Chapter 3: Friends
Disclaimer: I own neither Buffy nor Harry Potter. I wrote the song.
A/N: Loves to my new Beta biblios!!!! I would be lost without you!
Chapter 3: Friends
Seven-year-old Dustin Aurelius sat on the playground swing as the sun went down, watching the sunset. He made the swing gently sway backwards and forwards by kicking his feet back and forth, enjoying the warm breeze. He frowned, and turned his around to look at the climbing structure off to his left. He could hear someone sniffling under there, so he hopped off the swing, and walked calmly over to the domed mess of criss-crossing metal that most children climbed over, but Dustin found much more interesting to sit under.
Leaning on the bars, he saw a boy who looked a little bit younger than him sitting on the ground, holding his knees to his chest. Dustin could see that his knee was skinned, and so he slipped through the bars easily and crouched on the ground beside the other dark haired boy.
“Hi.” The boy jumped at the soft sound of Dustin’s voice, and his head snapped around, his brown eyes wide as he stared at him. “Why are you alone?”
“M-My parents are fighting again, so I was waiting here for dinner time, but I fell, and now my knee hurts.” Tears welled up in the boy’s eyes, and he wiped them away angrily. “I should probably go to Willow’s house, she’ll let me stay there, probably.”
He looked so sad when he said that that Dustin reached out and hugged him, gently wrapping his arms around the slightly smaller boy and then just hanging on, letting his good feeling flow from him to the other boy like his Mummy had told him to. She gave the best hugs, so he figured that she knew best how to hug. Feeling the other boy relax into the hug, he figured that he was right.
Letting go, he sat back and held out his hand, and grinned.
“I’m Dustin. What’s your name?”
The other boy tentatively took his hand, and shook it carefully.
“I’m Xander. Do you go to school here?” Xander was relaxing in the other boy’s company, and didn’t mind when the other boy scooted closer to him, and leaned against his side.
“Yeah, Mummy says she and Daddy are better than any school, so she’s been teaching me, but we moved here, so now I’m in the second grade here. Do you?”
“Yeah, I’m in kindergarten.” Xander smiled shyly.
“Oh, you’ll like first grade, you get to color, and you learn numbers and letters, and there are stories and stuff. But then you get to second grade and you have to memorize words and how to spell them.” He made a face, and Xander grinned.
“You don’t enjoy it?”
“I don’t think I mind it, but I prefered the coloring.”
They sat in silence for a while, and just watched the light disappear.
“Dusty, who are you talking to?” Dustin turned around to smile at his Mummy who was coming towards them gracefully across the playground, smiling softly. Standing up, he grabbed his new friend’s hand, and dragged him up with him, clambering through the bars, careful of his new friend’s injured knee.
“This is Xander, he’s a kindergartener. He hurt his knee, and he doesn’t want to go home, but he has a Willow-tree he can go to that will let him stay with it. Can we take him home and then take him to his friend?” Dustin looked up at his Mummy pleadingly, and waited as she looked the other boy over.
“I suppose that you could always use an older friend in this place.” She smiled at Xander, and bent down slightly to shake his hand. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Xander. Why don’t we take you back to our place so we can bandage up that knee of yours and then we can take you where you want to go, eh?”
“Nice to meet you, ma’am. But, I’m not supposed to go with strangers.” Xander shook her hand, but kept a firm grasp on his new friend, not sure about this pretty lady.
“Well, I’m Drusilla, and I’m Dustin’s Mummy.” She smiled, and gently stroked his cheek. “See? Now we’re not strangers. Come along pet. The stars are speaking of a fight tonight, we shall go home, and wait for Daddy.” She gently scooped up Xander in her arms, careful of his knee, and his slightly swollen ankle, clutching him to her with one arm, while holding her Dustin’s hand with her free hand.
Xander squeaked when he first felt himself being lifted, and then wrapped his arms around her neck firmly. He soon realized that while the wisp of a woman was only holding him with one arm, she was very strong, and he was in no danger of falling. Feeling a bit more confident, he lifted his head and relaxed his arms a little.
“Daddy’s been sleepy little ones, he got in a rough and tumble match with an ugly puppy.” Drusilla shook her head sadly, and despite how out of it she looked; Xander could see her looking at every shadow they passed, even though her eyes inevitably returned to the sky. “Bad puppy has been coming around more, we have to be careful, though, or the frogs will all find our lily-pad and want to sit on it. And the ones who sit will send their slave to us to hunt.”
Xander decided that maybe he should revise his opinion of her again; maybe she was as loony as she looked.
“But hush, or they’ll come sniffing through the loose ground, and biting at our ankles. Little ankle-biters with not leash, puppies that follow bread. The babies are always the worst, so much hunger.” She began to hum, and sway as they walked, going as fast as Dustin’s little legs would allow them, his mother intentionally not out-pacing him.
As they walked past a cemetery, she stopped humming, and her grip tightened on Xander slightly, her pace increasing slightly until they were past, and she began to hum again, smiling at the stars, and leading them to an abandoned single-story house. The doors and windows were boarded over, and Xander was sure that in the day the house would be completely dark inside. Going to the top step, she pulled the door open, which was surprisingly open, and walked through into the darkness of the house. Xander never noticed because his eyes were closed, but a small green glow surrounded him as the wards they had placed around the house accepted him.
Walking into the hallway, there could be seen a light creeping out from under the door to the basement, which Dustin went ahead to open, and then went running down the stairs.
“Daddy! I made a friend, and Mummy let me bring him home, can I keep him?” Dustin quickly disappeared down the stairs, the noise of his descent masking whatever the response to his question was. Xander could feel Drusilla laugh.
“Baby of mine, the stars will laugh with thee. But now we are going to check on the bad in the wound, new child-Xander. We must make sure there are no bad spirits in the wound, or any insects.” She walked away from the now open basement door, and went into what must be the living room, slightly sparse in appearance, but with a comfortable couch and a lamp in the corner. Walking through there, they came to a bathroom.
Putting the lid down on the toilet, she sat him on it, and rummaged through some drawers of a chest-of-drawers next to the sink. Smiling, she stood up, and brandished an ace bandage, some disinfectant and a box of band-aids. Brandishing the disinfectant, she went in search of some cotton-balls, finding them in a glass jar in the medicine cabinet. Grinning, she knelt in front of him, and cleaned off his knee, ignoring his hiss of pain. Frowning in concentration, she continued to clean his entire leg, looking for any other injuries that could need bandaging. Finding none, she nodded, and gently smoothed large a bandage over his knee. Moving her attention to his ankle, she gently but firmly wrapped the bandage around his ankle to support the sprain, feeling the skin for where it hurt to determine just how badly he had hurt himself.
Patting his leg on the shin, between both injuries, she smiled at him.
“All better now, birdie, now we can fly all the way to see Baby Dusty and Spike.” Lifting him up again, she set out of the bathroom, back the way they had come, and finally down the stairs of the basement. At the bottom, Xander was surprised to find a warmly lit, well-heated little living room area. Unlike the living room upstairs, this was filled with a large couch that would fit the whole family across from a low-set table which currently had a mug filled with something thick and red that Xander was easily avoiding thinking of, and several magazines as well as a children’s book. Dustin was kneeling on the couch next to a man, poking a bruise on the man’s forehead. The man had bleached blonde hair, a black t-shirt, and jeans on, scowling, and trying to move his head away from the poking fingers. Both stopped moving when Drusilla came into the room with Xander on her hip.
“You mean you actually brought the midget ‘ome?” He looked at her incredulously. “What ‘appened to the ‘secret’ part of ‘secret hideout’? What’s next? Inviting the whole class over for parties and having dinners with the neighbors?”
“That would be fun, Daddy! We should invite my new class over and play cards, and Candyland, and eat ice cream, and Jin Rummy!”
Dustin was now bouncing on the couch, and Drusilla smiled, placing her burden on the couch next to Dustin, who quickly pulled Xander into his lap, hugging him.
“And you and I can have parties together, and be bestest friends.”
Spike groaned, and slapped his forehead, wincing as he came in contact with the bruise that was slowly fading from a garish purple to a spotty yellow.
“Since ‘e’s ‘ere you might as well feed ‘em both. But,” Spike held up his finger as Dustin began to protest. “I want you to take ‘im ‘ome after, got it?”
Drusilla and Dustin nodded in unison, eyes wide, and Spike knew that they were two of the weirdest people he had ever met. Well, they’re family. What can you do?
“Would you like to share dinner with Dustin?” Drusilla smiled at the little boy who lit up at the offer of food and nodded excitedly. “What would you like?”
“Anything that you have around here, ma’am. I’m not p-picky.” Xander blushed a bit when she smiled at him.
“How about pasta? Nice and warm to keep the energy up and make little boys grow tall.” She smiled, and wandered upstairs, humming as she went. Halfway up she paused, and turned around. “Miss Edith was wondering if you would like spicy or sweet?”
“Spicy! The Italy one!” Dustin bounced, and grinned, he face lighting up.
“Very well, Miss Edith will be glad, we are out of pumpkins.”
Dinner turned out to be penne pasta cooked with artichoke hearts, spinach, and sliced spicy Italian sausage, with a bit of red sauce on the top. Xander had never had it before, but he found that he quite enjoyed the pieces of tomato in the sauce, and the bits of rosemary that Dustin’s mother had used to season the pasta.
“That was great! Thank you ma’am.”
“No trouble, none at all, always for the children, I loves to cook. Haven’t cooked in a century. Spike,” she fixed her wide eyes on the blonde man, who was trying to sneak out of the basement, “Miss Edith wants you to remember to do the dishes, and that it’s your turn to cook tomorrow.”
Grumbling, Spike climbed the stairs, stomping slightly and making the two little boys giggle. Dustin leaned over to whisper to his friend as his Daddy walked up the stairs.
“They do this a lot, it’s very funny though, so I don’t mind. And I think they are putting extra effort into it since we have a guest over.”
Spike grunted something under his breath and called over his shoulder as he left, in between muttering about ungrateful families. “Fine, but take the boy ‘ome, Dru.”
“All right, now, where would you like to go?”
“Could, um, could you take me to my house? I can sneak in through the window and they wont know I wasn’t there.”
“Okay. But first, Dusty, it’s time for you to go to bed.”
“No butts, besides the one on your rear. Go upstairs and brush your teeth, Daddy will tuck you in.”
“’Night Xander.” Dustin hugged his new friend, and gave him a squeeze. “I will see you, tomorrow at the playground when you get out of school. We can play, and I can show you my room, or you could show me yours, and yeah.” Dustin just hugged him for a moment, and they let go, and raced up the stairs. Xander was a bit mystified by his new friend who seemed to have so much energy.
“Now little one, we shall take you home to your dearly disliked home.” Drusilla scooped up Xander in her arms. “I’ll carry you past the steps and down the lane, kittens are walking tonight and we don’t want them to catch your lovely scent.”
Drusilla tilted her head to the side, and sniffed Xander’s head as they walked through the house.
“Whats are you thinking about?” asked Xander, feeling her nose graze the top of his head.
“Perhaps Daddy and I will leave a mark on you to keep the bad kitties and froggies from you, we can’t have Dusty’s first friend getting his soul sucked out through his neck.” She tickled his neck, making Xander giggle in a very unboyish way.
Xander laid his head on her shoulder, very content to let her carry him home. The gentle rocking motion of her carrying him quickly lulled him to sleep, and he found himself drifting in a dream with psychotic clowns chasing him, and a candy bar running ahead of him, just out of reach. He woke up briefly when they reached his house and the motion stopped for Drusilla to whisper in his ear.
“I need you to invite us in, little Xander, or we can’t come to visit.”
“Oh, I invite you in, come in whenever you want.” Xander laid his head back on her shoulder, and drifted back to his dream, tinkling laughter giving him speed as he ran from the clown.
Waking up with a gasp, Xander felt a hand smooth over his forehead, and realized that he was in his own bed. Looking up he saw Drusilla sitting on his bed, gently stroking her fingers through his hair. Smiling, she began to sing softly, and Xander felt himself fall asleep, with the gently music floating around him in the darkness.
“The stars are telling me of your dream;
the flames were close behind with ice
hot on their heels. The moon
shouts of your pain, that feeling of
loss, after the dream is don, and the
treasure you ran with has been blotted
up, like your spilt milk at lunch. And the sun
whispers from where you cannot see.
The light is here, for moon borrowed her
Gleaming to light up your sleep, and let
The wind through your mind, to chase what they
Find from your thoughts. So listen to the
Whispers and sighs, until you sleep.
Listen to the whispers of light, until
you wake, and are safely borne again
into the soft break of day.”
Waking up the next morning, Xander smiled at the gentle dawn light, and he thought that it might be whispering. Feeling his ankle, he found all trace of swelling gone as well as the bandage. Drusilla must have done it while he was sleeping. Magic, maybe, but he would think about that later, but for now, he would get ready for school.
Ginning, he got out of bed, and bounced around his room, excited to introduce his new friend to his Willow and Jesse. Those two were the best friends that he had ever had. Not that he had had many, but Dustin was nice too. He grinned at the thought of making a new friend. Making his bed he found a lump under the sheets. Frowning, he pulled it out. It was a china doll, one of the old ones found in antique shops. Examining it closer, he found a note tucked into her hand. Gently pulling it out, he realized it was a phone number, with the words ‘Miss Mary, for Emergency’ written in delicate writing across the top. He couldn’t wait to see what Ms. Drusilla would make for dinner tonight.