Scene 2: The Honeymooners
3,070 ( 2 of ?)
Buffy looked around the desert from the top of the dune, feeling the shifting sand under her bare feet. Occasionally a light breeze would blow the faint scent of the ocean into her face. It felt familiar, she'd been in a place like this before. But not this one. It wasn't the same. Hearing the rustle of cloth, she turned around.
"Am I dead?" she asked, gazing at the person who'd joined her.
"Who do you speak for?" she asked, remembering an earlier occasion in that similar place.
"Myself," Tara said, shrugging and giving her a faint grin.
"Oh," Buffy said. "What do you mean 'not exactly'?"
"Right now you are in a very deep sleep," Tara told her, idly kicking the sand. "And you are very far from home."
"Well, find Willow and tell her to come get me," Buffy said.
"I can't," Tara said, turning away from her.
Buffy stepped around her until they were facing each other again. "Why not?"
"I'm not allowed to," Tara said, sitting down. "Willow can't see or hear me."
"Why," Buffy asked, sitting down next to her.
"It's my punishment," Tara said, staring off into the distance.
"Punishment for what?" Buffy asked, not sure what Tara could have done to merit that kind of punishment. "And by who?"
"A higher power," Tara said, not looking at her. "You can't tear someone from Heaven with impunity. There's a price to pay."
"I don't want you to pay for this," Buffy protested, squeezing her shoulder. "I never blamed you for following Willow."
"Buffy! It's not your choice," Tara said. "Willow paid the larger price, but the rest of us were not innocent."
"Can't you tell someone else?" Buffy asked, grabbing a handful of sand and throwing it.
"They think you're dead," Tara said. "I was able to save you but everything else was completely destroyed when the portal was closed."
"Oh." Buffy decided to think about that later. "How do I get home myself then?"
"You can't," Tara said. "You're too far away and no one here has the level of power needed to send you home."
"Too far away?"
"I was allowed to save you," Tara said. "But only if I took you far away."
"Make with the explanation," Buffy said, bracing herself.
"As your guardian angel," Tara began, before being interrupted.
Tara held up her hand. "Questions after the exposition, please."
Buffy nodded, miming zipping her lips shut and throwing away the key.
"I'm not allowed to interfere in your life except under extreme circumstances," Tara told her. "If you'd died closing that portal, you'd have been stuck between. In limbo. You've been to heaven already and in theory you can't go back."
"What?" Buffy spouted in shock. One of the things that had kept her going over the years was the belief that she would some day be able to go back to heaven. "Why?"
"I didn't make that rule," Tara said softly. "Heaven is timeless. You can't go back because you are still there."
"No, I'm here," Buffy said.
Tara shrugged. "But you are there also. It's a metaphysical thing. As I was saying, as your guardian angel I have a little power. So, instead of letting you get blown into limbo, I was able to use the portal to bring you to another dimension. But it's a one way trip."
"Well, that sucks," Buffy said.
"It's not so bad," Tara said. "We're far enough away from home that you can go to heaven here instead."
"But my mom isn't here," Buffy protested.
"I'm here," Tara said.
"But you can go home."
"No, actually. It was a one way trip for me also," Tara said. "I couldn't send you to a strange place by yourself."
"I'm sorry," Buffy said, pulling Tara into a hug.
"Not your fault," Tara murmured. "The change will do us both good."
"Will I be able to see you when I'm awake?"
"Maybe," Tara said. "Things are different here."
"Where is 'here'," Buffy asked. "Other than a different dimension."
Tara reached down and grabbed a handful of sand, and let it dribble through her fingers. "A lot of things are the same," she told her. "Geography is mostly identical. You might occasionally find street names are different."
"What else is different?" Buffy asked.
"No Sunnydale, and all of their Hellmouths were closed centuries ago," Tara said.
"Good," Buffy said. "What else?"
"None of the people you know exist here," Tara said. "So, no Mr. Giles, no Willow or Dawn. And no slayer."
"Good, right?" Buffy said. "If there's no slayer, it's because they don't need one."
"Wrong," Tara said. "They 'turned off' the slayer line when they closed the Hellmouths. They didn't think they needed one anymore. They were wrong."
"What do they need one for?" Buffy asked.
"I can't tell you," Tara said.
"I don't know," Tara said. "The rules are different. The Powers that Be here don't actively enforce a balance. They believe in free will."
"What about prophecies?" Buffy asked.
"They do have those," Tara said. "Not sure if they are accurate or if they can be worked around like you're used to doing."
"I'll take what I can get," Buffy said. Things started to go fuzzy around the edges at that point. "What's happening?" she asked.
"You're waking up," Tara said.
"How do I contact you?" Buffy asked. "Can I come here again?"
"You're The Slayer again, the one girl. This is yours," Tara said, waving at the desert. "When you need me I'll be here."
"Oh. Is there anything else I need to know?" Buffy asked, feeling herself being pulled away.
"You can't tell anyone that you're the Slayer," Tara said. "Or that you're not from around here. Except to her."
"Her who?" Buffy asked.
"You'll know," Tara said.
"Cryptic much?" Buffy grumbled.
"And Buffy? Be nice," Tara said, winking at her. "She's as surprised by this as you. Change can sometimes be a good thing."
"I'm always nice," Buffy muttered to herself.
"Buffy…" she heard whispered reprovingly on the wind in Tara's voice as everything went black.
Narcissa watched her rescuer with one eye as she carefully read through the Daily Prophet, looking for any further indignities from the Ministry of Magic she would need to talk with Hermione about and for news that actually mattered. She really didn't need to know about the antics of Harry Potter and his bevy of girlfriends or that annoying Ron Weasley so she skipped the social pages.
She'd just folded the paper and put it aside when she caught the flutter of an eyelid. By the time she'd gotten to the bed, her rescuer, she wasn't ready to use the word 'wife' to describe the small woman, was looking up at her in surprise.
"Who are you?" she asked, her voice hoarse, struggling to sit up. "And where am I?"
Frowning, Narcissa waved her wand at the pitcher of water on the bedside table, filling a glass that she then handed to her guest.
"I am Narcissa Malfoy, and you are in my bed," she said, raising an eyebrow at her rescuer's sudden blush.
"Why am I in your bed," the woman asked, after gulping down the contents of the glass in what Narcissa thought was a very unladylike fashion.
"You were injured, and it seemed appropriate at the time," Narcissa said.
"Oh," she said.
"Your name won't do," Narcissa told her. "We shall call you Anne."
"That's not my name," she said, leaning back against the headboard, giving the impression that she was exhausted.
"According to this, your name is Buffy Anne Summers-Malfoy," Narcissa told her, holding the family genealogy up to her, open to the correct page.
"Why is my name in your book?" she asked, cautiously reaching out and poking it.
"Apparently, we are married," Narcissa said, distastefully. "This is the official Malfoy family register."
"We're what?" the woman squeaked.
"Married," Narcissa said.
"How'd that happen?" the woman asked. "I don't remember asking you. There were all those demony-looking guys attacking and a few punches thrown. But no 'I Do's' or 'Do you takes' anywhere in that."
"I'm not completely sure," Narcissa admitted. "But it happened. It is being investigated."
"Great," the woman said, shaking her head. "Do we at least get a honeymoon and wedding presents out of it?"
Narcissa frowned, not sure what a honeymoon was. It must be something muggle, she decided. "There is no one to give us presents, Anne," she said.
"Buffy. Is my name," the woman said. "I don't care what your book says."
"Anne," Narcissa said firmly. She was the elder of the Ladies Malfoy, and her decisions were final. Even if her new wife didn't know this yet.
"My preferred name is Buffy, two effs, one y," Buffy stubbornly told her. "Not Anne."
"Buffy is the name of a house elf," Narcissa said. "You are now a Lady of this House. Anne is not as elegant or noble as mine but it is much better than Buffy."
"My mother gave me that name," Buffy said, glaring at up her for effect. She didn't actually object to using her middle name. She'd gone a whole summer answering to it. But it had been her choice, not some elegantly dressed woman, who frankly made her feel dowdy, who claimed to be her wife.
"Your mother... " Narcissa paused and took a deep breath. Buffy suspected she'd been about to say something uncomplimentary.
"What's a house elf?" Buffy asked, suddenly feeling exhausted. The fight with the demons and the dimensional travel and arguing must have really worn her out. Not waiting for an answer she closed her eyes and fell asleep.
"Mistress," Melly said, popping into the bedroom, "Miss Granger is in the Master's old study."
"Thank you, Melly," Narcissa said. "Please inform her that I'll be there in a few minutes." She didn't plan to keep Hermione waiting long, but rushing was not how a Malfoy did things. After tucking in Anne, surprised at how quickly she'd fallen asleep again, Narcissa headed towards the study, shaking her head at the stubborn young woman.
"What did you find out?" Narcissa asked, after observing Hermione examine the study bookshelves for a few minutes. "The Ministry took all of the interesting ones," Narcissa reminded her.
"We'll get them back eventually," Hermione said, though from her tone of voice, Narcissa suspected she didn't believe it would happen.
"What did you find out?" she asked.
"It's an interesting spell," Hermione told her. "According to my sources it predates Merlin and was supposed to have been lost centuries ago."
Narcissa nodded, not surprised. Once a Malfoy learned of a spell it was recorded in the family chronicles, and never forgotten. Some past Malfoy must have had a reason to know it, and Lucius must have run across it and decided to use it. "Go on," she prompted.
"It has several effects, depending upon how it is used," Hermione said. "When combined with the blood of a hero, and a magical creature, it creates an unbreakable bond. The fathers of maidens rescued from dragons often used it to marry off their daughters before the knight could escape."
"So, it is possible that it cannot be broken?" Narcissa asked in dismay.
"Worst case, not even death will break it," Hermione said. "But hopefully not. We’ll have to check your wife to know for sure. I learned some interesting diagnostic charms yesterday that I can use to check the bond," she said excitedly.
"What other possible effects are there?" Narcissa asked, waving her on.
"It can create a temporary bond between wizarding clans," Hermione said. "That's probably what Lucius used it for, to grant Voldemort passage through the Manor's wards."
"But that didn't add Voldemort to the family," Narcissa said, unable to refrain from hissing his name in remembered anger.
"The sources aren't clear about it," Hermione admitted, "but it appears that the head of a wizarding family can use the spell to add an unmarried witch or wizard to the family if the family has no surviving heirs."
"Draco is still alive," Narcissa said.
"Are you sure about that?" Hermione asked gently.
"Yes," Narcissa said. "You are still my lawyer, correct?" she asked, walking over to the empty wall.
"Yes," Hermione said, watching her carefully.
Narcissa whispered at the wall, causing it to pull back to once more reveal the hidden cabinets. Carefully opening one of the drawers at shoulder height, she pulled out a small hourglass. Carrying it over to the desk, she set it in front of Hermione.
"This is Draco's Life Clock," she said. "It can see through the strongest wards, wherever he is."
"I've heard of them, but never seen one," Hermione said. "Okay, he's still alive," she admitted after looking closely at it. "I'd like to examine your wife. Has she woken up yet?"
"Yes," Narcissa said, after putting the Life Clock away and resetting the wall. "We briefly argued, and then she fell asleep again."
"Do I need to know what you argued about?" Hermione asked, grimacing. "Did you tell her about the marriage?"
"Yes, but she seemed more concerned about her name," Narcissa said.
"Buffy is not an appropriate name for a Lady of the House and I informed her she will be changing it," Narcissa said. "She didn't agree."
"Ah," Hermione murmured. "It's a very American name," she said. "I don't think you can make her change it."
"She will see the wisdom of my decision," Narcissa said, leading Hermione into her bedchamber and to the bed and its sleeping occupant.
"If you say so," Hermione said. Taking out several crystals, she placed one above the sleeping woman, one at her feet, and one on either side. "This will tell us about the bond," she said quietly, tapping each of the crystals and whispering a word Narcissa didn't catch. Hermione then picked up the crystals and stuck them together. "Well," she said, clearly surprised, after again tapping the joined crystals. "It appears to be an unbreakable bond."
"For the purposes of the Marriage Law, you are definitely married, and one or both of you must bear children," Hermione said, shaking her head.
"I will discuss that with her at a more appropriate time," Narcissa said, nodding. "Do you need to do anything else?"
"You said she was covered in blood?" Hermione asked.
"Yes," Narcissa said.
"Was it all her own?" Hermione asked.
"I didn't think to check," Narcissa said. "I was too busy making sure she didn't die."
"Sorry. Of course," Hermione said, blushing. "I'd like to check her magical core," she added.
"Curiosity," Hermione admitted. "You didn't say if she had a wand, but she must have some level of magic for the bond to work."
"As you wish," Narcissa said, unable to think of a reason to object. If the Ministry decided she was married, and she shared an unbreakable bond with the person they thought she'd been married to, nothing else really mattered. She'd worry about Draco's reaction later, if he ever decided to grace her with his presence in the future.
"It's a surprisingly simple method," Hermione said. "Just a snip of hair," flicking her wand she retrieved several long blonde hairs from the woman's pillow.
"That could be my hair," Narcissa said, raising an eyebrow.
"With dark roots?" Hermione asked, smirking, and holding up the hairs. "Then we pop it into this potion," she said, dropping the hairs into a small flask containing a purple potion she'd taken out of her bag earlier. "Let it sit for a minute," she murmured. "There's a different potion we could use with blood, but it would give us the same results," she added softly.
"Then we need a quill and piece of parchment," she said, taking them out of her bag. "Dip the quill into the potion, and let it write." Tapping the quill with her wand, Hermione directed it to the potion. Tapping it again, and then the parchment, she stepped back away from the quill as it scratched away at the parchment.
"That's not possible," Hermione said, glancing at the parchment when the quill finished.
"What is not possible"? Narcissa asked, holding out her hand for the parchment.
"There hasn't been a daemon slayer in centuries. Let's try that again," Hermione said, reaching back into her bag. Moving deliberately, she repeated the steps. Looking down at the resulting parchment, she shook her head in disbelief.
"If this is true, that possibly explains the bond," Hermione said, looking over at the small woman sleeping in Narcissa's bed. "The Slayer was known to be a very dark magical creation. But they were supposed to have all died out."
"No," said Narcissa, shaking her head.
"No what?" Hermione asked.
"The magic used to create Daemon Slayers was among the darkest," she said, in agreement. "But the girls themselves were not dark. Never dark."
"How do you know that?" Hermione asked. "The magic involved was lost over a millennia ago."
"There have been daemon slayers in both the Black and Malfoy families," Narcissa said. "The largest collection of books on daemon slayers in our world were in this room."
"Which means the Ministry now has that information," Hermione said, sighing in disappointment. "They've probably buried it all in the Department of Mysteries. They'll never let us near it."
"No, before he was captured, Lucius put them in a safe place," Narcissa said. "The Malfoy family has guarded this information since the last daemon slayer died. He did not want that information to fall into the wrong hands."
"Do you know where he hid the books?" Hermione asked, excitedly. "They could be useful in removing the bond."
"No," Narcissa said. "I approve of this marriage," she said, nodding and smiling to herself. "You will do nothing to annul it. And you will tell no one of her status. Let them think what they will. I believe this will be a good thing."
Invisibly watching from her perch by Buffy's pillow, Tara giggled at the dumbfounded expression that crossed Hermione's face at Narcissa's pronouncement.
"What was that?" Hermione asked, turning in Tara's direction. Stifling a gasp of surprise, Tara left the bedchamber.
"What was what?" Narcissa asked, her face blank.
"I thought I heard a giggle," she said.
"No," Narcissa said, frowning at her. "No giggle."