Author: Daenerys Winter <MWALTHEW[at]>

Crossover: HP

Rating: R - NC17 (Later Chapters)

Pairing: X/?

Disclaimer: Does anyone REALLY think they belong to me?

Author's note: This starts very dark, but it gets better quick.

Chapter 1

Prologue Part 1

The streets appeared to be empty, the only movement an old newspaper that flapped gently in the wind, then drifted upwards, until stopped by a lamppost. It hung, pressed against the pole, opening it up, exposing the banner that stretched across the front. 'Small Town of Sunnydale Sinks!' and below in slightly smaller writing 'Scientists Suspect Hidden Fault line.' For a few precious seconds it displayed this message, then slowly the paper tore in two, the many papers scattering, landing in random places across the road as once more the wind died down. Footsteps now rang softly in the silence, and came to a stop in front of the first page. A slight grunt sounded, then a cigarette dropped and landed on it. A booted foot came down, screwing the butt into the paper, leaving the un of 'Sunnydale blackened, making it difficult to read the word.

The boot connected to dark blue jeans, followed by a maroon colored shirt, buttoned up fully until the collar, where the start of a scar could barely be seen. An unshaved chin, leading up to a grim smile, which seemed slightly out of place on the face. A nose not noticeable for any particular shape or form lead up to brown eyes, or eye singular, a black patch covering one, it's straps leading over the dark brown hair.

Xander Harris grunted again, then quickly crossed the street, only glancing up slightly once, to where the sun was slowly disappearing over the horizon. He paused slightly at the door, as if unsure of what he was going to do, then he reached out, unlocked it and stepped into the hallway, shutting the door sharply behind him, it's reverberations sounding unnatural in the silence that once more overcame the street. As darkness took it's irrevocable hold on the town, not sound nor sight could be seen or heard to disturb the area.

Inside the house Xander hurried down the hallway, turning into the living room, with doors leading off into the kitchen, and another hallway toward the bathroom and bedrooms. The interior was furnished fully, but to anyone's eye it was obviously abandoned since long before. The chairs and curtains were sun-faded, and the small coffee table was empty of anything that would make this seem like a home. He paused, looking slowly over a bookcase, that held no books, passed a small side table again with nothing on it, passed a magazine rack, then pausing as his eye came across the small bar that took up the other half of the room. He took seven quick steps, then moved quickly behind it, finding a few half empty bottles. He seemed to grimace, then shook his head as he grabbed a bottle of brandy and a cracked shot glass. Quick movements then, pouring the liquid into the glass, and holding it up in front of him. His left hand, now unencumbered by the bottle that had found a place on the top of the bar, slid slowly underneath the lip formed by the drinks cabinet. It stopped, then depressed slightly, and amazingly enough, the lights behind the bar, and the main light of the room, sputtered for a few seconds, then lit up the room. The light didn't, despite popular theory, make the room more inhabitable or homely. Instead it seemed to highlight the fact that it was empty. Xander however, didn't seem to notice as he stared into the golden liquid at the bottom half of the cup.

"To Absent Friends."

His voice was gruff, and pained. The only sign of emotion that he had yet shown. He lifted the glass quickly and drained it in a single gulp.

He reached once more for the Brandy bottle, and filled the glass again and held it up, again examining it under the harsh light from above.

"Buffy Summers. May you never be forgotten.

"Faith. May you never be forgotten.

"Tara Maclay. May you never be forgotten.

"Joyce Summers. May you never be forgotten.

"Jenny Calendar. May you never be forgotten.

"Jesse McNally. May you never be forgotten.

"Willow Rosenberg."

Xander froze for an instant. His revealed eye seemed to fade slightly.

"May you roast in Hell."

He tipped his head back and poured the liquid down his throat. The next instant the glass was flying. To his mind he saw it revolve slowly, traveling inch by inch across the room, until it hit the opposite wall and shattered, flinging broken glass in a random pattern across that part of the room. His hands gripped the top of the bar, and he flung himself over, landing lightly on the other side, the alcohol apparently having had little to no effect on him. He swept across to the right of the room, through the doorway into the main bedroom.

A shell of a bed lay to one side, the broken leg making it list to one side. Again the grim smile seemed to touch Xander's lips, and he knelt down in front of the bent strut. He pulled the bed slightly, which by all rights should have made a racket as it slid across the floor toward him. It didn't.

"Well what do you know, he was telling the truth." The smile increased slightly, which just made his face seem to be grimacing. He moved his face closer; now able to see where the metal frame had been welded to the wall. He grabbed the strut, then slowly, against the weight of the metal fixed to the wall, until it was once again straight, and the bed level.

A grinding noise became audible. And Xander turned to his left, where a section of the floor had raised itself about an inch, then moved slowly across the floor, revealing a meter-by-meter hole in the ground. He moved toward it, then took hold of the edge and lowered himself until his feet met the first rung of a ladder. He moved down three times, before stopping, and feeling under the metal ledge the ladder formed, until his fingers met a small hook, which he pulled until it disappeared upward. He let go, and stepped backward, dropping into a crouch, and staying there for a good ten seconds. He didn't move until there was a slight click, then a wooden bolt shot across above him, imbedding itself into the wall above him.

He straightened slowly, and then strode confidently down the passageway, which lit itself in front of him, and darkened behind him. Finally it came to an end, showing a fully furnished, comfortable room. A couch in burgundy red was placed at a slight angle to a fireplace, which was unlit, but had all the trappings ready for him. He reached into his back pocket and pulled out a box of matches, lit one and led it slowly, cupped in his hand until it caught the paper aflame. He stood, now ignoring the blaze, which formed up behind him, and reached up into a cupboard that was built into the wall just to the right of the fireplace. He pulled out a blanket, also red in color, then lay down on the sofa and pulled the blanket over himself. His entire body went still, then as his breathing slowed, relaxed by tiny degrees until sleep came upon him.

Prologue Part 2

Xander woke soundlessly. Unlike before the 'incident' as he and the other survivors of Sunnydale, Giles and Spike, and Tara who had been given the details since her apparent death at the hands of Warren. When she had woken from her coma the bullet had sent her too, she learnt what Willow had done, and, fearing what would happen if she ever did die for real, had left for England, well looked after through Spike and Giles funds.

The days where Xander would never be found out of bed before 10 were over. Since the beginning of the S.I.T's invasion, he hadn't been able to due to the noise that having all the teenage girls in the house had made, and afterward, it was a mixture of nightmares and the training that Spike and Giles had put him through on his request. Now it was a matter of habit.

He rose from the sofa quickly, folding the blanket as he did so. He placed it back in the cupboard, raked out the ashes from the fireplace, and made up a new fire, waiting for whoever used this room after him. He took a quick look around the room, ensuring that he had missed nothing, noting the duffle bag that was now placed next to the doorway. He smiled, this one looking much more genuine than those from the previous night. He scooped it up as he left, stepping into a passageway that was very different than that he had travelled before he slept. He stopped at the door leading outside, and looked behind himself.

The passage had dissapeared during his short walk, and he could see a short corridor, with exits to a kitchen, a bathroom and a bedroom. His smile brightened even further, looking at his new home. He caught a glance off a clock in the kitchen, and after a quick glance at his watch, a Rolex now, not the previos Snoopy one, corrected it. He opened the duffle bag, and took out a pair of sunglasses, put them on, and then opened the door to bright sunlight, and people moving quickly about their business on a busy day.

As he stepped out, one of them bumped into him, muttered a "Sorry, mate." and continued on. Xander paused to soak himself, both in the sunlight and the ambience of the new surroundings.

"Alexander Harris," he muttered softly to himself. "Welcome to London."

Chapter 1

Xander sipped at his coffee slowly waiting outside the office that Giles had recommended him to. After his hospitalisation when Caleb had popped his eyeball, he had been planning to get a glass eye as soon as he could, but the watcher had dissuaded him, telling him that he had other plans, and that as he had been fighting alongside the slayer, and been affected by, and believed in magic, he was elegible for those plans. After the 'incident' he was even more assured, since Giles had sworn him into a watcher's service, which was compatible to an 'Auror'. The fact that there had been an entire wizarding culture had not particularly shocked Xander, he had wondered several times how come magic was unknown, since it was apparent that it was the more common of the supernatural. The fact that he was respected by them, and earned a place in their world was.

"Alexander L. Harris?"

He looked up to see a man, in his mid thirties, looking down at him.

"That's me." He stood, and shook the hand held out to him.

"You have all the documentation?"

Xander nodded, and held out his papers. There were his medical records from Sunnydale, a letter from Giles, basically a reference to having fought on the hellmouth beside a slayer and a watcher for seven years, and his new card, which displayed the symbol of the watchers on it.

The man looked quickly through each, and pressed the card against Xander's wrist. He then tapped it with his wand, which had been explained to the younger. The card turned black quickly, then tiny pinpricks of light appeared, revolving around the card, an exact copy of the night sky.

"Good. If you'll come this way please Mr. Harris." He gestured toward the doorway.

"Please. Call me Xander."

"Of course. And I'm Rynal Rochallor. After you Xander."

The two moved into the next room, and Rubeus closed the door behind him.

The 'Incident'

Until this point, everything had gone directly according to plan. The amulet around Spike's neck had killed off all the Turok-Han, with Spike incredibly grateful that Giles had reasoned that anything that would harm them would also kill him as well, and so had asked the coven to place a powerful protection charm on him, which reflected and amplified the effects of the amulet.

Almost everyone had made it out, Faith and Buffy, leaning against one wall, Giles was sitting with Spike, and Kennedy, the new slayer, who had been wakened by Willow's spell. They had at first thought of trying to make all of the girls slayers, but had discovered that the Scythe could only empower them one at a time, with a rest period of at least a year in-between. Giles had actually been glad of that fact, since that meant that there would not be any suddenly powerful girls that might turn bad, something he had been terrified of, especially after Faith had come to him with that concern. Andrew was sobbing at the loss of Anya, a few meters away from Giles. Willow was in the middle of the room, her head down, her red hair streaked with both white and black strands, it appeared that a slayer was equally light and dark, with demonic power and power from the 'powers that be' to balance it out. Xander, having heard of Anya's death had left, to find her body.

"Giles." Buffy spoke from next to Faith. "It's over here, isn't it?"

He looked up at her from his conversation with Spike and Kennedy.

"Over?" The voice was not that of the watcher, but instead from the witch in the middle of the room. "You really think this is over you selfish bitch?"

There was a shocked silence for a second, then Willow's head came up, revealing pools of onyx blackness where her eyes were usually. A smile came to her lips, which also darkened, then turned black. Inky strands seemed to curl over her face, running down her neck, then across her arms.

"Nothing is over. You may have defeated that evil, but now you face ME!"

Before Buffy had any time to react, Willow had flung a fireball, dark red in colour, with black tendrils moving quickly around it at her. Buffy froze in shock, and would certainly have died, if not for Faith pushing her away at the last second.

"Can you feel my POWER!" Willow screamed out. "You should all bow down before me, you insignificant insects!!"

Buffy took three steps toward Willow, then launched herself into a flying kick. As she was about to impact on her, Willow waved her hand, and the oldest slayer went flying, impacting a wall with a loud "CRUNCH", then falling limply to the floor, with an obvious broken neck.

"I have given, and I have taken away! And I want MORE!!"

A web formed around Willows hands, then sped toward Faith, growing every second, until it was much too large for the dark slayer to avoid. It hit her, then continued through. Faith stood absolutely still for a second, and the horrified onlookers hoped that it had done nothing. Then that hope was dashed, as she fell apart, where every strand had hit her blood poured, and her flesh slipped and fell into a single pile of gore.

Willow now turned toward The group of Spike, Giles and Kennedy. "Now it's your turn. I will make you BURN!!!!" Two pillars of flame appeared at her hands, which she then flung at the trio. This time, Spike grabbed onto Kennedy, and dived backwards, the flames just missing his back as he rotated the newest slayer underneath himself. Andrew also dived, but found himself directly in the flames as he moved in front of Giles. As the flames dissapeared, all that remained of him was the black ashes that fluttered to the floor.

"Well well, that whiny pathetic bastard seems to have saved the watcher! Well it won't help you!!"

Willow started to chant.

Eater of Souls,

Weaver of Darkness,

Spinner of

She paused suddenly, then looked downwards in disbelief.

A metal pole was sticking out of her chest, and blood was welling up from it, running down her clothes. She turned, to see a grim faced Xander, who had just plunged it into her back.

"B, but you're the Zeppo . . ."

"Not anymore." He grabbed the front of the pole which now faced him, and pulled sharply, making blood pour out of her chest in a torrent.

"NO!!!!" She lifted her hands, blue tendrils of energy flowed out, and surrounded Xander, striking him over and over again. It lifted him up in front of the witch, tearing his shirt open, and causing wounds to form across his chest, which were almost instantly cauterised, then healed by the chaotic magic that was coming from the witch, doing as much good as harm. He raised the pole once again, and with the last of his energy, swung it until it impacted with Willow's head, caving it in.

Xander collapsed, watching as his childhood friend seemed to sway in position. Then her body fell slowly backwards onto the floor. Then it started jerking, and everyone took a step backward, fearing that eve the massive damage to her skull had not killed the witch. Her body seemed to levitate off the ground, and blue energy surrounded her body completely, seeming to form a cocoon around her. Her body then thumped to the floor, but the blue energy stayed, with strands of it turning white, making it seem like lightning inside mist or cloud. The entire cocoon then seemed to jump towards Xander, impacting his chest, then spreading outward, making his entire body flare. He collapsed, not moving.

Spike slowly approached Xander's body, then nudged it with one foot. Xander let out a groan, then looked up at the vampire.

"That you, carpenter boy?"

Xander paused for a moment, then nodded. "Yeah, I haven't been possessed again. I think it was that last bolt that she gave me. It attracted the rest of the energy she was using against me."

The vampire looked toward the watcher, who nodded. "It won't have affected him in THAT way. It may have been stored in him, but it had no intelligence or soul in it. I've seen it happen before. There may be other side effects, but it won't turn him into HER."

"Good." the word came from Xander, Spike and Kennedy, who was standing behind Xander, with the same pole that he had used against Willow. He looked at her startled, then grinned.

"Good plan Kennedy. You're going to make a VERY good slayer with those instincts."

Chapter 2

The fact that this was not a normal doctor's practice was made immediately clear as Xander followed the wizard into the next room. There were very few doctors who had a fire floating in the middle of the room, with a cauldron singing 'I Feel Pretty', while sending pink bubbles into the air every few seconds, with a large spoon giggling merrily whenever that happened.

The various other minor indications that showed that a practitioner of magic inhabited this house seemed redundant after that. Xander breathed a slight sigh of relief as he saw several sigils over each doorway, which he knew from some discussions with Tara were to insure that no malevolent spirits interfered, as well as having slight healing properties. A cabinet containing a wide abundance of herbery was set on one wall, while an identical cabinet displayed hundreds of little bottles with tiny labels that he couldn't make out from this distance, but which he assumed from seeing similar items in the 'Magic Shop', had titles like 'eye of Salamander' or 'Essence of Rockwarts'. A quarter of the bottles were of varying shades of purple and green, indicating poisons and reactive ingredients.

Rynal motioned Xander to a seat, and set aside the credentials Xander had givven him, pouring over the medical records instead.

"The entire eye was removed?" The question startled Xander out of looking at the animated spoon, which had been sliding slowly toward the cauldron, in what he could swear was almost a suggestive dance to the music from Westside Story.

"Sorry. Yeah, the eye was just dead tissue, so they cut it all away. Is that going to be a problem?"

The wizard smiled back at the slayerette. "No. It actually makes my job a bit more simple. As it is, it will help whichever decision you make now. Basically, I can offer two different solutions to you. The first is that I can get a magical eye, with various additions to it, but can sometimes act on it's own, which can cause several headaches, both figuratively and literally, or I can regrow an eye for you, which will basically be identical to you're previous one."


Rynal smiled, "Well, the regrowth will just be that. Nothing special in any way, it will be exactly as before. The magical eye has both advantages and disadvantages. Several things can be added to it, the ability to see invisible objects, different spectrums, see through glamours and that sort of thing. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to control and maintain. Sometimes they can give out, which would create blindness again. Headaches from conflicting images, nausea, dissiness, flashes. In severe cases it can cause brain damage, but that is incredibly rare. It can give you a huge advantage, but costs more, isn't very reliable, and can take months, if not years to learn how to control fully."

Xander smiled somewhat mockingly. "I think I'll take the safer option thanks. My normal eyesight."

The wizard nodded. "A wise choice, in my opinion anyway. I just need to get some samples of your blood, and tear drops."

He picked up a small beaker from a work bench behind Xander, then pressed it against his arm. It slowly filled with blood, then Rynal pulled it away, and whistling slightly, carefully pressed a cotton bud to te bottom of Xanders right tear duct, and rolled it slightly until the entire surface was damp.

"Right back to work you two, no more fooling around."

The cauldron seemed to sigh in frustration, then tipped 180 degrees, releasing all the liquid that had been in it, while the spoon jumped a foot in the air, then muttering to itself, waited as various ready prepared ingredients flew from the workbench, into the now upright cauldron, to be stirred in with the blood, and the tear stained cotton. Moments later a large blue buuble formed over the top of the cauldron, then shrank in size, and floated slowly toward the wizard.

Rynal took the patch away from Xander's left eye, then slowly resized the bubble, and directed it into the empty socket. The blue bubble burst on contact, smearing the entire surface of Xander's eye.

"Close your eyelids."

Xander did as the wizard said, then felt the expanding eye that regrew rapidly. For a moment he thought that he just had a dead eye in place, then a red glow seemed to grow brighter. He believed for a second that it was a magical effect, before realising that it was a light shining at his closed eyelids.

"It should be done."

Xander slowly opened his eyes, plural, then lifted his hand in front of his face, turning it as he examined it in all it's detail. He closed his left eye, then opened it again, followed by the same with hs right. A smile grew, then he whispered slowly.

"I can see."

Chapter 3

Xander looked around the street, momentarily confused as he looked for the address he had been given, and double checking the piece of paper he held in his hand. He suddenly chuckled to himself and closed his eyes, smiling once more as he was again reminded that his injury was healed. After a moment's concentration, he again looked upward. This time he could clearly see the rickety sign proclaiming the 'Leaky Cauldron', and the rundown building that had before been invisible to him.

As he entered, he received a few curious stares from the wizards and witches inside, but none of them reacted much to his presence, accepting that he must have had knowledge about their world, as well as some magic himself if he was able to come inside. The only one who approached him was the innkeeper, who bustled over quickly.

"Good evening young sir! Welcome to the Leaky Cauldron! What can I get you?"

"A . . . Butterbeer. It was recommended to me. A table as well please, I'm meeting someone soon. In fact they should be here already, in room 141, would you be able to send them word?"

He was guided to a table, where he waited patiently, sipping slowly at the butterbeer, which he considered one of the best drinks he had ever had. He made a mental note to ask whether it had any alcohol in it, to ensure he didn't over-indulge. He still had nightmares of becoming like his parents, and while he would drink occasionally, he made sure to keep his consumption well below what anyone could consider drunk.


He looked up, beaming as he stood and enveloped the speaker in a hug.

"Hello Tara."

Xander had been amazed when he had found out that the blonde wiccan had not been killed bvy the bullet that had struck her. Instead, as a result of her years of training and meditation, her body had instinctively reacted to protect itself. It had slowed down her heart, until it only beat two times a minute, while at the same time insuring that blood movement was restricted to her torso and head. Blood flow to her limbs was restricted, and although she continued breathing, once every fifteen seconds, it appeared that her chest was still due to the fact it moved so slowly.

As a result, Willow had truly believed her girlfriend was dead, and after her apocalyptic reaction, both Giles and Xander, the only people to know that she had survived, kept the redheaded witch in the dark about it. When Tara had awoken a week later from what had appeared to be a coma, she had been horrified at her lover's actions, and made the two men swear not to let anyone know she still lived. Instead when Giles had assured her that Willow would be kept in the coven of Wicca's, and would never learn about the wizard's world, she had contacted family in England. She decided that the risk of returning to Willow was too great, and instead immersed herself in her new surroundings, expecting to never travel back to the Muggle world again.

After the 'incident' Giles had been more suspicious than ever about Willow's previous actions, and contacted Tara's family. Acting on his suspicions they deep-scanned Tara, and discovered that she had been the victim of several lust and loyalty charms, which were slowly wearing off, and removed them completely. They showed that her entire relationship with Willow, following Oz's return had in essence been a lie. Guesses as to why Willow had cast them on someone she was already in a relationship, hinted that her insecurity, especially after her previous lover had left her, made Willow cast the spells, since she knew from Tara's religious beliefs that her autocratic, power hungry ideals would turn the gentle Wicca away from the redhead. It was actually a relief to Tara, since she believed that she could still find love elsewhere, as her feelings toward Willow had been false for a very long time.

Tara gently ran her hand down the left hand side of Xander's face, smiling over his healed face, remembering photograph's that she had seen.

"You know, you never told me how you were able to get into the wizarding world Xander. And from what Giles told me you have a job here as well. Tell me, I want to know everything, your letters weren't exactly the most verbose I've seen."

Xander laughed softly and then glanced around the crowded room.

"Tell you what, let's go for a walk. There are too many people around here for us to go into the private stuff."

The two of them rose, and made their way into Diagon Alley, enjoying the night, as had been impossible in Sunnydale. Here though, most vampires avoided wizards, because of a greater chance they would be destroyed, since the ignorance of muggles was far easier to exploit.

Neither of them noticed, while Xander explained everything that had happened since Tara had left the Hellmouth, that they were drifting closer to the darker side of the town.  Xander had just made his faltering way through the final events in Sunnydale, telling of Anya's sacrifice, and Willow's betrayal, when the silence around them was broken by a terrified scream.

Tara paled as she followed Xander's instinctive response to help, as she realised that they were headed directly into Knockturn Alley.

Chapter 4

As Xander charged around the last corner toward where he knew the scream had come from, he drew a bowie knife from a sheath against the small of his back.

There were five people in the cul-de-sac he found himself in. One red-headed man was collapsed against a side wall, his arm cleanly snapped, and clutching at his stomach with his other, struggling to remain conscious. Next to him lay his wand, useless without a wielder.

Pressed against the dead end was an obvious relative, a young woman, as red-headed as the man. The remains of her wand could be seen in her right hand, but she still had a fighting spirit that called to Xander, as she constantly looked for a way out of the situation.

Surrounding her, with their backs to Xander, were three men, wearing pitch black robes and their faces covered with masks, and feinting at the red-head occasionally. Bursts of light were occasionally emitted from their wands, and she would just manage to dodge out of the way, only to have to move immediately after to escape another of their attacks.

The first attacker never knew that Xander was there, his bowie hitting him just as he raised his wand again. It slipped easily between his ribs, and then was jerked upwards. He was dead before he hit the ground.

The second target saw this out of the corner of his eye, and moved back away from Xander, catching the last man's attention as well. That proved to be his undoing, since when he turned to see what his partner was retreating from, the young woman struck. Her wand was useless for casting spells, but the sharp end being lodged in his throat, made it an effective weapon, and any further magic redundant. Unfortunately it also made her lose her only defense, as he spun and fell, pulling the shard of wood out of her hands.

Both Xander and the only remaining masked man recognised that immediately. The dark cloaked man sneered at his new opponent, "You will pay for trying to prevent the Death Eaters from exacting their vengeance!" then called out "Accidio," pointing at Xander. A burst of red cut it's way towards the Sunnydaler, but inches before it would have hit him, it seemed to impact against something else. Blue sparks cascaded around where the light impacted, expanding fully across Xander's torso, but aside from that doing absolutely nothing. His shock at the failure of his spell almost caused the death of the dark cloaked attacker, but Xander's strike barely hit his arm a glancing shot as he jumped backwards. His wand however went flying, and he quickly drew his own knife from under his robes, before moving into defensive stance.

Xander struck first, his knife sweeping downward across the death eater's chest, barely dodged by the masked man. At the same time Xander hunched over slightly, lifting his left hand upward toward his throat, providing a last defense should his opponent manage to land a blow there. His forearm protected his heart and a large part of his lungs as well. All of which proved to be unnecessary as Tara, finally having caught up with the former Zeppo, called out "Bind!" at the exact same moment as the red-headed man managed to mutter out "Petrificus Totalus"with his recovered wand, lifted shakily with his left hand. Normally, these would have only restrained the man, but in this case went slightly further. He had turned to look at Tara as she had begun speaking, and the two spells had thrown him backward into the wall. His neck, at an awkward angle, had been slammed further around, breaking it with a sickening snap, before he landed on the ground.

"RON!" The red-headed woman took a quick few steps, going pale as she saw the extent of the damage to his stomach, blood welling up through the cloth he had pressed to it.

She was joined quickly by Tara, who pushed the siblings' hands away from the wound, before commenting. "It's bad. I can stabilise it for the moment, but we need to get him to a medi-witch as soon as possible. Can you apparate him?"

"No. My wand's broken. Without it I can't take someone else as well. W-what are we going to do?"

Tara smiled comfortingly up at her. "Don't worry. Once I've got him stable, I'll call my cousin, and he can collect all of us at once, and get him to safety. What did you say his name was? Ron?"

The red-head nodded, flinching slightly as Xander's hand rested on her shoulder as he bent down as well. "Y-yes. He's my brother Ron, and I'm Ginny."

"Okay Ginny." Xander pulled her away from her brother, to let Tara work more easily. "Tara will look after him. I'm Xander by the way. Are you hurt?"

She shook her head no, while anxiously watching Tara talk quietly to Ron, getting his permission to help him, something that made Xander smile, remembering some of the talks that the blonde witch had had with Giles, regarding the ethics of the Wicca faith. A surprised look came to his face, as Ginny unconsciously drew his arm around her, and leaned back into him, before starting to cry softly, turning and pressing her head into his chest. For a moment he was stiff, then slowly he raised his free hand, and started to lightly run his hand through her hair, while murmuring encouragement about her brother, and her safety, and a small, lopsided smile came to his lips.

Tara looked up, smiling when she saw Xander comforting Ginny to the side. She had partially sealed Ron's injury, muttering "Obsutum," as she ran her hand across the wound, but it was only a temporary measure. "Incindiere." A small fire formed where she gestured, before she scattered some dust in it. A vague figure appeared in the flames, and she called out "Draco! It's Tara, I need your help."

Events moved quickly from then. A white haired man appeared, startling Xander with his resemblance to Spike, though purely superficial. He had looked around, then cursed in disgust as he realised that he was standing in a pool of blood. He had gathered the entire group together, doing a double-take when he saw Ginny now asleep in Xander's arms, and using a port-key, had taken them all to St Mungo's. There medi-witches had been waiting, and instantly crowded around Ron, and moving him to a bed, then whisking him off somewhere upwards in the building, one casting spells almost continuously as she stood over him. Every one of them had paused slightly, seeing Ginny, sleeping calmly in Xander's arms, before dismissing it from their minds, and getting to work.

Draco had guided Xander to an unused private room, where he had put Ginny, but she had reflexively tightened her arms, not letting him go, which had caused Draco's one eyebrow to rise before he closed the door on them, and Xander had lain down next to Ginny, and after a time, fell into the first relaxed sleep he had had in a year.

Chapter 5
(Interlude 2)

Ron only remembered the day vaguely, despite its importance. He remembered the basics, but more as something he had read in a book somewhere, with wide gaps that he had forgotten, little things that came to him if he thought hard about them, and several moments that he recalled in startling clarity.

He remembered the groups gathering at Hogwarts, the only absolute stronghold against Voldemort, where they could be absolutely sure that there were no spies or possible traitors. It was taken to the extreme, Draco Malfoy and Severus Snape, despite proving time and again that they were loyal to Dumbledore, and against Voldemort, were kept away, and told nothing about it. Minister Fudge, if he had survived, would not have been there. Any blood relation to a known Death Eater was excluded from the meeting, reducing their ranks by a tenth. Any blood relation to a suspected Death Eater was also absent, whittling their numbers down by a further fifth. Any friend of a suspected or known Death Eater. Anyone with what was considered 'dark' creature blood in them. Anyone who was not able to overcome an Imperious cast simultaneously by three casters was not included in this. It meant that out of a total number of ten thousand wizards and eight thousand witches who had joined the ranks of Aurors when it was confirmed that Voldemort was back, essentialy soldiers in a war, only four hundred wizards and two hundred and thirty three witches were part of the assault. Of that total, a mere forty two were older than twenty five. Every name of those present was placed in the history books. Five hundred and twelve of them had 'KIA' next to their listing.

Every single Weasley had been in the group, a total of thirty seven. While predominantly red-headed, there were a handful of other colours scattered among them, all grouped seperately from the rest of the Aurors. For the first time in the war Ron was not beside Harry for the fight, and he was glad about it. They were the best of friends, but this was family business.

Later he heard how Harry, with the help of Hermione and Neville Longbottom, had finally defeated Lord Voldemort, his death bringing the castle down in ruins. Neville had died holding up the ceiling just long enough for Harry and Hermione to escape the doomed building. Their feelings of guilt over that had only passed when Dumbledore had both berated them for denigrating his sacrifice, and explained how he had used the last of his life to hold up the ceiling power the spell;  and that he would have become little more than a vegetable, unable to recognise anything if he had lived, his greatest nightmare after what had happened to his parents.

Percy Weasley had died in front of Ron as they had apparated into the grounds of Lord Voldemort's castle, almost an exact, but corrupted replica of Hogwarts. He was the first of twenty three Weasley deaths that day. Amazingly he was the only fatality in Ron's immediate family. He had thrown himself in front of Lucius Malfoy, ensuring that the death curse he had hurled killed the both of them.

For Ron, and the other Weasley's however, the worst part of the battle was not any of the deaths in their ranks, but instead when they got to the goal they were looking for. Ginny Weasley had been a captive of the Death Eaters for two months, and the only reason the group was present was to find her and get her out. They had fought down three levels of dungeons, before finding the tiny hole she was in. Her robes were in tatters around her, cuts overlapped scabs, which overlapped scars. Her ribs could be seen clearly through her almost translucent skin, her eyes were sunken in, and the only way they knew who she was, was from the few clumps of red hair that had not been torn from her scalp. Ron had reached out for her, placing his hand on her unmarked shoulder, only for her to scream, and drag herself away from him.

It had taken two months before she would let anyone aside from her mother to see her, and then only one at a time, and only her brothers and father. Even then, it was only when her mother was present as well, and she would not let them touch her in any way. Over the next year, she had slowly gotten better, but one thing had never changed; no-one was ever allowed to touch her.

Which was why tears had come to his eyes, as well as that of his mother and father, the only ones who were in immediate apparating distance of St Mungo's. Despite his injury, he had insisted on seeing his sister, so when his parents arrived, they had floated his entire bed to the doorway of Ginny's room here. All of them finally, silently crept away again, moving Ron's bed to a neighbouring room. The image of Ginny curled up against Xander Harris, the American friend of the

Wicca Tara Maclay, staying in their minds for the rest of that day, and many afterwards.