Of clothing and propriety
Author’s note Buffy’s canon birthday is 01-17-1980. And I can find no reason to suppose she started her first year in Sunnydale much Later than the normal first day of school. For the intents and purposes of this story, Buffy is fifteen years old at the beginning of the series, and the series starts at the same time as the school year. Originally the story was supposed to be a good deal shorter and the first cut off point was the eight episode of Buffy, I Robot, You Jane. Since I was told that the story isn’t anywhere long enough to be obligatorily cut off, I have decided to try and fit the first two seasons into Lonely Souls. Reviews are welcome and thanks to all who do so. Chapter 6: Of clothing and propriety
The car was full of teen. Simon dropped of Janice first and Dawn then got out of the capacious trunk of the Volvo and squeezed, despite loud complaints from her sister, onto the back seat with Buffy, Willow and Xander. They arrived at Revello drive shortly afterwards and the teens watched with amusement as the adults swung into a seemingly synchronized cooking action, with both slicing and dicing the vegetables, stirring pots and basting meat. Simon was unexpectedly good at peeling potatoes. A pointed look from Joyce sent them all scurrying upstairs to start homework, once the giggling became unbearable, though a meek return by Buffy some time later did garner permission to sit at the dining room table and work on French composition with Simon.
This allowed her to ask about the Manor.
“So…you heard they started renovating Banker’s Manor?”
“Sorry?” He looked surprised. “Is this something I should know about?”
“Well it’s just the largest house in Sunnydale, huge park, you own it, and now people are in there renovating and landscaping and doing stuff.”
“Oh, you mean Hooghwater Huis. Yes, that’s being renovated.” He shook his head, scowling. “I prefer an apartment, but my staff apparently feels I need to live in some splendour.”
“Live in some splendour…you’re going to live there?” Buffy looked startled.
He shrugged. “You’re asking to visit the city of green one, as in vert un
, not the city of Verdun.” He pointed at her letter and Willow gazed at the paper over Buffy’s shoulder. “And possibly, though highly unlikely. But I would have to see it first, at least the inside, I’ve only looked at it from the outside and that was just as I was passing through. Just before my engine blew up as a matter of fact.”
“Live there. Duh!”
“It’s a family thing. I’m supposed to live in a huge mansion or manor surrounded by a staff of servants and ordering my business with as little actual work as possible.” He said it with a touch of bitterness.
“No other reason?”
He shrugged. “None I can think of. Actually, I arranged for a two bed room apartment. My staff arranged for the renovation of Hooghwater Huis.”
Willow tilted her face. “Why do you call it that?”
“It’s the name of the place. We’ve always given our larger homes Dutch names. The manor in New York is called Vlugwater, Fleetwater. The one in Vermont is called Herfsttij, that’s Autumn’s Coming, changing of the seasons. The great house in Britain is Heilig water, Holy water; it’s on the grounds of a former abbey. Hooghwater Huis means High water House. I think it has to do with a waterfall on the property. No big secret.”
“You pronounce it…well not American.” Willow was curious, she rather liked languages and this one sounded similar to German, but different.
“Like I said, it’s Dutch. Just like my name. We’ve used it as a private language in the family for a while now.” He winked.
“Private language? How many people speak Dutch anyway?” Willow knew there could not be that few Dutch people.
“About thirty million if you include the derivative languages I think, but it means a language you can speak freely in front of the servants.”
Xander’s eyes widened. “You’ve got servants?”
Simon muttered something under his breath, apparently in Dutch. “Yes. Sometimes I think I have too many. Now why is it of interest to you that Hooghwater is being renovated?”
“Uhmmm… Well there’s a lot of gossip, a lot of talk and well you know, we sort of wondered if you were going to move in there…” Buffy looked at him hoping he’d think it be natural teen curiosity, not a question for a different reason.
“Buffy, the way you started this conversation makes it quite obvious that there is something mystical about your questioning…Are there ley lines there or something?”
Buffy blinked. “Yes. Didn’t you know?”
Simon shrugged. “Not especially. But the family has a habit of buying and protecting areas where there is strong magic. If you own a place, have the connection of ownership with it, it makes it more difficult for others to abuse the power that resides there. It’s a very old and important principle of magic, proprietary power. It is the same sort of thing as the power that prevents vampires from entering homes.”
“And you don’t use the leylines?”
Simon rubbed his chin. “As little as possible. It takes a good deal of skill to use the power of leylines, it is far stronger if more controlled than pulling the power from the surrounding area.”
“So you’re a witch?” Willow seemed rather excited by the prospect.
“I wouldn’t call it myself that. I am a student of magic, I have a great deal of knowledge and very little power.”
“Oh. So you couldn’t teach me?” Willow had been curious about magic ever since she’d found out about Amy Madison’s mother.
“WILLOW!” Buffy was aghast.
Simon gave the redhead a thoughtful look, raising a hand to silence Buffy, looking over his shoulder to see if the cry had summoned Joyce. He did not continue until he was certain the Slayer’s mother was not going to enter.
“I suppose I could. But there would have to be some fairly strict rules. And no actual casting until we’ve laid some pretty basic foundations, explored the theory of magic.”
Willow nodded eagerly. “Ok, that’s cool. Theory of magic is cool. Practice of magic is cool. So can you teach me to use ley lines? I mean it would be pretty great to be able to do that. And make potions? And amulets and stuff? It would be really awesome if I could make Buffy a magical sword or a stake or something!”
Simon put a hand over her mouth, stopping her babbling, smiling as he did so. “Maybe. Eventually, if you take the study of the theory seriously enough. But I will not teach you a single spell unless you give me a faithful promise, right now, not to use a spell of any kind” he stressed the words, “without my permission. What may look like innocent fun or nothing of consequence to you can have grave repercussions. I’ve seen too many people die or be broken because of miscast magic.” He took his hand away as Willow’s mouth stilled and her face grew even more pale.
“D-die?” Willow stammered out.
“Sometimes death is the kinder fate.” He gave her a serious look. “Willow, magic is a force of nature. It’s like the sea, like a river, but much more powerful than either. You don’t put an untrained girl into a sailing boat in New York harbour and send her on a trip to Africa. If you really want to do this I will teach you, but only on my terms.”
Willow nodded, still eager, but also thoughtful.
“So you faithfully promise to not cast a single spell without my supervision or permission?” He held out his hand, palm towards her.
Willow, after a little hesitation, placed her hand against his. “I faithfully promise.” To her surprise, and by their astonished gasps, Xander’s and Buffy’s as well a tiny trickle of white energy flowed around the joined hands, circling their fingers one by one until it faded away.
“W-what was that?” Willow’s eyes were very wide and her face slightly flushed.
“That means you have magic, or the ability to use it at any rate. The light shows the forging of the apprentice bond.”
“Oh. Is that bad?” Willow suddenly looked worried.
“No. It just means I’ll know when you are casting magic. Especially without my permission.” He gave her a stern look. “Which will lead to us having a very firm conversation. If you take my meaning.”
Willow gulped. “Yes sir.”
“Very well, we’ll set up some sort of teaching schedule. And now I believe we were writing letters? And conjugating verbs?”
Buffy nodded. “I suppose. Can we come along when you’re going to look at the house?”
Simon nodded. “I see no problems; I’ll tell the office to arrange sufficient hard hats. Want Dr. Giles to come along? Put his mind at ease?”
Buffy grinned. “Yeah, ok. We’ll tell him tomorrow.”
The teens went back to work, Simon quietly suggesting alternate phrasings and pointing out grammatical errors.
Dinner was a lively affair, Dawn asking excitedly after the ballets Simon had seen, the concerts he’d been to, and the people he knew. Buffy was rather amused at the way in which her little sister demanded a move by move description of some people called Nureyev and Fonteyn dancing Marguerite and Armand. Joyce rather wickedly helped her youngest with the fierce questioning. Simon looked rather put upon near the end.
After dinner Simon and Joyce loaded the dishwasher and did such dishes as should be done by hand and Dawn watched TV while Buffy, Willow and Xander went out to drop Xander off at his home. Dawn observed that her mother’s hair was just a little mussed when the two adults entered the sitting room and gave them a friendly grin. “Nice canoodle?”
Joyce blushed. She wondered if sending one’s nine year old to bed for teasing her mother about kissing in the kitchen could be considered responsible parenting. Simon just smirked, winked at Dawn and said “Yes, very.”
Dawn nodded contentedly and snuggled into her mother as they watched a bit of the early movie. Buffy and Willow reappeared and went upstairs to do some more homework. Dawn went to bed without argument when Joyce told her it was time and got tucked in. Joyce went to say goodnight to her daughter and guest and Willow lay down on the camp bed immediately, with a shy smile on her face. Joyce knelt again, tucked the girl in, again kissing her forehead, and then, looking a question at Buffy got silent permission. If it made Willow happy, Buffy would get tucked in. She was not going to tell that it felt good to be tucked in again, nice and safe.
As Joyce was about to turn of the light Buffy smirked at her from her pillow. “So, are you having a guest in your room?”
Joyce smiled. “No dear. A little too soon. I’ll keep you informed about the matter however. Did you want details?” Buffy groaned, Willow emitted something between a groan and a giggle. Joyce laughed and flicked off the lights. “Good night dears.”
The next morning before class Buffy and Willow went to talk to Giles. The librarian was standing in the office and Miss Calendar, the computer science teacher, was seated at his desk, humming and tapping at the keyboard of Giles’ office computer.
“Oh, really Rupert stop grouching. A computerized database of your books is not going to turn them into slavering beasts. It will make it easier to find them.”
“It will diminish the ability of librarians and borrowers to fathom the depths of the Dewey Decimal system, and hinder the training of their faculties of recollection.”
Miss Calendar rolled her eyes. “We digitized the entire library at MIT when I studied there Rupert. I hardly think our collective intelligence quotient dropped. At least not from that. Booze and skittles yes, digitized libraries, no.”
“I’m sure that all you lovely physicists and mathematicians think it wonderful, but the gentler arts of literature and history are a wholly different thing.” His voice was scathing.
“Why Rupert… Did you just call me lovely?” She lowered her lashes at him coquettishly.
Giles blushed and stammered. “I-I’ll be in the stacks, o-ordering some books.” He stepped out of the office, leaving the two teens looking at the grinning computer science teacher in bemusement.
“Good morning Willow, Buffy.”
“Good morning Miss Calendar. Ummm…”
“Just teasing Mr. Giles. He can be so stuffy. As if his books will be hurt by a digital database…” She rolled her eyes. “Would you mind closing the door so I can work in peace? Mr. Giles muttering imprecations at me for perceived insults to the ‘gentler arts’ is not conducive to a good work environment.”
Buffy grinned and closed the door, then walking to the muttering librarian, hiding deep within the stacks. “Really Giles. Flirting so early in the morning?”
Giles flushed. “I was NOT flirting. It was a derogatory remark which Miss Calendar chose to give an entirely different meaning.”
“Why Giles… Derogating so early in the morning?” Willow giggled at Buffy’s dead pan delivery and the watcher gave both of them a glare.
“Is there a reason you are here? Other than teasing me?”
“Talked to Simon last night. We’re welcome to go visit the Manor with him. He wasn’t aware of the Leylines but wasn’t surprised either. Seems his family buys areas thick with ley lines for reasons of propane magic?”
“Proprietary, perhaps?” Giles stated after a Moments thought and a glance at Willow, who nodded. He was getting used to Buffy speak. He just wasn’t quite sure if she wasn’t doing it to annoy him on purpose.
“Yeah. And he’s going to teach me magic!” Willow nodded enthusiastically.
Giles blinked. “Teach you magic? Can he do that? Is he a witch?”
Buffy shrugged. “He says not, just a lot of knowledge of magic. He’ll teach her the basics and the rules or something.”
“I see. Well I suppose he can teach you the theory…”
“Yeah. I put my hand on his and there was this white light that ran around them and it was all tingly!”
Giles looked a touch worried. “An apprentice bond?” He took off his glasses and wiped them on his handkerchief. “Good lord.”
“Is that bad?” Willow asked anxiously.
“No, no not at all. Or it shouldn’t be. The light was white?”
“All glowy and white. And it tingled.” Willow smiled radiantly.
“Yes, you said. Well it is very traditional. Some of the oldest magic using families in the world use it. That means… well that he is a member of a very old magic using family. He ought to be able to teach you a great deal, even if his power is limited.”
“H-he said magic is very dangerous…I have to learn the rules before I cast spells.” Willow looked just a touch rebellious through her apprehension.
very dangerous and Dr Meier is very wise to insist on the basics first.” Giles relaxed a bit, putting his glasses back on.
“So ummm… In the old magical families… How do teachers punish pupils who disobey them?” Buffy could not resist asking, glancing slyly at her friend.
Giles was looking at the book he was about to classify. “Hmmm? Oh, usually a form of corporeal punishment. The families I know of in Europe usually employ spanking or switching I believe.”
Willow went very red and ‘eeped’, almost running out of the library. Buffy had to lean on the table to prevent her collapse from laughter and Giles looked up, surprised. “Was it something I said?”
Buffy waved her hands in defeat and went to catch her first class.
So the first days of the week passed without singular events. On Tuesday Buffy caught her mother sitting on Simon’s lap on the living room couch while they kissed and had mild teen hysterics. Willow discussed the tasks of a yearbook committee with Joyce. Buffy and Xander soldiered on with French, aided by Simon, Joyce and Willow. Xander ate with them.
On Wednesday Simon took Joyce out for a coffee after dinner. Willow and Buffy sat downstairs and worked on their history assignment, a project on the Founding Fathers.
The doorbell rang and Buffy rose from her homework to open it, glancing at Willow. “Wonder who that is?”
Opening the door revealed a large white van and a uniformed delivery man holding a clipboard. “Good evening miss, is this the Summers residence? Are you Miss Buffy or Miss Dawn Summers?”
“I have a number of packages for Ms. Joyce Summers.” He glanced at his clipboard and smiled. “To be delivered only to the hands of her daughters, Miss Buffy or Miss Dawn Summers.”
“I’m Miss Buffy, I mean Buffy.”
The delivery man smiled. “Excellent, succeeded on the first try. Just a Moment please.” He walked back to the van and retrieved a number of boxes, all white and flat and Buffy realized they were clothing boxes. The delivery man had to make two trips and Buffy signed for each separate package. He smiled at the two wide eyed teens, leaving and driving off quickly.
Buffy and Willow exchanged glances, biting their lips. Finally Buffy could no longer resist and opened the largest box. And envelope was taped to the top of the largest box, addressed to Misses Buffy and Dawn Summers and Miss Willow Rosenberg and Buffy took it off the box. The envelope was of a thick creamy paper with a set of armorial bearings imprinted deep upon it, sealed with red wax which showed an impression of the same arms. Buffy broke the seal, revealing a sheet of paper of the same thick creamy kind. She was unsurprised at seeing Simon’s cursive script. Dear Buffy, Dawn and Willow, I would greatly appreciate your help in getting your mother to accept these tokens of my esteem. I’m certain all of us together can manage to do so? My kindest regards, Simon
He didn’t write love, Buffy noted, but that would have been a bit presumptuous after only a week. She whistled on her fingers and Dawn’s door opened. “Yeah?”
“Dawn! Come down here, we got some planning to do!” Dawn thundered down the stairs in a headlong manner, stopping dead as she saw the huge pile of boxes.
“Cool! They’re here.” She flushed. “Err… I mean, err… what are those?”
Buffy gave her sister a mock severe look. “I wondered how Simon would have gotten Mom’s measurements. So, how do you propose we get Mom to wear it?” She winked at Willow, not expecting an answer from her sister.
Dawn gave a slow nod. “Well we can leave the boxes here and hope Mom’s curiosity will get her to open them and that she will accept the gift. Or…” She gave her sister a sly glance. “We get out the dummy and display everything to its full effect.”
Buffy gave her little sister a surprised look. “Well now, that is an interesting proposal. Let’s see what we’ve got and…”
She was interrupted as the door opened and her mother walked in from the kitchen. Joyce took in the tableau and sighed in exasperation. “That man!”
Buffy giggled. “Oh yes, indeed.”
Joyce glared at both her daughters. “Which one of you?”
Buffy took a step forward, hoping to shield her sister from maternal ire. “I cannot tell a lie.”
“Yes you can, just not very well.” Joyce said dryly. Buffy blushed.
Joyce looked meaningfully at her youngest who started twisting her foot. “I was wondering what the distraction was for…”
This time Dawn blushed. “Oh…” She hadn’t realized her mother had heard that.
Willow tried to distract the maternal disapproval from both girls. “There’s a note with them…”
Joyce sighed. “Of course there is. Probably Simon begging me to accept this.” She strode to the box and extracted the note from the envelope, reading it. She blinked twice. Reread the note. Blinked again. “Oh.”
“Mom?” Buffy looked anxious. “What did he write?”
“It’s not from Simon.”
“What? You have two guys who send you expensive dresses?” Buffy looked amazed.
“No, it’s from Hubert de Givenchy.”
Buffy’s mouth fell open. “The
Hubert de Givenchy?”
“Yes.” She handed the note to Buffy and walked over to the largest box, looking rather dreamy to the girls’ eyes, folding away the tissue paper to reveal a marvelous sea green dress that shimmered in the lamplight.
The three girls gathered to read the note, written in an uphill spidery continental script. ‘My dear Ms. Summers, Quite some time ago I promised a young man I would design for the lady love of his life a set of dresses to surpass all others. This is the first of that set. No matter what Simon says, I will insist on a personal fitting for the wedding gown. With kindest (and most curious) regard Hubert de Givenchy.’
“Wow.” Willow and Buffy chorused as Joyce very slowly removed the magnificent creation from the box.
Cut tight to the upper body and flowing in the skirts with belled sleeves on the upper arms and small touches of chiffon it was a dress of satin and silk and Buffy could see her mother loved it. Her eyes seemed to take on the colour of the dress. She held it against herself and sighed.
“I can’t accept it.”
To Buffy’s surprise it was Dawn who stepped forward. “Why not?”
“Dawn, its far too expensive.” Joyce ran a hand over the smooth satin as she spoke.
“Well, if I have to be a chaperone, he has to maintain the family honor!” Dawn pointed out.
Joyce felt her mouth quirk. “Is that how he sold you on this?”
Dawn rolled her eyes. “Of course not. Simon’s a gentleman! Gentleman always give ladies they woo dresses! It’s in all of those old movies we watch.”
Buffy had to stifle her laughter as she looked at her mother’s amazed face. “Well Mom, I think you should see everything before you send it back.”
Joyce sighed. She carefully folded the dress back into the box and started opening the others. A pair of handmade leather soled, low heeled satin pumps. Silk stockings, garter, garter belt and a set of underwear she hastily and blushingly put the tissue paper back onto. A light lady’s cloak, a small hat, with a chiffon veil, with two matching steel hatpins with emerald heads.
A separate box held a felt and satin dressing gown of pure deep burgundy red with matching slippers and the last box a very sheer white silk and linen nightgown, set with lace and chiffon that she’d closed the lid on minute she realized what it was. Buffy and Willow had caught a glimpse of that, even if they had missed the underwear, and grinned.
A higher cardboard box held a wooden case with several bottles of perfume of different brands: Chanel Nrs 5 and 22, 1714 Eau de Cologne, Royal English leather, Ambre antique, English fern, Mitsouko, Edwardian Bouquet, and something in a bottle with a handwritten label: Joyce, by Floris. She gently removed the stopper and a delicate scent of almonds and vanilla struck her senses. She put the bottle down, restoppering it. A small envelope lay on the bottom of the box that had held the perfume chest and she opened it. Joyce my love, I know you are angry with me for sending you this. I know you will point out that this totally breaks your ‘nothing too expensive rule’. However needs must and in this case that means that I will not be seen with the woman of my dreams in a place as public as a ballet and not have everyone there to be certain of my intentions. I think I made them clear to you when you found the necklace and the rings, not that you did not know what they meant the minute you saw them. Joyce, beloved, I am fourteen years older than you and if you think I may seem hasty it is because I fear every day I live without you, without your love, without the laughter and teasing of you and your daughters. I must admit I never thought I’d fall for three women at the same time. I seem to have done so with very little trouble and with very great speed. I hope you will forgive me for the other two. I think you may eventually. A very wise woman once wrote that it is far harder to receive than to give, that gratitude is a very bad basis for a relationship. I fear that in a purely material sense I will always be able to give you more than you can give me. And that you think you should feel grateful for it. And yet what you give me is a chance to redeem my life, reclaim it from the ashes that it has lain in for so long. There is no price that I, or anyone else for that matter, can put on that. I ask you not to do so, or think of it in that way either. Reading back what I just wrote it must seem that this, what we have, what we might have, is doomed from the beginning. But I know, and I think you know, that we are not doomed, not cursed, that together we can be happy and make others happy. Joyce I know this seems a big step, but I also know you knew what I intended that first night when I asked you if I might maybe one day date you, I knew for certain the day we spent in the park with Dawn. I am not a man who gives his heart easily, yet I gave it to you on that very first day when you let me help your daughters and drive your infernally modern car. Joyce, I love you. Please be the greater person and accept my gifts? Love, Simon
Joyce took two deep shuddering breaths, trying to hold back her tears. She looked at the three girls who were standing, anxiously gazing at her. She beamed a huge smile at them. “Well, I think I’ll need some help getting these boxes upstairs, and hanging this dress before it creases.”
The next morning Simon was greeted by Joyce sitting on the back porch swing. “Hubert de Givenchy?” She said it in a toneless voice, arms crossed on her chest as she gave him a dry look.
Simon had the grace to look embarrassed. “He promised me, a long time ago. And he would have been terribly disappointed to find out I had not at least approached him.”
“Simon, what bit about the rather simple sentence ‘nothing too expensive’ fails to connect in your mind?” Joyce asked acerbically
Simon gave her an apologetic shrug. “Well too expensive… I do have a considerable fortune and a very large income. So what is too expensive? And for whom? I could have had some dresses of my mother’s brought over, or my grandmother’s, but they might be considered a bit old fashioned. And then of course there is the fact I do not think even the most expensive dress in the world would be too expensive for you. Too gaudy, probably ugly, but too expensive, never.”
She sighed. “I will not wear the dress, unless…” She gave him a wicked grin.
Simon looked hopeful and nervous at the same time. “Unless?”
“I beg your pardon?”
“Denim, Simon, I want to see you wearing some denim. Nice tight jeans. You want me to wear a princess dress for you, you had better put on some jeans.”
Simon looked at her, mouth open, eyes wide. “Joyce…umm, well, if you want me to. But I haven’t worn them since, well my father died.”
Joyce rolled her eyes. “And I bet you only did that to annoy him. Weren’t they comfortable?”
Simon smiled “I suppose so. I assume Miller still has mine somewhere, but I think the model may be slightly out of fashion.”
“When did your father die?”
“Definitely out of fashion. We’ll go shopping. You get to pay. Consider it my vengeance for the underwear and the nightgown.”
“Underwear? Nightgown?” Simon seemed honestly confused.
“With the dress. Buffy and Willow have been smirking since yesterday.”
His face lit up and he opened his mouth to ask a question. Joyce forestalled him by placing her fingers on his mouth. “You’ll just have to be patient and a good boy if you ever want to see me in them…” She grinned wickedly.
She felt his tongue lick at her fingers and his eyes were filled with humour and rather more lust than she had felt directed at her in years. She removed her fingers, noting they trembled slightly and that she felt rather warm. Damn the man! “We’ll go shopping during lunch. I expect full cooperation.”
He bowed. “Yes ma’am. My credit card and I will be at your service.”
She sniffed. “They’d better be.” She led him into the kitchen and breakfast.
Joyce sat outside the changing room and smiled. Simon had been sent in, with some trepidation and four pairs of jeans, to try them on one by one. She had also seen a couple t-shirts and sweaters she thought would look good on him. His credit card would get a work out. There was jangling a noise as Simon pushed the curtain aside; he stepped into the store proper in dress shirt, jeans and shoes. The jeans fit him like a second skin. He walked gingerly towards her.
He glared at her, but complied. A female store clerk gave him an appreciative look and winked at Joyce who solemnly nodded.
“We’ll get a couple like these and then some other colours. The model suits you.”
“They’re a bit tight.”
“At least they’re not mostly translucent.” He was about to make a remark when his face became thoughtful and then seemed to go into rapture as he realized what she was referring to.
Joyce could feel the heat rising up her face. “There’s a few t-shirts over there you might want to try.” She said hastily. He sighed, but dutifully picked a few of them up.
“Can’t I at least wear the one with ‘Worship me’ on it?”
Joyce smiled. “Maybe later. I’ve seen a few sweaters too.”
Simon gave her a smile. “Yes, dear. I do own sweaters you know. I live in New York.”
The store clerk stifled a laugh and decided to leave the two to their shopping.