Sacrifice Par Amarth: Chapter 8
See Chapter 1 for disclaimers and ratings.O o O o O o O
"Buffy, watch that.... step," Harry finished, wincing as the small slayer dodged the demon's wicked claws and stepped back into the open space beyond her. As Buffy's terrified scream ripped through the night air, Harry quickly focused his magic and wordlessly transfigured the broken pile of rubble below her into a small trampoline that caught her small form and threw her back towards her stunned opponent. Harry staggered back for a moment and watched as Buffy effortlessly twisted mid-air and landed behind her demon, spinning mid-step and launching at his back with a sharp kick that knocked him off of the broken stone walk and onto a thick pike that was driven into the ruins below.
She took a satisfied moment to wipe at the dirt that stained her cheek before flipping off of the walk and down onto the broken stone beside her dead demon. Turning, her eyes sweept up and over the impossibly large ruins that surrounded her. While she and Harry had visited the Coliseum in Rome only a few months prior, they certainly hadn't had the run of the place during their particularly touristy visit. Then again, when the demons that had been plaguing Rome's nightlife for months decided to take up residence in the popular tourist spot, who were they to argue against the necessity of breaking into the place earlier that evening?
Sighing, Buffy's breathing returned to a more normal rate as she took in the massive ruins. She was standing somewhere in the middle of the large arena, the floor broken in too many places and revealing the many cages and underground rooms that had lain beneath the fighting grounds so many centuries before. Now, the actual floor of the arena was little more than a narrow walkway above her and the tiered seating nothing more than jagged and broken sides that stretched up on all sides into the moonless night. Turning as her eye caught on a flash of light, Buffy watched as the last of the demons exploded on a tier high above in a rush of fiery heat so intense that in seconds its thrashing body was nothing more than a fine cloud of ash. Moments later a sharp crack echoed hollowly behind her as Harry apparated to her side.
"Well, that's it then, is it?" he asked absently, muffling a yawn behind one hand as his tired gaze swept over the demon's broken body. "Though you've left quite a mess," he added, his nose wrinkling in distaste at the gory mess. "I imagine the tourists will be getting a bit more than what they paid for come tomorrow morning."
"Not everyone can just go poof with the evidence," Buffy shrugged as she joined Harry, her eyes curiously roving over the demon's body as she worked at stretching her stiff muscles.
"You could bury him," Harry suggested as Buffy dropped unceremoniously to the ground beside him, her legs crossed before her.
"Too tired," she moaned as she made a show of smothering a large yawn, one hand drawn dramatically across her forehead.
Rolling his eyes at her display, Harry sighed loudly as he turned his attentions to the unmoving body before them. Narrowing his eyes, he quickly drew upon his magic and focused it into a single thought. Seconds later the body erupted into flame, the impromptu funeral pyre burning high and causing a thick spiral of smoke to trail up into the dark night. Drained, the dark-haired wizard then settled his tired body on the hard ground beside Buffy, the crackling of burning flesh sounding almost comforting. "You do realize that it's at least ten blocks back to our hotel?" he finally asked as Buffy leaned against his side, her head resting on that comfortable spot that seemed just made for her.
A soft groan was his only response as Buffy snuggled closer to his side, her mind going a comfortable blank as the heat from the fire washed over her sore and tired limbs, the tension from the fight draining away. If only all fights could end this way: cuddled up with her honey in a beautiful place, the sky open above them, and a nice fire to keep them all toasty warm. Though she could do without the smell of burning demon flesh. Wrinkling her nose at the unpleasant odor, Buffy buried her head deeper in the soft leather of Harry's jacket, the cool winter breeze pushing at her unbound hair.
The days and weeks kept slipping by as Harry and Buffy traversed the world, working at the Council's beck and call - a fact that Buffy found highly amusing. If only Travers was alive to see the day... if only she hadn't killed Travers close to year ago, such a thing probably would have been possible. Buffy shook the heavy thought away and instead allowed the idea of the upcoming holidays to lighten her mood. As long as no apocalypse was looming and no other catastrophe fell, she would soon be spending the Christmas holidays with all of her loved ones, safe within the stone walls of Hogwarts. Giles, Willow, Xander... Giles.
Groaning, Buffy tore herself from her warm cocoon and turned towards Harry. "We were supposed to call Giles tonight," she reminded him, all the while thinking of the long trek they would now have
to take in order to make it back to the hotel and the phone that had most likely been ringing off the hook for the past few hours. And while some things had changed a great deal since her time in Sunnydale, there was one thing that Buffy knew would never change - and that was the knowledge that if she didn't call her watcher tonight, she would be hearing about it for sure tomorrow... and the day after, and the day after that. "Come on - we better get going," she muttered, reluctantly pulling away from Harry's warmth as he shifted and attempted to pull her closer. Rolling her eyes, Buffy shifted again as she fought gently with the arms that ensnared her. "Harry, seriously - we don't have time for this. If this was a fire call from Sirius that we were late for, you'd be just as-"
"So why don't you just call Giles now?" Harry asked as he pulled Buffy closer with one arm while the other reached into his coat pocket and withdrew a small bag of powder. "Giles has a fireplace. Just call him here."
"But don't we
need a fireplace?" Buffy asked as she stilled, her eyes following his one-handed movements with evident curiosity.
"Less a fireplace and more an actual fire," Harry returned as he pulled Buffy into his lap, thus freeing both hands to work with the bag of powder. "It's more of a wizarding regulation, actually," he admitted as he took a pinch of the fine, dark gray powder. "The Ministry of Magic makes the magical community register their fireplaces so that they can regulate travel by floo powder as well as the calls. However, a few weeks back Mister Fellows explained that the Watcher's Council has a license to operate a little outside those boundaries," Harry explained as he deftly threw the powder into the fire that continued to blaze unchecked before them. "Rupert Giles," he called out, his voice firm as the fire changed in color and burned brighter for a few moments before Giles' head spun into view.
"Ugh... there's something just not right about that," Buffy murmured as she took in her watcher's head, oddly decapitated from his body and floating in the sea of flames.
"There you are!" the aged watched sighed as his oddly floating head turned in their direction, his tired eyes locking on his slayer. "Wait," he murmured, his eyes slipping past her as his head began to rotate in the flames, unwittingly pulling a move straight from the Exorcist, "where are you?" And then, before either could respond his head had turned full circle until it was facing them once more. "Never mind, I don't want to know," he sighed as he attempted to shake his head curtly. "Listen, Hermione and Ron were able to uncover something rather interesting the other night."
Arching her eyebrow at her watcher's wording, Buffy smirked. "How long have they been living together?" she cut in, her brow wrinkled in mock-confusion. "Because if they only uncovered it the other night, we should really be having a talk
Pointedly ignoring his slayer's ramblings, Giles quickly pushed on. "They found a book that makes reference to the Key and the Knights of Byzantium."
"The Knights of Byzan-What?" Buffy returned, her face scrunched in confusion as Harry pointedly placed his hand over her mouth.
"I've been waiting years for someone to do that," Giles commented as Buffy licked the hand that covered her mouth, causing Harry to pull it away, his features twisted in disgust.
"I'm pretty sure you just licked demon goo," he muttered as he wiped his slimy hand on the stiff material of Buffy's leather jacket, unable to resist a small snicker as the small slayer turned an interesting shade of green, puckering her lips before turning and spitting noisily off to the side.
Sighing, Giles shook his disembodied head before continuing on resolutely. "From what they've been able to find, it's a large order that has been working against our Hell Gods."
"So they're the good guys," Buffy surmised as she wiped her mouth with the sleeve of her jacket while glaring daggers at Harry.
"Well... not quite," Giles admitted, a frown pulling at his features. "Apparently they only want to find the Key before Dahmascus and Serantine so they can destroy it."
"Oh. So they're the bad guys."
"A little of both, actually," the watcher corrected with a sigh. "The book that references the Order is quite old - centuries old, actually - and we're doing all that we can to see if they still exist today. Perhaps if we can find someone from their group we will be able to gather some more information about the Hell Gods and the Key."
"Is there anything that we can do to help?" Harry asked hopefully, even though he was pretty sure what his answer was going to be.
"Exactly what you're already doing," Giles stated, repeating the words that had already been repeated to them at least a dozen times in the past month or so. "And whatever you do-"
"Stay away from the Hellmouth," Buffy muttered, rolling her eyes dramatically as her watcher glared at her. "We get the picture," she sighed, a wry smile lifting her lips as she realized how truly unthreatening her watcher looked when it was merely his head that glared at her. When he didn't have his impressive height to back him, or his hands to obsessively clean his glasses for him, he just... he was just Giles.
Sighing once more, Giles shook his head at the girl that sat before him. "Yes, well do remember it then," he stated before squinting once more at the surroundings. "And I'll be sure to talk with Samuel later. Surely the Council can supply you with some more funds to stay in a place a little more... livable," he muttered before shaking his head curtly. "I'll talk to you both in a few days then."
"Night Giles," Buffy returned, snickering quietly as the head swirled madly around in the flames before popping out of sight, leaving Buffy, Harry, and the burning corpse alone in the Coliseum. Sighing, Buffy tilted her head back until she was looking into Harry's down-tilted face. "I feel like everyone's working overtime for us, and that we're not doing anything to help," she admitted with a soft frown. "And I don't like it."
"We are helping," Harry returned firmly before quirking a grin at the fire that was only now beginning to die out. "Didn't we just talk to your watcher on the charcoals of one of the demons that has been plaguing this part of Italy?"
"That's not what I meant," Buffy returned solemnly, refusing to allow her anger to die that easily.
Sighing, Harry tilted his head down further until his forehead was resting against Buffy's, their hair an odd combination of light and dark as his breath fanned against the golden cascade that trailed down his chest. "I know what you mean," he murmured, his voice a low timbre as he lifted his head and pulled Buffy tighter against his chest, both looking forward into the dying embers of the fire. "But there really isn't anything that we can
do," he admitted as he planted a soft kiss against the crown of her hair. "We just have to sit tight and trust that our friends will find what they're looking for."O o O o O o O
Unable to stifle her small giggles, Willow batted away her lover's tickling hands with a small plush pillow as she rolled to evade her merciless torment - and promptly fell from the narrow cushions of the couch and collapsed in a graceless heap on the polished wooden floor beneath her. "Oomph!" she grunted, her limbs finally lying still as her gaze rolled until she was staring up into Tara's concerned brown eyes.
"Willow! Are you alright?" the gentle wiccan quickly asked as she knelt beside her girlfriend, pale hands reaching forward to smooth away errant strands of red from the other girl's high forehead, trying and failing to keep the small smile from lifting her full lips.
Wincing, Willow took a moment to regain her lost breath before returning her lover's grin with a petulant pout. "Smoochies always make my boo-boos go away," she stated as seriously as she could as she lifted herself up until she was resting her weight on her elbows, drawing her head closer to Tara's.
"They do, do they?" Tara returned coyly, a small blush staining her cheeks as she lowered her face until she was mere inches from Willow's. "But I fear my lips won't quite reach your injured areas," she murmured as she tipped her head forward, her hair falling in a curtain around them.
"We'll just have to make do," Willow quickly reasoned as she arched forward, her lips eagerly claiming Tara's as one hand reached up to entangle itself in her lover's soft mane. Closing her eyes, the wiccan lost herself in her lover's soft embrace, her thoughts tumbling away and leaving her tottering on the edge of bliss. Moments later, it was the need for oxygen that finally caused her to pull away as she fell back on the floor.
Laughing softly, Tara pushed herself to her feet, her long skirt falling around her ankles, and then reached down to help her girlfriend beside her. "No more of that," she admonished as she turned and settled on the long couch, making room as Willow promptly settled beside her. "You know what Xander said. No-"
"Smooching in the public areas of the house," Willow finished for her with a small smile as she snuggled beside her girlfriend. "He's just jealous-"
"Obviously," Tara agreed with a laugh. "Yet regardless, last I checked the living room was still very much considered a public part of this house. Which means-"
"No smooching," Willow sighed, rolling her eyes dramatically as she lifted one hand and matched it up against Tara's, smiling as their fingers lined up and then intertwined with one another. Absolutely content for the first time in weeks, the original Scooby allowed her body to relax into the comfortable folds of the worn couch, the warm lines of Tara's body curving around her slender frame, and her scent filling her head with fuzzy thoughts. "You smell like lavender," she murmured as she nestled her head against Tara's shoulder.
"And you smell like strawberries," Tara returned as she dropped a gentle kiss on Willow's bowed head, a smile curving her full lips.
"And together we smell like-"
Shrieking as Xander's face suddenly appeared over the couch behind them, Willow nearly fell onto the floor once again as her best friend placed an overflowing bowl of buttery popcorn on the couch before her. "Xander!"
"What?" the Scooby responded, an innocent smile lifting his lips as he skipped around the couch and toppled onto the vacant cushion beside her. "You said to bring you a feast worthy of a Queen, and so I did. Popcorn - the feast of many Queens!"
"A worthy feast," Tara agreed as she reached over to snag a few kernels of the buttery treat.
"A very worthy feast," Xander countered as he glared at his best friend, "and one that took many minutes in preparation. Which means that a little respect should be in order," he added as he crossed his arms stubbornly over his chest.
"Once you master the fine culinary art of Macaroni and Cheese, only then
will the respect be in order," Willow countered with a cheeky smile as she went to snag a few kernels herself - only to let out a small cry of dismay as Xander quickly tugged the bowl free and settled it firmly out of the redhead's reach.
"What would be the use when we have a Tara?" Xander asked logically as he threw a few buttery pieces in the air and tried to catch them in his open mouth.
Laughing as the dark-haired Scooby missed every single piece and as the popcorn scattered all over the couch and floor around him, Tara quickly reached over and pulled the bowl back into her own lap. "So is that the only reason that you guys keep me around then? To cook?"
Smiling slyly at her best friend, Willow shook her head as she ran a slender finger down her lover's cheek. "Well, that and-"
"So, time to start the movie?" Xander interrupted as he pointedly ignored Willow's baiting. Without waiting for an answer, he snagged the remote and started the DVD player.
Rolling her eyes at the two, Tara gently pushed Willow away as her brown-eyed gaze settled on the characters that were just taking the screen before them. "What are we watching again?"
"A Charlie Brown Christmas," Xander supplied as he sent her a scandalized glare for daring to forget.
"It's tradition," Willow supplied with a small shrug.
"And one that must be undertaken in preparation for this once-in-a-lifetime event," Xander added as the familiar music began to fill the large room.
Confused, Tara turned to her friend with a small frown. "You've never celebrated Christmas before?"
"Not in a magical castle in England-"
"Whatever," Xander continued, rolling his eyes at Willow before turning back to Tara. "Plus, this is going to be the first time that everyone
has been together in... well, I think that this will be the first time," he finished, shrugging his broad shoulders helplessly. "And thus it needs a bit of trad-"
"Will you do the Snoopy dance?" Willow interrupted, her green eyes sparkling as she slid to the edge of her couch cushion.
"Willow! I told you to never... oh, alright," Xander finished, grinning impishly at his friends as he abandoned his seat and slid into the center of the large room. "I now present you... Faith?" he asked, his dramatic intro falling short as the dark-haired slayer stalked into the room, her expression an odd and fearful mix between a scowl and a delighted smirk.
"D-d-do you.. do you want to join us?" Tara stammered, unconsciously straightening on the couch as the slayer paused mid-flight for the front door.
"Can't. Patrol," she answered glibly before turning narrowed eyes to the television screen that Xander was frantically trying to cover. "No rest for the wicked," she continued, frowning at Xander's pathetic attempts to shield the merry movements of the Charlie Brown crew on the screen behind him. Then, as a door slammed elsewhere in the large house, Faith winced before finishing off the distance to the front door. "When the Kid comes by, just tell her I'm waiting outside," she sighed as she pulled the door open, allowing the brisk December wind to filter through the door before her. "And," she added, pausing on the doorstep as she turned back to the trio with a feral grin, "if that overgrown windbag of hers gives her too much shit, tell him to shove it for me, will ya?"
Without giving any of them a chance to respond, the dark-haired slayer slipped out the front door, the wind catching the wood and slamming it behind her. Frozen, the three turned to each other in stunned silence and remained as such until yet another person stormed into the room, this one a good four years younger, at least a few inches taller, yet just as flustered as the youngest slayer angrily shoved her arms into the sleeves of her black leather jacket - a 15th birthday gift from Faith.
"Celeste," Willow greeted somewhat tentatively as the girl looked up as though noticing them for the first time. "Faith, uh... Faith said that-"
"Celeste! Celeste, wait a minute!" another voice angrily interrupted as Bertrone stormed into the room, his tie hanging loose around his neck and his normally impeccable suit coat looking as though it had been buttoned in the dark. "What has gotten into you?" he demanded, his gray eyes flashing as he stopped before his slayer, their toes touching and his cheeks flushed.
For a moment, it looked as though Celeste wasn't going to respond before her anger finally got the better of her. "The Slayer has gotten into me and you do not like it!" she returned, her voice low and even as her large blue eyes narrowed at the man that had raised her since she was a small child. "Monsieur, I finally understand what you have been trying to teach me since I was a petite enfant!" she stated, her words falling faster as her eyes flashed at him. "I understand now what it means to be-"
"You understand nothing!" Bertrone cut in, his French accent blurring the words as he hurled them back at the girl.
"Non! I understand everything!
" Celeste hissed as she angrily stepped forward until her nose was brushing against his. "It is all so clear
to me now! I am a Slayer-"
"And I am your Watcher! You will listen to what I say-"
"I will listen when you speak sense!" the slayer cut in as she slashed her hand angrily to the side. "I have done nothing but embrace my destiny-"
"You embrace the teaching of a... a... a putain
!" Bertrone thundered, his words cutting a swath through Celeste's tirade and leaving them both standing in a shocked and horrified silence. For a moment that seemed to stretch into infinity, Slayer and Watcher glared at each other, both standing tall, tense, and with faces that were growing white as splotches of red marked their fair countenances. Then, it was as though a dam had been released as Watcher and Slayer lit at each other; furious statements, arguments, and accusations hurtled at one another in rapid-fire French as the three Scoobies looked on in stunned silence. Then, what felt like an eternity, but was most likely only moments later, Celeste ended the fight as she angrily stomped her foot and then turned away, hurrying from the room with the speed of the slayer and slamming the front door behind her. A moment later, Bertrone followed suit as he angrily pivoted on his heel and stormed in the other direction - pausing for the slightest of moments to turn one last angry and saddened glance at the doorway before disappearing into the deep depths of the large house.
Trying vainly to find words to fill the thick silence that had muffled even the joyous sounds of the Snoopy gang behind him, Xander finally turned wide eyes to the two girls that were sitting opposite him, their mouths hanging open in a similarly stunned fashion. "Did... did anyone catch what that was all about?" he asked, even though he knew as well as any of them what it was that had been tearing the Watcher and Slayer apart for close to two months now.
"I took Spanish in high school," Willow offered with a small shrug, her voice sounding much higher than usual.
"I-I-I don't... I don't think that-that-that Monsieur Bertrone likes Faith's influence on Celeste," Tara stammered as she quietly reached forward to turn off the movie that no longer seemed appropriate after what they had just witnessed.
"Why? Because she's making her fun?" Xander asked sarcastically as he shuffled towards them and settled on the long couch with a heavy sigh. "If I've learned anything from Buffy over the past four years, it's that you can't fight so that others can live when you're not living yourself."
"B-b-but he cares about Celeste-"
"Maybe too much," Willow sighed as she gently squeezed Tara's hand. "And that's part of his problem. He just doesn't want to see her get hurt."
"Then aside from Buffy," Xander added, refusing to let the girls get the French watcher off the hook, "Faith is the best thing that's ever happened to Celeste. Faith will teach her what she needs to know in order to survive on the Hellmouth. She'll teach her how to live."
Sighing once more, Willow shook her head. "Listen, I like Faith just as much as the rest of you, but Xander, even you have to admit that she's not the Poster Girl for the Slay-team. I mean... she's not the best role model for Celeste."
"Maybe not," Xander allowed with a frown, "but it's the best that she's got."
Placing her hand on Willow's to stop the redhead from continuing in a debate that would get them nowhere, Tara played her inevitable role as the peacemaker in the large household. "Listen, in just a little bit longer we're all going to be together again. Maybe.. maybe we can have Giles talk to Monsieur Bertrone and maybe Buffy can even spend a little bit of time with Celeste - get to know her a little."
"And keep this from getting any worse," Willow added with a grimace. "Because I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm done with soap operas."
"And how are you with classic cartoons full of song, dance, and much in the way of merriment?" Xander asked with a smile as he pointedly picked up the DVD remote. And then, without waiting for a response he quickly pushed a button and allowed the cartoon's gentle noise to wash over them, a nice calm in the wave of the storm of their lives.O o O o O o O
"Hey, watch it!"
Gasping, the dark-haired man tore through the crowded streets of San Francisco, brown robes billowing around his bent form as hands clenched convulsively around the narrow shaft of wood that was hidden within one voluminous sleeve. Frantic brown eyes sifted through the many people that littered the sunny sidewalk and the trolleys that swept past him, always searching for the two beings that haunted his every step - always one step behind and gaining, pushing him to his limits and beyond. So far, Sirius had been lucky as he'd been able to avoid using magic before them. But with each day the noose tightened as the hell gods became more relentless in their pursuit and their anger far greater. It was a chase that they were quickly tiring of, and one that Sirius was unsure he could keep up for much longer.
Suddenly the crowds thickened before him as the many tourists ignored his shouted pleas and hindered his movements. Feeling the press of time, the wizard's frantic eyes searched desperately around him - and then froze as the crowds parted behind him as two tall, slender beings stepped through the masses as effortlessly as a ship cutting through a small ocean swell. The cold December sun beat down upon their heads, causing the young woman's cascade of red curls to sparkle like rubies while her companion's soft curls glittered like a dark opal. He felt the cold weight of their piercing gaze fall upon him, a slow smile lifting their perfectly shaped lips. As one they started forward, their eyes never straying and their concentration locked on Sirius' frozen form.
"No," Sirius whispered as his weathered hand, so different from his own, tightened around the cool wood of his wand. Paralysis broken, he quickly spun about and surged through the thick crowds, heedless of the cries and curses that were directed at his bent form as he pushed through the people that blocked his way. But even as he waded through the masses, he knew that there would be no escaping the gods this day and especially not in this manner. He had allowed them to get too close this time, and after having already witnessed their impossible speed, strength, and complete indifference to those around him, the wizard knew that his time was limited - a fact that was proven as a hand wrapped in the back of his robes and lifted him off of his feet as he was twisted around.
Grunting, Sirius barely had time to steady his feet before five deceptively long, slender fingers wrapped around his neck and lifted him effortlessly from the ground. Feet dangling in the air, the wizard lifted his tired brown eyes and met the cool gray orbs of Serantine, the goddess' perfectly sculpted pink lips lifted in a coy smile that flashed the whitest of teeth. Gasping, he felt his lungs scream for oxygen as his vision began to dim around the perfect halo of beauty that stood before him.
"My precious, precious Monk," she whispered, her voice a cascade of tinkling bells that carried over the surprised voices of the anxious crowd of onlookers, the muggles' eyes locked on the sight of the beautiful woman holding the man effortlessly above her. "What a chase you have given us."
"An unfortunate chase," Dahm added darkly as he stepped beside Serantine, his eyes coldly taking in the monk.
"But one that is now over," Ser added with a sweet smile - a smile that turned into a frown as a few men broke hesitantly away from the crowd, obviously torn in indecision. On one hand, there was the man that was dressed in the brown clothes of a holy man that was being accosted and turning a very frightening shade of purple. On the other, the man's attacker also happened to be the most breathtaking sight that any had ever seen before.
"Ma'am, I think you're hurting him," one of the men stammered, his eyes straying to the monk that seemed to be on the verge of losing consciousness.
"Not nearly as much as he will be hurting," Ser returned with a serene smile as her eyes turned away from her captive - which was just the distraction that Sirius had been waiting for as in that moment, a sharp crack tore through the air as the beleaguered man disappeared before the crowd's astonished eyes. Fingers closing in on themselves, the goddess stumbled backward as the weight that she had been countering vanished, throwing her off balance and against her fellow god.
"Where's the monk?" Dahm growled, his violet eyes narrowing in fury as he turned to his companion.
Hissing between clenched teeth, Ser opened her clenched hand and then turned her stormy gray eyes to the tall being before her. "I would have thought it obvious," she returned, her voice dangerously low and dripping with venom. "For if I'm not mistaken, it would seem that our Monk has picked up a few tricks since we tortured him last. Perhaps if you hadn't of let my dinner run off with him the last time, we wouldn't be here now! We wouldn't have spent the last five weeks chasing after him like a pair of hunting dogs after a common duck! We would have had our KEY already!"
"So this is my fault, is it then?" Dahm returned with a loud, very un-god-like snort. "If I'm not mistaken, it was your hands that he just slipped through! If you hadn't-"
Shaking his head wryly, Sirius watched as the two hell gods waged war upon each other from the relative safety of a nearby rooftop. He lifted one hand to gently finger his tender throat, knowing that it would be turning a nasty and mottled variation of blues, purples, and greens within a few hours. Yet a bruised neck seemed like a small price to pay for his life and the chance to continue the chase - if only a little bit longer. But for how much longer he would be able to hold the interest of the Hell Gods... that was the real question.
Even as the hell gods began trading blows below - hits so powerful that the crowd smartly began to scatter as the sidewalk cracked beneath their hurtled forms, buildings crumbling behind them - Sirius already began to plan how he would hide the injury for his fire call to Harry that night. Aside from the occasional visit from Remus, always arriving with a freshly brewed stock of Polyjuice Potion, his scheduled chats with his godson were the only thing that he looked forward to.... the only thing he lived for.
Sighing, Sirius slowly pushed himself to his feet and lifted his wand as he thought of all that he had to finish before he could apparate to Hogwarts the following morning. At least there he would be able to give Poppy a visit and hopefully get the worst of the bruising taken care of before any of the others arrived. Tomorrow, after all, was Christmas Eve, and even if two days hardly seemed like enough time to be reunited with friends and family, it was all that any of them could afford. Therefore, they would just have to make it enough.