Summary: Dawn has been kidnapped. Buffy is back. And Ron finally sees. The storm has truly begun.
Buffy fought and dodged. The vampire was young but he must have trained in some kind of martial arts when he was still alive, as his technique was about more than rushing her and hoping for the best. It was the best fight she’d had since she’d risen.
This was all she did lately. She fought and she slept. She ate when they reminded her to. But she lived to fight. Sometimes she wondered if she should be thinking more about getting her little sister back, but then she’d remember that Willow was on the case and there wasn’t anyone better than Willow for finding things. Sometimes those things were rains of frogs, but still, she found.
She lunged one last time, driving the stake home without a word and watching the vampire explode into dust. The surprise on his face was the last thing to go.
She sighed. Back to thinking.
She didn’t like thinking.
Thinking meant worrying. Like worrying about how she was going to keep her home, bills being what they were. Or worrying about how she was going to get through the next day, pretending to be happy when you had no real reason to was the hardest. Or worrying that she should be more worried about Dawn.
She should be. More worried that is. But every spell Willow had done told her nothing other than the fact that Dawn was alive, more than likely, and she was safe. Which was more than Buffy would be able to say if she’d been here.
She was safe and Buffy didn’t have to worry about her.
What she did have to worry about was the masked black robed figure watching her from a few feet away. She sighed, melodramatic much, she thought. Any other time she might have said that aloud, but even speaking seemed to tax her lately.
Instead she sauntered up to the figure, then stood before them, hands on hips.
“Take a photograph, it’ll last longer,” she said dully.
“I have no need to do as you say,” the voice sneered. “I will see your face plenty, as you scream for mercy from my Master.”
“Never heard that one before.” She thought for a moment. “Actually, that’s kinds true. I haven’t.” She bounced on the balls of her feet. “Are we going to fight now, or what?”
She had to throw herself to the grass to avoid the bright red light he shot at her using a wand.
No honestly, he has a wand! she thought, Cool!
She ducked and weaved among the headstones and larger crypts as the person, man, she figured, kept shooting beams of light at her. Some of them she considered quite fatal by the way the headstones were blowing up.
“Our Master said you had to be alive,” the voice called, “he made no mention of unharmed.”
“Ah, same old, same old,” she muttered.
The man had halted along the line somewhere, Buffy glanced up to see where he was. She grinned. This was the most fun she’d had since… she shrugged, giving up that line of thought.
“Come out, little one, and I will spare you the pain I would otherwise inflict on one of my Master’s enemies!” he called. He waited. She rolled her eyes.
“As if I would fall for that old trick,” she muttered, still thinking of ways to get close to him without getting shot first. He seemed to tire of waiting, which was good, ‘cause so had she.
She leapt on top of the crypt that hid her then did a running somersault off. She ran at him ducking and weaving the blasting lights. She leapt over him at the last second, then whirled, knocking his hand aside with a roundhouse kick that sent his wand flying. He dodged the punch she sent him, that was ok since it was a feint, the second one sent him flying in the opposite direction to his wand.
She had to give the mask some credit though. In all that it hadn’t come loose. The hood of the robe had fallen to one side and she could see the gleaming silver blonde hair.
“That better be salon-pretty hair, or it’s just no fair,” she grumbled. Yep, more fun that she’d had since…
She walked to where he lay crumpled against a tree and kneeled down beside him.
“Let’s see,” she murmured, feeling along side of the mask for the edges and pulling at them. She only pulled his head from side to side. “Fine,” she muttered, perversely angry at this, “I’ll just have to call Willow in on this.”
She was a little annoyed that he had spoiled her fun like this, magic wands and all. She stood and walked a few feet away from the crumpled body.
“Willow,” she sang under her breath. “Oh Willow!” Something flew out of the underbrush, across her field of vision. She turned and saw one pale hand grab the stick from the air. “No fair!”
He stood, and it looked painful, but he still stood up without aid.
“You fight like a Muggle,” he snarled.
“Your hair’s all messed up,” she snarked, falling into a fighting stance.
“You think you’re funny,” he said with amusement. He twitched the wand impatiently. She dodged but no light flew anywhere. “No wand.”
“Ohh, is it broken!” She laughed. He twitched it again. Every muscle in her body froze; she hit the ground like a felled tree.
“You laugh in the face of great power,” he said. He waved the wand again causing the mask to disappear. Buffy memorised his face - she was so going to get him! He knelt down beside her. She struggled against the bonds that held her, eyes rolling madly. “So like your sister. She refused to scream, but, oh, how she moaned.”
He smiled coldly as her eyes locked on him in sudden absolute hatred.
“Don’t worry, little one, she lives still. You will even join her.” Her eyes closed and he wondered for a moment if she had fainted. That moment was all he had. Breaking free of the full body bind Buffy locked one hand on his wrist and twisted, snapping it - his wand fell to the grass - the other grabbed him by the throat and squeezed.
“Willow, get here now!” She roared. She felt the wash of power as Willow teleported from wherever she had been to the grass beside her. Buffy stood, still holding the man by the neck and wrist. He whimpered at the pain.
“Buffy! Oh, Goddess, what happened,” Willow cried taking in the sight.
“He knows where Dawn is.” She squeezed his wrist; he gasped in pain. “He hurt her.”
Willow gasped. She looked between Buffy enraged face and the pained contortions on the face of the man before her. The man who had hurt Dawn. She almost found herself not caring.
She put one hand on Buffy’s shoulder and the other on the mans and concentrated. The next second they were in the living room of Buffy’s house, Tara and Spike waiting anxiously.
The minute they landed there Buffy threw the man at Spike.
“Tie him up, bind him, he knows some magic,” she snarled and almost ran from the room.
In the kitchen she ran the tap on full and dashed her face with water. She didn’t turn when she heard Willow’s soft footsteps.
“I nearly killed him,” she whispered. “I would have…” She felt her knees give way. Willow ran to catch her. “I can’t be that person ,” Buffy cried. “I don’t want to be that person who doesn’t care.”
“But you didn’t do it, you didn’t,” Willow said, holding her close, letting her cry on her shoulder.
“I would have,” Buffy whispered again, “if I hadn’t needed him to tell me where Dawn is, I would have.”
“But you didn’t,” Willow said strongly. “Even if Dawn hadn’t been in danger, you would have found some other reason not to. You wouldn’t have done it because you’re not that person!”
Buffy pulled herself away from Willow.
“It would have been so easy,” she said, looking at Willow with tormented eyes. “And who’s to say I’ll stop the next time?”
“There won’t be a next time,” Willow pleaded.
“Yes, there will,” Buffy told her. “Because it’s people like him, real live human people, who have Dawn and who’ve hurt her and I don’t think I’ll be able to stop myself.”
The man sat trussed like a Christmas turkey in a chair they’d pulled from the kitchen while Buffy had her meltdown in private.
Tara sat on the couch furthest from him, fidgeting at the hem of her jumper, eyeing him furtively. Spike paced. Neither one of them knew who he was yet so they waited.
When Willow came out, sans Buffy, they stopped their movements. When Willow stepped up to the man and slapped him across the mouth they gasped.
Willow took a shuddering breath and stepped away, into Tara’s waiting arms.
“I’m ok, I’m ok,” she whispered. Hugging her once more she turned back to the man, a real live human person. “What’s your name?” she asked, when she felt in control once more. He sneered at her. She smacked him again. Tara gasped. “He hurt Dawn,” Willow said softly, silently pleading Tara not to hate her. She didn’t turn to watch Tara’s face while she processed this, though she stepped into Spike’s path as he advanced on the man. Spike had slipped into game face and the man paled at the sight.
“I’m human,” Willow said. “I don’t like hurting other humans.” She stepped out of Spike’s path. “He doesn’t mind.”
Spike stepped up to the man and ran one finger down the side of his neck suggestively. His feral eyes and sharp pointed teeth were enough to get the man talking.
“Lucius,” he swallowed. “Lucius Malfoy.”
“Who has Dawn?” Buffy asked, re-entering the room. Lucius tried to sneer but it looked pathetic on his bloody mouth. “Spike.”
Spike lunged for Lucius’ neck. Lucius screamed and tried to pull away.
“I’ll tell you, I’ll tell you everything!” he screamed, deciding someone who kept a tame vampire in the house had more to be feared than someone who was on the other side of the Atlantic, at least at the moment. If he lived, he’d repent. Actually, if he lived he was taking his wife and child as far away from these crazy people as possible.
Spike pulled away, disappointment tingeing his features.
“The Dark Lord, he wanted her. He knows what she is-”
“I don’t know, someone at Hogwarts found out-”
“Hogwarts, it’s a school for magical children. It’s in Scotland.”
Willow stood pulling out the map she’d retained from their visit. She opened it and pointed to a valley nestled in the mountains.
“Here, is this it?”
Lucius squinted at the unfamiliar paper.
“I- I think so.”
“You think so?” Spike asked impatiently.
“Hogwarts doesn’t show up on Muggle maps!” he cried, wincing away from the vampire.
“That’s the second time you’ve used that word. Don’t use it again without explaining it.”
Lucius huddled down in his chair.
“It’s a word wizards use to describe someone of non-magical background, without magic.”
“And this Hogwarts,” Willow asked, “it has protections against Muggles?”
“The best. The most a Mugg- a person of non-magical background might see is a broken down castle.”
Willow snapped her fingers.
“I knew there was something funky about that place!” she exclaimed. “I mean, we only looked at it. We never even walked the length of it to search for her. Imagine if we had.”
“It would have done you no good,” Lucius sneered.
“Rephrase!” Buffy snapped.
“Uh, the other witches and wizards there would have removed the memory from you, to prevent you from spreading the word to other Mugg-” he coughed, “other non-magical people.”
Willow glared at him.
“Do we look like non-magical people to you, buster?” Her eyes shone with a strange light and her hair moved in a breeze felt by no other.
“Earth magic.” Lucius just about kept the sneer from his face. “Channelled by all who wish to. We keep apart from your kind.”
“Ah, I have a question,” Spike said, game face slipping away. “I was born in good ol’ England, spent a lot of time there as a vampire too. How come I’ve never heard of it?”
“Memory magic works on vampires just as it would on humans. Even if you had bumped into a wizard once, and he let you live, he would not have left you with the memory of your meeting.”
“I don’t think I like the sound of that.”
“Let’s get back to the subject of Dawn,” Buffy said, voice hard. “Where is she?”
“It will do you no good. The Dark Lord will surely destroy you!”
“Ya, you seemed pretty confident in yourself earlier too, now look at you.” She leaned closer, nose to nose. “Where is she?”
“She’s being kept in a fortified castle in Cornwall. I don’t know the name of the place and I can’t point it out on that map.”
“Then what good are you?” Buffy said with a meaningful glance at Spike.
“I can get you there!” he yelped. “If I had my wand-”
“A wand!” Willow exclaimed.
“Later, Will. You’d what blast me again?”
He shook his head.
“I can create a portkey for you, it will take you to within a mile of the castle.”
“And how do I know I can trust you. You could land me in the dungeon for all I know.”
Lucius looked down.
“He holds my wife life in his hands,” he said finally. “And my son does his biding out of fear for mine. If you could save them…”
Buffy looked away. They watched her mulling it over.
“You stay here. If something goes wrong and we don’t make it, Spike eats you,” she said at last.
Lucius nodded fearfully.
“Put him the basement, Spike with me. We have to find his wand.” She glanced out the window. “Before dawn,” she added sadly.