Voldemort vs the Vampire Slayer
As Willow Rosenberg strolled through Restfield Cemetery with her two best friends in the entire world, she was emotionally conflicted. On the one hand, it was almost surreal to actually be doing what she was doing: patrolling and pizza with Buffy. For months now she had been so painfully aware that it was more than likely that she would never be able to go patrolling or have pizza with Buffy ever again. Then, thankfully, she had more than pulled off the spell and she had not only saved Buffy, but three important champions for the light side from England.
She was proud. No matter what Giles or James or Sirius or Lily had to say, she was more than proud of what she had done. There had been no wrong in it. She had restored life to four very deserving people. And it hadn’t been dark. Maybe a little gray, calling Osiris and the snake and everything, but certainly not dark. She was a witch, a powerful witch. Maybe the most powerful in Sunnydale. She had been studying the craft for years, perfecting it in herself. She more than knew what she was doing.
“Okay, so, is it just me or do we suddenly have, like, half of our friends having some secret hidden past to do with magic?” Buffy asked as she juggled the three large pizzas stacked in her tiny arms.
“Specifically wand magic,” Xander pointed out through a mouthful of Cheetos he had gotten from the bag of chips and two liters he had nestled against his side.
Buffy nodded. “Yeah. Does this strike anyone else as weird?”
Willow thought it was both weird and with the sense making all at once. Of course, she was a little pissy. No one had mentioned to her anything about this new brand of magic. Of course she had known there were many different “kinds” of magic. She studied some, practiced others, and ignored countless more. She just hadn’t ever imagined anything quite so elaborate or refined. She had heard things in some circles before that fit a little too. Things about trade regulations on magical supplies. Branches of the government that dealt with magical creatures. She had always figured that meant something more like the Initiative, though.
But there were other things that made sense too. As old as Anya and Spike were, it would have been really strange if they had no connections to this type of magic. And knowing Anya had lived as a witch in a time before there was a lot of division, it made sense that she was familiar with knowing that kind of magic. And Spike, well, he was Spike. He always knew something about everything.
“I think it’s weirder that they didn’t really know that the others had a history,” Xander replied as he carefully stepped over a tiny plastic marker indicating a fresh grave. “I mean, I think Anya and Spike knew that they were both aware of the magic world, but didn’t know they had a history. Or something like that, anyways.”
Willow frowned and shot her friend a hesitant look. “I wouldn’t be too sure of that, Xander. They’ve both been acting pretty weird around one another.”
Xander’s pace slowed as he looked over at Willow. “What do you mean?”
Willow had almost been loath to say anything. But she wasn’t stupid. She could see there was something going on with Anya that made her even weirder than she usually was. And Spike was in on whatever she was being weird about. And that had gotten her into a deep thinking session in the shower that very morning about Spike and Anya and the way the had always interacted. “Well…when they met, they didn’t exactly act like strangers. They were kinda wary of each other. Then there was the whole indifference, but littered with moments of…well…camaraderie.”
Xander blinked, then frowned. “What? No. There was never any comrade-ness. No Russia.”
Buffy seemed confused by this too. “So wait, you think Anya and Spike knew each other before?”
Xander shot Willow a look, but Willow had already come to her conclusions. “Knew of, she replied to Buffy, smiling weakly at Xander, who looked a little troubled by this. “I’m almost sure they knew of. I used to write it off on the whole him master vampire, her vengeance demon. But now I don’t know.”
“She would have told me about something like knowing Spike,” Xander defended her.
Willow shrugged. “Why? Especially if it had to do with this secret world we didn’t know about and she was terrified of.”
Buffy blinked and looked over at Willow. “Terrified?”
Willow raised her eyebrows. “Come on, you saw the way she was shaking back when we were talking about that war. It must have been really bad if she’s so scared.”
“I don’t know,” Buffy said with a shrug as she passively scanned the cemetery around them. “I still think it’s weird. Anya’s this witch with a wand still and never says anything?”
“I’m sure she had a good reason,” Xander said defensively.
“Spike is easier to understand,” Buffy continued as if Xander hadn’t said anything. “Especially with him being Spike. If he doesn’t have any real powers anymore and he put all of his past behind him, that’s own business I guess. No reason to really ever mention it to us.”
“But Giles?” Willow continued, feeling a tiny sting of betrayal once again. “It’s one thing for him to leave these things behind. Another thing when he’s making decisions for other people. He should have told me.”
Xander looked over at Willow pointedly. “You never told me.”
Willow faltered at this. She knew Xander thought of himself as a nobody, someone with no potential. Truth was he had the potential to be just about anything. He just never really applied himself. He would do anything for his friends, that she knew well, but he would barely do anything for himself. “I…I’m sorry I didn’t, you know, offer to help you learn or anything. I just--”
“It’s okay, Wills,” Xander cut her off gently with a warm smile. “I get it.”
“You’re not mad at me?” the redhead asked in a small hopeful voice.
He shook his head. “No, I’m not. Doesn’t make much difference if I’m magic or not. Still too lazy to do anything about it.”
“What about this world?” Buffy asked, slowing her pace slightly as she looked over at Xander. “Don’t you want to at least check it out?”
A strange look came over Xander, one that looked a lot like he was constipated. Willow could relate. Not in the constipation way, but in the many-mixed-emotions-that-made-you-feel-all-full-with-nothing-to-do way. Xander turned to Willow and shrugged. “Wills?”
Willow shrugged uncomfortably as she thought about it. “It’s just…I don’t know if I’d fit in. It sounds a little…too out there. Not that I don’t believe them, but c’mon. A secret society of people waving wands? Flying on broomsticks? Sending mail with owls?”
Xander motioned melodramatically, before bellowing out in a deep voice, “Wearing big long robes with dragons and good versus evil.”
Buffy actually laughed, something Willow hadn’t heard her do since she’d come back. “It does sound like something straight out of a kid’s story.”
“A little too fluffy for me,” Xander said with a small smile, returning to his normal voice. “Besides, I prefer TV. Jim had never even seen one.”
Willow giggled as she thought back to James’s amazement at the cartoons Dawn and Xander had shown him. Sirius had been too wary of the TV to even give it a try. “I kno—oof!”
Xander suddenly stumbled then went down and in the process pulled Buffy and Willow with him. Willow hit the ground hard, the pizza flying from her hands to smack against some gravestone. It fell open and the beautiful cheesy circle plopped greasily to the ground.
“Ow…” Xander moaned exaggeratedly from where he was sprawled across Willow’s legs, bags of food held carefully against his chest. Willow rolled her eyes and pushed him off, looking down at her now sore legs for any tell-tale grass stains.
Buffy looked up from where she was laying at the pizza Willow had been carrying. The two she’d had had survived the fall, but from the looks of it, just barely. She frowned at their one casualty. “Shit. It’s ruined!”
Willow flushed, knowing how important the pineapple pizza was to the Slayer. “What if we gave that one to Spike?” she suggested, looking over at her friends.
Xander wasn’t looking at either Buffy or Willow. Instead he was staring up, face a little paler than usual. “Uh…guys…”
Willow followed his gaze to see that they weren’t alone. Not by a long-shot. About two feet from where the trio was heaped was a rather large group of people. They towered over them in a sort of half-circle. In the dark, Willow couldn’t see any of their faces, mostly because it seemed they were hooded. But the creature in front could see them. For when its eyes caught the light, they seemed to be glowing red in the night. “You see, my friends?” the creature asked in a voice that sounded like a man’s but which was also twisted and cruel, raspy and dark.
Buffy pushed herself to her feet beside Willow and Xander was also getting up, food lying abandoned at their feet. But Willow could only sit and gawk as all of her senses suddenly started to scream at her as she felt a huge wave a dark energy begin to roll and build within the group in front of them, especially from the thing with red eyes.
It pulled its hood down to reveal that instead of a demon, it was a man. Or at least had the general shape of one. He was completely bald and his coloring was beyond albino white. And his eyes were kind of cat-like and definitely deep red. As in blood red. But the weirdest trait was definitely the nose, or lack thereof. Instead, the man had long thin nostrils flat on his face where the nose should have been which sort of had a reptilian look to them.
The man was looking down at Willow in a sort of detached curiosity, like a child looked down at an ant before it squashed it with a shoe. “Foul, useless Muggles and Muggle-borns,” he continued in a voice that flowed slickly, “sneering at our way of life, thinking themselves above us, when they are, in fact, creatures far below us.”
Buffy stepped in front of Willow as Xander hooked his arms under hers and pulled her up to her feet. Willow clung to Xander in support and a bit of fear as she watched Buffy regard the group of what had to be at least a dozen people shrouded in black behind the albino snake guy. The Slayer seemed calm and cool, completely on guard as she eyed the man carefully. “What the…who the hell are you?” Buffy asked, raising an eyebrow as she looked him up and down.
The man gave Buffy a sickening smile as he bowed to her mockingly. “Forgive me, Muggle, for my impolite manners. I am Lord Voldemort.”
Buffy didn’t register any sign of recognition upon the introduction. Xander, however, almost dropped Willow, so the redhead figured he remembered well the discussion they had only just completed a half hour or so ago.
After a moment, Buffy frowned and turned to give the pair behind her a look. “Why does that sound familiar?”
Xander gave his well-documented nervous “oh-god-we’re-gonna-die” laugh as he looked from the group watching them to Buffy. “Uh, Buff, this is that guy Giles was getting all Ripper-y about.”
A murmur went through the group and one person in particular stepped forward and ripped off what Willow could now see was a mask so that she could look Xander in the eye. She was a she and she was one of the scariest looking shes Willow had seen in a good long time. She was an older woman and had obviously once been very pretty. But something had happened to her, something that had sucked all of that beauty from her. In some ways, well, in a lot of ways, she reminded Willow of Sirius…and someone else that Willow couldn’t quite place.
“Giles?” the woman asked, a spark of excitement in her heavily-lidded eyes. “Ripper Giles?”
Xander paled visibly before muttering, “Oops.”
The woman looked closer at Xander, as if seeing something she recognized in him. “And you are?”
“Just leaving,” Xander attempted as he stepped away from the woman, pulling Willow along with him. “You know, darn, we would love to stay and chat, but we have these pizzas to deliver and you know the motto. Delivery within thirty minutes or dinner’s on us.”
Willow knew better than to think there would be any sort of easy escape. She didn’t even know if they needed an escape. She pulled away from Xander and stood still and straight in her place, watching as Buffy took another step towards Voldemort. The Slayer shook her golden hair back out of her face and looked up at the wizard who had at least a good foot on her if not more. The cool and calculating expression on Buffy’s face as she regarded the wizard was all Slayer.
“So,” she began in a low voice, sounding every bit like the champion she was. “You’re the guy that’s killed three hundred people in one summer.”
Whatever Voldemort had been expecting, it wasn’t Buffy’s confident defiance. He narrowed his red eyes and regarded Buffy more seriously.
Buffy raised her eyebrows and gave a small smile. “Lemme tell ya, between us, that’s pretty impressive. I think the biggest numbers I’ve ever seen were from the Mayor, and he doesn’t even come close.”
“Interesting for a Muggle,” Voldemort murmured more to himself than anyone as he watched Buffy with some sort of morbid fascination. Then he cocked his head slightly as if seeing Buffy in a new light. “Or are you? Magic is not typically a topic of conversation amongst your kind, even if you are acquainted with a disgraced blood traitor.”
Buffy crossed her arms in front of her and cocked her hip as she stood her ground. “Well, I’m a different kind than most.”
“You should mind your tone,” Voldemort warned, though he still seemed more amused than angry. “I’ve been gracious enough to introduce myself. Now…would you be so kind as to return the favor?”
Buffy seemed to consider this for a moment, then shrugged. “Buffy Summers,” she said, mimicking his earlier mocking tone as she indicated herself with one graceful hand. “It is my personal pleasure to meet you.”
There was another wave of whispers among the group behind him, though neither Voldemort nor the bitchy woman seemed to recognize the name. Another man stepped forward and removed his mask, revealing what was…well…a really sexy older man, though Willow would only admit it under extreme duress. He really was ridiculously good-looking and the cold and dark look in his eyes honestly only added to that. He had sharp chiseled features, very pale blond hair, and the very air of an aristocrat. But the eyes were familiar. Ice cold, in one light grey, in another blue. “Master…she’s the Slayer.”
Recognition flooded Voldemort‘s expression and he raised a hairless brow as he regarded Buffy appreciatively. “The Vampire Slayer. Champion of the clueless Muggle filth.”
Willow knew Buffy knew she was being toyed with, strictly used for these people’s entertainment. She also knew that Buffy liked to sometimes go along with it, playing right back with whatever bad was mocking her. And as Voldemort produced a long twisted wand in elegantly long white fingers, she prayed Buffy would just get right to business.
Whether Buffy even realized she may be outmatched in this particular situation, Willow didn’t know. But the Slayer didn’t miss the wand. Her eyes locked on it and she smirked before looking back up to meet Voldemort eye-to-eye. “Nice twig. Let me guess. You can make it float really neat like in the air. All it takes is emotional control?”
Willow blinked as she watched Buffy face off with what Willow knew to be the most dark sorcerer she’d ever dreamt could exist. And she knew exactly what her friend was asking of her.
“I’m going to enjoy killing you,” Voldemort said with a smile, causing a loud round of laughter to come from the people behind him.
Very carefully, so as not to tip the wizards and witch off, Willow slowly opened herself to the energy that flowed all around her.
Buffy laughed right along with them. “If I had a dime for every time some nasty told me that…well, wouldn’t be here.” Then the Slayer sobered a bit, though her smirk remained. “Though you’re nastier looking than most.”
It was difficult as Willow tried to keep the darkness the group generated away from her and cling to only the positive energy that usually flowed through her. She gathered all within her and all she could get around her, building it up bit by bit.
The woman that was still studying Xander whirled around, fury broiling at Buffy. “She dares!”
Willow gathered all within her and all she could get around her, building it up bit by bit.
“Bella,” Voldemort warned and the woman, Bella, apparently, looked properly chastised and fell back into her place among the group.
Voldemort turned back to Buffy. He looked…well, he looked bored. Then he suddenly raised his wand. “Crucio!
Willow reacted instantly, throwing her hand and her magic out in front of her. While originally she had intended to try and pull Voldemort’s wand from him, she instead erected a bubble-like shield in front of the Slayer. The energy of whatever spell the wizard had intended for Buffy hit Willow’s shield hard, forcing her back against Xander.
Xander placed both hands on Willow’s shoulders and whispered, “Take whatever you need.”
Willow gave a short nod and, drawing from her friend’s own natural energy, she pushed back with both hands, sending the spell back towards the group before them. It hit one of the shorter guys head on.
The afflicted wizard doubled over with a scream, then hit the ground, jerking around on the ground as if the very fires of Hell were burning through him. His screams were inhuman, echoed in Willow’s ears and she stared in horror until Voldemort raised his wand and the spell ended. The man’s screams died out, but he remained on the ground, twitching sporadically.
Buffy turned wide eyes back to Willow and gave the redhead a small, extremely grateful nod. “Thanks, Will.”
Willow nodded quickly as she kept her concentration on keeping the shield up.
Voldemort was now staring past Buffy, back to Xander and Willow for the first time since Buffy had really started talking to him. And he was smiling. “A wandless witch. And an untrained wizard.”
“Crap…” Xander drawled behind her.
Buffy pulled the stake from her pocket, shifting into a fighting stance as she turned her attention back to the dark wizard, this time looking every bit the Slayer she truly was. “Not likely, Moldy Warts,” she hissed at him. “My family is my everything. You’d have to come through me first.”
Voldemort did not look amused. In fact, he looked every bit like the monster Willow knew he was. “Lucius,” he bit out in a tone filled with venom. “Handle those two.”
The hot blond man raised his nose and motioned to a pair of guys behind him. “My pleasure, my lord.”
Then…the hot guy and the people he’d motioned to completely vanished. Is in they were totally gone. Willow’s concentration was momentarily weakened as she shot the vacant grass where the men had stood a confused look.
Then she was grabbed from behind, strong cruel hands locking on her throat and arms. She gasped in surprise as she was torn from Xander’s arms and she twisted to see that one of the guys that had disappeared had Xander by the throat.
“Buffy!” she screamed before her entire body seemed to suddenly seize up and go stiff as a board. She nearly panicked as she realized she couldn’t move. Somehow, in some way, she had lost all control of her own body. Willow was helpless.
But even more horrible, Willow watched as, cut off from the source that was powering it, the magical shield she had put between them and Voldemort fell. Buffy wasted no time in leaping towards the dark wizard, arms flying. But Voldemort’s wand arm was quicker.
Then Willow was flung to the ground. She couldn’t see anything of what was happening, nothing but the stars burning overhead. But she could still hear Buffy’s screams when they came.
Tara Maclay stood very still half-hidden behind a lamppost on the corner of Maple and Main in downtown Sunnydale, watching with a bit of a grimace as Giles and Spike argued with the manager of the Pizza Wizard. The young twenty-something man with greasy hair seemed to be getting a kick out of withholding information from an older authoritative British man and, well, whatever Spike came off as. And it looked like whatever he wasn’t sharing was serious, for the argument was getting heated.
Outside in the street, things were much colder. Fear was a freezing emotion. Tara felt almost overwhelmed by her fear for Willow, Dawn, and the others. It was a fear only matched from that last clear memory of sitting beside Glory on that park bench, her hand being shattered beneath the hell-goddess’s crushing grip.
Anya was just a few feet away, literally crouching in the shadows. Her eyes were darting everywhere and her grip on her wand was so tight that her knuckles had long-since turned white.
Suddenly, Spike seemed to break, and Tara watched as he shifted into demon-face and grabbed the manager. Giles didn’t stop him. The manager cowered and was suddenly talking very fast. Satisfied, Giles and Spike left the store, walking across the street to huddle with Tara and Anya.
“Well?” Anya asked in a low, clipped tone.
“They were here, picked up the pies about fifteen minutes ago,” Spike nearly growled through clenched teeth. He nodded towards the east end of the street. “Headed off that way.”
Tara glanced in the direction the vampire indicated, knowing that the fate of her lover and their friends was well beyond any of them. There were no less than four larger graveyards in that direction, each one laying on a route that would take them back to the house. There was no telling which one the trio would have chosen, no telling where they might have gone. They would never find them.
“Dawn beat us here by two minutes,” Giles continued, indicating the opposite direction. “She didn’t ask any questions, just had a look around and headed off in that direction.”
“When we find her, I’m gonna kill her,” Spike hissed angrily.
Tara shot him a look. “She’s just scared. Buffy hasn’t even been back a week.”
“She’s not gonna help the Slayer by getting herself killed too,” Spike mumbled.
Tara’s nerves frayed a little thinner and she licked her lips as she hugged herself a bit more tightly. “You think they’re dead?”
Giles shared a quick look with the blond vampire then sighed and looked to Tara. “If something were to happen, it’s most likely already happened. If not, then they should be back at the house.”
“We can’t just do nothing,” Anya protested, looking around the street for something.
Giles gave the two girls a supportive smile. “Willow is a strong witch. Buffy is the Slayer. We can only trust in that. But exposing ourselves like this only puts us in danger.”
“We couldn’t help anyways,” Spike added with a snort. “Watcher’s unarmed, demon-girl all rusted like, me and this bloody chip.” Then his gaze ticked over to Tara. “You’d be the biggest gun we have. Feel up to that challenge?”
Tara shifted uncomfortably, hardly able to wrap her mind around what Spike was suggesting. “I…I d-don’t…”
“We find Dawn,” Spike cut in after Tara made his point for him. “We go to the house. Whether or not they‘re back decides whether we go to LA.”
“Is there a spell, maybe?” Anya asked Tara, an edge of desperation to her tone. “That thing you did to find Willow?”
“If I had someplace to be calm and centered…” Tara started, not finishing the thought.
Giles nodded his understanding to her. “You’ll do it when we get back to the house.”
Spike sighed. They all stood in silence for a moment, just letting the October wind blow around them, knowing that whatever they did just wouldn’t be good enough.
Tara felt a little awkward. As much as she felt her roiling emotions, she knew she was new to this game. She suddenly could appreciate the emotions Giles, Anya, and Spike had exhibited as they had discussed the issue of Voldemort just under an hour ago. As much as living on the Hellmouth was an uncertainty, at least it was typically something new everyday, most of the time something simple, something well within their reach. This was uncertainty like she had rarely known. Uncertainty that she’d only known with Glory, and Glory had really only attacked the group something like five or six times…and they’d once attacked her and all. But this uncertainty, living with it for over a decade, even longer…Tara had never known the hell of war.
She shook her head and murmured softly, “This is wrong.”
Giles sighed and looked up at the dark night. He seemed so sad. As if mourning the peace he had taken for granted. “I never thought I’d be doing this again,” he said. “Fearing this again.”
A few seconds past before Anya sniffled and added, “I did.”
Tara nodded, then looked up at Spike, determined not to lose another second. “How do we find Dawn?”
Spike began to shake his head, then looked up suddenly, eyes bright. “I’ve got her.”
Anya frowned. “You can track her?”
“No,” Spike murmured as he stared at a point behind them intently. “But I can see her.”
They all turned to follow Spike’s gaze. Dawn was there, standing with her back turned to them under a streetlight not twenty feet away. Spike used his unnatural speed and was there in a flash, arms wrapped tightly around her to keep her from taking off.
Dawn struggled against Spike’s grip fiercely, shouting as the others caught up with them. “Let me go, Spike!”
Spike held firm, whirling her around to face him before giving her one good shake. “What do you think you’re doing?” he growled at her menacingly.
She calmed down a bit, though she returned his angry glare with one of her own. “I won’t lose her again!”
“Buffy can take care of herself,” Tara argued gently, crossing her arms in front of her nervously. “We need to get inside.”
The fight left the teen at these soft words and she turned large eyes to the witch. “But Willow and Xander…”
Giles gave Dawn a small smile as he gently pulled her out of Spike‘s grip. “They’re probably already back at the house eating pizza.” “Buffy!”
Tara turned, mouth dropping open as the faint sound of her lover’s terrified scream echoed through the night.
“Did you hear that?” Spike murmured as his sharp eyes searched through the darkness.
No one said anything. No one had to. They had all heard that. Spike’s eyes narrowed as he focused on one point towards Restfield Cemetery, as if he saw or heard something the rest of them couldn’t. Which, as a vampire, he was totally capable of doing.
“Spike?” Giles asked tersely, watching the vampire carefully.
Spike turned to Giles and regarded him grimly. “They’re here.”
Suddenly there was a strange cracking noise come from the sky above them. Tara looked up to watch as some sort of firework went off over Restfield Cemetery, creating an ugly green skull in the sky. Tara wrinkled her nose in revulsion, but quickly felt her emotions change to confusion as the skull didn’t fade and fall as all fireworks did. It just hung there with a smoky green snake coming out from the mouth to coil about itself.
Anya gave a faint moan and swayed a bit on her feet as she stared at the thing in horror. She was quickly steadied by Spike, who put his hand on her shoulder, not taking his own eyes off the sky as he gazed at the skull grimly. But it was the look on Giles’s face that scared her. It was a look of absolute dread. One that came from haunted memories and fear and emotionless acceptance of evil.
“What’s that?” Dawn asked as she watched the skull hover in the air with some kind of morbid curiosity.
“It’s the Dark Mark,” Spike answered in a low voice. “The mark of Voldemort.”
“They use it to mark where they’ve been,” Anya whimpered. “Where they’ve killed.”
Fear blossomed in Tara. Fear on top of fear. Panic. Tears stung at her eyes as she was forced to consider the unimaginable.
Dawn slipped out of Giles’s grip and started running full speed towards Restfield Cemetery. Giles was after her in a second. Anya and Spike were saying something to her, but she couldn’t hear them. Instead she pulled away from restraining hands and ran after the young girl and older man.
Every second was an eternity. The cemetery like a maze. It was hard to find that exact spot the Mark hovered over. But Dawn found it.
They were in a clearing, very close to Rutherford Mausoleum. Several boxes of pizza and a paper bag lay abandoned next to one lone grave. A few feet away, Xander and Willow lay, stiff and unmoving. Several feet away from them was Buffy. She was
moving, but not in any way Tara would have liked to seen. The Slayer was jerking wildly, making muffled sounds of pain. It looked horrible.
No one else was there. And Tara didn’t care that Spike seemed to be frantically trying to call her back in whispered tones. She was right behind Giles and Dawn, using all of her energy to go as fast as her legs could carry her.
“Buffy!” Dawn screamed in a tone of voice Tara hated. It was the same tone Tara had heard from Willow when they saw Buffy hit the ground so many months ago.
As soon as Dawn spoke, Buffy stopped jerking. She was still twitching, but whatever spell she seemed to have been under had apparently been lifted. That was when Tara knew what Anya and Spike had been trying to tell her. That was when she realized why Giles was desperately trying to catch Dawn. It was a trap.
Tara slowed, then stopped several yards from where Willow and Xander lay. Spike was at her side instantly, murmuring hurried words of their dire circumstance. Anya was behind him wand held out and at the ready, waiting for a target to reveal itself.
“No!” Giles shouted as he finally caught up with Dawn several feet from where Buffy now lied, apparently unconscious. “Dawn, stop!”
Giles wrapped his arms around Dawn’s waist and hauled her back against him a split second before several people in black robes and masks appeared out of thin air in front of them. He quickly stepped back, Dawn still clutched against him, as the people tried to grab for Dawn.
Tara heard a sound behind her and turned. She yelped in shock and fright as she hurriedly backed away from the black robed man that reached for her. But she didn’t get far as she backed into the terrified Anya who had frozen.
Giles and Dawn were backed into Tara, Anya and Spike. Tara looked around frantically before realizing that they were surrounded in a tight circle, a dozen black robed people watching them through their endless masks. Spike, in a rare display of protection, at least where Anya and Tara were concerned, stepped in front of the two girls and met the eyes of the people closing in around them. Then Spike slipped into game face and growled lowly.
Tara knew who these people were without having to be told. They were that man’s followers, the ones they called Death Eaters. And as they surrounded the five mostly unarmed and defenseless Scoobies, Tara knew they deserved their terrifying name.
One man, unmasked, stepped up to looked at them. He seemed pleased. “I can’t believe you actually came. Like innocent lambs to the slaughter.”
Tara understood this taunt without having to be told. That Dark Mark thing, they had sent it up. It hadn’t been meant as some kind of calling card. It had been sent to draw them there.
A particularly foul looking woman gave an insane giggle and clapped her hands slowly as she stepped up to look Giles in the eye. “So, it is true,” the woman said, looking positively delighted. “Ripper Giles. It’s been a long time.”
Giles’s expression became deadly as he gazed at the woman icily. “Not long enough, Lestrange.”
“Lestrange, now, is it?” the woman asked as she raised an eyebrow, her smile broadening. “There was a time when it was just Bella.”
“Those days are long past dead,” Giles hissed as his grip on Dawn tightened.
Dawn for her part had turned into Giles, now clutching his jacket just as tightly as he held her. She looked around, eyes wide with fright.
The woman’s gaze ticked down to settle on the wide-eyed girl. She looked mildly surprised. “What is this, Ripper?” she asked, reaching out to grab a lock of Dawn’s hair “A daughter?”
Then her smile twisted and she pulled hard on the lock in her hands. Dawn yelped and Giles backed up as much as he could, eyes shooting venom as the woman held up her prize.
“Nothing more than a filthy little half-blood, aren‘t you?” another one of the Death Eaters, a blond man, asked. “A bold one Giles, to create such an animal.”
Spike was the one to answer to this. He growled at the man, baring his teeth in fury. “You’re the animal, Lucius.”
The woman was unusually still as she examined the strands of hair twisted around her fingers. She turned to speak to someone behind her. “Master, there’s something different about Ripper’s Mudblood,” she said, then turned to give Dawn a suspicious look. “Something powerful.”
“Leave her alone,” Tara found herself saying, stepping around to block Dawn as much as she could. “She’s just a child.”
“And what are you, Mudblood?” came the hissing reply.
Several of the Death Eaters parted, creating a sort of gap so that Tara and the others could see another man. He towered over Buffy, who was still lying completely still on the ground, and was also dressed in black robes, but his were different. And the sense of darkness she felt from him flooded her senses. His red eyes lingered on her before Spike had once again pulled her behind him.
Spike placed himself between Tara and the man, and he stood in his place very stiff. Giles had seemed to freeze as he stared at the wizard with absolute hatred. And Tara didn’t have to turn to know that Anya was shaking violently behind her.
The man just smiled at the look on Tara’s face before his gaze shifted over to Giles. “So the witless boy wasn’t lying after all. Ripper Giles. And look. William the Bloody. This is a most interesting reunion.”
The absolute horror in Anya’s whisper caused Tara to turn and shoot her a glance. But in doing so, she opened the former demon to Voldemort’s line of sight.
Red eyes locked on the girl behind Tara. Anya was white, nearly as white as the unholy man she was staring at unblinkingly.
The look on Voldemort’s face suddenly changed. It looked like he was…surprised. Pleasantly surprised. And a little relieved. They were odd emotions to see on the disfigured face of the mad man. He lowered his wand a bit and raised a hairless brow. “Anyanka? Is that you, dear girl?”
Tara, Giles, and Dawn all turned wide eyes to Anya. Giles looked shocked and a little angry. Dawn looked more confused than anything. Tara, well, she guessed that the fact that Anya apparently knew Voldemort made a lot of sense in a strange way. It sure explained a lot of the girl’s erratic behavior over the last few days. She also noticed that Spike looked more worried than surprised by this twist. Which caused Tara to put her other feelings behind her and also worry for Anya. It was always a sign that things were bad if they made Spike nervous.
Anya was shaking so hard as she stood facing Voldemort that it looked more like steady twitching than shaking. But somehow, the absolutely terrified former demon managed a small respectful nod. “M-M-My Lord.”
“Anya…” Giles hissed in surprise as he held Dawn closer.
Anya glanced at the pair, looking defeated and humiliated.
Voldemort was too delighted by this sudden twist to notice. “Why did you not come back to me when you felt my return?”
Anya‘s mouth was open, but the only sound she could manage was a high, squeaky, “I…I…I…I…I…”
Now Voldemort was looking suspicious. “Yes?”
A large man with greasy, tangled gray hair and yellow eyes leaned in a rasped, “She’s human, Master.”
“Human?” Voldemort repeated as if he were amused by the word. Then he actually shrugged. “What a surprise. No matter, though. Your place will still be open to you, Anyanka.”
Tara had never considered herself to be the quickest kid in the class, but she was starting to piece together quite a bit from this simple exchange. Voldemort and Anya had known each other. Voldemort and Anya seemed to have been on good terms. It seemed Anya might even have helped Voldemort out every once in a while. Anya somehow had known or should have known that Voldemort was back. Anya had decided not to be helpful anymore. Anya had…chosen to abandon those good terms.
Anya was in deep shit.
Suddenly something was different with Anya. She seemed to resolve herself to something. And the shaking quickly faded away. Her expression became determined and a fire lit in her eyes. And there in Restfield Cemetery, Anya squared her shoulders looked Voldemort in the eye and said quite clearly in a strong voice, “Things change.”
Whispers erupted amongst the Death Eaters. There were a few gasps. Some hissing. The woman Death Eater’s nose wrinkled and Tara was almost sure that she growled.
Voldemort seemed to become solid poison. His eyes narrowed, and the darkness he exuded was almost tangible. He narrowed his eyes and his face twisted in fury as he looked at Anya. “Things? Things
?! Yes, Anyanka, things change. But not us. Not people like us. We are the creatures of the dark, Anyanka. The few strong enough to take the power they so rightly deserve. You did not change.”
Anya shook her head firmly. “I did change.”
“Foolish girl,” Voldemort roared. “I do not let those who are mine leave so easily.”
“I never was yours to begin with,” Anya argued with him like she would with Willow, crossing her arms in front of her and giving him her angriest look. But though the front she presented was firm, which Tara was more than surprised about considering, Tara knew Anya well enough to know a bluff when she saw it.
Apparently, so did Voldemort. “You were mine the day you gave me my wish. You humbled yourself to me when I was but a child, used your power to serve my will. You have always been mine.”
“Like they are yours
?” Spike joined in suddenly, stepping in front of Anya so that Voldemort would be forced to look at him.
This distraction seemed to work. Voldemort turned furious red eyes on Spike. “William
,” the wizard nearly spat, lip curled in disgust. “You still
refuse me. You should follow your family’s example and join the ranks of my undead followers as the Master you are.”
“Not bloody likely,” Spike growled back, not even flinching in the dark wizard’s broiling rage.
“Will not…or cannot
?” the red-eyed monster asked, not even blinking as he glared at Spike. “Drusilla was most informative. Muggle technology taking away your undeniable right to feed. I can have it removed. Take the abomination out and release you upon the world. William the Bloody could feast once more upon the blood of man.”
For one small moment, Spike looked tempted. For one terrible moment, Tara really thought he’d give in. She knew Spike. He was still a demon as much as she wanted to believe he was truly their friend. She wouldn’t have been surprised in the least bit if he betrayed them to remove the chip. It was all he wanted and he had done it before.
Then Dawn whimpered in Giles’s arms.
Spike turned and glanced at Dawn, then looked back up at Voldemort. His game face disappeared and he smirked. “Piss off, Tom.”
“Foolish demon,” the blond man hissed, looking at Spike in disgust.
“Smart man,” Giles countered, shocking Tara at the compliment. Giles was holding Voldemort’s gaze remarkably well. Tara knew that she herself would have coward. She actually had just minutes before.
“Rupert,” Voldemort drawled as he regarded Giles in amusement. “Such a good family…so much power…wasted in worship of a pathetic demon…”
Giles didn‘t even flinch. “I have made my choices, Riddle, and they include seeing you and everything you stand for burn in Hell.”
Voldemort pointed at Giles with a wand Tara had previously not seen. “Not before you tell me what I want to know. What caused the power surge?”
Whatever Giles was, he was a pretty good actor. He held onto his defiant look then let it slide as he cast his eyes down in thought. Then he looked back up, an expression of pure confusion schooled perfectly on his face. “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
Voldemort’s own expression was perfectly neutral. “I see,” he replied, motioning to one of the larger Death Eaters in a circle before turning to look down at Buffy as he spoke. “Two wizards and a witch…the Vampire Slayer…what appears to be multiple untraineds…all together on the Hellmouth…and you don’t know what the cause of the most powerful magical surge in history could be?”
The large man reappeared, this time with the stiff body of Tara’s lover held in his arms. He wrapped a hand tightly around her neck and pulled up a bit. From as far back as she was, Tara could almost hear the bones cracking as they strained to stretch.
“Willow!” she cried, moving to run to her girlfriend. Spike stopped her before she could even take a step.
“I’ll ask one more time, then I’ll have Goyle rip her head off,” Voldemort said, near emotionless as he turned his cold red eyes to Tara. “What caused the surge?”
“A spell,” Tara replied before she could stop herself.
“Tara!” Giles hissed, dropping pretense and shooting her a warning look.
Voldemort, however, took this in without even so much as a blink. “Oh, really? What spell?”
Tara gave a desperate look to Willow, but kept her mouth shut.
But Voldemort didn’t motion to the man holding Willow. Instead he turned his wand on the unconscious Slayer at his feet. “Crucio!
Though unconscious, Buffy‘s body still twitched unnaturally and her face screwed up in pain.
“No!” Dawn screamed, straining against Giles’s arms towards her sister. “No! Leave her alone!”
Voldemort‘s eyes stayed on Giles. “It will be interesting to see how long the Slayer can go before her mind breaks.”
“It was a resurrection!” This time, the information came from Giles himself.
Voldemort kept his wand on Buffy for a few seconds more before turning it away. The jerking stopped slowly, but the look of pain did not fade.
“I see,” Voldemort said as he considered this information seriously. “A dark wizard, no doubt. Did you kill him?”
“No,” Giles replied honestly, not even hesitating.
“Which spell?” Voldemort pressed. This time Giles was silent. Tara wasn’t sure if this was because he didn’t know or didn’t want to say.
Voldemort huffed impatiently before turning to Lucius. “Kill the boy.”
“No!” Anya cried, pushing against Spike as he grabbed her. “Xander! No!”
“I tire of these games, Anyanka,” Voldemort hissed at her, stepping forward to tower over her. “You want to save the boy. I want information. Give me what I want and I just may let your new pet live. You above all know what will happen if you refuse me again.”
“It was the Plea to Osiris,” she said without hesitation.
“That takes three anchors and a filter,” one of the Death Eaters muttered.
“Four dark magic-users,” Voldemort drawled looking fairly intrigued. “Interesting. Who was the target? Who were the sorcerers?”
Anya opened her mouth to answer, but this was the one where the answer would not help. For they had done it. They had raised Buffy. They were the ones he was looking for and now this man would kill them either way.
Tara looked over to her girlfriend, mind searching for some kind of answer. Then her eyes locked with Willow’s.
~The wands Tara
,~ Willow’s voice said inside Tara’s head. ~They’re powerless without their wands
And suddenly it was all so clear. Tara closed her eyes, reaching out with all of her senses.
“Answer me!” Voldemort roared. “Who was involved with the spell?!”
Willow must have given Anya some sort of signal, too. For suddenly the former demon was smiling haughtily at the dark wizard. Then she said in a strong tone, “It was us.”
” Tara screamed, focusing all her will into the impromptu spell.
Thirteen pieces of wood suddenly rose into the air, raining back down onto Earth several feet away in a tangled mess. Voldemort and the Death Eaters all cried out in surprise. But the damage was done.
Now, no one was armed. No one but Anya.
They all stared at each other for a moment. Then Buffy, who apparently had never been unconscious, surprised everyone even more. The Slayer jumped up and tackled Voldemort.
Then chaos erupted.
A/N: So, yeah, I know. Two cliffies in a row. In my defense, I’m not being too evil about it and am updating fairly regularly.
I hope everyone thinks I did this situation justice. I think it’s a logical playout of what might happen when taken off-guard and mostly unarmed like that. Next chapter is even more one on one fun.
Oh, and I’ve been getting reviews asking if Spike was William Malfoy. For those that didn’t pick it up, yeah, Spike definitely knows Lucius and is related to the Malfoy family. However, Spike was never William Malfoy. He was part of another important family. So yes, related to and knows Lucius, no, not a Malfoy. It’s much more complicated than that.