Meredith was staring at Spike in a way that could only be described as creepy. Pevensie elbowed her and smiled at Angel in her fake way. This was awkward. Everyone who’d decided to participate in the Thanksgiving dinner was gathered in the largest sitting room. There were snacks set out. Buffy was in the kitchen with Hannah. Just about everyone else had been kicked out. Buffy was acting all crazy.
Andromeda smiled when she walked in. She was pleased to have been invited. Teddy was spending the day with Harry. She frowned at the two gentlemen on the sofa looking pinched. Andromeda motioned Pevensie over.
“No, I don’t know where Giles is,” Pevensie said instantly. “Or Draco. I suspect hiding. Buffy’s being crazy.”
“You do know there are two vampires sitting on the settee, yes? You’re vampire slayers, correct?”
“That’s just Spike and Angel. They have souls.”
“Oh hey, guys, this is Giles’ girlfriend Andromeda,” Pevensie said loudly.
“Also my aunt,” Draco snapped, walking in with a giant punch bowl full of liquid goodness.
Buffy followed him out of the kitchen. When he started to place it on the end of one of the tables, she made a screeching noise and held up her hands. “It has to go in the middle. Empty cups will be on the right with full cups on the left. If you put it on the end, it will mess up the balance!”
Spike and Angel exchanged a look.
“Buffy, is there anything I can do to help?” Andromeda asked in a mild tone.
Illyria staggered in. “Where are the roasted dead birds? I was promised roasted dead birds.”
Spike frowned. “Is she... drunk? Or is her energy acting up again?”
“Please tell me she is not drunk,” Angel muttered.
“There will be no alcohol!
” Buffy snapped. “We are going to sit down and have a nice Thanksgiving dinner where there will be pleasant conversation and no violence of any sort!”
She stomped back into the kitchen.
Andromeda just watched with wide eyes. “Why do I feel like I’m going to need alcohol before this is over?”
“It was like this last time?” Angel asked Spike.
Spike just nodded yes.
Pevensie went and scooped her and Meredith some punch.
Meredith took a sip and frowned. “This tastes funny.”
“Shhh,” Pevensie said, looking around to make certain Buffy had not heard. “I don’t care if it tastes like week old bath water - you drink it and tell her it’s yummy.”
Giles chose that moment to enter. He made a beeline to Andromeda and kissed her on the cheek. “Hello my dear.” He handed her a coffee cup and murmured in her ear, “You will need this.”
She took a long pull and smiled as the warmth of the alcohol in it filled her belly. “I suspected I might. Good grief, Rupert. Is she always like this when she cooks a meal?”
“Only on American Bank holidays.” He took a pull of his own coffee cup of fortified mead and heard a rhythmic thumping coming from behind him.
He and Andromeda turned around to see Moody and Verity standing in the doorway. Moody examined the liquid in the mugs and commented, “It’s come to that already, then?”
The old man stumped further into the room.
Verity moved over to the other slayers.
“We are merely... cushioning ourselves for future events,” Giles explained diplomatically.
Moody smiled and withdrew his flask. “It’s probably an excellent thing that I brought my own ‘apple juice’ with me, then.” He took a swig. “I make it myself.”
Giles hadn’t known that Moody had access to vast amounts of apples. Andromeda, on the other hand, did.
“Alastor, since when do you drink anything you don’t make yourself?”
“I drink things that I buy at the muggle shop in the village.” Moody said. “So long as they’re still sealed. I also will drink from a new bottle of Ogden’s Old, provided I open it myself and it hasn’t been tampered with.” He drank from the flask. “But I’ve got the Applejack down to a science, now, and I always did like it better anyway.”
Giles raised his mug. “To potent potables.”
“To Hodge Podge and other Jeopardy categories!” Pevensie called loudly.
“I was promised roasted dead birds,” Illyria said loudly before she hiccuped so hard it caused her to fall over.
Andromeda looked on with wide eyes. “I don’t think we’re the only ones drinking today.”
“Sláinte,” Moody exclaimed, completely ignoring Illyria, and took a sip.
Everyone else followed suit.
Buffy was trying to stay in one place in the kitchen but things kept pulling her in different directions. Most importantly, she could not get the stupid turkey to the proper temperature. How did those commercials make it look so easy!
“Okay, what is wrong with this oven?! I am trying to cook this damn turkey and it looks done but the internal temperature is still way too low. How can it be so hot on the outside and still be only 90 degrees?” She turned to Hannah. “Your thermometer is broken. This needs to be at least 165 degrees, and it says it’s only 90!”
“Buffy,” Hannah said evenly. “I’m going to have to ask you to calm down. Everything will be all right. Stop stabbing the turkey with the thermometer. It’s not a vampire.”
The house elf Tindy tittering with giggles, but quickly covered it with a cough. She stuffed the empty bottle of liquor she’d dumped into the punch bowl while no one was looking into the trash bin. Master Draco always like his punch full of liquor. He’d told her once that it was the only was he could make it through those ‘special’ Malfoy dinners. Tindy was a good house elf. She remembered everything her little lord said to her.
Buffy glowered. “It’s still broken and I swear the turkey is going to start burning but it’s not cooking. Maybe the oven is broken.” She leaned down and narrowed her eyes at the little thermometer. “Nope. It’s your thermometer. The one I used to use goes way higher than this. Why in the world does this one only go up to 100? I’ve practically topped out. My old one went up to 250!”
Hannah considered this for a moment. “Oh! They don’t use the metric system in America. My thermometer is in celsius, Buffy. I’d say the turkey is done. Probably well past.”
She inhaled sharply and turned to Hannah with her eyes wide. Had she just ruined the turkey? An overcooked turkey would ruin the entire thing. “What
?” she screeched loudly.
Hannah pointed her wand at Buffy. “Calm down. It smells rather nice and still looks juicy. Don’t make me ask Theo to sedate you.”
Hannah used her wand to remove the turkey from the oven and place it on a large trivet on the counter. She did a spell and noticed the bird was just right.
“It’s fine. The skin might be a bit crispy, but the inside is looking quite nice.”
That was a good thing, because Buffy was about to hyperventilate. Instead, she moved onto something else. “Where the hell
is the cranberry sauce?”
Hannah gave Draco a look of alarm as he dared to enter the kitchen.
“All right,” he said loudly. “You need to take it from a level red alert back to at least an orange or a yellow. You’re acting like a crazy person, and let’s just consider who’s speaking here.”
Buffy glared at him. “I would be fine if the elves would stop moving things and if you used thermometers that I can actually understand. Now get out of my kitchen before I drop kick you out.”
Draco held up his hands in surrender and gave Hannah a pitying look before leaving.
“Buffy, that wasn’t very nice. Draco was only trying to help. You’re being a bit... manic today. Everything will be wonderful. Try not to worry so much, and try not to snap at the Malfoy. He lights things on fire when he’s upset, you know.”
Buffy ignored her and started setting crackers on a plate, rearranging them when she wasn’t happy. “I want this to be perfect. We’re not in America. I know some of the girls miss it and this is a chance for normalcy. It’s a holiday dinner. And no one is going to ruin it for me.”
Hannah didn’t say anything to that. She didn’t think it would do any good. She just went and checked on the potatoes and knew at this point she would insist she be the one to mash them because she needed to get some of her current frustrations out.
“Hey,” Verity said, sidling up to the table where Pevensie and Meredith were drinking cautiously from punch cups. “I’m not overdressed, am I? We’ve never been to a Thanksgiving before and Granddad made me wear this.” She indicated the white tea gown with the salmon-colored sash that went around its empire waist with her lace-gloved hand.. “I think it was my great-grandmum’s... Apparently we are nearly the same size.” She wrinkled her nose.
Pevensie looked down at her own jean skirt and t shirt. “I can let you borrow some clothes if you want. Don’t worry. Meredith tried to put on a cocktail dress until I made her put on her usual librarian-in-training clothing.”
“Pevensie, this punch tastes awfully funny. I think it might have been made with spoiled ingredients. I don’t think you should have any more.”
Pevensie gave her a stubborn face and ladeled herself another cup.
Verity did the same, and then took a sip. Her eyes widened, and then she took another. “The only thing spoiling this punch is a bottle of firewhiskey.” She took another sip. “Scratch that. Two bottles.” She snickered. “Nobody tell Granddad.”
“This has alcohol in it?” Meredith whispered in a scandalized tone.
Then she took another sip.
Alice entered with Xander behind her and Pevensie waved the blonde over.
“Oh, thank Merlin,” Verity sighed with relief, “You’ve dressed up too.” She picked up a cupful of punch and held it out to Alice.
“Xander told me to,” Alice said.
“And she listens to whatever Xander says,” Hiran added as she joined them.
“He’s real smart,” Alice replied. “And he listens to me when I talk and doesn’t look at me like I’m crazy, and he likes Bacon.”
Rona, Vi, Caridad and Shannon walked in and bee-lined towards Spike and Angel. The Sunnydale slayers were particularly cordial to Spike.
Pevensie plunked her chin in one hand and studied the vampires. “You know, gypsies cursed Angel the first time to give him a soul. Then Willow re-souled him - twice - after he lost it, but Spike... asked for his. That’s kinda heavy, you know?”
“It is a bit,” Verity agreed, “Until you read Mr. Giles’ diaries and sort of piece together his motivations. Then I don’t know if I should think it’s sweet or be horrified.”
“I didn’t say it was sweet. I actually think it’s creepy, but the fact that he’s killed two slayers does make me want to fight him.”
Meredith made a face. “I want to study him.”
Verity laughed and took another swig of her punch. “He’d eat you for breakfast, Pev, and you can have him, Mere... He’s not my type.”
“I don’t want to have carnal knowledge of him,” Meredith said. “It would be like studying a mental patient.”
Pevensie cracked up laughing at the words ‘carnal knowledge’.
“Not your type of what, Verity?” Hiran asked.
“What is your type then?” Alice asked. “We all know Pevensie prefers hers furry come the full moon.”
“I really don’t know what my type is yet,” Verity responded. “But I do know that William and Draco are not it. I had a boyfriend at Hogwarts before... Before I was called, and he looked a bit like a cross between Xander and Mac’s cousin Cullen with a smidge of Harry Potter thrown in for good measure. So, I suppose you could say my type is the dark and handsome type.” She leaned in and told the others conspiratorially, “I also wouldn’t mind a snog with Oz or Charlie Weasley.”
Her brows furrowed. “What does it feel like to snog a bloke with a goatee? Rhys wasn’t old enough to have one.”
“Well, it’s too bad Oz isn’t here yet, we could have you go find out,” Meredith teased.
“I think Blaise is pretty,” Alice said.
“And he knows it too,” Pevensie replied.
“We know he likes pretty blondes,” Verity stated. “Hannah might have a run for her money.” She smiled, knowing full well that nothing of the sort would ever happen. “Also, I don’t think that Oz would take too kindly to being ambushed that way. Plus, I think he’s still pining for Willow.”
“Hannah would kill me,” Alice said. “I think she’s kind of fierce.”
“She is,” Meredith said with a smile. “Especially about Blaise.”
“I dunno, Verity,” Pevensie slurred. “I think Oz might benefit from knowing someone has a crush on him. Maybe one of us should tell him.”
Her eyes got huge. “Don’t you even dare.”
“So this is where the grown-ups are hanging out,” Xander said.
Draco stomped up to them. “Buffy threw me out of the kitchen.”
“I stand corrected,” Xander said. “This is not where the grown-ups are hanging out.”
“Well, not literally, but she threatened to drop kick me, Giles. Something has to be done. She’s gone mental, she has.”
Giles nodded once. “I will be happy to do something. Andie, dear, would you be so kind to conjure two cups?” He waved his hand and a spinning orange portal about 2 feet across appeared in mid-air. He reached into it and removed a bottle.
He uncorked it and poured a generous amount into each of the cups that had appeared in Andromeda’s hand. Then, he corked it back up and put it away. The portal closed after he withdrew his hand.
He handed a cup to Draco. “Consider action taken. Skol.” He toasted in Draco’s general direction, and then took a sip.
Xander received the other cup.
Draco looked at the cup suspiciously.
“It’s Brody MacDougal’s Fortified Mead. Andromeda brought back from Hogsmeade the day that I had the aurors haul Terry Boot away.” Giles looked a little smug about that.
“I don’t like Potter,” Draco said. “But that was one of my best days ever. He was tolerable that day.”
Xander peered into the cup then looked at everyone else. “Are we all getting drunk?”
“The blue girl’s already drunk,” Draco said, pointing to where Illyria was talking to a potted plant.
“You remember that first Thanksgiving after we forcibly reconfigured the library?”
Xander took a long pull from his glass then.
“Willow has mentioned some of the stories before,” Andromeda said. “They’re always so... colorful. I heard the vampires were curious about me. Perhaps an introduction, Rupert? I’ve never met vampires before.”
“I’d bloody well rather that you stayed away from vampires, but you have a point. These ones won’t try to kill you.”
“At least not right away.” He looked completely serious.
Draco leaned around everyone and glared at Spike and Angel. “Remember I am fond of setting things on fire!”
Xander chuckled, surprised he and Draco finally had some common ground.
Andromeda gave both of them a glare, spun on her heel and headed right for where Spike and Angel were seated on the couch.
Giles shook his head and chuckled. “Excuse me.” He followed his girlfriend over to where the vampires sat.
“Angel, Spike, I would like you to meet my Andromeda. Andromeda, this is Angel and Spike.” Giles indicated them each in turn.
“It’s very nice to meet you,” Angel said very politely.
He went to shake her hand and Spike got in between them.
“He used to keep me chained up in his bathtub. Don’t let Captain Forehead get too close,” Spike said, nodding at Angel. “He’s liable to go all soulless and have himself a killing spree.”
Giles raised an eyebrow. “As you recall, I was more than happy to let Riley have you, but since you wouldn’t have that, you had to hide with us, and I wasn’t about to let you roam about my flat at all hours of the day or night.” To Andromeda, he said, “Don’t worry about Angel. It takes quite a bit for him to lose his soul.”
Andromeda nodded and nudged Spike to the side in a graceful manner before extending her hand to Angel’s. Then she looked at Spike with a grin.
“You remind me of my nephew.” Then her grin turned into a smirk. “I can see why Buffy chose each of you. Though I do hope no one causes Theo any trouble just because they are vampire ex boyfriends. I’m rather fond of him, and Draco isn’t the only one who likes to set things on fire.”
All of this had been said rather pleasantly, as if she were discussing the weather.
Spike looked at Giles. “Oh I like this one.”
“Yes, because Giles lives for your good opinion,” Angel said.
The watcher just laughed.
Oz walked in the room with Anya. She had already warned him that Buffy would be a crazy person today. Well, Anya had a more colorful way of saying it, but that was what it boiled down to. She expected her Thanksgiving dinner to be perfect, and she would kill anyone who tried to prevent this.
Oz gave a head nod to Angel and just glared at Spike before walking over to where Xander and Draco were standing with Mad-Eye. Oz kind of liked Mad-Eye. The retired Auror reminded him of one of those crotchety old men all the neighborhood kids were terrified of, but turned out to actually be a really cool guy. Sort of like the “scary German guy” in the movie Monster Squad.
He frowned at Illyria because she was sitting on the floor and whispering to a potted plant while she rubbed its leaves in a loving manner.
“Is the blue ex-god chick okay?”
“I think she’s drunk,” Xander said. “Should be fun today. Good times, good times.”
Moody had forgone his normal duster for an edwardian-style suitcoat, but it had all of the same charms on it as the duster did. He reached into one of the pockets and pulled the wine bottle out about halfway. “Speaking of... Did the two of you want a little something? I’ve got Applejack. You’ll need cups. Also, if Applejack isn’t your preference, Giles has some fortified mead from the Three Broomsticks.”
“I’m good, thanks,” Oz said.
If everyone else was partaking, it might be prudent to stay sober. Not that he expected Giles, Andromeda or Moody to get sloppy drunk, but things had a way of going wonky with this crew. What you intended wasn’t always what actually happened.
He smiled when he saw Willow enter the room.
Anya walked up next to him and sighed. “If any trolls show up this time, I’m leaving the country for Christmas. Demon or not, this body can only take so much.”
“But then we’ll miss your lovely story about the real Santa Claus,” Xander said.
Her eyes widened comically. “Oh god, do they not know? Do they still expect a happy fat man who leaves presents and eats their cookies and drinks the milk they put out?”
“See, now you have to stay for Christmas. If only to kill their dreams,” Xander said causing Oz to chuckle into his glass of sparkling cider a house elf had just handed him.
“How’s she doing?” Willow asked.
Xander looked at Anya. “So far no inappropriate stories or comments.”
“Well Anya says if trolls come she’s skipping Christmas, but now she’s torn because she wants to tell the real Santa story,” Oz said.
Willow had this look.
“What?” Anya said. “You act like I go wild and tell inappropriate stories at every gathering.”
“I meant Buffy. How’s Buffy doing? I trust Anya to be herself.”
“She’s gone quite manic,” Moody reported. “Already thrown young Malfoy from the kitchen, and I heard some ranting earlier regarding centigrade thermometers.”
“I think I should go check on her,” Willow said. “Isn’t Hannah in there?”
“It’s your funeral,” Xander said. “Remember when you thought frozen peas were perfectly fine?”
Willow made a face at him before heading to the kitchen.
“If she’s not back in half an hour, we’re sending Oz after her,” Xander said.
“You’re a werewolf. You’d be harder to kill or drop-kick or whatever.”
“I say we send Spike,” Oz offered.
Willow stuck her head in the kitchen. “Buffy? Hannah?”
Hannah spotted WIllow and shook her head no and tried to shoo Willow out. There was no point in anyone else being tortured.
Buffy whirled around, the toppings for the sweet potatoes in a large ceramic bowl that she was currently whisking. “You know, this is your fault. If you hadn’t gone all ‘Professor Rosenberg’ on me our first year of college, Thanksgiving would be just a holiday where I have to watch my carb intake and be happy about Black Friday sales, but no.” The more she spoke, the faster she whisked. “I know the truth. No sugar-coated turkey day for Buffy. Now all I can think of is the death and destruction and the no bison.”
She slammed the bowl down on the counter. “Why can’t we have just one normal holiday?”
“Nothing crazy ever happen on St Patrick’s Day or Easter,” Willow offered. “And I don’t think it’s fair that you blame me. I came in here to see if I could help, but now I think I’m gonna go back to the formal dining room.”
Hannah glared at Buffy as she mashed the potatoes rather viciously. “Well, that was just splendid. We could have used the help. I certainly hope you’re pleased with yourself.”
Hannah started muttering to herself and mashing harder.
Buffy made a pouty face and started whisking again. “This is the first time where everyone has been together and we actually had time to celebrate. After our freshman year, mom was sick, and then the year after I had just come back from the dead for the second time. The year after that was when the First Evil tried to kill all slayers and my house was way too run over. Since then, we’ve been scrambling to get all the new slayers and we’re finally on our feet. I just want one little piece of normalcy. I’m not even going to pretend Christmas will be normal.”
“Christmas will be wonderful,” Hannah said as she added condensed milk and butter to the mashed potatoes.
She was thinking of Blaise.
“I’ll have a family to be with again.”
Theo walked into the room. Draco made a loud groaning noise.
“Hey, Theo,” Oz said, saluting the other man with his glass.
Theo walked up to where Oz and Xander were standing with Anya and Moody. Giles, Draco and Andromeda were talking to Spike and Angel. The blue woman Illyria was speaking to a plant. Rona, Shannon, Vi and Caridad were huddled together. Various other slayers were hanging about - most of them American. Pevensie, Verity and their friends were hovered around the punch bowl giggling. It looked like a nice gathering of people. Buffy should be pleased with it. She’d been so tense the last few days - both with planning the dinner and her exes showing up.
“Super crazy,” Xander said. “Moody has special apple juice if you’d like to dull the pain.”
Theo raised his brows. “Perhaps I should go to the kitchen and-”
“No,” Xander, Oz and Anya said in unison.
“I, for one, don’t understand the difference in this ritualistic sacrifice than all the others,” Anya said, crossing her arms. “Is it the pie? Or the shopping deals that occur the day after, that none of us will get a chance to partake in since we aren’t actually in America?”
“While I am by no means an expert on the matter,” Moody stated, “Mr. Giles warned me about Miss Summers’ behavior and explained that the first holiday that she behaved this way for was one where her mother was absent. Of all of the people gathered here today, I can understand wanting to recreate the familiar and observe traditions. As for the feast itself, it seems to me to be a fairly standard celebration of abundance, much like our Harvest Celebration, if a bit less structured.”
“I can understand that,” Theo agreed. “We come from a culture where tradition is held sacred by some. If this dinner is one of Buffy’s traditions, having it continue despite losses is understandable.”
“Can we get this guy some apple juice,” Xander said. “Theo, you aren’t going to make it through today if you’re thirsty.”
Moody conjured up a teacup that looked like it belonged at the Mad Hatter’s table and handed it to the healer. He pulled the bottle out of his pocket and pulled the stopper out with a FTHLUNG!
The old Auror poured a generous portion into Theo’s cup and said, “Bottoms up!” He restoppered the bottle and put it away before he was caught with it.
Theo sipped it politely. He would only have this one cup. If for no other reason than he suspected there should be at least one sober person who Buffy would have trouble pummelling at this dinner to talk her down if she got any more manic.
He turned when houseleves started parading in with bowls and platters of food followed by Hannah and then Buffy - both girls carrying rather large roasted birds.
“I do hope everyone is hungry,” Hannah said.
Giles strolled over with Andromeda, with Angel and Spike in tow. “Everything looks delicious,” he told her.
Over at the punch bowl, Verity giggled a bit manically when Illyria attempted to get to her feet after hearing that it was time to eat and ended up staggering into the couch and falling into it. “Half-Breeds. I require assistance. It is time to consume the roasted birds!”
“Bloody buggering hell,” Spike muttered in such a low tone only Angel heard him.
“Completely drunk,” Angel replied just as softly. “You-”
“No you,” Spike said.
They rock-paper-scissored it out with Angel’s scissor’s cutting Spike’s paper.
“Come on then, Blue,” Spike said. “Let old Spike walk you to the table for the feast.”