Disclaimer: I own absolutely nothing, the characters belong to Joss Whedon and JK Rowling.
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Author's Note: OK, once you've read the whole story you'll understand why i'm saying this- i know bits of this don't work but bear with me, i was going crazy trying to rework it and i've reached the end of my tether, so i'm posting it and to hell with it. Then again, if anyone whose muse is working has any suggestions, i'd be more than grateful to hear them :)
The pain from her throbbing cheek snapped her mind back from the edge of unconsciousness it had been hovering on and her eyes flew open. As the scene before her registered, sound came flooding back to her in a rush of shouts and fighting.
“Let her go, ferret boy!”
“Because you’re telling me to? Unlikely, Weasel. I want the Morrigan’s amulet.”
“You’re not going to get-”
Willow could only watch helplessly from her position on the floor as one of their ambushers –a guy that looked too pretty to be male- shot a spell at Ron and he toppled backward as if in slow motion, stiff as a board and unable to move, joining Giles who was also in the same predicament.
The new voice drew her gaze to the other side of the Magic Box, passing over the piles of dust that were former vamps and the unconscious bodies littering the ground, to where Ginny knelt beside The Boy Who Was Dazed And Bleeding Profusely- Harry Potter.
An inferno burning in her eyes, Ginny pushed herself to her feet and faced the smirking leader of their attackers –Draco Malfoy. She was clenching her wand so tightly that her knuckles had gone white and her yell of “Stupefy!” was full of anger.
Draco did not bother to deflect it. Instead, one of his followers threw himself in front of the handsome blonde wizard, taking the proverbial bullet for the Slytherin Prince.
At the same time, Malfoy’s pretty boy lackey sent a curse at brave little Ginny that threw her back into the wall and left her slumped a few feet from Harry, whose eyes were looking glazed.
Willow winced as the fellow redhead hit the wall, feeling her pain.
She heard Xander yelp and found him struggling with a pug-faced blonde, broken wand at her feet, who was pulling his hair. Hermione was nearby, leaning against one of the wooden support beams, one arm hanging uselessly at her side and her wand in the hand of the other.
The brainy witch muttered something Willow couldn’t hear and flicked her wand at the girl wrestling with Xander. A broken table leg- once part of the table and chair set they had used for research and now just part of the debris- floated up from the ground and slammed into the blonde’s forehead, dropping her to the ground and leaving the beginnings of a nasty welt.
The silence after the witch fell was broken by a throat being cleared and all eyes landed on Draco Malfoy, still smirking away, as though the destruction and pain amused him.
Willow shivered as his grey eyes met hers for a moment, then moved on, and her own gaze was drawn to the chain-wrapped bundle hovering a foot or so off the ground. What the hell? Whenever that had appeared it had to be important since Draco’s wand was steadily pointed at it.
As though Draco knew what she was thinking, the bundle turned and a couple of chains slipped down to reveal the royally pissed off face of their very own friendly neighbourhood vampire slayer. “When I get out of this I am so gonna kick your ass.”
The words fell from her lips as a whisper as the chained slayer fell to the ground and the former Slytherin’s wand tip followed.
This was getting out of hand. Hell, it was already as far from her hand as the moon. She had to bring a stop to this. Had to stick to the plan. Sure, this wasn’t the way she’d seen this going but, as she had to keep reminding herself, lest she give the game away, it was necessary. Even if she hated it- and her herself for doing so.
“As a Malfoy, I’m really not used to asking twice. I want the amulet and you are going to give it to me. You buggered up your chance to do this nicely, so now it’s time for pain. Cruci-!”
Willow flung her hand out and Draco and his five still-standing goons were shoved back.
Though, in her struggle to keep her dark side under control, she had used the barest amount of magic she could handle, all six of them hit the Magic Box counter- three even flew over it- and Draco was the first to clamber back to his feet as her fingernails dug into her palms and she forced her breathing to slow.
There was no way, after all her hard work in England after the almost-ending-the-world incident, that she was going to let herself become that scary black-eyed girl again. Nuh-uh.
She reined her badness in enough to look up and saw that Malfoy’s attention was now totally focused on her. Oops. Now he was seeing her as a threat and she wasn’t sure that she could fight back without blowing the newly-rebuilt and once-again trashed Magic Box and all its inhabitants to kingdom come.
“Stop? Why would I do that when I’m so close to getting what I want? What could you possibly offer me to make me pause?”
Swallowing, Willow used the wall to aid her as she got to her feet and raised her chin as she softly spoke the words her friends would see as her doom.
~5 hours ago~
“You think he’s coming here to get this Harridan’s amulet thingy?”
“Morrigan’s amulet, Buffy. And from what Harry’s told us, I think Draco Malfoy will almost certainly be on his way here to retrieve it.”
The slayer frowned and crossed her arms. “And you think that why?”
Looking a little embarrassed, Giles, as if on cue, started cleaning his glasses with worrying intensity. “Well, um…because I believe it’s in the cabinet to your left.”
“You have it?!” Ron Weasley’s mouth gaped as his ears reddened and only Hermione’s worried hand on his arm seemed to stop him from flying at the Watcher. “Don’t you know how dangerous that thing is? It should be locked up in the Ministry! It’s got enough power to end the bloody world and its sitting here in plain bloody sight with bloody Malfoy on his way to come and claim it! Ow!” He glared at Hermione who stared him down as he rubbed the spot on his arm where she’d slapped him for his swearing. Even if this was one of those situations that called for a few choice swear words.
Buffy sighed and glanced at Willow and Xander with a ‘here we go again’ expression. “Another apocalypse, huh? Do you reckon we get a bonus prize if we reach ten?”
Hermione, Harry, Ron and Ginny all looked shocked at the gang’s nonchalance and Ron’s new outburst was stopped only by a quick hand clamped over his mouth, courtesy of his sister who then, with a frown of concern, said, “I’m sorry if we all seem a little…stunned, but I don’t think you quite grasp the situation-”
“Big bad. Needs amulet. Wants to end world. Got it.” Buffy shrugged.
“You know, it’s not quite ‘Giant Mayor Snake’ or ‘Hell-God Wanting To Bleed My Sister The Key’ or even ‘Scary Veiny Willow’.”
“Sorry, Will, but that was only a few months ago. It’s still the last world-end-y experience we’ve had.”
“I know, but, still, all better now. Well, not all better, ‘cause, you know, every time I try to do the simplest magick it goes Poof! and it’s like fighting myself, but not literally fighting myself like when vamp Willow came for a visit, that was just scary, plus weird since she knew I liked girls before I did because she did and…”
The sight of the four newcomers staring at her like she’d grown an extra head made her blush as she trailed off, then muttered, “I babble.”
“Who’s vamp Willow?”
“You like girls?”
“You’re the American witch who nearly killed us all?!”
“You like girls?!”
Ducking her head as her face burned, Willow was saved from answering by Xander as Giles coughed a laugh.
“All excellent questions –the answers of which gave me some very strange dreams, like the one where Willow and Tara were-”
Both Willow and Buffy interrupted with a sharp “Xander!”
“-but let’s save some of them for when we save the world. Giles? Plan?”
“Well, yes, um, before we get further off-topic, I think some research is in order. We still don’t know exactly what Morrigan’s amulet is and does, though since the Morrigan was a Celtic god, we should start there. And you four can tell us all about this Draco Malfoy.”
~25 minutes ago~
Willow frowned at her laptop screen, glancing to the book beside her, then back. “Uh, guys? I think I’ve found what the amulet needs to work.”
“And from the look on your face, I’m thinking it doesn’t involve supermodels in their underwear.”
Willow attempted to smile at Xander’s ‘apocalypse on the horizon’ humour, but failed miserably. “If only," Her forehead creased as she looked thoughtful. "Although, in a way, supermodels already kinda rule the world-"
“Oh, right, impending doom, here we go. Morrigan is the Celtic War-Goddess of death and destruction and the mother of all Irish gods. She’s also known as the Spectre Queen and Great Queen Morgan. Basically, the amulet rips open a hole between this world and the spirit world, there’s a whole lot of badness, and everything collapses if it isn’t closed in time.”
Buffy cocked her head, frowning slightly as she murmured, “ So maybe it is kinda like the Glory thing.”
Hermione appeared thoughtful while Willow spoke and the redhead could almost see the cogs turning in her head.
“Perhaps it’s another attempt to bring back Voldemort. Though I like to think he’s screaming in eternal torment in hell…”
“Well, whatever the reason, it gets worse. There’s a spell to activate the amulet. The main ingredient….is the heart-blood of the Chosen One.”
All eyes fixed on Buffy whose face was expressionless as she muttered, “It’s always got to be blood,” and ducked down behind the Magic Box counter to heft the sword conveniently kept there for emergencies.
And that’s when all hell broke loose.
Draco stared at her curiously, ignoring Buffy as she struggled with more fervour than before, and Xander as he shouted for Willow not to do anything stupid.
Taking a steadying breath, Willow licked her lips. “For a month. And you release Buffy and let them all go unharmed.”
“A year,” Malfoy quickly countered.
Willow blinked in amazement. Six months? Wow, that was unexpected. “Done?”
“Done,” he repeated, a devilish smirk on his lips.
She could hear Xander screaming her name as Hermione struggled to hold him back, tears streaming down her face.
“Let Buffy go.”
The chains slid off the slayer like water, clanging as they hit the floor. Draco was holding a hand out to Willow and she reached to take it as Buffy leapt to her feet and shifted to attack mode, prepared for anything in the classic slayer stance.
“I can’t let you do this, Will. None of us can. We don’t bargain with the big bad. Except for that one time with Spike and the Alfalfa thing.”
“Buffy…please…don’t. This is the only way…”
“I can fight. You can fight, the magicks…”
“Will probably make me destroy all of us. This way means that no one else gets hurt. Please understand…this is my sacrifice, part of my redemption. I want to do this.”
“I’ll see you all in a few months.”
Then the wrecked Magic Box faded away as they apparated back to England.
When her senses returned, Willow stared in wonder at the grand mansion before her. Wow. Talk about rich. He hadn’t been kidding.
“So this is where you live?”
“It’s all mine. Just like you.”
Draco pulled her to him roughly, capturing his mouth with hers in a ravenous kiss.
And she responded in kind.
“I’ve waited so long to do that again.”
“Goddess, I missed you so much.”
His hand caressed her sore cheek as he looked her over in concern, frowning at the small cut on her forehead and healing it with a few whispered words.
“I hope I didn’t hurt you too much.”
“We’ve got six months together, just us, I think a few bruises are more than worth it. Besides, how else would I get you to play Nurse Draco?” She grinned up at him wickedly.
Lust darted through him before his worry engulfed it. “Still…”
“Shhh. I’m fine. You’re fine. Other than a few dusty vamps, none of the others are dead. I’ll call them later and let them know I’m okay.”
“I still don’t understand why we had to go through this whole charade just to spend time together.”
“They wouldn’t understand why I’m shacking up with a formerly dark wizard just a few months after being rehabilitated for trying to end the world in a grief-filled rage after my girlfriend was murdered, and if you’d just come and whisked me away, they wouldn’t have stopped looking for me, which is, y’know why I love them, but we would’ve been lucky to get even a month together. Plus, Buffy would have kicked your butt while Xander watched," Willow said matter-of-factly.
“How do you manage all that without taking a breath?”
Willow smiled up at her love, her saviour, the one who had truly saved her when she’d been sent to England with Giles.
“It’s a gift.”
“That it is.”
Draco cocked his head as he gazed down at her, grinning wolfishly.
“I thought you told me you couldn’t act.”
“For you, I could do anything. Except Madame Butterfly. If we’d had to do that, this would have turned out very differently, with lots of weird squeaking noises.”
They embraced once more, then linked arms as they strolled towards the front door of the mansion, and the beginning of six months of heaven.
“Squeaking noises, huh? I’m sure I can get a few of them out of you…”