Sacrifice Par Amarth: Chapter 7
See Chapter 1 for disclaimers and ratings.O o O o O o O
Closing her eyes, Buffy allowed the beat to take her, the music thrumming through her as she instinctually moved against the hard body that she was pressed against, others rocking and gyrating against her from all sides. Head lolling from side to side and wisps of blonde sticking to damp skin, the scent of hundreds of sweaty young bodies clogged her nostrils, cloying with the acrid scent of cigarette smoke that caused a dark haze to spread over the room. Her indecently small, black sequined shirt - nothing more than a piece of cloth that barely covered her chest and secured by a simple tie around her neck and around her bare back - clung to her damp, sweaty skin. A lazy smile pulling at her lips, the small slayer pressed herself forward, rubbing herself lewdly against the body that faced hers as a large, warm hand settled on the damp skin of her back and pulled her tighter against the body that moved in perfect harmony with her own.
Buffy pivoted on one ankle and then pressed her back against her partner's chest, a smile twisting her lips as the arm wrapped around her waist, the large hand splaying fingers over her firm stomach. And then her perfect haze was interrupted as another warm body pressed against her front, unfamiliar hands trailing down her arms as a groin was ground against her own. Frowning, Buffy's eyes fluttered open, the flashing lights catching on the glitter that lined her green eyes as she glared at the strange man that was busy leering at her, his hot breath washing over her face. Rolling her eyes, she lifted a hand long enough to push the guy away before she was turning, her gaze locking with Harry's, his green eyes twinkling in obvious amusement as his arm once more wrapped around her back and pulled her tight against him.
Smiling coyly, Buffy lifted one leather clad leg and rubbed up Harry's own before wrapping it around his waist. Instantly Harry's expression turned from one of amusement to something far more entertaining as she lifted her arms around his neck and as he tightened his hold on her, his strong arms interlocking and sliding her up his body until both of her legs were wrapped securely around his waist. In seconds they were level as Buffy pressed her lips hungrily against Harry's as the crush of bodies grew even tighter against them as Harry continued to move to the music. Groaning, Buffy's mouth slid open as Harry's tongue darted against her own, his hot breath mingling with hers as she clung to him, ignorant of everything but Harry's warm press against her skin.
Minutes passed unnoticed, one grinding beat quickly exchanged with another and another as the night continued. It was their need for oxygen and their waning strength that finally caused the two to part as Buffy slowly slid back down the length of Harry's body, grinning impishly as he scowled at her in response. And then, linking hands she followed him out of the crush of moving bodies and towards the long bar that lined this floor of the sunken club, the deafening beat of the music dying away to a more manageable thunder. Rolling her shoulders in hopes of loosening her tensed muscles, Buffy settled against the bar, one hand lifting to push a sweaty strand of hair from her forehead and tucking it behind an ear as her eyes scanned the pulsing club.
Three long weeks had passed since Buffy and Harry had learned about the night that had been stolen from them. Three long weeks of globe trotting, hunting, and slaying the darkness that plagued the four corners of the world... and three long weeks of coming to terms with the fact that not only was Buffy no longer just Buffy Summers nor the Vampire Slayer, or even one of the Chosen Three - instead, Buffy was now also The Key. She couldn't help but think that four titles were a bit much for one so young. Then again, at least her fame was limited to a select few and was in the end more notorious than famed in the demon realms. The same couldn't, of course, be said for the famous Harry Potter.
"What is it?" Buffy shouted as Harry passed a glass into her hands, her eyes taking in the pale red liquid that splashed over the rim.
"Couldn't tell you!" Harry shouted back, a stupid grin lifting his lips. "Didn't speak English!"
Smirking, Buffy lifted the glass to her lips and took a tentative sip. Fruity. Tangy. Bitter. Alcohol... lots of alcohol. Shrugging, Buffy downed the glass in one long drink before placing the empty glass on the sticky bar, absently lifting a hand to fan at her flushed skin as Harry sidled beside her. The hot spot for the night was none other than the Capital of Love itself - although this was certainly a side of Paris that Buffy had never anticipated seeing. The club was located on a little side street off the Boulevard de Saint Germain in the 6th District and was filled with men and women of all ages from the very young to the very old. Yet without fail, nearly every single one of them was dressed in some scantily-clad fashion or another. It may have been mid-November outside, but within the club it was baking. For a time, even Buffy's leather pants and wisp of a shirt had seemed like too much clothing as the sweaty bodies had writhed beside her, always moving in time to the heavy beat.
Turning, Buffy's eyes slipped over Harry's lean form, nestled so securely beside her. Years of quidditch had done wonders for her boyfriend's lean frame, and the tight cotton shirt he wore demonstrated this fact quite nicely - especially when combined with the uncharacteristically tight leather pants that seemed sown onto his long legs, and the contact lenses that she had convinced him to don for the occasion. With his messy black hair plastered to his scalp by sweat, he looked less like the Boy Who Lived and more like any other guy who was busy making the most of the cool Paris night. Unfortunately for them both, there was a lot more to their night out than those that surrounded them - a fact that became abundantly clear as Buffy finally allowed her senses to reign free.
"Well?!" Harry called out, his head leaning towards hers as Buffy's eyes swept the room.
"Two vamps by the far wall!" Buffy returned, her eyes narrowing on the slip of a girl with neon pink hair and her butched companion.
"Are these the ones we're looking for?!"
"According to the Garak demon we bagged last night, only one main vampire nest is operating in Paris - the odds are in our favor!" Buffy returned, eyes locked on the two as they were joined by four more couples, all looking old enough to know better as they followed the vampires out into the night. Sighing, Buffy cast one last longing look at the dance floor before grimly accepting her fate. Locking her arm around Harry's waist as his draped casually over her shoulder, the wizard guided her from the club and into the chill night beyond. Shivering slightly as the early winter air slapped against her bared, sweaty skin, Buffy drew closer as they slowly stumbled after the large, raucous group, playing up their inebriation even though their few drinks had done nothing more than provide a small buzz - much to her chagrin. It would figure that her first opportunity to drink legally would be mucked up by her sworn duty.
Destiny. Go figure.
Shrugging her thoughts away, Buffy watched as the group descended a flight of narrow stairs into the grimy tunnels of the Paris subway system at Rue de Bac.
"They've gone into the Underground-"
"That would be the Metro, Captain Obvious," Buffy corrected with a small smile at her British companion as they followed the loud group. Not that they really needed to fear losing them. The amount of noise that they were making was enough to wake the dead, if they weren't already being accompanied by them, that is - not to mention the nauseating smell that wafted behind them. "Please don't tell me that we smell as bad as they do," Buffy murmured as the group passed their tickets through the machines and then gathered in the middle of the empty platform.
"Worse, I'm sure - although not nearly as bad as it smells in here," Harry countered with a grimace as he pulled Buffy a few feet further down the line. His eyes traced over the many tattered and stained advertisements that covered the walls behind them, marveling at the differences between the Paris Metro and the London Underground. While the Underground could never really be labeled as the most sanitary of places, it certainly wasn't as disgustingly dirty as the Metro - nor did it ever smell of urine quite like the cavernous place they now occupied.
"Lovely," Buffy returned as she wrinkled her nose, unconsciously stepping closer to Harry as the speakers crackled to life above them. Craning her neck, Buffy listened to the rapid-fire French before shrugging her shoulders and turning back to her boyfriend. "My high school French isn't what it used to be, but I think they said something about the last train of the night," she offered, her eyes sweeping the empty platform and noting that, aside from the fools they were following, the place was deserted.
"Which means we're walking again," Harry surmised as the distant din of the approaching train began to make talking difficult. Sighing, he quickly stored the information away and waited until the train came to a stop before gently pushing Buffy on before him - and then stumbled as she froze mid-way through the doorway. "What?" he asked, shuffling to the side as the doors closed behind him and the train began to pick up speed.
Buffy turned, her narrowed gaze sweeping down the length of the dirty train and settling on the very few scattered occupants... occupants that were making her slayer sense go wild. "I think we just found our nest," she sighed as the vampires abandoned their seats and began stalking down the rocking train and towards the oblivious partiers... and her and Harry, of course.
"They couldn't wait until they brought the food to them?" Harry whispered, shaking his head in dismay as he unconsciously took a step away from Buffy as she bent low on the pretense of retying her high-heeled boot.
"Must've had the munchies," Buffy returned as she lifted the leg of her leather pants and wrapped her hand around the cool shaft of her favorite blade, sliding it free of its sheath as the screaming began. Buffy straightened and turned towards the group, rolling her eyes as the vampires abandoned their human guises and morphed into the faces of their demons. "And so it begins," she sighed as Harry grew still beside her, his eyes narrowing in concentration before a soft wind ruffled her shirt and then shot past her, colliding with the built vampire that was about to take a bite out of a swooning girl and knocking him back against the far wall.
Taking her cue, Buffy sprinted down the rocking train and pushed her way through the confused mass. "Get to the other end of the train," she ordered, nodding her head to the front of the speeding metro car as she ducked the pink vamp's swipe and retaliated with a smooth cut of her knife that easily dislodged the girl's head from her shoulders and caused her to cascade to the floor in a cloud of ash. Spinning, she ducked the attack of another and soon lost herself in the fray, the vampires falling beneath the blade of her knife and her powerful strikes as she caught glimpses of Harry using every ounce of his wandless magic to either keep the vampires at bay or to take them out by himself.
Buffy and Harry made a good team. While they had only been working together for the past three weeks, and at partial strength at that, the two quickly fell into a comfortable routine as Harry worked on keeping their opponents occupied until Buffy was freed up enough to deal with them one by one. It was a slow process, but one that had always served them in the past as it ensured that Buffy wouldn't get overwhelmed while Harry wouldn't tire himself out unnecessarily by doing anything too big. And oddly enough, they both found that the more that Harry used his magic, and the more that Buffy used her slayer strength, the quicker both of these were replenished. In fact, in the three weeks that they had been working for the Council, their strength had almost doubled and was quickly nearing their normal levels... or at least, far more quickly than before.
Grunting, Buffy rolled with the punch that hammered against the small of her back, biting back her cry of pain as she was tossed against the unforgiving wall. Thrown off balance, she stumbled and then crashed into Harry's lean form as the train suddenly began to slow, breaking his concentration as they both tumbled to the floor.
"Buffy," Harry muttered as he tried to untangle himself from her smaller limbs, his eyes locking on the two vampires that were making a break for the slowly closing doors.
"On it," she returned as she jumped to her feet and dove through the narrowing opening, rolling gracefully on the hard concrete and springing to her feet. Turning, she glanced back once at the train that was slowly rolling away, watching as Harry brought his game up a notch and began lighting fire to the vampires that remained.
"He'll catch up," she muttered, shrugging her shoulders as she turned back in time to see the two vampires disappear around the corner. "Oh no you don't," she ground out as she sprinted after them, ignoring the protests of her aching muscles and bruised flesh. Clutching a rapidly growing stitch in her side, Buffy took the stairs two at a time, her eyes briefly lighting on the sign that gave her location as the metro stop of Notre-Dame des Champs - not that it meant anything to her. Instead, she let her slayer sense guide her up a few more flights of stairs and down the twisting metro passageways until she emerged into the cold, dark night beyond.
Gasping, Buffy skidded to a stop as she quickly turned in either direction - and then froze as the two vampires stepped out of the shadows on either side of the exit. "There you are," she sighed, trying vainly to catch her breath while silently thanking the Powers That Be for ending the chase before she dropped over mid-pursuit.
"You are American," one of the vampires stated, his softly accented voice drawing out each syllable as his eyes roved over her small frame.
"And you're not," Buffy returned, arching a thin, blonde brow at the two as the foreigner made a clumsy dive for her. "Not American or even a good fighter," she cried as she followed his dive with a couple of hard punches that left the vampire staggering back against a signpost. "To think you'd haul out the big guns when the slayer comes to town - makes me feel unwelcome," she added as she followed her punch with a kick that broke the vampire's neck before it realized what was happening.
"You're the Slayer?" the other asked, his glowing yellow eyes growing wide as he looked at his companion's ashes in shock.
"The one and... guess that one doesn't work anymore," Buffy sighed, shaking her head at the slip - only to scowl as the guy turned tail and ran down the street. "Hey! We weren't finished here!" she cried out, her angry words ending in a groan of protest as she forced her body to move. Grimacing, she concentrated on making her short strides grow smooth as the man tore down an empty street and vaulted over the high fence to one of the many parks that littered the city of Paris.
"Oh, give me a freaking break," Buffy muttered, her frown deepening as she increased her pace and then launched herself at the high fence. Gritting her teeth, Buffy wrapped her hands around the cold iron and then flipped over the top of the fence, the ground soaring to meet her as her booted heels sunk into the cold ground. Grunting with the impact, she quickly forced herself to her feet and pushed herself on, sprinting across the leave-strewn ground and chasing the vampire as he raced through the trees - and then skid to a stop as Harry apparated directly in front of him.
Without saying a word, the dark-haired wizard narrowed his green eyes at the stunned vampire and lifted one hand, releasing but a small portion of his magic in a wave that knocked the vampire back into Buffy's waiting arms. Grimacing, the petite slayer wrapped one small arm around the vampire's thick neck and gripped his head firmly with the other. Then, with one hard twist she broke the vampire's neck and sent him to his brethren.
Sighing, Harry felt his adrenaline begin to ebb away as he sagged against a nearby tree. "You okay?" he asked, watching in concern as Buffy bent over, her hands resting upon her knees and her head tilted down as she struggled for the breath that she had been missing.
"Tired," Buffy wheezed as she worked on getting her beating heart back under control. "Not back up to full strength yet. You?"
"Same here," Harry admitted with a small grimace as he forced his trembling limbs to hold him up. "I doubt that I could levitate a feather right now, even with my wand," he added with a wry smile, thinking back to the very first lesson he ever had in his Charms Class.
"Does that mean that we can call it a night?" Buffy asked hopefully as she wearily moved to Harry's side, one arm wrapping around his waist and helping to keep him steady on his feet.
"I won't tell if you won't," Harry returned with a small smile as they made their way to the fence that locked them in - and then froze as he finally took in his surroundings. "Buffy, where are we?"
"According to that sign, the Jardin du Luxembourg," the small slayer returned before a mirroring frown pulled at her lips. "Oh," she muttered, her eyes sweeping over the securely locked gate. The very high, sharply-pointed, securely locked gate that she had vaulted over earlier with the slightest of effort. "Oh," she repeated with a small sigh as she realized the futility of trying to somehow get through the barrier with the adrenaline gone, her strength waning, and Harry's magic virtually depleted. Sighing, she slowly turned away from the high fence and led Harry back into the middle of the park, setting her mind to the conclusion that, once more, they wouldn't be returning to their warm, comfortable hotel bed that night.
"What were we thinking again when we agreed to do this?" Harry asked as he ran a hand through his messy black hair, collapsing onto one of the many chairs that circled the large, empty fountain that graced the middle of the enclosed area.
"Oh, I don't know... something about helping the helpless, fighting the good fight, yadda yadda yadda," Buffy murmured around a yawn as she climbed onto his lap and snuggled against his warm body, helping him to wrap his arms tight around her waist as they shared their body heat. Sighing, she felt the vestiges of sleep begin to pull at her conscious mind as Harry's breathing deepened against her cheek. "But next time, let's sleep on it, alright?"O o O o O o O
With a soft hiss of flickering flame, the contents of the cauldron bubbled angrily beneath the weak light of the flickering torches that lined the dungeons. Slowly, a long wooden spoon turned the grayish mass as a few strands of dark brown hair were dropped into the cement-like sludge, the potion dissolving the strands in a loud belch before going smooth once more. Then, with precise and practiced movements, one pale hand steadily lifted a small silver flask while the other used the wooden spoon to scoop a good-sized dollop of the sludge and feed it into the small opening, careful not to spill a drop of the precious potion. Nodding once, greasy black hair sliding forward to obscure beady black eyes, the Potions Master slowly replaced the spoon and then sealed the small flask before turning and finally acknowledging the man that stood patiently behind him. "It is ready," Snape stated, his voice cold and his dark eyes narrowed as he grudgingly passed over the precious flask.
"How long will this dose last?" Remus asked, ignoring Snape's blatant hostility as he accepted the flask and deftly slid it into the pocket of his worn coat before drawing his heavy cloak around his stooped shoulders.
"As you should know," Snape began, his tone dripping with snide contempt as he raised his wand and banished the smoldering cauldron to the back of his cupboard where it would continue to simmer until needed again, "the Polyjuice Potion is a very complex and volatile potion. While I was able to adjust it slightly so that it would last a maximum of four days, anything else would have most likely made the contents lethal to those that consumed it. And we wouldn't want that, now would we?" he asked, a sick smile twisting his thin lips.
Sighing softly, Remus called upon his infinite patience and bit back his angry retort. He doubted that there was a soul in the castle that hadn't
heard the Potion Professor's heated argument with the headmaster when he was first asked to brew this potion exactly twenty-one days ago. It wasn't so much the fact that he had been asked to brew such a complex potion, but instead the anger was solely directed towards the person that would be benefiting from it: namely one Sirius Black. If there was one person that Snape hated even worse than Sirius, that would have been James and Lily's son - which meant that pointing out that Harry, Hermione, and Ron had created this same potion in their second year at Hogwarts would have certainly only made the situation even more unbearable. "I'll be sure that Sirius is aware of the time restraint," Remus replied cordially as he inclined his gray-speckled head politely in the sneering man's direction.
Then, without another word, Remus quickly turned and swept out of the dungeon, his traveling cloak flaring around his long frame. In the three weeks since Sirius had begun this mad chase, he had stayed in almost continual contact as he traversed the globe in hopes of keeping the gods at bay. So far, everything had been working in their favor as Remus would frequently apparate to wherever his friend was currently located, helping to keep the loneliness of his task at bay - yet a quiet part of the DADA professor couldn't help but wonder how long their good fortune would last. As it was, Sirius had admitted to far too many close calls for comfort - close calls that he was sure that Sirius never revealed in his weekly fire calls to Harry. Not that he could blame his oldest friend. From the odd letter and more frequent reports he had been receiving from both Hermione and Sirius, it seemed as though the Watcher's Council was keeping their newest agents quite busy. And even more importantly, apparently Harry and Buffy were really quite good together. If only the same luck could hold for the rest of them.O o O o O o O
Sighing, Ron patiently waited for the last customer to finish their transaction before escorting them to the glass-paneled door to the shop. With an exhausted, half-hearted wave goodbye, he watched as the witch and her son disappeared down the darkened off-shoot of Diagon Alley before closing the door and locking it with a reassuring click. "Blimey - I thought they'd never leave," he sighed as he turned and leaned against the door, one hand reaching up to run through his wild red hair.
"At least they bought something," Charlie offered as he finished placing the knuts in the proper drawer of the old cash register. "With that last sale, I think we topped out yesterday."
"Folks gettin' into the Christmas season and all that," Bill offered as he shuffled into the main room of the store, arms laden with boxes and packages of all sizes. "Ron, want to give me a hand here?"
"Yeah, yeah," the youngest male Weasley replied as he hurried across the store and helped unload the various bits of inventory from his eldest brother's hands. From fake wands to ton tongue taffies to hundreds of other joke paraphernalia, the various items that Fred and George had created in their short lifetime continued to be a huge hit with the wizarding populace - especially considering the legacy that they had left from their days at Hogwarts. By now, the legend of their many pranks had even outgrown the distant memory of the Mauraders until the Weasley Twins were infamous - even more so since the news of their tragic deaths over two years ago. Even though he, Bill and Charlie had only reopened the store around five months ago, the amount of business that they continued to take in was staggering - and it was the best gift that they could ever give to the two brothers that had fallen during the war. "How are we sitting on the Canary Creams?"
"A little low," Bill admitted with a small frown as he absently tugged at his long ponytail, his earring glittering in the candlelight. "We're just lucky that Fred and George left such extensive notes. I'll be able to whip up another batch tomorrow morning."
"I could do it tonight," Ron offered as he began restocking the store's shelves.
Pausing mid-count of the piles of wizarding coins that littered the counter besides the register, Charlie quickly lifted his head and eyed his youngest brother - and frowned at what he saw. There were no longer any secrets in the Weasley family, and everyone, Percy included, knew what was going on with Harry Potter and Buffy Summers and the real reason why they had disappeared for so long... and the reason why none of them had seen either of them since they left earlier that summer. They also knew that while Ron continued to spend his days keeping up the shop with his brothers, upon leaving he always returned to his small flat and quickly immersed himself in the many books that Hermione always brought home, both continuing their search for a way to help their best friend. Already the weeks of unending research were beginning to tell on their younger brother as the smudges beneath his bloodshot eyes grew darker day by day until his freckles were all but hidden beneath the dark bruises.
"No, I think Charlie and I have it covered tonight," Bill smoothly responded, his eyes locking briefly with his brother's before sending a small smile at Ron's tired features. "Why don't you call it a night and head on home - get some sleep. Maybe you'll even beat Hermione back."
"Not likely," Ron snorted as he grinned weakly at his brothers, "on all accounts." Sighing, he slowly stretched out his arms before heading over to the cloak rack. "I met Hermione for lunch today and she mentioned a few books that she wanted us to go over tonight. She mentioned something about some Knights of Miss-Anthony or something or other," he muttered as he slipped the cloak around his shoulders - and then paused as his eyes caught on a framed picture of he, Harry, and Hermione in their second year. It was funny how everything seemed so simple back then, when Professor Snape and expulsion seemed like the worst thing that they could ever face. If only they had known then what was to come: Voldemort, Fred and George, the war... and now the Key. If only they had know then what they did now, mayhap their smiles wouldn't have been so innocent.
Sighing, Ron wearily ran a hand over his troubled eyes. "It's December already and we still haven't found anything else to help out Harry and Buffy," he admitted, unable to repress the image of Giles' eyes - eyes that were becoming more and more desolate as each book proved useless in their hunt for information. "We all know that Sirius can't keep this up for too much longer and then... and then I don't know what's going to happen. All I know is that one of these Gods took down two Slayers as though it was nothing and sooner or later, both of these Gods are going to be turning their attention to my best friend and his girlfriend, and-"
"You'll find what you're looking for," Bill interrupted as he gently dropped a hand on his younger brother's slumped shoulders. "Hermione is the brightest witch I know, and even Dumbledore himself is helping out. If there's information to be found, they'll find it."
Nodding slowly, Ron allowed the small comfort of his brother's hand to warm him for just a moment before slowly gathering the rest of his stuff. Wand ready, he thought of the small flat that he shared with Hermione and prepared to apparate home when his gaze fell once more on the single frame that glittered in the weak candlelight. His eyes traced over Harry's smiling face as his friend waved at him eagerly from behind the thin piece of glass. "But will it be in time?" he whispered, his eyes falling shut as he disappeared with a sharp crack, a thick silence falling in his wake.