Chapter Four: Somewhere over the Portkey
Disclaimer: I know you guys are probably ready for Buffy and the Malfoys to meet up and that will happen in chapter five. Honestly, this chapter wasn’t supposed to be so long but I really wanted to flesh out Roanoke and give the U.S. some magical places, so please bare with me.
The ground came up fast.
This time Buffy managed to keep to her feet, although there was quite a bit of staggering. Ann and Lindsey both steadied her with a hand on each arm.
She took a deep breath of salty air, trying to clear her dizziness. It was official. Portkeys sucked.
“ Well, here we are.” the social worker practically beamed.
Buffy turned. A heavy dense flog covered everything, masking their environment. They stood on a dirt road, in front of the biggest gate she’d ever seen. From it, an impossibly tall stone wall extended off into the gloomy mist. Peering in between the iron slate work of the gate, she could barely make out the outline of large peculiarly shaped buildings.
Actually, it kind of look like something out of a horror movie.
“ So… this is Roanoke?” She tried to keep the disappointment out of her voice and off of her face.
Apparently, she didn’t do a very good job. Ann laughed and strode forward to wrap an arm around her shoulders, gently guiding her towards the gate, “ Don’t worry. It may not look like much now but just wait.”
With Ann having a firm hold on her, Buffy didn’t have much time to put up much of a struggle. She risked a glance back at Lindsey who was following them with a look of pure enjoyment on his face. Whether it was this lovely environment or the fact that he just liked to watch her squirm, she didn’t know.( She was kind of leaning towards the latter). Traitor
, she mouthed.
He cheerfully ignored her.
Up close, the gate looked even more foreboding. It was made from heavy rust colored iron, crafted in what looked like a very old style. There were even a few spikes ‘decorating’ it. A copper plaque was positioned on the wall next to it. The words read, ‘ Roanoke Colony, Founded 1587, Quis quondam eram lost, est iam forever instituo’.
Buffy frowned, “ What does that mean?”
Ann opened her mouth to answer but Lindsey spoke up, “ What once was lost, is now forever found.”
The social worker looked at him, surprised, “ You speak Latin?”
Lindsey shrugged and gave a sardonic smile, “ Everyone needs a hobby.”
When Ann started striding forwards and showed no signs of stopping or even slowing, Buffy began to get nervous.
“ Uh, Ann… what--” she eyed a particular gruesome spike that came level with her head.
“ Trust me.” was the social worker’s only reply. Reaffirming her hold on the smaller girl, she gave a particularly hard yank, pulling Buffy straight through
Her eyes had squeezed closed automatically, and Buffy was so tense that it took her a few moments realize she hadn’t met a horrible death by spike stabbing. She squinted open one eye to take a peek.
On the other side of the gate and away from the creepy fog, things looked completely different. The road that had been made of dirt outside the gate was now cobblestone. It went forward a little ways before it began curving, disappearing among the many strange old fashioned buildings that made up the city.
The architecture was diverse and slightly surreal. Some buildings toward over their heads while others looked inverted, tunneling down into the ground. Others still seemed to grow right out of rocky outcroppings, their walls chiseled from rough gray stone.
The dreary palette of grays and browns from outside the wall was gone as well. Gardens in yards exploded with vibrant color, fall trees bloomed vermillion, amber, and gold. Nature seemed at ease here, blending in with the surroundings. Vines and Ivy were a common sight, scaling the sides of houses.
And then there were all the people. Buffy was from L.A. and therefore used to seeing large groups of individuals. But she didn’t think she’d ever get use to this. People of every race, creed, and color filled the streets. Their garments were strange and exotic. There were robes of every color and style, capes both long and short, outrageous hats, long walking sticks, multi-colored turbans, lacey veils, luxurious furs, and even a few deerskin leggings, jackets, and dresses.
Everywhere Buffy looked was a new and fascinating sight. Ann began leading them down the main street, confident in her direction. Lindsey walked next to Buffy, fascinated by the new sights as well.
“ So where exactly are we going?” she asked.
“ Your official meeting isn’t scheduled until tomorrow, so I reserved three rooms at a bed and breakfast I know. It’s the best in the city.” Ann said explained, “ But it’s kind of a long walk so we’ll grab a carriage to get us there.”
Lindsey raised an eyebrow, “ A carriage?”
The social worker sped up, “ Come on, this way!”
A little further down, the street was lined with actual carriages, the kind Buffy had seen couples rent for rides in the park before. But they were unattached, just sitting there.
Ann walked up and tapped it with her wand. A tiny little sign on the side changed from Available to Occupied. The social worker climbed right in with Lindsey following and once again Buffy was left to bring up the rear. She settled herself on the bench seat just in time to feel it lurch into motion. Her head snapped around but there still wasn’t any horses.
Magic, she thought, was totally awesome.
The carriage ride went by quickly. Buffy kept her head swiveling every which way the entire time, eager to see more of the city.
They pulled to a stop outside of a multi-story colonial house. It was painted a sunny yellow with white trim. A few windows were opened and Buffy could see the light breeze stirring the lace curtains. Smoke curled lazily from the stone chimney. A large garden bursting with color grew around the house and a sign at the base of the wrap-around porch named it ‘ The Pumpkin Patch Inn’.
They departed the carriage, only to watch it roll merrily back the way they had just came. Buffy and Lindsey shared a look before glancing to Ann. The blonde woman was already walking towards the front door and they both turned to hurry after her.
The fattest cat Buffy had ever seen was napping in a sunny spot on the porch. When Lindsey rapped sharply on the bright red door, it started and blinked up at them with orange eyes.
The woman that answered the knock was exactly what Buffy had always imagined grandmothers looked like. She had a sweet face and a rounded body. Her thick auburn hair was streaked with gray and she wore gold framed spectacles on a chain around her neck. She was wiping her hands on her apron when she first saw them, an wide smile lighting up her face.
“ Ann! It’s so wonderful to see you again, dear.” She embraced the social worker in a fierce hug before turning her attention to Buffy and Lindsey.
“ And who might these two be?” Her voice was pleasant, her hazel eyes sharp.
Ann turned and introduced them, “ Mary, this is Buffy Summers and Lindsey McDonald. I’m serving as Buffy’s temporary case worker until her Uncle comes to take custody of her tomorrow. Mr. McDonald is her temporary guardian. Buffy, Lindsey… this is Mary Pendleton. Owner and caretaker of the famous Pumpkin Patch Inn.”
“ Well, I don’t know about the famous part.“ Mary nodded to them both, “ But it’s very nice to meet the both of you. Please come in and make yourself at home.”
She led them inside to a lovely room with overstuffed couches and shiny antiques. Buffy chose a seat between Ann and Lindsey.
“ Would anyone care for some refreshment? We’ve just finished lunch and dinner won’t be for sometime but I can whip up a couple of sandwiches and a couple of glasses of lemonade…” Mary offered brightly.
“ Thank you, Mrs. Pendleton, but we’ve actually recently eaten our own lunch. But I wouldn’t say no to a glass of that lemonade…” Lindsey trailed off hopefully, his southern accent thickening.
The innkeeper smiled and patted her hair, “ Of course dear, but call me Mary. We try not to be so formal around here. I‘ll be just a moment.”
Ann turned to them when she’d left the room, “ So what do you think? Isn’t she nice?”
“ Seems great.” was Buffy’s unenthusiastic reply. At Ann’s crestfallen expression and the subtle elbow nudge from Lindsey, she tried to summon up some interest, “ So you guys seem to know each other really well. You come here often?”
Ann nodded, “ I first met Mary when I was a kid. Before she took over the Inn, after her husband died, she was a social worker. In fact, there was a time when she was my
Surprised, Buffy raised her brow, “ Really?”
“ Yeah. And I wasn’t the most easy going kid, either. But she wouldn’t take any crap from me and eventually I let her in. Since then she’s always been behind me in anything that I do. In fact, she’s pretty much become my family. Well, her and her grandchildren.” Ann amended.
“ Her grandchildren?” Lindsey inquired.
“ Three girls,” Ann explained, “ Piper, Penny, and Poppy. Mary’s son and daughter-in-law passed away two years ago and they’ve lived with her ever since. Piper’s the oldest at twelve and helps out around here a bit. You’ll both probably see them around.”
Mary bustled back in with three frosty looking glasses on a tray. She began passing them out, stopping at Buffy to say, “ In case you feel like something cool to drink, sweetheart.”
Buffy gave her a genuine smile and sipped at the icy concoction. It had to be the best lemonade she’d ever had. The perfect balance of sweet and tart. She mentioned this to the woman who smiled and thanked her for the compliment.
Ann spoke up, inquiring, “ Are their rooms ready, Mary? We’ll need to head over to the office shortly and I’m sure everyone wants to freshen up before hand…”
“ Of course,” the Innkeeper stood and gestured for them to follow her, “ I’ve had them prepared since you first owled.”
The rooms themselves were on the second floor. Buffy’s room was on the end, with Ann’s next door and Lindsey’s after Ann’s. The lawyer handed Buffy her overnight bag at the door and she ducked inside.
It was a very nice room with cream colored walls and peach colored bed linens. A matching wardrobe and desk made of the same golden wood and scrollwork sat against the far wall. A dresser sat opposite with a large ornate mirror hung above it. A large window overlooked the backyard. There was even an attached bathroom with a claw footed tub.
Buffy tossed her overnight bag and purse onto the queen sized bed before collapsing next to them. Traveling cross country to a magical city really took it out of you.
She stirred after a few minutes, propping herself up on her elbows and examining the room. She’d never been to a Bed & Breakfast before. And certainly not a magical one.
Buffy stood and crossed the room to the dresser to peer into the mirror hanging above it. God, she looked awful. The makeup she’d applied to the dark circles under her eyes had worn off, giving her a rather haggard look.
She leaned forward and frowned, reaching up to touch one delicate lid.
“ Yeah, you should really take care of that.”
The voice came out of no where and had Buffy spinning around, searching the room for the speaker.
“ Hellloooooo! This way blondie.” Came the voice again.
She spun back around but only the dresser and mirror were there.
The voice sighed, “ Not too bright are ya? Look inside the mirror.”
Her eyes snapped to it just as a nondescript face, faint and smoky, seemed to appear then fade out of existence.
A loud yelp escaped her and then someone was knocking at her door.
Ann stepped inside, a look of concern on her face, “ You okay? I thought I heard--”
Buffy seized her arm and pointed wildly to the mirror, “ A face! It was there, I swear! It was talking! It was--” she was abruptly cut off by Ann’s laughter.
She stopped once she saw the look on Buffy’s face but amusement laced her voice as she explained about mirrors in the wizarding world, finishing with, “ I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have laughed but you should have seen your expression!”
The Mirror chimed in, “ Yeah! It was hilarious!”
Buffy glared at both of them, “ So what, I’m stuck with this thing spying on me? He’s like a Peeping Tom!”
Ignoring the Mirror’s indignant, “ Hey! I resent that!”, Ann smiled, “ You can cover it up if it makes you feel better. Mirrors like this are very commonplace, so you’ll get use to it.”
The talking reflection started yammering again, “ Excuse me, but I am anything but commonplace! I could tell you stories that---”
She threw a pillowcase over it, muffling it’s protests. Ann grinned at her and took a seat on her bed. Buffy smiled weakly back and joined her.
The older blonde was quiet for a few minutes, her expression growing more serious, before she began speaking, “ You know, Buffy, we haven’t really spent a lot of one on one time together. But I am here for you if you ever need to talk. About boys, magic, even… other things. And if you don’t want to hear me rattling on and on well, then, I’m a good listener. And anything you tell me will be held in the strictest of confidences. Like a doctor.”
Buffy made a face at the comparison and Ann chuckled, understandingly. She lightly slapped Buffy leg, “ Well, that being said, I know I mentioned that we needed to go to the office and start on getting your paperwork in order but that really only needs me and Lindsey. I thought you might want to stay here, rest maybe or take a hot bath…”
Buffy thought about it briefly. Hours of dry boring paperwork? Or taking a bubble bath? Hmmm, so hard to choose…
“ I’ll stay here,” she said quickly, “ I am kind of worn out. Will you guys be long?”
“ Probably till dinner time,” Ann admitted, “ But--”
Lindsey cleared his throat at the open door, shooting a glance to the covered yet still muttering mirror, “ Sorry Ladies, don’t mean to interrupt but speaking of which, I’ve made reservations for dinner tonight. At the Ruby Slipper.”
Buffy was puzzled as to what the heck that was but Ann looked stunned, “ The Ruby Slipper? But a reservation there is practically impossible to get! How did you--”
Lindsey cut her off with a smile, “ You’re not the only one with connections, Ms. Steele. I just thought for Buffy’s last night with us… we should take her somewhere special.”
“ What’s the Ruby Slipper?” Buffy asked. Honestly, she was getting tired of everyone knowing more than she did.
It was Ann that explained, “ Only the best restaurant in The Colony that’s what! Its owned by the famous Slipper Sisters. Every well to do wizard wants to eat there and only a hand full can afford it. I’ve never been before but the cuisine is supposed to be spectacular!”
Lindsey looked amused, “ There’s actually a branch in L.A. that I’ve gone to before. And she’s right… the food is amazing.”
Buffy’s spirits lifted. A night out at a fancy restaurant? Sounded good to her!
“ Do we have to dress up and everything?” she asked.
Lindsey nodded, “ It’s actually black tie… in robes.”
Buffy groaned, “ Robes? As in… what we saw at the mall?”
Ann winced, “ And I’m guessing you don’t have any yet.” she bit her lip then grew excited, “ Okay. Well, we have a few options… Mary probably has a few spare robes around here so we could ask her. Or we could ask Mary to take her to get some dress robes… there’s a little shop down on the square--”
“ The Square it is!” Buffy interrupted. She so didn’t do second hand anything
Lindsey grinned, having already guessed her choice.
“ So we’ll talk to Mary on our way out. We’ll be leaving for the restaurant around seven so be sure to be ready.” he instructed.
Ann got up and headed for the door, “ I’ll talk to Mary now. I’ll wait for you downstairs Lindsey.”
They watched her leave. When the door shut, Lindsey turned to her and pressed a heavy pouch to her hand, “ I’m not sure how much robes are but you should probably get at least a dress set and an everyday set. When you get to your Uncle’s home, you’ll need something to wear out until he takes you to get more. This should be enough.”
Buffy opened it and stared at the gold coins, “ Whoa, what’s this?”
“ Wizarding money. I exchanged some at the Gringott’s counter at the mall just in case you didn‘t. We’ll be going by the Roanoke branch tomorrow but I thought it’d be wise to have some on hand now. And I was right.” he explained.
Buffy stared at the money. It was true she hadn’t needed to exchange the cash he‘d given her, every store at the mall willing to take her ‘mundane’ money. It was funny, but actually seeing the foreign gold coins made her feel awfully homesick. God, she wished her mom was here.
She broke her staring contest with the inanimate object, “ Thanks Lindsey. I appreciate it.”
He smiled and nudged her shoulder, “ Your welcome, shorty.”
Buffy knew he was just trying to elevate the slightly gloomy mood and it worked. She narrowed her eyes, “ Don’t start with me Tiny.”
He laughed and headed for the door, “ Remember. Seven o’clock.”
As the door closed, Buffy let herself fall back on the bed. Shorty indeed.
When Buffy went downstairs a short time later to find the innkeeper, it was the sound of rock music that led her to the kitchen.
It was a girl, possibly a few years younger than her. She was standing at the sink, washing dishes and listening to the music that came from a strange wooden contraption sitting on the counter. She was slim, with dark brown hair pulled back into a ponytail and a slightly elvish face. And Buffy guessed she was surprised to see her as well since the girl’s hazel eyes widened comically as soon as she stepped into the room.
“ Hi.” Buffy figured she should start out slow.
“ H-Hi.” The girl stuttered slightly but gave a shy smile, “ I’m Piper. Are you one of our new guests?”
Buffy nodded, “ Yeah. I’m Buffy. You’re Mary’s Granddaughter, right?”
Piper nodded, “ Yeah, uh, did you… need something? Dinner’s not for sometime but if you’re hungry, we have cookies and stuff…” she trailed off, blushing.
Buffy smiled at the girl. It was nice to be around someone her own age, not to mention someone who wasn’t trying to wrestle her to the ground over a guy, “ I’m good. I just heard the music in here and came to investigate. I thought radios and stuff didn’t work around magic.”
She gestured to the radio, which was currently playing a rock song.
“ Oh, they don’t. This is actually set to pick up the WWN,” Piper noticed her confused expression, “ You know, the Wizarding Wireless Network. It runs on Magic, not electricity.”
“ Oh,” Buffy was relieved, “ So you guys have music and stuff. I was worried…”
The younger girl laughed, “ That we live in the dark ages? That’s okay. It still seems like that sometimes. Are you Mundane born?
“ More like Mundane raised,” she admitted, “ My mom was a witch but she raised me without magic. Everything still takes some getting used to.”
“ I bet.” Piper said, “ Is your Mom here with you?”
Buffy looked down and traced a pattern on the counter, “ No. My mom died last week. I’m actually going to live with my Uncle. He’s meeting me tomorrow.”
Piper looked stricken, “ I’m so sor---”
Buffy interrupted, “ Its okay. You didn’t know. So, uh, are there any good bands that play on this WWN thing?”
The younger girl still looked wide-eyed but also seemed to appreciate the subject change, “ Yeah, uh, there are. This song is actually by Repli Gotti. He’s super popular right now, a total rock star. Then there’s the singer Illyria Azul, she’s really good. There’s the Weird Sisters but they’re pretty much set up in England--”
“ Well, that’s were I’m going. My Uncle lives there.” she said glumly.
Piper looked impressed, “ Wow. England. I wish I could go somewhere like that. So you’ll go to that Hogwarts school then? They have an impressive reputation.”
Buffy frowned, “ Hogwarts? That sounds… really gross. And I don’t know. I mean, I don’t even know any magic yet. What school do you go to?”
“ Oh, well, I got excepted into a bunch of different school but Grams and I decided that Roanoke’s was the best choice. They teach a wide selection of magical courses and its so close to home that I can just walk there every morning.” Piper said.
“ Roanoke has a magic school?” she asked curiously.
“ Oh yes,” Piper nodded, “ It’s in the middle of the city. It doesn’t look very big at first but more than half of the school is built into the ground or deeper into the Rock hills. But Hogwarts is supposed to be super cool. Its like a thousand years old, not to mention it’s a castle! And I bet you’ll be totally good at magic. Here,” the girl dug into her back pocket, pulling out her wand, “ go ahead and try mine. Might as well see what its like.”
Buffy palmed the slender length of golden wood, “ You sure? I mean--”
Piper interrupted, “ Just give it a wave!”
Buffy swung her arm, unsure of what the hell she was doing. The last thing she wanted to do was turn Piper into a frog or something.
Well, she didn’t turn her into a frog. But she did make the large bag of flour sitting on the counter and the bowl off eggs next to it explode. Luckily, Buffy was standing far enough away that the splatter missed her. Piper, unfortunately, was right in the midst of it. Flour and egg covered her from head to toe.
Buffy gaped and quickly put down the weapon of mass destruction, “ I am so sorry! I didn’t mean--” she stopped when the younger girl cracked up laughing.
“ That was great! You should do that when Grams is in here.” she laughed.
Buffy scowled and casually wiped her palm on her sweater. The skin seemed to tingle, “ Yeah, somehow I don’t think she‘d find it so funny.”
“ Find what so funny? Piper! What in the world---”
It was Mary. With her were two small girls, identical except for their hair. One had copper colored curls, the other straighter scarlet locks. They bounced in behind the innkeeper but stopped short when they saw Buffy.
She fought the urge to squirm under their interested hazel eyed gaze and instead, tried to concentrate on what Mary and Piper were saying.
Mary was examining her granddaughter and kitchen through narrowed eyes, clearly awaiting an explanation. Piper however, was the calmest Buffy had ever seen her. She smoothly bypassed any mention of the mess and her appearance, turning back to the sink.
“ I just got home from school,” she gestured to the dishes she was washing, “ Just catching up on my chores.” She was peeking out at Buffy from the corner’s of her eyes.
Mary watched her for another minute before catching Buffy’s gaze and winking. The innkeeper had clearly decided to let it go but did send a chiding reply back to her granddaughter, “ Which you should have done this morning before you left, you mean.”
Piper made a face, “ Yes, Grams. Whatever you say, Grams.”
Mary aimed a swat at her granddaughter’s behind, “ Enough out of you, Missy. I need you to watch your sisters and man the fort for a while. I need to run Buffy to the square.”
The young girl groaned, “ Aw, can’t I go? Mr. Moseby next door would come over if you asked and he could watch them.”
“ I’m sure he would but you’re still grounded from your little adventure last week, remember?” Mary remarked dryly.
Piper scowled and scrubbed more furiously at the dishes, “ Fine. Leave me here with the terrible twosome. Hopefully the house will still be here.”
Mary arched a brow, “ The house had better still be here.”
The woman turned to Buffy, “ Are you ready dear?”
Buffy gave her a weak smile and jingled the pouch Lindsey had given her, “ Ready when you are.”
As the older woman smoothed her dark green robes, grabbed her own bag and what Buffy could only describe as a cape, she slanted a sympathetic look and shrug to Piper. The preteen was nice and it would have been comforting to have someone closer to her age along for this.
Mary led Buffy to the street outside and hailed one of the driverless carriages. She leaned back in her seat after giving it directions and regarded Buffy with a smile.
“ So tell me a little about yourself, my dear. What year are you in at school?” the woman asked.
Buffy fought the urge to squirm. How many times would she have to give this explanation? “ Actually, I’m not. In school, I mean. I just found out I’m a witch.”
Mary looked surprised, “ Really? Were your parents Mundanes?”
Buffy tried not to groan at what she could already see becoming a routine question, “ No. My mom was a witch. She just… didn’t tell me before she died.”
The woman winced, “ I’m sorry for prying dear. I certainly didn’t mean to bring up painful memories. Everything here must be so new to you.”
She nodded, “ Yeah. Everyone keeps having to explain things to me. I feel like I’m playing catch up with everyone.”
Mary patted her knee, “ Don’t you worry about that. Half of America’s wizarding population is Mundane born, and they have to learn just like you. If you have any questions, you’re more than welcome to ask me. And I’ll try to explain about anything I think you might not know about okay?”
Buffy gave her a smile, “ That would be great. And I have a first question,” Mary gave her an encouraging look, “ What’s the deal with robes?”
Mary gave a big laugh, “ Oh, you’re a teenage girl, alright.”
As Mary started giving her the lowdown on Wizarding fashion, Buffy was struck at how odd this was. She was sitting in a carriage being pulled by nothing, yet still moving quite quickly through the streets of The lost colony of Roanoke to buy Robes for dinner at a fancy magic restaurant. She briefly pinched herself to see if she were dreaming. She wasn’t.
“ So let’s see if I have this right,” she interrupted, “ The style and appearance of robes pretty much depend on their wearer’s choices right? I mean there’s not like a particular kind everyone has to wear, ya know, like a uniform?”
“ Right,” Mary agreed, “You got it.”
“ Okay,” Buffy could work with that. She’d just have the best damn robes ever
, “ So can you tell me about Roanoke? Ann tried but I’m really not history girl, if you know what I mean.”
Mary grinned, “ Laymen’s terms it is. Basically, Roanoke is pretty much the first colony established in America, way back in the 1500’s. They tried several times to settle people here but due to disease and famine, not to mention hostilities with native American tribes nearby, it just never took. In 1587, however, they tried one more time. Settlers, that included quite a few witches and wizards, came from England to the island and made it home. Things actually began to thrive before relationships with the natives deteriorated and war broke out.”
Buffy was confused, “ But they had magic, right? Couldn’t they just, you know…” she made a gesture with her hand like she was waving a wand.
The woman looked pleased she was paying attention, “ They could but the Natives had their own magic. Wizards born in tribes always become their shamans. They begin training early and continue it for a very long time. They tend to be very powerful and use magic differently than us. In fact, its nearly forbidden for them to teach outsiders their ways.”
“ So there was a magic war?” Buffy asked.
Mary nodded, “ A huge one. Both sides used powerful magic and a lot of people died. The backlash from the forces they used was unexpected. It actually enchanted the island.”
“ Really?” she was intrigued, “ How?”
“ Well, It pretty much made it untraceable. The fog keeps Mundanes from spotting it, even when they use technology. It even acts like a defense. If you stay too long in it, you begin to forget things. Your name, where you’re from, people that you know. As long as you stay inside the wall you’re safe. The island used to be off North Carolina but now it migrates up and down the east coast as it pleases--”
“ Pleases? You make it sound… aware.” Buffy was seriously creeped out.
“ You’d be surprised. You’ve seen the strange rock houses, haven’t you? The Island produces them when it seems to decide it would like a particular person to stay. It happens rarely anymore but it does happen. Spend enough time here and you form a connection to the land, to the people. They have a saying, ‘The land always knows‘.” Mary mimicked spookily, wiggling her eyebrows at Buffy.
“ Okay, I’m not going to be able to sleep tonight, I hope you know. The land always knows…eugh.” She rolled her eyes, “ That sounds so Stephen King. So what happened to the people in the war? If they all died and this place is unfindable or whatever, how are people here now?”
“ Good question. See, you do get history. Although the war did have casualties on both sides, it didn’t wipe out the populations. In fact, after the island began moving and the fog appeared, both sides joined forces. They had to if they wanted to survive. You see, at first they were trapped here. It took them almost a hundred years to figure out how to manage the fog and get back and forth to the mainland. By that time, both sides had intermarried with each other. Most of their descendants still reside here. In fact, I’m one of them.” She said proudly.
Buffy was impressed, “ Really? That’s pretty cool. So you’ve lived here your whole life?”
“ Well, not my entire life. After I finished school, I did a bit of traveling. It’s customary in the wizarding world.” Mary said.
Buffy nodded. Sounded good to her.
“ Oh look, here we are.” Mary leaned forward and tapped the carriage. It rolled slowly to a stop and Buffy took in her surroundings.
She had never been in a town square before but then she’d never been in a place like Roanoke before either. Both were surpassing her expectations.
The square was nestled at the very top of a large hill/small mountain. A variety of building and shops lined all four sides. There were carts everywhere; selling wares, baked goods, fruit. In the center, a fountain resided on a yard of vibrant green.
Mary helped her down from the carriage and began to walk her towards a little shop that’s sign that proclaimed it ‘Swirl & Swish Robes’.
“ Now, Semele is the owner and seamstress here and she can be… a little difficult. In advance, I apologize for anything she says.” Mary said.
“ If she’s so awful, why do people come here for robes?” Buffy asked.
“ Well, she may have a rotten personality but she happens to be the best designer in the Colony. People come from all over to buy her robes. She actually lived and studied design in Paris for a few years. But if you ask me, I think it’s gone to her head.” the older woman muttered to Buffy.
Buffy smiled. Mary was really growing on her.
The bell above the door jingled as the entered. The inside was decorated in contemporary colors and well-lit by candlelight. Against a large back wall, swatches of fabrics in every color and fabric imaginable were neatly lined and stacked. A desk was set up adjacent to it, paper and colored pencils, charcoal, and sanguine sticks spread across it. They stopped at the marble counter that bisected the room.
Buffy turned to Mary, “ Do we just wait or--”
A high squeaky voice interrupted her, “ How can I help you miss?”
Buffy turned and nearly jumped backwards. The weirdest creature she’d ever seen was standing in front of them. It looked like a cross between a hairless cat and a midget. It was about three feet tall and had spindly arms and legs and large blue eyes. Big bat-like ears protruded from its head and it had a tiny little turned up nose. It was wearing of all things, what looked like a fancy pillow case. From the coral colored material and its lace trim, she guessed it be a girl.
She knew she was staring but she couldn’t help it. What the hell was it?
Mary didn’t seem to be having any problem however, “ Hello, Simi. We’re here to see your Mistress. Please let her know we’re here.”
Simi did a little curtsy and vanished with a pop. Wordlessly, Buffy turned to Mary. The older woman smiled and explained, “ She’s a house-elf. Some witches or wizards, if they have enough wealth or power or even family influence, have house-elves. They’re like servants. I’ll explain more later.”
Buffy nodded wordlessly. She couldn’t wait to hear about this.
The beaded curtain that had been hanging over a doorway was pushed aside for the tall statuesque female who entered. She was a handsome woman, with bronze skin and ink-black hair she wore piled on top of her head. She was dressed in a bold set of rose colored robes. Her dark gray eyes were cool and assessing.
“ Mary. Lovely to see you again. What brings you to my little
shop?” Her voice was deep and throaty and her emphasis on the word little was clear.
Buffy raised her brow. Sounded like they knew each other pretty well. Well enough that Mary had voiced her opinion directly to this intimidating woman?
“ Semele. How wonderful to see you dear. Actually, my young friend needs dress robes for tonight and I could think of no place better to bring her.” Mary’s voice was open and sweet, completely unaffected by Semele’s cool demeanor.
Buffy saw Semele’s gaze move from Mary and onto her. She swallowed but lifted her chin and studied her right back. The woman’s lips twitched but the rest of her face remained stony. She glided past the counter and came to stand in front of Buffy.
She lifted her hand and made a little twirling motion, “ Turn for me please.”
Buffy complied, slowly turning.
Semele watched her intently and nodded, “ Yes, I believe that I have several things that will work for you. Follow me please.”
She turned and headed back through the beaded curtain. Buffy slanted a look at Mary, slightly taken aback at the indifferent tone. The older woman nodded, amused, and gestured her forward.
They both followed, walking faster to catch up with the long strides of Semele. She led them into another room, in which the wall at the far end was completely covered by a large mirror, and a step stool and changing screen placed in front of it. Racks of robes in a rainbow of colors filled the rest of the space.
Semele gestured to the racks, “ Take a look and see if there’s anything that suits you. I have a few things in the back, that I think might work. I’ll be right back.”
Buffy watched her go and turned to Mary, making a face, “ Yes, lets find something that suits
Mary grinned and moved to the robes, “ Well, sweetie, have you thought about a particular color?” She began pulling various garments from the rack.
Buffy inspected a few before running her fingers down a Indigo satin robe. It had a modern cut with silver and gold embellished threading.
“ That’s a very good choice.” Semele said from the doorway. She had an armful of delicate, frothy robes in pale, ethereal colors, “ Try it on behind the screen and step up on the stool.”
Buffy took the robe and moved across the room and behind the large dressing screen. She changed as fast as she could and emerged to see Mary and Semele’s expectant faces.
“ Oh, that’s lovely.” Mary admired.
“ Yes, it does look rather stunning on you. This particular threading works well with your hair. Step up on the stool.” Semele commanded.
Buffy followed the order, steeping up and peering at the reflection in the mirror. It did look good on her, the color brought out her green eyes and golden skin.
Wearing robes was kind of like wearing a formal gown. She moved a bit and frowned, “ It’ll need to be taken in.”
Semele raised an eyebrow, “ Of course. It’s too tight at the bust, too loose at the waist, and just a little too long at the hem. But I can do alterations quite fast.”
She moved over to Buffy and pulled a measuring tape from her pocket. She held it against Buffy’s body for a moment before releasing it. Buffy watched as it continued taking her measurements. Weird.
“ Before you make a decision, you should try on a few more.” Mary advised.
For the next half hour, Buffy tried on more robes than even she thought possible. At first it had been only dress robes, but once remembering Lindsey’s advice about everyday robes, she mentioned it to Semele. That had started the flurry of activity all over again.
Through it all, there had been a few close calls. Mary and Semele’s bland conversation had rapidly deteriorated and it had been all Buffy could do to keep the peace. And She found it highly ironic that She
had been the one acting the most grown up between the three of them. Sheesh.
They were finishing up now though. Buffy had chosen the modern indigo satin robe, as well as a frothy cream, silver, and gold number that, according to Mary, made her look positively angelic( This struck her as incredibly funny. She hadn‘t been angelic since she’d left the womb). For everyday robes, Semele had recommended a trendy style of robe that didn’t make her feel like she was back in the Victorian Age. She’d chosen two, one in sea foam green and one in ocean blue. While Buffy didn’t usually choose nautical colors to wear, she kinda hoped that they would remind her of her brief time on this island.
After Semele had finished with her measurements, she’d assured Buffy and Mary that she could have them altered in half an hour, where they could then return to pick them up. They’d agreed and had headed back out into the square.
“ Well, now that that’s done, I do need to pick up a few things at the apothecary down the way. Do you want to wait here or come with me?” Mary asked.
Buffy gave her an apologetic smile, “ I’d rather stay here if its all the same with you. The Apothecary at the Mall was pretty stinky and I’d rather not get a whiff of that again. And, well, I’d like to see a little more of the square while I have the chance.”
Mary patted her hand, “ Alright sweetie. I’ll meet you back in front of Semele’s in a little while, okay?”
She nodded and they parted ways.
The square was busy and bustling. It was early fall but the sky was cloudless and the sun bright. The breeze smelled like the sea. Buffy bought a freshly baked oatmeal cookie from a cart selling baked goods and walked towards the fountain that resided in the middle of the square.
It was large, the kind were you could sit on the ledge and dangle your feet in. Bubbling jets of water periodically sprouted from the pool and you could see koi, turtles, and frogs swimming in the crystal blue depths. However, it was the statue in the center that caught and held the attention. It stood tall and regal at least six feet. A snow white Doe. The glittering stone body was all slim lines and graceful curves. It had Small gold colored hooves and its gleaming ebony eyes were set in an angular head.
At the base was a gold plaque. Buffy leaned forward to get a better look.
‘ In living memory of Virginia Dare, first daughter of Roanoke.’
“ Pretty, isn’t she?”
Buffy looked to her right. A young woman stood there, staring at the statue.
“ Beautiful.” Something about the girl nagged at Buffy.
“ Have you heard the story about her?” the girl asked, still staring intently at the Doe.
Buffy was nonplussed, “ About the deer?”
The other girl turned and smiled, “ About Virginia Dare, yes.”
She was tall and slim, with dark hair worn pulled back. Her face was plain; her mouth thin, her jaw a bit too wide, her nose a hair too long, her eyes non-descript. She wasn’t wearing robes but jeans and a leather jacket. Buffy could feel that she knew this girl but for the life of her, couldn’t place her.
She frowned, “ I haven’t heard a story. Actually, I’ve never even heard of her. Except for that plaque.”
The girl smiled, “ She was the first witch born on American soil. First baby born in the settlement actually. When she grew up, they said she was the greatest witch of her age. Even became an animagus, her form as I’m sure you’ve guessed, was a snow white doe.”
Buffy nodded, trying to act like she had any idea what the hell an animagus was.
“ Of course, this was during the Great War. And of course, she went and fell in love with one of the enemy; an Indian brave. He loved her in return, even gave her a tribal name, Doe in Moonlight,” the girl’s smile turned sad and wistful, “ But it wasn’t meant to be. There was a shaman who fancied himself in love with her and after finding out that she already loved another, he grew wrathful. He cursed her to remain forever in her animal form. Out of desperation, Virginia searched for her lover. She found him but he was hunting and not recognizing his love, shot her with an arrow through the heart. When, with her dying breath she turned back to her human form, the brave realized what he’d done and in his grief stricken madness, cursed himself. To wander the world until he found her spirit and could make right his wrong.”
Buffy stared, “ Wow. That’s even better than Romeo and Juliet.”
The girl laughed and the light in her face was lovely, “ I’ve always thought so.” She turned to face her and extended her hand, “ I’m India Cohen.”
“ Buffy.” She offered her own hand. India’s grip was a little too firm but that wasn’t what suddenly grabbed her attention. Her boots. Her hideous combat boots. Aha!
“ You’re the girl that fought the vampires!” Buffy blurted out.
India gaped, then stuttered, “ H-How d-did you--”
Buffy interrupted her, gleefully, “ I was there that night! I saw you!”
The older girl gave her an amused look, “ Which night? Cause I’ve fought a lot of Vampires.”
She blushed but clarified, “ L.A. last May. Junior High dance? In the gym that burned down? That night.”
A look of realization crossed India’s face, “ Fire girl! That was You!” disbelief was heavy in her voice.
Buffy scowled, “ Yeah, that was me.” Fire girl,
India laughed and gave her a playful push, “ Aw, don’t be that way. I just didn’t get a good look at you. You saved my bacon you know. That fire was the perfect distraction and just what I needed to get over on old Lothos. I didn’t even realize you were a witch!”
Buffy toed the ground with her shoe, “ Yeah, well, that makes two of us.”
The other girl looked confused, “ Huh?”
Buffy wasn’t really the type of person that liked to confide her darkest secrets all willy-nilly to strangers but something about India had Buffy opening her mouth and spilling all the events that had happened since that fiery night. The Nut House, her mother’s death, finding out she was a witch, being sent off to England of all places. When she was done, India simply stared at her with her mouth open.
When she was still doing so a few minutes later, Buffy took a bite of her cookie and chewed thoughtfully. Snapping off another piece, she stuck it in the girl’s mouth. India blinked and reflexively began chewing.
“ Wow.” was all the girl said.
Buffy nodded, “ Yeah. Wow. So what’s up with you and Vampires, anyway?”
India choked on cookie crumbs, “ Jeez, let a girl swallow first!” she cleared her throat for a moment, “ I’m a dark creature hunter I guess you could say. Vampires are… a specialty of mine.”
She frowned, “ Oh. A friend of mine thought you were some… vampire slayer or something.”
India goggled at her, “ Damn Girl!” She moved fast and grabbed Buffy’s arm, “ Come on.” She tugged the smaller girl over to an unoccupied bench in the square. She eyed the people around her before sitting them down.
She began, “ Okay first, keep the vampire slayer stuff on the down low, k? The majority of the wizarding world thinks that it’s a myth. And I‘d prefer to keep it that way. They‘d probably try and have me classified as one of their ‘magical creatures‘.”
Buffy stared at her, “ So… I was right?”
India sighed, “ I can’t believe I just got outed but yes, you were right. I’m India the Vampire Slayer.”
“ Okay,” Buffy wrinkled her brow, “ so what’s a vampire slayer?”
India stared at her for a moment before throwing her head back and laughing, “ I’m sorry. It’s just that you pretty much shocked the shit outta me, fronting me out like that. I guess I just expect you to be all knowing or something. That’s okay, I can give you the spiel. Let’s see…” She paused before dramatically saying,“ In every generation there is a Chosen One. She alone will stand against the vampires, the demons, and the forces of darkness. She is the Slayer.”
Buffy stared, “ Wow. And since you’re a witch--”
“ Nope. Not me.” India interrupted cheerfully.
Okay, now she was confused, “ Wait, you’re not a witch? But then why are you here?”
“ My watcher‘s a wizard. Periodically, he likes to stop over at places like this, catch all the latest news, refresh supplies, that sort of thing. I just try and keep out of everyone’s way. I generally know enough that people don’t question me closely.” She slanted a glance at Buffy, “ Until today, I guess.”
“ Okay, wait. Watcher? What’s that?” she was so confused. Her brain hurt.
“ Good question. He’s like my teacher. He helps train me and--- Hmm, think of him as my tech support. He’s got the low down of all the monsters out there plus wicked magic skills. And he is HOT.” she finished gleefully.
“ Oh. Okay.” Buffy paused, “ So… do you have any powers?”
India grinned, “ Yup. Think of me like a super enhanced human. Super speed, strength, senses, healing. I even get prophetic dreams.”
Something about that made Buffy uneasy, “ Dreams?”
“ Yeah, but nothing good like lotto numbers. Mostly just bad crap that’s going to fly at me.” she stood and pulled Buffy with her, “ Come on, let’s walk around the square. I’m starving and that piece of cookie just made me hungrier.”
So they walked. India got herself a chocolate chip cookie and proceeded to take her turn at spilling the events of her life. Her mom died in labor with her. Her dad had been in the Navy so she‘d grown up traveling the world. She’d been called at sixteen and had been the slayer for three years. She had a dog named Foolish. She had a watcher named Christopher Bothwell, who she called Kit. To Buffy, it sounded like they kinda had a thing going on but since India didn’t mention it, she didn’t either.
They were circling around a cart filled with Roanoke souvenirs. India pulled her closer to it, claiming she’d been meaning to get a gift for Kit since it was his birthday in a few days. They were selling various things; chunks of colored stones, Fog-in-a-bottle, books detailing the history of Roanoke and the story of Virginia Dare, and of course replicas of the Doe statue.
They were six inches tall but otherwise perfect replicas. They looked to be carved from the same smooth white stone, had the same ebony eyes and golden hooves. They even had the same lifelike quality, like they’d just turn and walk right off. Buffy picked one up thoughtfully. India was currently shaking a bottle of fog and asking the cart owner questions. Buffy turned and caught the eye of the owner’s partner, signaling that she wanted to make a purchase. Quickly, she made her selection and paid.
As she shoved her items into her purse, India walked back up to her, “ Well, he’ll just have to be happy with a bottle of fog. Jeez, doesn’t that sounds like the best present? A bottle of amnesia inducing fog. I know what’ll be on my Christmas list this year.”
Buffy laughed, then pointed to the object India was trying to hide inside her jacket, “ And that book with the oh so tragic love story of Virginia Dare… I guess that’s going to be his
India blushed and elbowed her, “ Hey now. No knocking the book. I’m entitled to one weakness and mine just happens to be tragic romances.” She spied the shopping bag the younger girl was trying to hide, “ And what’s that?” she grabbed it before Buffy could move and peered inside, “ Oh, I see. Giving me grief about mine when you bought the same thing! For shame, Miss Buffy, For shame! And you got one of the miniature Doe’s! I knew I should have gotten one…”
Buffy simply smiled.
India continued, changing subjects rapidly, “ Besides, now that you’re in ’the know’ about my calling, I can tell you another tidbit of info about Ms. Dare and why its my favorite story. Its not known in the wizarding world but she wasn’t just a witch. She was a Slayer!”
“ Really?” Buffy must have sounded as unimpressed as she felt cause India looked frustrated.
“ Okay, look. There are witches. And there are Slayers. And never the two shall meet, ya get me? But she was both. It was the only documented case of it happening. I don’t know… I guess I just feel like me and her have a connection. That probably sounds stupid.” India shrugged.
Buffy glanced back up at the fountain. They’d slowly made their way back over towards it until they’d finally just sat on the ledge.
“ I don’t think that’s stupid.” And she didn’t. She’d officially met India thirty minutes ago but she felt more at ease in her company than she really had anyone’s since her mother’s death. Even Lindsey.
Buffy bit her lip but reached into her purse, “ Look, I uh, well I got something for you.” She pulled out the carefully wrapped object and handed it to the surprised girl.
As India began to unwrap it, Buffy babbled, “ I thought, you know, it seemed like something you’d like. Be something for you to remember Roanoke by. Not that you wouldn’t. Well, not unless you unleashed that bottle of fog but I don’t think you’d do that. Maybe by accident. I got one of the Doe’s too. But if you don’t want--”
“ Thank You, Buffy.” India interrupted. She cradled one of the miniature statues and gazed down at it with an expression that Buffy couldn’t decipher. She glanced back up and smiled at her, “It means a lot. Kit and Foolish are pretty much my only family. I don’t exactly get to stop and make friends when we travel. But hanging with you… I‘ve had a great time. And I’ll always have this to remember you by.”
Buffy gave her a sad smile, “ Any idea where you’ll be going next?” India had already told her how her and Kit were planning on leaving that night.
“ Hmm, somewhere south of the border for sure. Winter’s coming and I’m not that fond of snow. But you’ll be in merry old England, sipping tea and eating crumpets.” India teased, adopting a horrible English accent.
Buffy laughed, “ Suck it, Cohen.”
They both turned. A tall, dark haired man was standing behind them, a big dog of mixed breeding on a leash by his side. He stepped closer and Buffy could see how handsome he was. This must be Kit. Wowsa.
“ Who is your friend?” he spoke with a British accent.
“ This is Buffy. We bonded over a mushy love story.” India said, throwing a conspiratory look to Buffy.
Kit looked uncomfortable, “ Well, its time for us to go. I’ll just wait for you over there.” He nodded toward a waiting carriage.
India waited till he’d stepped away, “ He’s a bit stiff at first but he’s a great guy. All the same, I plan on waiting till the perfect time to spring the fact that you know who I am on him. Ought to be good for a few laughs.” She stood up embraced the smaller girl. “ Take care of yourself Buffy. If you ever need my… expertise, just ’owl’ me. At least, I think that’s what they call it. Next time we’re in a magical city, I’ll see if I can send you a note. You said your Uncle’s name is Malfoy right? Shouldn’t be to hard to find.”
Buffy smiled, “ Take care of yourself India. After all, you have a way more dangerous life than I do.” She spied Mary walking across the square. She gave her a small wave and the older woman nodded towards Swirl and Swish.
She waved a final goodbye to India and watched her join Kit in the carriage. The last view she had of her new friend was of Foolish jumping into her lap and India laughing.
Buffy ran back into the shop just as Semele was wrapping up her purchases. Mary turned, smiled, and asked, “ I saw you made a friend. She looked like a nice girl.”
She gave the older woman a small smile, “ She was.”
Semele interrupted, “ I don’t have all day you know.”
Buffy brought out the purse full of gold coins and glanced to Mary for help. She had no idea what the currency was here. She’d guessed at the souvenir cart. The older woman quickly counted out the amount due and then they both gathered up her parcels. Semele bid them a curt goodbye before disappearing into the back of her store.
Quickly catching a carriage outside, they headed back to the Inn. Buffy spent the trip wistfully watching the people and scenery roll by, Mary dosing lightly across from her the whole time.
When they both arrived back and walked inside, chaos met them. The two younger girls Buffy had seen earlier were filthy, running through the house and yelling at the top of their lungs. Piper, red faced and frazzled, was currently chasing them down, yelling something about their baths and how if they were lucky, she wouldn‘t drown them.
Mary gave an exasperated huff. She turned to Buffy and handed the her the rest of her packages, “ Why don’t you go upstairs dear, and get ready for your night out. Just ignore any screaming. It’s bath-time, I’m afraid.”
She tried to give the Innkeeper an understanding look but gave up when an ear-splitting shriek sounded through the house. Turning, she fled upstairs.
Her room was just as she’d left it. Even the now silent mirror was still covered.
Buffy unwrapped her packages, hanging the robes to avoid wrinkles and placing her new book and Doe figurine on the dresser. She found herself tip-toeing, unconsciously trying to avoid rousing the annoying mirror. When a particularly loud shriek echoed from down the hall and it still didn’t stir, she let herself relax.
Bath time was starting to sound really good.
After casting a suspicious glance into the bathroom mirror, and consequently covering it, Buffy slipped into the hot water and relaxed.
It was a short time later that she exited the bathroom, wrapped in a fluffy bathrobe.
The light from the window had grown darker and shadows covered the walls and floor.
It was the giggling that stopped her in her tracks.
Buffy anxiously peered around the room and lightly climbed atop the bed.
The giggling started again. And it was coming from under
Surprised, Buffy was off and halfway across the room before she realized it. Okay, sure, giggling wasn’t the most nefarious sound in the world but considering she was in Roanoke and all the magical creatures that apparently congregated here, she wasn’t taking any chances.
Tipp-toeing to the desk, she snagged a candlestick from the corner and gave it a few practice swings. Carefully walking so that her bare feet didn’t make the floorboards creak, she braced herself by taking a few deep breaths.
Buffy dropped to her knees to see under the bed, candlestick ready for swinging.
“ Gotcha!!!” she shouted.
The two little faces that peered out at her from the darkness let out twin bloodcurdling screams. Buffy echoed them, a shrill scream exploding from her as she rapidly scooted backwards across the floor.
Panting, Buffy clutched her chest. ‘Shit!’, was all she could think. When an hysterical giggle escaped from her lips, she had to struggle not to lapse into a laughter fit. Behind her, the mirror gave a grunt.
Crawling back towards the bed, she peered under it again, “ Penny and Poppy I assume?”
Twin pairs of wide hazel eyes nodded to her and Buffy gestured for them to come out. They did slowly, obviously assuming they were going to be punished.
Bedecked in pink pajamas and with wet hair, they’d obviously been captured and subjected to the infamous bath. Up close, she noticed that their faces looked a lot like Piper‘s.
“ Penny,” Buffy guessed for the one with copper curls, “ And Poppy.” she guessed for the one with straighter scarlet hair.
She sighed and rubbed the back of her neck. Pointing to herself, “ My name is Buffy. The girl you scared to death.”
They looked down at the floor, Penny speaking up, “ We’re sorry. We were hiding from Piper. We didn’t mean to scare you.”
Poppy nodded earnestly, “ We really didn’t.”
Buffy felt the corner of her lip twitch. How could you stay mad at that? They were so cute!
“ That’s okay. If you‘re not scared once a day, your heart gets all lazy and stuff.” She gave them a weak smile and they eagerly returned it.
“ So,” she glanced at the door, “ Maybe you guys need to… well, I need to start getting ready and--”
“ Can we stay and watch?” Poppy asked eagerly. Penny looked hopeful.
Buffy sighed and rubbed the back of her neck. It wasn’t that she didn’t like little kids, she just wasn’t use to being around them. Looked like that was about to change.
She grasped at a last straw,“ Well, that depends. Is Piper looking for you cause you’re in trouble?” Please let Piper be looking, she thought to herself.
In tandem, the girls shook their heads and spoke, “ No, we were just playing.”
Buffy gave them both suspicious looks, “ Well, okay. You can stay but on top
of the bed this time, ’k?”
They giggled and made to climb up on the bed.
Buffy turned and headed for the wardrobe. She might as well make use of them while they were here. She seized the two sets of dress robes and held them up for the twin’s inspection,“ So which one?”
It didn’t take Buffy long to get ready, especially after the twins vanished(It turned out that six year olds really didn’t have the best attentions spans). She was just putting the final touches on her makeup when someone knocked on her door.
“ Come in.” Buffy called.
It was Ann. She was wearing a beautiful set of silver-green robes that clung to her silhouette and her hair was down, falling around her shoulders in a soft pale yellow cloud.
“ You look beautiful!” Buffy exclaimed. Honestly, this was a huge improvement from the attire the social worker had been wearing before.
Ann grinned and did a little twirl, “ Why thank you. It’s not often I get to dress up. I’ve had these robes for years. But speaking of beautiful, look at you!” she cast the younger girl an admiring look, “ You look so pretty.”
Buffy smiled and smoothed a hand down the indigo fabric, “ Thanks. How did it go at the office?”
“ Pretty good. We have all the necessary paper work gathered and we went ahead and filled almost everything out. There are a few things we’ll go over in the morning before we meet with your Uncle. But forget about that tonight. We are going to take it easy and enjoy the rest of the evening, okay?” Ann said seriously.
Buffy nodded but couldn’t help but give her a worried glance. Ann had been a little too serious… was something wrong and they just weren’t telling her?
“ So how was the rest of your day? Mary said she took you to Semele’s. Isn’t she a piece of work? She designed these robes, actually.” the social worker was obviously fishing for a subject change.
“ It went pretty good. Mary showed me around and told me a little about Roanoke. Semele’s… interesting. While I was waiting for her to do the alterations, I hung around the Doe fountain in the square. I heard about her story. I bought some souvenirs. Then I came home. That’s about it.” Buffy finished dryly. She spritzed on a dab of perfume then went to her overnight bag to look for a pair of shoes.
“ Ah yes, Virginia Dare. Well, She is the legend of choice around here. But it sounds like you had a good time.” Ann followed her over to the wardrobe and sat at the desk’s chair, casting an amused look to the still covered mirror.
Finally deciding on a pair of sleek black strappy heels, Buffy began putting them on, “ I did have a good time--”
They both turned towards the door. Lindsey stood there, decked out in a sharp looking set of dark blue robes. Buffy wolf-whistled, “ Look at you. All dapper and snazzy.”
He grinned, “ Well, thank you. And might I say that you both look lovely. Are we almost ready to go?”
Ann jumped up, “ Almost. I’ll just be a few minutes. I’ll meet you downstairs.” She quickly left the room.
Buffy sent a curious look after her but continued strapping her heel on.
Sitting himself in the chair the social worker had just abandoned, Lindsey smiled, “ So what do you think of Roanoke so far?”
“ It’s pretty cool, I guess. I wouldn’t mind staying a few more days…” She glanced at him from the corner of her eye as she changed her earrings.
He frowned, “ Buffy…”
Buffy sighed, “ Its okay, Lindsey. I know. I guess-- I guess I’m just nervous about tomorrow. Hell, I’m leaving the country and everything I know to live with a stranger and learn magic. Wouldn’t you be in my shoes?”
“ Buffy, I know this is hard. It would be hard for an adult to handle everything that’s been thrown at you. But I know you can do this. You’re smart, talented. And you won’t be on your own. Even when your over there, I’ll still check in and make sure you’re okay. I’m not going to just abandon you Buffy.” Lindsey was watching her seriously.
She felt the prick of tears and took a deep breath, “ I know Lindsey. And I believe you. But I just want to enjoy tonight and not worry about anything until tomorrow morning.”
The look he gave her was understanding, “ Sounds like a good idea to me. You ready?”
“ Just give me a minute. I’ll be right down.” She needed a moment to herself.
“ Okay. I’ll get Ann.” He left, only looking back once.
The door closed and Buffy felt her shoulders slump. Lindsey just didn’t understand. No one did. She was alone but she’d be even more so when she went with ’Uncle Lucius’.
Her eye caught sight of the Doe figurine on the dresser and she crossed the room to pick it up. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad. If she could make friends in one afternoon here, well, she could probably make them there too, right?
“ So… leaving the country huh?” It was the mirror. Despite its covering, it apparently had pretty big ears.
Sighing, Buffy yanked down the cloth and rolled her eyes, “ Don’t you have anything better to do than spy on me?”
It actually sounded insulted when it replied, “ Excuse me, but I do not Spy! I’m stuck in this room with no choice but to see and hear everything that goes on. I don’t do it on purpose. Jeez, you’re just a regular ray of sunshine aren’t ya? Spying…”
Buffy rolled her eyes, “ I’m sorry, okay? Calm down.” She couldn’t believe she was apologizing to a mirror, “ We’ll just start over okay? What’s your name?”
It was silent for a long moment, “ My-My name? I don’t have one.” It sounded vaguely sad.
Buffy gave herself one final once over in the silvery glass, “ Well then, I’m going to call you Bernard. You seem like a Bernard.”
It seemed to stutter, “ Wh--But-- Bernard?”
Buffy finally smiled, amused at it’s response. She blew a kiss at her reflection and headed out the door.
That night was everything Buffy had hoped it would be.
The ride to the restaurant went by quickly. They joked and teased and watched night come to Roanoke. The sun set and the moon came out, bright and full.
The Ruby Slipper was glamorous yet intimate, with rich wood floors, sparkling chandeliers, candlelight, and ruby red tablecloths. The food was just as good as everyone said and just getting to see the fancy wizards and witches dressed in their Sunday best, dripping and shimmering with jewels and other decorations, was entertainment enough.
They were starting on desert, French chocolate éclairs served with small cups of espresso, when Lindsey and Ann’s dinner conversation turned to the news they’d received at the office earlier.
“ I can’t believe he managed to break out of Azkaban.” Ann shuddered.
Lindsey frowned and nodded but Buffy was confused, “ Who broke out of Azmadan?”
With that the bad mood fell from Lindsey. He chuckled and explained, “ Sirius Black broke out of Azkaban. Azkaban is the wizarding world’s prison. And Sirius Black is a very bad man. He escaped around September and everyone’s gone crazy with sightings and stuff ever since.”
Buffy raised an eyebrow, “ Like Elvis?”
Ann giggled and Lindsey smiled, “ Something like that.”
“ So he’s loose in America?” she asked.
Lindsey looked uneasy, “ Actually, he’s from London but he could be anywhere. All the wizarding governments are looking for him.”
Great, it figures that the only criminal to bust out of wizarding prison would be from England. The place where she’d be living.
Ann patted her hand, “ Don’t worry about it sweetie. I’m sure they’ll catch him soon.”
Buffy gave her a small smile and sipped her espresso. An uneasy feeling settled in her stomach and wouldn’t go away.
They left the restaurant shortly after that and the carriage ride home was a pleasant affair. They quietly entered the Inn and headed into their designated rooms.
Her own was still and dark.
She toed off her shoes and was just about to sleep out of her robes when a polite, “ Hm-hm”.
Buffy jumped but looked over her shoulder to look at Bernard, “ Thanks. For a second I almost forgot.”
It muttered a quiet, “ You’re welcome.”
She changed into her pajamas in the bathroom, being careful to keep out of sight of the so far quiet mirror that hung above the sink. She reentered the bedroom and sat upon the covers.
Buffy was wide awake. She knew she had a busy day tomorrow and needed her sleep but maybe that was the problem. She was starting a whole new life tomorrow. Tonight was her last night in the United States, for god’s sake. Who knew when she’d be back?
She would never come right out and say it but she was scared. Since the night her mom had died, she had no control over her own life. Everything was being decided for her, by Lindsey, by her dead mother, by her unknown Uncle. But what could she do? She was fourteen. A kid. A child in their eyes. The unfairness of it all made her blood boil.
She was up and out the bedroom door, moving quickly and quietly down the stairway, through the kitchen, and out the back door.
The night air was chilly and brisk but when Buffy breathed it in, it helped sooth the emotions raging within her. She left the porch, moving further out into the yard. The soil was rich and freshly turned, soft against her feet. Buffy wiggled her toes in it and smiled. The path led her across the garden to a wooden bench set between two trees. The wood was weathered and gray but firm when she sat on it. The fat cat from earlier peeked out from the bushes and watched her through glowing eyes.
The night sky was perfectly visible from her view point, glittering stars twinkling like diamonds on black velvet. She watched the sky in slight awe. It had never looked like this in LA. With her eyes on the stars, her feet immersed in the soil, the breeze caressing her skin, the permanent ache in her heart seemed to lift and Buffy actually felt peace.
Of course, nothing ever lasts. The wind grew colder and she shivered, shuffling her feet lightly. The icy touch of metal on her skin had her peering down through the darkness at the ground. Buffy leaned forward to pick up the small object that she’d unearthed. It was smaller than the palm of her hand and incrusted with mud and dirt. It seemed to have a latch but nothing she did would make it open.
She frowned and headed back up to her room, now intent on the object. She briefly wondered if someone had dropped it out there, a guest or even one of the Pendletons. Buffy supposed she could ask in the morning before she left.
After entering her door, she headed straight to the bathroom to clean it up. And clean it she did. It took multiple soaks and a whole lot of scrubbing but eventually, layers upon layers of grit and grime lifted, and beneath lay Buffy’s treasure.
It was a compact. Smooth and heavy, it gleamed gold in the light. On the lid, swirling lines of Silver and Rose gold formed the image of a iridescent peacock. Free from debris, the latch clicked open easily and showed the inside. One part was empty but the other held a small cracked mirror.
Buffy peered into it, tracing the gilded edges. It was beautiful, broken parts and all, and she hoped desperately that no one claimed it tomorrow. She crossed to the dresser and set it down, leaving it to lie open by the Doe figurine.
A throat cleared, “ Penny for your thoughts?”
Buffy glanced at the talking mirror, “ What?”
She could hear it sigh, “ I… heard a little something about your predicament.”
Her own eyes narrowed, “ You did, did you. What more spying?”
The voice actually sounded affronted, “ I do not spy. I’m simply stuck here… and sometimes I over hear things.”
She was skeptical, “ You overhear things. Look, can you like, show your face or something. It’s a little too weird to just talk to a disembodied voice.”
His hazy face was back, “ Sorry, but most people don’t like the faces. They prefer just the voices.”
She shrugged and moved to pull Mr. Gordo from her bag, “ Well, I’m not most people. So dish on what you heard.”
He sighed, “ Well, I did hear about what happened… with your mother. I’m very sorry by the way.”
The ache in her heart was back with a vengeance.
“ Thanks.” She said.
The face nodded, “ I also heard them talking about the fact that you ‘re leaving tomorrow. Going to England, they said.”
She flopped back on the bed and stared up at the ceiling, “ Yeah. Merry old England. Land of tweed and rain. Yay.”
The face actually raised a brow, “ Don’t sound too excited, you might hurt something. I take it you’ve never been before?”
She shook her head, “ No. My mom was apparently from there but… No. I’ve never been. Have you?”
He sounded bitter when he replied, “ A very long time ago. I was brought into being in a goblin forge. I went through a few owners before being shipped over to the colony.”
She frowned, “ So are you like something that lives in
that mirror or the actual mirror itself?”
He responded in a slightly pompous tone and bizarrely, a slight accent, “ Well... Most Wizards will tell you that we are simply enchantments laid upon mirrors to talk and interact with the things among them. And nowadays, that’s exactly what most mirrors are. But I’m something of an older breed, I’m afraid. As I said, I was crafted in a Goblin Forge. You see, goblins are most gifted in the creation of things and they are the ones that originally crafted the original Magic Mirrors. Using Quicksilver harvested from the Black Forrest Dragons to form these mirrors, they brought into life my brethren and I. We are air spirits bound to the cold glass of---”
“ So basically, you live in the mirror. Got it.” she said dryly.
He huffed, “ Well, if you want to short hand it.”
A thought occurred to her and she frowned, “ So you’re like… stuck in there? Forever and ever?”
His voice turned morose, “ Well, yes. There’s a binding on the mirror which keeps my kind here. Some can gain the ability to… jump from mirror to mirror if they choose to bind themselves to a particular Master and leave behind the comfort of their Silver homes. Whatever other mirrors belong to that master is open for them to jump to and from at their leisure. But the last time I heard of one of my kind doing that... Well, let’s just say that there was an incident with a rather nasty witch who abused that ability and pretty messed up the system for everyone else. The ruling body of the magical world has put the kibosh on allowing us that sort of freedom again. ”
Buffy frowned, “ Well, that sucks. So you just sit here watching people and gathering dust?” That totally sucked.
The mirror nodded, “ That pretty much sums it up.”
Buffy huffed, “ Well, if I was you, I’d do whatever it took to find out how to do this jumping thing. It’s totally unreasonable to keep you trapped like this. You have no freedom! You sit in one room, day after day, staring into it. I couldn’t imagine being that bored.”
The face looked curious, “ Really? Huh, I guess I never thought about it that way…”
Buffy tried to look supportive, “ Yeah, you should like, stage a protest or boycott or something. I’m uh, going to go to bed now. And uh, I just going to slip the cover back on okay?” She was trying to be polite but it creeped her out thinking of him watching her sleep.
He sighed, “ Sure. I understand. Goodnight…Miss Summers.”
She smiled, “ Its Buffy… Bernard.”
He was smiling when she covered him up. She laid in bed for awhile, tossing and turning. It was late when she gave in and went to her bag, extracting the book Lorne had given her on Wandless magic.
Maybe she could find something that would help Bernard. He wasn’t so bad for a talking mirror.
She had just finished the first chapter ‘ What is Magic?’ when sleep finally claimed her.
Author’s Note: Information on India Cohen, the lost colony of Roanoke, and the legend of Virginia Dare was found on Wikipedia.