Summary: It's a wizarding Christmas with the newest addition to the Scooby family.

The Children are Our Future

December 25, 2017

Xander would admit, it was kind of cool to be staying at a castle for Christmas, especially since their current Christmas tree would never have fit in the place they had in Cleveland. It towered a good twenty feet high, still a bright green color, a star as its topper, and its trunk disappearing through the stone floor, since Willow insisted its sacrifice really wasn't necessary. Honestly, he didn't care, so long as he didn't have to cut down and haul the massive evergreen. Though he hoped Will planned to use the same magic to get it back to wherever it belonged...He had enough issues with the pet owl without giving him his own inside tree to perch in.

He sipped at his eggnog, watching the dozens of tiny gold lights dart between the tree's branches and around the ornaments, chasing one another playfully. Behind it, the fireplace was alive, casting a warm glow over the spacious room.

"Is it just me, or do holidays get longer and longer each year?" Xander asked, sure to keep his voice down.

Dawn chuckled against his shoulder and wiggled, snuggling even closer.

"Don't let Willow hear you say that. Or Buffy. This is may be the only day she gets out of bed this early. And you know, it's not a bad idea, letting the kids see all the different festivals of light their family celebrate. Tara loved learning about Hanukkah, and Jesse was the one who insisted we burn a Yule log this year."

"Fire bug," Xander said, with a smirk. "And I love how you're pretending this is all for the education of the children and has nothing to do with having nearly a month of food and parties."

"And gifts," Dawn chirped. "Love me some gifts."

And there were definitely gifts. Lots of gifts. Xander honestly couldn't remember ever seeing that many when he was a kid.

"So I thought you gave the elves the holidays off?" Buffy squished into the sofa seat next to Dawn, nursing a steaming mug between her hands. "Because, in case you guys didn't realize this, I didn't cook the brunch that's sitting on the dining room table. And since it looks edible, I'm guessing Dawnie didn't cook it either."

Dawn rolled her eyes. "Xander has been trying to convince the elves to take a vacation for months, but apparently, this is a vacation for them. We even had cups of eggnog on our bedside tables when we woke up this morning, so they're full of even more work ethic than usual."

Xander frowned down at his cup. "I thought you'd left that for me...I don't know how I feel about elves watching me sleep, but this does explain how my drink keeps refilling itself."

Dawn and Buffy shared a look, then shrugged.

"So, between me leaving for coffee and coming back, all the children have disappeared." Buffy raised her head, looking around the tree to confirm she was correct. All that was left in their wake were boxes and wrapping paper. "Please tell me you guys haven't lost your children again."

"Nah," Dawn answered. "Joy, Jesse, and Tara are outside, sending Christmas gifts to their friends. Oh, and apparently, we've all been invited over to the Potters' New Years celebration. Friends who slay together, stay together, holds true at magic school too... We had to request extra owl service for today, which was kind of costly, and I never thought those words would leave my mouth. Good to know I can still be surprised by my own life."

"We are not boring people," Xander agreed. "Just ask the things that are lighting our Christmas tree. And the Head Auror. Seriously, ask him, honey, because he hasn't met you and doesn't realize you're as big a lunatic as the rest of us."

"Holiday tree," Dawn corrected, but didn't comment otherwise.

"Alright, so the opinion of the famous Harry Potter aside," Buffy interrupted, "Joy, Jesse, and Tara are outside. Then you've only lost your newest addition?"

Xander sat up straight, eye widening when he noticed the empty basinet. "Oh God...Dawn, where's Hope? I thought you had her last!"

Dawn chuckled, pushing him back down into his seat. "Will won the last game of 'pass the baby'. Calm down."

Buffy made a face. "Ah. So diaper changing. It's not fair that she gets to use magic for that."

"Amen, sister-in-law," Xander said, then let out a breath of relief. "And also, quit scaring me with the 'you lost your kid' jokes, Buff. Not funny. And it only happened one time."

"Two times."

"It only happened two times," Xander said. "And there was a spell involved the second time, so that's not my fault."

"Your kid was the one who did the spell," Buffy reminded. "So, genetically, your fault."

"Accidentally," Xander said, "Jesse accidentally did that spell...Which wasn't half as terrifying as Joy's little confirmation of magic when she was six. Who panics in first grade and makes a spider bigger? I mean, really, that had to have been entirely Dawn's influence."

"Darn tootin'," Dawn agreed. "That teacher she had was a butthead and poking fun of her in front of the other students...and had a very well known phobia."

Buffy raised a brow. "Terrifying," she agreed. "Another Dawn in the world."

"Project Morning Poop was a success," Willow called from the stairwell. She stepped back into the holiday hall, still in her fuzzy robe and matching slippers, the swaddled infant propped against one shoulder. "What did I miss? Where did everyone go?"

"They're off socializing like young people do these days. With tweets," Xander explained. "Apparently, the Christmas gifts we gave them were only entertaining enough to buy us forty-three minutes of family-only time. Which was the time it took them to play a game of wizard's chess. Told you they'd play with that before they hooked up the game system."

Willow cleared her throat. "Actually, Xander, I'm pretty sure Dawn told you that, you know, when she bought the chess board. How much of that eggnog have you had?"

Xander snorted, brushing it off, but he quickly sat down his cup. Magical refills were dangerous things indeed.

Hope gave a short, warning whine, and Will handed the infant off to Dawn, leaving her to defuse the little bomb. Xander leaned into his wife, staring down at the baby and making a funny face, and he saw Buffy do the same. Xander thought it would get boring, watching an infant again, that some of the splendor would be gone since he'd already been down this road with the twins, but he could sit and stare at his baby girl for hours without interruption if given the chance.

Hope gave the grown-ups an open-mouthed smile, reaching out to yank on Dawn's hair, and Xander was almost certain she gave him a wink. Kid was definitely his.

"Now, you," he declared, "are going to be a handful."

Dawn grinned in agreement but her smile deflated slightly a second later, and she looked up at Willow. "We were just talking about how Joy and Jesse showed signs of magic early. We've even seen it from Tara..."

"The tree incident." Willow nodded at the memory. "From what I've read, wizarding kids are prone to small acts of magic when they're young."

"Yeah, but what if Hope isn't like that...The thought hadn't really occurred to me before, but I was talking to a woman in St. Mungos about bloodlines, and I realized that for some reason, I'd just assumed my baby would be magical because of Joy and Jesse. But Xander's a squib, and I'm not exactly from a traditional magical bloodline. What if Hope isn't a witch like her big brother and sister?"

"Then she'll have to go to High School," Buffy said, looking slightly confused.

Dawn huffed. "I know that, Buff. But, well, what if she's completely normal and she feels left out?"

Xander leaned in, giving her a kiss on her temple. "You're over-thinking this," he said, smirking. "Let's look at who she's growing up with. Even if she's as average as her old man, she's going to grow up in such a zany, loving, adventure-seeking, do-gooder-filled household that she's not going to have a single second to consider herself normal."

"Maybe you're right," Dawn said, smiling again. "I should probably put off my angst-fest until she's a teenager and can truly appreciate it."

"Uh, guys?" Willow pulled one of the chairs closer to the sofa. She cupped one hand in the other and frowned before sitting. "Speaking of that zany household...I hate to ask today, but have you guys decided on when you're leaving again? This place, it's really too big for me and Tara alone, and I've been talking to some people in Diagon Alley about magical-friendly flats in the city."

Xander leaned forward, sharing a look with Buffy, and Dawn nodded to the two of them. It had been hard, when Willow had come to them a few weeks ago, announcing that she and Tara were thinking of staying in the area permanently. There might have been a few awkward silences and refusals to talk the matter over, and Xander hated to admit that he'd been the one who'd been the most upset with Willow. But Tara was...Xander closed his eyes, blocking out that thought. He'd always consider Tara his girl, even if she called him uncle, but he knew her mom was the only one who had a right to decide where she lived. Still...

"Dawnie and I talked it over." Xander cleared his throat. "And, you got it in one, Will. You have to do what's right for your family. So do we. Our kids are here. For the next seven years, they're going to spending most of the year here, and Dawn and I, we might practically be muggles, but our kids will always be magical, in every sense. So we realized...there's really no going back for us."

"Plus," Dawn added, "we should probably be nearby, in case they slay any more of the Hogwarts' faculty. I foresee more parent-teacher meetings in the future, and I hear the portkey from Cleveland sucks."

Willow's brow wrinkled in surprise. "Are you saying you guys are staying? Here?"

"Well, I'll have to take some business trips to keep an eye on my company, but -" Xander was cut off by the weight of a witch throwing herself on him. Before he could make an inappropriate comment, he felt Dawn's arm around his back tighten in the embrace and Buffy scoot closer. "I think someone might be squishing the baby."

But Hope let out a pleasant goo from somewhere between the four of them.

"They're being weird again."

Xander recognized the sound of his son's voice and waved the kids to the sofa, vaguely aware that Tara was already scaling the back of the armrest. "Merry Christmas, guys," he whispered.

"Happy holidays," Willow corrected.

It was just that, the happiest of holidays, and Xander really didn't care what they called it.