Happy Hanukkah Willow
DISCLAIMER: Buffy, Willow, Giles, Xander, Oz, etc. belong to Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and 20th Century Fox. WB just rents them. I claim no ownership of anything other than the plot.
This story takes place in Season 4, shortly after Oz left. Willow and Buffy are sharing a dorm room but Willow has not yet dating Tara.
Note: In honor of Hanukkah, I'm challenging myself to write eight stories for eight nights of Hanukkah. I'm already cheating a bit, as this first story was written years ago and put up elsewhere on the web, but it is new to this site.Happy Hanukkah, Willow
By Sam James
“Oh Hanukkah, Oh Hanukkah, come light the menorah!” Willow sang, unwrapping the new bronze menorah her mother had bought her for the holiday. It had four half circles with a candle-holder on each half plus an extra one for the shamas, the candle to light the others.
“What’s with all the holiday spirit?” Buffy laughed, glad to see Willow happy again; this was a rare event since Oz had left. “It’s only December 2nd, we have three weeks until Christmas. I haven’t even thought about shopping yet.”
“But only one day to Hanukkah. It starts tomorrow. I wonder if there’s anywhere on campus I can get a potato pancake.”
“Tomorrow,” Buffy panicked. She had not yet bought Willow anything. “I though Hanukkah took place at the same time as Christmas.”
“Different calendars,” Willow explained. “The Jewish calendar is based on the moon, the Christian calendar on the sun. So some years Hanukkah comes very early when the two are especially out of whack.”
“And Hanukkah last eight days,” Buffy dredged up what she knew of the holiday. “So it ends the tenth?” She didn’t have to get her friend a present for the first day, she hoped. She had until the end, right?
“The 11th actually,” Willow adopted a lecturing tone. “Since Jewish holidays start the night before, tomorrow is the first night of Hanukkah. But the first day isn’t until Saturday.”
“But then, all the schools will be doing their holiday parties, their holiday concerts, and making a big deal of all the holidays during the weeks leading up to Christmas…”
“When Hanukkah has been over for weeks, right,” Willow sighed. She turned to her cross-wearing friend. “It’s not exactly a secret that they only put a few Hanukkah things into the Christmas parties and concerts to try to seem more open handed and fair. And to avoid being sued for promoting religion. But it’s clear they’re just using Hanukkah as a smokescreen because it happens at the same time as Christmas. They don’t even care if Hanukkah is long over. So what. It’s not even all that important a Jewish holiday.”
“That’s what you say now,” Xander had walked into their dorm in the middle of Willow’s little speech. “Three words - Mrs. Galloway’s class.”
“Oh, my,” Willow flushed red. “Xander don’t.”
“What’s it worth to you?” he shot back. He grabbed her dreidel, the Hanukkah spinning toy, and gave it an expert whirl based on years of Hanukkah parties at Willow’s. The toy was caught by the slayer.
“Give!” Buffy ordered. “Or it means death to the, ah, red spinning thing.” Occasionally she was hurt when she remembered that Xander and Willow had had a long time together before she came along. But their stories about each other made for good blackmail material.
“It’s called a dreidel,” Willow tried to divert the conversation. But Xander would have none of that.
“This was back when we little, in our first years of elementary school. It was late December and we had a giant Christmas tree in the classroom. Mrs. Galloway had given us pictures of Santa and Christmas scenes to color while she talked about the holidays and how they were all about peace and love and the joy of giving. And then Willow said, ‘That’s not true. That’s may be what Christmas is about but not Hanukkah. Hanukkah is NOT the Jewish Christmas.’”
Willow was getting furious at the memory. “And then she said that they were both the same sort of thing. After all don’t you give presents on both holidays. As if that made the two the same!”
Xander laughed at her reaction. “So then Mrs. Galloway asked Willow to tell the class something about Hanukkah. Willow went up and said the holiday celebrates a military victory. That the Syrians had control of the Jews’ land and temple and wouldn’t let the Jews pray to their God. So then the Maccabees led the Jews to fight a big war and kick the Syrians out of the country and their temple. But there was only enough oil in the temple lamps to last one day. And then a great miracle happened there and the oil lasted for eight days, long enough to get more, which is why Hanukkah lasted eight days. Finally, after Willow finished her speech, while the whole class was staring at the religious zealot who had replaced our quiet little Willow...”
“Xander…” Willow warned her life-long friend.
“And then Willow grabbed the tiny menorah that was sitting underneath the tree, moved it to a desk and yelled to the teacher, ‘And Hanukkah was over last week anyway. I’ll wish you a merry Christmas. In =January=.’ She then ran out of class and all the way home.” Xander smiled. “That little incident almost cost you your perfect attendance record.”
“It did more than that,” Willow was lost in the memory. “I told my father and he went ballistic. He called the principal, threatened to call the ACLU and take the school to court. That was the end of the annual Christmas pageant, the class Christmas tree, Christmas stories read in class, and coloring Santa.”
“Ever since then she’s had to watch the Christmas specials at my house,” said Xander. “Her father won’t let her watch them at home.”
That’s it, thought Buffy. I’ll get her a videotape of the Charlie Brown Christmas
special for her very own that she can watch in the dorm, but would a Christmas show be okay for a Hanukkah present?
“It’s sort of ironic,” Willow said. “Hanukkah has become the most assimilated Jewish holiday, with some people putting out Christmas trees but calling them Hanukkah bushes. Yet the holiday actually is about the fight against assimilation. The Syrian king demanded that the Jews worship his gods but the Jews fought back. A woman named Hannah saw her seven sons killed, one after each other, for refusing to bow before an idol. Too bad they didn’t have a Slayer to help them, right Buffy? Buffy?
Xander turned to look at Buffy. She had become all glassy-eyed and was walking stiffly out the door. “Buffy,” he cried. She didn’t stop. He got in front of her and waved his hands in her face. She didn’t blink. “Willow, something strange is happening.” He moved to block her path but the slayer just pushed him aside. He hit the wall hard. Willow ran over to help him up.
“Go get Giles,” Willow ordered. “I’ll follow Buffy.”
Buffy walked steadily down the Sunnydale streets, ignoring the yells of Willow and the greetings of the occasional student who wanted to talk with the beautiful blond. After following Buffy for a bit she noticed Giles approaching, with Xander trailing after.
“The same thing happened to him,” Xander yelled when he saw the red-head. He grabbed Giles’ shirt but the Englishman ignored him and just dragged Xander along.
“We have to do something,” Willow told him.
“Yeah, but what?”
“They’re obviously under a spell,” Willow recognized magic when she saw it, especially when it was this blatant. “So that means it’s up to us. We have to find what’s being used to control them and destroy it or break the spell somehow.”
As Buffy and Giles entered a nondescript blue house, Willow signaled Xander to wait and try to sneak in.
“Sit down, my servants,” a voice came from the house. Willow and Xander poked their heads through the door. Buffy and Giles were seated on a couch in the living room. On a long table next to the coach was a big glowing bowl with pieces of paper in it. Next to it was a bunch of old folders that Willow recognized as belonging to the high school. A man was standing in front, talking to the Slayer and ex-Watcher.
“A slayer of my very own,” he chuckled. “And her watcher powerless in my hands. Excellent. Together you two will prove very useful now that you’ve been enchanted to serve my every whim.”
Buffy and Giles sat motionless.
“But what to do first. Rob a jewelry store? Use the slayer’s strength to tear open a bank vault? So much to choose from.” He paused and went over to Buffy. He touched her cheek. “But it seems such a pity to waste this beauty on mere bank robbery. You do want to please me, right?”
“Yes, master,” came Buffy’s voice devoid of animation.
“Excellent, then I command you to take off your…” He was interrupted by a loud “No,” from Xander as he ran into the room, intent on saving Buffy.
But before he can do anything, the man yelled, “Slayer stop him!” Buffy’s arms and legs moved at his command and she grabbed Xander and held him fast. “Well well well,” the mysterious man flipped through a Sunnydale yearbook checking the photos. “Alexander LaVelle ‘Xander’ Harris.” He wrote the name down on a piece of paper and put it in the bowl. Instantly, Xander’s resistance faded.
Willow began to back away from the door. She now knew how the spell operated. She just had to find a way to reverse it. But before she could go very far she heard, “Buffy, I command you to search nearby and bring me any of your other friends who may have come with Mr. Harris.”
Instantly, Willow began running as fast as she could. But she was no match for slayer speed and soon was in Buffy’s arms as the slayer scooped her up without pausing for a breath.
“Buffy, fight it. You don’t want to do this. You’re your own woman or girl or Slayer or whatever.”
“Remember me, I’m your best friend
. You don’t want me hurt, right?
You’d rather listen to me than someone who you don’t even know, some stranger who’ll make you rob banks and get into trouble.”
This entreaty likewise did nothing. At the man’s orders, Willow was held down as the man looked her up in the yearbook and school records.
“Willow Carolyn Rosenberg,” the man said and wrote it down on a piece of paper. He put it in the bowl. Willow stiffed, resolved to fight the spell, whatever it might do to her.
“You can release her now,” the man said. “You wait right here while I get the phone book and tell you what store to rob first.”
Buffy stood like a statue as the man left the room. Willow blinked and then grabbed a match out of her pocket. She had these to light her holiday candles but they’d do just as well for this. She lit the match and dropped it in the bowl. She did not know if the magic was in the paper or the bowl but she’d take no chances. The paper caught quickly and began to burn.
Buffy, Giles, and Xander began to blink.
“Buffy, that bowl, you need to destroy it,” Willow yelled as the man, smelling the smoke, came running into the room.
Buffy had no idea what had happened, but she trusted her friend. She grabbed the bowl with the ashes of the names and then crumbled it in her strong hands and smashed it against the table’s top. It left a dent. While Buffy was doing that, Xander, recovering, ran over to the spell-caster and hit him in the face, hard. “That’s for what you were going to do with Buffy.” He hit him again, this time in the stomach. “And that one’s for me.” He then kicked him, “And that’s for Willow.”
“That’s quite enough,” Giles looked at the fallen man, now out cold. “You don’t have to hit him for me.”
“Better gag him,” Willow suggested. Buffy seized a tablecloth, ripped it in half, and used part as a gag and part to tie him up.
“Um, ah. What just happened?” Giles asked. After Willow and Xander filled him in, Giles asked, “So Willow, how were you able to break the spell when Buffy couldn’t?”
“I don’t know,” Willow said. “Could it be because I’m a witch?”
“No,” Giles said, “If anything that would make you more susceptible to magic.”
“It was pretty strong,” Buffy said. “I mean one minute I was sitting in my dorm listening to Willow talk about Hanukkah and the next…”
“Of course, that’s it.” Giles said. “Willow, since you’re Jewish, I imagine your parents gave you a Hebrew name in addition to your regular English one.”
“Yes,” Willow said, “But no one’s used it since my bat mitzvah. It’s really only used when we’re called to read the Torah… Oh. Yes.”
Xander shook his head. “I don’t get it.”
“He wrote down my English name, but he didn’t know my Hebrew name.”
“And since it was given to you by your parents, it is just as much a part of you as your regular name.” Giles continued.
“Because he didn’t have all my names I wasn’t all the way under the spell and I could still move and do stuff.”
“So your being Jewish, saved the day for the Buffster and myself,” Xander said. “Too bad we can’t tell Mrs. Galloway.”
Willow laughed happily. Buffy smiled. She decided that her friend had just earned a very special Hanukkah present even if she had to shop all eight days to find the right one. The end.
Happy Hanukkah, Willow. Happy Hanukkah, Sarah Michelle Gellar (who is Jewish, at least by Reform and Reconstructionist standards). And a very Happy Hanukkah to everyone else, even those who “worship Santa”!