"Buffy, really, couldn't you at least attempt to come up with a better excuse to avoid working?" Giles asked the blond slayer, smiling when she stuck her tongue out at him. "Excellent display of the maturity you're always claiming you possess."
"Don't throw that, Buffy," Willow warned with a smile, "we just finished inventory and I'd hate to have to go back and change the numbers."
"Please, Will? I'll be your best friend," Buffy smiled charmingly at the redhead before glaring at Giles.
"You're already my best friend so just put it down," Willow laughed.
"Fine," Buffy grumbled as she put the glass vase down and told Giles, "You should be more appreciative of the fact that I am spending the first weeks of my summer vacation helping you get this store ready to open! I could be laying around the beach with Riley and enjoying the sun, but, no, I'm nice enough to agree to help my former watcher stock and clean this dusty old magic store because it is important to you."
"Doesn't hurt that there's that kick ass back room for training," Faith added, smiling at the people that had become her friends during the past months since she'd woken from a coma. It hadn't been easy, earning their trust and eventual friendship, but she'd been determined to make up for her actions the previous year, helping them defeat that ADAM guy and securing her a permanent spot in the Scooby gang.
"Faith! Shhh. I'm trying to make him feel guilty for making fun of me. It doesn't work when you tell him the real reason I'm helping," Buffy smiled at the brunette slayer, still finding it amazing after seven months that they had become friends.
"Buffy, this is Giles we're talking about. Do you really think he isn't observant enough to notice the particular interest you have in the back room not to mention failing to hear the many conversations you've had discussing where all the equipment can go?" Willow asked with a roll of her eyes.
"Yeah, Buff, Giles is like smart guy," Xander piped up, "he knows you're lying about the dust allergy because you're as sick of cleaning as we are."
"If you would quit standing around and conversing, we might actually finish the cleaning today," Anya muttered with a scowl as she finished wiping down merchandise.
"I can so see why Giles is hiring her as a customer service rep," Faith smirked, "she's just so friendly!"
"Anya's right. Why don't we clean as we talk?" Willow suggested with a slight smile in the former demon's direction before looking at Faith and Buffy, "We should be able to finish up all dusting today. That only leaves final stocking and product placement. The Magic Box should be ready to open by mid-July, as planned."
"Man, we're good," Buffy said as she looked around, "Considering Giles didn't get this big idea until three weeks ago, it's amazing how fast it all went."
"I am deeply grateful for all of your assistance in my project," Giles smiled at the group, "and I shall repay you by purchasing pizza for dinner this evening."
"Kick ass!" Xander smiled, "I want a large supreme for myself. Man, dusting is a lot more fun when you know food is waiting for you."
"Hey, G-man," Faith suddenly spoke up, a puzzled expression on her face as she pointed at the front doors, "There's an owl standing by the door. That is an owl, isn't it?"
"An owl?" Giles' smile faded as alarm flashed in his eyes. He moved to the doors, knowing only one person who would be sending him an owl. He unlocked the doors, watching as the light brown owl flew into the room and landed on the counter beside Willow. He locked the doors back and walked to the owl, curious why he was being contacted.
"Aren't you a pretty thing," Willow told the owl, petting its head and taking the envelope from its foot. She glanced at it, looking at Giles as she said, "This is weird. It says it to you, but it's addressed to back office at The Magic Box. We don't even have the sign up yet."
"That confirms who must have sent it," Giles muttered as he took the envelope from the pretty redhead. He opened it and read, cursing softly as he finished.
"There was cursing," Faith whispered to Buffy. "Giles cursing is never good. I'm thinking that it must not be good news."
"And here I thought that when a letter arrived by way of an OWL!" Buffy rolled her eyes, looking at her watcher and asking, "What's wrong, Giles? Is it bad news?"
"Not really," Giles sighed, making a face. He looked up and saw the group watching him, "It's from an old friend, the headmaster of the school I attended during my early youth."
"What's he want? And hasn't he heard of the modern mailing system? The owl is very pretty but it's a little eccentric to send mail that way," Willow said intrigued by why Giles' former headmaster would be contacting him at all, and especially in such a strange way.
"The wizarding community uses owls," Giles remarked, hearing their surprised gasps as he admitted, "I attended a school for wizards and witches called Hogwarts. Albus Dumbledore is the Headmaster of the school. He became a good friend to me after my experiences at uni with Ethan and the others. He assisted me in changing my path, away from the dark arts and towards a more fulfilling calling as a watcher. I owe him tremendously. He has now called upon me to repay my debt by asking me a favor."
"There are schools for wizards?" Willow asked in surprise, "Why didn't we know that?"
"It's a very secretive community, Willow. They have their own rules and, honestly, it has never struck me as being necessary to mention their existence," Giles replied.
"Okay, so you're a wizard. Well, we already kind of knew that," Buffy said, smiling as she had to ask, "Did you have one of those pointed hats and a wand?"
"I've heard of Hogwarts," Anya spoke up, "I've also heard of Headmaster Dumbledore. He's been around a long time. If he's asking a favor of you, it must be pretty important."
"What's the sitch?" Faith asked the watcher.
"It appears that there is a war happening in the wizarding community," Giles sighed, running a hand over his face as he continued, "Albus has asked if he can send two wizards to Sunnydale for protection from the Dark Lord. These wizards are very important to the Ministry and he would like to hide them until the time is right for the Final Battle, at which time they will return to the fight and, hopefully, defeat Voldemort."
"Wizards, huh? That's kind of cool," Buffy said slowly, not sure if she wanted the responsibility of protecting two important members of the fight against the bad evil guy. They'd just defeated ADAM and had been hoping for a quiet summer. Spike had left a month ago, shortly after the battle, going to LA to stay with Angel and getting out of her hair, for which she was grateful. Everything was relatively calm and now this Dumbledore guy wanted to send a couple of wizards to town.
"What's the risk?" Willow asked quietly, not wanting to refuse the request to keep the good guys safe but wanting to know exactly what was ahead of them if they agreed.
"Actually, there is no real risk," Giles said honestly, "The Hellmouth, itself, acts as a shield and would keep their location secure from anyone attempting to locate them. It sounds as if Albus wishes for them to come here as a way to relax and gather their strength for the Final Battle that he feels will be approaching before the end of the summer."
"So it would just be babysitting a couple of old wizards?" Faith asked.
"I would not phrase it quite that way, but, yes, it would be allowing them to remain here with us and keeping them safe from the dangers of the Hellmouth until they were called home to fight," Giles had to smile at the idea of babysitting two powerful wizards, knowing that whomever the wizards were, they would not appreciate such a statement.
"There's not a risk of this Voldemort guy following them here and trying to get rid of two of his enemies?" Buffy asked, finding it very weird that these guys would be sent to a Hellmouth of all places for protection, but she guessed it made since in a strange way.
"Albus does not believe that is a risk, and he has a way of knowing things so I would trust his opinion in the matter," Giles assured the blond slayer.
"Cool," Xander smiled, "Are these wizard guys like all old and wear robes and pointed hats and stuff?"
"I would not know," Giles muttered, before glancing at Willow and saying, "There is one other important issue to discuss."
"They can stay with me," the redhead smiled, having anticipated the question as soon as she dealt with the news that two wizards were coming to town, knowing she was the only person with enough space to welcome them as guests, "I've got one other spare room and one can stay in my parent's room. They're in Philadelphia for the next six months so it's empty."
"Thank you, Willow," Giles smiled at the redhead.
"No problem. I'm interested to meet a couple of real wizards. Maybe they can teach me some spells or something," Willow said excitedly. "That would be really nice. I'd love to hear about their world, since someone never told me it even existed!"
"I do apologize for that omission," Giles smiled sheepishly, "Is it agreed then? The two wizards can come to town and stay with Willow until they are needed for their fight?"
"Sounds like fun," Faith said, "I've never met a wizard before, except for you, I guess. Do they wear tweed? Cause, ya know, I'm just not sure about sharing a house with two old guys wearing tweed."
"I sincerely doubt they wear tweed," Giles rolled his eyes, "Buffy, what say you?"
"Me says sure, why not," Buffy smiled, "it was going to be a boring summer anyway, why not add two old geezers to the group who can work their magicky stuff if needed and maybe allow me some more time for Riley and the beach."
"Entirely selfless motivation, Buffy," Willow laughed, telling Giles, "I think that your friend wouldn't have asked if he didn't feel it was important so I'm all for it. Besides, I'd love to learn from them."
"They can come stay," Xander spoke up, "though I'm not sure why a Hellmouth would be considered safe, but, hey, maybe wizards are a little strange. Oh, um, no offense, Giles. You're cool."
"Thank you," Giles said dryly, thinking that Albus had made an excellent decision to send them to the Hellmouth. They would be safe from the threat of the Dark Wizard, though they would be in the normal dangers from Sunnydale, and it would give the wizards an opportunity to prepare for the final battle in the war. He wondered why he had not heard of the War before now, knowing that he had not kept in touch with any of his old contacts but still surprised that such news would not have at least reached the Council. Judging from Albus' letter, it had been years of battling Voldemort, a name that was not unfamiliar to Rupert Giles. He had heard of an uprising decades ago, believing the threat had been diminished.
"We can make them assist us in preparing the store so that we can open earlier than planned and begin making money," Anya decided with a smile, "Yes, definitely write and tell them to come."
"I shall," Giles said as he went into his office and sat down, preparing a response to Albus. He agreed to allow the two wizards to come visit, promising that he would keep them safe from the Hellmouth so that they could return when called and defeat the dark wizard. Once he was satisfied with his response, he went to the owl and handed over his response. Unlocking the doors, he watched as the owl flew away. Turning to face the others, he smiled, "Let's take a break and get some pizza."
"Great," Xander said as he tossed down the rag and took Anya's hand.
"When do you think the wizards will arrive?" Buffy asked her watcher as they left the store and started to walk towards the pizza parlor.
"Albus stated that he would be sending them the traditional muggle way, so it could be several days," Giles replied.
"Muggle? What's a muggle?" Willow asked curiously. She was dying to know everything about this wizarding world, a bit annoyed that there was such a place and she didn't know about it. She was research girl, and a budding witch, so it surprised her that she'd not come across any reference to it in her studies.
"I'll explain a little over dinner," Giles smiled at the redhead, seeing the curiosity in her green eyes. "Their world is very different from ours, to say the least. I will try to find a book for you in my personal collection that may answer some of your questions, Willow."
"Aren't you part of their world, since you went to their school and all?" Willow asked, watching as her friends walked ahead of them, not surprised that they didn't really care about the background to the upcoming guests. Faith hung back, the slayer having become a good friend to the redhead since they moved in together, and always a bit curious herself.
"I am a wizard, pureblood actually, but I chose to live in the muggle world, to use my power for the benefit of the slayer and the council, as my parents did. I could go back, I assume, but it is no longer my life. I moved away from that community when I left Hogwarts and joined uni, befriending Ethan, tainting my blood with the darkest magics. I believe you will learn a lot from the wizards, Willow," Giles smiled at the budding witch, knowing she had a true gift for magic and that she would benefit greatly from the arrival of the wizards. "Albus stated in his correspondence that they are the hope of the wizarding community, not a statement to be taken lightly. They must be extremely skilled and powerful to be such a threat to the dark wizard. Albus said that their visit here was of vital importance to the future of the wizarding community though Dumbledore has always been a bit of a dramatic. He seems fond of them, leading me to believe they must be old acquaintances of the Headmaster. Willow, I believe that you will learn a lot from observing and asking questions, focusing on their power and maturity. Now, let's go eat some pizza."
"I'm not spending the summer with him! I refuse to even consider such a ridiculous idea!"
Albus Dumbledore resisted the urge to sigh as he looked from the face of the blond wizard to the face of the black haired wizard. Both were glaring at each other, their animosity evident to anyone with eyes. "Mr. Malfoy, the decision has been made."
"Well, unmake it then," Draco Malfoy suggested with a smirk.
"I do not see the point in forcing me to spend months with this wanker," Harry Potter muttered, feeling a bit guilty for questioning Dumbledore's decision but not able to pretend that he was fine with it.
"I have explained everything to both of you," Albus said patiently. "It is for your safety that I have made this choice."
"I am no longer a student at this school," Draco pointed out dryly, his gray eyes flashing with annoyance as he said, "that means I do not have to obey you."
"If you wish to survive this War, you will both hold your tongues and listen!" Albus said sharply, seeing the surprise in their eyes at his rare display of temper. He smiled sweetly, knowing such a thing would be the only way to get them to listen. "Voldemort is weak. He must know that the Ministry is preparing a fatal attack. He will be planning to destroy his greatest threats, a short list of which you two stand at the top. It has taken much planning to find a solution to insure your safety into the planned attack on Voldemort. I have already secured Miss. Granger and Mr. Weasley. They are protected for the new couple of months while the final attack is prepared. They had no complaints."
"Hermione and Ron are okay?" Harry sighed with relief. There had been a big fight following the leaving feast a few weeks earlier, the reason they were now being sent off for safety. He hated it, the idea of running and hiding, of letting Voldemort believe he was scared. And he really hated the idea of spending the new months with Malfoy, a man that he owed his life to but that he did not dare call friend.
"They are fine," Albus nodded, seeing Draco rolling his eyes.
"Of course they're fine. Can't very well jeopardize the Golden Trio, can we?" Draco snarled, "What I don't understand is why I am being forced to endure the company of Scarhead since I am not part of his happy little group of followers."
"Voldemort wants you dead," Albus said simply.
"I knew I shouldn't have saved your skinny arse," Draco muttered as he glared at Harry, "It's all your fault. If I hadn't had to save you, I wouldn't be here now."
"Yes, you would," Albus spoke up, "You are part of this, Draco. Whether you like it or not, you made your choice following your Father's death and there is no one to blame except yourself. By saving Harry during the last battle, you merely proved your value to our side, thus making you even more threatening to Voldemort."
"Malfoy, get over it. You're a good guy, as much as you loathe to admit it, and it would appear that we're stuck together until we defeat Voldemort. Dumbledore, what is this plan of yours?" Harry asked quietly, his voice resigned as he waited to hear what the Headmaster said.
"I would like it noted that I am agreeing to this ridiculous plan under protest and that I am not at all pleased with the situation," Draco said angrily, knowing that they were right. It was his fault. He'd never been fond of the idea of following Voldemort, but had never really questioned his future, knowing he'd been expected to become a Death Eater and follow the Dark Lord because that was what his Father wished. If he'd refused, he would have been killed. So, it was a choice between becoming a Death Eater upon leaving school, as much as the idea disgusted him, or being dead. Draco Malfoy was a very intelligent wizard so the decision had been quite clear. Then, a year ago, his Father had been killed by Voldemort.
He did not know why, though there were rumors that his Father had either threatened the Dark Lord's position or that he had turned against Voldemort. Draco didn't care what had happened or why, he'd only cared that his Father was dead. They'd never been a loving family, his Father a right miserable bastard most of the time, but he had loved his Father. With Lucius' death, his choice changed. He could either become a Death Eater and follow a wizard that he despised or he could join the other side and help kill the man that had killed his Father. Again, that choice had not been difficult. He'd gone to Albus immediately, stating his intentions to bring down Voldemort. During the battle after the leaving feast recently, he'd actually saved Potter from being captured. He found it rather amusing that he'd saved the Boy Who Lived, taking great pleasure in reminding the bane of his existence that he was indebted to him whenever possible. That did not mean, however, that he wanted to spend an unspecified amount of time with the irritating prat.
"Your objection is duly noted," Albus said with a slight twinkle in his eyes. Good, good, they'd quit arguing. It was very important that both of them went to Sunnydale, the future of the wizarding community in these boys' hands. He slowly smiled, knowing now that everything would be as it should. By the end of summer, Voldemort would be destroyed. He did not get confident, knowing all too well that the future was not certain, but he believed that it was finally about to be over.
"Where are you sending us?" Draco asked, a bit curious despite himself. He was being forced into hiding, he at least hoped it was somewhere interesting.
"To stay with an old friend of mine. You will be safe from Voldemort, and I shall be the only person who is aware of your location," Albus explained. "I have arranged for tickets on an aeroplane to take you to your destination. You will be allowed to take your wands because your destination will properly shield their use, but you will travel as a muggle to prevent Voldemort from locating you before you arrive."
"Where is it we're going?" Harry asked, having seen the grimace cross Draco's face at the idea of acting as a muggle for any reason, even his own safety. Arrogant pureblood snot, Harry rolled his eyes, wondering how he would survive weeks with only Malfoy for company, hoping that Dumbledore's friend was friendly and could provide pleasant conversation.
"America, Harry," Dumbledore smiled, "Sunnydale, California, to be exact. You will be guests of an old friend of mine, Rupert Giles. He expects you by the end of the week."
"The end of the week?" Harry repeated, "That's five days."
"Did I not explain that you will be traveling as muggles?" Albus asked with a twinkle in his eyes. "You can not take the train to London because it may be watched by Voldemort. I have arranged for an automobile to carry the two of you to London, where you will catch your aeroplane to America. The journey will take several days."
"This just keeps getting worse," Draco cursed, glaring at the Headmaster. "I have never traveled like a muggle and I have no intention of lowering myself to such plebian means of getting around. An automobile? An aeroplane? Ridiculous!"
"Automobile travel is rather pleasurable," Harry commented, "but I have never flown before. Will we travel directly to this Sunnydale place?"
"No, you will have what they call a stop over in New York City. At that time, you will then board the aeroplane to take you to Sunnydale. Well, it is not exactly Sunnydale but it is not a far distance from the town where you will live for the summer. Rupert will meet you and take you to Sunnydale. You need to prepare your luggage. You must leave Hogwarts soon. I have prepared a spell that will cloak you until you have boarded the aeroplane in London to conceal your presence from Voldemort, if is he searching for you. Once you reach America, be careful not to use your wands until you reach Sunnydale. I believe you will be hidden from Voldemort at that distance, but it is, how do they say, better safe than sorry?" Albus smiled as he stood and went to the door.
"You really expect us to travel as muggles?" Draco stared at the headmaster with a mixture of dread and surprise.
"Draco, I fully expect you to live as muggles during the next few weeks," Albus replied. "You will be protected from the danger of Voldemort, and I wish for you to use this time to rest and prepare for the Final Battle which I believe shall happen before the end of the summer."
"I just do not understand why we are being sent halfway around the world when Voldemort is becoming such a threat," Draco muttered, wondering if they were being punished for some reason. Why else would they be forced to travel as muggles and live as muggles?
"I hate to say it, but Draco has a point," Harry spoke up, "Should we not remain here so that we are ready to fight when the time comes?"
"My dear Harry and Draco, you will be here to fight when it is necessary," Albus said slowly, wondering why they had to be so bloody stubborn. "Think of this as a vacation, if you must. An opportunity to spend a few weeks without worry and fear."
"If it is a vacation, I would prefer going to a muggle free island somewhere," Draco smirked.
"Enough," Albus said sharply, staring intently at both of the young men, "It is vitally important that the two of you go to Sunnydale. The future of the wizarding community rests upon your shoulders, boys. I will have no more complaints or questions or doubts. Is that understood?"
"Yes, sir," two voices replied, not at all happy about the decision but also rather curious about his cryptic statements.
"Good. Now go to your rooms and prepare your luggage. You have one hour until we leave to meet the automobile that will safely carry you to London," Albus said as he opened the door and dismissed them.
Harry followed Draco into the hallway, the two wizards looking at each other before he finally spoke, "I don't like you, Malfoy."
"And I do not like you," Draco sneered, "Do you have a point, Potter?"
"A truce," Harry said finally, grimacing as he said the word.
"Scarhead wants to form a truce?" Draco rolled his eyes, "Whatever for? We do fight on the same side, if you haven't forgotten, and we have not yet allowed our mutual dislike of the other to interfere during our battles with Voldemort. Why, then, would I lower myself into agreeing to a truce with you?"
"I am a pureblood, too, Malfoy, so you can stop the dramatics," Harry glared at the arrogant blond, "I don't want us to be friends, but I do think we should agree to try to get along for the sake of Dumbledore's friend who has agreed to hide us until we are needed here."
"I hate the word hide," Draco frowned as he looked away from Harry, "I resent the implication that we are scared of that bastard Voldemort and I hate the idea of seeming weak or cowardly by running off to America."
"Me too," Harry had to agree, exchanging a look of understanding with Draco. He shrugged, "I trust Dumbledore, though, and he seems to think it is very important that we take this break from fighting. Personally, I do not see any great threat from the Dark Lord, and I feel as if that is merely an excuse to get us to this Sunnydale place. I have no idea why, but it would seem as if we are supposed to go there for some reason."
"I do not trust anyone," Draco said slowly, "but I admit that the idea occurred to me, too. He seems intent on getting us away from Hogwarts and to this friend of his. Perhaps we are meant to learn new skills from this Giles fellow? I am not familiar with a wizarding family with that name, but it would not be all too surprising for us to arrive and find out that Dumbledore has arranged for us to train for the battle."
"I honestly hadn't thought of that," Harry grudgingly admitted, "but it is a very good idea."
"Don't look so surprised, Potter," Draco smirked, "After all, I did leave Hogwarts with the highest ranking from our class, even beating your precious Granger. I did not earn my marks because of my name, no matter what you choose to believe."
"Hermione was bloody well pissed when you beat her," Harry smiled slightly, before he sighed and asked, "Truce?"
Draco looked at the hand that was being held out in front of him, a thoughtful gleam in his gray eyes as he debated his options. He could agree to this truce, and hope he was right in expecting some kind of training to await them in this Sunnydale place, or he could refuse and spend what could be the last days of his life hating Potter and learning nothing. With a grimace, he shook Harry's hand and muttered, "Truce."
"We're going to die," Draco muttered as he felt the plane start to shake and move in a manner that he did not believe could possibly be proper.
"No, we are not," Harry said somewhat weakly. This was his first time in an airplane, but he saw the other passengers and they all appeared calm.
"How would you know, Potter?" Draco asked as he gripped the sides of his seat so tightly that his knuckles were white. He was not having a good day. In fact, he would go so far as saying that the last two days were some of the worst of his eighteen years. And that comparison included the numerous sessions with his Father to test his mettle against various curses and hexes as well as the numerous battles against Voldemort's supporters since he'd actively joined the fight on Dumbledore's side. He refused to think of himself as a good guy, finding the title trite and ridiculous. He was a Malfoy, a Pureblood wizard, and he did not have any affection in particular for muggles or mudbloods. Calling himself a good guy because he had the sense to realize that Voldemort was crazy was rather silly, in his opinion.
He'd examined both sides of the war, deciding at an early age that he did not wish to become a mindless follower of the Dark Lord. Any respect that he may have ever been able to feel for Voldemort quickly disappeared as he saw the wizard defeated time and again by Harry Potter, the annoying Gryffindor who was a mere child. If the Dark Lord could be defeated by a boy, well, Draco had no wish to blindly follow such a wizard to what would certainly be his own death. He'd remained silent and played the part that was expected of him, Slytherin son of a Death Eater, giving no one around any idea that he would choose Dumbledore's side when the time came. As it was, with his Father's death at the hands of Voldemort, the time had come a bit earlier than expected. He wasn't overly upset, rather enjoying taking an active role in the war. He'd surprised a lot of people with his choice, a smug smile crossing his handsome face as he remembered the uproar his decision had caused. He did enjoy being unpredictable. The plane moved again, the smile fading as his face paled even more than usual.
"I just know," Harry remarked as he looked out the window, watching as the plane moved down the runway. "I've seen it in a movie once, a muggle movie when I was younger. It seems the plane always reacts this way when it is taking off."
"I do not like it," Draco declared with a scowl. "I also do not understand why we're being forced to travel in such a common manner, like muggles on summer vacation or some other nonsense."
"You heard Dumbledore, Malfoy," Harry sighed as he looked away from the window, a slight smile crossing his face as he saw Draco's pale face and the way the wizard was holding on to the chair as if he expected to die at any moment. He had rarely seen Malfoy display fear during the seven years they'd attended Hogwarts, not even when faced with Death Eaters or other rather frightening events. He had to admit that it was rather comforting to see that Draco was human after all. The blond wizard might be on their side against Voldemort, but he was still the same annoying prat he'd always been. Draco was unfriendly, rude, sneering, sarcastic, detached, and arrogant. Unfortunately, he was also cunning, intelligent, logical, brave, quick thinking, and a damn powerful wizard, though Harry would never admit that aloud. Harry couldn't stand the obnoxious Slytherin, but he did respect and trust him and was grudgingly grateful that Draco was on their side.
"What was that?" Draco asked softly, feeling the plane shift again, nearly jumping from his seat. Worried gray eyes looked at Harry, "Are we crashing?"
"I believe the wheels came up since we're now in the air," Harry smiled as he pointed out the window, "See? We're flying."
"Bloody hell," Draco whispered as he leaned across Harry to look out the window, his eyes scanning the horizon as he looked down at muggle London.
"Rather amazing, huh?" Harry smiled crookedly as he looked at the same view, finding it unbelievable that they were flying above London.
"Yes, well, it's okay," Draco hurriedly said as he sat back up, not wanting Potter to know that he'd found the view breathtaking. He shrugged, "I've seen better."
"We're going to fly across the ocean and land in New York," Harry told Draco as he looked at his notes from Dumbledore, "there, we catch a different flight to California."
"I am going to sit by the window when we change planes," Draco informed Harry. He'd never been to America before, his Father not having a high opinion of the country. In fact, Americans ranked as low as muggles and mudbloods on Lucius Malfoy's list. And here he was flying like a muggle to a country his Father hated to stay with muggles for a vacation of sorts before returning to help Potter and the others defeat Voldemort.
"What do you suppose this friend of Dumbledore's is like?" Harry asked curiously, able to relax now that the plane was calm and not making such strange noises.
"Hopefully not a crazy old bat like Dumbledore," Draco smirked before he gave the question serious thought. "I still believe that we are being sent away because we are to learn something from this Giles person to aid us against the Dark Lord. Dumbledore is rather crafty and it would not surprise me at all if this vacation, as he called it, was his way of forcing us to work together in such strange circumstances as well as giving us knowledge that he felt would be useful in the future."
"Dumbledore is not crazy," Harry defended automatically, "he is wise and intelligent and I trust him completely. I believe you are overly paranoid, Malfoy, wanting to believe ulterior motives in even the most simple actions. He may honestly have wished for us to have a break so that we would be better prepared to face Voldemort when the Ministry is ready to attack. He did also mention sending Hermione and Ron away for protection and a period of rest."
"I still believe there is far more to it than that weak explanation," Draco insisted, arching a golden brow as he reminded, "he said several times during his discussion with us that it was vitally important that we both go to this Sunnydale place and meet this Giles person. Why would he consider a brief vacation as being that important? And why would he feel it necessary to send the two of us to the same location? Your silly friends were not sent away together so why did he feel inclined to force us to accompany each other? I do trust Dumbledore, but that does not mean that I will not question his actions and attempt to solve the mystery."
"I think that you enjoy solving puzzles and thinking too much, Malfoy," Harry decided, "but you've made some valid points and I must admit that I am now even more anxious to get to Sunnydale and find out if you are correct in your assumptions. I, for one, would not mind a break, no matter how brief, from fighting Voldemort. It seems as if I've done nothing else for seven years, losing people that I care about and endangering anyone that remains close to me, and I'd appreciate a chance to relax and perhaps enjoy myself before returning to face what may very well be my death."
"Do you suppose you will die facing Voldemort?" Draco asked curiously, a bit surprised that Harry was sharing such personal information with him but deciding to ask a question that he'd often wondered.
"I don't know, Malfoy," Harry sighed, moving his hand over his face, "I will die if necessary to defeat that bastard. I'm not scared of dying, though I do hope that I survive the final fight and live to see another day. What about you?"
"I'm not afraid of dying," Draco said sincerely, his lips curving into a smirk as he added, "Of course, I have no plans of leaving this world until I've lived a full life. Fallen in love, had a manor full of children to carry on the Malfoy name, seen Snape finally become the DADA Professor, seen you faint when your wife has your first child, and a variety of other important goals."
"Really?" Harry smiled slowly, his green eyes flashing with amusement at Draco's subtle way of telling him he thought he'd survive the battle against Voldemort. Wouldn't do for Draco to actually offer words of support, no that wasn't Malfoy's style. Harry tried to keep from laughing as he said solemnly, "You do expect to live forever, don't you, Malfoy?"
"Why do you say that, Potter?" Draco asked with a smug smile as he leaned back in the airplane seat and made himself comfortable, deciding that spending the break with Potter might not be as torturous as he'd first thought.
Harry laughed as he sat back, "Not planning on dying until Snape becomes a DADA Professor is certainly a long-term goal, Malfoy."