*~* Snippets *~*
A lot of people had gone off to be shown to their rooms, but many were still hanging about. Talking, hugging, saying hello again, introducing themselves on a more personal basis, glaring, vowing revenge, plotting ways to kill each other without being suspected... the usual stuff.
The student section of the large group was hanging around. Ron and Harry were arguing a bit. Draco was arguing with the both of them. Dawn was trying to get everyone to hush up.... as there were mothers, fathers, brothers, and sisters waiting to speak to most of them.
The problem was that Ron felt they needed a say. He felt one of them should be at the meeting with the Dumbledores, Buffy, and Angel. Ron further felt this person should be Harry. Draco naturally and heartily disagreed with that plan.
"Hey, I've got an idea." Lily snapped, finally having had enough. "Why don't you BOTH go.. you big babies."
"I don't really care." Harry snapped back. "Let Malfoy go! I'm rather tired of being expected to lead all the time anyhow."
Draco snorted, some of his former self coming out to play. "Right. Attention hog. You just love it. No, I can't possibly accept leadership." He mocked in falsetto. "Right. Wanker. Saint Potter. School would likely go under if you weren't here for all of us to worship."
"Stop it!" Dawn screeched.
Ginny looked at Lily. "You know, you're pretty smart. I think they SHOULD both go."
"Gin-" Ron started.
"No, Ron consider... Harry thinks way differently than Draco. Two minds are better than one."
"Well, a mind and whatever's in Potter's head."
Ginny glared at him. Dawn wasn't so nice. She frogged his thigh. Draco howled in pain.
"Don't break him, Summers. That's MY job."
Ron's face contorted in horror. The group of them seemed completely unaware how closely they were being watched... even by people who had only just heard of them tonight.
"Glad you're feeling better, Gin." Ron said before rolling his eyes.
"Look, you git, I just had me a really nice Tom Riddle dream earlier. I think it might have been a warning of some sort. Yeah, it shook me, but I tell you what if that ... that... fucker... thinks he's getting in by way of me again, he is in for a seriously rude awakening... or not as the case may be. I'm not the stupid little girl he met in her first year through that diary. He wants my life force? He's going to have to wrestle it away from me... and I plan on fighting dirty. Draco's devious and Harry's balls-out. They approach things differently. I think that'll be an asset in any sort of strategy."
"Ginny, don't swear."
Ginny glared at Hermione so hard Harry actually flinched too just because he was in the near vicinity of where the glare was aimed.
Draco grinned. "That's MY girlfriend." He leaned over and kissed her.
Molly and Arthur Weasley stiffened. Narcissa noticed. She limped over and thrust her hand out at Ginny. The girl had fire. Family aside, Narcissa was quite sure what had drawn her son in.
"Hello. I'm Draco's mother. Narcissa."
Ginny was gaping as she started her own hand for the woman's offered one. "Ginny. Weasley."
"Yes. I know."
Draco was looking at his mother suspiciously as he yanked Ginny's hand back.
Narcissa's face remained cool despite the slight. "I think we need to talk, dearest."
Draco snorted. "Last time I saw you, you were trying to kill me. I think not!"
"You can bring someone along if you like, Draco. If you don't trust-"
"Fine." He turned. "Uncle Spike!"
"A vampire? Am I that scary, Draco darling? Don't you trust your mother?"
"Any particular reason I should?"
She just raised one brow.
"Hey, Numfar!" Draco hollered. "Do the dance of my mother is a deceitful bitch who likes to torture people!"
Ironically, Numfar started dancing.
"Is there a dance for everything?" Ron whispered.
"Easy, mate." Spike was suddenly there and had a hand on Draco's shoulder.
The boy's nostrils were actually flaring and his chest was heaving as he sucked in air. His gray eyes were glittering in this cold yet fiery type of anger.
"Maybe we could save the talk until after my boy's a bit more calm?"
"He's not YOUR boy!" Narcissa snapped. "He's MINE!"
"Spike's taken better care of me than YOU have."
"Draco, don't say things like that to your mum." Spike said in a weary tone.
"Why? It's true." Draco said, his eyes filling with angry tears. "You, Gin, Dawn, Lily. Snape and Professor Rosenberg. Tara... you guys are my whole life. Giles trying to teach something outside of what I know. Virtual strangers are taking better care of me in the last year than my mother has my whole life."
A shadow of an expression actually fluttered across Narcissa's face. "Draco, you don't-"
"Don't!" He held up a hand, and started stalking out of the room. "Did you think this would be easy, Mother?" He tossed back without even looking at her, his voice spitting out 'mother' like it was a filthy thing. "You show up to help keep my best friend safe, and all's forgiven? You know actions, like curses, have unforgivables among them too."
Dawn started after him, but Ginny pushed past her. Everyone still in the room was watching with avid curiosity as the little redhead grabbed the blonde boy's arm and spun him around to face her. Draco was trying very hard not to cry. His face was contorted with the effort. Ginny grabbed his face with both hands and was whispering something only he could hear, but no one needed to actually hear what she was saying to HEAR what she was saying. Her lips were still moving when he seemingly collapsed against her. They were right on his ear as one hand ran its fingers through his silvery hair and the other was rubbing his shoulders in comfort.
Ginny opened her eyes and caught a gaze with her father. Arthur was a bit... bewildered, and he looked it. His daughter and Lucius's son? But watching her now, the way she tempered him was extraordinary, and Draco did not seem like Lucius so much just now. He was not the little brat Arthur remembered meeting so many years ago. He seemed like the sort that wouldn't just give in if things got a bit rough now.... but he could be reading Draco Malfoy wrong. Arthur, however, didn't want to believe he was. He wanted to believe Draco Malfoy was worth the care he was getting from Arthur's baby girl.
Dawn was trying not to be upset watching Draco crack a little. Not break. Draco didn't break. He was too tough for that, but it sure did bruise her heart to watch someone she had come to care for suffer. She felt an arm around her. She looked up and hugged Xander back.
"Hey, Dawnie. Your bud's a bit out of control."
"We all get that way. Drake's had it a little rough."
Buffy edged up on Dawn's other side. "I dunno. I think he's doing ok."
"Perhaps, Miss Summers, you and you little team would like to rest somewhere other than your dorms tonight. There will still be girls and boys dorms, but you will have but one common room should you all wish to stay up and... discuss before I meet with Buffy, Angel, Aberforth... and Mister Potter and Mister Malfoy."
"You want to... separate us from the rest of the school."
"No, my dear, I want to prevent any of you from sneaking into the other's common room to discuss and getting caught out after curfew. Plus, I do think Miss Newton and Mister Angel would be quite lonely in the guest students' quarters all alone."
"I'm being moved?" Connor asked quietly.
"Your father thought... no, actually, Miss Chase thought it would behoove you to be around others your age."
"Cordy wants me to have hooves?"
Lily glared at him. "Behoove. It doesn't mean to get hooves. It means to help, to benefit. Someone really needs to take over your schoolin', boy."
"Oh." Then he made a face. "Oh."
"Don't get all excited about hanging around us, Connor." Ron said.
"Um, hi." The blonde who'd introduced herself as Cassie picked that moment to approach. "The little elfie thing said I was to room with you guys sort of. I'm Cassie."
Everyone mumbled hellos.
Buffy gave Dawn a pat on the arm. "We'll talk tomorrow?"
Dawn nodded. "We definitely will. Don't think I didn't notice the hottie brigade you brought with you from Sunnydale. I never knew the Scooby Gang could look so drool-worthy."
"Thanks, Dawnie." Xander said.
"I wasn't talking about you."
Xander scowled. Spike chuckled. Loudly.
"So... who do you have a crush on? Graham or Lindsey? Or is it Oz?"
"I don't have a crush on anybody." Buffy said in that weird tone that let Dawn know she did, in fact, have a big old fat honking crush on someone in her little group.
Dawn folded her arms across her chest and smirked at her sister.
"Yeah. Keep telling yourself that, Buff. Maybe you'll even believe it one day. You shouldn't waste time. I know I'm not wasting any time with Harry."
Harry made a squeak noise.
"What?" Buffy said. She turned her gaze to Harry. "Are you having sex with my sister?"
"You and Dawn had sex." Ron said. "Harry! Why didn't you tell me? Who's your best mate?"
"Dawn." Lily whined. "I've been sharing all my Aaron kissing stories."
"We did NOT have sex!"
Anya shook her head. "Erectile dysfunction."
"Jesus Christ! Harry does NOT have erectile dysfunction! Trust me, he's fully functional!"
Anne leaned over to Gwen. "And you said we'd be bored."
Buffy was looking at Dawn. "Big talk."
Dawn shuffled off with the rest of the students and Cassie.
Buffy grabbed Cassie's arm. "I want the school nurse to have a look, Cass."
"Just indulge me."
Dawn and the others were looking at the two of them oddly. Andromeda was trying to soothe Narcissa's upset as Draco left with Ginny without even looking back at her.
Spike put a hand on the woman's arm. "Got that Malfoy temper going for him. Just give him a bit of time, luv."
"What if I don't have time?"
"Then you've got me to talk some reason into the prat. Being a Malfoy, I know ways around the Malfoy temper."
"You really are a Malfoy?"
"Trace your husband's side back. You'll find the name Edward Malfoy. He had a little brother named William. That's me. Good old Uncle Spike."
Narcissa blinked. Andromeda's mouth was hanging open.
Soon after that most of the rest of the groups dispersed.
Anya was wringing her hands.
She'd gone with Remus and Sirius when Poppy took Tara back to the infirmary. She did not know what to do. They needed to know. They so needed to know what was in Tara besides Doyle. Poppy was across the infirmary checking out that Cassie girl that Buffy had brought with her. The school nurse kept throwing looks at Anya.
Buffy was standing there silently watching as Poppy was checking the girl. Then the slayer looked at Anya. Buffy tilted her head to the side. Then she whispered something to Cassie before walking up to Anya.
"Wanna talk about it?"
Anya looked at Buffy, wrung her hands, looked at Remus, then Sirius, and finally back at Buffy again. Buffy grabbed her arm and started hauling her off.
Anya wrung her hands some more. "I don't know..."
She sighed. "The thing is... I know this great big secret thing, and it's... well, it's going to shake things up, but no one even really and truly involved knows it, and I only know by accident and oh God, Buffy, Tara's spawning."
"Shhh." Anya pulled Buffy close to whisper. "Remus and Sirius don't know. I don't even think Tara knows."
"You know you're really too old for me to give you the sex talk, Buffy."
Buffy slapped Anya on the upper arm.
"I know about sex. Jesus." Buffy said rolling her eyes. "I know HOW she got pregnant on the biological front, dumb-ass. What I meant was how do you know when you aren't even sure Tara does?"
"Doyle said.... and don't call me a dumb-ass, you... you dumb-ass."
"How does he know?"
"Well, he's in there with her... and he is a seer."
"Well, who's..." Buffy trailed off. "Oh my God. It's Sirius's baby."
Anya nodded. "They've been pretending not to like one another forever, but you haven't even been here..."
"They night we brought Amy... they were, but he was all... that flask. It has something in it that changes his appearance, right?"
"This is major." Buffy chewed her bottom lip. "We gotta talk to Tara. We gotta see if she knows. If she doesn't..."
"We may need to tell her." Anya said with an audible gulp.
"Does Madam Pomfrey know?"
Poppy walked up then. "Miss Newton's in fine health... except for her heart."
"What?" Buffy said with wide eyes. "She just looked a little tired. She said some things... I didn't... I mean it was just a hunch."
"A hunch that saved her life. Her heart rate is a bit high, but I've given her a potion to take before she goes to bed. I've asked her to come back tomorrow morning. I'm going to speak with Severus. Perhaps we can work something up to help her a little more."
"What's wrong with her?" Anya asked quietly, her eyes darting to the girl.
Cassie was playing with the shoelace on one of her ratty converse that was propped up on the bed.
"She has a heart irregularity. I almost missed it. It's slight, but it she gets too great of a shock, the extra adrenaline could cause the poor dear to have a heart attack or a stroke."
Buffy put a hand over her mouth and just collapsed into a sitting position on the nearest bed. "I didn't..."
"She didn't even know, Miss Summers. Still doesn't. She thinks what I gave her is for the magical jet-lag. Your little hunch likely just saved her life."
"I'm just... gonna take Cassie to her room."
Anya and Poppy nodded.
Then Anya turned. "Poppy, do you think..."
"You need to find Tara."
"Let me just get rid of the gentlemen." Poppy said with a sad smile as she headed over to her patient.
Anya approached slowly. Sirius was pitching a mini-fit about having to go. Remus didn't look too happy either. Anya began wondering what the nurse had told them. She waited by Tara's bedside. Poppy pulled the curtain closed around them.
Tara opened one eye. "They gone?"
"Nah, sweetheart. It's Doyle."
"Get Tara. I need to speak with her."
"She's buried in here pretty deep. Not alotta room."
"Look, you demon-y little mick, I don't care what you do, just do it. Get her. NOW."
"Geez, with a snap like tha'. I've no doubt ya were a vengeance demon in the day. Give us a minute then, darlin'."
Tara's eyelids fluttered as her eyes rolled in her head. Then she blinked a few times.
"Hello, sweetie. How're you feeling? Crowded?"
Tara laughed in a dispirited way. "Doyle said you needed me?"
"Ok." Anya paused and honestly took time to consider her words, something Xander always accused her of not doing. "I think I should just say it."
"Because if I stumble around all Willow-y-like and ramble it just adds to the tension of whatever it is and it just makes it worse and then you'll get even more nervous because I'm just rattling on and-"
"Right. So, you're pregnant with Sirius's baby."
Tara's eyes went big.
"How do you..."
"How did he..."
"I dunno. Maybe he can feel it in there too, you know with all the other stuff."
"It's going to be ok."
"HOW CAN YOU SAY THAT?!"
"My father's gonna kill me..."
"Now Remus doesn't strike me as the type to-"
"Then he's gonna kill Sirius. Oh Goddess! Why couldn't I just have kept my hands to myself."
"Now don't get all excited and upset. It might be bad for the baby."
"Ohhhh." Tara groaned. "How on earth am I supposed to tell my father that he's gonna be a grandpa and his best friend is the daddy?"
"Well... when you say it like that, it does sound... not too great. But you're looking at the bad here." Anya smoothed some hair back from Tara's forehead. "Tara, you're spawning."
Tara made a face at her.
"You're gonna be a mommy.... with Sirius. Damn that's gonna be a beautiful kid." Anya smiled dreamily. "And I can give you a baby shower and be Auntie Anya. All the spoiling privileges and none of the dirty diapers or feedings at two AM."
"You're acting like it's already here"
"Yep. It has to be a girl. Boys suck."
"If I truly believed that I never would have gotten into this in the first place. Anya, can you get Sirius for me?"
"I'm right here." Sirius whipped open the curtain. He was holding Poppy to him with a hand over her mouth.
Tara made a horrified face at him. "You listened."
He released Poppy. The older woman took off her nurse's hat and swatted him over the head with it about five or six times.
"You're a bastard, Sirius Black. If you ever manhandle me like that again, I'll hex your balls into oblivion.... and congratulations, papa."
"Um, Madam Pomfrey..." Tara began.
"Listen, dear, you and I are going to get rather acquainted in the next nine months, unless you'd like another person as your midwife-"
"No, no. I'd like for you to do it."
Poppy smiled. "Then I think it would be nice if you quit having such manners and call me Poppy."
"Oh ok. Um, Mada.... er, um, P-P-P-Poppy, could you get m-my f-father p-please?"
"Don't be nervous, dear. Remus is a reasonable man. He won't hurt YOU." She said with a pointed look at Sirius before hurrying off.
"Why did you... how..."
"I doubled back in here. I thought you would be alone. I wanted..." Sirius had sat on the edge of Tara's bed and was caressing her face.
Anya backed away. She felt like she was intruding on a private moment.
"Poppy said you wanted to... what's going on?"
"Now, Remus, don't be angry." Anya said.
He looked at her and raised a brow. "About what?"
"Well..." Tara said. "Th-th-the th-th-thing i-i-is..."
"I-I-I.... s-s-s-s-s-s-s-s-s-sorta g-got pr-pr-pr-pr-pr-"
"Pregnant!" Anya shouted. "She's pregnant!"
Tara glared at her.
Anya put a hand over her heart and sat on the bed next to Tara's. "Oh my God. I can't take this. I think I'm having a heart attack."
Remus hadn't moved. "What?"
"I, er, knocked your daughter up, Moony?" Sirius offered lamely.
Tara looked at him. "Don't help."
Remus took a step forward. Anya threw herself at him.
"Don't kill him!"
Remus looked at her. "I'm not going to kill anyone. I am however going to HEX HIS BALLS OFF!"
Anya screamed and tried to wrestle his wand away when he yanked it from his robes. "Oh my God! Sirius, run!"
Sirius stood stock still. He caught Remus's eye, and the two of them started laughing. Remus disentangled himself from Anya and grabbed Sirius in a hug.
"I should beat you, Padfoot, but I know how much this is going to mean to you. To me as well." Remus sighed as he let go of Sirius and sat down on Tara's bed.. "I can't pretend this is what I wanted for you, but if it's what you want, this joker, I suppose I'll have to deal with that, hmm?"
"You aren't... angry?"
"A little, but I'm getting a family out of this, so I can't be too upset." He looked at Sirius. "You and I are having a VERY long talk tonight though."
"I thought we might."
"No hitting." Tara said. "Or hexing. Talking only."
"Talking only." Remus agreed.
Tara smiled, then it faded abruptly from her face as she let out a cry of pain.
"No!" She yelled.
"I can't.... go... not... yet..."
Her eyes closed as she passed out. No one moved for a long time. Not until her eyes snapped back open, making the other three jump.
"It's too crowded in here. Ya've got ta do somethin' soon. They're whisperin' 'bout the kid already. They've found 'er an' they're gonna do somethin' to 'er."
"They're gonna hurt Tara's baby?" Anya whispered as she went very pale.
"One of 'em wants the kid's body. Wants to push out the baby's soul, and put 'is own in."
Anya flinched, then she steeled herself. Her spine went rigid. "Doyle, you tell Tara to hang on. We're ending this bullshit now."
Sirius and Remus watched as she stalked towards the door. Poppy stared as Anya stomped past her.
"Anya?" Remus called. "What are you..."
"He knows about exorcisms."
"That's dangerous." Poppy whispered.
Remus started walking towards Anya. "I won't let him do anything to hurt Tara."
"And you think that soul-stealing whatchamawhosit body-napping your grandbaby wouldn't hurt her? I'm not standing by and letting that happen, so I'm gathering up Wesley... and Willow, and we are figuring out how to get all the hitchhikers in Tara out of Tara. For good. And if you want to stop me, you better start throwing some good hexes with true aim because I'm better at dodging when I'm pissed off."
No one moved.
"Willow?" Poppy asked quietly.
"She knows how to restore a soul."
"Anyone who wants to stop me better move now."
No one budged.
"No? Good." Anya spun on her heel. "And one of you should tell Draco and Spike about this. After all, they are her family too."
Then she was gone. Out to recruit others for whatever insane plan was cooking in her head.