Buffy joined Dawn for her jog on Wednesday afternoon. She was a little puzzled by why Dawn insisted that they stop by the kitchen on the way out of the castle for some carrots though. It was obviously something Dawn did regularly, since a house-elf was waiting by the kitchen door with half a dozen of them ready for her.
Dawn just stuck the carrots into her pockets, and she and Buffy left the castle together.
“So you get the munchies during your jogs, now?” asked Buffy as they ran down beside the lake.
“Nope,” said Dawn. “They’re for a friend. I’m not sure if she’ll show up with you along though, she’s pretty shy.”
“You haven’t been following in Willow’s footsteps have you?” asked Buffy. “Is it a magic thing?”
Dawn laughed. “Not that sort of friend. You’ll see…I hope.”
They kept running, and Dawn caught up on the news from all the Sunnydale survivors. The group in Cleveland—which included Rona, Vi and Robin Wood as well as Faith, Xander and Andrew—had decided that Giles was pulling their legs when he had told them that there was a Hellmouth there. So far they had broken up a couple of fights among what turned out to really be a gang on PCP, but that was as close to a supernatural disturbance as they’d found.
They reached the paddock fence, and Buffy could see that Dawn was looking for something inside as they ran along it. She heard a distant crack and looked toward it. She saw a small deer-like animal running along on the other side of the fence, keeping pace with them but staying a good distance inside it.
Dawn slowed to a stop. “You better stay here,” she told Buffy. “Trei’s pretty shy.” She started to move toward the fence, a little way off from Buffy.
“Trei?” asked Buffy.
“That’s what I call her,” said Dawn. “Trei the Trivet.” She approached the fence, and leaned against it. Buffy watched the Trivet slowly move toward Dawn, while keeping a very nervous eye on Buffy.
“It’s okay, Trei,” said Dawn. “Buffy only Slays evil creatures. She won’t hurt you.”
Trei finally reached the fence, and Dawn gave her nose a rub, and fed her one of the carrots from her pocket. She started to feed her a second carrot.
“So that’s your friend?” asked Buffy.
“Yeah,” said Dawn. “Hagrid and I are the only ones she’ll let get this close. Want to see if she’ll let you?”
“Okay,” said Buffy. “What do I do?”
“I think you should just come this way slowly, and talk to her softly while you’re doing it. Don’t want her to think you’re trying to sneak up on her.”
“Alright.” Buffy started moving slowly toward the fence. “Hello Trei, I’m Buffy. So, have you seen any nasty vampires or other demons around here lately? What’s a nice little girl like you doing in a paddock like this?”
Buffy reached the fence and Dawn gave her a carrot. “Why don’t you see if she’ll take it from you?”
“Okay, so Trei, would you like another carrot?” Buffy slowly reached over the fence.
Trei vanished with a crack, and the echo of it seemed to come from about a hundred feet away. Buffy looked and saw the Trivet there, looking at her. “What just happened?”
“I guess she doesn’t trust you,” said Dawn. “She apparated.”
“Apparated…that’s like teleportation, right?” asked Buffy.
“Yep.” Dawn resumed her run along the fence. Trei followed along again, but this time she stayed farther away.
Buffy fell in beside Dawn. “Didn’t someone tell me that you couldn’t apparate on the Hogwarts grounds?” She looked toward the castle. “Or doesn’t that rule apply this far out.”
“That rule doesn’t apply to Trivets,” said Dawn. “No one has found a way to keep them from apparating that doesn’t involve physically tying them down.”
“Could be useful,” said Buffy.
“Not so much for the Trivets,” said Dawn. “People tried to use them so much they’re almost extinct. The ones that are still alive are pretty shy of people.”
“Maybe we shouldn’t be so friendly to her then,” said Buffy. “Wouldn’t want to make her too trusting.”
Dawn frowned. “I hadn’t thought of that. Hagrid didn’t seem to think it was a bad idea, me making friends with her. He’s the one who suggested the carrots.”
“I get the impression that Hagrid tends to be a little too trusting sometimes too,” said Buffy.
They kept running, with Trei following along inside the fence, but she didn’t approach it again, even when Dawn stopped at the far end and called to her, with Buffy keeping well back. When it became clear that Trei wasn’t going to come to her, Dawn took the rest of the carrots out of her pockets and threw them into the paddock so Trei could have them. Then Buffy and Dawn continued their run, going behind the castle and around to the Quidditch pitch.
When they got to the stands they saw the Gryffindor Quidditch team was playing a practice game. Rather than playing with the team against the reserves, Harry had them mixed up. He and the other team Chasers were playing with the reserve Beaters and Keeper, against the reserve Chasers with the team Beaters and Keeper. Dawn felt like she was becoming a Quidditch expert as she explained what was going on to Buffy.
Dean Thomas had the Quaffle. He was blocked by Lavender and Colin so he tried to pass it across to Natalie McDonald. He underestimated just how fast Harry could accelerate on his Firebolt though, and he darted between them and intercepted the pass. Trish Maat charged at Harry to try to force him to pass or drop the Quaffle, but he managed to dodge her, and was left with a nearly clear run to the other end of the pitch. He accelerated away down the field.
He wasn’t completely clear though. Jack and Andrew were racing after him. Andrew hit one of the Bludgers with his bat, sending it flying at Harry. Harry did a roll on his broom to evade it. Jack was in position on the other side of Harry and hit the Bludger back. This time Harry had to dodge to avoid it. Jack and Andrew managed to slow Harry down enough for Dean and Natalie to catch up with him. Harry saw that Colin was in the clear and passed the Quaffle to him.
Colin snatched the Quaffle out of the air and surged forward, closing on the goal hoops. Ron moved out to cut off his angle, and Colin passed the Quaffle across to Lavender who swooped toward the clear goal hoop. Ron reversed in an instant, moving to cut her off as she threw. He reached out and tipped the Quaffle with his hand, deflecting it enough to make it hit the goal ring, and bounce away.
Dawn and Buffy both applauded and cheered, though they weren’t sure if they were cheering for Lavender’s almost goal, or Ron’s save. There were about a dozen other people in the stands, watching the practice with them who were also cheering.
“This is a fun game,” said Buffy as she watched the teams regroup, and resume play. “I can see why Harry gets so excited about it.”
“It can get pretty brutal too,” said Dawn. “I understand that in actual games broken bones and things are not at all uncommon.”
“I can see how that could happen,” said Buffy. “Even in a practice like this, I wouldn’t want to take a hit from one of those Bludgers.” Her attention moved to Ginny and Lindsey, circling above the pitch. “Still don’t get the Seeker thing though.”
Ginny and Lindsey both dropped into dives at the same instant, accelerating down toward the melee of other players struggling for control of the Quaffle.
“Oh!” Dawn pointed toward a glint of gold near the ground. “There’s the Snitch!”
Lindsey chose to go around the mass of players from both teams, even though it was the longer route to the Snitch, hoping that the greater speed allowed by the lack of manoeuvring to avoid a collision would make up for the greater distance. Ginny barrelled straight through the centre of the group, zigging and zagging to avoid them.
Ginny and Lindsey were neck and neck once Ginny cleared the melee. Ginny’s faster broom let her start to pull ahead.
Jack hit a Bludger with his bat, sending it hurtling after Ginny. There didn’t seem to be any hope of her being able to see it coming up behind her, but she suddenly swerved aside, and the Bludger passed her by with inches to spare. Ginny returned to her pursuit of the Snitch, but dodging the Bludger had put Lindsey into the lead again, and closing rapidly on the Snitch.
Lindsey missed her attempt to snatch the Snitch, and Ginny was able to overtake her before she had another chance to try. Ginny’s hand flashed out—so fast that Buffy was the only one watching who was able to see it—and picked the Snitch out of the air.
“Okay,” said Buffy. “Once they actually get to do something, the Seeking thing gets exciting.”
“Once you get to know what’s going on, the Seekers aren’t quite as boring as they appear to be,” said Dawn. “There’s a lot of manoeuvring going on between them, always trying to get into a better position, and to fake the other Seeker out.”
Harry called an end to the practice. They just had time to get everything put away, and get back to the castle in time for dinner. Dawn and Buffy joined Harry, Ron and Ginny as they walked back toward the castle together.
“Hey, Buffy,” said Ron. “I hear you took fifty points off Malfoy today.”
“Yeah,” said Buffy. “He volunteered to be the curser in my demonstration of non-magical defence, and then he tried to curse me in the back. I was tempted to keep his wand, maybe wear it in my hair, after I took it away from him, but I hear that’s already been done, so I just took ten points off him. Then the little git tried to do it again. He’s a real slow learner.”
Buffy sat in on Professor Lupin’s Friday classes, and went with him to his office to talk with him about Ginny’s progress instead of joining Dawn for her afternoon run. This time Dawn cut away from the Forbidden Forest, about a hundred yards before she got to the paddock, thinking about what Buffy had said about it not being such a good idea to get Trei trusting people too much. She couldn’t help looking toward the fence though, and she could see the little Trivet was running along the inside of it, and looking toward her.
“I’m sorry Trei,” said Dawn softly. “But this is for your own good.” She forced herself to look away, and concentrated on her running.
Buffy stayed through the weekend, spending most of her time with Dawn, when she wasn’t working with Ginny. Dawn watched Buffy’s sessions with Ginny with a certain amount of trepidation: the challenge of having another Slayer to train against was really pushing Ginny’s abilities along. Dawn resigned herself to the fact that she would probably never again manage to beat Ginny in a bout.
Buffy moved Ginny on to lessons in striking her opponents, how to punch and kick, while blocking attacks against her, and always emphasizing the need for Ginny to control her strength: never to strike against her sparring partner hard enough to seriously injure her. For striking hard they had the punching bag and Oscar, which the room had restored for them.
Dawn’s friends all gathered in the Gryffindor common room on Sunday night to see Buffy off. Buffy dropped her bag in front of the fireplace and hugged her sister hard. “Have fun, study hard.”
“I will,” said Dawn. “When will you be back?”
“Probably not for a couple of months,” said Buffy. “After this, Giles and I are off on a world tour, checking in with the girls. Chao Ahn’s got a Watcher now who speaks Cantonese, and English, so we’re finally going to get to actually understand something she says.”
“You guys take care of yourselves,” said Dawn.
“We will.” Buffy let go of Dawn and hugged Ginny. “You have fun and study hard too.”
“I’ll try,” said Ginny.
Buffy surprised Harry by hugging him too. She whispered something in his ear that made the smile leave his face for a moment. When she let go of him he stepped back beside Dawn, but his arm didn’t go around her like it usually did when they were together these days.
“What did you say to him?” Dawn asked her sister.
Buffy just gave Dawn an evil grin. “Nothing you need to know about.” She smiled and turned to Ron and Hermione, who were standing with their arms around each other. “Bye guys! Take care of my sister.” She took a pinch of Floo powder and threw it into the fire. It turned green. “This is just weird,” Buffy picked up her bags, and stepped into the fire. “The Leaky Cauldron!” She vanished in a whirl of green flames.
Dawn looked at Harry. “What did she say to you?”
“Oh, nothing.” Harry’s arm finally went around her waist. “Just that she’d rip my arms off if I hurt you.” He kissed her. “Not that I was ever planning on doing anything like that.”
Dawn bypassed the paddock on Monday’s run too. She was running along the grassy path that led around the back side of the castle when she heard a loud crack right behind her. She knew the sound well, but it still startled her. She stopped and turned around. “Trei, go away! Shoo!”
The little Trivet just cocked her head at Dawn and looked puzzled. Dawn tried to put some anger into her voice. “Scat!” She clapped her hands. “Get lost! Go!”
Trei continued to look puzzled. Dawn sighed and dropped down onto her knees on the grass. “Oh, I can’t fool you, can I?” She reached out and scratched Trei’s ears. “You know I’ve missed you too, but this really is for your own good.”
Trei vanished, disapparating right out from under Dawn’s hand. At first she was startled, and thought that maybe Trei had understood her, but she soon heard the sound of voices coming down the path toward her. Dawn got up and resumed her run. She waved to a couple of fifth year Hufflepuff students she didn’t really know as she passed them. There was another crack as soon as they were out of sight again, and Trei was running along beside her.
“Well, okay,” said Dawn. “I guess you can run with me, as long as you keep disappearing when anyone else comes along.”
|Chapter 32: Guest Lecturer||Contents||Chapter 34: The DA|