Grandmothers, sons and mothers
Author’s note: Well I hope people still enjoy the story. From here on we’re veering deep into AU and Crossovers of many nations. A lot of Simon’s background is going to be revealed in the next few chapters. And I sincerely hope it doesn’t make him a Gary Stu. I hope the scenes between Willow and Joyce in the previous chapter weren’t read as erotic; that was absolutely not the intent. (If I write Willow/Joyce I’d come right out and do it, not make her all motherly first.) And before anyone even goes there: the reason why Simon and Joyce get so touchy feely with Willow will be revealed in a future chapter…they are not looking for a threesome with their foster daughter! Chapter 23: Grandmothers, Sons and Mothers
Willow walked down the stairs to the kitchen, having moved some clothes to her new bedroom. Not completely finished yet, but almost and she’d walked over the on the unglazed arch and heard the birds and the leaves. Pat Madison’s men were going to start glazing the next day. And all the windows could be opened so if the weather was fine she’d always be able to hear them. She twirled her skirt and hummed.
“Heya Mom! What’s for dinner?”
Joyce gave her a look. “Chicken Casserole with broccoli and cheese.”
Willow licked her lips. “Ooohhh…” She reached for a bit of cheese and Joyce tapped her hand.
“Sorry Mom.” Willow pouted and looked unrepentant.
Willow nodded and moved behind Joyce, hugging her. “Tonight I get a new life. And someone left me a white rose.”
Joyce chuckled. “Well I suppose that would make a girl happy. Willow…Are you absolutely certain?”
“Yes. They haven’t missed me yet. I see no reason why they should start anytime soon.”
“Very well…there are some things you and Simon will have to talk about… things he’ll have to explain…”
“Sure. I’ll even read the papers before I sign them…”
Joyce snorted. “I think Xander learned a valuable lesson.”
“Yup. He didn’t even sign the ‘eternal servitude’ contract Buffy and me drew up…” Willow pouted again.
“So no slave Xander to peel you grapes and do your chores?”
“No… And I was looking forward to peeled grapes…”
“And now you have to do your own chores…”
“I finished mine already!”
Joyce looked over her shoulder and grinned down. “Well you can give me a hand then. Casserole now, otherwise Xander will go hungry and gripe.”
Willow rolled her eyes, but with good humour. “And Xander griping is a terrible thing…”
“Yes it is. And there may be… Gouda…” Joyce used an enticement she was almost certain would work. Willow made a little noise of happiness and nodded.
Joyce washed her hands and started filling the large casserole dishes with chicken, potatoes and broccoli. Willow washed her hands as well and started cutting some onions.
“So why isn’t Xander helping if he’s so hungry?”
“He’s fixing Dawnie’s bike.”
“Buffy and Dawnie?”
“Buffy’s over at Amy’s, Dawn is watching Xander fix her bike.” She smiled indulgently. “She always wanted a big brother.”
Willow smiled and looked at the huge casserole dishes. “That’s a lot of casserole.”
“Amy is coming over for dinner. She’s been helping Buffy with math.” Willow flushed a little guiltily. Joyce reached out and lifted her chin with the clean back of her hand. “Hey… you were at least partially enthralled. And Amy needs the friendship and the food that is not brownies. I’d have Pat over too, except he’s got an emergency job over at the school something to do with the wiring…So we’re saving him some that he can microwave later when he comes to check on the foundation.”
The doorbell rang and Joyce looked up. Willow grinned. “I’ll get it.” She washed her hands again, getting rid of the worst onion smell and ran to the door. She opened it with a look outside, it was still light. There was an older lady standing there, dark hair lined with grey with a distinctive face, a long smooth oval and a strong nose and piercing grey blue eyes.
“Ummm? Can I help you?”
The woman blinked. “No my dear… I’m Mrs. Halliwell. You’d be Willow Rosenberg?”
Willow nodded, taking a careful step back and the lady stepped in, nodding approvingly. “No invitation, well done.”
Willow looked at her again. *She knows about vamps…and its still light out…*
“So how may I help you?”
“I’m here with a friend of mine…She’s outside and…well you used to know her and she’s quite anxious…”
Willow rolled her eyes. Her Mom was in the kitchen, Dad was reading in the dining room and Xander was in the back. Buffy was on her way home. She took a few steps forward and looked around the door.
Buffy saw Willow come out the door and look at the lady standing there, who was leaning on a cane. Then she saw Willow collapse. It was at that point she and Amy started running.
She arrived at the porch before Amy and just as the old lady had carefully knelt down, obviously as quickly as she could. She gently tapped the girl’s pale cheeks.
“Willow, Willow my dear, please wake up.” Buffy could hear the quaver in the lady’s voice, which was oddly familiar. She shouted.
“MOM! SIMON! WILLOW’S FAINTED!”
Simon was at the door first, having heard Mrs. Halliwell’s loud gasp of shock as well as the sound of Willow falling.
He felt Willow’s pulse and forehead, ignoring the two older women, picked up the redhead and carried her to the couch. Joyce stood looking with a worried expression on her face. The two strange women looked at him with a bemused expression.
Joyce took one look at them and went into the kitchen and came back with the pot of tea and the bottle of emergency brandy.
“Sit, both of you.” The lady with the cane looked very pale and the other one vaguely blue. Simon walked up to both of them, showing more attention to Mrs. Halliwell.
“What do they have you on for your heart?”
She blinked up at him. “Magister?”
Simon rolled his eyes. “Heart medicine. What do you use?”
She fumbled in her purse and come up with a pill bottle. He took it and pursed his lips, then shrugged. “Well one won’t do harm now.” He shook it out and handed it to her, walking to the kitchen and returning with a glass of water. “I called Xander and Dawn.”
There was a clatter and Xander and Dawn ran in from the garden through the kitchen door. Xander took one look at the white haired lady with the red streaks in her hair and collapsed against the door. “Nana Morry?”
“Xander?” The old lady rose, with some difficulty. “My… haven’t you grown.” She looked at him with pride and he looked back in utter astonishment.
“Y-you’re dead! They told us you were dead!”
Danielle Moritz’s face twisted. “T-they what…” She shook herself. “I should have realized… Willow would have contacted me somehow if she had known I’d had a stroke… and lived.”
Xander took a deep breath. “Why are you here now?”
“A man called Matthew Duncan came by to talk to me about you and Willow. He’s started an investigation. And I wanted to know who the people were who were going to foster my granddaughter.”
“You don’t want to…” He gestured vaguely at himself and Willow.
“Xander… I’m an old lady and not well. And this place is dangerous. You need younger parents than me.” She gave him a look. “But I wouldn’t mind a hug…” Xander stumbled over to her and wrapped her in his arms, carefully, fearing that this frail old lady would fall apart. *She’s so much older than when I last saw her, thinner…frailer.*
He decided to go with a flippant answer. Chances were Nana didn’t know about vampires.
“Packs of wild animals, gangs on PCP, yeah.”
Mrs. Moritz lifted an eyebrow. “I was thinking vampires and demons, but I suppose all that is possible too.”
She looked at Joyce. “You’ve got a bit of a bite.” She gestured at the younger woman’s neck her hand wave taking in Simon as well. Joyce nodded absentmindedly and sat by Willow, smoothing the girl’s hair.
“Her name was Darla. I don’t think she’d had a happy life.”
Danielle and Penelope exchanged a look at the incongruous remark. It seemed the younger woman actually pitied the vampire that bit her? Penelope sighed deeply, putting her hand to her chest and Simon hurried to her side. “Dawn, get my bag please.” He took the woman’s wrist and felt her pulse.
“Mrs. Halliwell, I think you’re going to be alright, but once you get back home, and I’ll have you taken there by the way, you’re getting a new cardiologist. I’ve got a few recommendations. And I think a surgical procedure will be in your near future.”
She glared at him. “W-what?”
a doctor. It’s something you all seem to forget sometime. Even you Nanny.” He smiled at Mrs. Moritz.
She scowled at him. “I told you to call me Danielle when you turned eighteen.”
“Nanny… that didn’t work then and it sure isn’t going to work now.”
Joyce looked at Mrs. Moritz with amusement; Willow’s head still cradled in her lap. “I’ve seen a few baby pictures of Simon; I don’t suppose you have any more?”
Simon poured her a cup of tea and handed it to her, gently resting a hand on Willow’s head. He whispered something in Joyce’s ear and she gave him a wicked grin at which he winced. The girl with stirred.
“Mom?” Penelope and Danielle exchanged looks again.
“I had a really strange dream… that my Nana was still alive…”
“That wasn’t a dream dear, you fainted. She’s sitting right over there.”
Willow stiffened. “Nana?”
“Yes Willow, I’m here.”
Willow turned to face the voice. Xander sat next to an old lady with red hair with white streaks. Or possibly white with red. Her face was uneven, no doubt due to the stroke, but the sparkling green eyes were her grandmother’s. “They told me you were dead…” Willow whispered.
“And they told me never to call or come see you again. Not that I could do much, the stroke rather effectively limited my communication.” Danielle replied ruefully.
“Why didn’t you come by earlier?”
“The last time I met someone here. Someone dangerous, who injured me and it, took me a very long time to get better.”
“Who did you meet?”
“A very powerful witch. Catherine Madison.”
Amy had been standing on the outskirts of the group since the conversation began; she was after all, not a part of the family. She remembered Mrs. Moritz from a play party she’d been to. She’d been a nice lady who’d been very nice to her unlike her own mother. She ran out of the door.
Joyce grimaced. “Buffy, would you mind getting Amy back? Its getting late and I don’t want her out there on her own…”
Buffy ran. Joyce looked at the puzzled women and sighed. “Amy Madison.”
“Going to warn her mother?” Penelope asked sharply. Danielle had gone pale and Penelope wanted to be prepared.
“Her mother is dead. She moved her personality into Amy. She threw a spell at Buffy and it backfired. Amy’s my friend.” Willow spoke chillingly from the couch. “And would you like to explain how you know about magic?”
Danielle shivered, her face gone very white. “Because I’m a witch dear, I would’ve taught you had certain things not interfered. And possession, that explains that mystery. She’d have to be a Wechselmeister.” Penelope nodded, pale herself.
Joyce stroked Willow’s forehead, the girl had not moved toward her grandmother yet. “Master of exchange…or changes.” She thoughtfully translated the German.
Danielle looked over her shoulder, trying to see if the girls were returning. “Yes. A very dark Art. I fear that Catherine Madison was not Catherine Madison. Her mother, Marilyn probably wasn’t herself either… I wonder.”
“Pulchritudia Black.” Simon spoke the name without inflection and everybody looked at him. “I went through the attic, helping Pat and Amy sort out the dangerous stuff. There was… plenty of evidence.”
Penelope swallowed heavily… “Our Lady of Darkness… Goddess above…”
Danielle shivered. “I-Is she…dead?”
Simon smiled coldly. “No. Imprisoned. Exactly what she’d planned for Buffy.”
“You know where she is.” Willow looked at him questioningly.
“Yes.” He admitted the fact calmly. “I judged the location sufficiently secure and decided to let it stand as punishment. It would’ve been more trouble than it was worth to get her out and stand trial.”
“Judge, jury and executioner?” Penelope asked pointedly.
“Part of the job description. Not anymore.” He lifted Willow’s feet and sat down, placing them on his thighs, taking of her shoes and massaging her toes. “Relax ‘tit Saule.” Willow melted into the couch as Joyce ran her fingers through her hair and over her head and Simon massaged her feet.
Xander grinned at Dawn. “You feelin’ jealous here too, Dawnie?”
“Yeah, a bit. So…next time Gran comes by, and I faint, do I get VIP treatment too?”
Joyce gave them both a mock stern glare. “Behave you two. Dawn…would you go make some coffee?”
Xander perked up. “Yeah and finish the casserole while you’re at it, why don’t you Dawnie?”
“Xander!” Dawn whined.
Joyce chuckled. “And for that you get to make chocolate, young man. I’d say one for each of you kids.”
“Sure Mom.” Xander rose and led Dawn to the kitchen. “C’mon Dawn. I’m sure there are still cookies to be had in Simon’s secret stash.”
Joyce lifted an elegant eyebrow. “Secret stash? Have you been holding out on me Simon?”
“No, he means the ones in the tin on the top shelf of the cabinet over the stove. As in your secret stash of jam filled vanilla coated British bakery specials.”
Joyce yelped. “Xander! Don’t you dare!” There was a wicked chuckle from the kitchen echoed by another one, slightly higher in pitch.
Willow giggled. “It’s not like you don’t have ways of getting more Mom.”
“That’s not the point. Those are mine!” Willow giggled again at her mother’s good natured grumbling.
Danielle smiled. “Well at least I no longer have to worry about the suitability of your foster parents.”
Simon snorted. “Glad to hear it.”
Penelope grinned. “I always wondered what the connection between you two was. You know, there were lots of rumours that you were lovers? And that Danielle had been with your father as well…”
Willow grimaced and made gagging noises. Danielle went very red and glared at Penelope who calmly and maliciously sipped her tea.
Simon had a pained look on his face. “You do realize that you just suggested I had sex with the closest thing I have to a mother? After my father did it first?”
Willow’s eyes flew open. “What?”
“Your grandmother was my nanny, from three years old to age eleven, with some additional duties, tutoring and such, until I turned sixteen.”
“Oh…ummm. “ Her face scrunched up in calculation, mostly trying to remember her grandmother’s birthday. “You would have been ummm…”
“Just turned seventeen dear.” Danielle replied calmly, face still a bit red. She kept glaring at her sister witch who merely smiled saccharinely.
Willow looked at her grand mother with calculation in her eyes. “Okay, no offence… but why? I mean why a seventeen year old nanny if the master of the house did not think you had a hot bod?” Willow blushed furiously at her own words and Joyce gave her an amused look.
“You’ve got an interesting way of talking to your grandmother…I can’t wait for you to meet my
“She taught you to make pasta. I’ll be polite.” Willow smiled impishly despite her blush.
Danielle chuckled. “I see that food is still one way to get to your heart. I must admit I don’t know. I received a letter out of the blue, asking me to become Simon’s Nanny. It was an excellent offer; it included a scholarship for a university of my choice that would accept me, a generous stipend and in his teenage years, the ability and opportunity to travel with Simon. Compared to my home life…it was just too good an offer to refuse.”
Simon gave her a look. “You mean you still haven’t guessed? Tsssk. And here I thought Willow’s intelligence came from your
side of the family.”
Willow blinked at him, as did Danielle. Simon spoke didactically. “Let’s think about this logically. Now, why do most magic users get trained by family members?”
Penelope rolled her eyes. “Because the family affiliation, the affinity for the same type of magic makes learning about it easier, understanding what the pupil is going through, there is an ease about it that is lacking with a tutor not of the same family.”
“And I’m certain that Nanny is well aware of the skeleton in her family cupboard…”
Joyce sighed. “What Simon’s is trying to say is that sometime in the nineteenth century an heir to the House of Meier had a mistress who was a young Jewish girl…”
Willow and Danielle gawped.
Penelope guffawed. “Danielle…the look on your face…And you’re a Meier! No wonder.”
Willow sat up, looking between her grandmother and Simon. “So…you’re my cousin?”
“Several times removed, but you, your mother and grandmother are my closest living relatives. My mother was an only child. There are no Meier descendants except us four.”
“Why didn’t you tell me? Us?” Willow was indignant, her disappointment clearly visible in her eyes.
Simon exchanged a look with Danielle whose face was a pale white mask. “There are reasons… but none of them pertain to you becoming our daughter anymore.”
Joyce ruffled Willow’s hair. “See? Just another reason for us to want you. One of the things we were going to discuss tonight as a matter of fact. And the main reason Simon was in Sunnydale that first time was to check on you. After he got the Pinkerton report he must have been frantic.”
Simon’s mouth opened and closed, he finally managed to form a question. “Patricia?”
“And Honor, Gerry and Cynthia.” She shrugged. “I asked them why you acted guilty around Willow, and they told me what they knew.”
Willow smoothly moved to herself to sit on her knees, looking at Simon’s face. “You felt guilty? Why?”
Danielle gave Simon a sharp look and he shook his head. She snorted. “Simon feels guilty if the sun rises in the east and when it sets in the west. But at a guess, he got ready to offload his responsibilities in preparation for his long goodbye and he set about it methodically and got a report about what relatives he had left that he might leave his fortune to. And then he found out the way you’ve been treated, and then the guilt kicked in for not having taken notice earlier: he just assumed that a developmental psychologist and a noted rabbi would take better care of their child, no matter what their schedule.”
Joyce nodded looking down. “From what I could gather from his notes, that’s… about it, yes. Patricia tells me he had her book the flight three hours after reading the report.”
Simon sighed, looking between the women. “Do I have any secrets here?”
Joyce gave him a measured look. “Simon… I’ve held you when you had nightmares. Including some about our kids…” Danielle saw Willow perk up at the mention of our kids
. “And if you want to keep your notes secret…you shouldn’t leave them in the reports you hand to me.”
Xander, standing in the foyer, waiting for the coffee, tea and milk to get ready for serving, noted that Simon shared a grateful look with Joyce and Danielle and wondered what it meant. *Mom and Mrs. Moritz know something…about Simon and Willow… and it wasn’t this… and he’s ashamed of it… And afraid.*
He groaned. “All the women in my life pick on me.”
Willow looked between them. Her voice squeaked. “You’ve got reports on me
“Yes dear. We wanted to be able to get your case through the courts as quickly as possible. Simon’s earliest one just showed how often Sheila and Ira are absent. The later ones are more detailed.”
Willow blinked. “Oh.” She blushed. “Not too detailed…” Her voice faded off into an embarrassed mumble.
Danielle started to grin as did Penelope and Joyce. Willow blushed more fiercely. Joyce chuckled and leaned forward to whisper in her daughter’s ear. “Don’t worry dear, most of them are about your parents there’s nothing in there about…things.”
Willow gulped and shot her Mom an anxious look. Joyce just smiled gently and hugged her. The door flew open and Buffy came in, dragging Amy by her arm. The taller girl had obviously been crying and was still sniffling a bit.
Joyce gave Willow a last shoulder hug and rose. Willow stood as well, looked at her grandmother, sat next to her and scooted into a hug. “I missed you Nana.”
Amy started crying again. Joyce took her in her arms and soothed her hands over the girl’s back. “Simon, can you go see about dinner? And make some more, there will be two extra guests.” Simon nodded and went into the kitchen.
Amy took a heaving breath and Joyce led her to the couch. “Amy…you’re a victim as much as Mrs. Moritz. She terrorized you for years and stole your body. It was only sheer bloody-mindedness that defeated her.”
“B-but…Everything c-could’ve been different…”
Danielle leaned forward. “She possessed you didn’t she? You poor thing. What did she make your body do? And what did she do to you?”
“I-I had to do the homework, the housework and she was going to become cheerleader queen.”
Danielle and Penelope exchanged dumbfounded looks and spoke in astonished unison. “What?”
“S-she should have done something different?” Amy looked from one witch to the other.
Danielle and Penelope exchanged another look. It was Penelope who spoke.
“Well normally she worked for world domination…She was…is…whatever…very much feared and hated…she tried to control the magical world, at first in Britain, in the sixteenth century. She was immensely powerful.”
Amy swallowed heavily her eyes wide in fear. Buffy looked like a startled deer, panting and wide eyed as well and Joyce gestured to her, Buffy gingerly sat down and Joyce grabbed her into the hug as well.
Danielle thoughtfully sipped her tea. “Penelope, what would happen if a Wechselmeister moved into a chosen body over a greater distance? Would the mind of the original owner of the body be strong enough to influence the occupying soul? Before it was forced out?”
Penelope tapped her lips. She nodded in thanks as Dawn handed her a cup and saucer and took a sip. “Young lady… your mother was a remarkable woman. To be able to drive Pulchritudia Black to cheerleading…” She smiled sadly. “It’s a pity you never knew her.”
Amy looked between the women with wide eyes. “You mean it wasn’t my Mom? It wasn’t Mom who…”
“That depends on how you see it… by the time you were born… Pulchritudia Black was a Wechselmeister, a bodythief if you will, who moved her mind from body to body to extend her life. Catherine McGonagall influenced her before she died herself…but I’m afraid that Pulchritudia was your mother in body and soul… even if she stole the body you were born from.”
Joyce ran gentle soothing hands down Amy’s arms and back.
“She was born in England, as far as we know in the sixteenth century.” Danielle had an arm around Willow and made room for Xander under her other arm as he poured her a fresh cup of tea and handed Willow a hot chocolate milk. Dawn passed around bearing a tray and Simon took the teapot from Xander serving Penelope and Joyce fresh cups before returning to the kitchen.
Danielle glanced at Dawn. “Uhmmm should we be discussing this in front of…”
Dawn rolled her eyes. “Oh Puh-lease…I’ve known and believed for longer than Mom!”
Buffy scowled. “Yeah…’cause you read my diary. Lil’ sneak!”
Penelope grinned. “You two are amazingly like my granddaughters. It’s almost like being at home.”
Willow grinned as her sisters started to squabble. Then she looked at her grandmother. “So…you’re ok with me…” She waved a hand around the living room.
Danielle smiled. “Willow… I’ve seen you get more hugs in a few hours than I’d seen Sheila and Ira give you in years. And Simon is sort of my son. So I’m very pleased.” She hugged Xander closer too. She was about to say something when she saw Joyce mouth something. ‘Don’t ask about Jesse.’ The younger woman scratched at her bite scar.
Danielle sighed. Now she knew what had happened to Jesse. She’d get details later. Right now she wanted to talk to her granddaughter. She looked around the room. Buffy had cornered Dawn and was administering a slow, methodical tickle. Dawn was begging for mercy and laughing. Joyce was soothing Amy, who was still obviously upset. Simon came in and they talked quietly while the casserole baked.
BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS
It was late, after dinner and Danielle sat outside with her granddaughter on the back porch swing. Amy was talking with Penelope under the tree house. Dawn had been allowed to invite Janice because it was unfair that Buffy and Willow had Amy and she was alone. The three older girls had made up beds in Willow’s room to inaugurate it properly with a real sleepover. Joyce had exchanged amused looks with Penelope about that. Danielle had smiled sadly. Sheila had never had Willow have sleepovers.
“So, how are you going to tell Sheila and Ira? “
“I was going to talk to them…but after tonight…I’m not. Most of the time they communicate with me through letters or mails. If it’s bills and stuff through their lawyers. So I’ll send a letter to their lawyers’ office and never see them again.”
“Danielle blinked at the sheer vindictiveness in her granddaughter’s voice. “Willow…”
“NO! Nothing you say can make what they did alright. They lied to me, they are never
there, they don’t know my birthday, what foods I like, what classes I take, who my friends are, they didn’t notice I spent most of the past two weeks being wooed by a demon online and they didn’t even notice I’ve been gone for two days. They don’t deserve the courtesy of a conversation. I’m also sending a letter to Social Services and one to the California state police. And if they make a fuss, I’m sure that all their colleagues would love to know!”
Danielle sighed. “Willow…they may not have been much of parents…but be better than they are…Please?”
Willow crossed her arms and gave her grandmother a cross look. “Do I have to?”
“Have to, no. But I know you a little, or knew you… and if you do it the way you just described you’ll never forgive yourself.”
Willow sighed and leaned into her grandmother. “I suppose you’re right…”
“I just wish things were different…had been different…”
“Nana…I don’t know what’s wrong with Mom, but I’m sure it’s not your fault.”
Danielle flinched. “I don’t know… Maybe if I’d married… Done things differently…”
“Don’t you mean remarried?” Willow queried.
Danielle blushed. “No…I-I…” She sighed. “I suppose these days it isn’t such a great shock as it was in the fifties. I had a one night stand. We were both drunk.”
Willow blinked, trying to absorb this startling new facet of her grandmother’s personality. *Drunk and sexually active…erm…I mean I knew she’d have to have done it at least once…but…erm…*
Willow blushed furiously and the two women seemed even more alike in their Moment of united mortification. “Wow…I always thought he was an advisor in Vietnam and got killed…”
“It’s amazing how easy it was to make people believe that… I moved to California, changed my name and got an income without having to work for it, so people assumed I got a pension from the government.”
“So why didn’t you? Marry, I mean?”
Danielle smiled a little sadly. “I only ever met one person I wanted to marry…and that couldn’t be.”
“Oh. I’m sorry.”
A throat was cleared quite loudly. Amy was coming closer and Penelope was behind her. *The girl has good manners, no matter who her mother was…*
Danielle smiled a little at the irrelevant thought.
“I just realized, maybe Dr. Meier can help you.”
“Catherine or Pulchritudia, she put a lot of spells on dad, to make him pay less attention to me, forget me, obey her…they were slowly fading but they still hurt.”
Willow nodded. “Oh yeah! And he took us to this place he owns, the big manor out of town, remember Nana? The one with the park you said was magical? Gosh, I never realized you meant that for real… He tapped into a leyline or a manapoint or something and then he touched Amy’s dad and then his face was healed and he’d removed the spells and…”
“He did what?” Penelope’s words came out loudly and harshly.
“Healed my dad?” Amy looked from one old lady to the other. “T-the light was white, and you know it felt really p-pure…”
“He used leylines to… heal somebody…” Penelope exchanged a shocked glance with Danielle. “Goddess above, Danielle. What did you teach the boy?”
“Nothing like that! I couldn’t even begin to get that much control… Earthmother preserve us… he could…”
“Could what indeed? “Simon’s dry voice interrupted. He looked at Willow and Amy and sighed. “I knew I should have left you two behind for that…”
Amy looked at Danielle. “So…t-that’s difficult? Tapping into leylines like that?”
“Difficult, very dangerous and next to a Hellmouth? Suicidal! What the hell were you thinking Simon? You could have killed yourself and the girls, and Amy’s father too!” Danielle was speaking softly but her voice was hard.
Simon started calmly but his voice became hard and angry as he continued. “Nanny… I can’t lift a bloody toothpick without nearly fainting…how the HELL
do you think I survived until now? I did not become good at using Leylines by choice. You demanded it of me, by giving me a job I did not want, never should’ve been given and was utterly unable to perform according to the way everybody expected of me. And let me add I am all too glad to be rid off it!”
Danielle had reared back from his sudden anger and Penelope swallowed heavily. Simon ignored their reaction as well as Willow and Amy’s shocked and frightened noises.
“I was thrust into a role I wasn’t suited for, because of expediency. It didn’t seem to matter then
that I might die the next day…It didn’t seem to matter then
that innocents might be hurt because I lacked the power! It didn’t matter then
that I was scared, unstable and suffering from PTSD! All that mattered then
was that I had the wealth to fund the Concordat! So before the two of you judge me and my abilities think of what I’ve had to do since then
to be able to talk to you now
Simon turned and stalked away. Danielle was crying and Penelope was holding back tears. Willow was shocked pale and silently crying and Amy was crying in jagged sobs.
Joyce stepped out from the kitchen door where she’d appeared as Simon’s voice rose. “Well...that was well done… he’ll be having nightmares for days.” She glared at the two older women. Danielle winced. Joyce put her arms around Amy and kissed the girl gently on the temple.
“Easy dear, he isn’t angry at you.”
“HE IS!! I told them…” Amy waved an arm at Danielle and Penelope.
“Did you? Well, maybe it’s all to the good…Simon’s been walking a tightrope using leylines for years, he’s almost killed himself dozens of times leading Coven attacks on demons.”
Danielle looked up, her face streaked with tears. “We all thought he was getting happier…that…he was doing it himself…”
“Not actively suicidal enough to jump of a building does not make one happy
Mrs. Moritz.” Joyce’s voice was sharp. “He loves you, you’re the only mother he ever had…and he never felt as betrayed as he did the day you nominated him as Grand Magister. I-I’m not entirely sure he ever forgave you…”
Amy and Willow stiffened. “G-grand Magister? SIMON?!”
“Not by choice, and he was hardly suitable. He really lacks the power, he’s nowhere in your Nana’s or Mrs. Halliwell’s or your mother’s league.” She nodded at Willow and Amy.
“He says both you girls are more powerful than he is… much more powerful.”
Penelope sat down, shakily, putting an arm around Danielle whose tears were silently coursing down her face. “We needed him. And it wasn’t the money; we needed him, his name, what his family represents…The strength, the history.”
Joyce sighed. “Probably everything he hates about it.”
Danielle sobbed. “I thought he needed something to live for after Vietnam. And the Concordat…We needed him against him against the Five…” Joyce gave her a warning look and Danielle held back whatever she was going to say.
“Danielle…he’d have given the money gladly, no strings attached…But you’d all gotten to used to his father and his Quid pro quo…” Joyce spoke gently but reprovingly.
Willow nodded through her tears. “Nana…why?”
Penelope answered. “Politics…but we should…we should’ve been there for him more…realized...and we should have let him go after…”
“We should’ve let him know he was doing well…how often did we thank him? Did we ever thank him for the War of the Five?” Danielle’s voice was filled with self recrimination.
“No…Danny…we screwed up…big time. We should have let him step down in ’78, after his first term.”
Danielle drew in a breath and started to rise. “I’m going to find him…”
Joyce shook her head. “Let him calm down…in his current mood he may lash out…I’ve never seen him this angry.”
“I have. Simon…”
“Has anger issues…And I wouldn’t disturb him if I were you…he may lash out without looking or thinking…”
Danielle looked at the younger woman anxiously. “But what about the dangers?”
“Hurst and Bchenka are probably following him.”
Danielle sat down again. “Very well…” She sighed, closing her eyes, running a hand over Willow’s hair. “Willow…do me a favour…never put politics before family.”
Willow nodded. “I promise Nana.”
Amy took a deep breath. “W-will he still teach us?”
Joyce snorted. “Of course he will! He’s been looking forward to it. He’s drawn up an actual lesson plan.”
Amy gave her an uncertain look. “And ummm…”
Joyce smiled wickedly. “And I’m in charge of discipline…”
Amy gulped, flushing red, as did Willow.
Joyce rose and sighed. “I’m going to go inside… Simon will probably come in through the front door. Her unspoken ‘to avoid you two” made both of the older women wince.
“Yes dear?” Danielle smiled encouragingly at Amy.
Penelope and Danielle sighed. Danielle spoke. “It…depends. On the skill of the adept…and…if Simon can do what you told us…and had been using them for so long…He’s got to be very skilled.”
“So dad wasn’t in any danger?”
“I don’t know…I don’t know hwy Simon did what he did…and what he did…Now dears…as you’re Simon’s apprentices we’re not allowed to teach you without his permission…so you can’t ask all those burning questions...”
Willow’s and Amy’s pouts were equally disappointed. Penelope and Danielle grinned.
They talked about Willow’s sixth birthday party until the door opened and Joyce appeared. Danielle smiled at what she was doing..
“I think your Mom
is making it quite clear that its time for you to go to bed Willow.”
Willow grinned. “Is she looking pointedly at her watch?”
“Yes she is.”
“I like it when she does that.”
Willow rose, kissed her grandmother and skipped inside, Amy followed after polite goodnights.
Danielle smiled at the perplexed Penelope. “When you’ve put yourself to bed since age five its nice to have someone else take the responsibility. Joyce is letting her be the little girl she never could be before.”
Penelope nodded, face thoughtful.