Dawn sat on the couch, Harry’s arm around her shoulders, his other hand holding both of hers, waiting for Morgan to appear, which he did approximately 33.8 seconds later.
Moving purposefully, the Warden crossed the room and knelt in front of Dawn, deliberately avoiding eye contact. “Welcome home, Dawn,” he said softly. “I know you don’t want to do this, and I understand, but if there’s something wrong with you we need to know. I’m not going to force this, so whenever you’re ready.”
Dawn was shaking now, but she shrugged off Harry’s arm determinedly and forced her eyes up until they rested on Morgan’s chin, then on his nose, and finally met his eyes.
She went stiff, every muscle in her body seeming to seize up at once, her grip on Harry’s hand suddenly causing his bones to creak with its force. He sat and submitted, his eyes watering, and waited for his sister to come back to him.
Dawn met Morgan’s eyes, adrenaline surging through her with the knowledge of what she was about to do. She felt her body stiffen as she fell into their rich brown depths, and then all knowledge of what was going on around her was gone.She was falling through a thick fog. Flashes passed her on all sides, leaving her with impressions, emotions and fleeting glimpses. Everything solidified suddenly, and she found herself staring into the depths of Morgan’s soul, his life experiences and convictions.
Harry waited anxiously, and painfully, for Morgan and Dawn to come back, which they did what seemed like an eternity later. Dawn collapsed against the back of the couch, her chest heaving with sobs as tears ran down her cheeks, while Morgan sat back on his heels, frowning thoughtfully.
“Well?” asked Harry, concerned even as he pulled Dawn into his arms and rubbed her back gently.
“The ghost was quite correct,” Morgan told him. “There are pieces of the fractured construct embedded within Dawn’s soul. I believe we will require his assistance in deciding on a course of action from here.”
Dawn had yet to stop crying, and Morgan reached out with a gentle, almost apologetic expression on his face, and brushed two fingers across her forehead. She slumped against Harry, eyes sliding shut as her breathing evened out.
“What did you do?” demanded Harry, grabbing Dawn’s face between his hands and studying her closely.
“I just put her to sleep, to allow her mind to create some distance between what she just saw and herself,” Morgan told him. “Trust me, it’s for the best.”
Harry just nodded slowly. “Bob? Could you come here please?”
The ghost walked through the wall from the central lab and stood in front of them. “What did you find?” he demanded, speaking directly to Morgan, something he didn’t really care for.
“What you suspected. We need a high level spiritual cleansing.”
“Yes, of course,” Bob frowned for a moment, then gestured for the two to follow him and led the way back into the lab. “That one, the grimoire of Francis De’pardieu,” he directed, indicating the book with the slight lift of a forefinger. “Page 278, the section on shamanistic cleansings” he told Harry once he had the book off the shelf. “We should be able to adapt this one to work for what we need.”
Morgan scanned the page over Harry’s shoulder, nodding slowly. “Yes, I can see how this could work. We’re going to need some ingredients, I think we have most of these on hand at the council, and what we don’t have there, I should be able to source from the herbalists here in Chicago. It has to be done…at noon on the day of the dark of the moon, there’s an unusual combination for you, that’s tomorrow though, so it gives us time to get what we need together. And Mai will have to come, because it requires the presence of all of those who were there when the spell was cast.”
Harry nodded with a sigh; he couldn’t avoid it any longer. Dawn would deal with having Ancient Mai there; he had a feeling that after the spell was done, it would help her deal with everything else. She would still have the grief, but it would be at one remove, seen by Dawn Dresden through the eyes of Dawn Summers, and the relationships wouldn’t hold the same meaning that they did right now. The raw pain of losing family members would become the (slightly) more distant pain of losing friends or close acquaintances.
“I will inform her, and get the required ingredients from the Council stores,” Morgan said. “You consecrate your circle, we’ll meet here tomorrow, an hour before high noon,” Morgan held the book and quickly scanned the ingredient list. “We have all of this on hand, which I doubt can be said for your apothecary, however well stocked it may be for your needs,” he said shortly, and Harry nodded, not at all averse to allowing someone else bankroll the very expensive herbs that were required for the spell, at least one of which had been extinct (outside of certain herbailist’s gardens) for the past 150 years. Morgan shoved the book back into his hands and he turned to the kitchen to place it on the table, putting blocks on top to mark the page.
Turning back, he opened his mouth, only to snap it shut again with a sigh. “I wish he’d teach me to do that,” he muttered to himself. He knew that one day he would, the Warden had promised as much, but not until he felt like it.
He turned to look at his sister, slumped sideways on the couch, and sighed quietly. It was nearly over.
The Scoobies sat in the departure lounge, silent and tense. Well, all except for Spike, who was pacing, scowling, back and forth along the length of the row of chairs.
“Will you stop that?” snapped Xander finally. Spike whirled with a snarl, his eyes flashing yellow.
“ENOUGH!” yelled Giles before the two could get into anything else. “We’re all upset. We’re all stressed. Just stop it, both of you. Xander, be quiet. Spike, sit down.”
“Why do you think they took her?” asked Willow from where she sat,
“Why else? They want the power of the Key, obviously. I mean, immensely powerful magical artifact, capable of piercing the walls of reality, allowing access to places or places access to us. And it’s gotta be easier to use than it used to be – it’s got a physical form it’s tied to now.”
“But how did they get her? The house wasn’t broken into, her room didn’t look as though someone had ransacked it but some things had definitely been packed, she didn’t come past us to get out. How did they get her?” asked Willow again, the question that they kept coming back to – none of them knew how Dawn had gotten out of the house.
Silence was the only answer, as they had worked the problem over, and over, and over in the last several hours. It was a relief when the boarding call came over and gave them all something to do.
Dawn woke several hours later, her eyes haunted but less pain-filled than they had been. Harry was in the basement, the trapdoor in the floor propped open so she could see the light spilling out into the now twilight filled apartment. She stood carefully, feeling her stitches pull slightly, and made her way over to the stairs.
“Harry?” she called softly, and two head popped up, one more literally than the other. Bob rose up through the floor while Harry twisted to look up the steep stairs, then stood, dusting his knees and made his way back up the stairs.
“Hey, Dawnie, how you doing?”
“Okay,” she replied, stepping up to him and wrapping her arms tight around his waist, burying her head against his chest in a direct denial of her words. He stood quietly with her, stroking her hair, pretending not to feel the tell-tale moisture that soaked through his shirt.
After about five minutes, Dawn pulled back, her cheeks splotchy and eyes swollen. Harry smiled gently down at her. “I thought me might get takeout, I don’t much food in the house at the moment. Chinese sound good?”
“Fantastic. From Da Hun?” He nodded, and she grinned. “Chili egg rolls?”
“I’ll tell him you’re home, he’ll make your usual. He’s been asking after you for months, he’s been worried about you. He’ll be glad to hear you’re safe, he’ll probably want to deliver it himself.”
Dawn grinned at the mention of her teacher in psychic shielding, the owner of a Chinese restaurant and the best cook she knew.
“Tell him I’ll go and see him in a few days, once I’m ‘settled in’,” she made air quotes, and Harry nodded his agreement.
“He may still come, you know how stubborn he can be.”
“I know. Just tell him anyway.” She sank back down onto the couch, exhausted by her brief exertion. Harry nodded and headed for the telephone.