A/N This chapter is kind of awkward cause I couldn't figure how to get everything I needed to, out. So, sorry about that. Also, the next chapter will be really slow in coming because I'm super busy with work and I'm having trouble writing it. But it will be done!
Dawn silently followed Dumbledore as he led the way to where ever it was that he was leading them. Snape and Faith were behind her; shooting each other filthy looks and looking about ready to spring and attack each other. Tonks brought up the rear, rolling her eyes at the two dark-haired adults in front of her and wondering if she should try to separate them, then figured that the walk wouldn’t be as amusing if she did.
Much to Dawn’s irritation, they ended up back at Dumbledore’s office, she wanted to turn on her heel right then and walk away, but Snape pushed her forward subtly and Faith actually growled at him for it. “Do it again, bat-boy” she whispered harshly “see if you don’t end up with stumps where your hands used to be.”
“Young lady, I will have you know that -” Snape began, sounding rather indignant, but Faith cut him off with a wave of her hand.
“Stuff it, priss, I don’t care” she then walked away from him and settled herself in a chair near the fire to watch the rest of the scene unfold, Snape gaping after her incredulously.
Dawn stood in the middle of the room uncomfortably, twisting her hands in knots and waiting for Dumbledore to say something, but he merely moved around to the back of his desk and took a seat, staring at her calmly.
Tonks took up post on the other side of the fireplace and Snape stood by the door, his face pinched in a sour expression.
“Now then, Miss Summers” Dumbledore said, folding his hands and smiling. “It is apparent that we are going to have to protect you and the Key from Voldemort, and I think the safest place for you to be…would be here, in this school.”
Dawn’s jaw dropped “Wait…what? No! I don’t want to be held captive anymore! I’ll take my chances with the big evil!” she burst out angrily.
“I think you misunderstood me, Miss Summers” Dumbledore told her, not at all put out by her tone, his eyes sparkling knowingly. “I meant for you to stay in a student capacity.”
Snape let out a disruptive noise but otherwise remained silent and Faith shot him yet another dirty look and then looked back at Dawn. “Buffy’s not going to like this” Faith told her.
“Buffy’s got her own problems to deal with.” Dawn muttered “Professor Dumbledore…if it’s alright with you, I’d like to go back to Giles’ house, which is about an hour’s run from Hogsmeade, and think it over, call my sister and check up on my home and all that, get her say.”
“Of course, Miss Summers” Dumbledore nodded “you are, of course, no longer being accused of being a spy.”
“Well, that’s good” Dawn retorted, sounding slightly bitter.
“If you wouldn’t mind though, I would ask that Nymphadora go with you, for safety reasons” Dumbledore looked over to Tonks, who stood up a little straighter and smiled at Dawn and Dawn nodded silently. “Very well then, be on your way, I expect an answer by the end of the week though, Miss Summers.”
“Yes, sir” She mumbled and spun on her heel, just catching the surly look on Snape’s face as she passed him and walked out the door with Faith and Tonks on her heels.
It took a little longer than Dawn had planned, the house seemed farther away than she remembered. That and she kept looking around at all the things outside, happy to enjoy the breeze and the sun again. Being cooped up for nigh on five days had really done nothing to improve her mood, but being outside, she actually felt lighter.
They entered through the front door and Dawn instantly snatched up the phone while Tonks pulled Faith off to the side to talk to her. Dawn dialed Buffy’s cellphone but there was no answer, actually, the phone seemed quiet dead.
Dawn frowned, a thrill of fear going through the pit of her stomach. It had never crossed her mind that Buffy and the rest of the Scoobies wouldn’t make it out of the Battle with the First, but now that she thought about it, she couldn’t shake the feeling of dread. Quickly she dialed everyone else’s phones, with the same result, they were all dead.
Very close to panicking, she yelled to Faith. “No one’s answering their phones, they’ve all gone dead, what if something went wrong, we have to go back to Sunnydale, we have to-” she was cut off by Faith’s hand covering her mouth and though Faith’s eyes belied her worry, her voice rang calm.
“Don’t panic just yet, D, you still haven’t called Angel.” Faith told her and took the phone, dialing Angel’s number and handing it back to her, standing on the edge of her toes as she waited.
“Hello?” the familiar soft tones of Angel spoke through the phone.
“ANGEL!” Dawn screeched, even though she hadn’t meant to, it just seemed to have come out that way.
“Dawn? Is that you?” Angel asked, his voice suddenly concerned.
“Yes, it’s Dawn, have you heard from Buffy and the other’s recently, they’re phones are dead and I tried calling and I couldn’t and-” Dawn started babbling anxiously.
“Dawn, calm down” Angel told her, his low voice having a soothing effect on the distraught girl. “Their phone’s got lost in the final Battle of Sunnydale.”
“The final Battle of…huh?” Dawn asked faintly.
“They closed the Hellmouth, well…Spike did…but I’ll let Buffy explain it…I’ll just get you her new number, shall I?” Angel asked.
“Please…” Dawn nodded numbly, even though he couldn’t see her. Her and Buffy were in desperate need of some share time.
After getting the number off of Angel, wishing him well and then dialing the number, Dawn waited impatiently as it rang. “Hello?” came the weary tones of her sister, but it sounded like music to her ears.
“Buffy!” Dawn grinned like a maniac.
“Dawnie?” Buffy questioned, suddenly sounding alert “You didn’t try calling my old phone did you, I’m so sorry, I left a message on the machine at Giles’ or…at least…I think I did…we…uh…we won!...kinda...”
“So I heard when I called Angel to get your new number” Dawn returned dryly.
“So…have you been having fun in England, we can come there and get you if you’d like, there’s so much to talk about” Buffy told her.
“Actually…Buffy, that’s what I called to talk to you about” Dawn said hesitantly.
“What happened?” Buffy automatically demanded, sounding stern.
Dawn launched into her tale from beginning to end in spectacular fashion, making it seem like none of it was her fault at all but she wasn’t sure Buffy believed that. “So you see…it’s complicated whether I should stay or not…”
Buffy was silent for the longest time and then finally she said “Me and Giles were actually talking about asking you if you wanted to go to a private school for the remainder of your schooling so we could go collect the new Slayers from around the world. But now that I hear about this…I don’t like it at all.”
“No, Dawn, I won’t have my sister being threatened again, can’t we go –anywhere- without this happening?” Buffy muttered angrily to herself.
“No” Dawn replied firmly, all that more determined to convince Buffy to let her stay and prove herself now. “Buffy, I can take care of myself and I’ve got Faith and a group of wizards, WAND wizards that want to protect me.”
“Yeah, I know but…” her sister sighed heavily, sounding world weary and extremely tired.
“Just come over here and talk to them, Buffy, find out for yourself what kind of protection I’m being offered, probably more than you can right now, traveling all over the world…for…new Slayer’s…wait…Buffy…how…?”
Buffy sighed heavily “Willow did a spell to activate all the potentials, the amulet Angel gave us closed the Hellmouth, We only managed to beat The First back though, we have to rally all the Slayers we can before the First regains its strength. Dawn... Spike wore the amulet, it channeled the sun, Spike…” she voice choked at this point and Dawn’s stomach dropped to her knees.
“Spike’s not…not…no….” Dawn mumbled, her eyes filling with tears…not her vampire…
“Dust, Dawnie…” Buffy told her sadly, sounding to be on the verge of tears herself. “He told me to tell you ‘I love you like a sister, bit, thanks for being the one that always believed in me’” her voice cracked mid-sentence but carried on till the end, as though she just had to get the entire thing out before she broke down. Dawn couldn’t help it, she burst into rather loud tears, startling Faith and Tonks who were conversing quietly near the stairs.
Faith ran over, looking alarmed “Dawnie, what? What happened?” she asked hurriedly.
“Spike…” Dawn choked out, handing the phone off to Faith and curling her knees up to her chest, leaning back against the couch and cradling her head against her knees.
She watched Faith nod along to whatever Buffy was saying; the haze of tears obscuring most of it. Then Faith hung up the phone and moved to sit beside Dawn, smoothing her hair away from her face, but otherwise at a loss for what to do to help the girl.
“Look, Dawnie…” Faith started off slowly.
“Don’t, just…don’t” Dawn sighed heavily.
“Buffy said that her and Giles are on their way to England to check out the situation. They’re leaving you in my care until they can round up all the Slayers…” she said hesitantly.
Dawn nodded her head, a lump firmly lodged in her throat. Her and Buffy both knew that there’d come a time when Dawn needed keep to her school and Buffy’s slaying would get in the way. They’d talked about it once, and Dawn was adamant that she wanted to continue school, it would be hard to do that traveling everywhere with Buffy.
“Do you want to go back to the castle and tell the Headmaster?” Tonks asked softly, standing awkwardly in the middle of the living room, unsure of what to do. When Dawn didn’t answer, she continued on. “I lost my cousin about a week ago, there was a large battle in the Ministry of Magic and he got hit and he fell through a veil.”
“I’m sorry” Dawn said softly “about your cousin.”
“The term’s nearly over, so you wont be starting this year, you’ll be starting next year and you’ll take the summer to get caught up as much as you can” Tonks told her, changing the topic abruptly as her throat tightened.
“I figured as much” Dawn replied, not lifting her head from her knees, her heart clenched painfully in her chest, she already missed Spike. “I’m going to go grab my bag,” she said after a moments pause and scurried up the stairs, leaving Faith and Tonks behind to just stare at each other.