We All Fall Down
*~* We All Fall Down *~*
The next day dawned with a sense of foreboding
Amy was nervous. It was well into the day, and Spike had not come for her. They were supposed to walk today. She stayed in the infirmary as long as she dared. Everyone else was asleep in the infirmary was asleep still... or taking nap while sitting with someone. She slipped from her bed and tiptoed across the cold stone floor. The chill of it was so biting that after a few minutes, the tips of her toes had gone a little numb. She passed several people who looked at her oddly, but she continued quietly to her destination.
One of those people was Harry Potter.
Harry rushed off towards the Slytherin common room. He was fairly sure that Amy wasn't supposed to be wandering around the castle with bare feet in her hospital gown with a blanket wrapped around her. He needed to tell Dawn she was out and about, so Dawn would tell Willow.
Spike started awake at the banging on his door. His head was pounding. Damn, but hated having a hangover. Hangover? He'd only been asleep for a few hours. He might possibly still be a bit drunk. Strangely he had broken images in his head. Had Draco called him a drunken git? And somehow he remembered kissing Lily, and Severus carrying him. And Willow and Dawn and Angel and Angel's brat had been there. It was just like the whiskey version of the Wizard of Oz. And you were there and you and you...
He rolled out of bed and padded across the floor. His hair was sticking up on one side, and all he had on were a pair of jeans that were hanging a bit open, the button on them not being buttoned. Spike threw open the door, ready to give whomever it was hell for disturbing him, but he was shocked to see Amy standing there in her blanket.
"Amy? Luv? What is it? What's wrong?"
Amy just smiled at him. Then she removed the blanket and tried to wrap it around his bare chest.
"I'm not cold, luv." Spike chuckled as he took the blanket off and wrapped ti back around her shoulders.
He stumbled slightly due to the lasting effects of the vast amounts of alcohol he'd consumed the night before. He bumped into Amy, then tried to stumble back. He overcompensated and still had both hands on the blanket which pulled Amy down with him when he fell back. Spike was horrified. Her face had smacked into his bare chest.
"Amy, luv, bloody hell. I'm so sorry, pet."
She pushed herself up... laughing. Spike cocked his head to the side. He'd never seen her laugh. It did something different to her face. She was lying on top of him and giggling like crazy.
"Not hurt then, I suppose?"
She shook her head 'no'.
"You know, I know you can speak, and if you can giggle, you can talk."
Her smile faltered a bit.
"Didn't say you had to. I just know the words are in there somewhere. I know you'll find them when you're ready."
Her smile returned to its most glowing.
"Now, let's get you back to your bed. You shouldn't be wandering about with your bare feet. You'll catch cold."
He tried to stand and pull Amy up too, but she was wriggling so much, and he was still slightly drunk, so they stumbled again. It was at that moment Amy got this determined look in her eye. She wrapped an arm around him and ushered him back to his bed.
"No, luv, we have to get you back to the infirmary."
Amy shoved him in the bed. Spike moaned as his head started to spin again.
She clamped a hand over his mouth as she crawled into the bed next to him. He was still trying to talk from behind her hand when she curled up... not touching him but for her hand... and fell asleep. Spike was planning on carrying her back to the infirmary when his head stopped spinning, but he passed out instead.
Tara knew she was dreaming.
She'd been dreaming a lot lately... and totally aware that she was dreaming while she was dreaming. She was in a long white night gown. Old school. Victorian. Long sleeves and high collar. Her bare feet were making very little noise as she hurried along the stones of one of the many corridors of Hogwarts.
"Careful, seer." Doyle said as she skidded around a corner. "They aren't ready for you yet."
Doyle was always there. Always in her head. She was getting to where she could even hear him talking when she was awake. Tara hated hearing voices. She'd had quite enough of that back when Glory was in her head.
She turned a corner and found herself in a room full of people. It seemed everyone she'd ever met was in this room. They were all moving in slow motion and ignoring her. Tara saw a flash of red dress at the opposite end of the room. It was familiar somehow. She started fighting through the crush to get there. No one seemed to mind as she shoved them out of her way. Tara stopped when she noticed Buffy and Faith fighting.
"Don't fret, Glenda." Faith whispered. "We're just practicing."
"Yep. It's coming. Gotta be ready for it."
"Yeah, baby." Someone else said from behind her. "You ready?"
Tara stiffened. She knew that voice. She knew without a doubt, but she turned to see for herself anyhow. She screamed when her eyes lit on the person before her.
Everyone in the infirmary jerked hard when Tara sat straight up screeching her head off. Giles moved so harshly that he fell out of the chair he'd been asleep in and fell to the floor. Remus burst through the infirmary doors with Anya right on his heels.
Cordelia was already getting out of her bed. Angel, who'd snuck in early this morning, grabbed her to try and put her back in. She shrugged him off and made her way to Tara... who was still screaming. Cordelia placed a hand on her face. Tara abruptly stopped yelling.
"Tara? What happened? What's wrong?" Remus was trying to get a hold of her, but Tara was squirming away.
"She's here. She's here."
"Who's here?" Anya asked.
Anya sucked in air sharply and stepped back.
Giles moved in closely. "Tara, you know we killed Glory. Ben.... died, and she was defeated. She can't come back. She needed Ben's form to hold on to this plane. She doesn't have a body here...."
"She found a new one."
Giles went very still. "What?"
"I saw... I saw.. and Doyle said..."
"Who?!" Angel shouted.
"Doyle. He talks in my head sometimes. He said she was back. He showed her to me. There are three to change the course here. Eyed protection, evil deity, and dark power."
Poppy Pomfrey was looking at Tara oddly. She motioned for Giles and Remus to come over to where she was. Both men walked slowly.
"Has... has Tara ever had mental problems?"
"No." Giles snapped. Then he considered. "This demigod named Glory stole part of her mind once. There were a few weeks... she wasn't there. She was... broken."
"What?!" Remus shouted.
"I could very well be wrong, Remus, but I think your daughter's losing her mind. I mean, I've seen behavior like this before."
"You ARE wrong. She can't... do... that."
"She's showing signs. Her magic has been fluctuating violently... and she's hearing voices?"
"She's here... She's here... She's here! SHE'S HERE!"
Everyone turned. Tara sprung out of her hospital bed and ran for one of the windows. They were all too shocked to move. She burst through it right as Willow and Severus hurried in with Dawn right behind them. Willow screamed and threw up her hands.
Everything in the room save her froze.
Willow ran to where Tara was hanging in midair amidst broken glass. She gripped her hands around one of Tara's ankles as she could feel the magic dissipating. The infirmary sprang to life as Tara went to falling. Willow screamed again as the weight of her former girlfriend nearly pulled her though the window too. Her feet skidded across the floor. Her arms were pulled through the opening. One of them was sliced open on a shard of broken glass the was still in the window pane. Willow howled in pain. Her body bent down, and the force would have pulled her right on out of the window, but someone had a hold of the waist of her pants.
Then there was shouting. Hands seemed to come from everywhere to pulled her and Tara back in. Willow was shaking as Severus wrapped both arms around her. He was cursing and mumbling something about foolish redheaded pixies.
She took in the room. Giles, Remus, Anya, and Poppy were trying to wrestle a fighting Tara to the bed. Cordelia was sitting on the floor holding a towel to Angel's arm and hand... which was still smoking.
Willow gasped. His was the hand she'd felt on her pants. He'd reached out into the sunlight and held onto her.
"This time you die, you little bitch! I'm going home this time! I'm going home! You die... and he dies and the slayers all die!"
Tara was pointing at Dawn.
"I found a way back, cutie, and your boyfriend won't be able to protect you because my way.... he's gonna pop you're little boy toy's head like a zit. He failed once, but this time he knows how to do it proper. And that sister of yours? You tell her I'm ready for round two.... and to bring her troll hammer."
Giles had a hold of Tara's head. He forced her jaw open as Poppy poured something down her. The bed they'd gotten her into had restraints. Anya was busy fastening them around Tara's wrists and ankles. Dawn just had a seat where she had been standing. Her legs failed. She started shivering. Tara quieted as she slumped into a drugged sleep.
"What's wrong with her?" Remus whispered.
Poppy wiped her moist brow. "It looks like a possession, but I'd have to run some tests. Like I said before, it could just be.... craziness."
Giles moved swiftly to where Dawn was and lifted her back to a standing position as Poppy went to fuss over Angel's burnt arm and Willow's cut one.
"Glory." Dawn whispered.
"Don't lie to me, Giles. I got enough of that back in the day."
"Fine. It might be."
"And I'm telling you now if it plays out like it did before, it's my turn to die."
"It should have been me before."
"Nothing happens to my sister this time. No swan dives for Buffy. It's my turn to swim in the great beyond."
"I have... I hafta to go."
She spun sharply and walked out of the infirmary. She only stumbled once. By the time anyone thought to actually go after her, Dawn was nowhere to be found.
Giles went to go find Dumbledore and warn him of what MIGHT be happening here. He also, as much as he hated to admit it, had to tell Buffy.
Harry found her some time later in the astronomy tower. He'd known he could. He'd slipped past McGonagall in his invisibility cloak while she was explaining why they all would have to stay locked up in the common room for a bit while the castle was searched for Dawn... and other things.
Harry stared at Dawn for a long time. She was just sitting and looking out, but not really seeing anything.
"How do you survive?"
"How many years has Voldemort been after you, Harry? You cut off his head and another grows in its place. How to you deal?"
Harry sighed and plopped down next to her. "I dunno really. I just do. Maybe I survive just to spite him."
Dawn shivered and rubbed her arms.
"Dawn, what's wrong?"
"I... uh... I think Glory's back and she's gonna try to kill me... and you."
"She wants us to die together? How romantic." He joked.
"This isn't funny. You don't know what she did... before. And that was when Buffy..."
Harry wrapped his arms around her. "I know."
"You can't know."
"I meant I know as in I understand. I know I can't know. I wasn't there, but I've been plenty of other places that were less than swell."
"I'm not gonna let my sister die this time."
"Who says it'll come to that?" Harry asked stiffly. So far this conversation was not setting well with him. He could sense what Dawn was trying to tell him, and he didn't like it one bit.
Dawn wrapped an arm around his neck and placed her head on his shoulder. "I just can't do that again. It has to play differently this time."
"And so it will.... but I'm not letting anything happen to you, Dawn."
"But you could get hurt."
"Story of my life."
Dawn looked up as he looked down at her. The next thing she knew, they were kissing... and not sweet little kisses either. They were kissing like it was their last night on earth. Dawn whimpered when Harry yanked her into his lap. She managed, without breaking contact, to settle herself into a straddling position. Something about the whole 'maybe' of Glory returning was making her act rashly. She didn't even protest when Harry turned them and lowered her to the cold stone floor of the astronomy tower.
She knew that she should. It wasn't time for this yet... for either of them. But Dawn was so wrapped up in her worry that she didn't much care what happened to her so long as nothing happen to Buffy... or Harry.
Ron was pacing the length of the common room.
"Ron, do sit down." Hermione said calmly from behind her book.
"I don't see how you can read at a time like this."
"She's isn't." Ginny offered. "She's been staring at the same page the entire time."
"I hope Harry found her. I can't believe McGonagall wouldn't let us go help look."
"I heard Malfoy threw a tantrum when Snape told him he had to stay in his common room and that the professors and people from California would search for Summers." Lavender Brown was remarking, rather loudly, to Parvati Patil. "I don't know what I'd do if MY boyfriend worried so much for another girl."
Ginny rolled her eyes. Sure Dawn still made her jealous, but she knew she was Draco's girl. Dawn was too in love with Harry. And how did Lavender know anything anyhow? She'd been locked up in the common room just as long as the rest of them. Stupid gossip.
Hermione was scowling and gripping her book so tight that her knuckles had turned white. "One of these days... one of these days... stupid clucking hen..." She mumbled.
Neville came up and sat with them. "Is it all right if I join you guys? Lavender's getting on my nerves, and Dean and Seamus seem to want to be in hers and Parvati's company."
"Sure, Neville." Ginny said patting the seat next to her.
"So Harry went to look for Dawn despite what McGonagall said?"
Ginny nodded. "He slipped out while she was still telling us why were being locked into our common rooms for a bit."
Neville nodded. "I would have done the same."
Ginny grinned at him. Neville needed a girlfriend. All this charm hidden under his shy exterior was certainly going to waste. Some lucky girl needed to benefit from it.
The question was who was worthy enough?
Draco was pacing the Slytherin common room near the fire. Lily was curled up on a nearby couch with Connor sitting next to her rigidly. The blonde-haired Slytherin boy was absolutely livid and so worried he was starting to feel ill. No one had seen Dawn since earlier this afternoon. Willow had told him and Lily what had happened. Draco was just sick about it. Gutterflower was sitting on his collar. When he moved too viciously, the little ferret nipped him in the ear.
The thing that had tried to kill his best friend could be back.... and he wasn't allowed to find said best friend and comfort her. Draco was pretty sure that all the houses were being held in their dorms and common rooms, so that meant no Potter out looking for her either. That infuriated Draco. Because if he couldn't look for her himself, someone needed to make for damn sure Potter was.
Dawn was likely upset. She'd need something. One of them. He wished he was strong enough to outdo Snape's locking charms. Someone needed to find her. Even Connor was fidgeting a bit, and he hadn't known her that long.
"She'll be all right, Drake. They'll find her. You know Dawn. She probably just went off somewhere private to think."
"Well, you know, Lily, that's real smart when you consider the possibility that the superbitch that nearly took her out once might be back and trying to bleed her out again." Draco snapped sarcastically.
"Look, you little bitch." Lily snapped. "Don't take that tone with me. I'm just as worried about Dawnie as you are. I know she shouldn't be out just wandering, but she's had the wind knocked out of her. She's off trying to remember how to breathe, Drake. Not all of us can be as calm, cool, and collected as you are when our lives take a faulty turn."
"Is that what you think happened when my parents all but considered me as never having been born?"
"You don't act as if it bothers you at all, Draco. What am I supposed to think?"
"I locked my father in a coffin and dropped him in the ocean."
Lily and Draco both stopped arguing and turned slowly to look at Connor.
"He's still sort of upset about that. We don't always make the right choice when things get rough. I was so busy thinking about what was 'right' that I missed what was really going on. I think he'll be mad at me forever."
"He won't be mad at you forever." Lily said as she sat back down next to Connor.
"Why not?" Draco said as he flopped back on Connor's other side. "MY father is certainly never going to forgive me for what I did to him."
"What was that?" Connor asked.
"I chose Ginny over him."
Connor's eyebrows went up.
"And I'd do it again."
"Drake, you are such a hopeless romantic."
"Well, I think I offset that rather well by being a bastard to everyone except you, Dawn, and Ginny." He looked at Connor. "And well now you."
Someone cleared their throat from behind the three of them. Draco, Connor, and Lily turned. Aaron Montague was standing there.
"Lily, could you help me with my charms homework?"
"It's seventh year work, Montague. Lily is a sixth year." Draco said drolly.
"Rosenberg can handle it. Charms is her best subject." He looked at her and made this puppy face. "Come on, Lily. Please. I know you've already read the seventh year text. You know this stuff. Just a little help. Please."
Lily looked at Draco and Connor.
"Go if you want to go." Draco said.
"You'll come get me when Dawn turns up?"
"See you guys later." Lily said as she hopped up and hurried after Montague.
Connor watched as she sat with a group of seventh year boys at a table across the common room. His eyes narrowed.
"What?" Draco asked.
"I don't like him."
"Of course you don't."
Connor turned his head to stare at Draco sharply.
"You like her therefore you can't like him."
"It's so obvious, Angel."
"Don't call me that."
"It's your last name, isn't it?"
"Well, I suggest you get used to hearing it in reference to your person if you are going to stay on this continent. It's sort of a cultural thing, I'm-not-really-a muggle-boy."
"Well, I'd prefer Connor."
"Connor it is then. And you can call me Draco." Malfoy looked over his shoulder at Lily. "I'm going to help you Connor."
"Woo the witch."
Draco continued as if he hadn't even spoken. "I think you'll need help. I doubt you've wooed many people, being trapped in a hell dimension and all. And with all that trying to get revenge on your father, I doubt you've even kissed a girl."
"I have so." Connor stated indignantly.
"And where is this girl now? What happened with that?"
"Oh well that's certainly promising." Draco rolled his eyes. "You need my help, Neanderthal. You try to club Lily over the head and drag her off by the hair, and she'll wallop you."
"It's a figure of speech." Draco snapped. "And we so have to work on your social skills. Don't take everything so literally, Connor. You need a bit of finesse, so I shall provide you with that. If anything, Malfoys can be quite charming. My mother taught me. I'm sure I can teach you."
"Why are you doing this?"
"Because it would be nice to have one of my best friends dating a bloke I could actually stand to be around."
Connor continued to stare.
"Also, it'll help take my mind off of the fact that Dawn might be in very big danger."
"But I thought you loved Ginny."
"Look, Connor, there are the ones you love, the ones you want to see naked, the ones you could spend a whole day kissing... then there are the other ones."
"Like Lily and Dawn for me. If ever I had sisters, I'd want them to be like Dawn and Lily."
"I've never had brothers or sisters."
"Don't worry. Keep hanging about us, and Dawn'll start acting like she's related to you in no time."
"It's her way."
Willow was frustrated. She was just about to do a locating spell. She had been able to find neither Amy, nor Dawn. Severus was silent next to her. She had no idea where his thoughts lie tonight. She knew where hers were.
Something bad was inside Tara, and it might be her fault.
She and Severus were climbing the steps to the astronomy tower. Willow's heart was heavy. She didn't think she could survive having to go up against Glory again. It had to be a trick. It had to be wrong.
Willow stopped abruptly when her eyes caught something on the floor of the tower.
"POTTER!" Severus yelled.
Willow knew she should look away, but she was too shocked.
Buffy was going to kill them.
All of them.
end partNote: To read the full NC-17 scene between Harry and Dawn, click on "Lemondrops" and look for "The Boy Who Got to Third Base".