Run to Redemption
by dream_mancer

Characters: Draco Malfoy, Hermione Granger, Buffy Summers
Rating:
Teen
Warnings:
Nothing serious, just Draco running his mouth.
Word Count: 35,294
Genre(s): Humour, Drama, Crossover
Canon:
Through DH (EWE)

Other characters: Blaise Zabini, Pansy Parkinson, Bellatrix Lestrange
Crossover Fandom (if applicable):
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Crossover Characters (if applicable):
Buffy Summers, Willow Rosenberg, Rupert Giles, Vi with brief mentions of Xander Harris, Dawn Summers, Kennedy, Rona, and Faith.
Artist:
mawaridi


Summary:
The Ministry of Magic needs a go-between stationed at the new Watcher's Council and Slayer Training Center in England, and Draco draws the short stick. When family obligations brings his past back to haunt him, a group of twitchy, obnoxious slayers and one nosy, know-it-all former classmate are the least of his problems.

Author's Notes: Detailed notes and acknowledgments are at the end, but first I have to throw this out there. Many thanks go to the lovely Jo and Sam for the beta, and Kalina Blue for being an awesome cheerleader.

As usual, Jacy has my undying gratitude for putting up with me, helping me through the rough parts, making sure that the fic flowed smoothly, and for amusing me when this fic was about to run me into the ground.

Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.


........

Draco was dreading this with all of his life. Before him were the double doors that led into a conference room reserved for the most private of meetings in the Ministry. It had a private Floo that only the Minister could allow people to use, and the sheer amount of wards and privacy charms set around it made his skin crawl.

But it was all All of this was necessary. Behind the mahogany doors was his new assignment, or as he was calling it, his new punishment. Draco wasn't stupid. It didn't matter that the war which devastated the Wizarding World had been over for just past eight years. It didn't matter that his father was crucial in the round up of the remaining Death Eaters and was fully cooperative with the Ministry as a consultant on the Dark Arts. It didn't matter that the amount of money they shelled out every year to pay for damages of any sort was more than some people would be worth in their entire life. He still had to suffer for his sins and the sins of his father.

It was really beginning to piss him off.

After the war, Lucius arranged for him to have a private tutor and take his NEWTs. He tested extremely well, but there was hardly a job that would hire him for anything, regardless of his qualifications. The Ministry was his last option, and after a year of searching with nothing to show for it, he retreated to his fail-safe back up plan. Draco was content to never work again, but any time he ever mentioned it, his mother would glare at him until he balked, which happened much sooner than he liked to admit.

Much to his surprise, he ended up liking work, mostly because he was damn good at it. When he was younger, his father always insisted he learn even the most obscure wizarding laws, and that knowledge was paying off. He wasn't a barrister by any means, but he knew the laws, and by association the loopholes, inside and out. His beginning job of "office bitch," as Draco labeled himself in the early years, quickly turned into a semi-respected consultant position.

It didn't stop the whispers or the accusing glares that sometimes crossed his path, but he was getting better at hiding how much they bothered him. When he first started, he would come home in tears because of all the rude remarks and gestures thrown his way during the day. He'd gotten scarily adept at the charm used to re-file papers because the Ministry favorite was knocking papers off the side of his cramped little desk. His job became less about bringing in money for himself and more about proving himself.

The turning point came when one of the advisors to Robards, the new Minister after the war, royally fucked up customs in an Asian country on a business trip; the whole Pacific Rim was up in arms. The Minister of Japan paid a personal visit to England and began quoting laws left and right about how the disgraceful employee would be punished and the Minister would see him Kissed if he could. He was shouting in Robards' face, embarrassing him in the middle of the Atrium. Draco had been about to leave when he'd heard the Japanese Minister mis-quote a law and threaten to have Robards stripped of his position.

Draco quietly asked the Japanese Minister to repeat the law, and informed him of the error he made. When the Japanese Minister paused, Draco started correcting him on more errors he heard. From that point, past instances of skirmishes between Japan and England came pouring out of his mouth, and before he knew it, he was chastising the Japanese Minister and threatening to have him stripped of his position because he was violating laws by coming to England and not following proper foreign channels for travel and even not surrendering his wand as soon as he entered the country.

Everyone had stared at him in shock when he finally stopped shouting and he was all but ready to be carted off to Azkaban, but the Japanese Minister backed down, apologized, and dismissed the issue. Draco wasn't exactly hailed a hero, but no one doubted his knowledge in the area of laws and international business.

People started asking Draco questions about different legal problems they were having, and he didn't mind giving out free advice. Kingsley Shacklebolt heard him threaten a previous Death Eater who had the gall to insult his mother and was highly, yet grudgingly, impressed, mostly because all the harm he promised was completely legal. From that point on, Aurors brought him into questionings and he let them know what punishments were legal and which ones weren't. It was a morally gray area that he wasn't afraid to dive in to.

All of that didn't matter, because what was behind the door was still a punishment. People had been sending him sympathetic looks and he'd gotten more pats on the back than he was comfortable with. It was technically a promotion of sorts because he wasn't restricted to the Ministry anymore, but being placed with a bunch of teenage girls who could snap him like a twig with their pinky fingers wasn't a promotion. It was hell surrounded by pigtails.

With a deep breath, Draco pushed open the doors and prepared to step into his new life as the Ministry Liaison for the Watchers Council and Slayer Training Center. What he saw when he entered was not what he expected.

There were four women and two men in the room, all dressed in Muggle clothes, and all a lot younger than he expected, with the exception of the gentleman off to the side. Draco didn't have time to really get a look at them before he was slammed against the wall near the door by the dark brunette whose clothing showed a bit more skin than a lady should. His breath was knocked out of his lungs and he coughed a bit. His toes were scraping the floor because she lifted him up a bit with her one hand, which instantly made him nervous.

"Faith, we talked about this. You aren't allowed to play with the wizards," the redhead in the corner said sternly. She crossed her arms and didn't back down when the woman holding him up pouted.

"Fine, Red. Spoil my fun."

She let him go, and Draco slid down the wall the extra few inches and leaned back against the wooden panels to make sure he didn't fall over. He was still trying to catch his breath.

"Is anyone else kind of weirded out by the fact that we're staring at a living version of Spike?" the man with the eye-patch asked, only to have his arm punched by the other brunette in the room who was sitting by him.

"Shut up, Xander," she muttered and Draco wondered who the hell named their children Faith, Red, and Xander. Strange Americans. And why was he being compared to a living version of a spike? Was the eyesight in the one good eye of the strange Muggle man that bad?

Draco finally had his breath back and he was able to straighten his shoulders. His nicely pressed robes were wrinkled from the twitchy slayer's grip, but after looking at the lot he'd be working with, he didn't see it being that much of a problem.

"I'm sorry for the rude welcome, but might I inquire after your name?"

He would never acknowledge it, but he nearly cried in relief when he heard the native accent from the older gentleman standing by the window. At least he wouldn't be completely alone.

"My name is Draco Malfoy. I'm the new Ministry Liaison between the Council and the Ministry."

That brought a bit of understanding to the eyes of those around him, and he was glad he wasn't surrounded by complete incompetents. The only person left to speak was the blonde lounging in the chair at the head of the table. She was scrutinizing him and he only raised an eyebrow back. Finally, she spoke, not that he understood what the bloody hell she meant.

"Personally, I think he looks like Randy Giles."

Everyone laughed at that except the woman who had pinned him. The redhead giggled but clapped her hands over her mouth. "I'm not allowed to think that's funny, am I?"

"Well if anyone should be offended, it should be me," the elderly gentleman said. "Insinuating that Spike was my son is an insult."

"Yeah, to him," the younger brunette said with a laugh.

He sighed and rolled his eyes. This wasn't going at all like he had hoped. He was saved by the Minister walking into the conference room. He was pleased to see Draco there.

"Ah, excellent, Draco. I trust you've met everyone?"

"To an extent," Draco replied dryly. That brought a few giggles from the other side of the room. Lovely. He despised gigglers.

"Well, this is Draco, your new Liaison," Robards said as he took a seat opposite the Strange Blonde. Draco took a seat next to the Minister. "He's one of our finest consultants when it comes to the laws revolving around our society."

Twitchy Brunette eyed Draco and he just knew he was being visually undressed. While he wasn't new to this type of attention, he didn't like it from someone who could toss him out a window. "Seems a little young."

Almost the entire group rolled their eyes and he got the impression she was a playgirl going through the motions. If the Minister picked up on it, he ignored the tension in the air. "I can assure you, Draco comes highly qualified. You can ask him about any law and he'll tell you the details."

"Very well," Elderly Gentleman said as he took off his glasses and cleaned them. "What is the law pertaining to the treatment of pixies after to the year sixteen hundred?"

Draco's first thought was are you fucking kidding me?. He then translated that thought into a look and sent it in Robards' direction. The Minister just smiled and gestured for him to go ahead.

"Can't do it?" One Eyed Man said with a smirk, and Draco glared at him.

"If you wanted to test my knowledge, you should have gone back before the twelve hundreds. The Latin is harder to translate," Draco replied smarmily before turning back to Elderly Gentleman. "Which race?"

"Excuse me?" he asked, clearly taken off guard.

"There are three species of pixies, and over a dozen races classified between the species as mandated by the Minister of Magic in 1328. You'll have to be more specific. There are more laws on Ixie than any of the other races, but that's only because the hunting law mandated in 1814 completely negated their protection law put into motion in 1762 and caused an uproar which resulted in a near extinction and a series of addendums to the currency orders going through the Wizengamot at the time. The result of that idiocy was a near crash in the economy and the goblins threatening to pack their bags and take our money with them."

Red was alternating grins between the Elderly Gentleman and Draco. "I think he knows about the pixies, Giles."

"Very well. I concede defeat."

The Minister laughed and stood from his seat, walking behind Draco and clapping him on the shoulder. It was all for show, because Robards himself had reminded Draco that morning that with one toe out of line he was destined for Azkaban. "Well, I will let you all get better acquainted. If you need anything, don't hesitate to Floo."

When the Minister left, Draco sighed and leaned back in his chair. Twitchy Brunette snorted. "Is he always so damn cheerful?"

"He's finally getting rid of me, so today is special," Draco replied, glaring at the fireplace half-heartedly.

"Getting rid of you? What is that supposed to mean?" the Other Brunette asked.

Draco looked over at her in surprise. Curious expressions were also mirrored on the other faces in the room as well. "You mean he didn't tell you?"

"Tell us what?"

He resisted the urge to bang his head into the table. Robards was throwing him in this blindly. Since it was Draco's job to educate the slayers on the history of the Wizarding World, he wasn't sure if Robards was testing him to make sure he told an unbiased account or hoped they ripped him limb from limb when they found out what he was.

"I'm being punished," Draco replied wryly, "in almost every sense of the word. The list for people signing up to be your babysitter isn't exactly all that long, you realize."

"Babysitter?" One Eyed Man said, irritated. "You're not our babysitter. A, we don't need one, and B, if we did, which we don't, we could probably do a heck of a lot better than you."

Draco chuckled as he stood. "No, you really couldn't." He reached into his robe pocket to pull out the information he'd prepared for them beforehand, Floo addresses and the like, when he felt a brush against his mind. It was light and he almost didn't feel it.

He looked up sharply, trying to judge which one of the Muggles wasn't exactly a Muggle. The redhead looked like she'd just been hit with a lightning hex, so he figured he'd found his culprit.

"Who the hell do you think you are, going around looking in someone's head like that?" he asked lowly, gripping his wand tightly behind his robes.

Everyone else looked just as shocked, but Red quickly paled. "I'm, I'm sorry! I didn't, I-I-I just-"

"You just what?" he hissed, bringing out his wand in plain view. "Went poking about in my head without my permission? Here's lesson number one. Do it again, and you'll be arrested. Invasive mind magic like that is against the law."

Not-Amusing Blonde lost all laughter when he drew his wand, and now she was standing in front of him, almost blocking him from getting to Red. Twitchy Brunette was doing the same.

"What's the matter? Did she see something you didn't want her to? She didn't know it was against your laws, so stop being so hard on her."

Not-Amusing Blonde shifted to Bitchy Blonde in his head as Draco raised his eyebrow. "She didn't see anything. She couldn't have even if she had all day to get in my head."

Bitchy Blonde looked at Red, who nodded. "It was like steel. Glory was easier to access than him, and we all know what she was."

"It doesn't matter if you classify them as my laws or not," Draco said loudly, getting everyone's attention. "You are in this country and are bound by England's magical laws. We're a bit harder on our criminals than most countries. I'll try to give you a crash course, but forgive me for not expecting one of you to take the coward's way out of learning about me."

"Hey!" Red said, sitting up and gaining a bit of color to her cheeks. "People lie, bub, so that's how I find out the truth, not that it helped with you." She lost some of her righteous indignation and started to pout. It took all of Draco's strength not to smirk at her.

"Yes, well, it's not like it was difficult to keep you out. You're not the first murderer who has been in my head."

For the second time in ten minutes, he found himself slammed against the wall, but not by Twitchy Brunette. Bitchy Blonde was doing just fine holding him where she wanted him all by herself.

"Pretty spry for a tiny thing, aren't you?" he grunted out. Her glare intensified.

"I'd shut up if I were you, especially about things you don't understand."

That shocked a laugh out of Draco. "Oh, please. Is that supposed to be a threat? Do you think I could lie about something like that? Why lie when the truth hurts so much more?" His gaze traveled to Red who was staring at him with a very pale face.

"How?" she asked, her voice ringing with desperation.

"I'd be much more inclined to speak if I wasn't dangling by my very expensive robe collar," he replied, looking down at Bitchy Blonde who narrowed her eyes at him. She ended up lessening her hold on him so he slid down the wall, but she yanked him close.

"If you upset her, you'll upset me, and I could so kick you out a window."

Draco brushed her off and straightened himself, ignoring the threats. "Explain yourself. How what?"

"How did you keep me out, how did you know what I did, why are you not running and telling your boss, anything..."

His eyebrow rose. They really didn't know anything about him. "I kept you out because the summer I turned fifteen, I spent every waking moment keeping a psychotic killer from literally ripping open my skull. I learned a few tricks for the sake of my life."

There were looks of disbelief aimed at him, but he wasn't here to convince them of his less than stellar home life. "I know that you also took lives because it doesn't matter how long ago it was or how many people you killed, it taints your magic. As for not running to tell my boss, as you put it, well," Draco smirked and crossed his arms. "That's a bit hypocritical of me."

This time he was prepared and had his wand out and against the collarbone of Bitchy Blonde as quickly as he could. "Pin me against the wall again and you'll be visiting the bottom of the Thames River."

The tension was thick in the air, but footsteps broke the silence. Elderly Gentleman walked up beside Bitchy Blonde and put his hand on her shoulder. Without taking her eyes from Draco's, she stepped back and let the man speak.

"My name is Rupert Giles, and I am the new Head of the Council. I do wish we could continue this meeting without any further threats or violence. Perhaps a show of good faith on your end would make things run smoother?"

He finally broke the heated gaze between himself and the freakishly strong blonde to scoff at the man he now knew was Mr. Giles. "I have been nothing but accommodating, sir. I was attacked, unprovoked, the moment I stepped inside. I was subject to a very invasive, personal mental attack without being asked. I was then attacked, yet again, by another member of your party. What more a show of good faith could I possibly make than not yelling for Aurors to come arrest your right now?"

Mr. Giles instantly nodded and stepped back. "I agree. We are, as you said, now in your hands when it comes to walking in this new land, and we are not aiming to step on toes."

Draco saw that almost as one the group let the tension out of their shoulders. The two slam happy women also turned their backs to him and sat down. He put away his wand and sighed, sitting down in the chair he originally occupied. Pulling out the file he'd intended to retrieve from his robes before Red had gotten curious, Draco enlarged it with his wand.

"These are some of the most recent updates to our judicial system that you might want to take a look at. These laws are the ones I found that related closely to your situation. Even though the Watcher's Council existed in England for many centuries, it was passive. There was never a need for my position before."

"Babysitter," Twitchy Brunette said with a snort as she leaned back in her chair. "That's rich."

"Like it or not, I'm here to keep you from fucking up, something you've already done twice since I've met you today." Draco rose from his seat. "If you'd like, I can explain to the Minister that you are refusing me and my help, but be prepared for a war."

The tension was back tenfold. Draco expected Mr. Giles to break the silence, but was surprised when Bitchy Blonde did it.

"Faith, relax. We're here to play nice, remember?" She turned to him and steadied herself by taking a deep breath. "Giles is right. We got off on the wrong foot. I'm Buffy Summers."

She held out a hand to shake, but Draco couldn't take it anymore. "Who the bloody hell names the children in America? Are they all drunk when they do it?"

Instead of getting angry, Buffy just sighed and stretched her hand out farther. "Because Draco is so normal?"

Draco had a horrible flashback to his first year when Weasley laughed at him, but this time he was being offered the hand. With horror, he realized he was comparing himself to Potter and resisted the urge to do a mental cleaning spell.

"Here? Yes." Regardless, he took her hand but didn't shake it like she had expected. Draco brought her small hand quickly to his lips and pressed a kiss to her knuckles before letting her hand drop.

The Other Brunette perked up. "Oooh, do all wizards act all chivalrous?"

"Only the ones raised with a mediocre amount of decorum. In a word, no."

"That's my sister, Dawn," Buffy said, and Draco nodded, figuring she would go through introductions. It would be nice to have names instead of nicknames in his head, as humorous as they were.

"The guy sitting next to Dawn is Xander." The One Eyed Man saluted him. Cute. "You already know Faith and her manhandling ways, and then our own resident witch is Willow."

Willow waved weakly and Draco raised an eyebrow, making her wince. She muttered something, but all he heard was "cookies".

After the introductions, Buffy turned to Draco again. "So, what happens next? Do we get a history lesson for the next few hours or what?"

He just blinked. They really had absolutely no idea of what they were getting into. "I think it would be wise if you informed me what you were told about this position. I believe there have been holes in our communication."

Mr. Giles took off his glasses and cleaned them with a handkerchief he pulled from his vest pocket. "We were written to by someone from the Ministry staff explaining who they were and what setting up our new residences in England would entail. They offered help and said they would provide a specialist who would aid in the acclimation."

Draco's first thought was oh, bugger. His second though ran along the lines of I'm going to kill the Minister. "Well then, Mr. Giles, I'm afraid you were grossly misinformed."

"Do tell."

"My new job is you. All my other tasks have been delegated to others. Minister Robards declared that to be a competent and aware liaison, I must reside within the Council at all times and devote my working hours to your judicial needs. I am to instruct you and yours on proper wizarding guidelines and make sure you don't step on any toes, as you put it."

Faith grinned as she leaned forward and crossed her arms on the table. "So you're basically our little slave?"

"I told you, I'm being punished. I'm expendable," Draco said. "They're half hoping I piss one of you off and you kill me or feed me to a vampire or something of that nature."

Willow gasped, her hands covering her mouth. "But we'd never do that."

Draco smirked. "Oh, I don't know. I had two slayers slam me against a wall within ten minutes of first meeting me. I'd say I'm well on my way to a new record."

.......

Draco packed all of his things so he could move into the new Council. Blaise was moving into his flat until he was either killed or relinquished of his post, which he'd already heard was cause for a gambling pool at work. Most of the individuals who worked closely with him were very confident in his abilities to piss people off. It was almost endearing.

His two trunks were full and so he shrunk them and placed them in his pockets. He would have to hook up the Floo himself when he arrived at the Council and so that meant Portkey, since he had no bloody clue about the layout of the grounds. He didn't want to Apparate himself into a fountain or a tree, because that was just how his luck was running these days.

Once he'd landed on the grass outside of the Council, he threw away the small Muggle coin that had been the Portkey. His eyebrows went up when he saw the grounds. At least whoever picked out the location had style. He had been half-worried that he'd be shoved into some rundown hovel that put the shrieking shack to shame.

A rail-thin young woman was sitting on the steps sunning herself with her eyes closed, her pale skin even paler because of her darker clothes and her bright red hair. For a moment, Draco panicked, thinking that the youngest Weasley was here to hex him for something, but this woman's hair was chopped almost completely off, and the bone structure was different. The way her legs were stretched out, he could see she was much taller than the Weasley girl. As he got closer, the young woman opened her eyes and grinned at him. She bounced off the seat and skipped a bit down to where he was still coming up the walk. Draco instantly thought she was entirely too chipper for his liking.

"Hi," she said, her American accent clear. "I'm Vi, one of the senior slayers. I was supposed to help you with your things, but I can see you don't have any." She was looking around him; the Muggle-ness of the whole situation made him uneasy.

"Draco Malfoy," he said introducing himself, and the slayer giggled.

"That's an interesting name."

"Because Vi is so damn normal."

If she was offended, she didn't show it, and Draco was glad. He was going to have to learn to control his tongue. These were slayers and who knew what they'd do to him if they were pissed off at something.

"My name is Violet, but I shortened it."

He made a face. "Why on earth would you do that? A close friend of mine has a sister named Violet. It's a perfectly decent name."

Violet just grinned at him. "Whatever. So, I'm supposed to take you inside and show you around a bit, unless you just want to go straight to your rooms and nap or something."

The urge to retreat into his room and stay there until he was needed was strong, but he figured he might as well get the hellish ritual of being shown around over with. "Very well, Violet, I'll take the tour."

They began walking, but Violet scrunched her nose up at her name. "Call me Vi."

"Nonsense," Draco replied, staring straight ahead as the ascended the stairs. "Your name is Violet, and I shall call you Violet."

"Come on, didn't you have a nickname once? No one called you Dray or Co or something?"

He snorted, remembering the one time a younger year tried that. "Not if they wanted to keep their fingernails attached."

As they walked through the front doors, Draco smirked when he heard a faint 'ew' from Violet.

His first impression of the inside of the Council was that it was impressive. The structure and architecture was still present, but it was obviously modernized. There were no tall portraits of moving ancestors or busts of distant families. There were mirrors everywhere along with crosses. Almost every window was free of drapes and sunlight poured into the halls. This was a place that would be susceptible to many vampire and demon attacks, so Draco supposed these things were necessary.

"Okay," Violet began, snapping Draco out of his reverie, "I'll tell you a bit about the layout. The building is divided into a front half and a back half, with the slayers in the front and the watchers in the back. The dorms are on the right side of the building and the fully decked training center is on the left. All of the business meetings and the heart of the Council is in the back, and back corners hold the guest quarters and other empty rooms."

She talked as they walked, Draco taking in the rooms they passed. There weren't that many slayers or watchers out in the hallways. Draco questioned her about it when she paused.

"Well, it's a school, too, so most of the slayers are in class."

"And why aren't you in class?" he asked coolly, finally looking over at her. She just shrugged.

"I'm a senior slayer. I was there when we were just potentials. There's not much class work for someone who's helped develop the school books."

They continued on, with Violet explaining how most of the senior slayers took on a junior slayer, a younger girl in her teens, and acted as a mentor. For now, the system was working because they just started the Council and started finding the new slayers. Draco was already going over the different papers he'd have to start just for all the new slayers already established at the Council. This was going to be a long, meticulous job.

"And these are your rooms," Violet said, stopping at large double doors.

Draco opened them with trepidation, but his eyebrows went up at the sight of the rooms. The sitting area was fairly spacious. There was a large fireplace he could hook up to the Floo network and he had a nice balcony that he could take his morning tea on. The bedroom wasn't as big the one he was used to, but the bed was acceptable. The bathroom was no Hogwarts prefect bath, but it still had many nice amenities.

"Is it to your liking?" Draco heard Violet ask, obviously amused. He nodded.

"I've had better, but it'll do."

She rolled her eyes and then turn to leave. "I'll come get you for dinner. It'll be at seven!"

When the doors clicked closed, Draco threw the strongest Locking Charm he could at it and fell into one of the chairs facing the fireplace. What the hell was he getting himself into?

...........

He'd been arranging things to his liking, and was adamant that Blaise was going to have to do without a house-elf because Draco desperately needed his. A headache was already starting to form at his temples. It took him forever to feel comfortable enough in a new place and he was already on edge. Despite being located in the guest quarters, he was close to the Watcher's offices, which meant he heard screaming, laughing, giggling teenage girls run by hourly. An investment in strong Silencing Charms was desperately needed.

A bit after seven, there was a knock on his door. Draco stood, brushing off his pants to smooth the wrinkles and walked over to open the door. Violet was there, but she had another young woman with her. The other woman looked to be the exact opposite of Violet, with ratty overalls and an expression that promised pain to whoever rubbed her the wrong way. When she saw Draco, her glare intensified.

Violet saw where the woman was looking and grinned at him. "Dinner time!"

"Must you always be so damn cheerful all the time?" he groused, closing the doors to his rooms and locking them tightly, although having his back to the new woman made the hairs on his arms rise up. He didn't like her at all.

"Well someone's got to make up for you lack of happiness."

"If he wants to be all surly, let him, Vi."

"Ah, she speaks," Draco said, ignoring the surly comment. "For a moment I thought you were just the caveman help." Although he was staring straight ahead, he saw Violet put a hand on the woman's arm to hold her back. He smirked. "Touch a raw nerve?"

There was some shuffling as the group continued down the corridor, but Violet straightened the situation. "This is Rona, one of the senior slayers. We were hanging out until her junior slayer got done with her homework and came to eat."

Draco looked at this Rona person and scrutinized her. "You let her mentor a young, impressionable mind? Remind me to switch sides when we get back from dinner."

He had to give her credit; she didn't back down. "Yeah, I heard you're really good at doing that when it looks like things are getting difficult. I would love to just kick your prissy face in."

Even though he'd started walking again, he stopped with a smirk. He hadn't had a chance to verbally maul anyone lately. He hoped he wasn't rusty. "Would you like to know what else I'm good at?" Draco looked over his shoulder at her. "Ripping out the tendons of the heel and ankle with a single thought. Kicking me in the face would be hard if you can't stand."

He saw Violet hold Rona back. "Vi, let me go. I'm going to show him how hard slayers hit."

Draco turned to face them fully and let his wand fall into his hand. "This should be interesting. Let me see how quickly you slayers can heal. The question is how--do I flay you from the inside or start taking bits off?"

Violet physically restrained Rona as the irate woman tried to come near him. Draco let his wand dangle in his fingers but kept a firm grip on it, smirking at the scuffle.

"Let me go, Vi, I'm going to kick his pale ass!"

Draco snorted. "How delightfully childish. Shall I pull on one of your charming rat tail braids to see if you squeal?"

Before either of them could make another move, there was a shout behind Draco.

"Hey!" He spun around, eyebrow raised at the newcomer. When he heard a faint "oh hell" come from Violet's mouth and a few racier words come from Rona, he knew this wouldn't be good. "What the hell are you guys doing? Some example you are for the baby slayers!"

Instantly, Draco didn't like this new girl. She exuded the wrong mix of confidence and bitchiness. She reminded him of the first year Slytherin girls who had yet to perfect the ice queen attitude. He felt a sudden pang of sadness, wishing Pansy were here to set the girl straight.

He was pulled from his thoughts as the woman came closer. She stopped when she came to the group and put her hands on her hips, glaring at Rona and Vi. "Why were you two fighting? We're waiting for you at dinner. Now let's move!"

Draco was rather amused when both Violet and Rona stood their ground and didn't move a muscle.

"You know, you're not Buffy's second in command anymore. You can't boss us around. We're equal, Kennedy," Violet said, and Draco had to stomp down the wicked grin threatening to come forth.

He'd done his homework, and knew who the infamous Kennedy was. While she looked appealing on paper, Draco knew she was nothing but a spoiled, immature little girl who wanted her fifteen minutes of fame to expand beyond minutes. He used to be just like her and was going to enjoy putting her down a few pegs.

Violet had been very calm when she'd responded to Kennedy, her tone not argumentative. She clearly just wanted the situation diffused quickly and quietly. He got the feeling she was shoved into the mediator role too many times, and decided to give her a break when the time was right.

"Evidently not, Vi. None of the other slayers have to be escorted to dinner, unless you count the baby ones who just got here." Kennedy shook her head, the sadness a clearly fake emotion to Draco. "I'm going to have to tell Giles you two were fighting. You know the rules."

It was like he wasn't even there, and Draco relished in their obliviousness. He could watch and observe all he wanted, and right now he knew Violet was trying her hardest not to get upset at Kennedy's accusations and Rona was, once again, trying not to kill her fellow slayer.

"You lost your chance to avoid getting your ass kicked when Willow dumped you. I'm not holding back."

Despite all her protests about fighting between Slayers, Kennedy was obviously aching for a fight and was fully prepared to launch at Rona, but Draco inadvertently stopped it when he let out a loud laugh. Kennedy's eyes cleared and she looked at him like she was seeing him for the first time.

"Who the hell are you and what's so funny?"

Draco kept an easy grin on his face, not revealing the real reason he had laughed. The image of Rona tossing Kennedy about had been amusing. "I just found the information that you dated Miss Rosenberg humorous."

Kennedy crossed her arms, defensive. "Why? Shocked she dated girls?"

"Oh no, that I knew," he replied. "I just completely overestimated her standards in partner choice."

Violet coughed to hide her laugh, which she did poorly, and Kennedy glared fiercely at her before turning back to Draco. "I'm sorry, I didn't catch your name."

"Well I'm not in the habit of letting complete strangers know who I am, Miss Iyari. It's bad for my health."

He could see Kennedy was getting irritated. If she was a cat, her back would be arched and she would be hissing. Draco never liked cats. He started to straighten the side of his robes, showing his boredom.

"Tell me who you are right now or I will drop kick you out of here head first."

"What is with you slayers and your infatuation with kicking? Do you all have feet fetishes or something?" Draco asked, puzzled at the lack of originality when it came to threatening.

Kennedy took a step closer, but Draco still had his wand in his hand. "Listen you stuffy British bastard, I could break you in half and scatter the lawn with your remains which is exactly what I'm going to do if you don't tell me what I want to know right now."

"Did you know that you lack originality and imagination when it comes to threatening people? It's rather sad and pathetic."

She snorted and poked him in the chest, something that Draco hated, and he had to make sure he didn't hex the slayer so hard her teeth shattered in her mouth. "Let's see you do better, then."

The grin that had been plastered on his face instantly disappeared and was replaced the look Blaise liked to call his don't fuck with me, I'm a Malfoy look. Draco raised his wand and leveled it at Kennedy's chest, pushing her back until she was taking steps away from him. She saw the change in his demeanor and he hoped she realized just how badly she had fucked up.

"Touch me again and not only will I shatter every bone in your body and boil your blood so your skin falls off, I'll throw you in a hell where your only company will be screaming masses of murderers and demons that suck out your soul, leaving you a hollow shell of nothingness."

He'd backed her against a wall, and Kennedy was looking up at him with wide eyes. "That's quite a threat."

"It's a promise, Kennedy, one that I will fulfill and most definitely not lose sleep over." He put his wand away, sufficient in knowing she wasn't about to lay a single finger on him again.

"Well it's quite an imagination you have, then."

Draco just stared at her long and hard as she composed herself. "It's completely real. What I can do to you, and where I'd put you when I'm done."

Kennedy was trying to form words and her shock brought a small satisfaction. It was nice to be able to threaten someone and have them take him seriously, not like his words were coming from a man who tried the other side and lost. The change was refreshing, and Draco believed he found his coping mechanism.

With a happier attitude, Draco turned to Violet and Rona. "Shall we continue on to dinner?"

Violet grabbed her stomach and made a face. "I'm not really sure if I can eat after that."

Draco snorted. She was such a Hufflepuff. Rona took charge and led him down the corridor, Violet following behind her. He wasn't sure, but he thought after his exchange with Kennedy, Rona was a bit more forgiving towards him.

"How dare you talk to me like that?!"

Now it had ceased to be amusing and Draco rolled his eyes. Without breaking his stride, he passed Violet and Rona, prompting them to follow. He did leave Kennedy with a parting gift of wisdom.

"Lose the ice bitch attitude, darling. I'm so much better at it than you."

Rona and Violet were at his sides, and from his peripheral vision, he saw Rona grin, noticeably pleased.

"You're going to regret doing that. Despite what we say, she does have a bit of pull around here."

Draco waved off Violet's concerns. "It's about time she gets knocked down a peg or two. Humility is good for a person." Both Rona and Vi looked at him slowly with identically incredulous expressions. He shrugged. "Or so I'm told."

........

Dinner was actually a nice meal with less witty conversation and more ocular fire than he cared for, but the food was nicely done. Kennedy was berated for being late, especially when they had a new member at the Council, and he saw the amused glances shared between Violet and Rona.

After dinner, the younger slayers were sent off to their rooms to complete schoolwork or tidy their rooms and some of the older slayers went to patrol, as per their schedule. The rest of the group, including Rona, Violet, and Kennedy, stayed, although the latter made an excuse to leave quickly.

"Is she okay?" Willow asked, staring after her ex-girlfriend with a forlorn expression.

"Willow," Buffy said slowly, "we talked about this. You've got to let her go."

"I know, but I just hate the thought that I hurt her."

"Oh, it wasn't you," Rona said finishing off her dessert, ignoring the glare Draco sent her way. "She got a bit of a reality check on the way to dinner."

Buffy leaned forward to narrow her eyes at Rona, who was seated further down the table. "Were you fighting again?"

Rona shook her head. "Nope. She just threatened the Ministry guy here, and he set her straight."

Draco nearly choked on the white wine he'd been provided, and that would have been a terrible waste of a truly exquisite vintage. As it was, Violet came to his defense. "It's not at all how it sounds. She really was being unfair towards us, and she even threatened Draco, saying she would physically remove him from the grounds. She was rude."

He snorted. "She physically provoked me and threatened to drop kick me out of the Council if I didn't tell her who I was when she just could have asked politely."

Buffy sighed. "Sorry about that. When we were dealing with the First, she sort of took control of the Potentials, something I should have stopped. She doesn't like the fact that she's not the leader anymore."

Draco let it slide. It had provided amusement, and it no doubt would do so in the future. He needed a few laughs every once in a while.

One of the junior slayers came back into the dining room but he couldn't place her. Her name started with a J, that much he did remember. She'd been introduced at dinner as Violet's junior slayer, and they both smiled and waved at each other when she walked by.

"Yes, Julienne?" Mr. Giles asked when the girl came near. Yes, that was her name. Julienne, but everyone called her Jules, a nickname that Draco abhorred and would never use. He didn't understand why all the Americans with perfectly good names created ridiculous nicknames and the ones who desperately needed a sensible name didn't want one.

"There's a woman here who says she was sent from the Ministry. She says she was requested."

Mr. Giles looked at Draco. "Were you aware of this?"

He nodded. "I severely underestimated the amount of work it would take to simply stabilize the situation you currently have. There are many other consultants and even a few barristers who are more than capable of helping," Draco said and then furrowed his brow. "Although I'm not sure how many would actually agree to be sent here, even part of the time. It's a bit of a surprise that one was sent so quickly. I just sent the owl a few hours ago."

Mr. Giles turned back to Julienne. "Very well. We can meet her in the foyer."

"Oh, there's no need," a voice said from the dining room entrance. "I didn't know I was interrupting dinner."

Draco's eyes widened, his head slowly turning to the entrance to the dining room. The voice was familiar, and a walk down memory lane was not what he had envisioned when he'd sent for another Ministry worker who could help. He nodded when he saw for himself exactly who walked through the door. "Right. Fuck this, I quit."

Everyone looked at him in shock, but Hermione Granger just crossed her arms and grinned. "Hello to you too, Draco."

"Wait, you two know each other?" Buffy asked, looking between the two people in a staring contest.

"Intimately," Granger responded, her grin widening when Draco choked and had to either cough or spit out the drink he'd taken, which he suddenly desperately needed.

Willow's eyes widened. "Did you two date?"

Draco had to laugh. It was either that or cry hysterically. "Not if she were the last female on the planet."

"Then how?" Dawn asked, looking between the newest member of the Council and Draco.

"My fist is intimately acquainted with his face. It has a standing invitation whenever Draco opens his mouth."

He could see everyone now re-sizing him in their heads, and he was ever so glad Kennedy had already left. His evil image was shattering; he could practically hear the glass cracking.

"You punched him?" Buffy asked, her smile a bit too cheerful for his liking.

"We were thirteen!" Draco protested.

Granger just chuckled and walked further into the room. "He was being a bastard."

"I'm a Malfoy; it's in my bloody genetics to be a bastard!" Draco said, standing up fully. "Did Potter send you to make sure I don't behead someone in their sleep?"

"No one sent me!" Granger said, honestly looking affronted that he'd suggest such a thing. "I was asked if I was interested because no one else was available, and I was happy to volunteer."

"Oh, bullshit," Draco said with a scoff. "You just jumped at the chance to make sure the ex-Death Eater isn't stirring trouble."

He knew she was getting irritated when her hands went to her hips and even though he couldn't see her feet, Draco could hear the tapping of her shoes on the floor.

"I was asked to volunteer for this job because it will expand my knowledgeable horizons both in the magical laws pertaining to 'in the know' Muggles and magical creatures. I know more about Muggle laws than you, and even though we're dealing with mostly magical situations, my understanding can't hurt anything. Together, we can pool our expertise and come up with variable solutions to problems that might coexist in such a complicated situation as this in an efficient and affable manner."

Everyone was staring at Granger as she glared at him. Her reasoning made sense but there was no way in hell he was admitting that to her.

Xander raised his hand. "Did anyone understand that?"

Draco rolled his eyes. "Bloody hell. She said that she knows about point A, I know about point B, and if something happens, we can get to point C without killing someone, which I doubt but am willing to go along with right now."

"If someone of us can control our childish impulses," Granger said, giving him a significant glance, "then I believe this can be the most beneficial relationship between the Council and the Ministry."

Willow looked over at Draco. "Does she know about the pixies too?"

He could do nothing but look up at the ceiling and pray for someone to pop out of the walls and Avada Kedavra him right on the spot, because that had to be better than anything that was coming.

"Pixies?" Granger asked, clearly confused. "There are pixies here? Don't tell me there's a doxie infestation."

"No," Draco replied with a long sigh. "They wanted to test my knowledge so I was asked about the pixie laws after sixteen hundred."

"Oh," she said with a nod. "A much harder question would have been to ask about the pixies before the twelve hundreds because of the translation problems, but the sheer amount of species discovery in the Ixie race alone is enough to keep anyone talking for hours."

Draco turned to Willow and gestured to Granger. "Does that answer your question?"

"You people must really like your pixies," Buffy muttered, shaking her head.

Granger just shook her head and turned to Mr. Giles. "I have been remiss in my introductions. My name is Hermione Granger. I work at the Ministry of Magic as a supervisor in Muggle Relations. It's a pleasure to meet you. Thank you for the opportunity."

She walked over to shake Mr. Giles' hand with a smile on her face. Of course she wouldn't get slammed into a wall. That right was apparently reserved for him only.

"Rupert Giles, the Head Watcher at the Council. It is very nice to meet you, Miss Granger."

"Oh, please, call me Hermione."

Mr. Giles smiled and nodded. "Rupert."

Draco rolled his eyes. "Oh, how delightfully disgusting."

Granger shot him a cool look. "Civility would not be remiss, Draco."

"Who the hell said you could call me Draco?" he asked, irritated that she had taken that liberty. Very few people got to call him Draco, and she sure as hell wasn't one of them. He was still angry that she had gotten the job when he much would have preferred someone who would do the dirty work for Draco instead of giving him more like Granger was bound to do.

"It is your name, isn't it?"

"And you suddenly go from hating me to being on a first name basis?" he asked, wondering if the craziness was catching.

"Civility, Draco. We'll be working together for a long time," Granger reasoned. "I believe my rooms are next to yours in fact."

He let out a loud laugh. "Like I said earlier, fuck this. I quit."

While everyone else at the table was both amazed and amused by their antics, panic started to show when he announced he was departing. Granger, ever the more knowledgeable, just shook her head. "Robards wouldn't let you leave, you know, although you've destroyed Ron's chances of a few extra galleons by staying alive this long. The pool at the Ministry has gotten quite large."

"Well, I'm so sorry I ruined Weasley's day," Draco said sarcastically. "I don't give a damn if Robards throws a pissy fit, either."

"Would you stop swearing?" Granger said, her facial expression becoming pinched. "You're in the presence of ladies and younger adults. You need to have a positive influence, or as much of a positive influence as you can have."

"I can't work with you! Your Gryffindor intentions are liable to rub off on me and then I might as well off myself and end the pool for good!"

Granger sighed, crossing her arms again. "I'd forgotten how dramatic you can be. It was amusing in school, but I don't know howthe other Slytherins put up with you."

"Not all of us can be a Golden Trio of friends."

"I'm the best you've got, Draco," she said, ignoring his attempts at insults at her friendship with Potter and Weasley. "Who would come? Corner, who is more interested in chasing skirt than doing his job? Or how about Savage who is better off to society sitting in the corner and drooling?"

"I would rather have them!" Draco snapped. "I could hex Corner repeatedly for thinking with his prick and keep Savage around for hedonistic amusement."

Granger rolled her eyes. "Tough luck. You're stuck with me, so get over yourself. I can be perfectly pleasant when not provoked."

Buffy looked between the two of them. "Why do I get the feeling that he's SOL?"

"Because he is," Granger replied. "Now, shall we reconvene tomorrow for a debriefing, Draco? I imagine you want to Floo your friends and seethe about what an injustice this situation is and the inconvenience this has brought upon you."

Draco didn't want to think of how well she had him pegged, but sneered at her instead. "Fine. You and I, at nine, tomorrow morning, in the library."

"With a candlestick," Buffy said, her eyes widening when everyone looked at her strangely. "And I said that out loud, didn't I?"

He just shook his head and started to leave the dining room. "If I manage to make it out of here with my sanity intact, it'll be a miracle."

.........

When they broke for lunch the next day, Draco was grudgingly admitting in his head, because there was no way in hell he'd say it out loud, that Granger knew what she was doing. They'd gone over the surface of what was needed for the Council to remain in England as an active training center for just over four hours, both of them arriving at the library at eight instead of nine in a chance to get a jump on each other. While Granger claimed she always got up early and wanted to examine the library, Draco knew she what she was really up to. He didn't trust Gryffindors.

Granger had excused herself a half hour ago and headed to the dining room where an informal lunch would be served, but he wasn't that hungry. He wanted to look at a few more parchments before he rested his eyes, but the words were starting to blur already.

Draco leaned back in his chair, tipping it to two legs. As he did, he rubbed his hands over his face. This was going to be a long, arduous procedure filled with the most miniscule legality process that bored even him.

"Hi Draco!"

He flailed for a moment but managed to tip his weight forward so he didn't rock backwards, crashing into the marble floor. When his heart stopped pounding out of his ribcage, he glared at Violet, who stood over him grinning. Her junior slayer Julienne was standing behind her, peering around Violet.

"Thank you for nearly giving me a heart attack. I've always wanted to die young," he said sarcastically.

"No problem." Violet sat down at the table and leafed through the open books. "How's it going? Things moving right along?"

"You'll die of old age before I finish," he replied dryly, shoving his parchments away from him. He then looked between her and Julienne, who flushed under the scrutiny. "What are you two doing here? Doesn't she have school?"

Julienne's flush deepened in anger. "She is standing right here, you know."

Draco just raised his eyebrow and looked to Violet, who grinned. "It's Friday. Fridays are always half days. Sometimes we have seminars in the afternoons as a group and sometimes we just have down time. Unless there's an apocalypse. Then we party on Saturday."

He was saved from commenting when Granger walked back in carrying a small plate covered with a napkin. She set it down in front of him and he used his wand to carefully lift one edge of the napkin to see underneath. Granger rolled her eyes and took her previous seat.

"I'm Hermione Granger. I met Julienne last night, but I haven't had the pleasure of meeting you," she said to Violet.

Draco looked up at his old schoolmate with a cautious look on his face. "What's in this?"

The slayer smiled and held out her hand. "I'm Vi, Jules' senior slayer sister. She's my little shadow. We were just coming to bug Draco and see how his first day as liaison was going."

"Oh, splendid," Granger said with a small smile.

"What kind of sandwich is this? Wait, is that tomato?" Draco asked, trying to get a closer look while the lunch was still under the napkin.

"While it's going to be hard, we have the building blocks in place. Once we get the structure set, it'll be the simple task of having each slayer fill out minimal paperwork to ensure they are protected from the Ministry's laws against Muggles when it comes to knowing about our world."

Violet nodded and Julienne finally sat down between the two women. "Yeah, Willow mentioned that there was a thin line because while she's technically a Muggle by your standards, she's a very powerful witch."

Draco glared between them, hating that they both seemed to become instant friends. "This is a tomato and cheese sandwich on my favorite type of bread."

"I know, and I was completely amazed when she gave me details last night!" Granger continued, ignoring Draco. "The magnitude of Willow's power is almost inconceivable but it's on a completely different scale than that of a wanded witch or wizard. While we have wands to stabilize us and say just a few short words, she has to use longer chants to get the same effects. The theory is rather intricate."

Draco was looking under the napkin again, still held up by his wand. "And that's fresh parmesan reggiano cheese with parsley in it."

He looked up and Violet was explaining in detail the feeling she felt when Willow activated the slayers with Julienne pitching in from time to time. This was much more important though.

"Oi!" he said loudly, rapping on the table with a thin book. Granger looked over at him, clearly perturbed at her conversation being interrupted.

"What is it, Draco? Can't you see I'm in the middle of an important conversation?"

"This is much more important," he said, waving her off and ignoring that she still had not called him by his last name, which is what he'd requested of her. She looked at him expectantly. "How did you know what my favorite sandwich is? No one likes this type of sandwich."

She rolled her eyes and turned back to Violet. "Anyway," she began and Draco huffed. He'd never done well if he was ignored-not when he was a child and certainly not now. To get her attention, he picked up a large book and held it up, opening it so the book was completely open and the spine was facing the ceiling. Draco dropped it to the floor, the loud thud resonating in the large library.

All three of the females jumped, but when Granger saw what happened to her precious book, her eyes widened comically. Draco barely resisted the urge to snicker.

"What on earth are you doing, Malfoy?"

He inwardly cheered that she'd finally dropped the cordial act, but settled his facial expression to project boredom with a hint of irritation. "I asked you a question, Granger. The polite, civil thing to do is answer it. Or are you above such a task when it is not you asking the questions?"

She glared fiercely at him as she floated the book back onto the table, running her hands softly over the injured spine. "I know your sandwich because when you actually ate in sixth year, that's all you ever consumed."

Draco leaned his chair on the hind legs as he slowly grinned. "Were you stalking me in school, Granger?"

His smile wavered at the droll look she sent him. "No, Harry did."

The chair legs slammed down on the floor loudly. Draco looked at her in horror. "He did what?" He stood up so quickly the chair toppled over, but he didn't care because all he was focused on was the fact that his school arch-nemesis was a stalker that was probably responsible for his missing socks in fifth year. A fully body shudder overtook him. "Potter stalked me?"

Since her wand was still out from floating the book off the ground, she used it to right his chair. "He was trying to discover what you were doing all of sixth year when you were always slinking about in the shadows. I had to listen to everything he observed about you that entire year, including your eating habits. Don't look into it."

That thought deflated him and he sunk into his chair, removing the napkin and exposing the sandwich. Draco wasn't sure which thought depressed him more-the remembrance of his horrid sixth year or the fact that Potter romantically stalking him was a better option and one that he preferred.

Then he snapped out of it and resisted the urge to rush to the bathroom and empty his stomach. When he looked up, Violet was looking at him in concern. "Are you okay?"

Granger just smirked. "Not such a bad thought in comparison, is it?"

Oh, he was going to have nightmares. "Shut up."

 


Part II

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