NOTE: Amy doesn't get changed back. Willow finds Rack by herself and goes to England to recover. AU from there on
NOTE: This is definitely an AU. I might have muddled up events in the canon timeline so please forgive any inconsistencies. This is after the Glory mess but before the First. There is no First. The Geeks were run of the mill demon worshippers (for power, etc). The Scoobies still hasn't forgiven Willow's actions - nearly destroying the World and hurting Dawn.
NOTE: AtS until Connor. AU from there on. Cordelia accepts demonhood. No Jasmine. AI doesn't own Wolfram and Hart.
AN: Consider this: if the Hellmouth warps intent and outcome imagine how much power one has away from the Hellmouth? Willow has been forced to learn how to 'cope' with the taint from the negative aura. Imagine how much focus that has given her... enough to resoul a vampire, to fight a Hell Goddess, to raise the dead... to kill the unkillable Voldemort should be a snap when one so powerful is working with unstinted support.
~*~ After Solstice ~*~
The eight individuals glanced around each other feeling slightly uneasy about the new situation. Of them all only Connor and Hermione had been friends and more open about the chemistry between them. The so-called adults were fidgeting slightly trying to avoid looking at each other.
Amy spoke the question on everyone's mind.
"Can we try to figure out what happened?" Willow pleaded.
"Last night was supposed to happen." Cordelia answered. "It was my vision." She hesitated. "I didn't See everything that happened. Just the four of us girls and the bonfire under the waxing crescent moon. I didn't recognize the grove when we went there yesterday afternoon. It looked different in the daytime."
"What was that presence?" Bill Weasley asked curious. His normal attire of dragon hide pants, boots and a black shirt actually fit in the Goth crowd with his fang earring and long pony tailed bright red hair. His blue eyes were fixed on Willow who refused to look at him.
"The Goddess." Amy answered promptly. "She infused each of us with part of her power."
"Not all of us." Snape corrected tapping the kitchen table. "Her Consort was there as well. His aspects present in me, Remus, Bill and Connor.
"It was weird." Connor confessed. "But it felt right. Like I was in my element. I was the Night. Wild, free, secretive, hidden, protective all in one."
"I was the Day." Hermione couldn't remain silent any longer. "Reaching, open, revealing, cleansing and burning all in one."
"I was the Lady of the Hunt." Amy spoke as she drank her orange juice. "Artemis, Luna, Selene."
"I was the Lord of Beasts." Remus hesitated. "It was like a full moon but will control. I could sense everything that lived in the wild. But I wasn't afraid. It was perfect."
Amy glanced at Willow and Cordelia. "Willow? Cordelia?"
Willow glanced at them her green eyes slightly dreamy. "I was Green Lady, the Earth herself. I could feel the fruit of the land ripening within me, the flowers, the grain, the fruit."
"I was the Forest Lord." Bill Weasley glanced around feeling slightly sheepish. "I could sense the bounty of the earth feeding the animals. I could see the necessary of death in life and the cycle turning with the seasons. Where there is prey there will be predators. As long as there is Balance all is well." He shook his head. "I don't know why I said that."
"Probably remnants of the Powers." Snape surmised. Everyone looked at him expectantly. Irritated he answered. "All right. I was Dark Father of Mortals. I watch, I tend, I teach, I punish."
"I was Dark Mother of Mortals. I watch, I nurture, I heal, I love." Cordelia spoke in haunted tones.
There was silence as the eight struggled to come to terms with the previous night.
"What happens now?" Hermione asked feeling slightly frightened. She reached out for Connor. Sensing her need for security he laced his fingers with hers and squeezed reassuringly.
"I do not know Miss Granger." Snape spoke in clipped tones.
"Don't call me Miss Granger!" Hermione flared at the Potion Master. "My name is Hermione. After what happened last night I think it is pointless to keep me at a distance like that!"
Snape looked startled before he nodded acknowledging her hit.
"Very well Hermione."
"What happens now?" Amy repeated Hermione's question.
Lupin glanced at his lover who unconsciously shifted closer to him. He found his hand moving without conscious command to wrap around her shoulders.
"We should contact Albus and tell him what happened."
Willow blushed. "Everything?!"
Lupin coughed. "Well not everything. Not now anyway. Just about the Dark Lord's fall and where to find the place. He can send someone to get those bricks before alerting the Aurors."
"This is too complicated to explain by Owl or Floo." Snape pointed out as well.
"I have to make a report to Gringotts." Bill pointed out. "I can take a message for Albus." He glanced over at Willow who refused to look up. "But I don't want to leave Willow behind."
Willow looked up startled.
"You still want me? Even knowing everything?" She asked hesitantly.
The night before the Green Lady and Forest Lord opened the hearts and minds of Bill Weasley and Willow Rosenberg to each other. They knew each others fears, pains, sorrows and dark secrets. They knew the regrets, joys, hopes and dreams. It was off-putting for a pair who had never laid eyes on each other before last night.
Bill's blue eyes remained steady. "I do. If you want me that is." Willow could see the doubt and slight traces of fear in his eyes. She smiled shyly.
Snape snorted. "That sounded suspiciously like a wedding ceremony."
Cordelia punched his upper arm absently. "I have a feeling what happened to us is a lot more binding than any mere wedding ceremony."
"What?!" Hermione was startled and scared. She was too young to think of marriage.
Cordelia's serious hazel eyes settled on the young witch. "Think of it. The Powers arranged for the preceding events to take place. Your coming to Sunnydale, Snape accompanying you, my vision bringing me and Connor here, Remus and Bill showing up last night of all nights." She smiled wryly. "Sometimes I think they are too smart for their own good and get carried away. At other times I know that they are right. I don't like losing control." She admitted. "I really don't like being under a spell but was last night just a spell?" Her eyes challenged Severus Snape who opened his mouth and shut it. He couldn't deny her words. "I felt truly complete for the first time. I've been under a spell before. I ran up against a cult and I would have died giving birth to some demon's kids if it wasn't for Angel and Wesley. I remember that very clearly. I remember a tiny part of me screaming in protest, screaming at what my body was doing and saying. That little part of me didn't scream last night. In fact i
t said last night was right." She sighed. "I'm not sure what's going to happen now though."
"I'm not going to stay in Sunnydale." Amy replied promptly. "Minerva offered me to take me on as an apprentice if I wanted. I want to complete my training and get my qualifications."
Willow blinked tearfully. "I don't want to stay here either." She confessed. "Every time I look around I hurt. There are too many memories here. If Buffy and Xander felt differently... But they don't so I don't want to stay here."
"Albus would not have any problems with you staying in Hogwarts while you get your formal qualifications." Snape spoke quietly though he was looking at Cordelia. "As far as I know he still hasn't found a replacement Muggle Studies instructor and you mentioned that you had experience teaching in high school?"
Willow giggled. "Computers." Her expression became somber. "Miss Calender died. Snyder couldn't find a replacement in the middle of the term so I took over her classes."
"Well if you handled a bunch of American public school teens you can handle a few witches and wizards." Bill spoke bracingly pleased at the situation.
Everyone looked at Cordelia and Connor.
"Connor?" Hermione asked hesitantly.
"I don't know." He confessed. "I'd like to but Dad--."
"Leave Angel to me." Cordelia spoke briskly. "Besides this time it isn't like you are going to a hell dimension for fifteen years. You can still visit him during the holidays and the summer. Not to mention send letters and use that Floo-thingie."
"What about you Cordy?" Amy asked hesitantly.
The brunette's eyes were haunted. "I'm not sure. I don't know what to do. I mean I am Angel's Seer. I owe him." She blinked back tears. "You have no idea how bad it was when Doyle died. Or when he went through that beige period. He didn't give a damn about anything. I was so scared. I didn't want to leave the Hyperion and him alone."
"But he isn't alone now." Hermione pointed out reasonably. "He has others now. Wesley, Gunn, Fred, Lorne." Hermione had met the A.I. crew when they visited Cordelia in LA. "And you can send the information from a Vision by a Penseive or Floo when you get a Vision." She suggested excitedly.
"A bowl of memories." Hermione expanded. "You can place your memory of the vision in one and send it to Wesley. He knows enough magic to activate the memory and experience it second hand. That way they can get the information they need."
Cordelia glanced at Snape who couldn't hide all the relief he felt at the bossy know-it-all's suggestion.
"Do you think so Sev?"
Everyone started at Cordelia using the Potion Master's shortened name.
"I believe that is a practical suggestion Lia." He responded equitably.
A feeling of intense relief relaxed the Seer's tense shoulders. Everyone hid a smile hearing Snape's shortened pet-name for Cordelia Chase.
"That's a relief. Who's up for a drive to LA?" She quipped.
Snape wrinkled his nose. He did not appreciate Muggle modes of transportation. Slow, noisy, dusty, time consuming.
"Why don't we just Apparate?" He suggested.
* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *
There was a big shouting and fighting match in the Hyperion as the girls cajoled, coaxed and guilt-tripped Angel into agreeing to let Connor attend Hogwarts. He did after having a private conversation with Severus on the condition the Hyperion be linked to the Floo system and A.I. be given a renewable source of Floo powder. Done.
Other things in California did not wrap up as fast as Amy and Bill had hoped. Bill and Remus returned to England by themselves; Bill to make a report to his supervisors in Gringotts, Remus to Dumbledore. Severus remained in California to help the Americans prepare for their move to Hogwarts.
Things were easy for Cordelia. Fred moved into her apartment with Dennis. She closed her accounts and liquidated her assets. Her clothes and belongings were packed in a charmed bottomless trunk and a duffel bag. A briefcase was packed with important documents, her laptop and copies of archives she maintained for A.I. She promised Wesley she would continue to work on them using Hogwarts library and send him copies.
Things were even easier for Connor who hadn't been in LA long enough to gather a lot of material possessions. A duffel bag filled with clothes and a trunk filled with weapons his father insisted he take with him. Just in case. Hermione had smirked at the tears and hugs he had to endure. There was a big farewell party in the Hyperion for the both of them with lots of gift giving and laughter.
In Sunnydale Amy had a few legal complications. Her father had insisted her mother be declared dead and the property liquidated and held in trust for Amy for when she returned. She visited him briefly and 'confessed' she ran away because Catherine Madison had 'threatened' her. It had taken a while to get the courage to return to Sunnydale where she found out Catherine Madison was 'dead' but Amy did not want to stay here any ways. She was going to move to Britain with her boyfriend who taught at a school in Scotland. Mr. Madison had accepted Amy's choice and released control of the assets to Amy who promptly converted them to travelers cheques and arranged for a large sum to be wired to a European bank.
Willow had more difficulties. She sent an e-mail and started packing her magikal tools and supplies in one charmed trunk and her personal belongings in another charmed trunk. Her parents were not too concerned. They had responded to her e-mail by having a passbook for a European bank account couriered and wishing her the best in Britain. The only request they had was to close the house up and arrange for fragile antiques to be packed and put in storage. The Scoobies on the other hand had varying reactions.
Anya and Spike didn't have problems with the move; in fact they encouraged her.
"Hogwarts is a really good school." Anya told Willow in private. "It has a good reputation in wizarding society."
"You can be Willow the witch, not Willow the research girl." Spike added.
Giles too, had given his consent.
"I feel it is best for you to be around mages who can properly supervise your magical education."
Dawn had given her grudging congratulations.
"I'm glad you are better now. Send me a postcard by owl. That would be so cool."
Xander and Buffy flat refused out refused to accept her choice.
"You are leaving us?!" Buffy shrieked. "Why?"
They refused to accept Willow's stammering explanations and pleas for understanding. Severus Snape finally had enough and ended the shouting match.
"Miss Summers, please refrain from screaming like a fishwife. Mr. Harris that is no way to speak to someone you call friend. Willow has made her choice. Since you two are too blind to see it is for the best to promote her healing I must conclude you two are no true friends."
Buffy and Xander responded loudly and vocally but something about their protests rang false.
Willow stared at them hurting inside but she didn't want to lash out. Just let go. Not wanting it to end like this she tried a last time to explain her feelings before leaving the Summers house.
"Magic is part of who I am, who I want to be. Bill makes me feel happy and complete. I don't have to hide anything from him because he knows everything about me. How I love doing the Snoopy dance and Charlie Brown Christmas movies. And how I hate frogs. He knows the little bits that make me up Buffy; he's a bit part of my heart. Please try to be happy for me."
It was the last time she would see them in a long while but Willow Rosenberg had made her peace with Sunnydale.
* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *
AN: Sorry Buffy, Xander, Angel & co fans. This story is about the four ladies and their relationships.
AN: I'm using 'mage' as a gender neutral term for witches and wizards, wicca and warlocks. Frankly the term wizarding society gets on my nerves sometimes. Patriarchal conservative idiots - that's the Ministry of Magic for you.
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