundaries. But it only works if we have a portal open, or if we have someone or something that's been in contact with a portal recently."

"In other words, me," Ron guessed. "Are you going to try to find Harry and your friend, Xander?"

"That's what we're hoping," Buffy confirmed. "From what you told us, it sounds like a look-a-like spell caster from both sides cast the same spell at the same time. When two people are working either end, the portal is just that much more powerful. That means that Xander and Harry could be anywhere."

Dawn bit her lip. "I hope Xander's all right." She glanced at Ron. "And Harry."

"They are," Buffy said, giving her sister a reassuring smile even though it was obvious she was also worried.

"Yeah," Ron said with confidence. "If I know Harry, he can get himself out of trouble just as much as he gets in trouble."

"Xander's the same way," Buffy said, nodding. "They'll be fine."

"Right," Willow agreed, nodding her head decisively. She wouldn't let herself believe anything else.

They got to business. "Take out your wand and do a spell," Willow said. "Something simple."

"Like wingardium leviosa or something," Dawn said, happy to remember one of the correct spells.

Ron shrugged and glanced around. He spotted a coffee cup resting on the desk. Pointing his wand at it, he did the 'swish and flick' motion Hermione had drilled into his skull back in first year. "Wingardium leviosa."

The cup rose into the air. Ron controlled its motion with his wand and set the cup back down in a different spot. He glanced at Willow. Her eyes were closed and her arms were extended, palms facing forward.

Her eyes flew open and she gasped before taking a jerky step to the right, almost falling if Buffy hadn't steadied her. "Woah," she said as a big, amazed grin spread across her face.

"What happened?" Ron asked.

Willow steadied herself. Still looking amazed, she met Ron's eyes. "Um, the spell that sent you here, it's unlike anything I've ever felt. It was completely unlike your own magic, too, that's why I asked you to perform a spell so I could compare them. The portal spell - that used a completely different kind of magic altogether from both Wiccan magic and your own wizard magic." She looked at Buffy. "I'm completely out of my element here. If there's any information we can get on this thing, I'm thinking that only that spell caster would know it."

"What about the location spell? Did you try it?" Dawn asked.

Willow nodded. "It didn't work. Wiccan magic is just completely incompatible with the spell caster's magic. I don't know where Xander or Harry were sent to."

"So we look for the spell caster," Buffy said.

She headed for the door. "I'll tell the researchers to stand down and get a few teams together to go on a hunt. Willow, think you could locate this guy?"

"I could try. He should have remnants of the spell left on him, too, so it should be easier than usual."

Buffy nodded. "Good. Thanks, Will." She turned to her sister. "Dawn, maybe you could show Ron to one of the guest quarters? It's getting late and we probably shouldn't start the search until tomorrow."

"Sure," Dawn said. She turned to Ron and motioned toward the door. "Come on. Let's get you a room." At that statement, her eyes widened a little. "For yourself, I mean. It'll be a private one. Unless you want to room with someone else? Not in a sexy way…"

"A private room's fine," Ron said, smiling. She was cute when she babbled.

Where did that thought come from? He hadn't even known Dawn Summers for longer than two hours and already he was…what?

Dawn smile, embarrassed. "Right."

She turned and led the way out the room and back down the stairs. Ron trailed behind her, trying to sort out his thoughts. Did he have feelings for Dawn? But what about Hermione?

That thought almost made him choke. Now where the bloody hell had that come from? He didn't have any feelings for Hermione. No, way.

Dawn led him across the front hall of the gym and through another door near the entrance. They exited into the front lobby of what had to be a hotel. They walked past the reception desk and entered an elevator. Ron glanced around it in puzzlement. "What's this box room for?"

Dawn tried not to start laughing. "It's an elevator," she replied. "It'll help us get to the fifth floor faster. That's the floor for guest and permanent residents such as myself."

The elevator rose. When they got off on the fifth floor, Ron glanced around in amazement. "Hogwarts could use a few of those," he said. "That's better than the bleeding moving staircases any day."

Dawn was studying the hallway. "Let's see, which one isn't being used yet…a-ha!"

She showed him into one of the rooms. "#513, the room right next to mine."

"Great," Ron said. "When's dinner? I'm starving."

"It's pretty much an eat-whenever-you-like kind of deal. Food's always downstairs. Just ask someone."

For a long moment, they just stood there, smiling at each other. Then Dawn took an unconscious step forward.

Ron took a hasty step back. "I think I'll go grab some dinner in a few minutes, then," he said loudly.

Her eyes widened. "Oh, right! Um, I'll meet you down there." She turned and hastily beat it to the door "I'll, uh, just go now."

"Yeah," Ron agreed.

"Yeah," Dawn said, then she shut the door behind her, leaving Ron alone.

Ron collapsed on one of the twin beds, buried his face in his hands and groaned. Had they been about to kiss? If they had, why the hell had he been so panicked?

"My love life's not complicated, not at all," he muttered to himself.

He sighed before standing, heading for the bathroom. He stood in front of the sink and splashed water on his face. It had been a long and weird day. He wondered if Hermione had told his dad and the Order about him and Harry disappearing. He smiled. Knowing her, she probably had, first thing.

His eyes widened. "My Mum is going to kill me," he told his reflection.

Pain shot through him. He reflexively grabbed the edge of the sink as his body spasmed. He cried out and stared, shocked to his core, at his reflection.

Something was happening to him. The best word he could use to describe it was…rippling. His body was rippling like it was the surface of a lake, only it wasn't, and this hurt like hell.

It stopped as suddenly as it began. Unable to hold himself up any longer, Ron gasped as he collapsed to the floor.


It was an hour or so later when the door to the holding cell opened. Major Carter and Daniel Jackson were the only ones to enter. "You guys hungry?" Carter asked.

"Are we ever," Xander said, jumping up. He smiled at her. "Thanks for asking."

Carter smiled back. Even though he might be a little young, there was something about him that she liked.

"We're headed for the Commissary for lunch," Daniel said. "The general's given permission to you to wonder about the base as long as you're with someone."

"Lead the way, then," Xander said.

"Um, Major Carter, is there any chance of me getting my wand back?" Harry asked.

Carter and Daniel exchanged a glance. "We'll have to ask the general. Come on. We should get moving before it gets too crowded."

They traveled up two levels to the Commissary. The room was indeed crowded, but there were still a few tables free. After they'd loaded their trays, the four were waved to a table by Teal'c and Colonel O'Neill. Teal'c, Jack, Daniel took one side while Harry, Xander, and Carter took the other.

"So, um, what's it like in your realities?" Daniel asked just to get the conversation going.

"Yeah, what's the actor who plays me like?" Jack asked, curious. "He any good?"

Xander shrugged. "He's got you down pat, and he's your identical twin to boot."

Harry nodded. "I've seen only a handful of episodes, but from what I can remember, he does look like you. Same goes for the rest of you, too."

"From where in your reality do you hail, HarryPotter?" Teal'c asked. "Your accent is unlike any I have heard from the Tau'ri."

Harry looked puzzled. "The Tau'ri? Who are they?"

Xander answered before Daniel could. "It's Goa'uld for 'Earthling'."

"Oh. Well, um, I'm from England. Surrey, actually."

"Where in Surrey?" Daniel asked.

Harry frowned as he considered a question he'd never thought to ask. Where was he born? "Um, I don't really know. My parents died when I was a baby." It felt strange explaining that, especially since everyone he'd ever met had known about that beforehand.

"I am sorry to hear that, HarryPotter," Teal'c said.

"Thanks." Harry cleared his throat before going on. "We've been comparing notes." He pointed between himself and Xander. "We've been trying to come up with as many parallels and differences between our two realities as we can. Xander said something about a mirror or something that we might be able to use if we can't track down the sorcerer."

"Know about that, huh?" Jack asked. "What else is on that TV show?"

"A lot of things," Xander said, shrugging.

Harry continued, "The biggest difference between our two realities that we can see is that our lives are fictional in each other's realities, while here, they aren't."

Xander took up the explanation, "We got to thinking that we may just have doubles here. If that's true, then I know some people who could help us. Harry does, too, but they would be a tad harder for him to get in touch with. The people I know could track down our wizard or warlock or whoever he is a lot better than you could, no offense."

"Give us some names and addresses and we'll look them up," Carter said. "With the general's permission, of course."

One thing had been bugging Harry for quite some time. "Colonel O'Neill? How exactly did the wizard break into this place?"

SG-1 exchanged glances again. "Well," O'Neill began, "we're not exactly sure about that ourselves."

"Meaning?" Xander questioned.

Jack waved helplessly to the archeologist. "Daniel?"

Daniel launched into an explanation about the intruders and their weird ability to make time seem to flow out of sequence.

"Ooh, ooh! I know this one!" Xander said, snapping his fingers as he tried to remember. "Rwasundi demons! They cause temporal disturbances in their general vicinity." He smiled, pleased that he remembered what he'd heard about them. Anya had been the one to share the info with the gang that time.

"How can you be certain they are demons, XanderHarris?" questioned Teal'c.

"Something tells me that we do have doubles here, which means that demons and vampires also exist here, too," Xander said.


California, the SGC's universe

It was a solemn group that stared at the crater that had been Sunnydale only a few minutes before.

"Looks like the Hellmouth is officially closed for business," Faith deadpanned.

Giles remarked, "There is another one in Cleveland."

Everyone turned and looked at him, glaring.

"Not to spoil the moment." Giles continued, a little sheepishly.

"You're telling me there's another one of those things?" Gunn asked. "Ah, man. Don't tell me the First is going to try to raise another army over there, too! We've only got one souled vamp left and the talisman is somewhere down there!"

Everyone paled. "Um, I'm certain it won't come to that," Wesley said, although he sounded less than certain. "The First will undoubtedly need time to strengthen its numbers, too, and considering the amount of time it took for it to built up an army in the first place…it's unlikely it will come up again in our lifetimes."

"Oh, thank God," Cordelia said, extremely relieved.

Faith, Cordelia, Gunn, Wesley, Giles, Xander, Willow, Dawn, and Buffy contemplated the crater for a few moments in silence. Behind them was the school bus they'd used to escape. Anya, Andrew, Robyn Wood, and a group of newly-called Slayers were gathered just outside of the bus' door. Angel was huddled under a seat inside the bus, protected by a blanket from the sun's rays.

"We saved the world," Xander stated.

Willow shook here head. She corrected, "We changed the world."

She walked over to Buffy, who stood a few feet in front of them, contemplating the crater from just beyond its edge.

"I can feel them, Buffy," Willow told her. "All over. Slayers are awakening everywhere."

"We'll have to find them," Dawn said, thinking of all the places they'd have to go to locate the Slayers.

Willow nodded decisively. "We will."

Giles raised an eyebrow. "Yes, because the mall was actually in Sunnydale, so there's no hope of going there tomorrow."

Dawn's own eyebrow raised. "We destroyed the mall?" She shook her head ruefully. "I fought on the wrong side."

"Don't worry, there are much better malls in LA," Cordelia assured her.

Xander quipped, "All those shops gone. The Gap, Starbucks, Toys 'R' Us. Who will remember all those landmarks unless we tell the world about them?"

"We have a lot of work ahead of us," Giles remarked.

Faith glared at him before turning to Willow. "Can I push him in?" she asked eagerly.

"You've got my vote," Willow said.

"Mine, too," Cordelia said.

"Me, three," Gunn remarked.

Faith turned to Giles. "I just want to sleep for like a week!"

"I guess we all could, if we wanted to," Dawn said, smiling at the prospect.

Willow smiled. "Yeah. The First is scrunched, so... what do you think we should do, Buffy?

Faith turned to Buffy, smirking. "Yeah, you're not the one and only chosen anymore. Just gotta live like a person. How's that feel?"

"Yeah, Buffy. What are we gonna do now?" Dawn asked.

"I've thinking it has something to do with the Vision I'm having right now," Cordelia said.

Everyone turned to her. "Vision?" Dawn repeated tentatively, dreading the answer. She'd so looked forward to a good, weeklong nap.

"What do you see?" Wesley asked her.

Cordelia's eyes were unfocused as she watched whatever the Powers That Be were showing her. Her eyes widened. "Well, that's new," she said, blinking. Her eyes focused on them. She turned to Xander. "We need to get Harriet over here. This involves her and you, Xander."

Faith jogged over to the bus and returned a moment later with one of the newly-called Slayers. "What's up, guys?" Harriet asked, her accent obviously very British even after spending many months in California.

"I had a Vision," Cordelia explained. "I saw Xander's and your doubles in a military base. It's under Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado Springs. I think they're in trouble. They need our help."

"So we'll suit up," Xander said. "When do we need to be there?"

"As soon as possible. We don't have a lot of time before both of them end up dead."

Giles asked, "Um, Cordelia, when you say doubles, do you mean that they're from another reality?"

Cordelia nodded. "There's another thing you guys should know. Especially you, Harriet."

"What is it, Cordy?" Harriet Potter asked.

Cordelia laughed nervously. "Well, um, your double? Not exactly a girl."

The Girl Who Lived glanced at the others, who all looked equally confused. "What do you mean?"

Chapter Four

Someone was pounding on the hotel room door. Ron shakily got to his feet, then made his way to the door. He opened it to find a frightened Dawn standing in the hall.

"Are you all right?" she asked. "I heard you scream."

"I think so," Ron said. "I'm not really sure."

Dawn guided him back to the bed despite his protests that he was feeling better now. She got him a glass of water and said, "So tell me what happened."

"It was weird," Ron said. "I felt like I was falling apart. But then it stopped."

"Definitely Hellmouthy," Dawn said, eyes wide. She grabbed his hand and pulled him off the bed and to the door. "Come on, Willow might know what it is."


"So, what is it, Professor?" Hermione asked, looking up into the distracted eyes of the Hogwarts Headmaster.

She glanced around at the others. Fred, George, and Ginny all looked eager to learn the answer. Ginny sat in a chair next to the bedside table while the twins sat on the bed. They were in Hermione's room in the Leaky Cauldron.

"It is a form of magic I have never before encountered," Dumbledore began. "I believe that it may not even be from this world."

"Where else would it come from?" Ginny asked.

"Why, elsewhere, of course," Dumbledore said, the twinkle returning to his eyes.

"Are Harry and Ron all right?" Hermione asked, voicing another question all of them had been thinking.

"There is no one of knowing that until the Aurors locate the sorcerer responsible.

"Sorcerer?" George repeated

"He's not a wizard?" Fred asked.

"No, I do not think he is, not in the way we perceive it," Dumbledore said. "Do not worry. I am certain that Mr. Weasley and Mr. Potter, wherever they are, are fully capable of taking care of themselves, as they have proved on multiple occasions."

"What can we do to help, Professor?" asked Hermione.

He smiled kindly at her. "I do believe that Flourish and Blotts have a number of books on archaic magic that I believe may be of use in locating a way to bring back Mr. Weasley and Mr. Potter in case we are unable to find the sorcerer."

The four teenagers exchanged glances. "We'll do what we can, Professor," Ginny promised.

"Yes, I'm sure you will," Dumbledore said.


SG-1's universe

"So, how exactly are we going to break into a top-secret government facility?" Andrew asked.

Everyone turned to Cordelia. She glared. "We're not," she said. "We're going to make a phone call to Colonel Jack O'Neill, then we're going to set up a meeting on our own turf."

"The hotel," Wesley said, nodding around at the lobby. The group stood in the Hyperion Hotel in Los Angeles, the office of Angel Investigations and the Scooby Gang's temporary headquarters.

Cordelia nodded.

"Now, when you said that the alternate Harriet's a guy-" Xander began, a smile forming on his lips.

From across the group from him, Harriet glared. "Xander-" she warned.

He continued, "What about Ronda and Hermes? Are they reversed, too?"

Cordelia shrugged. "I don't know. I just saw you and Harriet. Oh, by the way Xander, your alternate is missing an eye."

Everyone's eyes widened at that. "Missing an eye?" Buffy asked, shocked.

"What?" Xander questioned. "What do you mean? I'm some sort of Cyclops?"

Angel snorted. Xander glared at him.

"No, I mean you have an eye patch," Cordelia said in annoyance. "Can we please return to the phoning the colonel part of this conversation?"

"Do you know his phone number?" Giles asked.

Cordelia shook her head.

"We can find it," Dawn volunteered, pointing between herself and Willow. Willow nodded and the two women retreated to the space behind the reception desk where Willow's and Fred's laptops were set up.

"We'd better work on a few scenarios, just in case they bring back-up," Wesley said.

"With the manpower we've got, we should be able to handle it," said Gunn. "We've got a whole horde of Slayers upstairs, plus the rest of us. Whatever they throw at us, we can take."

"Unless they bring semi-automatics and surround and storm the entire hotel," Fred commented.

"Well, yeah, there's that," Gunn said a little sheepishly.

They spent many hours thinking of possible scenarios and what they would do for them. It took just as long for Willow and Dawn to track down Colonel Jack O'Neill's number. "You have got to see the security his workplace has," Willow said with a dreamy smile. "It's like, higher than state of the art. It's like, continent of the art."

"But you got the number?" queried Buffy.

Dawn grinned. "Oh, yeah."

Angel and Buffy locked gazes. "Then let's give him a call," Angel said.


Harry, Teal'c, and Daniel stayed in the Commissary while Sam, Jack, and Xander went to Carter's lab to look up the names and addresses of the list of people Xander had in mind. Harry wished he'd gone with Xander. He knew the one-eyed man just as well as SG-1 and the rest of the people at the SGC, but he still felt more comfortable around him.

"So, you said that you were a wizard," Daniel prompted. "What exactly did you mean by that?"

Harry shrugged, shifting uneasily in his chair. "I can do spells."

"Magic does not exist, HarryPotter," Teal'c objected. "Are you certain it is not an advanced technology?"

"Oh, magic exists, all right. At least where I come from, it does. And yeah, I'm very sure that it isn't any sort of technology."

"Can you prove it?" Daniel asked.

"Only with my wand," Harry replied. "It focuses my magic, I think. A friend of mine explained it to me once but that was a while ago."

Meanwhile, Xander, Jack, and Sam had arrived at the science lab and had gotten settled. Sam sat in front of the computer with Xander sitting next to her in a folding chair. Jack leaned against the wall behind them.

Xander rubbed his hands together. "Okay, first person to check…Buffy Summers, Cleveland."

He gave her the address for the gym and hotel they used. Sam looked it up. After a few minutes, she shook her head. "The gym closed down two weeks ago."

"Okay, then. Maybe they're still in Sunnydale."

"Sunnydale, California?" Jack asked. When Xander nodded, he continued, "They're not. It was on the news in the Commissary. Sunnydale has become one big crater." The colonel frowned. "They said it was the result of some random earthquake."

"But you don't buy that," Xander surmised. "You shouldn't. That happened in my reality, too, but it was because the Hellmouth was being permanently closed."

"'Hellmouth'?" Carter repeated, quirking an eyebrow.

"Mystical portal that connects the world with one of many hell dimensions. Now that I know Sunnydale's been reduced to a crater in this world, but that it just happened, I know for certain that I've got a double here, and his name isn't Nicholas Brendon. There's only one place they can be right now, and that would be Angel Investigations, the Hyperion Hotel, Los Angeles."

Sam and Jack exchanged a glance that was full of a very loaded conversation. Despite their continued skepticism, they were beginning to believe Xander when he said that vampires, demons and magic existed. It was a scary thought that it might be present on their world as well and not just in an alternate reality. Although it would go a long way to explaining that temporal-distortion thing and what the 'warlock' had been doing to alter the Stargate's wormhole, assuming Carter's more logical explanation wasn't true.

Carter turned back to the screen and typed in the new information into the search engine. One click of the mouse and a link to Angel Investigation's web site came up in the results.

Xander smiled. "Bingo."

Jack came forward and leaned over Sam's other shoulder to view the web site. "Angel Investigations, Paranormal Investigations, We Help the Helpless," he read off the screen as an eyebrow went up.

"Cordy really did a good job on the site," commented Xander.

"You know these people?" Jack clarified.

"In my reality, yeah. Don't know what they're like here."

"We're going to find out. Carter, give me as much information on these people that you can," Jack ordered. "I'm going to see if they've tracked down pale-skin guy yet."

"Yes, sir," Carter said.

The Air Force Colonel left. For a moment afterwards, the only noises in the lab were the click of the mouse and the tapping of keys. Carter glanced at Xander. Her gaze caught his and they smiled at each other.

"So…" Carter began.

"So…?" Xander prompted, lips quirking.

"About the demons in your reality. What do they look like?"

Xander lifted his eyebrows. "Scales, oozing puss, horns, tails. There are all sorts of demon breeds and types. It always varies from one to another."

"Why do you fight them?"

"'Cause if my friends and I don't, they'll likely take over the world or destroy it."

Carter's eyes widened. "Huh. Sounds like life around here, actually."

He smiled slightly.

For the next hour or so, Xander filled Carter in on the more formidable and weird-looking demons he'd encountered. As fantastic as it sounded, Sam couldn't help but compare it to her own life. Would she have believed half of the things that had happened to SG-1 before she was assigned to the SGC? Most likely she wouldn't.

Carter worked as she listened. Finally, she had all of the information she could find on this reality's Xander Harris and his group of friends. It wasn't much; most of their medical records and other things had been destroyed in the Sunnydale crater, but there was still enough information left that she felt would be satisfactory. She printed it all out and said, "I've got to get these to the General before we can call them."

"Okie dokie," he said, sighing. It had been a long day already and he felt nearly exhausted. According to Xander's watch, which had yet to be synchronized with the SGC's clocks, it was close to midnight. He'd been up since eight and he felt like he'd been awake for a solid week. "I guess portal traveling does that to you," he muttered.

"I'm sorry?" Sam questioned, pausing in gathering up the sheets of information.

"I'm just really tired. It's been a long day for me."

Carter just raised here eyebrows again. It was only midday for her, and it had been far from the most exciting day SG-1 had experienced. Then again, it could be much later in the day in Xander's reality.

"If you want, I could escort you to some guest quarters."

He waggled his eyebrows. "Will you be staying to keep me company, Major?"

She blushed even as she rolled her eyes. It had been a long time since she'd flirted with anyone.

"I never kiss on the first date," she said.

His eyebrows shot up in surprised. She fought down a smile. He looked really cute when he did that thing with his eyebrows…Down girl, she chided herself.

She smirked at him and headed for the door. "Come on."

"Ma'am, yes, ma'am!" Xander said smartly, snapping off a perfect salute while he was at it. Sam just rolled her eyes.

Xander grinned goofily as he lowered his arm. Sam felt herself go weak in the knees. Damn, but does he have to do that so often? she internally whined.

Almost as if he read her mind, the smile fell to be replaced by a frown. The frown quickly shifted to one of shock and then panic.

Carter reached out and grabbed his arms just as he began to sink to the floor. He gasped like a fish out of water. Sam had a feeling she knew what this was and cursed herself for not remembering it sooner. Xander's body rippled like the reflection on a pool's surface. Sam gulped. She'd seen this happen only a few times before, and then it had happened to alternate version of herself.

It was over within seconds. Xander gasped, trying to catch his breath. Sam helped him over to the chairs. "Crap," he said finally. "That's that Entropic Whatcha-ma-call-it, right?"

She nodded. "Entropic cascade failure." She winced and looked him over. He looked pale, and he held a hand over his heart. "Come on, let's get you to the infirmary."

He didn't even attempt to protest as she helped him back onto his feet and out the door, headed in the direction of the infirmary.


Willow frowned as she listened to the explanation Ron gave of what had happened to him. It was the next morning, and she, Kennedy, Dawn, Buffy, and Ron stood in a corner of the dining room, filling Buffy and Kennedy in on what had happened to Ron the night before. Many of the Slayers-in-Training already awake listened in from various parts of the room.

"It sounds like some sort of cross-dimensional magical effect," Willow said, trying to find the right words to describe what she was thinking. "Like, there's a double of you in England, only he's not you, he's Rupert Grint, but it still applies. This reality knows you don't belong here and is sending a warning to you to go back."

"What'll happen to him if it keeps happening?" Dawn said.

Willow shrugged. "I don't know. I'm just guessing, but I'd bet that you could die if you stayed here too long."

Ron groaned. "Great, just bloody great."

"Don't worry," Buffy assured him. "We'll find a way of getting you back to your reality, no sweat. In fact, I was just going to go on patrol with Kennedy and Willow. You and Dawn want to come with?"

Ron glanced at Dawn, who looked eager. He turned back to Buffy and shrugged, hoping he wasn't going to regret it. "Okay."

"Great," Buffy said, smiling. "Let's go grab some weapons and meet in the lobby in ten minutes. We're going back to the place the warlock was at the last time to see if he left any clues."

"No need," Kennedy said. She was staring out the door at the hotel lobby. "Look."

Everyone turned to look and saw a team of four Slayers-in-Training dragging a fifth figure through the front doors. "That's him!" Ron said.

Buffy led their little group over to the Slayers. "Good work, girls," she praised them. "Let's take him to the side room. Next time, be sure to go through the gym."

The side room was a little room just off the entrance hall of the gym. It had been a weight room once upon a time; now it was used to hold creatures of the night if any were caught trying to sneak into the building. It was also there in case one of the good guys got bit by a werewolf and needed a place to be locked up for three nights a month. It had never been used for either use before, but there were a few chairs, some chains, and some sturdy rope stacked inside for such occasions.

They dragged the sorcerer into the side room and tied him up to one of the chairs. "You got a name?" Buffy asked after he'd been secured. She, Kennedy, Willow, Ron, and Dawn were the only ones in the room besides the sorcerer, but from the noise outside there was a crowded of Slayers gathering in the hall.

His glowing green eyes were wide in panic and fear. "Please don't hurt me!" he pleaded. "I didn't mean any harm, please-"

"No harm?" Dawn demanded, furious. "You sent Xander through your portal and brought Ron here!"

"It was an accident!" he said, glancing at the redhead wizard. His eyes turned back to Buffy. "If you and your friend hadn't interrupted, both of you would be here, safe."

Furious, Buffy stalked forward and grabbed his collar. She pulled him to within inches of his face. He cringed.

She nearly hissed, "You had six Ti'ippa Demons working for you. If you hadn't wanted trouble, you shouldn't have had guards that liked to eat children!"

His eyes widened in further, this time in surprise. "I-I hadn't known. I simply wanted a guard, I had no idea that they liked to eat the children of your species."

"You should have run a background check," Kennedy said.

"Why did you have the guard in the first place?" Ron asked, curious. "If you didn't mean any harm like you said."

The sorcerer laughed hysterically. "Go unprotected on the Hellmouth while I was performing such exotic magic? I am not stupid. However, I never predicted that a Slayer would show up right at the crux of my spell."

He gave them all a pleading look. " I had no wrong intentions towards any of you. I had simply wanted to go home to my own dimension. Please believe me."

Buffy and the others exchanged glances. "All right," the alpha Slayer said, "so you wanted to go home and you ended up sending Xander there instead and sent Ron here. Where did you send Xander and Ron's friend, Harry?"

The sorcerer glanced away from them and seemed to be in deep thought. "I am not sure. They couldn't have possibly have gone to my own dimension-perhaps to one of the others…"

"What others?" Willow questioned. "You'd better start explaining, pal."

His eyes widened in panic and he nodded enthusiastically. "Yes, yes, of course! It is the least I owe you. Please, I will tell you, but will you first untie these ropes? I have very sensitive skin…"

"Start talking, then we'll talk about cutting you loose," Buffy said.

"As you wish." He licked his lips and began. "My name is Trig, and I come from a world known as Runeus. The magic there is…very different."

"Kinda guessed that," Kennedy said, raising an eyebrow. "Keep going."

"I was stranded on this world four years ago, when I portal appeared on my world. Bolts of energy struck out from the edges of this portal, striking against buildings and people. I was one of those struck. I know not what happened to the others who were attacked, but I found myself shot through the portal."

"Something…strange happened then. I am not certain how to describe it. As I floated within the very center of the portal, I saw glimpses into hundreds of worlds, perhaps even thousands, some as rich and unique as this one is to my own, and others that were wastelands crawling with disgusting creatures. Something happened to me as I traveled through the portal. I felt myself being ripped apart, yet I was still alive. I think that aspects of me were separated into different bodies, and these different aspects were then shipped off to different worlds. I am only an aspect of myself, and I was sent to this one. I found myself in a town in California, the one that a year or so ago became a crater. I have been looking for a way to get back home and re-unite with the other parts of myself ever since."

"I knew some of the magic from my own world, and did research into the magic of this one. I soon learned, however, that this world's magic was not compatible with my own, and I could not perform even the simplest spells using your magic. I knew very little about my own magic, but I determined that with some creative manipulation that I would come up with a portal spell that would send me home. Once I was back in my homeland, I knew that I would have a better chance of finding my other selves, if they themselves have not returned already."

His eyes pleaded with them once more. "Please, my only ambition is to re-unite with my other parts."

"And then what?" Buffy asked with a raised eyebrow. "How do you plan on putting yourself back together?"

He shrugged. "That is something I planned to focus on when the time came."

"So where's Xander?" Willow asked.

"And Harry?" Ron added. "And how did I get sent here?"

"I cannot be certain, but perhaps another of my aspects performed the spell at the same time as I did. If that happened, then the two portal spells would interact with each other, making it more likely that whatever is sent through the portals will end up in one of the other worlds where the spell is being performed instead of on Runeus."

"Of course," Willow said in understanding. When everyone looked at her, she clarified, "That makes sense, the whole portal-spells-interacting-with-one-another bit."

"How do we get our friends back?" Buffy demanded again.

"The only one I can see is for me to perform the spell again, which I planned to do anyway. The only time this can be done is at 10:12 PM precisely."

"Why then?" Dawn asked.

"It is the time when this world and my own are in the closest alignment. As soon as we are on my world, we can find a way of opening a portal to wherever your friends are."

Buffy motioned for all of them to leave the room except Kennedy who stayed behind to keep an eye on their guest. The rest of them went upstairs to Buffy's office. Once inside, Buffy turned to the resident witch. "What do you think, Wills?"

Willow considered everything he'd said. "He was telling the truth. I cast a truth spell like you asked me to. He believed everything he was saying."

"So we're going to trust him?" Dawn asked.

"Do we have any other options?" Buffy replied.

"I don't know if I like the idea of trusting a demon," Ron said. "Especially not the one that caused all of this in the first place, even if he is telling the truth."

"I hear you," Buffy told him, "But we don't have a whole lot of choices at the moment. So we'll let him perform the spell, but Willow, I want you to be on your guard in case he tries anything. The rest of us need to be on our guards, too."

Everyone nodded, then got themselves ready before going to speak to the sorcerer again. Ron fingered his wand as they headed back downstairs. He, along with everyone else, hoped that the sorcerer could be trusted.


Kingsley Shacklebolt and Nymphadora Tonks walked cautiously up to the house. The old, pealing paint-covered house was in a bad Muggle neighborhood on the outskirts of London. It was thirty blocks from Diagon Alley and was only one of a hundred places that the Aurors were checking out, but they still took every precaution they could. It wouldn't do to be caught unawares by a sorcerer of unknown skill.

Because it was a Muggle neighborhood, the two of them were dressed in Muggle clothes. Anyone who saw them would think, in the words of Fred and George, that they would 'be sneaking inside for a quickie,' whatever that rather ridiculous-sounding Muggle phrasing meant.

They walked up the front steps. To her credit, Tonks managed not to trip on them, although she came close once. Shacklebolt knocked on the door. They waited. No one answered. Tonks looked around to make sure no one was looking. When she signaled the all-clear, Shacklebolt took out his wand and whispered, "Alohomora." There was a click as the lock clicked open. He opened the door and Tonks followed him inside.

The house wasn't much to look at. The paint was pealing from the inside walls as well, but it had obviously been cleaned recently; there weren't any spider webs about and only a light sheen of dust was present on the furniture and bare-wood floors.

The door creaked and the floor squeaked as they edged their way inside. Tonks took out her wand. Shacklebolt signaled for her to stay with him as he edged his way down the hall and past the stairs. Both of them had a feeling about this one and knew that it had to be the place.

Everything was silent, perhaps a little too silent. Tonks whispered a revealing spell and discovered why. There was magic everywhere, magic that clashed with hers. The revealing spell couldn't identify what spells that magic was performing, but she could see it as her spell settled on patches of it floating everywhere.

"Dampeners, perhaps?" Shacklebolt wondered, glancing around at the patches.

"Sound Dampeners, you mean?" Tonks guessed, trying to understand what he was getting at.

He nodded. "Yes. Exactly."

"There's no way of telling," Tonks said, although she had a feeling that he was right.

They walked up to the first door and positioned themselves on either side of it. Shacklebolt reached out and grasped the handle before turning it and slowly pushing the door in.

Sunlight streamed in from a window. No one was inside.

He closed the door and they proceeded to the next one, taking up the same positions on either side of it.

This time, when Shacklebolt opened the door, Tonks had an urge to cover her ears and automatically shrunk them. Whatever was going on in this room, the Dampeners had done well to conceal the horrendous noise coming from it. It sounded like there was a miniature tornado inside.

The two Aurors stormed into the room with wands up. Even after Hermione's description of what had occurred the last time, neither of them were prepared for what they saw. A portal identical to the one Hermione had seen stretched from floor to ceiling to walls at one end of the room. The sorcerer knelt before it, partially facing them. A bowl identical to the first one lay at his knees, and he held his bleeding hand above it. Symbols carved into the knife's wooden handle matched those on the rim of the bowl.

He ceased his chanting when they entered the room. For a moment, they just stared at each other, unmoving. The moment was broken the sorcerer let out a cry of frustrated rage. "You will not interfere again!" he cried, leaping to his feet, careful not to spill the blood. He dropped the knife into the bowl and reach into his pockets, taking out two wooden blocks carved with identical symbols.

"Stupefy!" both Aurors cried, reacting to the perceived threat.

The magical curses left their wands in a flurry of color, shouting straight at the pale sorcerer.

The sorcerer's glowing eyes flashed as the spells drew closer. He brought his arms up and pressed the two wooden blocks together, symbol aligned with symbol.

The Aurors' spells impacted with a magical field that sprang into the air from the wooden blocks. The Stupefy spells rebounded, heading directly back in the direction of their casters. With a cry, the Aurors ducked out of the way.

The sorcerer pulled his arms in toward his chest, then pushed outward, crying out a word in an unknown language.

The magical barrier produced by the wooden blocks sprang out from the blocks and at the Aurors. It rolled right over them, knocking them off their feet and leaving them dazed.

For a moment, Tonks' mind was blank. She blinked and awareness returned. She tried to move but couldn't do so very successfully, almost as if she lay under something thick and heavy that impeded all of her motions. Shacklebolt has having similar problems with his own limbs.

The sorcerer turned away from them and knelt down before the bowl. He picked up the knife and pierced his skin even deeper than before, drawing more blood, before he resumed the chant.

The portal changed colors rapidly, from dark blue to royal blue to light blue to an almost grayish color. Tonks and Shacklebolt were slowly regaining control of their limbs and were trying to sit up.

The sorcerer stopped chanting and stood. Taking the bowl in one hand and the knife in another, he walked toward the portal.

Tonks struggled to stand and bring her wand up. "No! Stop!" she cried.

He ignored her and walked into the portal, disappearing from their world.

A moment later, as the Aurors were getting to their feet, the portal closed.


When Harry collapsed in the Commissary from Entropic Cascade Failure on the Cellular Level, Daniel and Teal'c led him to the Infirmary and got there at about the same time as Xander and Sam. Janet had both boys placed in bed as she and her medical staff checked them over.

"What was that?" Harry asked. "Teal'c and Dr. Jackson said something about Entropic Cascade Failure?"

Xander explained, "It's what happens to someone from another universe when their double is alive in this one. We've both got doubles here, so the universe doesn't think there should be two of us. If we don't get home soon, we'll both be wiped from existence."

Harry's eyes widened and he paled considerably.

Before he could say anything, Colonel O'Neill walked in. "Hey, kids," he said, addressing all of them at large. "How're the patients, doc?"

"All right for now, but if they suffer from another Cascade Failure, they won't be," Janet said.

"Have you found our guy yet, Colonel?" Xander asked.

"Nope, but interestingly enough, I did get a call from your friends," Jack said, nodding to Xander. He held up his cell phone. "Just checked my voice mail. There was a message from a Cordelia Chase on it, asking to meet with you two in Los Angeles. The General's already okayed it. SG-1 and our two guests are going to take a little trip to the City of Angels."

Chapter Five

The sorcerer's requirements were simple enough. He needed a wooden bowl devoid of any carvings, a knife with a plain wooden handle, a carving knife, and an empty area of at least fifteen square feet for the portal. They had many hours until ten that evening, and the sorcerer planned to carve the necessary symbols into the wooden objects until the time came to do the spells.

Once the materials had been gathered, Trig proceeded to do just as he said. He worked quickly, cutting the correct symbols with the ease that came with practice.

They watched as he worked. Buffy, Willow, and Dawn couldn't help but think about Xander. He was a carpenter, after all, and he would have loved to see this.

"How exactly does your magic differ from ours?" Willow asked in curiosity.

He looked at her for a moment, then motioned at the wooden bowl he was carving. "Every spell I cast requires wooden conduits of some sort. Here, it does not matter which wood I use; all trees are connected to the magic here. On my world, it is not so. The ecosystem of Runeus is a harsh one, full of plants and animals that care not for nature but only for evil. Only a certain kind of wood can be used, one that does not share the roots of its fellows, but that wood is found in very few places on Runeus."

"Sounds rough," Willow said. "How come you're so eager to get back there, if it's that bad?"

Trig shrugged. "It is my home. I am alone here. Here, I am surrounded by magic and cultures and beings that are alien to me. My people are waiting for me on Runeus. It is where I belong. Plus, I am not even whole on this world; my other parts remain lost to me."

"That's something else that's been bugging me," Buffy said, eyes narrowed suspiciously. "You don't see like only one aspect of a person to me."

"It may not seem so, but it is true," he assured them.

"So what aspect are you?" Dawn inquired.

He smiled. "I believe that I am the patient part. Before I came to this world, I remember being much more quick-tempered." He shrugged. "There are probably a number of other characteristics that I took with me that my other parts no longer possess, but without being able to compare myself to them, it is impossible to know what those characteristics are."

"I guess we'll find out soon enough," said Willow.

His smile was even more genuine now. "Yes. After four years here, I will finally be able to go home."

"And help us find our friends," Buffy reminded him, eyes narrowing again.

He only nodded. "Yes, and help you find your friends."

"So, what else about your magic is different?" Willow asked, returning them to the original topic.

"As I was saying, my magic requires wooden conduits. I can not cast spells directly; the spell must be infused into a piece of wood carved with a unique symbol or pattern-" he said, tapping the knife handle, "-while a second piece of wood, carved with an identical, symmetrical symbol or pattern is used to activate the spell." He pointed to the bowl. "The symbols on the two objects must face each other and align with each other, and they must be in a certain range of each other to work. The larger the carved symbols are, the farther away the wooden objects can be held apart for the spell to be activated, and vice-versa."

"A portal brought you here four years ago," Dawn said, thinking of what he'd told them already.

He nodded. "That is correct."

Dawn turned to Buffy, eyes suddenly wide. "Buffy, that's when Glory tried to-"

Buffy and Willow's eyes widened in realization.

"Who is Glory?" Trig asked, curious.

Still shaken, Dawn replied, "She was a Hellgod. She opened a portal in Sunnydale four years ago to get to her hell dimension. It separated the boundaries between all dimensions…until we closed it."

Trig stared, dumbfounded. "Are you saying that you were there? You closed the very portal that brought me here?"

"S-sounds like it," Willow said.

He processed this for a moment. "What happened to this…Hellgod, Glory?"

"She's dead," Buffy told him. She shrugged. "Sorry."

Trig seemed to deflate. "Oh, well. We already know that my way works…it is unlikely that Glory would have wanted to help us, anyway."

"You got that right, pal," Willow said.

Trig returned to his carving. After a moment, Dawn got to her feet. "I'm going to check on Ron."

"You mean you're going to rescue him from his adoring fans?" Buffy inquired with a knowing smirk.

Dawn blushed. "Something like that."

Willow caught on to the look first. "Oh, Dawnie's got a crush," she sung teasingly.

"What?" Buffy said, instantly on guard. "Dawn! You have a crush on Ronald Weasley?"

Dawn wouldn't meet her eyes. "Maybe…"

"Dawn! He is way too young for you! And he's a fictional character!"

Dawn looked offended. "He is so not too young for me! You were two hundred years younger than Angel but that didn't stop you! And you weren't even legal then!"

"That's different," Buffy said, trying to come up with the right words. "You just cannot have a crush on him."

"Try and stop me," Dawn said, immaturely sticking out her tongue. Then she turned and walked out of the room in search of her crush.

Buffy let out a noise of protest. "She stuck her tongue out at me!" she complained to Willow. "Did you see that?"

Willow only rolled her eyes. "Both of you need to get out more."


Letting out a growl of frustration, Hermione closed the book in her hands and hurled it across the room without bothering to aim first. As a result, the book almost collided with her pet cat that, fortunately, was able to dodge out of the way. Hermione winced. "Sorry, Crookshanks," she said.

Crookshanks hissed at her before running behind Hermione's trunk, safely away from any more projected missiles.

Hermione sighed. She placed her elbows on her knees and her chin in her hands and contemplated the stack of books beside her on the bed. She'd gone through over half of them already looking for some way of reaching Ron and Harry without any luck. Over a day had passed since Tonks had come back to the Leaky Cauldron with the news of the sorcerer's escape. Tonks had accompanied Dumbledore back to the house in London where the sorcerer had performed the portal spell for a second time, but they had reported back soon afterwards with no luck. They could not detect any magical portals of any sort; there was no way of opening one, either.

Since Dumbledore had given her and the other Weasleys the task of tracking down possible alternate routes in books, Hermione had put her all into the task. She'd dug through every book that Flourish and Blotts had on the subject, spending all of her extra cash on purchasing some of the more promising ones.

As word spread of the disappearances of the Boy Who Lived and the youngest son of a Ministry employee, the rest of the wizarding world also clamored to know of the boys' fate. Hermione knew that many more competent wizards and witches in many departments of the ministry were working hard on the case, but that didn't stop her from at least trying to contribute something.

Now, however, she knew that she wouldn't accomplish anything with these books.

"I'm going for a walk," she decided. "Maybe that'll help me decide what to do next." She really needed to just get out of that room; hopefully, it would help clear her head.

Hermione glanced out the window as she left the room. She discovered that it was late afternoon and approaching dusk. She blinked in surprise. She hadn't realized how late it was.

She paused just before turning the corner to get to the stairs. Perhaps it would be better for her to check in with Mr. or Mrs. Weasley, if either of them were there, and let them know that she was going for a walk, as well as checking to see if they'd made in progress in getting Harry and Ron back-

Someone turned the corner and bumped into her abruptly, startling her. "Sorry-" He paused abruptly.

She looked up into his face and gasped. "You!" she said.

"Ms. Gra…er…Hermione," Percy Weasley greeted her. "Um…are my…my parents here?" he stuttered out.

She was taken aback by the unexpected question. She glared up at him suspiciously and folded her arms. "Why do you want to know? So you can make more uncalled-for accusations to their faces instead of through letters to your siblings?"

He cringed. "I wish to apologize."

She knew she was gaping at him, but she couldn't get herself to stop. "You want to apologize?" she repeated, incredulous.

He glanced at his feet and shifted uncomfortably. "Yes."

Thoughts flew at a billion miles an hour through her mind, until she finally just blinked and said, "Their room is this way." Still in shock, she turned and led the way down the hall, not really looking to see if he was behind her.

She knocked on the Weasleys' door. Mrs. Weasley answered. "Hermione, what is it-" The question died on her lips when she saw who stood behind the younger witch. Molly's jaw dropped. A look of hope spread on her face before she schooled it into a mask. "Can I help you?" she asked coolly.

Hermione looked behind her to see Percy wince. "I want to apologize," he said. "You and Dad were right…about everything. I am so sorry."

Molly's expression changed back to one of shock, along with some relief and pain. She glanced at Hermione. Hermione had never seen Mrs. Weasley look so lost.

Still not looking at either of them, Percy forged on. He reached inside his robes and pulled several sheets of folded paper from an inside pocket. "I have information on how to get Ron and Harry back. I believe it may be of some use."

He held them out for her to take. Dumbly, Molly Weasley took them. She stared down at the paper without really seeing it, then glanced back up at her estranged son. "Oh, Percy-" She stepped forward and enveloped him into a hug, sobbing on his shoulder. Percy's own eyes filled with relieved tears.


After a time, Arthur and the other Weasley children were summoned, then those members of the Order that were within reach were called. Not a single ministry official was called besides Arthur, Tonks, and Shacklebolt; it would not do for the Ministry of Magic to learn of Percy's theft of their confidential records.

The Order's impromptu meeting was held at the Weasleys. Many Order members still did not trust Percy with the location of the Order of the Phoenix. They had other reasons that were just as good; for one, they didn't want anyone to overhear their conversation, which would doubtless happen at the Leaky Cauldron, but they didn't want to just disappear off the map. Too many of them had been deeply involved in the investigation into getting Ron and Harry back; if they suddenly disappeared into 12 Grimmauld Place, too many people would be suspicious. Therefore, the Weasley home was the only logical place; the Weasleys had planned to go back there, anyway, and there was nothing peculiar about asking the people they'd worked with closely during the investigation to come over for lunch.

Therefore, no one even suspected that they were meeting to discuss something that they didn't want the Ministry to know. It was just as well.

They were all situated about the sitting room. Percy stood uncomfortably next to the fireplace. Shacklebolt and Tonks sat in chairs near the door to the kitchen and consequently the door. Fred, George, and Ginny all glared daggers at their older brother from the couch. Hermione, sitting in a chair on the opposite side of the couch from the Aurors, also glared at him between glances into the kitchen.

Arthur stood on the opposite side of the chimney, shifting just as uncomfortably and looking just as awkward. Molly kept wondering back and forth from preparing the food in the kitchen to Percy's side, not wanting to be away from her son for very long.

None of them said a word as they waited for Mad-Eye Moody and Dumbledore to appear.

The door in the kitchen finally opened, and Dumbledore and Moody entered the sitting room a matter later. "Just checked the premises myself," Alastor Moody reported. "There's isn't a soul about. I've set up a watch, though, so we can be sure not to have unexpected company."

"Thank you, Alastor," Albus Dumbledore told him, smiling. He turned his attention to Percy, who squirmed even more under his stern gaze. Dumbledore regarded him for a moment before smiling softly at him. "I see that Mr. Weasley has returned to us, and I hear that he has brought us good news."

"That's up for debate," Fred muttered.

"I did some digging in some confidential files," Percy said. "I didn't know what I'd find, but…I think this is relevant. I couldn't find anything in the Ministry of Magic's files that had anything on inter-dimensional portals or the race matching Ms. Granger's description of the spell-caster. Then I started searching internationally. The Ministry of Magic and the American Department of Magic have an information exchange program that has existed for fifty years. Most of the information that is imported from the States is handled by the Ministry's Department of International Magical Cooperation. Because plenty of other people were looking through that information, I decided to look elsewhere. I found those files in the Department of Mysteries."

Startled gasps could be heard about the room. Hermione's own eyes bulged in their sockets. It hadn't been that long since her own tour of the Department of Mysteries, and she'd hoped never to go near that place again.

"How exactly did you get in?" Moody growled. "Last I heard, security there is pretty tight after what happened last May."

"It is pretty tight," Percy admitted, "but they were doing construction work in there, to fix the damage that occurred in May. I was asked to help with a restoration spell. No one noticed me slipping into another room to check their files."

Everyone looked at each other as they digested this. "Go on," Dumbledore coaxed.

"I don't think anyone had realized that some of the American files had been directed to the Department of Mysteries. I honestly hadn't expected to find something from there, but I did." He blushed, aware that he was babbling slightly, and cleared his throat. "The files talk about a disturbance in a Muggle town in southern California in May two years ago. A whirlpool had formed in the sky. The portal had alarming affects on the area. A dragon came through and set fire to several blocks. Energy from the portal hit a few more buildings, transfiguring them into structures that were otherworldly. By the time the Department of Magic had sent the proper authorities to handle the situation, the town had been nearly destroyed. They were able to neutralize the situation, however, and keep our world a secret somehow."

"The Department of Magic's officials also report finding a man in the wreckage. He had whitish skin, black hair, and glowing green eyes. He knew no English, but once they managed to establish a dialogue, he explained that he'd come through the portal and that he wished to go back home. They decided to help him. In exchange, he told them about his home world, and about his type of magic. They even began to discover ways of substituting his magic for ours."

"So, what happened?" Hermione asked. "Why didn't he go home? Why did he come to England?"

"I don't know," Percy admitted. "I couldn't find anything else. But I do have the names of the agents involved. I thought that if we could get in contact with them, that they might be able to help us."

"We'll get on it immediately," Shacklebolt said, exchanging a nod with Tonks.

"Out of curiosity, what are the names of the agents?" asked Dumbledore.

Percy replied, "Willow Rosenburg and Alexander Harris."

Chapter Six

Because the military did not quite trust Harry or Ron with their most important secret just yet, SG-1 and their two guests wouldn't be flying commercial. Jack and a lieutenant were piloting. Xander was bent over in his seat, trying to keep himself from throwing up. He and Harry had experienced Entropic Cascade Failure for a second time sometime near the Arizona-Utah-Colorado border. It didn't help that it was normal for Xander to feel nauseous when traveling; coupled with the Cascade Failure and he was not having a good day. Every minute that he didn't spend concentrating on staying healthy was spent praying to every god that he'd ever heard of in Giles' books that they would land soon.

"Are you all right, XanderHarris?" Teal'c inquired with open concern.

"Just wonderful," Xander said without bothering to look up from his contemplation of the floor.

Daniel sneezed. At least Xander and Harry weren't the only ones with health problems.

Sam was seated next to Xander. She watched him, concerned. "We should be landing soon," she assured him, glancing around at Daniel, Harry, and Teal'c.

Just then, Jack's way-too-cheerful voice sounded over the intercom. "Okay, kids, we're getting ready to land. Hold on to your lunches."

Xander groaned. "Thank God."

It was then that the plane started to descend. Xander felt his stomach lurch. "Oh, God-" He snatched the bag that Daniel proffered and then proceeded to lose his lunch.


Tonks, Moody, Arthur Weasley, and Hermione Granger stood near the metal detectors that barred them from the airport terminal as they waited for Agents Rosenburg and Harris to arrive. It had taken only hours to contact the two Agents. They had responded quickly, saying that they would be on the next plane over. That plane turned out to be a connecting flight from Los Angeles to Houston and then from Houston to London.

"'The next plain over'?" Tonks had repeated. "What do they mean by that?"

"They mean an Airplane," Hermione had said, rolling her eyes. "Evidently, they prefer Muggle means of transport." She didn't blame them. She, herself, hated flying, and flooing was very disorienting. One must always be careful when Apparating halfway across the world, also. Flying commercially on Muggle airplanes had been the only kind of flying that she'd ever cared for.

Because Hermione was the only one of their group with a slight idea of what to do at Heathrow, she had accompanied the three members of the Order of the Phoenix. The three adults had spent the time questioning her about all sorts of things. Arthur, especially, had become rather starry-eyed when they'd entered the lobby, and looked like he'd died and gone to heaven.

Arthur was gesturing at the nearest metal detector. "This machine can detect metal, correct?"

Hermione sighed. "Right."

He looked it over curiously. "How exactly does that work? Through Etrelicity, yes?"

"Electricity," Hermione corrected.

"Oh, grow up, Arthur," Moody growled. "Stop acting like a ponce. We don't want any unnecessary attention."

Hermione blinked at him. He obviously wasn't aware of how much he himself stood out without Mr. Weasley's help. He wore a bowler cap over half of his face; the matching pinstripe suit further enabled him to stand out. Hermione figured he would have gotten less attention if he'd worn an eye patch and black shorts, even if it made him look like a pirate because of his peg leg.

Tonks held the sign with the Agents' names written in big letters on both sides. She, too, was looking around curiously, only more discretely. Her hair was a mix of neon yellow and pink that morning. Moody had lectured to her for an hour during the car ride about trying to fit in, which translated to him wanting her to change her hair to a natural hair color. She had refused. Now no one batted seemed to bat an eye at it, much to Moody's annoyance.

Hermione glanced at her watch. The Agents' flight would have landed half an hour ago. Surely they would have gotten through customs and the baggage claim already, unless there was some sort of misunderstanding. She sincerely hoped there wasn't.

Tonks and Shacklebolt had done some checking on Rosenburg and Harris before owling them. Despite their young ages, Willow Rosenburg and Alexander Harris were considered to be the best in their field. They were investigators but both had been in a number of skirmishes and battles with all sorts of creatures they'd personally been sent to kill.

Their files hadn't been pretty. Hermione couldn't help but wonder how they were still sane, assuming they hadn't gone off the deep end by now.

She went over their profiles again in her mind. Alexander LaVelle Harris was 6', had brown hair and eyes, and had lost an eye during combat at the age of twenty-two, only a year after graduating from the Academy for the Magical Investigations Bureau. He was Muggle-born. Willow Rosenburg was 5'4" and had red hair and green eyes. Her father was a wizard while her mother was a Muggle. Both graduated from AMIB in the same year. Both had attended the American school of magic, entering at the age of 11 and graduating at the age of 18. Both were 27 years old and were born in Sunnydale, California. Sunnydale had been rumored to be based directly over a center of mystical convergence that sucked in dark magic and attracted demons and other dark creatures. The town was still there, but the Hellmouth was not; Harris and Rosenburg had been instrumental in its closing, also.

There were so many things she was dying from curiosity to know. Many details had been taken out of their files that made her wonder if a significant factor had been left out of the story. Surely two agents couldn't have been responsible for so much. It just boggled the mind.

She caught a flash of red hair among the crowd and focused on it. "There they are!" she announced when she was sure it was them.

They waved the Americans over to them. Hermione couldn't help but stare. Both appeared much older than their files claimed them to be; eyes that had seen much sadness met their own world-weary glances in turn. What attracted Hermione's attention the most was Alexander's eye patch. She wondered if there was a magical eye behind it.

"Hello," Arthur said, smiling as he stepped forward and held out a hand. "I'm Arthur Weasley. My associates are Nym-"

Tonks loudly cleared her throat, glaring at him.

Arthur hastily corrected himself. "-Tonks, Alastor Moody, and Hermione Granger."

"Hi," Harris said. "I'm Agent Alex Harris and this is Agent Willow Rosenburg, but then you guys probably already knew that."

They shook hands, then Tonks led the way to the car. Once the Agents' luggage was placed in the magically expanded trunk, everyone took their seats inside the vehicle. Arthur, Tonks, and Hermione were crowded into the front while Moody, Harris, and Rosenburg took the back seat. The first thing both Moody and Alex did was remove their respective bowler hat and eye patch. Hermione turned in her seat to watch. Agent Harris did indeed have a magic eye. Unlike Moody's electric blue eye, his eye was completely black. Not even an iris could be seen.

Moody and Harris studied each other. "Klinker's?" Alex asked.

Moody grunted, nodding. "Yours?"

Alex smirked. "A friend."

Hermione glanced at Willow and saw the redhead blush. Hermione's eyebrows skyrocketed. Surely the female Agent couldn't have designed Alex's eye?

"Your letter mentioned something about a man with pale-skin and glowing green eyes?" Alex inquired as Arthur maneuvered out of the parking lot.

"That's right," Moody said. "Our sources said you had contact with someone who met that description. Care to tell us about it?"

Willow bit her lip. She and Alex exchanged a look. "It was two years ago, wasn't it?" Willow asked him.

Alex's eyes hardened. "Yeah, it was." He turned back to Moody. "Is this everyone?" he asked, motioning at the car's occupants. Moody shook his head. "Then we'd better wait until we get the whole group together. This'll take a while."

Because they had no time to lose and because Moody, Arthur, and Tonks were all growling at the frustrating, slow-moving traffic out of London, Arthur's car was rendered invisible and took to the skies.

"Cool!" Alex said, gazing out the window as they soared UP toward the clouds. "Hey, Wills, we should have tried this. So much more leg room."

Willow smirked. "But worse bathroom facilities."

"Ya got me," he said, smiling at her. He turned back to Arthur. "I assume anti-collision charms are used to keep us well away from birds and airplanes?"

"Yes, exactly," Arthur said.

Moody said, "I heard that you and Agent Rosenburg took on a Pyardo Demon once."

"Pyardo Demon?" Tonks repeated, brow furrowed. "Aren't they instinct?"

"That's what we thought, too," Willow said, eyes narrowing. "I'd kind of like to meet whoever decides that a demon race is instinct and give him a nice, day-long rictusempra curse."

"Believe me when I say that those are painful," Alex assured them.

"So, what happened?" Tonks asked. Hermione was curious, also; the entire incident had received only a footnote in the Agents' file.

"He managed to re-direct my own immobilis spell back on me," Willow said sheepishly. "I'd cast some protection charms on myself, but they were pretty weak against the charm." She shrugged. "I had put some power behind it."

"It was then that we realized that spells couldn't work on him. He had literally impenetrable scales; spells just glances off of him. So I got out my trusty axe and started cutting."

"So, you killed it?" Hermione asked.

"Nope," Willow said cheerfully. "He got whooped."

He glared at her. "You don't have to sound so cheerful about it, Willow."

She smiled cheekily at him. "He almost got his skull crushed and his brains eaten. It was a good thing I'd reminded him to cast his own standard protection charms or he would have gotten eaten. They work one hundred percent against any type of brute force, even a Pyardo's."

Alex glared even more at her. "It was then that I finished him off. I got my axe back and cut off his head while crying, 'There can be only one!', only 'cause I liked the first movie. The TV series sucked. So did the other movies."

The British witches and wizards were confused by this last statement but decided to let it go. Hermione shook her head, dumbfounded. "But you nearly died!" she said.

Willow and Alex both turned sober. "Yeah, I did," Alex said. "But with our kind of lives, you have to find humor somewhere. It keeps you sane."

Hermione only stared some more at them. She wondered if they honestly thought that they were still sane.

"Although, that was before we met Trig," Willow said, her gaze darkening.

Some time later, they arrived at the Burrow. Everyone was there, waiting for them. After a long round of introductions, they got down to business.

Willow began, "Two years ago, while being stationed in Sunnydale, Alex and I were called to a site just outside the town. A magical barrier was forming in the air. We had to take down anything hostile that came through it while other Agents worked on a way to close the portal. The portal had been huge. Gigantic monsters and demons stumbled through it into this world; blasts of magical energy traveled outward from the portal and collided with nearby buildings, transforming them into alien structures." She bit her lip. "We, along with many other Field Agents, were able to stop most of the energy blasts from colliding with anything, but we didn't get everything. We had our hands full with the monsters. It lasted only ten minutes, but by that time all sorts of things had come through, even a pterodactyl. Then the portal just closed without our having to do anything."

"Next came clean-up duty, as well as seeing to the wounded," Alex continued. His face was unreadable. "We lost one agent, Buffy Summers. She was a good friend of ours."

Everyone offered their condolences. Xander said, "Thanks. We miss her, but we've moved on." He took a deep breath and continued, "Sunnydale is a Muggle town, but after that, there was no obliviation spell that would keep our secret them. Fortunately, Southern California is full of people who refused to believe what they see, so we ended up not having much trouble. Anyway, we searched for anything we missed that came through the portal. It was then that Willow and I found Trig."

"Trig turned out to be an alien from the planet Runeus, which was in another reality. He'd been sent through the portal accidentally. He convinced us that he meant us no harm and that he only wanted to get home." He sighed. "We believed him. The Department of Magic okayed our requests to help him return to his world in exchange for any information he could give us on his kind of magic, which turned out to be so alien with ours that it was incompatible."

"We already know that first hand," Shacklebolt assured him.

"Then you'll understand why we were so eager to learn as much as we could," Willow said. "It's not often that you come across magic that isn't anything like what you've grown up with."

Alex continued, "So, we came up with a spell that would send him home. He told us that it needed a powerful energy source like the Hellmouth to work, but in truth, it didn't. The spell could have been performed anywhere on or off the planet."

"Then why did he tell you he needed the Hellmouth?" Hermione asked.

"He planned to suck all of its energy into himself before leaving via the portal, in effect turning Sunnydale into a big, giant crater and making himself extremely powerful."

"But his magic and ours can't mix!" Mrs. Weasley pointed out. "What good would draining the Hellmouth do for him?"

"Our magic is incompatible. The raw energy that made up the Hellmouth is compatible with Trig's magic," Willow explained. "It's because it's raw. It's unprocessed, unfocused energy that is incredibly easy to tap into, if you know how. It was a little more difficult for Trig, because he's not from Earth, but it didn't take him long."

"You, too, have used this magic, Agent Rosenburg?" Dumbledore inquired.

Willow looked down. "Yes."

There were gasps around the room. Dark magic in any form was dangerous and highly addictive; it was a wonder that Agent Rosenburg was able to get past it…assuming she had.

"He would have succeeded in sucking the Hellmouth dry and then escaping without us being the wiser until it was too late if one thing hadn't happened. Half-way through the ritual, Trig knocked me away with a magic blast and grabbed onto Willow." He clenched his hands into fists. "It would seem that he figured that he could get even more of an energy boost from her, because of her dealings into dark magic. We managed to fight back. We had an advantage in speed; in took him slightly longer to ready his spells than we needed to perform ours. We stopped him from completing the ritual, therefore assuring that Sunnydale remained standing and Trig stayed in our reality. But he still managed to get away. After searching for him for awhile, we put out a warrant for his arrest and then went on to the next crisis."

"We've been hoping for some payback with that asshole," Willow said. "Which is why we've come."

"So what can you guys tell us?" Alex asked.

Hermione told them about Ron and Harry being sent through the portal. Willow added that it made sense that he'd tried to do it as close to Diagon Alley as possible; that place was second only to Hogwarts with the most concentrated amount of magical energy in all of the United Kingdom. If Trig was operating true to form, he'd planned to absorb all of the energy from the Alley before he went through the portal to his home planet.

Then Shacklebolt and Tonks told them about Trig getting away through a second portal.

"Damnit!" Alex cried in anger. "How could you just let him get away!"

"Alex, calm down," Willow said, placing a hand on his arm. This seemed to work as he took a few deep breaths to calm himself down. Willow smiled apologetically. "Sorry."

"We still need to retrieve my two students," Dumbledore said. "Any help you could give us would be greatly appreciated."

Willow and Alex exchanged determined looks. "We can help you plenty," Alex assured them. "In fact, we know exactly how to open a portal into Trig's world."

"I've discovered a way of working around Trig's magic without the two actually mixing," Willow said. "All we need is the bowl and knife Trig used during the first attempt near Diagon Alley. Then we can open a portal into Runeus and rescue your friends."

"Oh, thank God," Molly said, relieved. Everyone else echoed her.


Dawn found Ron sitting surprisingly alone at a table in the dining room. She smiled as she approached the table. He glanced up and smiled back. "Hey," she said. "Where's your adoring public?"

Ron grinned. "They had to go to their classes," he said. He held up a book. "One of them let me borrow this."

Dawn sat down and glanced at the cover. She realized that it was a hardcover edition of the fifth Harry Potter book.

"It's weird," Ron said. "I've been skimming through it, and it's like this J. K. Rowling person was actually there. It's unnerving, actually."

"I can understand that," Dawn said. "I'd feel the same way if my own life was written down in a series of fiction books or was made into a TV show or something."

"A TV show?" Ron asked, eyebrows furrowed. "That's like a movie, right?"

Dawn fought to suppress a giggle. "Right."

Uncomfortable silence descended. Dawn took a deep breath. "There's something I-"

"How's it going with Trig?" Ron interrupted quickly. "Has he done whatever he's doing yet?"

"He's working on the preparations still," Dawn replied, trying to hide her disappointment.

"Oh. Good. Not that you people haven't been nice and all, but I'd kind of like to get back home…"

"It's Hermione, isn't it?" Dawn asked.

"What?" Ron asked, startled.

"Look, every time I try to get near you, you're always making up some excuse to get away from me," Dawn went on before he could interrupt. "And you yourself said that the books are just like your life. So with all the clues Rowling's dropped in the books and with what's been developing between Ron and Hermione in the movies, I figured that you and Hermione are together or something. Is that true?"

"I-we-Hermione-me-we most certainly are not!" Ron exclaimed, standing up. "You can't just go around accusing people of having crushes on someone they've known since their First Year! You just-can't! I mean, honestly! Hermione? Come on!"

Dawn only rolled her eyes and smirked. "Yep. Definite crush, there."

Before Ron could protest again, Dawn stood and approached him. "Look, Ron, there's nothing wrong with a crush. I mean, I like you, but if you've got your eyes set on Hermione, that's okay. It's not like we can get to know each other, anyway."

Ron opened his mouth to start on another wave of protests, only to double over in startled pain. He tried to grab the back of a chair to keep from falling, missed, and dropped to the floor.

"Ron!" Dawn said, rushing over. Her eyes bulged nearly out of their sockets.

Ripples rode up and down Ron's skin, making him gasp. They lasted for several seconds before subsiding.

"Ah, fuck," Ron said, lying on his back once they'd stopped. "That hurts."

"Looked like it," Dawn said shakily.

She helped him to his feet. "I really hope Trig is going to perform that spell soon," Ron said, "'cause that one was worse than the first one was. I don't know how much more I can take."


It had been a little under a year since Xander had last been to the Hyperion. Only it hadn't been this Hyperion. It had been another universe's Hyperion. His universe's Hyperion, as a matter of fact. He wondered if his double was waiting inside, and if he had lost an eye like he had, or if Anya was still alive here. He desperately hoped that Anya was alive.

He and Harry followed the members of SG-1 through the Hyperion's front door into the lobby. They found themselves on the receiving end of several crossbows. People Xander recognized stood about the floor of the lobby and on the second story landings.

"Hands up where we can see them!" cried a voice from the western landing. Xander recognized it as one of the Slayers-in-Training, Tasha.

All six dutifully raised their hands. Xander had told them to expect this, so none of them were surprised. He'd known that there would be sentries hiding outside, and that those sentries would have alerted those inside the hotel of their arrival.

Everyone who wasn't a new Slayer minus Wood, who was likely in the hospital, stood in the lobby. There was Gunn, Wesley, Fred, Angel, Giles, Andrew, Buffy, Faith, Willow, Dawn, a girl with unruly brown hair that Xander didn't recognize, a two-eyed version of Xander, and… "Anya," he said, feeling a smile creep up. He felt his heart leap in joy. She was just as stunningly beautiful as he remembered.

"Hey!" Willow said. She pointed at the just-arrived Xander. "It's you! With an eye patch, just like Cordelia said!"

"Huh," Buffy said, obviously impressed. She glanced at Cordelia with newfound respect. Cordelia just looked irritated.

Xander smiled at all of them. "Hey, guys. What's up?" he said, without moving his eyes from Anya.

Anya frowned down at herself. "What?"

Xander felt a pang of remorse. "Nothing. It's just…where I come from, you're…" He sighed. How could he tell her that she was dead in his reality? "Never mind." He looked at his double. "Looking all full-visiony there. God, how I envy you."

Anya was still alive here and the other Xander also hadn't lost an eye. His double seemed to get all the breaks.

"How'd that happen, anyway?" His double asked, motioning at the area around his own left eye.

"Yeah, Cordelia couldn't tell us," said Fred.

Xander winced. "Caleb," he said simply.

Everyone's eyes widened. They knew who he was talking about, and could sympathize. Two-eyed Xander's face went a little pale, probably thinking about how close he came to losing his own eye.

"Who's Caleb?" Carter asked, curious.

"Bad guy, now dead," Buffy replied. "Good riddance."

"So say all of us," Two-eyed Xander said with conviction.

"Who might you be, miss?" Giles asked, nodding to Carter.

"I'm Major Samantha Carter, USAF," Sam introduced herself.

"And your companions?" Wesley asked. "We already know Xander." He looked at Jack. "And you would be Colonel O'Neill, correct?"

Jack nodded. "Colonel Jack O'Neill. This is Dr. Daniel Jackson, Murray, and Harry Potter."

Everyone looked at Harry. "Harriet, gotta say, you're not a bad-looking guy," Dawn teased, turning to the young brunette girl that cyclops Xander didn't know.

"What?" Harry repeated, eyes widened. He stared at Harriet. "You mean…you're me?"

Harriet stepped forward. "I guess so. I'm Harriet Potter."

One-eyed Xander's mouth dropped. He started to laugh, then guffaw. "You're a girl!" he said. He snorted.

"That's what I said!" his double cried. "Only it was more like, 'You're a boy!'"

Harry and Harriet walked up to each other. "Don't touch each other!" Wesley warned. "You could destroy each other if you do."

"Thanks for the warning," Harry and Harriet said.

"Well, that's something you don't see everyday," Jack commented, looking on. In all of SG-1's encounters with alternate realities, they'd never met a female Colonel O'Neill, or a male Carter, or a female Teal'c or Dr. Jackson.

"Indeed," Teal'c agreed, eyebrow raised.

Everyone else introduced each other. "Sorry about the unwelcome welcome earlier," Buffy apologized. "It's just, we just got back from fighting a really big battle that ended in the destruction of an entire town, so we're still kinda on our guard."

"Wait a minute - all of you fought in Sunnydale?" Xander asked. He looked over them all again, and this time he took in the various bandages, bruises, cuts, and scrapes that weren't limited to the Scooby Gang.

"We sure did," Angel said. "Didn't that happen in your reality?"

Xander shook his head. "Nope. It was just us Scoobies and Potentials. Angel Investigations didn't have anything to do with it, besides delivering the amulet."

"I wonder why we didn't help to fight?" Wesley wondered.

"You said you knew how to get Harry and Xander back home," Daniel prompted after a moment.

"That's right," Cordelia said. "I know where we can find Trig."

"Who?" both Xanders asked simultaneously.

"Trig," Cordelia repeated. "He's the guy that sent you and Harry here."

"Oh," the Xanders chorused.

"This is going to give me a headache, I can just see it," Jack muttered. He rubbed his eyes. "I'm having flashbacks here."

"As am I, O'Neill," Teal'c told him.

"Me, three," Carter said, smirking.

"Me, four," added Daniel.

"So, where can we find him?" Harry asked.

"My Vision told me that he came here, to Los Angeles," Cordelia said, "Which was why we had to get you guys here."

"I did a location spell," Willow chipped in. "We were about to go out and get him, actually. Care to come along?"

"No need for that," a new voice said.

Everyone turned and saw that there was a new arrival. It was Trig.

Chapter Seven

Instantly, at least ten crossbows were aimed in his direction. SG-1, Xander, Harry, and Harriet hastily got out of the way, then Harry and Harriet both took out their wands and took aim.

Trig raised his hands. "I don't want any trouble," he said.

"Really?" Jack questioned. "Then why did you attack the base?"

"It was necessary. I would never have been allowed inside otherwise, and I needed your Stargate's power to penetrate the boundaries between this world and my own."

Angel mouthed, 'Stargate?' at Cordelia. She just shrugged.

"You mind running that by us again?" Buffy asked.

He smiled charmingly. "Certainly. My name is Trig. I am from the Planet Runeus, which lies in an alternate reality."

"Knew that," Angel said. "Anything else?"

He nodded. "Plenty. It is a very long story, actually."

"What do you want?" Giles asked.

"To go home. That is all. That was what I was trying to do last time, only it didn't go as planned. If it had, none of us would be here now, and we wouldn't be faced with the problem of both of them being here also." He nodded to one-eyed Xander and Harry. "I have come here now to see if I can correct things. I believe that I can get both of them back home and return to my own home world."

Everyone exchanged looks. Finally, Buffy turned back to Trig. "Explain."

He smiled, then turned serious. "Two years ago, a portal opened up on my world. I have gathered during my time here that it was the portal opened by the Hell Goddess Glory. I was sucked through it unwittingly, and then I ended up here. I have spent the past two years trying to come up with a way to return home, and I had believed that I had finally found a way. To open a second portal, I would need an enormous amount of energy, which I believed I could acquire at your base." He nodded to SG-1. "I knew that I would never get to it without some sort of force, so I hired five Rwasundi demons to cause a temporal disturbance at your base. Their effects on time did not effect my perception of reality, and it allowed me to enter, perform the spell, and leave without interruption."

He sighed. "Unfortunately, this did not go according to plan. When I was shot, the ritual became interrupted. I believe that this is how the two young men came through. I know that they couldn't have come from my reality, but from other realities, the realities of my doubles."

"Yeah, about that," cyclops Xander said. "If you're from an alternate reality, then how come you've got a double in my reality?"

"And in mine," Harry added.

"It is because of the portal that sent me here," Trig replied. "Something happened to me as I traveled through it. Different aspects of my personality were separated into different bodies. It was a very…different experience. The other aspects were scattered among a handful of realities; I was sent to this one."

"I believe that, if I can open a portal to my home world and we could successfully travel through to it, I will be able to return both of your friends to their realities as well as joining back together with my other aspects. I know what I did wrong last time; my spell was interfered with by my doubles' spells, and I know how to avoid that this time so that we successfully go to my world only and not end up in yet another alternate Earth."

Angel looked around at his people, and Buffy looked around at hers. Jack glanced at SG-1 and just shrugged. None of this really had anything to do with him or his team, but he knew that all four of them wanted to stick around to watch. He also wanted to know just how exactly Trig had gotten into the SGC, Rwasundi Demons aside.

Buffy and Angel met each other's eyes, then turned to one-eyed Xander and Harry. "What do you guys say? Wanna give it a shot?"

"Don't think we have much choice," Xander said. "But I'm going to keep an eye on Trig if you don't mind."

Two-eyed Xander snorted at the unintentional pun. His double gave him a look.

"Why do they have to go to your planet?" Faith asked. "Can't you just send them directly to their own worlds?"

At this question, Trig shifted uncomfortably. "I do not know how," he said. "My knowledge of magic is limited, and it would take me years to find a way of opening specific portals to their realities. The knowledge is readily available only on Runeus."

"Then let's get started," Angel said.

Trig smiled. "Wonderful. I will need a few things. Once I have them, we can begin."

He started to walk down the steps. He slipped on the second one and fell on his behind. The confident air he'd expelled since arrival had abruptly left.

It startled everyone. "You okay?" Fred finally asked. When everyone looked at her, she just shrugged.

Trig hastily got to his feet and smiled shakily. "Great. Don't worry about me."

Harry and Harriet exchanged glances. Somehow, if he really could be trusted, they doubted that he would be able to get Harry home at all.


"So, this spell is the same one you used the last time?" questioned Kennedy.

"Almost," Trig answered. "It is exactly the same except for a few small details. It is obvious that I was not precise enough in my desired destination the last time I attempted this. I must be more careful this time."

It was 9:50 PM. They had ten minutes to go before the spell could be performed. The Farewell Party that the Trainee Slayers had put on for Ron had ended not long ago. Before the party, they'd passed the time watching the Harry Potter movies and had even gone to the theatre so Ron could see the third one.

Everyone had been more fascinated by what Ron had to say about the movies than in actually watching them.

"I never realized just how bad Harry had it," Ron said after watching the opening scenes of The Sorcerer's Stone. "I'd like to give Dudley a nice kick in arse. With Harry's temper, I'm surprised he never actually did it himself."

Ron guffawed. "I remember him telling us about setting that python loose. Now I wish I was there more than ever!"

"Hey, that's not how you get into Diagon Alley! You're supposed to tap the wall above those trashcans!"

"Told you," Vi said, turning to Diana. She extended a hand. "Pay up."

Diana grumbled and handed her five dollars.

"Harry's bloody rich!" Ron said with astonishment. "I knew he had money, but not that much. With that money, could he buy every story in Diagon Alley, and those don't come cheap!"

"Really? He has that much?" Buffy asked.

"Well, maybe not that much," Ron said. "But, still!"

Comments like these continued throughout the rest of the movie and into the other ones.

Ron discovered two things for certain from watching the movies: primarily, it both creeped him out and fascinated him that his first three years at Hogwarts had been made into movies for anyone to see. He felt that a lot of those moments should've been kept private, and it made him uncomfortable to watch them himself. Events in the movies happened a little differently than he remembered them; sometimes it was the dialogue, other times it was the locations or the sequences of events, but everything was pretty much the same. He knew that hundreds of thousands, perhaps even millions, of people had seen these movies, and it just boggled his mind to know that anyone knew that much about him or his friends.

Secondly, he realized that he really did have a crush on Hermione, if his actions of the past five years were anything like they were in the movies. Sure, maybe he knew it along, but that didn't mean he wanted to admit it to anyone, least of all himself. He didn't think he'd ever been as obvious about it as that Rupert Grint fellow was making him look, but if the movies were any indication, then Hermione might like him back.

At least Dawn didn't act too mad about it. She was really attractive and great to be around, but she was still just too old for him. She was turning nineteen while he was only sixteen, and soon enough he'd be back in his own dimension. He had better chances with Hermione.

And now, he'd be leaving this reality in less than ten minutes. At the party, some of the Slayers had given him their copies of the Harry Potter books and one of the British Slayers gave him her copies of the first two movies. Dawn had given him a picture of her and a group picture of everyone. They would be the only souvenirs he'd be taking back with him.

"I'm coming with you," Dawn said.

"What?" Ron said, startled from his thoughts.

"I'm coming with you to Runeus, just to make sure Trig follows up on his word. Buffy and Willow are coming, too. Trig's already agreed to help us get back here, and even if he doesn't, we'll find a way. We've got this spell that some friends of ours used to get to and from another reality. It might work for us, but it's a lot more dangerous than Trig's spell, or so Willow thinks, so it's only as a last resort."

Ron smiled. "Glad to hear it," he said. He'd been afraid that he'd have to go to an alien planet alone.

She smiled back, and the two of them turned back to watch the preparations. They'd set up shop in the smaller gym, the one right next to the larger one on the ground floor. It was big enough for the portal, and it didn't have big, high windows like the other gym. Dawn and Ron stood in the corner of the smaller gym. Trig knelt in the center. Buffy stood near the door, while Kennedy and Willow stood near the middle of the wall.

"So, you going to talk to Hermione when you meet back up with her?" Dawn asked after a moment.

"Huh?" Ron asked, startled again. "Um…tell her what?"

She slapped his arm. "That you like her, stupid."

"Oh. Um…I guess." He wasn't even trying to deny it anymore. After being teased mercilessly over it during the movie marathon, he'd finally admitted it. "I guess she feels the same way about me, huh?"

"Probably, if she's anything like the Hermione from the movies or the books," Dawn said.

Ron nodded. "She is," he said. "'Least, the she acted like her." He squared his shoulders. "Yeah."

"Hey, Trig," Buffy called, catching everyone's attention. "It's 9:55 PM."

"Better get started," Dawn said.

"I am ready," Trig said.

He placed his right palm over the wooden bowl positioned at his knees. He picked up the knife with his left hand and used it to prick the partially healed scar on his right palm. Everyone winced. Surprisingly red blood dripped from the wound and into the bowl. When the first drop hit the bottom, the symbols on the bowl's rim and on the knife's handle glowed eerily red. Trig began to chant.

As more blood filled the bottom of the bowl, the symbols' glow changed from red hot to yellow to piercing white. Trig's voice never wavered, belying the nervous manner he'd projected so far and giving way to the experienced spell caster beneath.

In fact, Willow thought he was acting a little too experienced, especially since he himself had stated that he didn't have much knowledge about magic, his own or anyone else's.

He's not wavering, not even once, Willow commented, using just a tiny bit of power to project the thought to Buffy, Kennedy, Dawn, and also Ron. This has to be the second time he's had to do this spell and he's acting like he's done this sort of thing for years.

Got it, Will, Buffy assured her. Everyone keep an eye out. Willow, any way of looking through the portal to make sure that Runeus is safe for us to go to?

Willow bit her lip and shook her head, looking across the room at Buffy with an apologetic shrug. Sorry, no.

Ron, meanwhile, was staring at Willow and Buffy both. Hey! You people are in my head! How do you do that?

It's okay, Dawn assured him. Willow cast a spell that lets us communicate mentally. It's harmless.

Wicked. Ron said, impressed.

The portal took form in the air, slowly growing in size until it was touching walls, ceiling, and floor. Once it had, Trig stopped chanting and careful got to his feet, picking the bowl up from the ground with his right hand and keeping a hold of the knife with his left fist.

"I guess this is it," Dawn said.

"Looks like it," Ron said, suddenly wishing that he hadn't eaten all of that food at the party. It hadn't been very pleasant the last time he'd been shot through a portal, and he had a feeling that it would be worse on a full stomach, just like it would feel flooing on a full stomach.

Dawn tightened her hold on her sword. She saw Buffy raised the Scythe and Willow hold up her axe. Willow and Kennedy exchanged one last parting kiss. Kennedy would be staying behind; she would technically be in charge of the camp until Faith arrived from out of the country the next day. Hopefully, they'd be back before then, but they had no way of knowing that.

"Ready?" Dawn asked the redhead beside her.

"As I'll ever be," Ron replied. "You?"

Dawn shrugged, trying to act nonchalant. "Yeah."

Trig glanced around at them before stepping forward and into the portal. Buffy, Dawn, Willow, and Ron followed.


In order to 'work around' Trig's magic, Agent Rosenburg needed lots of potion-making equipment as well as the bowl and knife Trig had used during his first attempt outside of Diagon Alley. She wouldn't be able to do the spell until ten the following morning, and she and Alex would be spending the majority of the night cooking up the potion she needed to integrate their own magic with Trig's.

She'd explained how Trig's magic worked; she and Trig had had long conversations about it before Trig's betrayal. Afterwards, Willow had been asked why she couldn't just do the same spell if she knew how to do it. She replied, "Trig's magic is rooted into his world's, and it's strong even across realities. I couldn't use it directly if I tried, because my magic is rooted in this world's and the two just don't mesh. I have to go about it in a roundabout way or else we would get nowhere."

Dumbledore wouldn't be accompanying them, nor would Mr. or Mrs. Weasley. Despite their wishes otherwise, the three of them were just being watched too closely by too many people. They didn't want anyone getting wise to what they were doing. Neither elder Weasley would let their younger children go, either; they somehow managed to convince Fred and George to stay with Ginny, but they couldn't stop Hermione from going, nor could anyone else. She was determined to go and wouldn't let anyone convince her otherwise.

Hermione didn't contact her parents. With any luck, they wouldn't even know about her being gone. She was staying with the Weasleys for the rest of the summer, after all, and she didn't owl them every day. If they did find out, she knew that she would be grounded for life, but she couldn't just stay behind. Not when both Harry and Ron were out there in who knew how much danger. She wouldn't forgive herself if anything happened to either of them. If only she'd stopped them from going near Trig, somehow, then none of this would have happened. Harry would still be mourning for his godfather and acting stubborn and careless, and Ron would keep acting clueless about his own feelings toward her and she would stay frustrated over all of the signals from her that he didn't notice.

Accompanying Hermione would be Moody, Shacklebolt, Tonks, and the American Agents. The six of them needed to get as much sleep as possible before their trip, but Hermione found it hard to sleep. Instead, she spent the majority of the night worrying about her two friends. After lying awake in bed for an hour or so, she gave up. She got out of bed and headed out the door and down the stairs to the kitchen.

The light was still on. Hermione found Agent Harris and Agent Rosenburg seated at one end of the table. A huge cauldron rested on the table between them. Over thirty containers of spell ingredients were scattered across the surface of the table. She walked in just in time to see Willow add eye of newt to the mixture.

"Hello, Hermione," Alex said, making her jump. She blushed in embarrassment. She'd forgotten about his eye, but of course he'd be able to see through things and in all directions with it, just as Moody did with his own magic eye.

"Hello," she answered. "I'm sorry. I couldn't sleep."

Willow hadn't even glanced up from the potion. She was concentrating too highly on her work. Alex turned and smiled warmly at her. Hermione felt herself relax.

"It's alright," he consoled her. He motioned to the chair on Willow's other side. "Wanna come watch the show?"

"Sure," Hermione said, jumping at the opportunity. She'd heard Willow's explanation of the potion, but she still wanted to witness its making.

Willow glanced up as Hermione took her seat. "Oh, hi," she said, smiling.

Hermione smiled back.

Alex and Willow took turns working on the potion as Hermione watched. She tried to compare it with her knowledge of Potions but found it difficult. The concoction was unlike anything she'd ever seen or read about. The Agents were very helpful. They explained what every ingredient was for as they added it.

After an hour or so, Hermione went back to bed, feeling reassured that everything would go according to plan.

Back in the kitchen, Willow rested her head on her arms. After a few moments, she was snoring. Alex smirked at her as he worked. In another two hours, the potion would be done, and then both of them would be able to sleep.

Five minutes later, Willow was mumbling in her sleep. "Giant frog. Alex, look out! It's coming out!"

Alex raised an eyebrow at her. "Coming out of what?" he queried, wondering if he would get a response.

He did. "The portal! It's humongous! It'll wipe out all of the flies, then move on to the cats!"

Alex paused and stared at his sleeping partner. The witch certainly had some very strange dreams.

He picked up two vials and poured in their contents simultaneously. With a small bang, a thick cloud of smoke rose up from the cauldron.

Willow abruptly woke. "Save the Siamese cats!" she cried as she lifted her head. Then she blinked and glanced around. "What?"

"Relax, Willow," Alex assured her. "It was just the potion."

"Oh. Are we done yet?"

"No, unfortunately," Alex said. "We really should have had one of these things in reserve, you know."

"I heartily agree, believe me," Willow said. "At least we remembered the other potion to pacify Trig."

"At least there's that."

Willow glanced at the stairs. Anyone awake and listening in?

Alex used his x-ray eye to check. Yep. The twins are still awake. They've got something dangling from their ears. I think they're listening in.

Great, Willow thought sarcastically. At least they're not coming with us. What are we going to do with the ones that are?

Alex shrugged. We don't have to do anything. They want their friends back, and if that means taking over Trig's operation for whatever reason, they'll be glad to help. Still think we can take him?

Willow sighed. In his home environment? Not so much as if he was still here, but that pacifying potion should help. She shrugged. We'll know one way or another tomorrow.


After a hearty breakfast the next morning, everyone assembled once again in the Weasley living room. Willow set the cauldron down on the floor and sat cross-legged on one side of it. Alex sat across from her. Both chanted in Latin as they raised the wooden bowl and dropped it carefully into the cauldron. The bowl submerged and the surface of the potion shimmered with an inner light. It reflected off of every surface about the room.

They chanted some more as they dropped the knife into the concoction. The surface of the potion glowed brighter. The beams of light shone about the room in a frenzy of motion, making everyone sees stars as blinding light beams flashed past their eyes.

Alex and Willow spoke in English now. "Come to us, rays of light. Make for us a door. Unseal this portal, out of sight; make it whole, once more."

The beams of light turned their brilliance up toward the ceiling, merging to form one huge beam. The light on the ceiling altered until it took on the form of one of the symbols on the bowl and knife.

The ground shook, the Earth protesting to this combination of foreign and local magic. Willow and Alex repeated the rhyme, their voices raising as the quaking increased.

"This is going to take some explaining," Percy muttered to himself, certain that there would be questions about an earthquake in England.

A reddish portal took form in center of the beam. It slowly turned purple then blue as it grew in size. The quaking continued, knocking books off the bookcase and portraits off the wall.

Alex and Willow cautiously got to their feet. "We'd better go!" Alex shouted over the noise. "The quake should stop after the portal's closed!"

Hermione, Tonks, Shacklebolt, Moody, Alex, and Willow hurried through the portal. A moment later, it closed. The quake subsided.

The cauldron fell to its side. The potion, the bowl, and the knife had been all been absorbed completely. The cauldron was now empty.


Trig knelt in the middle of the Hyperion's foyer. Everyone was there, watching. The twenty Slayers-in-Training minus Harriet that had survived Sunnydale's collapse stood on the second floor landings. Harry and Harriet sat on the sofa that had been pushed to the side of the room. The two Xanders and Anya sat on the stairs. Gunn, Fred, and Angel, and Wesley stood in front of or behind the counter. Buffy stood near to Angel and Willow, Kennedy, and Faith stood next to the Xanders and Anya. Andrew stood with the others slayers on the landing.

Some of them had to stay behind to keep an eye on LA and the Slayers, but the rest planned to go through the portal. Among those staying behind were Wesley, Faith, Kennedy, Andrew, Wood, Dawn, the Slayers-in-Training, and SG-1. All of those leaving were armed with weapons and/or wands; now all there was to do was wait until the portal was opened.

It didn't take long for Trig to get the portal open. Within moments it stood open before them, ready and waiting for them to step through it. The portal was huge and looked like it could have easily sucked them all through if it could.

Buffy sucked in a deep breath and glanced at Angel. "Everyone who's coming, let's get a move on," the vampire said.

Both Xanders, Anya, Gunn, Fred, Angel, Buffy, Willow, Harry, Harriet, and Giles stepped forward, ready to follow Trig through the portal.

"Wait!" Tasha, one of the Slayers, called down from the second story landing. She held up her walkie-talkie. "Outside guard says there's a group of twenty demons headed this way. They request back-up before the demons break in-"

The Hyperion's front doors suddenly flew off their hinges, splintering their frames and sending the doors flying through the air. Harry and Harriet both raised their wands while Willow raised a hand. Harry and Harriet shouted, "Aresto Momentum!"

Harry and Harriet's spells hit the door, freezing it in place. Willow's shield sprung into being, forming a valley that the door nestled into that allowed the wand users to lower their arms.

Two demons walked through the hole in the wall that had been the door. One-eyed Xander recognized them as the same demons that had guarded the Trig in his reality: well-muscled guys with hard outer gray shells and very few weak spots.

Willow threw the door at them, knocking them back out of the hotel. Meanwhile, two more demons stormed their way through the courtyard doors. They were instantly met by a horde of Slayers descending the stairs from the second-story landings. Half of their numbers had gone down the other stairs to meet the demons pouring in through the front entrance.

Without hesitation, the Angel Investigation crew, the Scoobies, and SG-1 all jumped into the fray. A demon got tossed right at Jack and his team. Teal'c blasted it in the chest with his staff weapon. The demon staggered a bit before continuing toward them. Carter, Jack, and Daniel let loose with a stream of bullets. The first couple of bullets bounced off, but as more and more impacted, the shell cracked and the bullet penetrated the demon, killing it easily and spraying green icor everywhere. Some of the green blood hit the portal and sailed on through.

The slayers and others on either side managed to force the demons back outside in the front and back courtyards, but it wasn't long before they were losing ground. The demon's shells made them nearly impossible to kill; besides SG-1's target, only two others had been slayed which left seventeen alive.

No one took any notice of Trig during all of this. Two wooden bracelets hung from his wrists. He crossed his wrists, the right before the left, and pointed them at one group. "Bring me Dawn Summers and Willow Rosenburg," he intoned.

A cry rose up from the seventeen-year-old and redhead witch as they rose in the air and flew toward the portal.

"Buffy!" she yelled.

"Dawn! Willow!" Buffy cried, spotting them. She turned away from the fight with the demons and sprinted toward them, hoping to stop them.

Trig switched his crossed arms and intoned a word in his language. Instantly, Buffy was knocked off her feet. Her scythe flew across the room. Dawn and Willow soared through the portal.

Trig switched his arms back to the original order and pointed it again at one of the crowds. "Bring me Xander Harris and Harry Potter," he said.

Three more cries could be heard as both Xanders and Harry rose into the air and flew at the portal, passing on through it.

"Xander!" Anya and Carter cried at the same time.

"Harry!" Harriet called.

Trig turned his bracelets to SG-1. "Bring me Daniel Jackson and Samantha Carter."

"No!" Jack cried, bringing his weapon up to bear. Trig quickly re-crossed his arms and SG-1's weapons dropped to the floor as Daniel and Carter flew through the air and into the portal.

Trig turned, picked up the bowl and knife, and hastily stepped through. The portal began to shrink.

"No! Dawn!" Buffy cried, picking herself up. She dashed at the portal and jumped through.

Harriet used her Slayer reflexes to sprint at full-speed at the portal, jumping through after the other Slayer just as the portal closed.

When the demons saw that the portal was nowhere, they turned and left, running out of sight. Half of their number had been killed.

"What the hell happened?" Jack demanded, furious. "And how the hell do we get that damn portal open again?"

"Where's Dawn?" Willow asked. "Or Xander - either Xander?"

"Where's Buffy and Cordelia?" Angel asked.

"They, Harry and Harriet went through the portal," Tasha said. "It was Trig. He used magic to send Dawn, both Xanders, Harry, and those two Air Force people through. Buffy and Harriet both went in after them."

"He probably also hired the demons to attack us so he could take only the ones he wanted," Wesley hypothesized.

"Worked pretty well, too," Faith said, wincing as she rubbed an injured arm.

"Damnit!" Giles cursed, turned and kicking the wall.

"We've got to get them back!" Anya cried.

"We will," Kennedy said. "We'll get them back. All of them. Then we'll cut Trig into a hundred little pieces…after we burn him alive."

"Sounds like a good plan to me," said Jack.

Chapter Eight

"I think I'm going to be sick," a voice said in the darkness.

"Already there, buddy," another voice said.

"I am sick," a third voice said. "I'm sick of going through portals that make you want to throw up your insides."

"Oh, nice analogy, Xander," another voice said sarcastically. "That really puts me in the not-throwing-up mood."

"Shut up," Xander told the voice.

Yet another voice said, "You know, maybe we should look for a light, or otherwise we won't know where to throw up."

"If it's on Xander, I'm all for it."

"Yuck! Stay away from me!"

"Make me!"

"Like I even know where you are in this room!"

"Could everyone just please shut up and help look for a light switch?" another voice cried.

A few grumbles followed this statement, along with lots of shuffling as many people got to their feet and searched around the room.

"Hey! Watch where you put your hands!"

"Ahh! That's my arse you're grabbing, pervert!"

"Why am I looking around for a light switch? Lumos Maxima!"

The light at the tip of Hermione's wand illuminated the entire room. Everyone stopped and stared around at each other. Many of them saw double and sometimes triple.

Among those present were two Dawns, three Xanders, one Harry and one Harriet, one Ron, two Buffys, three Willows, one Shacklebolt, one Tonks, one Moody, one Hermione, one Dr. Daniel Jackson, and one Major Samantha Carter. All in all, that totaled up to nineteen bewildered people.

"Harry! Ron!" Hermione exclaimed, running to meet the closest of her friends. He happened to be Ron. Without thinking, she threw her arms around him. A moment later, her lips were against his, and they were kissing.

The two of them realized what they were doing and stepped back from each other rapidly, eyes wide. "Wow," Ron said in awe.

"Yeah," Hermione agreed, grinning.

"Hermione!" Harry cried. He hadn't seen the kiss, but he had seen her. He ran over to her and gave her a hug as well. Hermione was still flushed from the kiss but still developed her friend in a tight hug. She'd missed them both so much.

Harriet walked over to them. Hermione and Ron noticed her. "Um…hello," Harriet asked. "You guys wouldn't happen to have the last names of Granger and Weasley, would you?"

Hermione and Ron nodded. Harriet frowned. "Well, Xander was right about that, at least. I'm Harriet Potter. Where I come from, you're Ronda Weasley-" she said, pointing at Ron, "-and you're Hermes Granger." She pointed at Hermione.

"You mean they're opposite sexes in your reality?" Harry asked, trying to contain his laughter. Harriet only nodded.

"Her reality?" Hermione repeated, confused. "Harry, what are you talking about? Haven't you and Ron been here on Runeus?"

"Nope," Ron said. "I got shipped off to an alternate universe where our lives are fictional. Don't know where Harry ended up."

"I was in Harriet's reality," Harry told them.

One-eyed Xander glanced from one of his doubles to the other. The first one he recognized; it was his two-eyed double from the Hyperion. The one he didn't recognize had a left eye that was completely black.

"Who are you?" he asked.

"Agent Alex Harris," black-eye guy replied. "Who're you two?"

"Xander Harris," both of them replied.

"I'm seeing double," Buffy commented, meeting the eyes of her double. Her double's hair was longer than hers. Besides that and their clothing, there weren't any physical differences between the two.

"You're not the only one," one of the Willows commented.

"Well, this is just peachy," Daniel commented to Carter with sigh, Jack's sarcasm rubbing off on him. He was pretty sure that she was the Carter from his reality.

"What is going on here?" Shacklebolt wondered out loud.

"Hang on, where's Trig?" Harriet asked. "Shouldn't he be here with us?"

Everyone glanced around but saw no sign of the pale-skinned demon.

"We're up here."

They turned and looked up at a balcony on the northern wall of the room. Three Trigs stood there, staring down at them.

"I brought some extras with me," one of them said.

"So did I," the middle one said.

The third one on the right shrugged impatiently. "Then let's get rid of them already."

All three began to chant in their native tongue.

The group below stared around at the walls as symbols they hadn't noticed before began to glow.

Wands were taken out and pointed at the three demons. They tried many different spells but none of them worked. All of them bounced off of an invisible wall before they could hit the demons.

Agent Rosenburg lowered her wand and glanced at her doubles. The three of them joined hands and turned to stare up at the demons, willing the Trigs to go sailing over the railing.

Their efforts, while more powerful put together than if they had been separate, didn't do what they expected. The energies they directed at the Trigs instead sailed at symbols engraved in the corners where the ceiling met the walls. Lots of different spells were in use here, and all of them were of Runeus. None of the humans had any magical power here.

Therefore, they were powerless to stop the demons' magic from washing over them. It developed them, transporting all of them out of the room until all that remained were the Trigs.


Harriet once again found herself falling painfully on the ground. The bush she crashed into helped to break the fall, but not very well. She groaned as she struggled to sit back up. At least her Slayer healing powers would insure that any aches and pains would fade away quickly. She couldn't say the same for her companions.

The others were still getting to their feet. She glanced over them, trying to determine who was missing. Among those present were Tonks, Shacklebolt, and Moody, although Harriet knew they couldn't possibly be the same people from her reality. That meant that they'd come through the portal with Hermione Granger. The Xander Harris from Harriet's reality, the one with both of his original eyes, was also there, as well as the Buffy from her reality and another Buffy from an alternate reality.

They had been transported into a jungle filled with strange plants she'd never seen before. It was certainly clear now that they were on an alien planet. Harriet wondered where on the planet that the Trigs had sent them, and why most of the others weren't with them.

"Where the bleedin' hell are we?" Shacklebolt asked, glancing around.

"Somewhere else on Runeus would be my best guess," Moody said.

"Next question is, 'where?'" one of the Buffy's said as she walked over. She was the one from Harriet's reality; Harriet recognized her because she was wearing the same outfit witch remembered seeing her wear in their reality - white pants and a black tank top. The alternate reality Buffy had her hair pulled back and wore a long-sleeve red blouse and jeans.

"You okay, Harriet?" her reality's Buffy asked her, further assuring Harriet that this was the Alpha Slayer she knew.

Harriet nodded. "I'm fine."

"The question I would have gone for was, 'where's everyone else?'" the other Buffy said as she joined them.

"I'm with alternate-Buffy," Xander said. "Why are we here? Where did Trig send everyone else?"

"Two of the Trigs said they'd brought some extra people with them," Harriet pointed out, remembering. "I think we were the extras."

"Who might the four of you be, anyway?" Tonks asked. "I don't think we've been properly introduced. I'm Tonks, and this is Alastor Moody and Kingsley Shacklebolt."

"The Auror friends of Harriet's!" Xander said. He glanced at the Slayer in question. "Right?"

Harriet shook her head. "I think they're from another reality than we are."

Her reality's Buffy nodded in agreement. She glanced at her alternate. "And since they don't know you, that means you're from a different reality than any of us."

The alternate Buffy only sighed. "Right. Well, now that we've got that covered, I'm Buffy Summers." She raised an eyebrow at Harriet. "Your turn."

"I'm Harriet Potter," Harriet said. At the four confused glances she received, she hastened to explain. "I'm the girl version of Harry-" Her eyes widened. "Xander, get down!"

Everyone's head whipped around. Xander turned around only to dash out of the way as something crashed into the spot he'd been standing in.

The thing lifted into the air, and now everyone could see that it was the flower bud of a plant. The plant itself was huge; its stem was eight feet long, towering over all of them.

The edge of the flower bud opened to reveal what looked like pincers. It seemed to snarl at them. It studied its quarry for a moment before striking, moving with lightning speed down at Xander, who hastily ran out of its range.

All four witches or wizards had their wands out. They pointed them at the deranged flower.

"Impedimenta curse," Moody told them.

"Impedimenta!" they cried.

Their spells hit the bud and blasted it to pieces. The stem thrashed about crazily in the air for a moment before it stopped and began to fall to the ground…right where all three Slayers were.

The Slayers hastily jumped out of its way and the plant crashed to the ground, bouncing once on impact before laying still.

Everyone glanced around at the other plants warily. None of them appeared like they would attack, but then, neither had the giant flower.

"Are you all right, Xander?" Harriet called over to him.

"Couldn't be better. Thanks, by the way," he said.

"That combined Impedimenta spell should have been more powerful than that," Tonks pointed out, looking puzzled at the stem.

"It must be because this is an alien world," Shacklebolt theorized. "Our magic is not as effective here."

The alternate Buffy nodded. "Yeah, the Trig who was in my reality said that his magic wasn't very effective on Earth, so it would make sense if it was vice-versa here."

"I really think we should get out of here," the other Buffy said, "just in case the plant had friends."

"Good idea," Xander said, "but where?"

Everyone glanced at each other. They had no idea where to go or even where they were.

Both Buffys pointed in the same random direction. "This way," they said. They looked at each other.

Not knowing what else to do, they started walking that way, keeping an eye out for hostile plants.

They avoided three more of the killer flowers during their trek. They walked for a good thirty minutes before they had any more problems. They entered a section of the jungle/forest that contained strange, alien trees unlike the ones they'd already encountered. These trees were similar in attitude to Whomping Willows but not in appearance. This new tree stretched as tall as a pine tree and reached higher toward the mint green sky than the other tree types. Unlike a pine tree, it didn't have any pine needles or cones and its branches were thick and began low to the ground and. The path they had been following had been some sort of animal track. For the most part, it was wide enough to allow them to walk along it one by one. There were a few parts of the trail that were narrower, however, and at these parts the seven of them had to squeeze between the trees.

They soon discovered how much of a problem that posed when Tonks tripped over a root and tried to catch her balance by grabbing onto a branch.

The tree came to life. Another branch swooped down, whacking into Tonks and sending the witch soaring away from the Tree. The alternate Buffy ran, making it just in time to catch Tonks before the witch collided painfully with either the ground or another tree.

It took Tonks a few minutes to recover before the group moved on, this time trying to be extra-careful not to even brush against a tree branch. Thankfully, the whomping trees ignored them if they didn't make contact with them.

Their next bit of trouble didn't come from a plant. They were carefully maneuvering between another pair of whomping trees when a flying animal swooped out of one of its branches, startling all of them.

"What the hell is that?" Xander asked, staring at it. It had wings of what looked like living wood and its plump body was as green as the foliage. It was easy to see how they hadn't noticed it before; it blended in completely with the tree.

It rose high into the air before turning around and heading back to the tree. It circled above the tree for a few minutes. The group chose to ignore it and continued their progress around the tree.

A few minutes later, the treebird's cry made them glanced up again. They saw something fall out of the bird's rear and drop down among the trees' branches.

"Look out!" Moody said, but it was too late. The bird's droppings sprayed the seven humans like dust.

Harriet tried to cough as some of it settled in her nose and mouth. She tried to suck in a breath only to find it impossible. The others were having the same problem. They couldn't breathe. Harriet's eyes opened wide in panic as she tried desperately to draw in a breath.

She glanced around. The others' faces were turning white, and she had a feeling that her own face looked the same. She could see spots in her vision now, and she felt her knees go weak.

She heard a squawk from up above. Harriet managed to glance back up in time to see the bird drop out of the sky, its chest a blackened ruin. It was very clearly dead.

She felt hands on her arms pulling her away from the tree. Something was pressed against her nose and mouth. She felt oxygen being poured into her mouth and eagerly sucked it in, finding it possible to do so now.

Harriet opened her eyes and looked into the gaze of a demon. She was a woman with pale skin and glowing green eyes, clearly the same race as Trig. She held two wooden disks in her hands.

"Thank you," Harriet said.

The demon woman turned away from her and shouted something in her language. Harriet looked around and saw her friends, new and old, being administered the treatment for the bird's droppings, which appeared to be two wooden disks held against the nose and mouth. All of them were recovering and were looking at their saviors with surprise.

There were seven demons in all. Three were women and the other four were men. All of them were young except the demon that hadn't provided the treatment. His hair was completely gray, the only sign of his age. He spoke now. "You are like the Strong One," he said in heavily accented English. "You came from Earth?" he asked.

Harriet and the others glanced at each other. Moody eyed them wearily, Tonks and Shacklebolt regarded them with tense curiosity, and Xander and both Buffys were tense yet accepting. The alternate Buffy stepped forward. "Yeah, we did," she said. "Thanks for helping us, by the way. Um, who is this Strong One?"

"He is the only one who can face the Foul One," the male demon replied. "The only one who has courage and strength."

One of the younger males said something in their language to the leader. The leader listened before turning back to the humans. "Mig'ja believes that you work for the Foul One. We will take you to see the Strong One. He will know, and he will judge you."

"What happens if he finds us guilty?" Moody asked, eyes narrowing dangerously.

"Then you will die," the leader said.

"Oh, I don't think so," Harriet's Alpha Slayer said. She, the other Buffy, and Harriet all took a few steps forwards. Harriet felt herself tense, readying herself for the fight that she found herself looking forward to. Xander and the three Aurors also moved forward, removing wands or readying fists.

The leader said something, and the other demons raised their disks. The Slayers halted in their tracks, unsure what was going on.

"Our force and our magic is stronger than yours. With these disks, we could harm you a good deal," the leader told them. "You will come. We give you no choice."


One-eyed Xander groaned as he sat up rubbing his head while the pain throbbed through his skull. "Can't we just skip the painful landings?" he complained. He looked around at his new surroundings and sighed. "Great."

He wasn't alone; everyone who'd come to this reality through a portal was there, too, as far as he could tell. The room was a medium-sized one with what looked like cold, stone walls and windows set into the wall fifty feet above the floor; in other words, they were in a dungeon. As far as he could tell in the semi-darkness, the ceiling and crossbeams were made of wood and were crowded with symbols and patterns.

Some people were already on their feet, but the rest were still struggling to get up. Xander stood up, still rubbing his aching scalp, and took a mental role call, trying to recall who all had been there in the other room. He was pretty sure that he was coming up short. For one, he couldn't see either Buffy anywhere, and he couldn't spot either alternate version of himself. He wasn't sure who else was missing. It didn't take long to find out. Once everyone had recovered from the transportation spell that had sent them there, they counted up friends as well.

Daniel, Sam, two Willows, both Dawns, Harry, a girl and boy that Xander recognized as Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, and himself were all there. The people that were missing were Nymphadora Tonks, Kingsley Shacklebolt, Alastor Moody, both Buffys, both of Xander's doubles, Harriet Potter, and one of the Willows. That made nine of their number that were missing and ten of their number in the dungeon.

"So, does anyone know how to get out of here?" Daniel asked.

Hermione marched over to the door and took out her wand. She pointed it at the lock. "Alohomora," she said.

A spark shot out of the tip of her wand and hit the lock. Nothing else happened. Hermione tried to turn the doorknob but couldn't. She turned back to the others and shrugged.

"I'd try some Wiccan magic, but I doubt I'd have any more luck," one of the Willows said. She pointed to the ceiling. "Trig's kind of magic is being enforced here."

"Wonderful," Sam muttered.

"Why did they send only some of us here?" Ron asked. "Why not all of us?"

Harry pointed out, "They said something about bringing some 'extras' along. I guess they meant the others."

"No!" both Dawns said. One of them continued, "My sister is out there. She can't be dead."

"We're not saying she is," Xander assured them, putting a comforting hand on both of their arms. "They're probably just somewhere else on Runeus."

"We'll find them," the other Willow assured them. "But while we're here, maybe we should try to figure out which of us belongs to what reality. I don't know about you, but for me this is kinda confusing."

"Okay," the first Willow said. "I'm from the same reality as Major Carter and Dr. Jackson."

In Xander's mind, he began to classify her as 'Willow' and the other own as 'Will.'

"So do I," one of the Dawns said. Xander classified her as 'Dawn 2' and her doubles as 'Dawn 1'.

Will said, "I came through the same portal with Ron Weasley, Buffy, and Dawn. We came here to look for Harry and Xander." She turned to Xander. "I'm pretty sure that's you."

Xander smiled. "Sounds like it." He turned to Dawn 1. "That must mean that you're from my universe, too."

Dawn 1 smiled. "I guess so."

Then she bounded into his arms, almost knocking him over. "I missed you so much, Xander."

A moment later, Xander staggered again as Will joined in the group hug. Xander knew he was grinning. "I missed you guys, too."

Hermione turned to Harry and Ron. "And the three of us are from the third reality." She smiled at Ron and he smiled back before taking her hand.

"What about the others?" Dawn 2 asked. "What realities do they come from?"

Will said, "One of the Buffys came from ours."

"And the other Buffy came from ours," Willow continued. "So did Harriet."

Hermione said, "Shacklebolt, Tonks, Professor Moody, Agent Harris and Agent Rosenburg all came from ours."

"Woah, wait a minute," Xander said, turning to her. He glanced at Harry. "I thought Buffy the Vampire Slayer was a TV show in your reality. How can I have a double there?"

Harry's brow furrowed. "I don't know." He turned to Hermione and Ron. "Maybe we're not from the same reality after all."

The Hogwarts Trio didn't look too happy about that. "I've never heard of a Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV series," Hermione said.

"I guess that settles it, then," Ron said. "You're from another reality. Sorry, mate."

"So we're dealing with four Earth realities, at least," Will said. "And three apsects of Trig."

"Well, now that we know all of that, let's figure out a way to get out of here," Daniel suggested. "Then we can figure out how to get home."


They walked through the wild forest for the good part of an hour before they reached their destination. It was with relief that they left the forest and entered a meadow. A large wooden block etched with strange patterns was positioned in the meadow five feet from the forest wall. Their group approached it.

The leader of their saviors turned captors stepped up to the block. He removed a wooden disk from a pouch at his belt and placed it over a portion of the block's pattern. "Hret," he told it.

The air shimmered beyond the block. Like a mirage, a village took form in the middle of the meadow as the protective illusionary barrier keeping it out of sight dissolved.

It was the strangest village that Harriet, either Buffy, Xander, or the Aurors had ever seen. As their group approached it, it became clear exactly what made it so unusual. While their captors had seemed to be a less-advanced race, they quickly discovered that was misleading. Evidences of steel and what looked like concrete could be seen in some of the bases of the buildings they passed, but the upper floors and ceilings were made of wood, straw, grass, glass, clay brick, and some stone and mortar. They had more advanced technology at one point, but now only cruder methods were available.

Moody guessed that there were at least two hundred people living in the village, maybe more. All of the demons walking about the main street stopped and stared as they passed. It wasn't long before a crowd formed on either side to gap as they walked by. They walked to a building near the center of the village. This structure was made completely of brick. It had a tin roof and what looked like a concrete foundation.

The leader knocked on the door. It opened to reveal a surprisingly human man. He glanced at the leader and then past him at the captives. His eyes widened slightly. The leader conversed with him in rapid Runeus for several seconds. The human listened to him before looking once again at the captives. He regarded them all for a moment before stepping aside. "Come in," he told them in English. It wasn't a suggestion.

Xander, the three Slayers, and the Aurors moved past him and into the house. Their captors made as if to follow them inside, but the human raised a hand. "You may go," he told them. "Thank you for bringing them to me."

The leader nodded, bowed, and then left with his team. The human man closed the door and turned back to regard his guests. They now stood in what looked like a living room. Xander thought he looked vaguely familiar, but with everything that had been going on Xander couldn't remember exactly where he'd seen him before. He had dark brown hair and chestnut-colored eyes and he was of average height. His skin was nearly as pale as the villagers from long-term exposure to the sun's rays of this reality. He wore dark pants and a white turtleneck sweater that had seen better days.

"Good morning," he told them. His accent had a slight touch of Runeus in it but it was mostly British. "Welcome to Runeus. I assume that all of you are from Earth, or various versions of it?"

Everyone nodded. "And you're the Strong One," Buffy said.

"Whatever that means," alt-Buffy added. Moody grunted in agreement.

The Strong One smiled. "It's a long story." He waved around at chairs and benches. "Please, sit down and I'll try to explain."

He took a seat on a stool next to a hearth. The rest sat across from him. "I have been in this reality for three years, ever since those fucking Hunters cursed me here."

"Hunters?" Shacklebolt prompted.

Xander's eyes went wide. Flashes of a television show he hadn't watched in years flitted through his mind. "Now I remember where I've seen you!" he exclaimed before the Strong One could answer the Auror's question. "You're Methos!"

Chapter Nine

"He's who?" both Buffys asked, puzzled.

"He's Methos," Xander repeated. "From Highlander: The Series and the fourth movie, Highlander: End Game."

Methos' eyes widened. "I'm a fictional character in your reality?" he asked. His eyes narrowed. "Just how much is mentioned in these movies and TV series?"

"About you personally? Adam Pierson, Death, and Benjamin Adams," Xander replied. "That's all."

Methos glanced away and bit his lip as his mind raced. If he was telling the truth, and Methos knew he was, then this mortal knew more about him than anyone still alive. Methos didn't like the thought, but there was nothing he could do about it at the moment.

"You mind explaining, Xand?" Buffy asked. She and the others looked at him expectantly.

"In our reality," and here he motioned from himself to Buffy and Harriet, "there's a TV show called Highlander. I used to watch it while it was still airing. It's a show about Immortal human beings that can only be killed through decapitation. They go around fighting each other for the Prize, which the last of their kind will receive when every other Immortal is dead. Methos here is the oldest living Immortal. He's five thousand years old."

Methos only winced further as everyone turned astonished eyes to him. They'd never before met a man who'd lived for fifty centuries. The media on Xander's world was much more detailed than he would have preferred.

While the others were still recovering from the fact that the man before them was fifty centuries old, Xander asked Methos, "So how did you get here, anyway? You said something about the Hunters…"

"Yes," Methos said, hesitant now about telling them the rest of his story. Then he just sighed and resigned himself to it. "The Hunters are a group of mortals that detest my kind and go about killing us on a regular basis, even though it is no business of theirs. They don't even restrict themselves to the bad ones; they hunt us all equally." There was pain in his eyes as he said this, but he quickly went on. "They finally caught up to me in Belgium. I had been able to elude them for some time. Unfortunately, they had magic on their side while I did not; they were able to find me this way."

"It hadn't been the first time they'd tried to kill me. Instead of another attempt, they decided to do something else. They lured me into a trap, I'm sorry to say. The alley they'd chased me into had a false bottom; part of its surface had been replaced by a portal and then covered by an illusion. The warlock among them had been very skilled. Before I knew it, I was falling through the portal. I ended up here."

"Hardly seems like the best move on their part," Moody said. "If they'd wanted you to suffer, they should have sent you to a hell dimension."

Methos smiled. "I'm pretty sure they thought they did. Traveling between realities is not easy, and it is likely that they just got the coordinates wrong. Not that this is the place I would have liked to have ended up in, mind you. It didn't help that I got dumped in the middle of a forest full of plants dead set on taking my head personally." He regarded all of them. "I am told that is how you were found, suffering from the effects of the hamadryad's pesticide."

"The home-a-what?" alt-Buffy repeated.

"Hamadryad," Tonks said. "It's a tree nymph." She looked a little sheepish. "With a name like mine, you tend to learn all about nymphs quickly."

Methos was nodding in agreement. "Yes, it was a tree nymph. It is vulnerable whenever it strays away from its tree, which it must do whenever it, um, communes with nature. That was how Kin Frag was able to kill it." He shrugged. "Those damn birds and their trees tend to be nothing but pests."

He looked away from them to a spot in the not-so-distant past. "That was three years ago. It didn't take long for Trig to find me and take me prisoner. Everyone really seems to enjoy doing that," he added with annoyance.

"What's the deal with Trig, anyway?" Buffy said. "We've all figured out that's he's the Big Bad. How did he get that way when everyone else here is on the short end of the stick?"

"That's another long story. The best person to explain that would be my wife," Methos said. "She should be released from her shift any minute now-"

The door opened. The same demon woman who had cured Harriet from the nymph's pesticide entered the house. She smiled uncertainly at them before crossing the room and sitting down in Methos' lap.

Methos said something in Runean and she nodded. She turned to them. "Hello. I am Clarin." Her eyes narrowed as she studied them. "I see that my husband has not done a good job as host."

She gave him a stern look. He gave her an innocent one back. She rolled her eyes and stood. She left the room and returned a few minutes later with a tray of bread and drinks. She offered them the food. Everyone accepted except for Moody, who politely declined before opening a flask and taking a drink.

Clarin set the tray on the table before seating herself again in Methos' lap. "Now I must ask all of you for your names," she said.

They gave them. She nodded in satisfaction. "Methos tells me that you have questions about my people's history. I will tell you only if you agree to tell us how you got here once my husband and I are done with our stories. Agreed?"

The seven guests looked at each other before nodding. Clarin began her story. "Runeus was once as advanced as my husband's world. It was long before my time, but I know that it is true because of what has survived from the past. We lived in peace with each other then. That was before Trig turned against us. He had been a research expert in magic and scientific magic, which I'm told isn't the same as science. He'd been very famous for his breakthroughs in our people's magic. He'd personally discovered many useful spells that we had never been able to find before, even after several centuries of effort." Her face twisted into a scowl. "He'd been considered a savior for the magical maladies and cures he'd uncovered, among other accomplishments."

"One day, however, everything changed. No one can remember exactly what happened, but Trig suddenly went rogue. He took many of his discoveries along with many he'd kept secret and took over. No one on the planet was powerful enough to face him and win. Many tried and all of them failed. Armies went up against him, and none of them survived. Billions of my people died." Her eyes closed tightly in pain. She may not have been there, but she still mourned.

"Trig wanted power. He didn't care how he got it, or if he would end up being the last of his kind. He discovered that there were passageways to other worlds and realities, places with more power to conquer and more Runeans to rule over. He didn't care what happened in this world because there was an unlimited resource available to replace whatever was lost here. That is how he sees it, anyway. He hasn't been able to tap into any of these realities on his own, but he has been trying for a long time."

"There are only a few thousand Runeans left alive. We are too weak to fight against him. Our magic and our forces are too small. The Foul One was our dictator, and we were forced to pay homage to him for many years." She turned and smiled at the Immortal man she was straddling. "Or we were, before Methos arrived on this world."

Methos rolled his eyes. "You know very well that I would have had nothing to do with it if I hadn't been forced to. Don't make a hero out of me, love."

Clarin only smiled indulgently.

"So why did you get involved?" Buffy asked.

Methos continued his explanation now that his wife was done. "Well, after I'd ended up in the Runean forest via the Hunters' portal, I was unfortunate enough to be captured by one of Trig's sentinels. It took me to his fortress."

His face became stony as a cold fury raced through his eyes. "Needless to say, Trig was very interested in seeing me. I was the proof that alternate realities could be accessed and entered. He decided to experiment on me."

Clarin took his hand and squeezed. He blinked and smiled at her. "I don't know how long I was in that lab. He kept me so doped up on magic drugs that I couldn't think straight, let alone move. It was through me that he discovered the way to access power from other realities."

"How?" Moody asked.

"Through complete absorption," Methos replied, a haunted look in his eyes now.

"What does that mean?" Harriet asked, utterly confused.

Methos took a deep breath. "It means that Trig discovered a way to take an entire reality, convert it to magical energy, and then absorb it all into himself or a test subject. It is similar to a Quickening, in that respect," he told Xander, the only one besides Clarin who would understand the reference. "Once the reality had been absorbed, nothing of it would remain. It would essentially be erased from existence. Everything within it - the people, the plants, the animals, the Earth and every other planet in the reality's galaxies - all of it would be gone."

The seven newcomers, even Moody, stared wide-eyed at him as they took this in. Methos and Clarin looked grimly back. "Good Lord," Shacklebolt said under his breath.

"How often has he done this?" alt-Buffy asked quietly, stunned.

"For himself? Never," Clarin replied.

"He used me as a guinea pig," Methos said. "He didn't know what effect absorbing an entire reality into a person would have, so he experimented on me."

"You mean…he actually absorbed whole realities into you?" Buffy asked, disbelieving.

"Yes," Methos said seriously. "It was…the most painful and exhilarating experience I have ever had."

He addressed the Slayers and Aurors, "When one of my kind dies, the closest Immortal absorbs that person's very essence into themselves. It is called a Quickening. It can be painful and the most extraordinary experience ever and is usually both at once. A single Immortal's Quickening is nothing compared to absorbing an entire reality." He closed his eyes tightly. "The pain…it is past excruciating. I cannot describe it accurately. I…"

Clarin positioned herself behind him and rubbed his shoulders, hoping to ease some of the tension. Methos leaned into it. It was clear who had helped him live on after the horror that he'd very clearly experienced.

Methos took a deep breath. "Trig targeted my own reality first." The fury returned to his gaze. "Everything I'd known - MacLeod, Joe, Amanda, the cultures and peoples and everything I'd lived and experienced for five thousand years, hell, even the Hunters, all of them were gone in an instant, absorbed into me. The world that I alone more than anyone else could claim as my own was destroyed."

Now, he was shaking, and not even Clarin's touch could console him. "Everything was just erased. I continue to be the sole survivor of an entire reality, the only thing left to indicate that it ever existed."

Clarin glanced up from her husband at their guests, her eyes filled with tears.

Not one of them knew what to say. It was just too much information to take in.

It was a while before Methos managed to calm himself down again. It had been three years, but after five thousand years on Earth, the pain was still fresh.

"Genocide…" Shacklebolt murmured under his breath.

Tonks shook her head. "No. Worse."

After another long moment, Buffy cleared her throat. "H-How did you escape? I assume you did, seeing as how you're no longer in Trig's fortress and all."

Methos smiled bitterly. "I didn't. Not at first. The absorption…it was just too overwhelming. Trig wasn't done with me, either."

"You mean he did it again?" Tonks said, aghast.

He nodded. "Yes. Four more times, actually."

"Four?" they exclaimed in almost-perfect unison.

"Trig was convinced that he could control me, and for a while there while I processed everything, he could. He made the absorption of the other realities possible by locking onto the patterns of four of my alternate selves. Then, for lack of a better term, he merged us and absorbed the rest into me."

"Merged?" Xander asked, confused.

"Along with the energy of the absorbed realities, I acquired my doubles' memories, power, and skills, but I remained dominant throughout." He paused, remembering. "I think I was there for months in Trig's lab. The memories of my doubles overwhelmed me as much as the energy. I know that Trig took notes throughout. Apparently, he liked what he saw. He was planning to do it again but I finally snapped out of it and got the hell out of there."

"e hadn't realized just how powerful I'd become, but he and I quickly learned differently. He thought he could control me, and indeed he could have if he'd been prepared to sacrifice all of his resources to do it. I was the sole collector of the Prize from five different realities and that was only a small portion of the converted energy I'd absorbed from five realities. I had the memories, skills, and abilities of five different mes. That's a lot, put together."

He gave a shaky laugh. "Like I said, I got the hell out of there. I was still too confused or I would have finished off that bastard right then and there. I probably could have when he was so unprepared." He smiled at his wife. "This time, it was Clarin's team that found me."

"We had no idea what he was," Clarin said, stifling a giggle. "None of us had ever encountered a human male before. All we knew was that he'd come from Trig's Fortress. Some wanted to kill him in case he was working for the Foul One, but he managed to convince us otherwise." She rolled her eyes. "You always were a fast talker."

"When I need to be," he replied. He continued, "Once the…jumbo Quickening, I suppose you could call it that, settled down inside me, I agreed to help the Runeans destroy Trig for good. I wanted revenge. Trig was and is too powerful to allow him to continue. He'd already erased my world, as well as four others that my alternates had considered to be their own homes. I've been determined to destroy him as payback ever since, in any way possible."

"And how did you get this revenge?" Moody asked. "Assuming that anything you've told us is the truth."

"We turned Trig's instruments against him," Methos replied. "It took us many months. Trig had spent the time repairing his instruments." He smiled. "It would seem that my out-of-sink Quickening managed to wreck his lab a good deal in my escape. It was a simple matter of waiting until he'd repaired them. Then we attacked. Trig wasn't even prepared for it; he'd just expelled a good deal of his own personal energy repairing his equipment, and he hadn't expected any of the remaining Runeans to attack him, ever. While he was distracted by the attack, Clarin's team and I sneaked into his lab and…re-arranged a few things. By the time he realized he'd been had, we'd already gotten a spell set up specifically for him." A devilish grin formed on his face. "He walked right into it."

"And what was the trap?" Shacklebolt asked, as curious as the rest.

"It was something I picked up from the knowledge of one of my doubles," the Immortal told them. "About how some demons in his reality had the ability to separate their enemies into several bodies. Parts of that enemy's personality and characteristics would be separated into each body."

Both Buffys and Xander exchanged a look. "I know what that's like, personally," Xander said, wincing.

Methos continued, "Once separated, each aspect is a good deal less powerful than all of them put together; they are also much more vulnerable. Once the demon had separated his or her enemy into different bodies, all he had to do was kill one of bodies and the others would die. We found a way to use this for our own means, and it worked. We successfully separated Trig's characteristics into seven different bodies."

Clarin scowled. "But then a massive portal opened, right over the fortress."

"Glory," the three Slayers and Xander all said together.

"Who's that, now?" Moody questioned.

"Nasty Hellgod who opened a portal that broke down all of the barriers between realities," alt-Buffy answered. "Believe me, you're lucky you never met her."

Clarin scowled again. "When the portal opened, the Trigs jumped through it before we could stop them. We've been preparing for his return ever since, because we knew he'd be back. All of them."

"And now he is," Clarin said.

Methos nodded. "Some of them, anyway."

"How many of them are there?" Buffy asked.


"Hang on-how do you know he's back?" Harriet questioned. "We never said that he was."

Methos looked at her with some surprise. "Oh, didn't I mention? I can feel his presence anywhere on the planet, and he can feel mine. Trig's Immortal."


They tried for hours to break out of their dungeon cell to no avail. They tried everything they had available from brute strength to combined spells to yelling for help. Carter and Daniel had both lost their weapons at some point or they would have tried blasting the door with a zat or a bullet, but everyone doubted that would work anyway.

"Looks like we're stuck in here," Dawn 1 said. "Until Trig wants us, anyway."

"Assuming he wants us," Ron said in near panic. "He may leave us in here to rot."

"He didn't," Willow said, although she looked less than sure. "He couldn't have."

They continued to try to escape but didn't make any progress. During a break, Xander plopped himself down next to Sam. "Hey," he said, smiling slightly at her.

"Hey yourself," she said, smiling back.

"You seem to be taking all of this in pretty well," he said, gesturing. "Being wished through a portal to an alternate reality can't be the same as going through the Stargate or a Quantum Mirror." He paused and shrugged. "Not that I would know."

Sam smiled. "It's different, but it's also, surprisingly, the same. I mean, when you've seen one dungeon you've seen them all."

"But you must have questions," Xander prompted. He motioned to where Daniel stood with Willow a foot or so away. The archeologist was bombarding the witch with endless questions about everything.

"Oh, you betcha," Sam assured him. "I was actually going to quiz the other Willow to see if her answers differed from her double's."

Xander raised an eyebrow. "Well, you have fun with that."

She smiled. "What about you? This sort of thing can't happen to you all the time…can it?"

Xander considered it. "The whole portals thing? That happens only once or twice a year, but it's still nothing too spectacular. It's cool to meet my doubles but even that isn't anything new." He shrugged. "Let's face it. We're both jaded."

A cry of frustration came from near the door. Everyone stopped whatever they were doing and turned to look. Hermione was there and she looked about ready to blow a casket.

Ron approached her tentatively. "'Mione, it's okay. Maybe you should go and sit down for a bit…"

He tried to put a hand on her arm but she shrugged it off. "We need to get out of here!" was all she said.

"No one's disputing that," Daniel said, stepping forward. "But we need to stay calm. We can't let Trig know that he's gotten to us."

"Does anyone else hear that?" Dawn 2 asked tentatively.

Everyone listened. "Sounds like a rumbling," Sam commented.

The ground started to shake. Dust rained down from the crossbeams.

"Earthquake!" Xander said. "Everyone, take cover!"


The village streets rapidly filled as everyone left their homes and businesses. The ground continued to shake, but it was to the sky that they looked, or rather to the north where they knew the Foul One's Fortress was.

The group of humans and Clarin also ran outside. "What's going on?" Harriet asked.

"There's a portal opening," Clarin explained. "It happened when all of you arrived here."

"What does that mean, exactly?" asked alt-Buffy.

"It means that another one of the Trigs is arriving," Methos said. Xander, the Slayers, and the Aurors had already explained how they'd gotten to Runeus, so the Immortal knew that only three Trigs had arrived so far.

In the far distance, something purplish, blue, and white erupted in the mint green sky.

"Now there are four here," Clarin said. "We must act soon."

"We are nearly ready," Methos assured her. "It will all end soon."

They watched as the multi-colored portal closed, leaving no trace of its presence behind.

"Do you know why Trig sent us out of the fortress but kept the rest?" Buffy asked Methos.

He thought a moment. "He is likely planning to convert your realities into absorbable energy for him to take into himself. The best way to do this is to take a person with a very powerful tie to his reality and use him as a conduit. I was the oldest man in my reality, which meant that my tie to my reality was one of the strongest. Strong ties can be achieved in other ways, however, such as through magic or by being a higher power of some sort."

"Like Willow," Harriet said. Her tie to the Earth was the strongest out of anyone Harriet knew.

"Or Dawn," Buffy said. She and her alternate exchanged looks.

"They're going to try to absorb our realities?" Xander asked, clarifying. "What happens to us when that happens?"

Methos considered the question for a moment. "Because he doesn't intend to use your friends as the receivers of the energy, just as the conduits, they will likely be converted into energy along with their worlds. This will likely happen to all of you, as well."

Moody growled. "They're not going to get the chance."

Methos smirked. "They won't do any absorbing until all of the Trigs are here. They plan to merge themselves back into one body before they are able to absorb other realities."

"I assume you have a plan?" Moody asked.

The Immortal nodded. "We have had a little under two years to prepare for Trig's return. Hopefully, it is enough."

"So, what's the plan?" questioned Xander. "Does it involve you going in there, crying 'There can be only one!' and then challenging all of the Trigs to a fight?"

"Only partially," Methos said. "Come back inside and I will explain."

Both Buffys grumbled a little as they followed him and the others back into the house.

"Too much talking and not enough slaying," Buffy muttered.

Alt-Buffy smiled at her. "I hear ya."


Trigs 1, 2, and 3 stood on the roof of one of the towers of the fortress, staring up at the portal that had taken form. Someone fell through it. He landed smoothly on the roof a few feet away from them. Above him, the portal dissolved.

They smiled. Trig 4 smiled back. "It feels good to be home."

"You didn't bring anyone with you?" Trig 1 asked, astonished.

Trig 4 held up the wooden bowl and knife he'd crafted by hand. "Only these. Hopefully, it will be enough to absorb the entire reality."

"It doesn't really matter anyway," Trig 3 pointed out. "We'll get to that reality eventually. There are thousands of others to tap into besides that one, and we have people of humans to test as conduits already. They have power; strong connections with their realities are assured through them."

"We are still missing three of our aspects," Trig 2 pointed out. He smirked confidently. "Once they are here, then we can begin."

"You know, I don't remember Trig being that arrogant," a male voice said from behind them. The Trigs whirled around. To their astonishment, they saw two humans standing not more than ten feet away: one man and one woman. The man had dark brown hair and had an eye that was the color of obsidian. The woman beside him stood in contrast with her bright auburn hair.

The man continued, remarking to his partner, "'Course, it was kinda obvious there at the end, with the betrayal and all."

The woman nodded. "I'll say."

Trig 3's eyes narrowed. "Agents Harris and Rosenburg," he said.

"So the old boy remembers us!" Harris said, feigning pleasure. He smiled and waved. "Hey there, Trig! How ya been?"

"Who are these people?" Trig 1 asked, eyeing the agents with disdain.

"They are annoyances," Trig 3 assured him. "Nothing more."

Alex 'tsked' and waggled a finger at him. "Now, now, Trig. Is that any way to treat your ex-partners? After we killed that annoying Agent Summers to protect our little dirty secret, and all!" He sighed and shook his head at Willow. "Such a shame. There are no manners left in the world."

Willow grinned. "Assuming there ever were such things in this reality."

"Why aren't we killing them?" Trig 4 remarked with boredom.

"You know, I'd much prefer if it was the other way around, myself," Willow said.

Alex smirked. "Ready to die?" he asked the Trigs conversationally.

He and Willow held two vials in their hands. They threw them at the Trigs.

The demons screamed.

Chapter Ten

Trig 3 staggered, blinded. He rubbed his eyes and glanced around. The other Trigs were unconscious and lay in heaps around him. Anger flared through him and he whirled about to face their attackers.

Willow and Alex still stood there, unmoving. He waved an arm at them, intending to send an energy wave at them that would knock them off the roof of the tower and help them to cease being annoyances. He felt and saw the wave travel through the air, but it passed harmlessly over the agents. They didn't move an inch.

Trig's eyes widened. "How?" Whatever spells they used should not have been so effective on his home world; it had been the other way around on Earth, forcing him to use the cruder methods of novices to invoke his magic.

In answer, the agents pulled out two pouches attached to cords wound around their necks. "We've had two years to figure out how to make these. These can resist any magic you apply directly to us. Herbs tend to work no matter what world you're on," Willow said. "So do Potions. Those vials we threw at you? Those were Pacifying Potions. We were hoping to knock out all of you, but hey." She shrugged. "They also severely cripple your magic abilities."

His magic had been turned against him. There was one alternative he could still use.

He held out his hand, summoning the sword that hung in the weapons room of his fortress. While he waited for the weapon, he held a hand toward the sky.

Lightning coursed down from a cloudless sky. The agents jumped and rolled out of the way to avoid it. Alex rolled left and Willow rolled right just as the bolt hit the middle section, scorching the stones but not breaking them.

He cried a two-line rhyming incantation before turning his attention to Agent Harris, who was closer. The incantation brought more bolts from the sky and homed in on Agent Rosenburg, who became busy trying to out-maneuver them while using her dampened magic, both wiccan and witch varieties, to counter them.

Trig swung his sword at Alex, who ducked out of the way even as he took a step back as Trig stepped forward. It had been years since Trig had needed the weapon, but after his long lifetime, a few years were not sufficient time for his body to forget the movements.

He smiled as he edged Alex closer to the edge. Soon, he'd be one Agent down.

He continued to swing his sword at the Agent, hoping to distract the mortal enough for him not to realize the other danger.

"Why did you come here?" Trig asked as he pressed his attack. "You could not have come here just to have revenge. I spent months with you, Agent. I know you better than that."

Alex parried a swipe before answering. "Like we would have sat back and waited until you'd absorbed our reality whole! You promised us a share of the power; now we intend to take it from you."

"Your chances aren't looking so good right now, Agent Harris."

"Petrificus Totallus!" Willow cried. The magic spell hit Trig. It didn't do a thing to him and only distracted him momentarily.

Willow turned her attention back to the bolts that continued to try to strike her, leaving her partner on his own for the time being.

Alex suddenly ducked and rolled to the middle of the roof. He stood back up rapidly. Trig advanced toward the Agent's new position only to pause. Alex's right hand was now gripped around the hilt of a sword. Trig's mouth creased into a line. Agent Rosenburg must have conjured it and thrown it near them, then done the petrifying spell to get Alex's attention.

Alex turned out to be a more-than-competent swordsman. Trig had the advantage in experience and greater skill, however, and as the two of them fought across the roof, Alex's blade barely managing to block Trig's attacks, it was only a matter of time before Trig got through.

Soon enough, he'd knocked Alex's sword from his hands. The sword went flying off the roof, heading toward the forest in the near-distance.

Trig held the sword at Alex's neck. The Agent stood stiffly, trying not to move or the blade would pierce his skin.

"Goodbye, Harris," Trig said. He pulled the blade back then swung it at Harris' neck.

Alex's hand reached into his pocket and wrapped around a small bottle nestled there. His finger fumbled for the bottle's stopper and hastily pulled it out. "Transport!" he said, eyes wide as he saw the blade approaching his throat.

In an instant, Alex had disappeared. Trig's blade swung through empty air.

Pain blossomed in his left side. Trig stared down in some surprise at the knife stuck into his flesh.

He stared at Alex, who smirked back. "So long, Trig!" he said triumphantly as Trig sunk to the floor. A moment later, Trig 3 was dead.

Alex removed his knife and glanced around at the roof. The other Trigs were still unconscious, and would remain so for quite some time. Willow was still trying to not get scorched. Alex took out his wand and took a step in her direction.

A sudden grunt from behind him made him pause. Confused, Alex turned back around to face the demon that he'd thought he'd killed. His eyes widened in shock.

"Idiot," Trig 3 said. His shirt was half-coated in blood but no more blood flowed from the already-healed wound.

Trig thrust his sword into Alex's chest. The Agent screamed. Trig sneered at him in anger. "I am fifty-five hundred of your years, Agent Harris. Want to take a stab at what I am now? Your reality had a TV show based on my kind."

"Immortal," Alex gasped.

Trig pulled his sword out of Alex's body. The Agent collapsed to the ground. Blood foamed in his mouth and flowed from the wound.

At the other side of the roof, Agent Rosenburg screamed.


Daniel coughed dust out of his lungs and squinted, trying to see through the dust cloud that permeated the air. One of the crossbeams had fallen from the ceiling during the earthquake. One end of it leaned against the wall under the window; the other end rested on the floor. Hopefully, everyone had managed to jump out of its way in time.

"Is everyone all right?" he called.

"Just fine, here!" Dawn 1 called.

"We're good!" Will called, motioning between herself and her double.

"Peachy," Xander called, coughing.

Everyone else answered in affirmative. Everyone, that is, but Sam. "Sam?" Daniel called.

He and Xander looked around the room, trying to spot the blonde-haired woman. "There!" Xander cried, pointing. They rushed over to the base of the crossbeam. Major Carter lay unconscious next to it but thankfully not beneath it. Blood flowed from a cut on her scalp.

Xander began to apply pressure immediately. Harry, Hermione, and Ron approached. "Let us try," Harry said. "Maybe if we combined our spells, it could help."

Reluctantly, Xander stepped back. The trio raised their wands. Under Hermione's direction, they went through every medical charm and spell they'd been taught. They had a little success, this time; the wound partially healed and the blood stopped flowing.

Carter's eyes opened, only to snap shut again. She winced. "Ow."

"Hey, there," Xander said, smiling down at her. "Be sure to stay away from falling beams in the future, you hear?"

"Yes, sir," Sam said. She smiled, only to wince again. Xander and Daniel helped her get to her feet.

"Maybe we can get the lock open this time," Ron suggested. He, Harry, and Hermione hurried away across the room.

"Or we can climb the beam up to the window," Willow suggested.

"No need!" Harry called from the door. He, Ron, and Hermione were all grinning. "We've got it open!"

The door slowly swung open. A dark hallway lay beyond. Ron stepped through, only to run straight into a wall. "Ow!" he exclaimed, rubbing his bruised nose and head.

Dawn 2 stepped forward and felt the air just beyond the door. Her hand found an invisible wall. "There's a barrier here," she said. "I-eep!"

Startled, she stepped back and stared along with the kind-of Hogwarts trio. The barrier coalesced into visibility, becoming a metal wall. The door followed suit, disappearing to be replaced by a smooth wall of triangular blocks.

"Okay…" Willow said slowly.

"…That's new," her double finished.

"Looks like our only chance is to go up the beam," Daniel said resignedly.

Everyone glanced at the wooden beam and wondered if it was sturdy enough. "So, who's first?" asked Xander.


If someone had told him four years ago that he would be risking his life and limbs for people who weren't even from the same planet as him, Methos would have ignored them and gone about his business. Yet here he was, getting ready to sneak into Trig's fortress and rescue a group of people he didn't owe a thing to. Why? The reasons were complicated and yet easy to explain.

His world was gone, and he alone could have called it that more than anyone else. Methos wasn't prone to revenge - his sense of survival overruled that more than not - but this time, he had plenty of things to avenge. The planet he had called home, the very place he had intended to live on for five thousand more years, had been stolen from him. What was left of it was inside him, absorbed like so many Quickenings of his brethren. He'd seen its cultures and peoples and landscapes change so many times. He'd become accustomed to it, but he'd always looked forward to what was going to come next. The heartbreak caused by those fallen civilizations whose people and traditions and cultures he'd lived and loved had been terrible, but there was always a new civilization that would rise up in their stead. He'd lived to see many civilizations rise and fall and had been determined to see thousands more come and go. Now, however, it was all over, all in only a few months. For Methos, a fe w months were no longer than an eye blink.

If that weren't enough reason to go up against Trig, then the memories of those other Earths was. The Methoses whose lives he'd absorbed along with their realities were dead; he heard none of their thoughts, and none of them were conscious participants in his life. He did have their memories, however, and knew they felt the same way he did about his Earth.

Methos wanted to go back to Earth someday. It wouldn't be his Earth, but it would be an Earth. That was his other reason for fighting Trig. If he didn't stop the demon Immortal, then there wouldn't be any Earths left to go to.

They were just about to move out when they heard the growls and barks in the forest. Methos and Clarin left the other humans and ran to the building at the opposite side of the square. Kin Frag and his team minus Clarin were walking out of it as they approached. All of them were dressed and ready for a mission into the forest.

Clarin ran past them and into the building to get her equipment. Methos turned to Kin Frag, but before he could say anything, the Kin told him, "We are going to search the forest now. We will find what the sentinels are looking for."

Clarin reappeared at the door. She was hastily putting on her belt. I will call you if we need you, Clarin told him. Methos nodded as she and the rest of her team passed. He was always on call whenever one of the patrols was out.

"What's going on?" Xander asked as he and his friends walked up to the Immortal.

"Trig's minions are out looking for something," Methos replied. "It could be your friends."

All seven of them looked ready to follow Kin Frag's team out to the forest, but Methos held up a hand. "It is not safe for any of us, being human. It is safer for Runeans to travel through the forest. If it is your friends, Kin Frag and his team will make sure they aren't harmed."

"Won't they come here?" Shacklebolt asked.

"No. Trig doesn't know about this place. The wards surrounding the village protect us from discovery as long as Trig doesn't think to look for us. He doesn't have any reason to, really; this village wasn't here a year ago. All that had been here were ruins."

Methos checked in with his wife and the other teams via his telepathy skills every fifteen minutes, but no one had yet to report anything. They had avoided most of the sentinels and killed the ones they couldn't. Forty-five minutes had passed before they got some news.

Clarin's team had found someone. She was a human woman with red hair and green eyes that didn't glow. She had told Clarin's team that her name was Agent Willow Rosenburg.

We'll meet you at the barrier, Methos said. Don't come through into the village.

Our thoughts exactly, Clarin assured him.

Methos went out to meet them alone. He didn't tell any of his guests why he was going; they would doubtless want to come with him, and he wanted to check something first. Clarin's telepathic voice had carried an undertone that he didn't like.

He waited just inside the barrier next to the barrier cube for a half an hour. He called the other teams back while he was at it; being the one with the power to do so, he was the only one who could communicate between the groups. Once upon a time, they had used technological communicators before Trig had realized they had them and found a way to render the devices useless.

The teams led by Kin Grift and Kin Pynn arrived and entered the barrier before Kin Frag's team emerged from the forest. He could easily make out the red-haired one among them even from a distance. It helped that six of the others had black hair while the seventh had gray hair.

She looked curiously at him, squinting. It was only until they got closer than her eyes widened slightly. He smiled slightly. He knew that he looked like a Runean native himself. If it weren't for his brown eyes and his brown hair, which had lightened, he would have appeared to be a native; his skin, also subjected to the Runean sun, had paled considerably and was almost as white as his wife's.

Kin Frag bowed when he and his team had reached Methos. Methos nodded back before turning his attention to the redhead. "Agent Rosenburg, I presume?"

She stood up straighter, tensing even further than she already had. He could see pain in her eyes as well as distrust. "Agent Willow Rosenburg, USDM, MIB."

Methos only raised an eyebrow. Somehow, he didn't think she meant 'Men in Black'. "And what exactly does that mean?"

"United States Department of Magic, Magical Investigations Bureau."


She was telling the truth so far, but after the uncertain undertone with which Clarin had contacted him earlier, Methos knew that there was something amiss. He glanced at the demoness but she only shook her head. She got two raised eyebrows for that. The only reason why she wouldn't want to communicate telepathically with him was if she'd seen some sort of power within this woman. She was probably a witch.

"How did you manage to escape, Agent Rosenburg?" he asked.

"My partner, Agent Alex Harris, and I were wearing protective talismans when we first arrived here," Willow began. "When the Trigs sent the others to other places, we were able to direct where we wanted to go. We ended up in a different part of the castle where Trig wouldn't find us."

Methos nodded. She still told him the truth.

"We wanted to free the others, and we decided to do that. I could sense them in the dungeons, so we started heading down there." She swallowed. "We were caught before we could reach them by Trig's sentinels." A look of absolute hatred appeared. "They killed Alex. They're going to pay for that, but I knew I had to get out of there before Trig found me. So I did. The sentinels followed and would have had me if Kin Frag's team hadn't shown up when they did."

Everything in that last bit had been a lie. Methos wasn't impressed; if it hadn't been for the fact that he'd spent five thousand years learning the expressions of human beings, and for the fact that he had this nifty inner lie detector via the Prizes he'd won, she would have fooled him completely. She was good, just not good enough.

"Do not lie to me again," he said, voice stony.

Her eyes widened in surprise before narrowing. She glared defiantly at him. "So you could tell, huh? Look at me shaking in my boots."

Methos stepped up to her and stared evenly down at her. He saw her gulp, once; otherwise, there was no reaction.

Methos leaned down and hissed in her ear, "I do not have time for your little games, child. You have power, but I have more."

He pulled back a little and saw that her eyes had widened in fear. She recovered quickly.

He continued, "I can not stand here and listen to you tell more lies. I cannot force you to tell the truth…but there are other ways to learn it." He grinned darkly. "When I am done with you, you are going to wish that you had told the truth."

He moved suddenly, grabbing either one of her temples before anyone even blinked. Agent Rosenburg's eyes widened. Panicking, she tried to force his fingers away from her but he held firm.

"Our minds are become one," he began, ignoring the claws that bit into his fingers, trying to make him break from his grip. He stared into Willow's eyes, and no matter how hard she tried, she couldn't look away.

"My mind to your mind, and your mind to mine…" Methos said.

Their surroundings swirled, spinning in a dizzying array of colors before settling back into some semblance of order. Clarin, Kin Frag, and the other Runeans had vanished, leaving just Methos and Willow. Willow's body went slack and unmoving. Methos removed his fingers and stepped back from her, and still she didn't move.

"Our mind is one," he said.

Willow blinked and looked about her. "Where are we?"

"We're inside your mind," Methos told her, mask carefully in place. "Soon, I will know all your secrets."


"Let's see what really happened in the Fortress," Methos said. He gazed about at the swirl of colors, then reached out and pulled on something. Willow screamed, grabbing the sides of her head.

Images came to Methos' mind. They were from the Agent's POV, and they were of her and her partner's experiences in Trig's Fortress.

They did not fill him with nice feelings.

He broke off from them in shock. With another thought, he severed the connection between himself and the Agent.

They were back in the meadow, surrounded by Kin Frag and his men and women. Agent Rosenburg collapsed while Methos staggered back, staring at her.

"Methos?" Kin Frag inquired.

Methos' mind raced. Anger filled him as he glared down at the redhead. "Bring her," he said. "The fool may have doomed us all, but we can not allow her to out of our sights. There is much to do. We must hurry."

Rosenburg blinked up at him. "Doomed? W-What do you mean?

In answer, Methos backslapped her, sending her reeling back face-first onto the ground. He heard Clarin gasp.

He was furious. "Your little stunt may have cost us this world and everyone on it! Do you understand now?"

Rosenburg's terrified eyes told him she did understand. "I-I didn't mean-"

Methos didn't listen anymore. He turned and stalked to the block, inserting the disk. "Hret," he spat, and the force field came down, allowing them access.

Then everything went to hell.