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Flowers, Hold the Funeral

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Summary: Buffy jumps... and lands in someone's womb.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Harry Potter > Buffy-CenteredamusewithaviewFR1318,863341065,39527 Jul 1027 Jul 10Yes
Disclaimer: I own neither BtVS (Whedon) nor Harry Potter (Rowling).

A/N: Tiriel is done, and I'm working on wrapping up 'Familiar', but neither of these will be updated until school starts back up because those are written on my lappy and THIS was written on a desktop, capiche?

A/N2: This is my version of an HP twin!fic, because I see lots of them and haven't found any that I actually liked yet, so I thought I'd try my hand at it. A big shout-out/ thank-you goes to the incomparable FaithUnbreakable for being both sounding board and just general audience-for-rants and assorted other bits of awesomeness. Thanks!

A/N3: I'm not sure how to say this without offending anyone... but here goes. There are alternate characterizations presented in the following fanfic. Some might say that they're OOC, but I like to think of it as just being a different spin on what COULD have happened (if J.K. bothered to flesh out any characters beyond her golden trio and her waffling villains). If you are annoyed/ bothered/ offended by the fact that I am presenting alternate views of characters - then why in god's name are you reading fanfiction? Just saying.

~~~

She jumped, arms outstretched in a sick parody of a dive. Her hair whipped up and back, glowing in the twisted light of the tear in reality. Her eyes were wide open, watching as the nimbus of energy seemed almost to reach up for her as she sped down to it. She did not scream, she did not fear.

Death is my gift.

Buffy hit the portal with a snap of bones, a crackle of energy, and the faint pop of transportation -- suddenly she was somewhere else. It was warmth and safety and never alone, never again. It was heaven and she reveled in the feeling of love that suffused her being. There were two others close by, and even more surrounding her with love -- but they came and went while the two were constant.

Time passed in quiet contentment. Days, weeks, months, Buffy neither knew nor cared. She recalled her friends and family with fondness, but that life was fading -- she did not forget, but the immediacy of it: the fight against Glory, her fear for Dawnie, her friends' struggles became more and more remote. It was not her responsibility anymore, and the lifting of that burden was yet another balm to her wearied soul.

Heaven started to shrink -- or maybe she was outgrowing it -- either way, Buffy knew that this time of peace was soon to come to an end. She felt some trepidation, but it was soothed by the Two, and soon she started to look forward to what was coming.

Then, one day, she felt something go wrong. Something tugging at her, the very core of her and the part of her that still clung to her memories of her time in Sunnydale. There was a flavor to this pull that spoke of pencils and dust and the hum of computer monitors, a flavor that said Willow She felt the distress of the Two and set about fighting off her once-friend's pull. Buffy threw up wall after wall, as many barriers as she could think of from her meditation exercises with Giles, blocking off her mind from assault and locking those memories deep down into her subconscious.

She managed to hold off Willow, but not without cost. Pain ripped through her and suddenly what was once 'heaven' was now too dark, too hot, and slowly suffocating her. She was cramped, squished, and distressed -- and her upset was further multiplying the worries of the Two. Buffy was at a loss, and so chose to do something that her very nature cried out against: she let go. Relaxing, she allowed herself to be pushed and pulled about and suddenly -- suddenly --

There was light, and noise! There was cold and rough and so much light!

Panic swept through her and she cried out, but then there was a Voice. She recognized it, for it belonged to one of the Two, and she was calmed. Buffy tried to assemble her faculties, but between the fading of her memories and her own decision to lock down her old 'self' she was at a loss. On one level part of her was aware that she had just experienced the 'miracle' of birth... but she was very much an infant and that voice was drowned out by hunger, and cold, and need.

Where was the second? Where were her Two?!

After what felt like hours but was actually only minutes, she heard a squall and then she was not alone. Her second was here! She calmed a bit, whimpering softly until she was put in arms that she recognized viscerally, beside another that was also a part of her. Though the circumstances were changed, she recognized her Two. She cooed her content and fell into an exhausted sleep.

~~~

Lily smiled down at her children. Children! Twins! She was a mother now. Looking up, she saw James smiling down at his son and daughter, a mix of pride and awe on his face. No sign of the hexes she had thrown at him mid-birth remained, save for the slightly singed hair on the left side of his face.

"They're beautiful, my Lily-flower. What should we call them?"

The redhead paused, thinking. "Well, you know the tradition in my family - "

James nodded, hazel eyes twinkling, "So what shall it be? Amaryllis? Carnation? Rhododendron?"

"Actually... I was thinking something along the lines of 'Belladonna'," Lily said with a far away look in her eyes. She had drifted from the hospital and was now in a small, overgrown corner of the park by her childhood home, reciting potions ingredients with her best friend.

"... and aconite, too. Lily? Lily, are you listening to me?"

"Hmm? Oh, yes of course!" The redhead smiled somewhat sheepishly, "Alright, maybe not."

Severus Snape sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose. Both actions were luxuries he only allowed himself whilst around friends, specifically this friend. "Lily," he began in what the redhead privately referred to as his 'lecture' voice, "these ingredients are important. They'll be on our NEWTs and I know for a fact that poisons and their alternative uses make up a good fifty percent of the testing." He sighed again, then smiled, "Why don't we start with the ones you know?"

"Why don't we start with your favorites?" Lily countered, hoping to distract him from his needling. She was a good student, an avid studier, but it was summer and today it felt that even the very air around them was glorying in the beauty of the day. Why would she want to study plants when she could be looking at them, right this very minute?

The black-haired boy sighed, shutting the book, and stowing it in his ratty satchel. "Belladonna," he told her, his eyes tracing her features with all the admiration in the world... if only she would look to see it. "Belladonna is my favorite, Lily -- what's yours?"

"Why is it your favorite?" she asked, leaning back on the grass so she could watch clouds go by.

"Because it is beautiful and deadly; it can be used in potions to harm or to heal."

Lily smiled, "Belladonna, bella donna -- beautiful woman?"

"Yes," Severus acknowledge with a twisted smile the meaning of which would never be explained to the girl he loved. "Like a woman it can both hurt and heal."


"Belladonna?" James murmured, drawing his wife from her memories as he rolled the name over on his tongue. "It's pretty, and it follows the tradition." He leaned down, nuzzling the soft golden fuzz atop his daughter's head, "What do you think, little one?"

As if in response, the infant opened her eyes, looking directly at her father while she yawned.

He beamed, "Well, that seems a good sign: Belladonna it is."

"Belladonna... what? What about a middle name?"

James shrugged, "Rhododendron?"

"Be serious!" She rolled his eyes as her husband smirked and started to open his mouth, "James, I'm not funning. I want you to pick her middle name, especially since we're continuing my family's little tradition." Lily gave him an intent look, "I know you've thought about this, I heard you and Sirius last week."

"We were just joking - "

"No, you weren't. Sirius really is like a brother to you - "

"Well of course, but I don't want to saddle my son with a name like - "

" - I know, and I wouldn't let you if you tried... but the other thing? We could do that."

James shuffled his feet, "Really? Alright then, Belladonna Dorothea Potter it is." He gently drew the backs of his fingers along the line of the infant girl's cheek, smiling. "Named for a poisonous plant and the Black that married into the Potter line -- you poor thing. Ah well, your godfather will always be there to help you live it down."

"And for this one?" Lily asked, shifting her arm a bit so that she could lightly stroke her little boy's cheek. "You said you had a first name picked for him." She smiled down at the sleeping infant, so quiet and sweet next to his wide-eyed sister.

"Harry," he said firmly. "It's a good, strong name."

"What, not something like Perseus or Orion?" Lily asked teasingly.

James chuckled, "I think one pureblood-named child is enough, don't you?"

"I suppose. Of course we could always give him an absolutely abominable middle name."

"That, my dear, is entirely up to you."

Lily smiled up at the man she loved, "James."

"Yes?"

"No, silly! That's what I've chosen: James."

"Harry James Potter and Belladonna Dorothea Potter," he said slowly.

"Our children," Lily murmured.

"May they be the first of many -- ouch!"

~~~

It was different, and yet the same. She was always with at least one of her Two, and now the others that had been variables became more constant. One, in particular who was hazel eyes and soothing voice and musky smell became so inextricably linked that her two became Three. She was happy and she was loved and 'Buffy' drifted further into the obsolete with every day.

She was BellaPupDarlingBabyMine now.

At first her time was spent in much the same ways that it had passed in heaven: laying wherever she was and basking in the love and affection of the Three. Gradually, though, things became clearer: sight, sound, smell, taste. She was able to put blurry pictures to her knowing of the Three, and this in turn enabled her to separate them into individual identities.

First was HarryBrotherTwinOtherSelf and he was black hair and same smell and soft coo. Second was MotherLilyFlowerFirecracker, she was bright colors and merry sounds, sweet smells and warmth-when-cool. Third, and last, was FatherJamesProngs -- he of the forest smell and thrumming voice.

As with her time in heaven, there were others SiriusPadfootDogbreath and PeterWormtail and the one who smelled like lemons and fire. They were interesting, but not important enough to stick around in her baby-brain for long after they had left. She did not long for them in their absences, not as she did her Three.

She was aware, on some level, that her fading memories of being Buffy had left her a rather unchildlike child, had drifted through her link with HarryBrotherTwinOtherSelf and changed him too, and this made her unhappy. She did not want to be anything special or strange -- Chosen whispered the part of her that she was quietly locking away -- and so she buried it as deeply as she could and became Bella and Donna and Sister and Twin and, above all, child.

Like all children, she grew -- as did Harry. Time passed, and the smells of tension and fear came to their little home, brought by Sirius, Peter and lemonfiredust and lingering on long after their departure. Eventually the twins grew used to its acrid, sour stench.

And then came the night when everything changed.

18 months old, toddlers -- old enough to toddle about a bit, Bella and Harry jerked at a sound that scorched the ear and brought their parents leaping to their feet with terror in their eyes. "Take the twins," said James and "What about you?" Lily asked and then there was more yelling and fear and they were in their crib and there was wet and crying and green and a laugh like the burn of too much cold and then nothing.

~~~

"Albus, you can't - you cannot do this!"

"Minerva," the aged wizard said, his lighthearted tone of a moment ago disappearing into the weariness that he truly felt. He stared at her, watching her stiff posture and angry expression melt under the sheer weight of the weariness in his gaze. "They will be safest here, all appearances to the contrary, and they will have as close to a normal upbringing as it is in our power to give them."

"But with - with muggles?!"

"Yes, Minerva - muggles: a family related by blood and the chance to grow up as themselves instead of as saviors the Boy and the Girl who lived." He sighed, reaching out a tentative hand to trace the lightning bolts carved onto the forehead of each child. The marks were perfect reflections of each other: Harry's slightly to the right and Bella's slightly to the left, the mirror-image was especially obvious in the way they were curled together in the oversized basket.

Minerva McGonagall sighed, every bit as tired as her employer and leader. Her objections to this quiet, oblivious family melted under her years of service to this man who seemed to always know what to do. "Very well, Albus, if you think it best - "

"I do."

" - then I shall bow to your judgment." She moved forward, leaning over to kiss both the children and whispered a quick blessing over them. "Goodnight, sweet ones," she murmured. "And a good night to you as well, Albus," she added, straightening up before a sharp crack announced her departure. Moments later another crack sounded, leaving little Harry and Bella the last two magical beings in a near-thirty-mile radius.

Though this would not always be true.

~~~

Two were gone. Just gone. The severing of the nascent link left the twins reeling as the absence was both physical and somehow more. In the wake of their losses, Harry and Bella's twin-link -- already strong -- became for a period of time their only comfort. Everything was strange and new, and while parts of it were good, others were downright horrid.

In place of MotherLilyFlowerFirecracker and FatherJamesProngs were two new beings, ones who were both there and not-there to the twins' developing senses. Oh, they were people -- smell, touch, see, taste -- but something was missing in them, something that each twin had and recognized in the other. Gradually, they grew used to this strange lack in their caretakers, and stopped reaching out to forge connections that could not be equally met.

They closed themselves off instinctively, locking down around one another with all the barriers of Fort Knox, fiercely protective of their last remaining links. This did not prevent them from forming bonds of a sort with the new people in their lives. VernonUncleDarling was booming noises and sweaty hands and gentle touch. PetuniaAuntDear was powder smell and firm grip and something else that was not fear, but had a salty smell to it: briny and pervasive. The last of the new people was one almost like them: a child just a few months older. He was DudleySweetumsCousin and he was loud cries and curious eyes and bright colors.

Bella and Harry grew used to these new people, grew to love them. But they never forgot their losses. Eventually the memories of brightgreen and coldburn faded, even those of their lost Two became muted into a general glow of happiness that was like heaven. These things became duller with time, but they weren't completely gone. In dreams they lingered, by turns taunting and teasing.

~~~

Petunia Dursley watched her son as he played with his cousins, or at least tried to. It broke her heart a little to watch them interact: she saw in their childish disagreements an echo of the schism that had separated her from her sister. A barrier which became a chasm, impossible to cross or even see to the other side.

It wasn't that the twins tried to exclude Dudley, they just didn't understand him sometimes. She could see it in their scrunched faces and wary eyes. On one level she knew that the trauma they had suffered -- not that she knew exactly what the trauma was thanks to that oh-so-uninformative letter -- would change any child, but she knew that there had to be more to it. The way they moved around each other, their silent sideways glances, it was as if they were communicating.

Petunia had heard of 'twin-bonds' before, she knew that they were -- if not normal, then at least not entirely out of the realm of non-magical human possibility. Yet she couldn't help but wonder if their - their magic might not have something to do with it. She tried to ignore that part of them, but it stared her in the face through the matching scars on their foreheads.

She'd been beside herself for days after finding them on the front porch that morning. At first over the loss of her sister: estranged yes, but her last remaining relative. Then it became about the children -- what were they to do with them? Of course the children would be like their parents, it would be -- dare she even think it -- natural for them to display the same 'talents'. Gifts that she didn't think had any place in her family's normal life. Gifts she feared for the danger they brought both from the wielder and from the world in which they truly belonged.

She had even considered leaving them somewhere else. Taking the letter and the basket and just... going for a drive to the nearest orphanage. Let them be someone else's headache -- heartache -- for the next ten-odd years.

But after she'd dried her tears over Lily, when she had finally taken a look -- one real, solid look at the twins -- she'd known that that would be impossible. Little Harry had Lily's eyes, his grandfather's eyes: bright green and sweet with innocence. Belladonna was the spitting image of Petunia's own mother, save for the hazel eyes: white-blonde hair that would no doubt darken with age and the beginnings of a pointed chin and elfin stature.

The twins were Evans, stamped with the very image of Petunia's dead parents, and she would not -- could not -- let them go. She couldn't change what they were, the dangers they'd experience, the dangers they'd bring into her life and the lives of her son and husband... but she couldn't turn her back on them either, to do so would be to deny the last living link she had to her sister, mother, father.

They were Potters, they were Evans, they were family.

And normal people -- good, upstanding citizens -- didn't turn their backs on kin.

~~~

Harry woke up to the soft sounds of his sister, whimpering with fear. He rolled over and stared across their shared room at her bed where it lay against the opposite wall. Belladonna was shaking, thrashing side-to-side and lashing out with arms and legs against some unknown nightmare assailant. He was across the room and shaking her shoulder almost immediately.

She got in one good hit to his cheek before she woke, staring at him blankly. The touch of his hand and the sight of his face slowly penetrated whatever leftover dream-haze had had her and she relaxed. They remained where they were, eyes linked in wordless communication until Bella turned her head and body back to face the wall.

Harry let his hand slip off her shoulder as she moved, then turned to crawl back into his own bed. He could feel her sadness and a touch of remorse, but underneath it all was a strange sort of feeling, a surety that he did not understand.

This was what Harry James Potter knew: his twin, his sister, his other half, was keeping something from him. She carried a secret that she would not share. A secret that made her sleep restless on some nights, that made her dream dreams he couldn't share. A secret that left an odd echo of sadness in her eyes and lingering around her smile. A secret that made her reluctant to reach out past the limits of their family.

He did not know what this secret was, or where it came from. He did not know why she would not share with him, when he willingly gave her everything he was. He did not know, but at the same time, he didn't think it mattered right now. He knew that no secret, no matter how grave, could change the fact that she was his twin.

His sister.

His other half.

~~~

Vernon Dursley had always been a man of goals. First it was get into Smeltings, then it was get a good job, then a wife and all that came with it. Ten years out of Smeltings, eight years married, and with a cheerful seven-year-old son to come home to at night he was pretty well satisfied. Of course, there were the usual hitches in the road, ups and downs that life brings you no matter how well planned your journey is. Two such possible problems had been his niece and nephew... strange children, they were -- but sweet for all their inherent abnormalities. What could have been a trial had become a pleasure due to the determination of his wife. She had cut coupons and spent what little they had -- a perfect amount for a family of three, but stretching a bit thin with five -- as thriftily as possible to keep them all comfortable.

Now, three years on and two promotions, they were more than able to take care of all they had. Little Harry and Bella could have their own toys now, instead of just sharing Dudley's, and the bedroom they shared -- the old guestroom -- had finally been redecorated into something child appropriate.

He came up behind his wife, busy at the stove, and linked his arms loosely around her middle. She was a slender little thing, even he had to admit that, but she fit perfectly beneath his chin and when he held her he felt the tension of another day at Grunnings drain out of him. What more could a man ask for?

"Good day?" she asked, continuing to stir something savory-smelling.

"Idiots," he muttered into her hair, "they're all idiots. Unions are a pain in the - "

"Vernon!"

"Well they are," he mumbled, a little sheepish now. "How was your day?"

Petunia was silent for just long enough to worry him. "The children were let out of school early today... all the pipes in the boys' lavatory burst," she turned her head slightly to give him a significant look, "all of them, at the exact same time." She turned back to the stove, stirring just a bit more vigorously. "Harry was there, with Dudley. Neither of them were hurt, but there were some other boys there too, and they did."

Vernon went very, very still. "Do you think it was - ?"

"I know it was."

He backed away a little to sit down in one of the chairs that circled the kitchen table. Rubbing a hand over his face, he studied the straight line of Petunia's back, seeing her shoulders rigid with tension. "What would you like to do?" he asked at last.

"I don't know," she bit out. "What can we do? I know that they're young and can't control it, but children were hurt Vernon, and Harry did it. Not on purpose, I expect -- Lily never had much control over her - her abilities at this age, either. But he hurt them, and there should be consequences." She turned to face him, eyes just a bit wild, "I need to know what happened, Vernon -- he's never done anything like this before!"

"Not that we know of," Vernon pointed out. "Surely all m-magic can't be as... spectacular?"

"No, not that we know of." Petunia sighed, "There's nothing for it, we'll have to talk to him. I know we said we weren't going to tell them anything, but they need to know some things. They need to be aware of what they are, what they have the potential to do. Not just for their sake, but for the safety of others around them."

"It's your call, Pet."

She nodded briskly, turning back to the stove. "Would you go and fetch them for me, dear? I told Harry to stay in his room until you got home, and the other two should be in there as well." Suddenly she froze, "Dudley. What about Dudley?"

Vernon blanched, "Surely you don't think that they would ever - "

"No. No, I don't think they would," she dismissed that notion with an impatient wave of her hand. "But maybe we should tell him, too. He should know what they are, shouldn't he? He spends almost all his time with them, he'll notice something eventually," her voice trailed off into uncertainty.

"Perhaps he's noticed something already..." Both Dursleys exchanged distressed looks, then Vernon stood: "I'll fetch the children, love. And maybe afterwards, we'll take them for ice cream?"

"Yes," Petunia nodded, smiling a little tightly, "that would be nice."

~~~

Dudley Dursley was an average child in most respects. His hair was a dark blonde, much like his cousin Belladonna's, but where hers was silky his was rather coarsely textured. His eyes were large and blue, with a tendency to turn red due to his many allergies. Like many boys his age who were on the verge of growth spurts, his body was thick: packing on all the fats and extra nutrients he would need when he shot up.

He was a boy much indulged by his parents, but somewhat baffled by his cousins. In play, they would often disagree with him and with children the majority ruled. This was made especially sure in their case because both Bella and Harry had no trouble playing either exclusively with each other, or even alone. It was Dudley who was the extrovert, and as far as he was concerned 'cousins' should mean automatic playmates. In the interests of peace, they would compromise: games would include all three of them and they rotated the choices.

All-in-all, Dudley was a well-adjusted, friendly little boy -- with a possible tendency to be overbearing, but he came by that honestly. If he had been a bit more indulged, it is entirely possible that he might have been a bully, but he used his popularity and power over others for good. He did not like seeing people mock or in any way tease his quiet cousins with the tragic pasts. They might not be entirely normal, but they were his, and Dudley Dursley did not take kindly to people abusing his things.

Or his people.

He looked up, startled as his father entered the room, a grim look on his face. His father looked over their game: a three-way battle of knights versus dinosaurs versus pirates, and mustered up a small smile, "Dudley, Harry, Bella... we would like to speak with you about the incident in school today."

Dudley didn't miss the slight stiffening of Harry's shoulders, and neither did his father.

"No-one's in trouble," he said. "We just need to talk with you."

Bella led the way down the steps, one hand reaching behind her to give her brother's fingers a small squeeze. Dudley envied them, he coveted the relationship they shared more than he had ever wanted something advertised on television. They were almost one person sometimes, and that's how he treated them. But then Bella would smirk and Harry would gasp and they'd be two again: cousins, twins, family.

In the kitchen, his mother was leaning against the counter, arms folded about her middle and a small frown furrowing her brow. She was long and lean, built like a ballet dancer and always looking as if a stiff wind would knock her over. Dudley automatically went over to give her a solid hug.

"What's for dinner, mummy?"

"Soup and sandwiches, sweetums. Now, why don't you sit down?"

Dudley settled himself in his usual seat, facing the stove. His cousins both sat opposite him with mum and dad on opposite ends of the breakfast table. Even his parents sometimes fell into the habit of treating them as one person, so he knew it wasn't just him that noticed their unique connection.

Vernon leaned back in his chair, hands resting on its arms as he considered his niece and nephew. "We heard about what happened in school today... the pipes." Harry ducked his head a little bit, but Bella stared him directly in the face, eyes wary. "We -- your aunt and I would just like to hear what happened," he glanced at Dudley and saw him nodding, "from the both of you." Seeing that Harry was still ducking his head, Vernon turned to his son, "Dudley, you go first."

"Well recess was almost out an' me and Harry - "

"Harry and I, dear," Petunia corrected.

"Harry and me went to the bathroom. Piers and Tony came in and they - " Dudley scowled down at his hands and Vernon noticed with surprise that the knuckles on one hand were red and slightly swollen, " - they were makin' fun of Bella." He glanced up at his cousins and saw that both of them were watching him, Bella looking a little surprised and Harry smiling. "They called her... they called her bad names and then I - " he sighed, glancing sideways at both his mother and father before letting it all out in a rush: "I punched Piers, right in his rat nose!"

"Dudley!" Petunia gasped. "That is not how you deal with bullies!"

"Closed fist with your thumb tucked under, right?" Vernon asked approvingly.

"Yeah, dad."

"Vernon!"

"Well at least he did it properly! Don't want my son to break his hand defending his cousin!" At his wife's smoldering look, Vernon coughed, "But it's like your mum said, Dudley: violence is not the answer. You should have, erm, gone and gotten a teacher or something." Petunia looked only slightly mollified and Vernon sighed, knowing a lecture would soon be coming his way.

"Sorry dad, sorry mum."

"Don't apologize to us young man! First thing tomorrow morning you are going over to the Polkiss' and apologizing!"

"No! Not until Piers apologizes for what he said 'bout Bella!"

"What did he say?" Vernon asked, beginning to get a bit upset himself.

"He called her a 'freak'," Harry muttered, entering the conversation for the very first time. "He called her a freak," he said again, a bit louder and gaining volume with every word, "he said that her and me were both freaks and ugly because of our freakish scars and no-one would ever wanna be friends with ugly kids 'cept people what're already related to 'em."

Petunia's anger was entirely refocused, "He said what? Well that settles it! First thing tomorrow morning I am going over to the Polkiss' and give them a piece of my mind! The nerve of that - that little cretin!"

"Pet - "

"You are not freaks, neither of you! You're just - just different." She sagged back in her chair, all anger forgotten, and sighed. Meeting Vernon's gaze she received a small nod and knew that she was going to be taking point on this one. "Actually, that's what we called you down here to talk about. While what happened before the pipes burst is very - very illuminating we wanted to talk about the incident itself."

Harry immediately slouched down in his seat. From their positions at either end of the table both Vernon and Petunia could see that Bella had reached out and was holding her twin's hand in a white-knuckle grip. The boy seemed to take strength from this and, taking a deep breath, he sat up fully: "I did it."

"Did what, Harry?" Vernon asked, wanting him to say it all.

"I burst the pipes... I dunno how, but it musta been me. I did it."

Petunia nodded, "Yes, we know."

"Y-you know?"

"You were expecting this?" Bella asked quietly.

"Not this, but something like it... you see, children..." Vernon looked at Petunia for help.

Best to do it quick, like ripping off a Band-Aid, Petunia thought:

"Your mother was a witch..."

~~~

Bella stared up at the ceiling. She was lying on the floor of the bedroom she shared with her twin, head slightly cushioned by the spongy blue carpeting. Just at the edge of her peripheral vision were Harry's toes. They often lay like this when thinking, head-to-toe and staring up at the glow-in-the-dark stars that decorated the ceiling.

"You knew," Harry said at last.

"No," Bella replied, words slow and measured, "I didn't know about our parents."

He sat up, staring down at her. "You knew something."

"Yes."

Harry just looked at her. "You never said..."

"What could I say?" That our parents were different? That we are too? That I know about this, I have experience with this from a past life? She sat up, pulling her knees to her chest. "What should I have said, Harry? I didn't really know anything," she told him, sounding perfectly reasonable.

His look was intent, "You should have told me."

"What? What should I have told you?" Bella asked, letting her voice become impatient and annoyed. "I didn't really know anything! I was just guessing! Most people don't find the cereal box prizes right after opening the box, Harry. Most people don't know when a phone's about to ring, Harry. Most people can't talk to snakes, Harry." She ignored the guilt she felt, playing up her impatience, "What exactly was I supposed to say?"

Harry glared at her, in no way allowing her to get off the hook. "You know exactly what you were supposed to say." He stood and moved to his bed, curling up facing the wall. The hurt and frustration he felt was practically tangible in the air around him, but suddenly it drained out of sight, like air leaving a balloon.

Bella flinched as she felt her twin lock down his side of the bond, shielding his emotions from hers. "Harry?" she called. "Harry? Please don't - don't shut me out. Harry? Harry?" She reached out again and was rebuffed by a wall of glass, slick and sheer and impossible to get a grip on. "Harry, please."

"Go to sleep, Bella."

She stood up, trembling a little, and went to bed.

~~~

Dudley was not really sure what to do with himself. His cousins were magic. They had powers. It was like something out of one of his favorite books or movies or video games. Sure, he didn't appear to be gifted the way that they were, and he was a little jealous -- ok, a lot jealous -- but it explained some of their strangeness... it also explained why they had come to live with his family.

He sat up as his mother came in to tuck him in. She didn't always, but sometimes he wanted her to or she really wanted to. Tonight was something of both, and he was waiting for her, he had been thinking very hard on something and wanted to discuss it with her. "Mum?" he called, interrupting her fussing with the bedspread.

"Yes, sweetie?"

"Harry and Bella's parents died because of the magic, didn't they?"

She froze, and her eyes clenched tightly shut. "Yes, Dudley."

"I don't have magic, do I?"

Petunia drew in a deep breath, "No sweetums, I don't think you do."

Dudley thought this over. "Mum?"

"Yes?"

"I'd rather have you and dad than magic."

When her eyes opened, they were brimful with tears. "Thank you, sweetheart," she said. Then she drew him in for a hug, and held him, crying, for a solid twenty minutes. Dudley let himself be held, because he had spent the last half hour wondering what it would be like to never be held by his mum or his father ever again, and even though she was crying he wouldn't trade this for the ability to explode pipes.

Even if it had been sort of cool...maybe he could get Harry to do it again someday?

~~~

When Petunia entered their bedroom, it was with red eyes and a tired smile.

"Dudley alright?" Vernon asked, concerned.

"Fine," she said thickly. "Absolutely perfect."

"Well, that's alright then." The two went about their evening ablutions in silence, both exhausted by the events of the day. Vernon was done first and when Petunia got into bed he immediately rolled over and pulled her into his arms, stroking her back. She held herself stiffly for a moment or two, then dissolved into long, cathartic sobs. He made soft nonsense noises at her, and continued rubbing her back through her storm of tears.

When at last she had calmed down, she crawled back out of bed to wash her face, then right back into the space he'd left for her in his arms. She didn't protest his still-damp shirt and he didn't offer to change. The two of them began to drift off into a well-deserved rest.

"Vernon?" Petunia murmured sleepily.

"Yes, dear?"

"Can we have another?"

"Another what?"

"Baby," she mumbled into his chest, and dropped soundly off.

Vernon spent the rest of the night staring at the ceiling in silence.

~~~

"Harry?"

He looked up at his name to see his sister with bloodshot eyes and pale cheeks. He had to exercise severe restraint to keep himself from doing anything of a myriad of things: open his arms to offer her the hug she so desperately needed and wanted, open the bond he had kept firmly shut all this last week, forgive her.

"Harry?" she said again, "I'm - I'm sorry."

"What for?" he asked, going back to his weekly chore of weeding the front path.

"Keeping secrets," she replied, sniffling a little.

He sat back on his heels, "How do I know?"

"How do you know what?"

"How do I know you're really sorry?" he asked calmly.

She stared at him for a full minute in incredulity before a furious, indignant look crossed her face and she stood, turning to go back into the house. She had barely made it two feet before he tackled her to the ground, rolling with her until she was on her back and he was straddling her stomach, holding her hands down as she kicked and spat and cried with her anger.

"How do I know you're really sorry?" he asked again, with a fury all his own burning in his brilliant green eyes. "How do I know that you won't do it again? What do you dream of, Bella? What makes you wake up crying? Why won't you tell me? Why?"

Bella went limp.

"It's not - " he swallowed sharply, " - it's not one of our shared dreams. You've been keeping it to yourself, whatever it is. You've been keeping secrets and you won't let me in. So why should I let you in?" By this time they were both crying, tears leaking down their cheeks in silent trails.

"I'm sorry," she whispered.

"What was that?"

"I'm sorry," she said again, louder. "I'm sorry, Harry. I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm so sorry. Please, just please let me in again, I - I can't take this anymore... It hurts, Harry. Please. I'll tell you, I will!"

"No more secrets?" he asked, making sure they were on the same page.

She nodded furiously, "No more secrets, Harry. I promise."

Harry sat back, and was then bowled over onto the ground by an armful of sister. He frowned in concentration, letting the barrier melt away and felt a bright, sharp relief that was almost like pain as all the fear and turmoil of the last week flowed back and forth across the newly reopened bond.

"Never again," Bella was murmuring into his shoulder, "never ever do that again."

He nodded, but she didn't need to see it. She felt his acceptance through their link.

They were siblings, twins, two halves of one whole, and all was right once again.

Once she had calmed down enough, and helped him finish his part of the weeding, Bella took his hand and led him to a small corner of the backyard. After making sure Dudley was still occupied with his chores, she sat down before him: both cross-legged and close enough that their knees were touching.

"I remember a time before," she started, "before I was Bella."

Harry frowned in confusion, "Before here?"

"Before there, too."

His eyes went wide.

Bella took a deep breath: "Before I was Bella, I was someone else. Someone called Buffy..."

~~~

One day, a few months later, Dudley wandered into the twins' room with a dazed expression on his face. Moving on autopilot, he slumped down onto the carpet at the foot of Bella's bed and leaned his head back against the wood. The twins exchanged curious looks before moving in tandem to sit on either side of him: Bella against the bed between her cousin and the wall and Harry kneeling on the carpet.

"What's wrong?"

Dudley jerked suddenly, torn from his inner musings: "Mum's pregnant."

Bella blinked. "Pregnant?" she asked, voice gone rather high.

"Yeah."

"We're gonna have another cousin... and you're gonna have a little sibling?"

"Yeah."

"Whoa," Bella muttered, leaning her bed back beside Dudley's. "Just... whoa."

Harry snorted at the two, smiling at their antics. "Aren't you excited?"

"Yeah... maybe." Dudley shook himself, "It won't be like you two, will it?"

Sighing, Bella leaned her head onto the boy's shoulder, "No, prob'ly not."

"Well, that's ok," he decided, though both twins could hear his disappointment.

"It can still be neat, though," Harry offered. "Different, but special. Bella 'n me are twins, and you're our cousin and that's neat -- but whatever Auntie has will be a lot younger than us. It'll be our job to protect him - "

"Or her," Bella broke in.

"Or it," Harry continued, mock-solemn. "But it'll be up to you mostly, being a big sib is a big responsibility. I mean, I look out for Bella and all - " he was cut off as his sister tackled him, knocking him to the carpet and digging her fingers into his sides.

"Who's the oldest?" she asked over his laughing shrieks. "C'mon, who is it?"

Dudley smiled at them, but was able to ignore the rather common source of disagreement -- no-one in the Dursley family could say for sure which of the twins had been born first, and so it had become an ongoing joke for the duo -- in favor of his own thoughts.

"A little sibling," he said. "A boy I could teach to punch or a girl I could teach to - to... well a girl would need to learn how to punch, too right?" Bella surfaced from her torment of her brother long enough to give him an emphatic nod. Dudley smiled, warming up to the idea. What he had with his future sib might not be like what Harry and Bella had, but that didn't mean it would be any less special.

Five months later, Daisy Margaret Dursley was born.

~~~

Bella looked down at the infant with the big blue eyes and wide pink mouth and frowned. There was something about the baby, something very very familiar. Daisy was a sweet child -- she could not help but be so when she was showered with indulgence from all sides. The instant she began to fuss she was snatched up by mother, father, brother, or cousins. Most parents would worry about leaving their infant to the tender mercies of their eight-year-old, but Dudley was as gentle with his little sister as Harry was with the herb garden out back. The twins adored her as well, and it was obvious in the way that they squabbled with each other and with their cousin for the right to hold her.

But sometimes... sometimes Bella looked at Daisy, just looked at her, and felt like someone she should know was looking back. It wasn't all the time, just occasionally. Daisy would look up at her, and a smile that didn't belong on an infant would appear. Then she'd giggle or wave a tiny fist and the spell would be broken, but the feeling remained.

Two weeks after the baby's birth, on a stormy night where the wind howled and lightning crackled in a continuous explosion, Bella dreamed. She dreamt of an endless tower and an impossible goal, of green lights streaked with purple, of a sacrifice and a sister left behind. She dreamt of big blue eyes and a wide pink mouth, prone to mischievous grins.

Bella woke abruptly, Harry's green eyes only inches from her own. He looked shocked and surprised and gratified all at once -- and Bella cringed inwardly at the reminder of the crack in their trust she had created by keeping him from her earlier dreams. In one voice they asked the question that had begged to be asked since the baby came home:

"Dawn?!"

~~~

Petunia Dursley had just finished nursing her infant daughter and was rocking her to sleep when her niece wandered into the room. She smiled absently at the little girl, marveling inwardly over how much she looked like the grandmother she would never meet. Every day she grew more and more into her likeness and, though Petunia did not have the heart to see it, more and more into the likeness of the two Evans' sisters.

"Auntie?" Bella whispered.

"Yes, dear?"

The little girl walked forward slowly until she was standing just in front of the rocking chair, watching Daisy go forward and back, forward and back. "Auntie," she said again, "Daisy is special. Very special."

"I know that, sweetheart," Petunia said, smiling indulgently.

"No!" Bella exclaimed. "She's special special. Like Harry and me."

"Harry and I," Petunia corrected automatically, before her niece's words caught up with her. Magic? Her daughter? Oh no, no. She couldn't - she wouldn't... but how could she not? If that was the world her little girl was meant to be in, then it would find her and take her whether Petunia wanted to let her go or not.

She stared down at the mess of dark blonde hair on Daisy's head, already showing signs of darkening to Petunia's own light brown color. The little girl who took Vernon's features and her own, and somehow made them beautiful. Her little girl, magic? Why?

"H-how do you know?"

Bella was watching her intently, a very serious look on her pixyish features. "I just know, Auntie. Daisy is special, very special. She'll do great things, really neat things, and she'll grow up to be a very awesome person." Bella's eyes traced her cousin's sleep-softened features slowly, as if committing them to memory.

"How do you know?" Petunia asked, startled by this bone-deep certainty.

"How could she not?" Bella responded.

~~~

After her conversation with her aunt, she went looking for her brother. She had felt him all day long as he went through a glut of emotions, the turmoil was almost enough to turn her stomach. She hadn't been able to find him yet, though, and she reflected -- a bit annoyed -- that they had agreed to stop hiding their secrets, but apparently that did not extend to not hiding their bodies.

She found him, at last, sitting under a tree at the park down the road. Now that they were eight, they were allowed a bit more freedom around the neighborhood, and the park had become a favorite of all the children in the Dursley household. Dudley liked the playground with it's jungle-gym and swings, while the twins enjoyed the trees and the grassy paths.

"What's wrong?"

He didn't even look up when she slumped into the grass beside him.

"Harry? Harry? Talk to me, what's going on?"

"She's your sister," he said at last, "you died for her."

"Yeah," Bella nodded, looking up at the clouds instead of at his surly, confused face. "I did. It's kind of weird to remember. I don't really remember the dying bits, more the lead up and then the after, when we were together... there."

"She's your sister."

"No, she was my sister. Now she's my cousin, just like you're my brother." Twin and other half went unspoken, but Bella felt that they were implied. Feeling that he was still not comforted, she sat up and faced him. "What is it? What's really bothering you?"

"You died for her." He tried to explain, but he couldn't find the words to describe the fear that swamped him at the thought of losing her. The jealousy that erupted when he thought of Daisy -- who was Dawn -- having all of Bella's attention. He didn't know how to explain himself without sounding like an utter prat for being envious of a baby.

Bella frowned, cocking her head to one side before reaching out and tracing the lightning-bolt scar on Harry's forehead. He shivered under the touch, muscles tensing and fingers twitching, but he did not move away. "I died for her, but I'm living for you," Bella told him. "You're my twin, Harry. My brother... my - my other half."

The words were out and spoken, solid in a way that they never had been before. They looked at each other, wonder and love and an understanding that went beyond the physical all thrumming between them.

"No matter what happens, where life takes me, I will always be your twin."

Harry nodded slowly. "We'll just have to convince our spouses to buy an extra-big house so we can all live together," he suggested seriously. "One big, happy family. Wonder if anyone ever does that in the magical world?"

"Oh no," Bella objected, "that won't work. I'm never getting married. Relationships don't work out all that well for me. You'll just have to convince your lovely wife that having a built-in babysitter and house-watcher all in one will be worth having an in-law around 24/7."

"That could work."

"Indeed," she said, nodding solemnly... and then they were laughing and shoving each other, staring up at the clouds and picking out shapes as they went by. Eight-year-olds again, with no cares beyond that which any their age shared.

~~~

Vernon stared down at the cooing infant he held in his arms and swallowed hard, digesting the information his wife had just seen fit to share with him. Magic? His little girl was magic? A small part of him reared up, spewing ugly words about Petunia's family and the trouble brought in -- words that were quickly throttled back by Vernon's own memories of a father who drank too much and punished too liberally. He had sworn, years ago, that he would never raise a hand to his own family -- a family that had grown in unexpected ways throughout the years, but was his nonetheless.

"How does she know?"

"I-I don't know, Vernon. But she was so sure," Petunia gestured helplessly. "I-I think we'd best operate under the assumption that she's right, don't you? We-we'll tell her about her cousins and about what they can do when she's the right age, and deal with any special things as they crop up."

He nodded, still staring down as Daisy stared up, her blue eyes very sharp and intent. He'd already thought, and people had commented, that their little girl had the most serious, intelligent eyes of any baby they'd ever seen. She seemed far more aware of what was going on and being said. Her eyes tracked the speakers' in conversations, though whether this was due to the noises or the words was anyone's guess.

"We-I should have been prepared for something like this," Petunia muttered, beginning to pace the bedroom. "My mother always thought that Lily had to have gotten it from somewhere in her family, but I - I always thought it must have been an accident and now..." She stopped, running her hands through her hair, finger-combing away her stress in a nervous gesture she only ever let Vernon see. "I suppose I was wrong," she said in a dull, flat voice. When she looked up, her eyes were glassy with tears, "I'm sorry, Vernon. This is all my fault."

"Sorry?" he asked, genuinely surprised. "Sorry for what? Pet, I love you. I love our children. I love our niece and our nephew, even if I don't understand them most of the time. I love our house, I love our life together. Don't apologize for that, ever." He crossed the room to her in two strides, shifting Daisy's weight so that he could cup his wife's chin in one hand, forcing her to meet his eyes: "I love you, Pet. I love you - not some ideal of the perfect woman, you." He winced, re-evaluating how that last comment might have sounded.

Petunia snorted, then giggled, then abruptly began laughing so hard she was crying. She stumbled to the bed and lay herself down, still chuckling as she stared at his hopeful expression. She patted the bed beside herself, reaching up to pat his shadowed jaw line when he sat down. "Only you, Vernon, could compliment me and tell me I'm far from perfect all in one breath," she murmured.

"It's a gift," he told her, "just like our little girl."

Petunia sat up, looking down over Vernon's shoulder: "Our magical little girl."

"Huh."

"What?" Petunia asked, staring at her husband's nonplussed expression.

"Perhaps we ought to have named her something more... unique? Like," he paused, thinking for a moment, "Rhododendron?"

A pillow to the back of the head was his only answer.

~~~The End~~~

A/N4: Like, love, loathe? Lemme know!

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