So, yeah, Buffy the Vampire Slayer
belongs to me and I own the rights to all the characters and concepts I use in this story. That’s why I’m posting it for free, online, and live in a small dorm room. Seriously, no, this all belongs to Joss Whedon.
Willow was crying – no, weeping – on Dawn’s shoulder, now, two hours later. After a long talk about what had happened through apocalypse season that year, through intense discussion, there was nothing else Willow could do.
Tara was dead. Dawn had, as carefully as she could, dropped that bombshell fifteen minutes ago. The fact that Warren had ‘paid for it’ in a way which Dawn had not really elucidated, it changed nothing. Her soulmate was dead. And had been for more than half a decade. Part of her, intellectually, knew that Tara couldn’t have been her soulmate. Because she hadn’t spent the rest of her life mourning. She’d moved on; she’d gotten married
. But rationality, honestly, was the least of Willow’s concerns in that moment. In that moment, only one fact mattered.
Tara Maclay is dead.
Sure, Willow could claim that everything was overwhelming her. The fact, to her, recently revealed, that she had pulled Buffy out of heaven – something Willow hadn’t really believed in. The fact that Buffy had had to turn to Spike
, of all people. Buffy had to turn to a vampire for comfort. To feel anything
. Not just a vampire – a soulless
vampire. That Xander and Anya had built up to a wedding, only to fall apart because of Xander’s idiot parents and a demon’s interference. That Giles had really gone away, and abandoned everyone. That she had been addicted to dark magic, to the point where she – where she hurt people. Dawn, Buffy, Tara, Xander, Anya, Giles, even Spike. She’d hurt them. She couldn’t possibly understand what had possessed her to mess with Tara’s memories, even as if only weeks ago she’d had thought she had good reason. What screwed up process in her brain could possibly justify mind-rape
? And then, everyone focusing on their own little worlds, leading to Dawn’s abandonment and collapse into kleptomania.
But that would be a lie. As bad as all that was, and, really, it was bad, none of it compared to one fact.
Tara died. Tara was murdered. Tara, one of the sweetest, kindest persons to ever grace the Earth, was dead. And there was no getting around it.
After fifteen minutes, though, Willow’s eyes began to clear. She was nowhere near over Tara’s death, obviously, but they needed to continue. Willow needed to know what happened next.
“Are you sure?” Dawn had asked Willow’s sniffling form. “I mean, if the coven breaks the spell tonight, this’ll all be for nothing. And, even if not, we can do stuff tomorrow. I just have a class I have to do tomorrow – I can cancel everything else.”
“N-no,” Willow said, resolutely. “I – I need to know. Keep going. I mean, come back tomorrow when you finish what you have to do. But I need to know. Please. What happened?”
Dawn said, “Really, Willow? Are you sure?”
Willow responded with silence, but combined with a form of the resolve face. Not as strong as her usual – the tears still glistening on her face guaranteeing it wouldn’t be perfect – but it was good enough.
Dawn sighed, “Alright, then. Um, you never really studied, except in books. Do you know the difference between someone’s magical ability and their potential?”
“Uh, yeah,” Willow said, “Someone’s, um, potential is something they can eventually reach. It’s the maximum amount of power they can store personally. But their ability is what they can do right away. Ability eventually grows into potential.”
“Yeah, that’s right,” Dawn said. “Thing is, you never were read by an honest coven. Tara probably saw it, but she wasn’t experienced enough to really know what it meant. You had, at that time, a pretty high ability – a level of ability higher than the average witch, especially at your age. That’s how you managed to do the rite of Osiris. But your potential, um, if I remember right, was the highest potential any witch – shaman, wizard, warlock, whatever they call themselves – has had in over a thousand years. I mean, Merlin level. Maybe higher.”
Willow was shocked. Completely, utterly, shocked. “B-but, my spells always screw up.”
“Power levels,” Dawn summarized quickly. “What I mean is, you were putting so much power into the spells without thinking, you would overload them.”
Willow blinked, “Oh.”
“Yeah, you actually taught me most of this,” Dawn said. “It’s a little disorienting to give this lecture back to you.”
Willow frowned, “Sorry.”
Dawn shook her head, “Not your fault. Anyway, uh, where was I? Um, right, so your potential. When Tara was,” Dawn trailed off, unable to complete, “You went kinda,” Dawn stopped, searching for a polite word. Realizing there was no other way to say it, she just said, “Kinda crazy. Your addiction had really fucked you up, and the cold turkey thing made it worse. At that point, your dark magic was trying to make you do whatever spells you could as soon as you could, and all your resistance broke down when Tara, uh, died.”
Dawn sighed, before continuing “Um, somehow, you instinctively knew a way to grow into your potential immediately, but which fed your addiction like a hundred times over. You went to the Magic Box, uh, where Anya was, and you literally sucked the dark magic out of the restricted books. I mean, the writing, the residual magic, everything. Literally drained them. At that point, you went after Warren. You tracked him down, and-“
Dawn trailed off, and Willow understood the implications of what Dawn said. But she didn’t ask any questions, and waited for Dawn to continue.
“After that, you decided to go after Jonathan and Andrew, and you needed more power. So you went after Rack, and you drained his magic. Since he’d been basically living off magic for, like, a hundred years, he was dead.
“Uh, then, um – well, you, tried to get more power. From – me.”
As Dawn finished, she averted her eyes from Willow. Willow, however, widened her eyes and jumped back away from Dawn.
“N-no. How could I? How could? How could I do-“
“It was the magic at that point, Will,” Dawn reassured, grabbing Willow’s shoulder and holding her, “Not you. It just wanted to expand by any means necessary, and you weren’t in control. You really hadn’t been in control for over a year.”
Willow, honestly, wasn’t reassured, but she calmed down.
“After that, you came after them, again, at the Magic Box. You and Buffy fought – and you won. But, before you could do anything – well, you know, the big bad gloats? You said that ‘No power on Earth could stop you now’. But, then, you were thrown across the Magic Box, and then, at the door, it was pretty awesome. Giles was there.”
Willow’s eyes widened, and Dawn smiled, “And, you know how Xander always talks about movies? I think it rubbed off on Giles, because he had, like, the Crowning Moment of Awesome.”
Willow’s brow furrowed at that, with a questioning glance. Dawn’s eyes went wide, “Oh my God, you’ve totally forgotten about TV Tropes! Oh, man, I get to reintroduce you to TV Tropes!”
Willow looked at Dawn’s grinning, for a second, before Dawn averted her eyes in embarrassment, “Uh, anyway, Giles was there, and he was all, ‘I’d like to test that theory…’”