Chapter 28: Moments of Happiness - Part II
Moments of Happiness – Part TwoAN: Hi dear readers, background story here are the both episodes Surprise and Innocence, there might be some familiar quotes, again, all belonging to Joss and the writers of Buffy’s.
I am thinking – I’m not sure yet, but I might be starting a new entry for the sequel from here, because it’s already got quite giant, and this just looks like a good break, so if you want to read more, eventually look out for a new story-post or something like Third Man Part II. Unless of course you think this already sucks and it would be better for me to stop outright :) then let me know either way.
They all turned around as Cordelia jumped up from behind a counter on which a large cake was waiting to be cut and eaten.
“That pretty much sums it up,” Oz said, still looking positively puzzled at what just happened.
“Buffy! Are you alright?” Angel asked, while Giles kept looking around.
“Where’s Helen?” He asked, clearly worried.
But the metal front door went open at the same moment and Helen entered, carrying a heavy looking wooden box. Giles hurried to help her. “I thought you said you’d give her a book,” he said while taking the box from her.
Helen didn’t laugh however. “It’s not mine.”
“What is it then?” He asked when he had put the box on the counter next to the cake.
“I don’t know,” she replied and looked at Buffy. There was concern in her eyes, fear even. “The other one left it behind.”
Buffy told them how while she and Helen were walking to this place they saw two vampires who had belonged to Spike loading something onto a truck, one of them was familiar to Buffy, she had seen him before, a little man with glasses who had stolen the DuLac cross from that mausoleum earlier, but he again managed to escape, though apparently he abandoned the strange box, whatever it was.
They were now all assembled around that thing, staring at it, wondering what might be inside.
“Well,” George spoke loudly and lightly and Helen’s head jumped up, she hadn’t really noticed him being there, “I guess we’ll never know until we’ve opened it.”
To say that the surprise birthday party didn’t quite go according to the plan would be an understatement. The armored arm, as Xander had put it so well – “The Hellmouth’s answer to ‘what do you get the Slayer who has everything’” seemed to have choked not only Buffy’s throat, but also the party mood of everyone present.
Except perhaps George. “Looks like someone’s been shopping in the Knockturn Alley... I bet Borgin and Burkes would have killed
for an item like this,” he said gazing at the large arm.
But even he dropped the jokes and any attempts of cheering them up and lightning the things when Angel explained what the arm was part of and what it all meant: he guessed Drusilla was about to reassemble the Judge, an ancient demon, whose task it was to “purge” the earth and burn down all humans, returning the world to the vampires, monsters and their likes. Once reassembled the Judge would become invincible and no one would be able to stop him from fulfilling his terrible mission.
Despite Buffy’s pleas and objections it was agreed at last that Angel would take the arm and bring it away, dispose of it in some far land where no one would find it, and prevent Drusilla and Spike to achieve the armageddon.
Buffy at least insisted on accompanying Angel to the docks, from where he intended to board a ship, as he didn’t dare to travel by plane. The rest of the Scoobies along with the other party guests moved to leave the factory. It looked like they had a night full of research on this Judge ahead of them.
Only now as they all gathered in front of the abandoned building Helen noticed all the others, Hermione, Ron, George, Harry and Ginny, and... what the-
... she flushed when her eyes met Charlie’s. Panic rised inside of her and she shot Giles a quick look, but he was busy talking to Willow.
“Hi,” Charlie said quietly, smiling a little, though she could tell he was feeling at least as uncomfortable as she was.
She smiled back, nervously. It’s been a long time, and it was a one night stand, she had pretty much forgotten all about it, it had happened more out of a pathetic desperation rather than based on some actual feelings, she had repressed it afterwards, rather ashamed, and now the regret and the contrition were stinging in her chest anew.
“Hey Helen,” someone slapped her on her shoulder, “look whom I have brought with us! I thought you might be pleased to see him,” George said brightly and Helen felt her whole face burn up. Did George know?
She looked at Charlie in horror, but he shook his head imperceptibly, reassuring her that that wasn’t the case. She exhaled relieved.
“Uhm- I can take some of you in my car,” Giles interrupted them.
She looked up at him, feeling incredibly awkward standing there between Charlie and Giles. She had seen Charlie after that... event (an ignoble mistake would be a better term
, she thought), at the wedding last summer and at Christmas at the Burrow, yet both times somehow they amazingly managed to avoid each other, going on as if nothing had happened. But seeing him here, in this entirely other world, in this other life of hers, was different. And seeing him standing next to this other man, who as she hoped was about to play a very important part in her life and with whom she had been making love a few hours ago, love that – unlike in Charlie’s case – she would remember every detail of in two years time, she was sure of that
... well, realizing this and seeing Charlie here and now brought up all the shame and remorse she had pushed back. “Ah- you go ahead, you take the kids and-eh... we’ll walk, and then meet you at the library,” she said and Giles gave her a warm smile and short nod, then turned away to drive to the school with Willow, Cordelia and Hermione.
The rest of them insisted on walking, Xander was deepened in a talk with Harry and Ron, questioning them about Hogwarts and this Knockturn Alley. They were closely followed by Ginny and George, who kept arguing about something, and Helen and Charlie were the last ones, keeping the group led by Xander at a safe distance so that they wouldn’t be overheard.
“You’re the last person I’d have thought I’d meet here,” Charlie said nervously, “George only told me there was a birthday party of some new friends of his and I thought I’d come – anything is better than staying at home and listening to mother giving me another lecture on my hair or on why I don’t return back to England,” he smirked.
Helen grinned. “Is she still trying that? I don’t envy you there,” she said, feeling a little easier. “Look,” she stopped suddenly, “I’m sorry about all that-“
But Charlie raised his hands: “Forget it,” he said calmly, “we don’t have to talk about it.”
“We don’t?” She asked, hoping that the easy manner he was acting with was not just pretended or him being cool. It occurred to her that despite that one night they had shared together she knew as much as nothing about this man. They had hardly exchanged more than a few polite sentences during the whole length of their acquaintance.
“We don’t. It is forgotten on my part,” he reassured her. “And it will not happen again.”
She nodded thoughtfully.
“Don’t get me wrong,” he must have interpreted her expression in a wrong way, for he hurried to add, “it’s not... that I find you appalling, not at all, I do like you, you’re an... a very attractive woman, just...” He was gesturing with his hands fervently.
Helen laughed warmly. “Stop it, Charlie,” she shook her head amused, “it’s fine, same here-“
“And it had been amazing,” he turned red as he saw her eyes widen. “Actually,” he cleared his throat embarrassed, “I don’t remember that much,” he confessed quietly, grinning.
She bit her lip, for some reason she felt the urge to burst out laughing at the absurdity of the whole thing, but then she flushed a little, reminding herself that it was nothing to be proud of. “I think we’ll both agree it was a hapless slip-up. But none that would make the world tremble. Let’s leave it at that. And let’s hope no one will ever find out.... Molly would probably kill me for knowing that I raped her son.”
“Raped me? You wish,” Charlie said pretending to be outraged, “it’s not like it had been all your
idea,” he added indignantly, though not too seriously, and Helen sensed it was his way of saying that she wasn’t the only one to blame for what had happened, and she was grateful.
“Right. However, let’s... throw it behind us,” she said.
He watched her for a moment to see whether she really meant it and to make sure there were no hurt feelings left, then nodded, shrugged, and they both continued their way to the school. “Besides, I have a girlfriend now, so it’s your bad anyway,” he said dryly and Helen smiled into herself.
“No, it is yours actually,” she said smug and they both grinned at each other, eased and relieved and happy that the awkward part was done with and they were in fact able to make jokes about it.
They talked about all sorts of things on their way, mostly about Charlie’s new Romanian girlfriend Ileana and about his work and about dragons.
“So there is actually no chance of you returning to England and making your mother happy at last?” She asked.
He raised his brows as if an answer was unnecessary, but offered it anyway. “No, there isn’t. And what would I do there? There are no free dragons in England, there’d be nothing to do for me.”
“Hm, I guess not. Or you’d have to settle for something else, but I suppose after working with dragons everything else would seem quite dull to you.”
“I wouldn’t swap my job for anything, I’m happy where I am and at what I do, I wish mum would finally accept it,” he sounded tired as he said that and Helen didn’t wonder, she knew Molly could be very persistent and irksome on occasions.
“And anyway, it looks like we might have discovered a new species couple of weeks ago,” he suddenly turned at her excited. “It resembles the Hungarian Horntail, but his wings are larger, and he is also a shade paler,” he proudly pointed at the strange necklace he was wearing, made of dark blue scales. “We collected these after he had moved. Aren’t they neat? Now we are tracing him, he seems to occupy an unusually large territory. You should have seen him, he’s a real beauty.”
“So it’s a boy then?” she asked amused at the way how Charlie was talking about their new discovery, making it sound like it was a pet.
“Yesss. We named him Sándor. Anyway, we hope to find a female too once the mating season starts...”
The rest of the walk they spent talking about more dragons and about Romania, it turned out that Charlie now lived near the Transylvanian town Târgu Mureș, not too far from the place where Helen had grown up, and they even realized they had a few wizardings and even muggle acquaintances in common.
In front of the school the others waited for them.
“I think you best go back,” Helen said to the six of them.
“Yeah, if you’re getting an apocalypse, I’m out of here,” George said.
“Couldn’t we help somehow?” Ginny asked.
Helen shook her head. “I don’t think so. Besides, when Angel manages to get that thing away, we should be safe, so there’s probably nothing to worry about.”
“You’ll give us a call, if there’s something though? Anything we could do?”
“I will,” she said, then she remembered something and turned at Harry. Meanwhile Xander and Ron went in to tell Hermione they were returning and to get her out of the library before she would take roots there. “Harry, I wanted to talk to you, do you have a minute?”
“Sure,” Harry raised his brows in surprise and they sat down on one of the benches.
Very shortly, trying to sum it up in the best possible way she told him about the idea of Death Eaters wanting to become vampires that had occurred to her yesterday and about George’s objection, when he had pointed out that Horcruxes might have been a better way.
“So, I wanted to ask you as you had actually seen the horcruxes, handled them and all, well, you know better what they really are... how they work... what do you think about it?”
Harry sighed, the question clearly was too wearisome for this late an hour. “Uff, I don’t know, I think perhaps you should talk to Hermione about it...”
She nodded quickly. “Yes, and I will when I have some more time, but... you had this... bond – you’ll forgive me for a lack of a better word – with Voldemort, so I wondered what you think – in your opinion – would he even have considered something like that? Becoming a soulless demon?”
Harry laughed shortly, and spoke with a certain irony in his voice that Helen wouldn’t normally associate with him. “Well, funny you should ask that. You know he never struck me as much different – being as he was.”
“I don’t know,” he continued more mildly, “still I don’t quite agree that horcruxes were easily made. You would have to split your soul into parts, and that’s not what I’d call easy. It would make your soul very unstable, though I never understood what that meant exactly... But obviously only someone with a strong personality, or let’s say... clear, consistent and solid, even simple in a way, plain in his character would be able to do it and still remain himself, I think.”
“Hm,” Helen was staring at the pavement thoughtfully.
“So, put like this it actually doesn’t seem so very different from choosing the other path,” Harry said wondering.
“What do you mean?”
“Well, as a vampire you’d lose your soul, as a horcrux – if you weren’t careful, you could end up pretty much the same way.”
Helen nodded slowly. “If you didn’t get it right, you would only have a part of your soul left,” she said thinking aloud about what Harry had just insinuated, “and that part might not have been the best one.”
Harry shrugged. It was too late for a talk about things like that. “Anyway, seems to me that creating horcruxes means an unnecessary risk, while becoming a vampire...,” he frowned appalled, “well, at least you know the deal, the outcome is... foreseeable.”
In that moment Ron returned with Hermione, her face was all serious as she walked to Helen. “Merlin, I do hope for the sake of us all that they will never get this Judge together. Mr. Giles already found some records, not very encouraging... something about no weapon forged can destroy him
...” Then she turned at Ron: “I don’t feel right leaving now, maybe we should stay and-“
“And what?” Ron asked. “Help them read
? They can do that on their own, Hermione, Helen said she’ll call us, if there’s anything.”
Hermione seemed still hesitant, so Ron added carefully: “Besides, you have that exam on Tuesday coming, you don’t want to go unprepared,” he said quietly, but obviously he hit the right string. “I doubt they’ll excuse you because of some silly ogre threatening to bring about the end of the world.”
Hermione glared at him. “Fine. Helen, you’ll call us... I don’t know what we could do... it’s just... it seems so surreal that we should go back to London while you all might be facing that horrid thing that could actually bring pretty much the end to us all.”
George walked towards and Helen saw him roll his eyes, she suppressed a smile.
“You all go now. I’m sure we’ll manage. I’ll be in touch. Give my best regards to Angelina. Why didn’t she come by the way?”
“Ugh, seems like pregnancy and portkeys don’t go well together. Yesterday already, when we had returned to the Ministry from here, she was sick, and then after we took the portkey to your shore house this morning she spent the day bending over the toilet bowl, not a nice sight I tell you-“
“Thanks for sharing this with us, brother,” Charlie slapped his younger brother on the shoulder and made a gesture with his hands to assemble them all, “now let’s get going, it’ll be morning soon at home and I want to get at least a few hours of rest before mum starts her next offensive.”
They all said goodbye, hugs were given and hands shaken, and then all six of them disapparated at once and left Helen standing alone in the cool night.
She walked to the library, thinking about what Harry had said. Horcruxes or vampires? Then she remembered Quentin Travers and wondered what part he might have played in all this? Was he involved at all? Was he indeed a scion of the Traverses and a wizard? But that would, according to what Giles had told her before, go against the policy of the Council and the Ministry – no wizards were supposed to be part of the council ever. And maybe for good reasons
, she thought gloomily.
Yet right now there were far more pressing matters to deal with. For the next twenty-four hours neither her nor Giles had had the time to think about anything other than the Judge. Buffy had returned, to their surprise with Angel. They had been ambushed by Spike and Drusilla’s men, and the arm that Angel was supposed to bring away was stolen from them. They had spent the whole night with research as to how to eventually kill the Judge while Buffy and Angel had gone out to find out how far along Drusilla and Spike were with assembling the demon. On the next day Buffy had informed them that they needn’t search for the other body parts any longer, because she and Angel had seen the thing in the old factory, put together and very much alive, ready to burn all humanity down very soon.
Buffy was also worried, because Angel seemed to have disappeared afterwards. Also there was something different about her when she entered the library that morning, Helen noticed, something about her air, something changed, but she couldn’t tell.
And then, later that day, in the evening, just when they were about to despair as there seemed to be no way to stop the Judge, no weapon to be at hand strong enough to destroy him, something else occurred. Something that would change all their lives from then on, although none of them could predict yet how much: Angelus, the vampire without a soul, was back.AN: I hope you forgive me for not spending too much time on Buffy and Angel, but I didn’t want to rewrite the well-known stuff. The chapter title doesn’t make much sense then, but it’s at least a reference to Buffy’s and Angel’s first time too.
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