Title: New Beginnings (1/1) *Secret Santa Fic*
Author: V. Mures
Archives: Whoever would like it, though it would be nice to know where it’s going. :)
Summary: There are some places in the universe that exist as a sort of nexus point for people. These places often fill some need for the people that are called there, and on a cold midwinter’s night four souls seeking comfort are drawn to one particular place.
Pairing(s): Xander/Narcissa Malfoy, Willow/Remy
Disclaimer: I do not own the following creations: Buffy, X-Men, or Harry Potter. I would be a very rich woman if I did. :)
Spoilers: BtVS-Season 7, X-Men-Whatever issue had Remy left in the Antarctic after that farce of a trial, HP-AU after OotP
Author’s Notes: Well this was a bit longer than I thought it would be so I broke it into two pieces. This is for Yrael. Merry Christmas. I hope you like it. :)
Willow shivered in the cold London air. No matter how warmly she dressed she just couldn’t seem to get warm tonight. It was midwinter and she was standing on the bridge overlooking the river Thames watching the snow flakes dance on the wind. She soon felt strong arms wrap loosely around her shoulder, and she leaned into the support of a man who was the brother of her heart.
“Well bestest bud, should we move this broodfest elsewhere. How about somewhere warmer? With alcohol?”
Even with one eye, Xander was still the master of the puppy dog look and Willow couldn’t deny his request. She wanted out of the cold anyway. So pulling away from him, she offered her arm and playfully said, “Lead on good sir.”
His warm laughter was a welcome sound; one she had not heard in far too long. Maybe just maybe this trip had been a good idea after all. The past few years had been so hard on them. Their souls were battered and scarred, and they were both so tired. Buffy no longer needed them to help with the new Slayers, and Giles no longer needed them to help with the new watcher’s council. The wariness of Willow’s power had never really subsided, and on some level that were a bit afraid that Xander wasn’t terribly stable anymore either. As a result they had edged the two into positions that held no responsibility or power. Two people who had been integral to the saving of the world numerous times were left feeling useless and unwanted. Finally they left without looking back, having decided to make their own way. Now they were traveling the world doing something that they had never had the chance to do—play tourist.
“Couldn’t we have chosen somewhere warmer to visit at Christmas like, say, Australia?” Xander’s voice held only a mockery of whining, and it made Willow grin.
“But we’ve always wanted to see a real Christmas, Xan. And who would think to look for us in London, former home of the Watcher’s Council? Now aren’t you supposed to be leading us somewhere warm? We’ve passed several places already”
“I just haven’t found the right place yet, Wills. Trust the Xanman alright?” He smiled down at the girl holding his hand. She smiled right back at him.
“I’ve always trusted you Xan. You know that right?”
Leaning down to kiss her forehead he murmured, “I know.”
At that time he spotted the perfect place to warm up. It looked like a pub with an old fashioned, almost medieval flair. There was even a carved wooden sign hanging over the door. Dusted in snow and swinging slightly in the wind it read “The Tyger and The Lamb” and showed a tiger lying quietly with a lamb in some glade. It felt right so he steered his friend to the door.
“See my lady, I’ve found us warmth.” Xander stated as he held the door open for her.
“Warmth, indeed.” She murmured as they stepped into the foyer and let the door close behind them.
The pub was lit with the golden glow of lanterns, candles, a few odd strings of tastefully hung Christmas lights, and a cheerful roaring fire. Laughter mingled with friendly chatter and the music of the small but lively trio on the stage. A variety of smells danced in the air, tantalizing and oddly comforting. As their eyes adjusted to the low light of the pub they noticed that the décor matched the outside, simple and cozy. An odd variety of people filled the place. Patrons were dressed in everything from modern punk/goth to outfits that would have fit well at a Renaissance faire. There were even a few non humans scattered throughout the crowd. It felt like one of those places that welcomed anyone, so long as they were not looking for trouble.
“Good eve, lady, gent. Welcome to the Tyger and the Lamb. What might I do for you?” came the cheerful, if slightly accented, voice of the hostess.
She was a plumb woman of middling years. Her appearance matched expectations raised by her voice. She was of stocky build and dressed in the comfortable homespun regalia of a medieval peasant’s wife. Her skin was the light nutty brown of a woman who had spent long hours in the sun working, and her hair was the deep brown of fresh earth. She grinned broadly at them.
“I’m afraid we’re a bit busy tonight, being midwinter and all. I’m afraid we don’t have any tables open at the moment, but if you wouldn’t mind I might be able to see if someone was willing to share? Otherwise it might be a good bit of a wait. I’m afraid our patrons aren’t usually in any big hurry.”
Willow and Xander both found themselves smiling at this cheerful woman. Xander glanced over to his red headed friend. She smiled and shrugged indicating that it didn’t really matter to her.
Turning back to their hostess Xander smiled, “If you could find someone who wouldn’t mind sharing a table with a couple of young tourists, we’d be very grateful.”
The hostess nodded towards the coat rack, “I’ll see what I can do. Meanwhile, why don’t you kids hang up your coats and such?”
She returned just after they’d finished. “Well, we’ve another yank visitor you said he wouldn’t mind sharing with such a lovely young couple.”
Blushing slightly Willow followed Xander and their hostess to a table towards the back. It was then that she noticed one of the most gorgeous men she’d ever seen. The candle lighted played across his face, accenting a rugged face and gleaming off dark read hair. His eyes were a startling, but mesmerizing, red and black. And when he spoke she noticed his voice was as beautiful and sexy as the rest of him, pure velvet texturized by a Cajun accent. It took her a moment to actually pay attention to his words.
“It’s no problem. It would be bad taste for me to let fellow traveler’s stand cold and weary by the door while I enjoyed a table to myself.” He smiled at them and gestured towards the table. “Please sit and join me. Name’s Remy.” He offered his hand.
Xander shook his hand without the usual testosterone induced gripping contest, amused by the way this man was looking at his friend. It had been too long since someone had looked at either of them that way. And for all that this man was obviously not a normal human, well he’d known too many humans who were absolute scum and too many non-humans who were nice friendly people. Besides even with only one eye left, he recognized the haunted look in the other man’s eyes. This was a man who had seen too much, looked too far into the darkness of the soul. It was something he and Willow knew and understood. This man, Remy, was a kindred spirit.
“Xander.” He said with a hint of his old grin. “And this tongue tied lady here is my friend Willow.”
At that point Willow came out from her daze and offered her hand, after a quick glare directed at Xander. “A pleasure to meet you.”
In addition to noticing his beauty, she had noted the same thing that Xander had. This man was a kindred spirit.
What they didn’t notice was that Remy noted the same thing about them. Their eyes were so old, and held such pain. He wasn’t sure he wanted to know what had happened to place such a look in such a young pair. What he did now was that he understood, and he could offer his friendship, if they were willing to accept. He had so few friends, and he guessed they were the same. Why else would they be here in some odd little known London pub during the holidays and not with their friends and family? He also couldn’t help but be drawn to the quiet beauty of the red headed woman with alabaster skin and the most brilliant green eyes he’d seen. Both she and the young man were surrounded by an undercurrent of power and danger. For all of their apparent innocence if you looked deep enough you could tell that they could handle themselves easily.
He also was not intimidated by her relationship with Xander. If you read their body language closely it was obvious that they were simply very close friends, more like siblings. They had the easy intimacy of those who had been through the trials of life. He smirked a bit at that thought. After all the “trials” of life were also something he was intimately aware of, a bit to intimately at that. But tonight was not a night for dark thoughts. No, tonight was a night of hopes, and he was being offered a beautiful young woman’s hand. So smiling up at her he raised out of his seat just enough to lean over and kiss her hand.
“It is entirely my pleasure mademoiselle. Please will you not join me?” He once again gestured to the seats. Willow slipped in across from him, and Xander sat next to her.
“Anything you would recommend here? Or is it standard pub fare?” Xander asked the Cajun.
Remy grinned and helped them both pick out drinks (Guinness for Xander, and hard cider for Willow), and food (roast beef and vegetables was the special that night).
It was as they sat eating their dinner, and enjoying the boisterous atmosphere of the pub that the hostess once again came to their table.
“Begging your pardon, folks, but I was wondering if you minded another lost soul at your table.” She said this with a down right mischievous twinkle in her eye, like she knew exactly how lost these souls had been at one point. The three who were quickly becoming friends looked at each other and practically shrugged as one.
“Don’t see what it could hurt.” Willow said and then smiled “Isn’t it the more the merrier? So let’s make it merrier.”
The hostess nodded happily. “That it is dear. One moment.” And she went off to get their new tablemate.
She returned with a tall, exquisitely beautiful blonde woman. She was pale in all senses of the word. Like Willow she had alabaster skin, but where Willow had fiery red hair, this woman had hair the color of pale gold. Xander and Willow both thought sadly that it was the color Spike had dyed his hair to get. On this woman it looked completely natural though. In addition to her pale hair she had pale blue eyes. Most would describe them as chips of ice. But these world weary travels saw the pain and experience in those eyes. This woman was another kindred spirit. They smiled warmly at her. And she smiled, if a bit more hesitantly, back at them.
Xander was completely stuck by her beauty, and sat a bit dazed while Remy and Willow introduced himself. He snapped out of it, when Willow nudged him sharply in his ribs.
“Oh, hi. I’m Xander, and I must say that it’s an absolute pleasure to meet you. Why don’t you sit here and join the fun.” He grinned goofily at her and gently taking her hand guided her into the seat next to Remy.
She smiled in return at this handsome and charming man that was being kinder to her than anyone had in a long time. He was ruggedly good looking despite, or maybe it just added to the effect, the eye patch that covered one eye. She could tell by looking into his good eye that he had a kind soul, and that he had seen as much tragedy and hardship as she. She managed to tear herself away from this fascinating man, and take in his companions. The girl sitting next to him was pixie like in her charming beauty. And sitting across from the red headed pixie was another red head, also handsome. And all of their eyes told the same story—a person who had a decent heart, but had seen too much darkness for it to be left unscarred. So she smiled at these kindred spirits and introduced herself.
“Narcissa, and it is indeed a pleasure to meet you all. Thank you for letting me join you.”
Narcissa ordered her drink (a white wine) and her dinner (another special) and the four settled into a mix of get to know each other chatter, small talk, and companionable silence. Remy found out that the duo was originally from southern California, they found out he was (not a big surprise here) from New Orleans, and Narcissa was from England. Remy and Willow shared a love of music, and oddly enough books (a fact that would have surprised quite a few of his old so called friends). Xander discovered that he shared a love of motorcycles, fast cars, and comic books with Remy. Willow and Narcissa found a shared knowledge and love of magic, and the fact that they were both witches (though of different training) fed the conversation for a while. And Narcissa and Xander found a shared love of the outdoors. The fact that Remy was a mutant bothered absolutely no one at the table. The fact that Narcissa had once been married and that she had a son also mattered to no one. Instead what mattered is that these facts had at some point caused their new friends pain.
And for all that was said, there was also much left unsaid. There were things that at the moment didn’t need to be shared, things that were left for another time like whatever events had happened to leave those scars on their souls. Past sins and wounds were left for another time. Tonight was a night of new beginnings, a night of hopes. New friendships were forged, and new sparks of love were lighted.
As the clock on the wall above the bar neared midnight, the dance floor was cleared and the band returned from a long break to start a lively new set. A grinning Xander stood up and bowed gracefully to Narcissa.
“M’lady would you do me the honor of a dance? Though I must warn you that I am not the best dancer.” Xander finished shyly.
Narcissa, who was more relaxed than she had been in ages, smiled brightly. “I would be honored to dance with you good sir.” She stood up and finished her statement with a sentence that would have appalled all of her old socialite friends, “It matters not how well one dances as long as the parties involved have fun.”
And grinning broadly she pulled Xander out onto the dance floor.
Remy felt more content that he had in ages, and was grinning at the happiness of his two friends. Then standing up and stretching he offered his hand to the petite beauty across from him.
“I think they have the right idea, chere. Perhaps we should join them?”
With a little laugh and a broad smile Willow stood up. “I would be delighted good sir.”
The two couple danced joyfully to the lively tune, and then when the next song started each couple stepped closer into each other. It was a slower song, a sweet ballad, and the guys pulled the girls close. The girls leaned on the guys. As the clock struck midnight and the song ended two strikingly beautiful couples—one a matched pair of flames, their red hair glittering in the golden light of the pub, the other a set of light and dark, pale gold against dark brown—kissed. And on this magical day a new path was set before these lost souls, and they were lost no more. The next day would truly start with a new beginning, and four weary travelers would start a new life.
End fic. No prequel. No sequel.