Soft music drifted across the dark rooftop. Oz sat, his electric guitar across his legs, practicing. The unamplified strings made quiet, almost inaudible chiming sounds as he played, but across from him Willow smiled. Sitting cross-legged, she was facing into the corner formed by the walls bordering the roof, where she was constructing a much smaller version of the mystic circle that filled most of the available space. With slow, deliberate movements she traced the final rune across the glittering sand. Whispering an evocation to the goddess, she took up a small wooden bowl and sprinkled water over the triangular diagram. A silvery blue shimmer began, moving over and around the small diagram she had just created. She licked her lips nervously. This had only taken her two hours, but it was important to get it right. Picking up the mystery knife, she focused on the final step. Closing her eyes, she held the image of a pyramid, slowly rotating, in her mind's eye. Concentrating, she slowly reached out to place the knife inside the diagram on the roof before her. Eyes still closed, her hand tingled as it passed into the glowing blue figure that she imaged. She visualized the energies of the weapon being confined, bound up inside the glowing construct. Softly, she chanted the phrases that described her intent, reinforcing her sense of the magic's purpose. She repeated it three times, impressing her will upon the manna that flowed around her. Pulling her hand back, she imaged the knife floating, slowly spinning; imprisoned, powerless. The imagined walls of the pyramid closed behind her hand, leaving it flawless, inviolate.
She opened her eyes.
There before her, the triangle she had inscribed formed the base of a pyramid of blue light, shimmering softly in the darkness. Within, the knife floated, slowly rotating. She smiled with satisfaction, and that surprise that she still felt when she attempted magic, and it worked.
"Wow." Her voice was hushed.
"'Wow' from me, also." Oz's voice came from just behind her. She looked over her shoulder at him, where he sat, his guitar now set aside. He pulled his gaze from the magical construct to meet her own, and the blue glow reflected in his eyes eerily. "You can do anti-gravity, now?"
Willow looked back at what she had just done.
"I guess so. I didn't mean to." She pulled a leather-bound tome from its spot off to the side, then looked around, patting the surface around her, searching for her flashlight. A moment later Oz sat beside her, placing the light in her searching hand. She turned her head to say thanks, and found herself nearly nose to nose with him. He was only dimly visible, but she saw his tender expression as he leaned forward and gave her a gentle kiss. When he pulled away, she sat for a moment, eyes closed, lips still parted.
"Ohh." She opened her eyes and stared at him, caught between embarrassment and wonder. She was still caught off-guard by it sometimes, the knowledge that Oz was with her, JUST her, and that he loved her. She gave him a shy smile and looked down at her book, snapping on the light. Oz watched her with a small smile of his own, and felt his own wonder at this incredible girl who had chosen to share... everything with him. Willow found the pages she had bookmarked and read to herself for a moment.
"Um. No, this doesn't say anything about floating. It's just supposed to isolate an object from any outside magical energies or influences." She looked up at the small glowing pyramid. "I hope that part's working like it's supposed to." Oz leaned over to scan the pages of the book.
"Did you follow the instructions?"
Willow looked down at his hand moving down the lines of the page as he speed-read. She put her own hand on his, moving her fingers over it in a gentle caress.
"No." She gave him a small smile. "The stuff Giles does is like that: Step A, then B, then C." She shrugged. "But we Wicca sort of feel our way along. I've been using Giles's texts for a starting point. You know, to sort of 'get my foot in the door', but Wiccan magic is a personal thing." She reached out to touch his lips with her fingers. "You have to do what feels right, and see what works."
He ran his hand over her face, then back into her hair.
"You do what feels right?" His voice was soft. She nodded.
"Yep." She leaned into a kiss, which he returned with enthusiasm. When they parted, she raised her eyebrows. "This is feeling right. For me. How... how about you?"
In answer he stood, then drew her to her feet. With his arm around her, he led the way off of the roof, downstairs to his apartment. Behind them, the dagger floated in its azure prison, spinning slowly. Neither Oz or Willow were there to notice the ripple that passed over the magical barrier. It stabilized, then rippled again, more violently. The knife drifted momentarily closer to the edge of the field, then slowly returned to the center. The distortions faded, leaving everything as it had been.
* * * * *
Chardonnay hissed in exasperation.
"Where is it?"
She sat on her bed, leaning on pillows piled high against the headboard, her legs tucked up to one side. She wore only scanty lingerie of black lace, her creamy skin pale against the black sheets. She stared at one of the many rings she wore, turning it around and around on her finger. The metal was neither warm nor cool; she could not feel anything
through it at all. It had just suddenly gone inert, and her efforts to reach out to the weapon with which it was linked had proven fruitless. She gave a shriek of frustration and snatched up a bottle of massage oil from the bedside table, hurling it across the room. Her girlish strength failed to smash it against the wall, and it dropped unharmed to the thick carpet. The rest of the table's contents quickly followed, one after another. As the barrage ended, the bedroom door opened quietly, and Danielle peeked inside. Seeing that further projectiles were not forthcoming, she entered the room. Picking her way among the objects strewn over the floor, and stepping carefully over the cooling body of the man lying sprawled next to the bed, she deposited a wineglass and cut-crystal decanter on the nightstand.
Chardonnay was flushed and shaking, on the brink of angry tears, but she accepted the wine the girl poured for her. She used both trembling hands to hold the glass, tilting it back and downing half of it in two gulps. Struggling to slow her breath, she stared at her reflection in the oval mirror set against the wall. Watching herself, she ran the chilled glass slowly along her bare shoulder, smiling softly at the sensation. The tantrum began to fade, and she raised the glass again to her lips. She finished it in sips, taking the time to enjoy the expensive wine, her calm returning. Danielle refilled the empty glass, then moved back to the door. She whispered to someone outside, and a moment later a pair of servants entered. Silently they lifted the corpse and carried it from the room. The girl carefully retrieved the items from the floor, placing them on the dresser, safely out of the witch's reach. She turned to look at her mistress, and paused, her eyes widening. The older girl was staring at her hand, and swirls of scarlet light were swirling angrily around one of her rings. Long moments passed, and Chardonnay bit her lower lip as she concentrated. Finally she gave up, allowing her fiery magic to fade.
Danielle walked around the bed, to kneel behind her mistress. Taking up a brush, she reached out to sweep Chardonnay's hair closer, allowing the long tresses to spill over the side of the bed. The shimmering scarlet mane fell nearly to the carpet, rippling gently with her slightest movement. She began to gently brush it, the fine strands slipping through the brush, and her fingers, like liquid silk. The witch-girl closed her eyes and sighed. Long minutes passed as she let the pleasurable sensation relax her. Eventually she spoke.
"That 'Jai had better be able to explain this." Her voice was soft, as always, but there was menace in it as well. The servant girl paused in her brushing, then hastily resumed when Chardonnay made a wordless sound of complaint.
"The ring he made for you is broken?" Danielle's voice was a timid whisper.
is broken, and I want to know why." She sighed. "If Chanun's swords don't work as they should, then I swear I'll send that Smith back to his hell, see if I don't!" She drained her wineglass again and set it down on the bed beside her. Reaching out to the bedtable, she growled in irritation to discover it bare. Extending her hand, she made a graceful gesture, her long nails glittering. A small case leapt off of the dresser and across the room, to land gently in her hand. She opened it and withdrew a cigarette, lighting it with another gesture. She inhaled deeply, then blew smoke as she gave the ring a last glare. Danielle stood and went across the room. Retrieving an ashtray, she brought it to the bedside table. Chardonnay looked up at her.
"And I need to find some more thralls." She looked down at the floor beside the bed. "Just look." She said with a pout. "He drooled all over the floor." Danielle looked down at the small drool stain the man had left as he lay dead on the carpet. She retrieved a towel from the adjoining bathroom, then knelt and began scrubbing . The witch ignored the girl, running her fingers down her own thigh in a slow caress. "That one was all used up. I barely had a taste of him before he died." She tapped her full lips with a long nail. "You know, with the Mayor gone, I can have my pick of what Sunnydale offers." She smiled dreamily. "After so long, it's hard to remember that there is no one to tell me 'no'."
Danielle looked up.
"There's still the Slayer, isn't there?"
Chardonnay's expression darkened. The younger girl looked nervous, and bent to scrub fiercely at the carpet. The witch took another draw from her cigarette, staring at her reflection in the mirror.
"The Slayer fights vampires, or monsters. No one would ever mistake me for either of those." Despite her words, a worried look crossed her face, and she nibbled gently on a fingernail. After a few moments she shook her head "No. Men come to me willingly. There will be no reason for the Slayer to become involved." A slow, wicked smile curved her lips. "And if she does, then Chanun will deal with her for me." A sudden chill went through her, and she shivered, raising her hand. Twin rings decorated one slim finger, and they tingled on her finger, their metal growing suddenly cold. Her eyes glittered.
"Ahh. There he is now." She stroked the rings gently. "He wakes his swords." She lay back on the bed and closed her eyes, letting a small stream of her magic pour through the connection between her rings and the blades the Demon Warrior wielded. Her fires would empower the mystic weapons, and in return.... She shivered again, but this time it was in anticipation.
* * * * *