*~* The Slate *~*
Oliver looked up when Lily approached him.
"Hey, Mr. Wood." She said with a smirk on her face.
The double entendre was radiating off of her. Oliver wished to Merlin his last name wasn't Wood at times like this.
"I have I proposition for you." She purred.
"What?" Oliver squeaked.
"Not THAT kind, gutterbrain. I wanna learn to ride... a broom."
Oliver glared at her. "You know how to fly, Lily."
"No. There's a keeper spot open on the Slytherin team. I want it."
"I wanna play."
He blinked. She was like Willow. SO very like Willow. He had to stamp down how she made his skin hum sometimes. "All right then. Meet me here every night after supper."
"Surely you didn't think I could teach you everything in one night?"
She wriggled her eyebrows at him.
"Oh for Merlin's sake, who's the pervert now?"
"Take a nap before dinner." Harry whispered to Ron and Hermione.
"Together?" Ron said. "Harry Potter, you pervert."
"Shut up. And you wish." Hermione hissed.
"I do wish."
Hermione ignored him. "Why, Harry?"
"I've got a surprise for you."
"If it's a severed head I'm gonna be VERY upset." A voice said right in Harry's ear. A MALE voice.
Harry jumped. "Malfoy!" He still wasn't quite over the whole biting incident with Malfoy from last term.
Draco helped himself to a seat next to Harry. "Planning mischief, are we?"
Several of the Gryffindors were glaring at the audacity of the Slytherin Prince sitting at their table.
"What's it to you?"
"It's plenty to me. I happen to know Dawn didn't come in 'til the wee hours of the morning today. I'm betting your little excursion involves her, so I'll be tagging along."
"Tagging along for what?" Ginny asked as she sat next to Draco.
Harry groaned. It was becoming an ordeal. Already.
Faith turned when she heard the door open. It was just past midnight. She blinked. There was a herd of teenagers staring at her. Harry and Dawn had said they'd come back. They'd been filling her in. And they'd brought friends this time. Faith had been anticipating them this time. She was in jeans and a gray sweater. Her hair fell in one fat braid down her back.
"Hello, Faith." Harry said cheerfully.
She actually smiled. Dear God, she liked this kid. She got a very strong survivor vibe off of him. Like the one on Buffy. This time she wasn't gonna muck it up. She would trust. She'd try anyway. She was getting another chance at something. Why not be open to a few suggestions?
Faith scanned the crowd. "First off, Red, when'd you get streaks of midnight in those fiery locks? Second, who's the Spike-alike? And third, who's the cutie?"
"C-cute?" Ron sputtered.
"Well, actually tall, red, and handsome, I was talking about super curls next to you with her big brown doe eyes, but now that you mention it, I could do with a bit of you too."
Hermione had gone deep red. Dear Merlin, this Faith woman thought she was cute? And Ron? Well, she couldn't argue with the Ron being handsome part. He was.
"Faith..." Dawn said in a warning tone.
"All right, D. I'll back off. Didn't mean to offend. Not this time anyway. I'm just wicked cagey all up in here. I know it's bigger than my last room, and it has a view, but I don't know if that makes me better or worse, you know?"
"Are you doing all right? Considering."
"Considering. Considering the people who were supposed to be the ones looking out for me are trying to kill me again."
"They won't find you here. And even if they do, they'll find a whole mess of trouble before they find you."
Faith grinned. "They did make you out of B, huh?"
Draco cleared his throat.
"Oh sorry." Dawn said. "Faith, this is Draco, Ginny, Lily, Ron, and Hermione."
"What of it?"
"Nothing. It's cool. Different."
"So someone's trying to kill you." Hermione said.
Faith raised an eyebrow.
"She's the Giles of the group." Dawn offered.
"Sharp as a tack and twice as smart?"
Faith grinned. They were all being so polite to her for what she was. It wasn't long before they were all sprawled across the carpet before the fire. She was telling them what she knew. They were telling her who they were. Faith was more than sort of fascinated. This Draco kid was related to Spike, so her Spike-alike comment hadn't been so far off. Lily was Red's vampire doppleganger turned human. And she had thought that nothing could top Harry's and Dawn's stories from the night before.
Dawn was fascinated by Faith.
She didn't know her pull towards the slayer would be as it was. She didn't know if it was because of the blood in her veins or something more. The memories she had of this slayer were not pleasant. She remembered the pain Faith had caused Buffy. That pain was real. Dawn being there for it was not. This, here, now, was real.
Faith laughing at Ron and Draco snipping at one another was real.
Harry's hand in her own was real.
Wesley standing in the doorway gaping at them was real.
Oh holy crap!
Faith jumped up. "Wes."
Everyone scrambled to their feet, trying not to look too comfortable.
"What have we here?" Wesley said as he folded his arms across his chest.
"What it is... is..."
"It's like this..."
Wesley arched his brow. "Hmm. I'm afraid I'll just have to take twenty points from Slytherin and Gryffindor... each for being out of bed after hours." He looked at his watch. "Way after hours."
"Wes, don't punish-"
"Not a word."
A muscle in Faith's jaw twitched. She glared at him.
"I am your watcher in this matter, and I told you the rules."
"And I told you how well I do with rules. Hell, you KNOW how well I do with rules, Wes."
"Well, let's just give up now, shall we? I'll just turn you over to them like they wanted me to before."
Faith sucked in air through her nose harshly.
"Leave her alone." Dawn hissed, looking every inch like Buffy in anger.
Wesley was taken aback.
Faith stared in awe. Something odd tightened in her chest. She so did not deserve B's little sis sticking up for her. "It's ok, D. He's right." Faith turned and walked to the window. She pushed it open slightly. "I'm very lucky, and I don't need to be making a fuss. He's right. I know the rules. You do what you want, Wes. You're the watcher."
Dawn was shaking in anger. She glared meanly at Wesley. "Professor, you might want to take away another twenty points from Slytherin in my name."
"Because you're a dickhole."
"D-Dawn." Harry gasped.
Everyone watched as Dawn stormed out of the room, knocking Wesley in the shoulder quite hard on her way out. Harry was stunned. He knew his girlfriend was all about fair play, and she tended to get really offended on other people's behalf.
But she'd just called a professor a dickhole.
And where on earth had she heard THAT swear? Harry glared at Draco and Lily.
After the stunning silence following Dawn's outburst and the others' assurances they would go straight back to their dorms, Wesley was at last alone with Faith.
"I'm sorry." He said quietly.
She spun around. "Don't!"
"You never... you don't need to say you're sorry, Wes."
"Yes, I do."
"No. I don't expect it. I don't deserve to hear it."
"Maybe I need to say it." He snapped as he stalked over to her. "I would never turn you over to them."
She stared at him for a very long time. "I know."
"I won't fail you this time."
"You didn't fail me last time."
"No, you didn't. I failed you."
"Look, here's the deal, Wes, no more blaming? Let's say we're even? Sort of. Clean Slate or something."
"All right." He paused. "That's quite a guard dog you have there."
"Never been called a dickhole before."
"They found me. Harry and Dawn. I didn't leave the room."
"Don't you think it perhaps time that you did?" A third voice asked.
Faith and Wesley both spun around to see Dumbledore in the doorway with Alastor Moody.
Moody thunked himself over to the girl. "Feel like a bit of training again tonight?"
Dumbledore looked at him. "Not tonight, Alastor. She's to face the school tomorrow. We'll need her well-rested."
"Wh-what?" Faith asked. "I thought I was in hiding."
"You are. The Watcher's Council in not welcome here. Most of them are muggles and could not find Hogwarts anyhow."
Faith smiled. He was a nice guy, Albus Dumbledore, but she could see how he could also be deadly when crossed. The power on this man with his nice white beard and long white hair nearly made her knees weak. She could almost taste it. He was wicked powerful. It must really irritate the bad guys that he was so good. When she'd tumbled into the darkness, it had really irked her that Buffy still wanted to be a champion. That she still wanted to dance in the light. Faith had not understood then. She did now though. And Wes was giving her a chance to revel in her understanding.
"So, I can come out of this room? It's safe?"
"All of the staff knows you are here. I knew it only a matter of time before Mr. Potter found you. I think it best we don't hide you up in this tower like Rapunzel since you haven't quite the hair for it just yet."
Faith chuckled again. He was so corny sometimes. She loved it. It was like a whole other life for her here. And she'd be damned again if she wasn't going to grab it with both hands. If the headmaster thought it time to unveil her, then she'd be unveiled with pride.
Faith was actually nervous as Wesley led her into the great hall for breakfast.
All eyes were on her. There was so much air around her as well. She could pass out from it. The real Moody was hiding up in the tower. He'd been spending his time in the rooms a floor below her. He was fascinated by her speed and reflexes. He'd also been training Sirius Black on how to be more 'Moody'. Faith was fascinated by him.
Harry's godfather. He was a full-on babe and a half. Sexier than Giles even, and Giles was damn sexy. But he was dead gone on Tara. Willow's ex-girlfriend Tara. Faith remembered her. Nervous little sort. Pretty too. And Willow had switched teams again it seemed. Too bad. Red was always a bit of a cutie. But according to Black, she was very much in love with the potions professor... who Faith had discovered fairly quickly Sirius Black held absolutely no love for.
Faith's eyes scanned the teachers' table as they got closer. She froze. She knew they were here. She almost couldn't look at them. Giles and Willow. And even then she could see Spike and Anya. Spike looked ready to pounce on her if she made one false move. There was another guy sitting next to Anya who was watching her with the most intense gaze she'd ever seen.
She took her seat quietly next to Wesley. He gripped her hand under the table.
"You're doing fine."
She felt a great swell of something for him. Everyone had always expected her to be so tough in the past... even Wesley, and here he was treating her like glass. She sort of liked it.
There was a tinkling of flatware on glass, and Dumbledore stood.
"Good morning, everyone. I am sure most of you have noticed our guest. Her name is Faith. Just Faith, like Madonna, as I was informed on my introduction to her some weeks ago."
There was a general chuckle for the more muggle-knowledgeable among the student body.
"She is a slayer. She is here under my protection. She is not to be trifled with. You might see her around the grounds both in daylight and not. And if she is so inclined, she is most welcome to sit in on the classes of her choice."
Faith's head shot up at this. She could go to classes?
"Please show her the same respect you showed Miss Buffy Summers last term. Thank you."
Faith looked down at her plate. Her head was spinning. He'd never said she could have free reign.
"Faith?" Wesley whispered.
"I'm really free." She whispered.
"Are you all right?" He was concerned. She seemed to be in shock. But Albus Dumbledore was like that as far as Wesley knew. He trusted so much. Probably because he could see right through most people. It was the biggest proof to Wesley that he was not wrong to protect Faith. That there was good in her.
She was expecting it.
Faith didn't even flinch as her arm was grabbed in a harsh grip, and she was spun about.
"Hey!" Wesley snapped.
"Spike!" Willow called as she caught up with the blonde vampire who was glaring at Faith with all he had.
A tall and scowling man in all black was standing very close to Willow. This had to be the boyfriend. Damn, but he was evil-looking. Not who she'd expect to see Red with. Giles had managed to catch up with Anya and Mr. Intense Stare Guy from earlier in tow.
"No tricks, killer."
Faith went rigid.
"Spike, let's not-" Giles began.
"I don't trust you." Spike hissed at her.
"That's really funny coming from you, peroxide. Keep sticking your nose in my face, and we'll see how dusty you get."
"Bring it on, bitch."
"Why so angry, Spike? Still got your hard-on for B?"
"Stop it." Anya hissed.
Several of the teachers and a few of the students were starting to gather.
"She'd never... because it's wrong."
Spike's fist hit Faith before anyone could move. The brunette's head snapped back with the force of it. He'd busted her lip.
"What the..." Giles was looking from one to the other.
Faith dove at Spike.
"No!" Willow held up a hand and Faith was held in mid-leap. Spike tried to lunge. "I said no!" He was held as well.
"Spike hit her, and it didn't hurt him." Anya whispered.
Remus looked at the students gathering. "Get to class, please."
"Of course!" Hermione gasped.
Remus grabbed the sleeve of her robe to hold her there. "I mean it. I'll start taking points. Get to class."
The students dispersed rather quickly. All but Hermione.
He looked at her. "You were saying?"
Everyone turned to her.
Hermione blushed. "Well, i-it's simple really. Spike's chip is an electronic device. Electricity doesn't hold up in Hogwarts. Muggle electronics don't work here. There's too much magic. It makes muggle stuff go all haywire, so it's likely deactivated Spike's chip, you know, while he's here."
Willow waved her hand, and Spike was set upon his feet again.
"Do it." The redhead said.
Willow and Spike stared at one another for a very long time.
Then he sprang quite suddenly. Anya screamed. Both Giles and Remus made a grab for the vampire. Faith struggled against the magic holding her and screeched 'no'.
But there was no need for any of it.
Spike's neck was caught in a viselike grip, and the vampire found himself looking into the dark eyes of a very angry wizard whose black hair framed his very scowling face.
"I rather think not."