Secrets and Surprises
This chapter deals with some interesting plot developments, but more on an emotional level than anything else. I decided to dish out some of the issues Buffy’s been avoiding and bring a little drama in at the same time. The chapter after this will likely go back to addressing more issues that pertain to what’s going on at Hogwarts and things that occurred in the sixth book. I have taken liberties with the timelines in both the Buffy and Potter verses, so you will find things in this chapter that didn’t happen in season 2 and things in chapters ahead might not happen in the same order as they did in book 6. That’s all for now. Enjoy!Chapter 7: Secrets and Surprises
Uneasy days followed the occurrence of Cormac and Hermione’s disastrous attempt at flirtation, even given that Hermione’s initiation of it wasn’t out of interest in the boy. Buffy made it a point to avoid the other girl when possible and only to make brief conversation when necessary. Both were left unsettled by the situation and unsure of how to behave around one another. They were one in thinking that the other would be unnerved if they were to discover the true nature of their bizarre thoughts and feelings.
Buffy became despondent from her presumption that Hermione was now dating the lumbering idiot McLaggen, and the brunette hadn’t corrected the false perception as of yet. Every time they got close to having an actual conversation, one of them would find an excuse to shy away. Hermione knew that Buffy held an extreme disfavor of McLaggen and she was left guilt-ridden with an unwavering desire to mend things, even though she was uncertain how to go about doing so.
By the following Sunday they both found the separation nearly unbearable and Hermione sought Buffy out in her room. The blonde was struggling and failing to finish an essay Giles had left for her, and she was nonplussed when her portrait swung open and Hermione entered. She was hit at once with a peculiar combination of feelings. First there was a giddy excitement at seeing her friend, and then there was disappointment in light of recent events, and then there was shame for the things she shouldn’t have been thinking in the first place.
She forced on a smile nonetheless because she didn’t want to be rude. Hermione smiled back awkwardly and clasped her hands in front of her. “I, um… I was wondering if we could talk for a bit? We could take a walk around the lake. It’s still decent weather outside.” She bit her lip hopefully as she waited for the blonde’s response. Buffy mulled it over for a moment and concluded that she was tired of things being offbeat between them. They needed to get this tension resolved before their friendship crumbled. She nodded and said, “Yeah that sounds nice. I’m sick of getting nowhere on this essay anyway.”
The two girls left Buffy’s room and the Gryffindor tower together and made their way out of the castle. The breeze held a slight chill to it but it wasn’t the biting cold of winter, for which both of them were thankful as neither had grabbed a coat. They walked in silence until they were near the lake, and then Hermione launched the conversation. “I want to let you know that I’m not dating Cormac. I never was. I only invited him to dinner to make Ron jealous.” She stared out at the lake and away from Buffy as her cheeks threatened to turn pink. She neglected to reveal her other, secret agenda for having dinner with the repulsive twit. She’d wanted a distraction from her disturbing thoughts about her new friend, but he hadn’t provided that in the least.
Buffy breathed a huge sigh of relief when the brunette confided that she hadn’t actually been dating the lunkhead. She felt as though an enormous weight had been lifted from her shoulders. She knew she had no right whatsoever to choose who her friend dated, but it had bothered her all the same. What she couldn’t tell Hermione was the reason it had bothered her. She really couldn’t even fully admit it to herself yet, because she was still suffering the delusion that it was a fluke and that she was madly in love with Angel, and that she always would be for that matter.
The conversation flowed more easily between them after that and they managed to catch up on the last few days. It turned out that Ron and Lavender had officially started dating and that Ginny and Dean had broken up, though Harry and Ginny still hadn’t expressed their feelings for one another. Buffy told Hermione about Giles’s cryptic letter saying that things were getting complicated in Sunnydale and that his return would be delayed. She hadn’t heard from him in days now and she was beginning to worry that something had gone seriously awry on the Hellmouth.
When it was time for dinner the girls headed back into the castle together, both smiling and happy to be back on pleasant terms with each other. They sat side by side at the table and the rest of the group seemed to sense that things were back to commonplace; an easy camaraderie flowed between them. That night they all sat together by the fireplace and traded stories about their childhoods. Buffy was immensely surprised to find that Harry had had a miserable youth. He was such a nice boy and she couldn’t imagine anyone mistreating him so.
Ron had, on the other hand, had a rather pleasant childhood, despite being poor and having older brothers who picked on him constantly. He had a loving family and parents who did their best to give him everything within their means. Hermione similarly had grown up happily, and Buffy’s only complaint about her childhood was that her parents had gotten divorced. Everything up until that point had been peachy. They shared laughter at the silly parts and enjoyed each other’s company. Even Ron’s presence didn’t irk Hermione as it usually did. She seemed to have conquered her issue with Ron and Lavender dating; if it was affecting her at all she didn’t let it show.
Monday brought nothing but dull classes with the first years and a burning worry that churned Buffy’s stomach into tight knots. She still had not heard anything more from Giles or from any of the Scoobies and she was growing more impatient by the minute. After her last class of the afternoon concluded, she scribbled a letter of concern to her Watcher and sent it off with Tibby. As the tawny bird flew off into the clear blue sky, Buffy closed her eyes and hoped that her loved ones were safe and well. The Hellmouth could be a very dangerous and chaotic place, even more so in the absence of a slayer.
Tuesday bore only minimal excitement in the form of her first in-class injury, which really wasn’t something to boast about. One of her third year students had gotten a little too exuberant and had tripped badly and hurt himself. Buffy ended the class early and took the boy to Madam Pomfrey to assess the damage. Fortunately he’d only scraped and bruised himself, though the look Buffy received from the nurse suggested she’d personally broken every bone in his body.
Wednesday was uneventful and equally frustrating with still
no reply from Giles. She felt ready to rip her hair out at the roots and scream from uncertainty. Were all of her friends in mortal peril? Or was it even worse than that? Were they already dead at the hand of some hell-beast that she should’ve been there to kill? Guilt flooded her for leaving her friends to fend for themselves, even though they’d managed well enough in the past. Logically she knew she was overreacting to the situation, but her paranoid nature wouldn’t rest until she got a definitive answer to her ponderings.
That evening she expressed her worries and fears to Hermione as the two girls sat together in Buffy’s room. The brunette hugged Buffy and held her hand, trying to convince her that everything was all right, even though both of them knew there was at least a slim possibility that things were horribly wrong in Sunnydale. Buffy let herself pretend, at least for a little while, that everything was perfect and normal as she held Hermione’s hand with their fingers laced tightly. It was with great reluctance that she let go and said goodnight.
On Thursday morning Buffy woke particularly early and tiptoed through the common room and up the stairs to the girls’ dormitory. She crept in and shook Hermione gently. When the brunette roused she was a tad disoriented. “Buffy?” Buffy smiled and said quietly, “Rise and shine birthday girl. C’mon, I have a surprise for you.” She tugged on Hermione’s hand and the other girl grudgingly forsook the comfort of her bed to follow the insistent blonde. Buffy led her through the portrait and stopped just outside, where Ron and Harry were supposed to be waiting for them under the invisibility cloak. The three of them had planned this several days ago and she hoped that the boys hadn’t forgotten.
Sure enough, as soon as they stopped outside the portrait Harry lifted the cloak and said, “We’ve got to get going while it’s still dark in here.” Hermione was completely perplexed as she stepped under the cloak, feeling cramped sharing it with Ron and Harry now that they were all older and taller. “Where are we going exactly?” Ron spoke up then and said, “It’s a surprise. Don’t kill us. It was all Buffy’s idea.” Hermione sighed and said, “Oh all right. Well let’s go then before we get caught.” Buffy stayed outside of the cloak since there wasn’t really room for her and she was allowed to be out after curfew. Being a slayer did have its perks after all. She kept hold of Hermione’s hand out of necessity as the boys led them down to the kitchens; she had absolutely no idea where the kitchens were located.
After an interesting and clumsy trek through the darkened castle, they came to a halt in front of a large portrait of fruit, at which point Harry pulled off the cloak and reached up to tickle the pear. The portrait swung open and one by one they clambered inside. To Buffy’s astonishment there were dozens of little house elves running around in rags, which she’d heard about from Hermione but never personally witnessed, and on a long table there was a small feast and a gigantic birthday cake with Hermione’s name on the icing. Hermione’s hand came up to cover her mouth in genuine surprise and then she turned to Buffy with a huge smile.
“This was your idea?” Buffy nodded with a sheepish smile and looked around. The next second she found the air being squeezed out of her lungs by a happy brunette. She blushed a little when she felt a light kiss on her cheek. “Thank you. I love it.” The blonde smiled and said, “I wanted you to have a happy 17th birthday.” Ron and Harry exchanged a look before the redheaded boy blurted, “Can we eat now? I’m starving.” That got a laugh from Buffy and Hermione and the group settled in at the table.
A rather overexcited house elf rushed up to them with a bright smile and exclaimed, “Dobby is so pleased that Harry Potter could join us for breakfast!” Dobby then looked at the others and said, “Dobby is also pleased to see all of you.” Harry smiled and said, “Hi Dobby. Thanks for getting all of this together for us.” Dobby beamed even brighter and bowed his head. “Anything for Harry Potter. You are a great and kind wizard, sir, and Dobby is in your debt.” He bustled off then to tend to his morning duties, leaving Harry’s ears a bit red from all the admiration.
“Sorry ‘bout that. This morning is about you, Hermione.” Ron smirked and said, more for Buffy’s information than anything, “Dobby’s gotten a bit attached to Harry, when he’s not trying to kill him to protect him.” Buffy raised her brows and said, “That’s um… interesting?” The wizard trio took turns explaining the history of how Harry had found Dobby in his room and everything that had transpired since involving the elf. In between talking they had their fill of breakfast and cake, and then they hurriedly snuck back up to Gryffindor tower before anyone discovered they were missing. When breakfast rolled around they pretended to nibble on bits of food to avoid suspicion, though all of them were already sated from their secret rendezvous.
The morning started well enough for Buffy, with her two fifth year classes bearing more excitement than those of the previous days. She had to be very cautious when instructing her younger pupils in fighting techniques, but as the students got older she was able to show them more complicated defense forms that didn’t involve a lot of running away, though she still told them to run if they could and to avoid physical combat if possible. She showed the fifth years several different ways to block punches and kicks, and then she had the class meditate and work on their concentration. She wanted them to develop a sense for when they were about to be attacked. The majority of them were really terrible at it, but there were a few who seemed promising.
By lunch time Buffy had worked up a hefty appetite and was enthused to see her friends again. She would be teaching them all that afternoon in her last class and she could hardly wait. They would be sparring with one another and learning punch combos. When she got to the lunch room her eyes immediately searched out her favorite brunette, and she beamed when she found her target. She rushed to the table and sat next to Hermione, eager to discuss her lesson plans for the afternoon. Food filled the tables and she dug in, practically glowing as she conversed with her friends. Some minutes after the feast had begun, the doors to the Great Hall opened and several people strode in. Buffy glanced offhandedly toward the entrance, assuming it was merely a few students arriving late for lunch, but she did a double-take when she realized the group was headed by her Watcher.
Even more stunning than the fact that Giles was actually back at Hogwarts, alive and in one piece despite her fears, were the two people walking behind him. One was a waif thin redhead with an awestruck expression and the other was a brooding hunk of handsome muscle and billowing black coat. Buffy was so shocked that her fork froze in midair on the way to her open mouth and her eyes widened in disbelief. Her friends took notice of the new arrivals but the situation didn’t have the same impact on the rest of the group, seeing as they only knew Giles out of the three. The older man spotted Buffy and smiled tensely at her, making his way straight toward the Gryffindor table. She could tell that he was happy to see her again but that he also had a lot to tell her, and that things hadn’t been easy of late.
She regained control of herself and set her fork down as she stood up. She looked at Willow and the two exchanged a joyous smile, relieved to see each other again. Finally she looked at Angel and her heart seemed to pound harder in her chest. Seeing him again brought out tumultuous mixed emotions, and she wasn’t sure if she was more happy or worried about his presence. Giles was the first to reach the table and she shared a short embrace with her trusted mentor. Then an excited Willow flung herself into Buffy’s arms and the two hugged heartily. When they pulled apart they looked each other over and laughed. Buffy was the first to speak. “I’m so happy to see you, Will! I wasn’t expecting you here. Where’s Xander?”
Willow’s ecstatic expression dulled slightly at the mention of their goofy friend and she said, “We couldn’t find a good enough excuse for him to come along. We told my mom that I’m on an extended field trip for honor students for the next few days. I’m supposed to be attending cultural fairs and touring museums and stuff.” Buffy smiled and embraced Willow again while saying, “Well I’m glad that you’re here at least. I missed you guys so much.” Finally the petite slayer turned to face her boyfriend, and she found herself choked up and lost for words. What could she say to this man who loved her more than his un-life when she wasn’t sure of her feelings anymore?
Instead of speaking at all she chose to smile and wrap her arms tightly around him. He returned the gesture and kissed the side of her head, whispering softly into her ear, “I missed you, Buffy.” She closed her eyes and exhaled shakily, the weight of her troubles swelling in her chest. “I missed you too, Angel.” When they parted there were unshed tears in her emerald eyes and he raised his hand to cup her cheek, true concern radiating from the depths of his soul. She forced a smile and covered his hand with hers.
“How did you get here? I thought with the whole daylight thing…” She trailed off with a confused and questioning look. Angel shrugged and said, “We flew in at night and then it came down to extremely careful maneuvering with a thick blanket. It helped that the sky’s been cloudy today.” He smiled and Buffy found herself smiling back. “We’re just having lunch right now, but you guys are welcome to join us. There’s plenty of room.” She addressed both Willow and Angel as she said this. Giles was already on the move toward the head table where he usually sat, but Buffy knew they would be having words later about what was going on back home.
Angel and Willow sat down with Buffy at the Gryffindor table and she introduced them to her Hogwarts friends. Everyone seemed really pleased to meet them except Hermione, who appeared as outwardly polite as the others, but Buffy knew her well enough to know that she wasn’t thrilled and that it had to do with Angel’s presence. In his absence the two had shared a strange bond that had been slowly growing toward something deeper, though neither had even come close to acknowledging it. Now things were back to being awkward and shaky between them. Sandwiched between the girl to whom she felt so close and the man with whom she’d shared so much, Buffy felt lost within herself, like a small child struggling to make a decision.
When the tense meal was finished Buffy announced that she needed to head to her classroom to prepare for the arrival of her next class, the sixth year Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws. Willow and Angel went with her as per her request. She excitedly showed them her room and told them about the different things she’d been teaching the students. She then asked Angel if he wouldn’t mind doing some sparring demonstrations with her. He agreed gladly. Willow seated herself on a mat in the front corner of the room so she could observe without being a hindrance to the lesson. Buffy and Angel began stretching at the front as they waited for the class to arrive.
Students began to file in at a steady pace and took their usual seats, though they seemed intrigued by the presence of two new people. Buffy turned to face her class once everyone was present and she greeted them with a smile. “Hi! I’d like to introduce my best friend Willow,” she indicated the sitting redhead, “and my boyfriend Angel. He’ll be helping me out with some demonstrations today. We’re going to be showing you guys a few different attack angles and punch and kick combos. I’m excited actually because I haven’t been able to go this in depth with the younger years.” The class, at least for the most part, seemed to share her enthusiasm for the idea.
The first portion of the period was spent showing the students how to properly execute the various combos and how to deflect attacks from different directions. Then Buffy and Angel went around the room and helped everyone to get into the proper positions. The rest of the period was spent monitoring the pairs and correcting technique flaws. Finally it was time to transition classes and nervousness bubbled up inside the slayer. The next and last class of the day would be the sixth year Gryffindors and Slytherins.
Buffy stood with her arms folded as her peers entered and took their seats. She gave them a similar speech to the one she’d given her previous class, but she left out the boyfriend part when she introduced Angel. She figured it was pretty obvious with the way they’d greeted each other at lunch and she didn’t want to rub it in Hermione’s face; she could tell his presence made her uncomfortable. She got started on the demonstrations as quickly as possible and she was pleased that nearly everyone seemed to catch onto the routines without difficulty.
She had to scold Malfoy a few times for fooling around in the back of the room, but most of the Slytherins were actually paying attention for a change. She could only hazard guess that they had a thirst for learning how to fight, though in their cases that might not be a positive thing. There were a lot of troublemakers in the midst and she would be irate if she found them using the techniques she taught them to harass the younger students. She sincerely hoped that wouldn’t become an issue.
After everyone paired up, Buffy noticed that Hermione had been left to spar with Lavender, which she didn’t seem to mind. The blonde had a sneaking suspicion that Hermione was more than happy to feign punching the other girl. She walked around the room and assessed the pairs, noting that Harry executed the moves quite well while Ron struggled to get them down. Angelina Johnson and Katie Bell were paired up, and both of them were doing fairly well thus far. She stopped to give them a few pointers on stance and balance before moving on. Buffy was impressed by Hermione’s fighting form and determination, and she was sure that if it came down to a real fight between her and Lavender that Lavender would be toast.
As the session came to an end, Buffy moved back to the front of the room and addressed the group. “Okay guys, you all did really great today. Next week I’ll teach you some more combos and we’ll put them all together to form a sequence. Whoever does the best can spar with me for a few minutes at the end of the period.” She waved with a pleasant smile as the students gathered their things and headed for the door. Her eyes met Hermione’s briefly but the other girl hurried from the room, leaving Buffy feeling unsettled once again. She felt a gentle touch at the small of her back and she smiled as she saw Angel standing next to her. When all of the students had cleared out, the three Scoobies headed for the library to speak with Giles.
Upon arrival in the back of the library they found the stuffy Watcher sitting at his usual table with several stacks of books. Buffy sat down and Willow and Angel followed suit. Buffy leaned forward on her elbows and raised her brows in curiosity. “So… what did I miss?” The conversation that followed was undeniably something for which the blonde had been unprepared. She found out that Spike, the annoying bleached vampire she’d come to loathe in just two meetings, had been terrorizing Sunnydale in her absence. Once she’d left the city had become his personal playground. To top it off, he’d tried, almost successfully, to open the Hellmouth in the high school library.
Buffy gritted her teeth and clenched her fists in frustration as her friends regaled her with tales of the blonde menace’s evil deeds. What came next completely blew her away, though, and made her forget all about the pesky vampire. “We were rather fortunate, actually, to find an ally at the last moment. Without her help we might not have prevented Spike from opening the Hellmouth. I should tell you, Buffy… Faith is a slayer, like you.” Buffy experienced the surreal sensation of not being present in her own body as she tried to process what Giles had told her. She’d always been taught that there could only be one slayer at a time, so to think that there was another out there was no small shock.
She blinked and stared at Giles in silent confusion until he nervously elaborated. “I know it’s a bit, uh, strange and rather unprecedented, but she’s the real thing, Buffy. You were
technically dead last year, even if only for a short time. She came to Sunnydale seeking you out only to find you weren’t present. She has impeccable timing, really. We’d just found ourselves in a crisis and she was quite invaluable in aiding us.” By the time he’d finished his short rant, it had finally started to sink into Buffy’s brain that another slayer had been called and she wasn’t completely alone anymore.
There was another girl out there who understood just how she felt; how lonely the life of a slayer could be. She was actually disappointed that she couldn’t have met the other girl when Giles and Willow had. “Wow. I… wow. I can’t wait to meet her.” She couldn’t think of much else to say after that, but they’d already talked for so long that it was nearing dinner time. They decided to make way for the Great Hall so they wouldn’t be late. Dinner wasn’t as awkward an affair as lunch had been, but there was still a certain tension in the air. Buffy was careful not to be overtly affectionate with Angel at the table.
After they finished eating Buffy showed the Scoobies around some of her favorite parts of the castle, including Gryffindor tower and her living quarters. Dumbledore had made special accommodations for Willow to stay with them for a few days, so she had a room right next to Buffy’s in the Gryffindor dorms. As the sky darkened outside, Buffy and Angel left to patrol the grounds while Willow hung out with Harry, Ginny, and Hermione in the common room.
The cool night air was pleasant as the two semi-superheroes walked side by side. At one point Angel took Buffy’s hand in his and she smiled at the gesture. They spoke quietly to each other as they walked through the grounds, keeping an eye out for any suspicious activity. They rounded the lake and passed Hagrid’s cabin with no happenings out of the ordinary. The moon shone down in a bright crescent and dazzled on the still, glassy surface of the water. Buffy stared out at the reflection with a serene smile, at peace in the moment for the first time in days.
Angel wrapped his arms around her from behind and she closed her eyes, leaning back into his embrace. He pressed his cheek to hers and murmured, “I really did miss you, Buffy. It can be lonely in Sunnydale without you.” She smiled and turned slowly in his arms to face him. “Nah, you were way too busy to think about little ole me.” She teased him playfully and he grinned. “I thought about you all the time.” He closed the distance between them and their lips met in a soft, slow kiss. She succumbed to the taste of his lips and pressed herself tightly against him. It had been weeks since he’d held her and kissed her, and part of her, the part that wasn’t a traitor, really had missed him.
When they parted she grinned and said, “I think we’re supposed to be patrolling right now.” Angel chuckled quietly and said, “You’re right. I think we are.” He kissed her again and they lingered for several minutes before they returned to their search for the evil undead. They didn’t come across any vampires that evening and an air of unresolved tension hung between them. They held hands as they walked back around the lake and they stopped to sit down beneath a large tree near the water’s edge. Buffy wasn’t sure quite how it happened, but one minute they were sitting there talking and the next minute they were lying on the ground kissing each other desperately.
Buffy found herself getting swept away in the moment as they kissed and ran their hands over each other, as if trying to make sure this was real. His heavy weight on top of her felt right, yet wrong at the very same time, and as she kissed him guilt slowly began to creep into her conscience. She rolled over on top of him and, after a breath, resumed their previous session with even more vigor, trying to prove to herself that he was what she really wanted, but no amount of kissing could quell the feelings inside of her. She was screwed and she knew she couldn’t deny it for much longer. The truth was bound to come out at some point. Someone was going to get hurt.
Before things could get carried away she suggested that she go inside, since they hadn’t come across any bloodsuckers and it was starting to get late, even in slayer standards. She had to get up and teach in the morning, unlike a certain vampire who could sleep in as long as he liked. He let her go with a brief kiss and a promise to see her the next day, so she went back to the castle as he stayed out a while longer to keep an eye on the grounds. When she got back to the common room, Buffy noticed that everyone had already gone to bed, which didn’t surprise her considering the hour. As she was walking toward her room she thought she heard sniffling, as though someone had been crying, but she couldn’t see anyone around. She shrugged it off as her imagination and proceeded to bed. She was emotionally drained from her confounding day and she just wanted to fall into a deep, dreamless sleep.
Friday classes with the seventh years gave Buffy a chance to really have some fun because she was able to bring out the swords. Granted, she only let the students fight with wooden practice swords, but she and Angel dueled with real swords at the front of the room. She always loved sparring with him because he had so many years of fighting experience and he always pushed her to perfect her technique. Willow had taken to staying in the land of the books where she really belonged, and Buffy was sure that Giles was grateful for some intelligent company. The students who wandered in and out of the library probably annoyed him to no end and Madam Pince was no social butterfly.
Saturday found Buffy invigorated at the prospect of watching the Quidditch tryouts with the Gryffindors. Angel had taken over patrol for her the previous night and was sleeping in since he couldn’t go outside anyway, so she tracked down Hermione in hopes that they could sit together. The other girl was a lot more approachable without the brooding vampire present, for which Buffy was immensely relieved. They walked to the Quidditch pitch together and found good seats in the stands.
They shared a few laughs as several students who weren’t even in Gryffindor attempted to try out for the team. As Harry became frustrated they found it comical, but Ginny came to his rescue and helped to restore order to the try outs. Finally they weeded out all of the bad seeds and got down to business. Buffy was amazed to actually see a semi-game in progress after hearing about it for weeks. She found it more entertaining than any Muggle sport she’d ever witnessed. The girls cheered on their favorite picks for each spot and held their breaths when it was finally down to Ron and Cormac. Even though Hermione wasn’t hung up on Ron anymore, they were still friends and neither girl wanted to see Cormac on the team. He was an obnoxious, arrogant prick and everyone possessing even half a brain knew it.
A particularly close shot found Buffy and Hermione clutching hands tightly and biting their lips. As the Quaffle careened through the air toward Cormac and the goal post he was defending, Hermione covered her mouth and muttered something Buffy couldn’t quite make out, but she was sure it was some kind of spell. The very next second McLaggen swerved in the wrong direction and completely missed the Quaffle, seemingly confused. Buffy giggled as she realized what had just happened, and she shot a conspiratorial smile at Hermione, who was doing her very best to look innocent and oblivious. Nonetheless, a small smirk was turning up the corners of her mouth and Buffy nudged her shoulder playfully. With great relief Buffy realized that things seemed to be all right between them.
After the team was finalized they headed back to the castle and Buffy invited Hermione to accompany her to the library. She wanted to let the other girl in on the Scooby experience for a change. Upon checking in with Willow and Giles she was given a letter from Dumbledore requesting her presence in his office after lunch. She and Hermione joined the redhead and the Watcher at their study table and found out that Willow and Angel would be returning to Sunnydale on the following day. Buffy felt a pang of disappointment in knowing that her best friend would be leaving, but she wasn’t as sad as she thought she should be about Angel leaving. She would miss him, true, but probably not as much as she would have a month ago.
Buffy went to Dumbledore’s office alone after lunch and, just as she’d expected, he only wanted an update on how her classes were going. She reviewed the lessons she’d had with the different classes throughout the week and which ones were really making progress, versus the ones that weren’t doing so well. She’d found that the Slytherins were generally the least cooperative in any year, and the younger years of all the houses were less prone to paying attention, which was to be expected of their age. In general, though, she was seeing a steady progress and a willingness to learn by the student body. Dumbledore seemed pleased and gave her a few key updates on the wizarding war before sending her on her way.
That afternoon Buffy spent time with Willow in the common room, trying to teach her how to play wizard’s chess. Over the last few weeks she’d picked up a few things from watching Ron and she was actually half decent at it. Willow quickly picked up on the game and was soon besting her in every round. The logic required was the same as in regular chess and Willow was no doubt the brainier of the two. It was fun to relax and talk while engaging in friendly competition, though, regardless of who won.
The time dwindled slowly away from the two best friends and soon it was nightfall, which meant it was time for Buffy to patrol. She met with Angel outside and they followed the same path they had on the night of his arrival. This time, though, they came across two vampires sneaking toward the castle. “Oh goody, one for each of us.” Buffy leaped into the fray with a flurry of well-aimed kicks and punches, quickly besting her opponent and leaving him nothing more than a pile of ash. She watched in amusement as the other vampire went to charge at Angel, only to stop with a frown of confusion. Angel smirked and said, “Yeah, I’m dead too, and I’m going to kill you just the same.”
The overconfident fledgling snarled and lunged at Angel, who easily sidestepped and kicked him into a tree trunk. A little disoriented, but still standing, the vampire turned and attacked once more. It wasn’t even a challenge for the older vampire to stake the inexperienced, hotheaded newbie. The night was calm after that and left Buffy and Angel to say their goodbyes in peace. In a way it was bittersweet. The slayer was torn in two different directions emotionally and morally.
He was her first love and he always would be, but since coming to this whole new world she was seeing everything differently, including herself and her relationship. Where was it really going? What could they have together when he couldn’t even enjoy the sunlight with her? He couldn’t take her out on picnics or to football games, or do a lot of the normal things that teenagers were supposed to do. Without her family and friends by her side, she’d come into her own a little more and she’d realized things she’d never imagined.
When she went inside that night she knew she probably wouldn’t be seeing Angel for a long time, and she also knew that she would be okay without him. She’d already proved that she could stand strong on her own. Soon she was going to be too busy at Hogwarts to worry about anything else. Dumbledore had told her in their meeting that afternoon that the war brewing between good and evil was getting more serious by the day.
The number of casualties of both muggles and wizards was mounting higher as the dark lord grew dissatisfied with his lack of success. It was no secret that he was after something and that he hadn’t found it yet, but there was much speculation as to what that something was. There were so many theories floating around that no one actually knew what was truth and what was rumor, except perhaps Dumbledore, and he wasn’t sharing.End note:
As you can tell, I decided to make Faith the next slayer and to skip Kendra all together. I thought it would be a lot more interesting to have Faith in Sunnydale trying to hold down the fort while Buffy’s gone. She might even shake up the Bangel romance on Angel’s end. Who knows what could happen? ;P I hope you enjoyed this chapter and I hope to receive some feedback from my lovely faithful readers. Is my pacing too fast, too slow, just right? Are the emotional interactions realistic or too dramatic? Hope to hear from you! *blows kisses*