Homes and families
Author’s Note: Thanks very much to my Beta, Letomo. The following ways of notation may be found in this story. This is excluding whatever I need to represent chatting, texting and stuff like that. Speech:
“Who’s on first.” Thought:
*What’s on second.
#I-don’t-know’s on third.
# craziestkk, thanks for recommending me, All my other recommenders, know that I appreciate every one of you, and for sticking with me. And the same goes for my reviewers. Thank you all. Please keep reviewing. Tell me what you like and dislike. Also, since I need to write at least one chapter of Dum Spiro, Spero and one story about the SGC and several with Highlander, there will be a temporary hiatus for LS while I do that. Sorry about that. Chapter 88 Homes and families
Moira Mackey was quite used to strange passengers. But the pair currently travelling First class to LA was quite unusual even in her experience.
They both wore bespoke clothing and spoke in the accents of upper class, well educated men. They both wielded the politeness of the upper class, mixed with the unconscious kindly condescension that Moira considered part and parcel of the whole upper class thing as well.
But the younger of the two wore his clothes as if he found them irksome, and his long blond hair clashed with his persona as a successful businessman. But the most amazing thing was the conversation Moira had heard between them. The older man was explaining Newton's law of Gravity and the basic steps of aerodynamics.
And now they were playing Backgammon on an old travel set that the younger man had produced. Moira could see the other First Class passengers look at the two, but the men ignored them, concentrating on the click of the counters and the roll of the ivory dice. *You really see all sorts in the business,*
Moira mused as she brought the men a glass of milk and one of tomato juice.
Dignity had been bred into the bones of the Bedells, no matter what name they used. The Malfoys were famed for their cool demeanour, even under the greatest pressure. A tale was told of a Malfoy during the Dragonblood war who had walked unconcerned through a field filled by barrage upon barrage of curses to pick a flower for his wife's herbology collection. (The Greenhouses at Bedell Manor were among the finest in the world.)
To have heard one whooping, no less than twice, was therefore amazing. Oh, they had been soft, almost inaudible, and yes, dignified whoops, but combined with the slight flushes of excitement on the face of his new acquaintance, and the sparkle in his eyes Quentin Travers had identified them as such. *I shall advise his brother to introduce him to Rollercoasters, I think,*
Quentin smiled slightly. *A pity I won't get to see it.
They had rented a car, and a driver, as Quentin wasn't up to driving, certainly not in a strange country, in a strange car, and on the wrong side of the road. It was irksome to be hindered by not being able to talk freely, but the young man wasn't aware of the reality of things.
Quentin had wanted to take young St. Claire de Combercy, but his executive assistant was needed to help with the establishment up of the new Academy. Quentin had to call in a huge number of favours to cover up the cover up and to fill in the vacancies caused by the deaths of so many promising young people. Not all of them would have become field Watchers. But they would've researched, no matter how haphazardly, and added to the general knowledge and understanding of the Council.
They also would've had children themselves, taught and instructed them about what was real and what was not. Their loss was not just a blow to the Council. On a personal level, it was a disaster. There wasn't an Old Council Family that hadn't lost at least one member, one child, or for the teachers and staff, a parent.
Ursus the Frank had known what he'd done when he attacked the Academy. It was a devastating, morale-killing blow, an attack on everything that the Council had held most dear. Their families and the knowledge gathered over so many centuries. It would take a generation, if not more, before the damage would be restored. If not longer, if it ever could be. *And all because of pride and inflexibility,*
Quentin thought bitterly.
Lucius was looking out of the window at the huge city that passed them by. “So many people,” he whispered. “So much power...” he waved his walking stick and suddenly the noise of the car engine seemed to take on a different tone.
Quentin gave him a look.
Lucius smirked. “A little trick a friend of mine taught me. We can talk without being overheard. You said that the Mug- Normals use those airplanes in war?”
Quentin nodded. “Yes. Quite effectively.”
“Could they affect Unplottable locations?”
Quentin pursed his lips. “Probably. I'm not sure how advanced technology interacts with magic like that. I do know that development of technology that can find a place without the intervention of man is progressing yearly. And, they could probably carpet-bomb any area they suspect of holding a sizeable wizarding population. They won't bomb London to get at Diagon Alley. But they will find different means. Even the strongest wards will buckle under the weight of metal and the power of the explosions they will be able to aim at them.”
Lucius shivered. “We must prevent that, at all cost. There must never be a war between us. That madman Riddle must be stopped!” he spat.
“Indeed. I thought he was?” Quentin asked, suddenly quite worried.
Lucius was silent, as if he realised that he said too much. Then he sighed. “Have you ever heard of something called a Horcrux?”
To his surprise Travers didn't say he didn't, nor did he react in the way others had. He merely pursed his lips. “Well? Have you?”
“Yes, I have. I don't know much. I do know that its a very Dark magic; some form of fracturing the soul, isn't it?” Quentin tapped his fingers on the head of his cane. “I hate to sound calculating, but you just gave me an important piece of information in my negotiations.”
“Negotiations?” Lucius asked. “You did say you had to apologize. May I ask what your negotiations are about?”
“I need to ask a young girl to risk her life to retrieve a cache, a depository of ancient knowledge. And ask her parents to give their support, after I first tried the wrong way to go about it,” Quentin shrugged. “I made my own job a lot more difficult by thinking like my predecessor.
“Buffy Summers,” Lucius nodded. “I know her. Are you sure this cache may hold information about Horcruxes?”
“I think it likely. Very likely even, considering the nature of the Depository,” Quentin sighed. “I don't know for certain. I know of one thing that's there for certain. But that is unlikely to sway the Slayer. I hope that the bigger picture will convince her.”
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Melody Kendall was wiping the sweat from her brow while raking the grass. She glared at the house behind her and then grudgingly resumed her work. Felicity was in the backyard, doing her own part of the chores that were now part of their existence. Their parents had copied the notion that they had to do their chores and their homework in exchange for pocket money, so that they'd learn the value of money. Their parents had learned long ago that any type of work wouldn't be done if the Twins were together, so they habitually split them up.
The car that pulled up in front of the house was large, but not overly so, expensive, but not extremely, and it bore the emblem of an upscale rental company. The front door opened, and a man got out, opened the rear door and then the trunk, getting out two pieces of very expensive looking leather luggage.
From the rear emerged two men, both with canes, though the younger certainly didn't need it.
He shook hands with the older one, obviously thanking him, and then turned round fully.
During all of this Melody had been looking on, wide-eyed, open mouthed and pale.
“Looks like you've got an admirer, Lucius,” Quentin remarked.
Lucius grimaced. “I hope not, at least...” he took a step towards the girl. “Have I the honour of addressing Miss Felicity or Melody Kendall?”
“Errr? Yes, yes. I mean, I'm Melody. A-are you my Uncle Lucius? Holy shit, you really look like Dad!”
Lucius coughed, hiding a laugh. “Quite. I'm sure your mother would not approve of your language. And yes, I'm your Uncle Lucius. I did say I would be by this weekend.”
“Yeah, but Fliss said you'd pop in, like Dad's House Elf, Dobby. Is he alright?” Melody asked anxiously.
“Quite fine, almost completely recovered. He asked me to assure you that he did not mean to scare you and is very sorry,” Lucius assured her. *Even if he told me by way of Dumbledore, but still.*
Quentin chuckled. “Indeed. Well, I'll be off then. Good bye, Mr. Bedell. And good luck.”
Lucius shook his hand. “Good bye, Mr. Travers. I hope to see you again.”
Quentin got into the car and Lucius gave a wave as it passed out of sight. “Well. is it possible to meet your father? Or your mother? Or will we do that out here on the lawn.
Melody dropped her rake, then ran into the house. “MOOO-OOOM!!!!”
Lucius waited by his luggage until the door opened again. A tall, blonde woman with blue eyes and strong cheekbones appeared.
Lucius smiled to himself. *Well, we always had a similar taste in women. She seems familiar somehow...*
“Mrs. Elizabeth Kendall?”
“That would be me. And you would be Lucius Mal- Bedell?” Eliza asked. “Call me Eliza. And please...” she gestured at the house.
Lucius frowned at the perceived rudeness, then his face cleared. “Ah, of course. Hellmouth. Vampires would be both feral and common here.”
“Too feral and too common. But we don't talk about them much, it upsets Harmony and the Twins want to go out and hunt them,” Eliza shuddered. “A horrible thought.”
Lucius sighed and picked up his luggage, following her inside.
“Different from home?” Eliza asked the suddenly drawn looking wizard.
“Yes. But you will forgive me if I ask where Marcus is?” Lucius looked around as if expecting his brother to jump out at him.
“At the clinic. A girl was in an 'accident with wild dogs' and he's doing emergency reconstructive surgery on her throat and lower face,” Eliza's face and voice were bleak.
Lucius' eyes narrowed. “Is there any reason why I couldn’t go out and fry some vampires? I've got a few good spells and I really could use some practice. We're not allowed to hunt them in Britain, they're classified as 'beings'.”
“No reason what so ever. Except you might get hurt and Marcus would never forgive himself. And I'd imagine that N-Narcissa would be upset as well,” Eliza smiled even as she stumbled slightly over the unfamiliar name.
“Very. It might be wiser to get killed, rather than hurt,” Lucius smiled as he saw the two blonde heads, completely identical as far as he could see, except for the colour of their hair-bands and the different smudges on their faces. An older girl, who looked so much like his mother it was uncanny stood beside a girl with dark hair, the girl his brother had taken in. Cordelia, a good wizarding name that. There was something about her that made Lucius think she had magic, like Dobby suspected.
“Can you show us some magic?” Felicity blurted out.
“Felicity!” Eliza hissed.
Lucius smiled. “Well... Your Father wanted to see me do magic the first day I came home from Hogwarts. Do you want to see some of the things I showed him?”
Melody and Felicity nodded vigorously. Lucius chuckled and carefully unscrewed the handle of his cane. He let his wand drop out, placed the cane on the side table and gestured grandly at his luggage. “Wingardium Leviosa!”
The luggage started floating up the stairs. “Anyone here want to show me my room?”
Lucius was enjoying himself. He had a little girl on either side, hanging onto his every word and action and their older sister was looking at him with wide, excited eyes, only the dark haired girl hung back, scowling.
Eliza came in with another plate of cookies. They might not be House Elf made, but they were wonderful, Lucius had to admit. “Marc called. He'll be here soon, the operation was a success.”
“Good. I'd like not to be the only one to graduate in our class,” Cordelia muttered.
Harmony elbowed her softly and Cordelia looked immediately contrite as she cast a glance at where the twins were sitting.
Lucius smiled urbanely. “Excellent! Now anyone want to see or hear more?” *This is actually rather enjoyable. I should volunteer to visit some Mug- Normal born children from next year's Hogwarts Class. To be able to show magic to those who have never seen it before...*
“Do you have any wizarding games?” Harmony asked. “Dad told us about his chessmen...”
“Ah, yes. His chessmen,” Lucius looked at the girls. “No. Nor will you see them for the foreseeable future,” his voice was decisive.
“Why not? A-aren't we allowed to visit?” Harmony asked suddenly scared and upset.
“Of course you are, my dear,” Lucius soothed. “But they came from our grandfather, who got them from his father. And along the way they picked up a vocabulary that isn't fit for a young lady. Or gentleman. Or even a soldier.”
Cordelia giggled. “Da- Uncle Marcus? Swear? All he says is shoot and sugar!”
“Not when I first met him,” Eliza smiled at Cordelia and then sat down, giving her and Harmony a hug each. “It was strange and weird and I completely agree utterly unsuitable for young ladies.”
“I brought a few photo albums,” Lucius offered. “But I prefer to wait for your father.”
“To maximize his embarrassment,” Cordelia smirked.
“That, my dear, is what older siblings are for,” Lucius replied urbanely.
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Quentin Travers thanked the driver and asked him to wait a few minutes as he wasn't sure where he would be going, or even if he'd get inside. He stood looking at the house before him. It looked like a certain type of British farmhouse, or some of the older manors. Built for smaller families and different times, the owners had been forced to add on, bit by bit, in different styles and materials until a hodgepodge of buildings, annexes, add-ons and outbuildings made up the family home. Wealthier or more status conscious families had torn these conglomerations down and built new, grand houses in their place.
The poorer families then tried to emulate the richer ones and had tried to make the buildings appear more uniform by plaster and cladding of stone. This was a building like that, grown up around an expanding family rather than bought for one. Even if in this case the growth was a matter of months rather than centuries or decades.
Quentin limped up the path and then the porch steps. The journey had been long and tiring and his leg and most other parts of his body hurt. He was unlikely to ever fully recover from the torture inflicted by his former colleagues. And he wasn't uninjured before. He'd gotten quite a few knocks while he was Very's Watcher. He took a deep breath and knocked on the door, then rang the bell for good measure..
After about half a minute the door was torn open by a laughing blonde, about ten or eleven, his own youngest daughters' age.
“Good afternoon Miss. My name is Quentin Travers. If at all possible, I'd like to talk to Miss Buffy Summers and her parents?”
The little blonde's eyes narrowed. She looked him up and down as if measuring his threat level, nodded grudgingly and stepped aside.
Quentin nodded and went in. The girl retreated through a door and came back with a small blonde, who looked to be five or six years older, with wary green eyes. They were followed by a blonde woman who in her wariness showed an even greater than usual resemblance to her daughter, and a tall dark haired man.
“Mr. Travers. You wanted to see Buffy?” the woman spoke first. “My name is Joyce Summers. This is my fiancé, Simon Meier. Kit? Kitchen or bedroom or entertainment room, now.”
“But Mama! I want to see you kick his butt to New Zealand!” Kit tried.
Joyce lifted an eyebrow and Kit scurried into the kitchen.
Quentin cleared his throat and addressed Joyce. “Ms. Summers, I would like to apologize for any pain I caused you or your family by my thoughtless actions. I should have approached you directly, not tried to deal with you through Rupert as an intermediary. It was unfair to Miss Calendar, unfair to him, put unnecessary pressure on their relationship and was impolite.”
“Impolite? Not impolitic?” Simon asked blandly.
“That too, but my mother raised me better than that,” Quentin offered.
“Your apology is conditionally accepted,” Joyce finally said. “On my behalf. You may have some grovelling to do with regards to my daughters.”
“Does your grovelling involve chocolate?” Buffy asked brightly.
Quentin laughed. “It very well may, I came prepared, I have four daughters. May I sit?”
With a sigh the Watcher Augustus sat down. “Not as young as I used to be. Miss Summers, have you had a chance to look at the materials I provided?”
“Yeah. And I've got some questions too!” Buffy bounded up the stairs and came back within a minute carrying a thick brown folder with dozens of bookmarks sticking out of it, each with a carefully written word or phrase on them.
Joyce lifted an eyebrow. Buffy crossed her arms defensively. “Yeah okay, Wil and Row helped.”
“I thought so,” Joyce looked at Travers, who seemed completely impassive. “Not talking about secrecy and the fact that the Slayer's family should be kept out of such things?”
“In this case that would be like closing so many barn doors it would be utterly futile. And personally I've never been in favour of that policy,” Travers admitted calmly. “My own Slayer was supported by her family, as best they could. Her uncle blessed the water she used. Her brothers whittled stakes, her mother tended her wounds. I was so sure she would live longer than any Slayer in memory...”
“What happened?” Buffy asked.
“There was a demon, a species called Tranvor, they feed on children. But it wakens only rarely, once every fifty years. Then it needs to eat ten children, and a further number equal to its eggs if it’s female. They are rare and poisonous. Very wanted to fight it, I told her we didn't have an antidote, that nobody even knew if one existed...” Travers' voice was heavy.
Buffy looked thoughtful, then drew a much scribbled in notepad from the file and turned to an empty page. “Did she get it?”
Travers looked quietly proud. Yes.”
“How many kids died?” Buffy queried as she started taking notes.
“Three,” Travers replied immediately. “We only knew about two at the time.”
“Was it male or female?” Buffy continued.
“Female. Pregnant, twelve eggs,” Quentin answered.
“So she saved nineteen kids?” Buffy tapped her pen on the pad. “She got poisoned, didn't she? She died?”
“Yes,” Travers' voice almost broke.
“And the antidote to this poison is inside this depository, right?” Buffy held up the folder.
Quentin smiled ruefully. “Am I that obvious?”
Buffy snorted. “That ain't a bad thing. 'Cause, you know? This doesn't read like the work of a general who wants to conquer another fifty yards of No-man's land. Which is what I was expecting when I got it, from what Papa had told me.”
“It should. That is the sort of thing the Council hammered upon,” Travers answered. “Maybe that's the reason they never accepted my proposal to go in.”
“Well, they're all dead. Okay... I have to say, it sounds like a challenge,” Buffy chewed her pen until Joyce reached over and took it out from between her teeth.
Buffy pouted. “Mo-om! Trying to be adult here. You're ruining my cool!”
“Apparently being adult is terribly hard on pens,” Joyce replied.
Travers smiled. “Both my elder girls are terrible pencil chewers. And training to be witches.”
“Really? Wil and Row might want to meet them,” Buffy frowned. “Look, Mr. Travers. I'd like to do this. Not just to get the remains of Ruth Ashby and whoever else might be there. Not just for what's in there for your Watchers. But for what it can mean for f-future Slayers.”
Joyce leaned in and hugged Buffy briefly. The girl took a deep breath. “But see, that's the problem. There's this nasty old vamp here, and he wants to open the Hellmouth and use it to rule the world. And he's got help from this asshat demon-”
“Shaszat, Buffy,” Joyce corrected mildly.
“A shaszat? Here? Working with the Master?” Quentin scowled. “Why wasn't I informed?”
“Because you're a Watcher,” Buffy explained to him with considerable condescension. “And before you ask, Papa showed me the file on Faith Lehane, and he told me about Nikki Wood. It doesn't inspire confidence. And things may have changed, but hey, not seen much evidence of that.”
Travers nodded. “I understand. I do offer the resources of the Council. It is your choice if you want to accept them or not.”
“I'll think about it,” Buffy replied, “I wouldn't say no to any additional source of information on the subject. But you'll forgive me if I'd rather not have one of you at my back.”
“It may be necessary. I'm sure you read that I think that a pair with a strong Slayer-Watcher bond is needed to get past some of the mystical defences,” Travers warned.
“I read it. I'm not sure Giles and me qualify,” Buffy told him briskly.
“More than any Slayer and Watcher I've known since Nikki and Bernard. It might get better if you give it a chance,” Travers pointed out.
“He tried to use my big sister to get at me. And she's got enough troubles of her own,” Buffy growled. “I'd have hammered his balls on an anvil and sent his mother the resulting paste if I'd had my way!”
“Buffy!” Joyce said reprovingly. “Really. Lady Lillith is a fine woman who doesn't deserve to be talked about like that. You should put it in a jar and hand it back to him.”
Simon smiled coldly at Travers. “As you can see, Mr. Giles has been very lucky that Jenny forgave him. I assure you that if she'd been permanently hurt, you would have been looking for a replacement for him, as he would have been travelling back to England on the next available flight, or never have left the country in the first place.”
“Understood. I do have a box of excellent chocolates for Miss Calendar. You said sister? So you've chosen to adopt her?” Travers asked Joyce.
“Nothing so formal as that. She feels rather too old for it, though she does seem to find the notion of having a loving family attractive,” Joyce smiled. “She's adopting the mindset at least.”
Travers nodded. “I understand. Well, thank you for listening to me. If you have any questions, please ask them. I shall be staying outside the Sunnydale city limits. It seems safer than staying in a hotel here. I shall contact Mr. Giles with the details, and you can ask him for them should you need them.”
“Probably wise,” Buffy agreed. “Even the best hotels aren't safe,” she frowned. “I was wondering... Would you tell me about your Slayer?”
Travers froze. Then he sighed. “You've got a right. Yes. Yes I will. I hope you'll understand I may find it difficult at times?”
Buffy nodded. “Yeah, I'll understand.”
Travers reached into his inside pocket and took out his wallet and removed a small envelope and from that a photo. It showed a young girl, auburn haired and freckled, with a wide smile, holding a quarterstaff, standing over a prone figure on the floor. “Her name was Veronica Mary Martha Kellogg,” Travers smiled a sad smile. “She was always laughing even after she was Called...”
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Marcus Kendall stood outside his home, wondering what to do, wondering what he would encounter inside. If his brother really was willing to accept his daughters, his wife, himself, as he had seemed to do on the phone.
The door opened. A tall, blond form stood in the doorway. “Are you going to stand out there and mope all evening? Eliza has been cooking up a storm and Melody and Felicity want to see the pictures I brought,” a dry, cool voice called out.
“Lucius?” Marcus whispered. “Is that really you?”
Lucius stepped down to his brother. Marcus was an inch or so taller than his brother, slightly broader in the shoulders and his hair was short. Lucius smiled. “No, I'm our father with Polyjuice. Who else would it be, you flobberworm?” He grabbed Marcus by the shoulders and looked up at him. “Let me look at you, little brother. I see you've lost your baby fat?”
“And at you! Are those grey hairs?” Marcus countered. “And lots of wrinkles. My, such a lot of wrinkles. You look like a roadmap of Diagon Alley. And have you shrunk?”
Lucius raised an eyebrow. “You might have grown. Especially around the middle. A lot.”
“Are the two of you quite done?” Eliza asked with a sigh from the doorway where her daughters were standing as well. Fliss and Mel were giggling and Harmony was looking confused.
Marcus smiled ruefully. Then he drew Lucius into a hug.
Lucius hesitated for a few seconds and then hugged him back, whispering. “I'm sorry, Marc. Force of habit.”
“He trained us well,” Marcus whispered back. “I'm sorry, Luce.”
“Wow. They look incredibly alike,” Harmony said in what she obviously thought was a whisper. “Even more when you see them together.”
“Oh, we were even more alike when we were children,” Lucius smirked. “And now that your father is here, I have some photos to show you...”
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Poppy Pomfrey was a wise and gentle woman. She combined a motherly heart with a great deal of common sense. That common sense told her that if she performed more than a dozen Revelio Familias spells on a single day, she would be exhausted for a week. And there were over a hundred children needing to be identified.
Her motherly heart told her another thing, namely that there were over a hundred children who needed their families, to be loved and cherished, as soon as possible. A combination of the two, motherly heart and common sense, told her that there was a considerable number of young Healers and Mediwitches and wizards who would jump at a chance to earn even a fraction of the money she was being offered,
Travel to the Colonies was being arranged for her, as were non-magical identity papers, and documentation that would allow her to see the children and take some blood. (The spell worked best with fresh blood) But she knew that those papers might cover a multitude of sins as it were. She had talked to both Drs. Granger, who had told her about amazing Muggle advances in science. They could determine a great many things about a child from something called its 'genes'. And they could freeze blood, and thaw it, so that it remained fresh for a very long time.
Poppy had taken some of Miss Granger's blood and performed the spell. And then she had arranged for some of it to be frozen, and would wait a while, a week or maybe a fortnight, and then thaw it out and use some to cast the spell, to see if it would work on thawed blood. That would make life a lot easier on all involved. The tests could be done in the UK, and presented as the outcome of 'experimental research', as Lord Vicari had suggested. She started making a list of the healers who could use a little extra money in these hard times.
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Rupert Giles was laboriously translating a text on Slayer dreams compiled in exceedingly rustic Latin in the late ninth century in Moscow. The author, Boris Rurikov, had been a Watcher of noble birth who had travelled Europe and the rest of the then known world, attempting to speak with Slayers about their Dreams. Regrettably in most cases by the time he arrived the Slayer would be dead already. Often the Watcher was dead as well, and sometimes the girl's whole family. Watchers and families apparently had been rather more involved back, often to the latter's considerable detriment. So Rurikov had based his work mostly on hearsay and third and fourth hand accounts.
The chances of mistakes were considerable. But it was one of the most quoted and used books on Slayer Dreams in Watcher libraries, due to its age and the standing of its noble author as a close relation to the Grand Princes of Novgorod.
“No wonder Simon considers us idiots,” Giles admitted to himself in a rueful mutter.
“Oh? And why is that?” Angel asked from the stacks.
Giles' shoulders tensed. He spoke without turning around. “I would really like it if you stopped creeping up on me like that.”
“This is a public place, Giles. Any vampire can come in. You might set some alarms. Or at least work at home, or at Hooghwater,” Angel pointed out. “You're just a walking invitation to have your blood drained here.”
“Thank you for the warning,” Giles answered dryly, still not looking up from his work. “Was there anything you wanted, besides scaring me out of my skin?”
“I found this. An older copy of the Pergamum Codex. I can't read the language myself, not even the script. But I think its cuneiform, copied onto parchment at a later time,” Angel placed a huge tome on the table before Giles. “There's what I think is an introduction in a different script, but I can't read that either.”
Giles pursed his lips and opened the old book. There was what looked like an introduction written in Hieratic and then the main body of the text was indeed in a form of cuneiform, he thought it was Akkadian, laboriously and hopefully correctly, copied by hand from the original clay tablets.
“Hmmmm... These words were spoken by my lady Cassandra, Seer and Prophetess. Hear them and be warned and assured of things to come,” he gently pushed aside the Rurikov and grabbed a new pad and started to write.
“So you can read it?” Angel asked, somewhat surprised.
“The introduction is rather beautifully written Court Hieratic. So that should be easy. But the main text? Akkadian was the Latin of the Middle East and died out centuries before the rise of Athens. If the Akkadian is the same quality as the Hieratic, it should be textbook perfect. It will take time, but I do have references,” Giles assured him.
“Oh, good. Maybe now that we've got a text closer to the original they will take it seriously,” Angel scowled. “Buffy should be in the park soon. I'll go and meet her for her training.”
“Yes. Do that,” Giles replied absently, his eyes on the text. The vampire left. Giles sighed. The introduction seemed to be a history of the life of Cassandra. *These be the Prophecies of My Lady Cassandra, cruelly treated by one whom she loved and who loved her.*
Giles translated the first lines. Apparently Cassandra was unhappy in love, and interesting though that was he needed the meaning of the Prophecies themselves. He turned to where the Akkadian began. Then he frowned. *I need to tell Buffy about the extra training. And convince her to continue. If she finds out without me telling her, I might as well tear up my Green Card immediately. I shall speak with Angel about it tonight.*
Having decided that, Giles got up to gather his reference books and diaries. He had Akkadian to translate.
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The older children had been sent to bed some time after the excited Twins had been convinced to seek theirs. That left the three adults to talk.
“Did I understand correctly from what Cordelia said that it was one of her classmates who was attacked?” Lucius frowned.
“Yes. I don't think she and Harmony know the girl particularly well, but the thought is still upsetting,” Marcus explained.
“I quite understand that. What I don't understand is why the authorities don't deal with them,” Lucius drew his wand. “A few spells, done.”
“If you can prepare, don't let them get too close and if there aren't too many. Sunnydale is a Hellmouth. Many vampires here will attack until death rather than flee. These are not the type who visit the salons in London,” Marcus shook his head. “And Wizards and witches avoid Hellmouths like the plague, as you know very well. That leaves it for the Mugg- Normal authorities,” Marcus smiled at Eliza at his slip, “to deal with and they seem rather out of their depth.”
“Like Dragonpox,” Lucius smirked. “A lesson our father gladly learned too late.”
The brothers clinked glasses.
“Have any of your children shown signs of magic?” Lucius asked.
“No. And I don't care,” Marcus declared defiantly.
“We'll need to test them,” Lucius mused. “Lady Willow showed no signs either, no accidental magic, nothing. And she certainly has magic to spare.”
Eliza shook her head. “Little timid Willow Rosenberg? I still find it hard to believe.”
“She's Meier now, or Vicari. Heir even, for now at least,” Marcus shook his head as well. “And I agree. I find it almost impossible to believe.”
“Believe it,” Lucius stated, “And let me test the girls for the ability. I don't give a toss if they're magical or not, but we need to know.”
“If you don’t care, why test them?” Marcus asked, annoyed.
Lucius gave him a long look. ”For the supposedly more intelligent of the two of us you really can be rather dumb, Marcus,” he started making his points on his fingers. “What is the nature of a child's magic? What tend to be the first manifestations?” He looked at Marcus expectantly.
Marcus frowned. “To protect the child. Prevent falls, injuries, to right perceived wrongs, summon toys. We saw nothing like that.”
Lucius tapped his second finger. “Where do you live? Where were your children born and raised?”
“Sunnydale, you know that,” Marcus growled.
“What is Sunnydale?” Lucius continued remorselessly.
“The most active Hellmouth in the world,” Marcus crossed his arms. “Are you going somewhere with this?”
Lucius closed his eyes. “Are you being deliberately obtuse? A witch more powerful than Dumbledore and Riddle together had no or barely any signs of magic here. Her grandparents think it was to protect her. That her magic blocked the influence of the Hellmouth as best it could. But there was still a lot of Dark energy within her.”
He heard twin gulps. He smiled. “Get out of the direct influence of the Hellmouth tomorrow and test it?”
“Please,” Marcus whispered.
“Do we have to wait?” Eliza asked anxiously.
“Well I need some sleep. And the eldest have lived here for sixteen years. One night more will not harm them unduly,” Lucius sighed.
“Are you sure?” Eliza pleaded.
Lucius shrugged. “His Lordship is living here with all his children. Once we're sure about yours, we'll ask him what steps we should take. Until then? I suggest we go to sleep, and go and do the test early in the morning.”
“How?” Marcus asked.
“I brought my old wand. It should be enough,” Lucius assured him. “They are family after all.”
The small wood outside Sunnydale rarely got visited. It was dry and unattractive. It was a disputed property and hence neglected. That meant that there was seldom anyone there at all. Which suited the purpose of those currently there admirably.
The two young blondes were scowling at the eldest blonde, who was looking warily at the proffered stick in her uncle's hand.
“Will you just take the wand already, Harm? We want a turn too!” Melody whined.
“It feels wrong,” Harmony put her hands behind her back. “I'm not touching it,” she gave Lucius an apologetic look. “Sorry Uncle Lucius. I know you must be disappointed.”
Lucius frowned. “You said it feels wrong. Can you tell me something that feels... right.”
Harmony bit her lip. “You won't laugh?”
Lucius nodded solemnly “I promise.”
“It feels good when I sing,” Harmony said quietly.
Lucius opened his mouth. Then he closed it, then his eyes. “When you sing?” He finally got out in a strangled voice. “It feels right when you sing
“You don't have to be mean about it!” Harmony whimpered and made to run away but Lucius grabbed her wrist, though gently.
“Harmony? Will you please sing for me?” he asked.
Harmony looked at him. “Why? So you can laugh some more?”
“Harmony, no member of the Bedell family will ever mock another for loving songs and singing,” Lucius told her seriously. “Please?”
Harmony nodded. “Okay. But no laughing!” she warned.
“I may laugh, but not at you. From happiness, yes. to mock you, no,” Lucius assured her with a smile.
Harmony hesitated then looked at Cordelia, who smirked. “Better you than me, Harm.”
Harmony stuck out her tongue, took a deep breath and then started to sing. "Wenn dein Mütterlein" Wenn dein Mütterlein tritt zur Tür herein, und den Kopf ich drehe, ihr entgegen sehe, fällt auf ihr Gesicht erst der Blick mir nicht, sondern auf die Stelle, näher nach der Schwelle, dort, wo würde dein lieb Gesichten sein. Wenn du freudenhelle trätest mit herein, wie sonst, mein Töchterlein. Wenn dein Mütterlein tritt zur Tür herein, mit der Kerze Schimmer, ist es mir, als immer kämst du mit herein, huschtest hinterdrein, als wie sonst ins Zimmer! O du, des Vaters Zelle, ach, zu schnell erlosch'ner Freudenschein!
Harmony’s eyes were closed as she sang, afraid to look at her uncle.
When she stopped singing, Lucius wasn't laughing. He was weeping.
Harmony was sitting on the picnic blanket that was part of the ostensible excuse to be in the wooded 'end of everything', as Cordelia had taken to calling it at every opportunity. “I'm a what?” She repeated for the sixth time.
“A Song Mage. Within you resides the Spirit power of Song, the ancient Spirit Power of the Bedell Line. You're the first Bedell since the rise of Pulchritudia Black to have it,” Lucius repeated the answer at her for the sixth time. He could quite understand her shock. It was one thing to hear of the things that one of your ancestors had done, quite another to hear you had essentially the same power.
“But...” Harmony reached out and drew her uncle closer, whispering in his ear. “Uncle Lucius? I can't be a song mage. I'm not clever like Cynddelw Brydydd Mawr, I'm dumb. Real dumb.”
“And being clever isn't everything. You're sweet and gentle and kind. You've got a kind of wisdom that will grow with age. You may never go to University, Harmony, but there have been many people who weren't clever and yet deeply beloved,” Lucius tucked some of her long blonde hair behind her ear and kissed her forehead. “Now eat some of your mother's lovely sandwiches. I've got to make sure your sisters don’t break my wand.”
“Uncle Lucius? Can I tell my boyfriend?” Harmony asked quietly.
“You have a boyfriend?” Lucius scowled. “Who? What's his name?”
Eliza laughed. “Save it for Lyra, Lucius. Harmony has three sisters and a father to ride poor Owen. He's a good lad. And he knows about vampires. Magic should only be a small step up from that.”
Lucius sighed. “Then tell him. Things like that can destroy a relationship if not shared early enough. But only if you think it's serious. A power like yours? That's a great gift, Harmony. Many people would want to be your friend just to have you use it for them.”
Harmony nodded. “Like, Cordelia used to be really popular, and kids came to her to get her to do things?
“Exactly like that,” Lucius smiled and walked over to where Melody and Felicity were avidly watching the polished dark brown wand in its box.
“So. I think the eldest first?” he managed to say just as the twins simultaneously made a grab for the wand. There was a huge flash and Lucius threw himself down.
Lucius carefully picked a piece of shattered wood from his hair. He looked up from his prone position carefully and sighted where he knew that the old stump that the Twins entwined hands had waved his old wand at was located. Or at least, had been located.
“Quite. I think we can safely say you two have magic aplenty. I think we can also say that the two of you are in considerable trouble,” he said without getting up. Eliza was striding over, face like thunder. The Twins took one look at her, dropped the wand and took to their heels.
From behind Lucius Cordelia's voice came, sarcastic as always. “Well, seems they really like chores. Who knew?”
Lucius rose stiffly, still removing sawdust and splinters and chips.
Cordelia was up with the grace and speed of a trained cheerleader. She walked over to the dropped wand, picked it up, rubbed it on her jeans and then looked blankly at the purple flowers that suddenly grew at her feet. “Huh?”
Lucius smirked and took the wand from her. “Well, Dobby did say all the Misses he met were magical. Looks like he was right.”
BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS Kendall Family Home, night of Saturday the 27th
“So what does it mean?” Eliza asked as she twirled her tea cup in her hand nervously.
Marcus and Lucius exchanged glances. Finally it was Marcus who spoke. “I should have realised years ago,” he sighed and ran a hand through his hair, a move that Lucius on the other side of the table copied perfectly except for the length of his hair.
“She’s powerful. She picked up on the fact that Narcissa and I have lost children, and not only that, she sang a song I was thinking of,” Lucius got his trembling hands under control by putting them flat on the table. “She did it instinctively, untrained. She felt my pain and tried to help me.”
Eliza nodded. “That explains why she was able to sing that song. I think she only practiced it once or twice. I suggested reading it in English because her German is frankly atrocious. I was surprised she was able to sing it in German.”
Lucius smiled. “It will get better once she truly starts to use her talent. A facility with spoken language is part of the Gift.”
“How powerful is she?” Eliza looked first at her husband and then at her brother. “Can we tell?”
Lucius frowned. “There are a number of methods of measuring power. But, well, they all have major shortcomings. And power can fluctuate with mood, and we tend to be able to do things far beyond us when we or our loved ones are threatened. And some people can do some things better than others and some things not at all.”
“That’s not an answer,” Eliza pointed out. “What are we talking about here? Gandalf? Or Fflewddur Flam?”
“Who? Are those American Wizards I’ve not heard about?” Lucius frowned.
Marcus laughed. “They’re characters from books. Gandalf’s sort of angel in the guise of a wizard, powerful and wise. Fflewddur’s a rather inept bard, frightened of magic. A king, though of a minor cantrev, and brave and a true friend.”
“And now that you’ve explained that? Explain about Harmony,” Eliza looked between the men. “No dodging, no evasions. I want to know what is going on with my baby.”
Marcus took a sip of his tea and grimaced at the bitter taste of the cold liquid. “Lucius?”
“Coward,” Lucius muttered. “As you know Cynddelw Brydydd Mawr was one of the most gifted song mages ever. That was why we chose the Kendall name after The Great Betrayal.”
Eliza made a rolling motion with her hands. “I know all that, Lucius. I did marry one of you. Get on with it.”
Lucius nodded. “I am. A normal song mage, if there is such a thing, can use song to influence people. Soothe, control, calm, those are the things most discussed. The more powerful the mage, the more people they can influence. Some can influence everyone their voice can reach. Others only one or two people.”
Lucius finger traced the rim of the delicate cup. “And then there’s the next step up: empathic song, it’s called. Cynddelw had the same powers exhibited by Harmony, the power to sing a song that matched the mood of his chosen audience. Harmony did more than that, she knew what I was thinking and sang it.”
Eliza closed her eyes. “She’s as powerful as Cynddelw, isn’t she?”
“As, or more. But like him, it’s unlikely she will ever use a wand,” Lucius admitted. “On the other hand, we do have several instruments used by family members over the centuries, to accompany their songs.”
“What does it mean for her? What will happen?” Eliza asked.
Lucius snorted. “Well, I’ll ask Narcissa to send absolutely everything we have on training. We’ll need to find a tutor for her. There are very few song mages, so that may take a while. On the other hand, they all want to train one of their own. So we may get a queue once they hear about a Bedell Singer.”
“Will she be in danger?” Eliza demanded.
“More than she is already? You do live on the most active hellmouth in the world after all,” Lucius pointed out. “Actually, I can see one additional risk.”
“What?” Eliza growled.
“She’s a Bedell Song mage and almost of age, sweet, gentle and quite pretty. You’re going to be flooded by marriage proposals once that comes out,” Lucius grinned at the twin groans from his brother and sister-in-law.
BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS Sunnydale, Revello Drive complex, morning of Monday 29th
Xander whimpered as he almost crawled into the kitchen on Monday morning. He'd come home late last night and had fallen into bed with only a hasty kiss on his parents' cheeks and now his family was ready to question him about his first real training weekend.
“Xander? Are you okay?” Willow asked worriedly.
“The man is a slave driver!” Xander slumped onto his usual chair. “Everything hurts! Even my eyelids hurt!”
“Granpa? Oh come on, Xander!” Buffy scoffed.
“Not Granpa James. He had a friend there, and boy was that guy tough. I'd rather go four rounds with Mohammed Ali than ever having to do anything like that again!” Xander shivered. “I think he may be worse than Hurst!”
“Worse than Hurst? I doubt it,” Dawn opined.
“What do you know, you're Lewis' little princess,” Xander teased. “All the BG's love you and Kit.”
Kit smirked. “That's ‘cause we're sweet an’ cute. So, what did this guy make you do? Push ups?”
Xander shook his head. “First we spent a lot of time talking about what it means to be a Heyoka, in a Kiva. I asked if it shouldn't be a sweat lodge, but Granpa said he's got so many different tribes in his blood, he's allowed to paint himself purple and make like an eagle,” Xander looked a trifle dubious as he repeated the words. “I'm not quite sure what he meant by that, but I'm sure it’s profound.”
Buffy grinned. “Or he was having you on. But yeah, he showed me once what tribes we're descended from. It's worse than all those inbred wand wa- wizards.”
Joyce's mild glance had stopped the term Buffy had wanted to use cold in her throat.
“And then?” Kendra prodded, her pen poised over a notepad.
“Then we went out into the wilderness. Or at least as close to it as we could get so near Imperial. I think we turned over every leaf and rock there twice. And that I was personally introduced to every cockroach, creepy crawly and ant they could find,” Xander complained.
“Did they tie you to stakes, rub you with honey and wait for the ants to find you?” Rowan was drawing the scene with her hands.
Xander shivered. “No! And don't give them any ideas. They think I'm too citified and need to become one with nature.”
“I doubt they'll do that by having you devoured by ants, Xander,” Joyce remarked dryly. “It would sort of defeat the purpose of training you. So, who was the friend?”
Xander nodded. “Oh yeah, he had a message he was sure you'd understand.” He thought for a second. “Errr... He wants me to tell you that being a Girl Scout troupe leader is still not the same thing as being a Chief. And that if he has to rescue you from a trap again, he'll be very pleased?” Xander ended the last sentence with an inquisitive look at his mother.
To his surprise Joyce whimpered and turned red, hiding her face in her hands. “Oh no. Not him!”
“Xander?” Buffy looked from her mortified mother to her brother. “What the heck did you just do?”
Simon was trying, and failing, to suppress a smile. “She was just reminded of one of her less than stellar performances. Though I am surprised that he was able to run quite so ragged, considering his age.”
Xander cleared his throat. “Ah yes. He told me to tell you 'Lightning'. And that you would understand.”
“L-Lightning?” Simon stammered.
“Yeah,” there was a definite smirk on Xander's face. “And he asked me to make sure I got a picture of you when I told you his name, or at least what you knew him as. Jimmy Better than Bears.”
Simon gargled. “Jimmy Better than Bears? JIMMY?”
“Yeah. He thought you might say that,” Xander grinned as his camera clicked.
Sunnydale, Revello Drive complex, evening of Monday 29th
“Please, papa? Pretty please?” Dawn wheedled.
“Come on Daddy? Just to try it out?” Kit added her own plea.
“We do need to test it before we move, Dad. I mean, you'd take that opportunity if you were buying a house or a car,” Willow pointed out reasonably. “The fact you own it already doesn't matter, it only makes it simpler.”
Simon sighed and looked at Xander, who held up his hands. “Hey, don't look at me. I don't get to paint my room black anyway.”
“Kendra?” Simon asked gently.
Kendra looked up from the book she was reading. It was a vast tome of magical healing techniques she'd written to Madam Pomfrey for. It had arrived that morning with a kind letter, stating that there were things even magic could not cure. Advanced cancer in Normals was one of them.
Healing them would drain so much of their natural magic and energy that it would kill them. Most pervasive diseases were untreatable in Normals by magical means unless there was a great deal of ambient magic around to keep up their energy levels. Even for magical folk some diseases just drained so much of their life force energy that it was impossible to cure them.
“What?” Kendra snapped, then blanched. “Sir,” she added quickly.
“It's alright dear,” Simon soothed her. “Just wanted your opinion on whether we should have a test week living at the manor.”
Kendra bit her lip. “I- I wasn't listening...”
Joyce rose from where she'd been watching the proceedings with considerable amusement and moved over to Kendra, taking her by the hand. “They've got my vote, Simon,” she called over her shoulder as she led Kendra into the old dining room, now her office.
Kendra sank down on the chair Joyce kept for 'motherly talks'. “Why does it hurt so much, Mum? I barely know him. Why does it hurt so much?”
Joyce sighed. “Because he's young, and nice and you like him, even if maybe not like that. And you've been trained to protect humans and in this case there's really nothing you can do. So you feel helpless and frightened and alone.”
Kendra's watery eyes blinked and a slight smile appeared around her lips. “You were expecting this to happen?”
“This conversation? Simon and I talked about it, yes,” Joyce admitted.
“Do you think he's angry at me?” Kendra asked.
“For what, snapping at him when you’re upset?” Joyce shook her head. “The ‘sir’ might have hurt a bit, but I doubt it. He's had worse from Dawn when she doesn't want to get up in the morning.”
Kendra sniffed. “That is every morning,” she pointed out. “I still think that a proper training regime will soon have her eager to stand beside her bed.”
“Oh yes. And I think copious hugs and a membership in the Drama Club should be quite good for you,” Joyce retorted. “Want me to make that your punishment instead of chores, hmm?”
Kendra shook her head vigorously. “Not the Drama Club!” she exclaimed in almost perfect mock horror.
“What about the hugs?” Joyce asked amused. Kendra tended to go for highly understated reactions. This was the most 'teen' she'd seen this reserved new daughter of her's so far. At least, when she wasn't crying.
“I'd like one of those,” Kendra admitted shyly.
BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS New York, Meier Family Charitable Foundation Headquarters, Monday January 29th
Micheala Tyler, Director of the Meier Houses looked at the pile of folders on her desk. And the chairs and the table and the filing cabinets. There was a spreadsheet open on her computer screen and a pile of hand written notes next to it.
There was a slight knock on the already open door. “Micky?”
“Yeah, Juliet, come in,” Micheala called out. Juliet Hindemeyer had been her assistant for seven years and could probably do her job as well as she could.
“How many are there now?” Micheala asked as she saw the new pile of folders that was placed beside the others.
“A hundred and seventy-four, counting this last batch,” Juliet patted the pile. “And still no closer to finding out what this Montgomery Foundation actually is or does.”
“Just bloody lovely,” Micheala muttered, stealing one of Simon’s favoured phrases.
“It will take years to find all their parents. Certainly for the older ones. We’ve got people all over the country trawling through missing children files,” Juliet sat down. “The FBI was being very obstructive, and then all of a sudden, they weren’t. Full cooperation across the board. Right at the same time that rash of deaths happened to go public.”
Micheala nodded. “Have we got anything?”
Juliet nodded. “Two girls. They were supposed to have been killed in a car crash with their parents when they were three and one. Biological grandparents refused to believe that, and kept saying that someone had stolen their grandchildren. They’re five and three now, and have been sent to their natural grandparents. That got the Montgomery Foundation a lot of extra attention.”
Michaela smiled. “Have they arrested that bastard director yet? Anglefish?”
“Angleman,” Juliet corrected. “No, he’s apparently fled the country. And they’ve destroyed their records. Wiped the disks and burned the computers.”
“Shit,” Micheala muttered. “I don’t suppose anything can be saved?”
“Highly unlikely, the Feds tell me. Sooo…” Juliet sighed. “Let Dr. Meier’s secretive European organisation take over?”
“I think so. It would take years. And these kids need homes now. Even our system won’t manage to find so many good foster homes for this influx,” Micheala waved a hand at the piles. “At least Simon has said he’ll at the very least help with college costs and such for the older ones.”
“The Feds said that they probably will confiscate everything the Montgomery Foundation has and distribute it, and the properties of the false parent will go to the children. They asked if we might want to take control of them, seeing as we’ve got the children already,” Juliet smirked. “Anything to get rid of the embarrassing evidence as soon as possible.”
“I doubt that Simon is going to let this one die down,” Micheala sighed. “I’ll call him. Would you arrange for people to draw the blood?”
Juliet nodded. “But you get to tell the kids.”
BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS Rack’s House, Monday 29th
Rack smiled slightly as the power started to flow through him. Power he needed. He’d been given a special assignment by the Director. And circumstances had played into his hand with exquisite irony. A child, and fear. Rack thrived on emotions, the purer the emotion the better. And children had such wonderfully strong emotions, so pure that gold was of less value.
The boy Billy Palmer was powerful, that was certain. With a few amplifications, a few runes hidden around his bed, the boy would unconsciously tap into the hellmouth and that would taint his ability even more, and thus strengthened and warped his power would reach out and envelop all of Sunnydale. Fear would run rampant. And that would power the ritual that would create the new defenses of Marigold. And supply Rack himself with sufficient magical sustenance to last him months.
Rack chuckled. *It might even discommode dear old Richard. That should be wonderful to watch.* End note: Harmony sings one of the Kindertotenlieder, Songs on the death of children, written by Friedrich Rückert and composed by Gustav Mahler. I find them to be among the most beautiful expressions of grief about the death of children ever put to music. Sung by the great Kathleen Ferrier (very old recording) in the original German, lyrics in English below: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bbXn-g44U9Q When your dear mother When your dear mother walks in through the door and I turn my head to look at her, my gaze doesn’t rest on her at first, but rather on that place, closer to the threshold, where your sweet face would be, if, bright with joy, you entered with her, as you used to do, my dear daughter. When your dear mother walks in through the door, With the candle’s glow, I feel as I always did, That you came in with her, slipped behind into The room as you always did. Oh you, ray of happiness in your father’s cell, Too quickly extinguished!