Pieces Of You
A/N: This takes place while Willow is in England learning to control her powers and in HP, a few years after the 4th book.
"I think," he started softly, "I liked you better as a redhead."
The tall form of her friend, mentor and father figure, Rupert Giles, cast a shadow over where she sat, cross-legged, on the soft grass.
Willow's eyes fluttered shut.
"I did too."
Her tone showcased the burden the words carried. It was hardly the color of her hair that she missed, but the time that it represented. She had left her hair dark since her grief dyed it that night. It served as a reminder of what exactly she lost.
What he offered was a chance,
"You could have it back."
Softly, sadly, but firmly, "No."
He sighed, searching the horizon for some sort of answer, some piece of wisdom he could offer her or words of comfort to take away her pain- but the empty field held nothing. Silence stretched between the two and finally snapped, closing the door on one conversation.
Abruptly he started, "I have to go into town and pick up some books I ordered."
If she heard him, she didn't show any indication.
"I want you to come with me."
It was the first time anyone had suggested she leave the compound. A part of her longed to go, to escape from the sisters and their knowing eyes and sympathetic words for an afternoon, but another part of her was terrified at the thought. This place was a haven for her where she could sit with her memories under vigilant eyes, tucked safely away from the rest of the world. It was easier here, safer- for her, and the people she could hurt if she lost control again.
But Willow was growing tired of playing the coward, and the world wasn’t going to wait for her. She took a deep breath before softly agreeing.
Pieces Of You
By See Jane Conform
A younger version of herself might have spun around in unrepressed joy, eagerly trying to see everything at once. As it was, her eyes darted from one thing to another in a show of barely restrained curiosity. She had known for some time that such places existed, places that were hidden from those without magic, where all types of wizards and witches were welcome to meet without having to hide themselves from those that simply couldn't understand.
She had known, of course, but she had never imagined anything quite like this- a whole town inhabited by wizards. A sign a little ways off proclaimed her standing in Diagon Alley, which she knew to be only one part of it. The street was lined with shops boasting to meet a witch's every need. The bookstore behind her was where Giles had entered, after she assured him she'd be fine on her own for a bit. All around her people scurried by, into one shop or out another, a rainbow of colored robes vying for her attention. A street vendor boasted its charms to the passing groups.
And over on the other side of the street, a crowd of mostly younger boys pressed against the window of a shop. A small smile tugged on her mouth as a chubby kid was elbowed out of the way to make room for a different boy to take his turn peering through the window. Excited, their chatter rose in waves, youthful voices carrying over to where she stood. She wasted a wish on being able to go back to simpler times herself before curiosity tugged her across the cobblestone street to the group.
"It's supposed to be the fastest ever!"
"They just got it in yesterday-"
"I heard they were going to make it the official broom of the-"
She couldn’t pick out much of what they were saying, their eagerness and accents obscuring most of the words. She figured she had to be a decade or so older then the average of the group though and she used the height advantage to peer over them and into the window to.
"This is a joke, right?" The words tumbled out of her mouth before she could stop them.
"Good eye," the voice speaking softly near her ear was much deeper then would allow her to credit it to any of the boys of the group. She turned her head to see a man much closer to her own age standing next to her with his hands in his pockets and a conspiratorial grin on his face. He tilted his head even closer to her, as if he was about to reveal a secret. "I don't think it lives up to the hype either. Sure, they've shaved down the twigs for a faster top speed, but you lose too much control. It'd be useless on sharp turns."
She really hated it when people did the sneak-up-behind-whisper-in-your-ear-thing, and she would have told him so, but he did have such a lovely Scottish accent that she felt inclined to let it slide this once.
"It's a broom." The incredulity of the situation seemed to rob her of the ability to form coherent sentences. She struggled to vocalize what was so wrong with the picture. "You don't ride a broom. You sweep with it."
He laughed at that, an easy chuckle that left his mouth stretched into a wide grin. "What? Don't they have brooms in America?"
"We have brooms," she informed him somewhat defensively, "we just don't ride them."
"Oh, is that right? And how do you expect to play Quidditch without brooms? Do you use flying carpets?" The idea amused him and she was developing the distinct impression that he was teasing her somehow. He looked as if he was about to say more, but he had already drawn the attention of one of the boys.
"Merlin, you're Oliver Wood!" One of the boys exclaimed and the rest of the crowd turned en masse at the proclamation. Before Willow could figure out what exactly had happened, her new 'friend' had been swamped by pre-adolescents demanding autographs. He shot her an apologetic look as she was cut off from him, before turning to talk to the kids. If she had thought he looked good teasing her about brooms, she was overwhelmed by the way his features transformed as he talked animatedly with his enrapt audience. The boys were hanging on his every word as he told a story punctuated with huge hand motions and sound effects.
The smile that had been hovering about her lips since she first crossed the street returned at the sight and with it firmly in place she turned around to watch Giles exit a store with a stack of books reaching past his nose. She took part of the load from him somewhat distractedly.
It wasn't until they had walked to a nearby cafe and stopped for a drink that she asked one of the millions of questions flying across her mind. There was so much she wanted to know- about the clothes and the food, the shops, the weird little creatures with the long noses and pocket watches, the different currency, and how she could have never experienced anything like this before...- so it came as somewhat of a surprise when the first question out of her mouth was, "Giles, What's squidage?"