Joyce had just finished the Gallery’s finances when she heard the front door open and close. She sighed, shutting down her computer. Without the children there as a buffer, she was afraid that this entire situation was going to go downhill fast.
Jack met her in the kitchen, his hands tucked in his pockets. He looked unusually pensive and her heart sank.
“Is everything you’re worried about telling me a certainty?” he asked, rocking on his heels.
“No,” she said, then thought about it. “Most of it’s from the other life, really.”
He held up the notebook she’d passed along to Giles with all of her memories and she felt a rush of relief as he said, “Can we just worry about certainties for now, then? I’m just- I don’t think it’s a great idea to obsess on what could
“Yeah,” she said, nodding. “That would actually be great. I was afraid we might get confused on the ‘what is’ verses the ‘what may be’.”
She sat and he finally moved into the room, taking the seat opposite her. By instinct or design, his foot ended up hooked around her ankle when he sprawled in his chair.
“Okay, go,” he said, foot tapping her ankle. A little smile was playing around his lips, bolstering her.
“Faith, Xander, Oz, and Cordelia are normal,” she started, winding her fingers together. “That could change in a hurry, but for now, they have no interest or innate ability with magic and they don’t have any supernatural enhancements.”
She knew the longer they were involved with the fight, the less likely they would remain normal, but Jack had asked for certainties not worries.
“And how are they being trained?” he asked, nodding.
“Ah,” she said, mind going blank. “They know what you taught them?”
“That’s not gonna cut it,” he said, eyebrows raised. “If they want to fight the forces of darkness or whatever, they’re going to need to know more than basic self-defense and the best way to crush a boy’s balls for getting fresh. They’ll pass an advanced class or they’ll be benched except in the case of emergencies.”
“First, Buffy’s usually the first and only line of defense. If the others are involved, it’s an emergency,” she said, holding up a finger to stall him. “Second, I agree with you, but you get to have that argument with them. It’ll come off as less hypocritical.”
“Deal,” he said, nodding. “Next.”
She sighed. “We’re still working out how magical the kids are. And what kinds
of magical. Giles didn’t really know about that business until recently, but now that he does, he’s called in a coven.” He opened his mouth and she cut him off. “We’ll get into where Giles comes into this in a minute.” He raised an eyebrow but rolled a finger at her, telling her to continue. “Most of the kids, Jenny’s been trying to assess and guide but their skill sets seem pretty far out of her league. She’s just a techno-pagan.”
His lips twitched, then he burst out laughing. “What the hell is that?”
“I don’t really know,” she said after a moment of fighting her own laughter, shrugging. “I know she’s good at it, though. And, because she’s spent years making contacts in the magical community, she’s pretty good at figuring out what kind of magic we’re dealing with. Willow is Earth magic. Jenny’s suggested using Wicca as a base. We know that Harry and Sirius are wand wizards because we got invitations to send them to some private school in Scotland.”
Jack scoffed. “No way in hell.”
Joyce nodded. “I know. A few American schools offered, too, but they didn’t want to go, especially since Jenny helped set them up with a tutor.” She cleared her throat. “Molly Weasley, actually.”
“Wait, Weasley. The red-headed anthropologist from England that’s fascinated by spark plugs, bullets, and rubber duckies?” Jack asked, sitting up.
“His wife, yes. Although he sometimes helps,” she said, then shrugged. “And he’s fascinated by those things because he grew up in the Wizarding World, which is what wizards call their society. Purebloods are often called secluded from nonmagical humans, which they call Muggles.”
“And they want us to send our boys to them?” he asked, incredulous. “Were they going to send them back?”
“Yes,” she said, lips pinching. “But, as far as I can tell, they weren’t going to prepare them to live in our world.” She scowled. “Molly’s talking about sending them their last two years of high school, though, because that’s when they learn advanced stuff.”
“Absolutely not,” he said, adamant. “I get the whole ‘they have to know it to control it’ things, that’s why I taught them all how to use guns, but if they want to know more advanced stuff and she can’t teach them, we’ll get them another tutor.”
“Yeah, that’s pretty much what I told her,” Joyce said, smirking. “Only more polite because I actually like the woman.”
He flushed a little. “I can be plenty polite.”
“Of course you can, dear, you’re an ambassador to aliens,” she said, then snorted. “And just so you know, the Grangers’ daughter, the one Harry’s always talking about, she’s a wand witch of the Wizarding variety.”
He pinched the bridge of his nose. “The SGC’s dentists are wizards?”
“No, just their daughter,” she said with a smile. “Like Sirius and Harry, she’s Muggleborn.”
“Mug-what?” he asked, eyebrows furrowing.
“Muggleborn,” she repeated. “Muggleborns are born to Muggles, nonmagic humans. Apparently, there are certain factions of purebloods that carry prejudices against anyone that isn’t a pureblood. Reason number two the children are never going to Scotland.”
“Uh huh,” he said. “Anything else I should know about these wizard people?”
“Dawn can use wands,” she said, shrugging. “It doesn’t really enhance her abilities but it doesn’t hinder her, like with Willow or Chris. Wands, Wizarding World wands, are just inert for them. They use ritual crystal wands and those work, better for Willow than Chris, but they work.”
“So, Willow’s, er, Wiccan. Dawn and Chris aren’t wizards. What are they?”
Joyce sighed. “We didn’t really know. I still can’t really tell you where Chris gets his powers from. Dawn, though…I wrote all of that in the journal.” She closed her eyes. “Jack, it got bad. And, for whatever reason, I don’t think it’s just her this time.”
“Explain it to me,” Jack said, sitting forward and lacing his fingers together on the table and she couldn’t have explained to anyone who hadn’t been there how glad she was that she had someone to share her burdens with, who listened to her worries and didn’t dismiss her.
“Sirius can do things Harry can’t,” she said, starting slowly so that she could spell out what was bothering her most. “Harry needs
his wand. His magic will react to strong emotions, yes, but to have any real control, he needs to have a wand in hand. Sirius can do simple stuff without a wand; for serious stuff, he needs his wand. And maybe it’s just individual talent but, with what I think I know about Dawn, I don’t think it is.”
“I’m listening,” he said, reaching over to tap her lightly clenched hands, then wound his fingers through hers.
“Dawn’s the Key,” she said in a rush, then let out a breath. “Maybe. She was in my other life. Except it’s different this time. Last time, they took this ball of cosmic energy, created a vessel, and sent it to Buffy protection. That was Dawn. They created 14 years of history around her, memories great and small, and put it into our heads.”
“Wait, did you know
she was the Key?” he asked, scowling.
“No, none of us knew and that’s why it got so bad, Jack,” she said. “She slit her wrists, she acted out. She didn’t know who she was because she was created and not born.”
“Was she born this time?” he asked and looked like he was dreading the answer.
“Yes,” she said, knowing it was true. “I mean, it was a surprise, obviously. And I think…I think something else had a hand in.” She waved at the ceiling. “And I think that means they were more prepared this time, the monks that guarded the Key. That they had some warning or idea about how things would unfold.”
“And you think Sirius…?” Jack asked, eyebrows raised.
“Yes,” she said staunchly. “And it’s not just the wand thing. Dawn and Sirius, it’s like their magic is complimentary. They do better when they’re working together.” She paused. “And this is just conjecture but it makes sense if you think about how some magics work. Wicca has a very strong Male/Female balance aspect. And Dawn is definitely better at Earth magic than wand magic. I think they tried to strike that balance.” She shrugged. “Plus, if the hellgoddess after the Key needs all of it, then it makes sense to split it up.”
“Hellgoddess?!” he said, sitting up straight.
She pointed at him. “Read about that in the notebook. Right now, we’re talking about magic.”
He scrubbed his free hand over his face, then nodded. “Right. So…now Chris.”
Joyce got it. If she wasn’t going to go into details about what she knew from another life right now, he was going to need something else to speculate about.
“Chris does things that Jenny’s never seen before,” she said, shrugging. “He’s great with spells and potions and he does that thing he did this morning. Orbing. It’s like teleportation, only…not.”
“That could be a disaster,” he said, wincing.
“Oh, you should have seen him trying to get the hang of it,” she said, rolling her eyes. “That vase your mother sent us that mysteriously disappeared? Miscalculated landed.”
He snorted, then said, “I guess I’ll have to thank him for that. That vase was ugly.”
She coughed, covering a laugh. “But I’ve already had the talk about how orbing doesn’t mean he gets to get out of curfew and if I find out he misuses it with a girl or something, I’ll find a way to ground him in a very literal sense.”
“Glad you’ve got that covered,” he said, smiling at her.
“I try to be on top of things,” she said with an answering smile. Getting serious, she said, “None of this really comes natural to me, either. I’ve been flying by the seat of my pants since I found out Buffy is the Slayer. Throw in five varying magical types and Connor, who is entirely too strong for a boy his age and size, and I can only grateful that the other four are normal. For now.”
“Focus on the certainties,” he said, squeezing her hand.
The phone rang as knocking started at the front door.
“To be continued,” she said, sighing, and went to answer the phone while he got the door.