*~* Spelled *~*
"You don't understand, Buffy."
"You're right. I really don't. This is dangerous, Willow."
"I can't sit here and watch her be tortured. I love Tara."
Buffy's eyes darted to Snape. "But I thought you and he..."
"Love, not in love. Him, yeah, him I'm in love with."
Buffy studied Snape. "Why?"
"This is not the time for that conversation, Buffy."
"Right. Sorry. Totally off topic. You were saying..."
"I'll always love Tara, just like I'll always love Oz. There are parts of me that will belong to them and no one else for the rest of my life.... like you and Angel. Do you deny that there are parts of you that are no one else's?"
"Well, no. I can't deny that."
Angel looked up at them then. Almost like he had... heard. But his face gave no indication of that. Had to be a coincidence.
Buffy sighed. "But Angel and I... it's not..."
"The same? No, but it never is, is it? All you need to know is that I can't watch her suffer... and if it were you or Xander, I'd be right here still doing what I'm doing now. It's who I am, Buffy."
"I get that, but I just don't understand why it has to be this way. There has to be another way, a safer way."
The room was crowded. With helpers. There were quite a few people who would not be told they could not assist. Cordelia having the most stubborn set of jaw about it. It was like she didn't even hear what Willow said when she suggested the seer might be safer elsewhere. Cordelia just ignored her completely and kept right on doing what she was doing. Oz just looked at Willow blankly, then continued what he was doing. Willow was glad for them, but she wondered when Cordelia had gotten so stubborn about fighting the good fight.
Willow was glad it was the weekend. Who knew what would happen? At least no one was having classes nearby. Tara had been brought down. She was once again strapped to her bed. For some reason this whole thing eerily reminded Willow of when Glory had taken Tara from her.
She looked up at Tara. "Tara?"
"Yes?" Willow said as she walked close.
"I know what you're doing. It's dangerous. I don't want you to."
"We know what we're doing. I can't leave you like this, Tara. If ever you're broken, and I can fix you, I always will."
"You know I'm pregnant."
"I want someone besides the baby back if you're determined."
"Who else besides her?"
"I can kinda sense it."
"Oh." Tara smiled to herself a little. "A daughter."
"Who else stays?"
Tara shivered a little. "Nah, Red. Ya get me out too."
Then Tara seemed to be having an argument with herself.
"Doyle-" She twitched. "Listen, sweetheart, I appreciate the invite, but if I were ta stay, I might not be able ta leave." Tara tossed her head again. "My body, my choice, Doyle." She looked at Willow. "He stays, Will."
"You heard her, Doyle. Her body, her decision."
"Willow?" Wesley asked.
"I'm ready if you are."
He nodded. He picked up a book and a silver cross and walked to Tara's bed in the center of the room. Willow kissed Severus's cheek then walked in behind Wesley. A small table with her supplies was at the foot of Tara's bed. Several people moved in to form a protective circle of linked hands. Anya, Oz, and Cordy sat first. Fred sat and grabbed Cordelia's other hand. Severus sat next to Fred and took the girl's delicate hand in his own. Remus sat beside Anya, and Sirius sat on his other side. Harry and Dawn moved forward. Buffy tried to stop her sister but Dawn glared at her sister so hard that Buffy even took a step back. Harry took Sirius's hand, and Dawn took Harry's. Draco came forward next. Ginny was right behind him. The both of them sat. Draco taking Severus's hand and Ginny taking Draco's.
It was then that Amy burst in with Spike on her heels. She stalked forward and sat next to Ginny. The redheaded girl offered Amy a hand. Amy too a deep breath of grasped it. Spike swore under his breath and walked forward. He, too, sat. He grabbed Amy's hand and stretched his other to reach Dawn's.
"Does everyone know what we'll be whispering?" Willow asked. "Dea patronus purgo evoco."
"Goddess protect, purify spirits?" Giles asked as he situated himself between Dawn and Spike.
Willow smiled at him. "Yes." It really shocked her that Giles was doing this. She figured he would have presented an argument tougher than Buffy's, a glare more harsh and concerned than Angel's. No. But she got why. He was looking at Tara the entire time.
Wesley was anointing Tara's forehead with an oil Severus had prepared earlier.
Willow looked at everyone around them with joined hands. "This, uh, might get a little ugly, guys. Anyone who wants to back out, now would be that time."
No one moved.
"Ok. We're all balls out here. That'd good. Courage is good here." Willow made a solidarity fist at them. "So, ok, no matter what happens, keep chanting and holding hands until I say otherwise, got it?"
She received several nods.
Dawn tightened her fingers around Harry's.
Draco somehow managed to rub his thumb inside Ginny's wrist.
Amy gave Spike's hand a reassuring squeeze. He squeezed back.
Cordelia looked at Oz out of the corner of her eye. He nodded slightly at her and tightened his hold on her hand.
"Willow?" Wesley asked.
She nodded at him. The air in the room suddenly became oppressive. Those watching... Dumbledore, McGonagall, Buffy, Angel, Xander, Molly, Arthur, Ron, and Hermione moved back a bit as the air in the room became heavy.
Willow's hair bled black. As she looked up her eyes were colorless voids. "Now."
"Hroa lerya úmea arwa sangwa. Inye tulta salia sére varya vende." Wesley said, sounding very odd. Then he laid the cross one Tara's chest and spoke a language Willow recognized... Latin. "Exorcie te. Omnis spiritus immunde. Adaperiae!"
"Leviatate." Willow waved her hand. A collection of jars and vials on her table floated into the air. Then Willow herself started to levitate. "Exorcie te. Omnis spiritus immunde. Adaperiae!"
Tara screamed and arched her back.
"EXORCIE TE! OMNIS SPIRITUS IMMUNDE! ADAPERIAE!" Wesley screamed pressing the cross more firmly to Tara.
She screamed again.
"Invadoria disparu!" Willow snarled. "OUT!"
"You are so gonna..." Tara lurched. Something spectral and ghostlike came up out of her chest with its body arching as it screeched the last word of its threat. "PAAAAAAAAAAAAY!"
Dawn screamed. She screamed her head off. Giles and Harry tightened their hold on her.
"You don't get to call me red." Willow snapped.
Glory was standing there. She shrugged. "Well then... thanks, cutie."
Buffy fumbled frantically for a weapon on her person.
"Stricata!" Willow hissed. "Animal destesabil!"
Angel blinked. Willow was cursing this thing out in Romanian.
"Sweetie, let's not show me the love. Your little nicknames a leftover from that Gypsy curse that bled through you that time? You don't play nice, and I could be tempted to take a little tour in your girlfriend's head again." She wiggled her fingers towards Tara. "She tasted so sweet before."
"You don't touch her!" Remus shouted.
He tried to rise, but Anya and Sirius kept hold of him. They pulled him back down. Willow held up a hand towards him. Remus went still. Not because she made him or anything, but because her look let him know that Tara would come to no harm.
"Oh lookie at daddy. All protective."
"Vino necazule, dar vino singur." Willow flicked her wrist.
Glory screamed as her essence was sucked into one of the glass jars.
"One down." Willow stopped the jar with a fat cork and crooked her finger at Tara's body. "Invadoria disparu."
Several people in the room gasped as Doyle climbed out with a wave. He was holding something bright in his hand. It looked like a grain of light. He put his other hand over it protectively.
"It's the babe." He whispered to Willow. Then he turned his hands to Tara. "Look at yer mother there." He whispered to his hands.
Willow's hands shook as she summoned forth another jar and waved her hand at Doyle. "Advigilo amor."
Doyle's whispery form tucked in, his arms went in a guarded way to his chest as he folded himself around the baby's spirit and tucked into his jar. She didn't cap that one.
And that's when it all went very wrong.
Cassie was sitting with the Neville boy in the great hall. Buffy had specifically told her she did not want her at this thing her friend Willow was doing.... but Cassie was getting a feeling.
"We have to go."
"What?" Neville snapped. He was a bit irritated that he had to sit with this muggle girl like she was some invalid or something. Cassie did look delicate to him, but he didn't think her weak. He knew what it was like to be treated like you couldn't get anything right.
"We have to go." Cassie stood up.
Neville stood up too. They were drawing attention.
"We have to go. You have to be there."
Her voice was whispery and childlike, but Neville could hear the desperation. "Go where? What are you talking about?"
"The spell. That room. We have to find it. It's going bad. You have to be there."
"No! You have to hurry! Before it's too late!"
"Longbottom?" Oliver asked as he managed to get near them. Faith was with him.
"They're in trouble. Go!" Cassie started crying and pressed her palms to her temples. "Evil crawls to us on silent paws with painted toenails! There's a rat in this house! A ghost each place I hide! A leech and a defiler of innocence! He is returned as he was known to few!"
Cassie gasped as an odd look came over her face.
"Cassie?" Neville was panicked. This was all very strange.
"Find Buffy. YOU have to be there. There'll be a man. Use a curse that was used on you for your sake once to stop him as it stopped you." Then she collapsed.
Faith caught her before she hit the floor.
"Cassie!" Lindsey was running for the girl.
"I can't hear her heart." Faith yelled. Then she looked at Neville. "Get gone!"
"You heard her. She's a fucking seer, Longbottom. She said you have to get to B. So get with the gettin'!"
Neville blinked then took off running full tilt for the empty classroom Harry and the others had told him they would be in for the spell.
"Go help him!" Faith screeched at Oliver as she started mouth to mouth with Cassie. Then she looked at Lindsey. "Madam Pomfrey! Now!"
Several people took off running at her bellow.
"Move! Get out of my way!" Anne slid in next to Faith. "I know CPR."
"Her heart ain't even beating." Faith said in a panic.
"Let me at her!" Someone else yelled.
The crowd parted to reveal Gwen Raiden yanking off her gloves.
"Everybody gimme some room! I don't know what this is gonna do!"
Electricity was already flowing wildly up and down her arms. She rubbed her hands together and jolted as if she'd been electrocuted. She grunted in slight pain. Gwen dropped and straddled Cassie.
"I need bare skin."
Faith grabbed Cassie's t shirt and ripped it up the middle exposing a nice pink bra. Gwen placed her hands to Cassie's chest, shocking her.
She did it again. Cassie's body jerked with the voltage.
She pressed her palms down. Cassie jerked up, nearly unseating Gwen. Her eyes snapped open, and she took in a great gasp of air.
"Great Merlin! What are you doing?!" Poppy Pomfrey shouted as she slid in and started checking Cassie.
Gwen was going to answer, but about that time her current when haywire. "EVERYBODY GET BACK!" Her hair went straight up. Blue current was traveling along her skin in wild patterns.
"Gwen!" Anne shouted.
Students screamed and ran. Gwen was blown off of her feet. Faith, rather foolishly, tried to catch her. The two of them hit a wall on the far side of the great hall. Faith's body was still twitching with the aftershocks of the voltage she'd received as she hit the floor.
The boots Gwen had been wearing were lying on the floor near Cassie's body. They were smoking and the rubber soles were completely melted.
Hagrid was pacing by Drusilla's bed nervously. He was having that bad feeling one gets. It's that itch that hits you between you shoulder blades. It tells you something is very wrong.
He wasn't sure what exactly was wrong, but he felt something was. Especially after a third year had slammed into the infirmary shouting to Poppy that one of the muggle visitors had collapsed in the great hall.
He paced nervously waiting for Poppy to return. She hadn't even had to ask him to stay with Miss Drusilla.
"Evil crawls to us on silent paws with painted toenails. There's a rat in this house. A ghost each place I hide. A leech and a defiler of innocence. He is returned as he was known to few."
She looked at him dead-on. "Voldemort before he was Lord Voldemort."
Hagrid sucked in air.
Then his charge went wild. She ripped herself from the bed she was strapped down to. The straps were still round her wrists and ankles, being magically sealed, but no one had thought to seal them to the straps that held her to the bed.
"I am ready."
Then she took off running.
"No!" Hagrid rushed after her.
Lily was in the middle of a sentence when she just stopped talking.
Connor stood. "Lily?"
She felt like someone had just walked over her grave.
"Lils?" Alex asked as he stood.
She was suddenly filled with one thought. She was awakened to something she had buried long ago. A precaution taken for no apparent reason. Something she had not even told Draco or Dawn about.
Now she knew why she had done it.
Part of her had known this day would come.
Connor darted after her when Lily took off running. Alex was left no recourse but to follow. Well, he could have stayed, but he was too damned curious about what was going on here. They followed Lily as she tore through the hallways and to the Slytherin common room where she darted up the stairs to the girls' dorm. The boys were about to follow but she was back down before they could attempt... and with a black velvet bag in her hands.
They turned and ran after her as she exited the common room.
Willow stepped back involuntarily when Rack climbed out of Tara's body. It wasn't possible. And he pulled something with him. No one had noticed the door open. They were took busy staring at Rack and trying to figure out the back-robed thing he'd brought with him.
"You, Strawberry. You let me have a taste. Then you gave this little one a part of you when you took in all the magicks. The slayer, your boy, the Potter, the key, the pure witch, and your doppleganger. The pure witch was the only one weakened enough to let me in. She was so confused... it let me right in." He laughed evilly. "I thought the little vampire girl was the ticket... but she fights like you. I suppose that makes sense, her technically being you and all. I would have settled in her... but that stupid demon who's been watching out for the pure witch spotted me. He's the one. He told her to take me out of the girl's body."
Willow stood with a face of such stoicism that put even Oz to shame, but inside she was raging. All of this was her fault. She had tainted everyone she had distributed her magic to last term when they'd faced Voldemort... and Tara had not been strong enough to resist the taint.
"Now let's have some fun." Rack snickered as he rubbed his hand together. They crackled with red energy. "Seal." He did his hand in a circle.
The robed figure next to him flipped his hood back. Willow quirked her head to the side. It looked like nothing more than a teenage boy. Ginny started screaming. Harry had gone stiff with disbelief. Dumbledore himself was looking a bit shocked. Willow's eyes widened as she remembered where she'd seen him before.
"Riddle." Draco whispered. He remembered this wanker from the evanescent curse placed on their group last term. He remembered he'd never seen Ginny so terrified as when this thing had come after her.
Ginny was shaking and staring up at the face the haunted her nightmares every so often. Draco tightened his hand on hers.
Harry tried to break the circle, but found he could not. His hands seemed to be fused to Sirius's and Dawn's. Everyone in that circle was pretty much discovering the same thing. Especially Severus. He was absolutely desperate to help Willow, but could not.
"Now for the fun." Rack said with a smirk. "Simtire libertate."
Angel gasped and fell to his knees clutching his chest. Dumbledore moved towards him with his wand drawn. The vampire's head snapped up.
Buffy stared into his eyes. "No."
Dumbledore pulled her back a little. "Is he..."
Ron's eyes went wide. He shoved Hermione behind him.
"Hey." She said, annoyed. Then her eyes caught what was in the doorway. "Ron!"
Ron turned his head to see Peter Pettigrew actually there. His wand was aimed. Ron shouted in alarm and tackled Hermione into his parents, knocking the lot of them to the floor.
Buffy turned at Ron's shout and threw herself in front of Dumbledore before the curse aimed his way could get him. Someone screamed because the words Pettigrew had uttered were 'avada kedavra'. Buffy took the green bolt to the chest. It knocked her back. She hit the stone floor and slid a bit. The slayer didn't move after that.
"Buffy!" Dawn screamed.
About that time Rack smashed the jar with Glory in it at Riddle's feet. He whispered some strange chant then threw some powder at them. The Glory spectral floated up like smoke an attached itself to Tom Riddle... and suddenly they were both solid. The 'ghosts' making one form. The form flickered between Glory and Riddle morphing until finally settled on Glory.
"Now my Lord has a daughter... and a son." Rack murmured. Then he reached for the jar with Doyle and the baby.
But it wasn't there.
Wesley had it. His arms were wrapped around it protectively. Rack advanced on him, but Willow stepped in the dark dealer's path. Rack stared at her for a minute then backhanded her. Willow's head turned, but she stood her ground and faced him.
"That all you got?"
Meanwhile, Angelus was advancing on the downed slayer, but McGonagall wasn't having any. She grabbed his arm and spun him about. Before he could even think to grab her or anything, the hex was out.
Angelus went flying back and hit the wall hard. "You're gonna pay for that, crone."
"Who are you calling a crone, you snaggle-toothed, over hanging forehead, hair-gelled excuse for a vampire? Get up and face me, Angelus. I am not afraid of you." She took a dueling stance. "Bring it."
Peter Pettigrew was aiming his wand at Dumbledore again.
The wand flew out of his hands.
Peter locked up. Before he could fall, Neville Longbottom shoved the man's bound form aside. Peter fell like a stone.
"Good timing, Mister Longbottom. Dumbledore said before hexing Angelus as he was wrestling McGongall's for her wand, which was emitting a shower of red sparks currently. "Petrificus totalus!"
As soon as Angelus froze up, McGonagall planted a heeled boot in the center of his chest and kicked the vampire off of her with all her might. Never let it be said the head of Gryffindor house was not spry for her age.
The Glory-Riddle had moved to Dawn. She lifted the girl. Dawn's hands were still gripped in Harry's and Giles's. Glory ripped Dawn's shirt open at the collar, exposing the mark Voldemort had put on her last year. Dawn screamed when Glory took a painted nail and sliced along the scar, opening the skin there.
"DAWN!" Harry was struggling to rise, but it was difficult when his hands were occupied.
It was just about then that Lily slid in through the doorway and rolled something from her hand.
Rack whipped his head around to look at her. "Mitosis." He whispered as the rolling ball split into two, then to four.
But Lily was already chanting. "Te implor Doamne, nu ignora accasta rugaminte! Lasa orbita sa fie vasul care-i va transporta sufletul la el!"
Four was as far as it got before the ether in each orb started to glow. One of the four managed to spilt once more, creating five as they rolled through the room.
Glory smeared a hand in Dawn's blood and flicked the drops. Like on the tower, a portal opened. The former hell-goddess, current who-knows-what, morphed into Riddle and blew Dawn and kiss before jumping in.
"Release." Rack whispered as he batted Willow in the face once more before letting her fall. Magic crackled against her skin as he did this.
As Dawn fell back, Harry and Giles were able to let go of her hands. Everyone was able to let go. Rack reached for the jar in Wesley hands, but was blocked.
Her spirit was up out of her body and glaring harshly. "I believe this jar and all within it belongs to me."
Rack backed away from her. Riddle's arm came from the portal and pulled him in right before it closed.
"Este scris, aceasta putere este dreptul poporuil meu da a conduce.... Asa sa fie! Acum! ACUM!" Lily screeched.
"Drop the jar!" Tara yelled.
Wesley did. The glass crashed and shattered all around his feet.
Tara's spirit grabbed Doyle's spectral form tightly as they were sucked back into her body, his hand still tight around the light of the life that would be inside her.
The five orbs glowed brightly.
Spike fell back clawing at his chest as he screamed.
Alex fell to his knees behind Lily with his arms around his head screaming.
Drusilla tumbled to her knees beside Alex screaming like she was being burned alive. She flopped onto her back convulsing like a fish out of water.
Then it went quiet. Abruptly.
Everyone was perfectly still in this moment.
Lily took in the scene. She looked at Angel, Spike, Alex, and Drusilla.
Then she fainted. Connor caught her before she hit the floor.
AN: Lots of languages here. Quenya Elvish, Latin, and Romanian. The Elvish had no particular meaning. Well, the words do have a meaning, but I mean I didn't use Elvish for any particular purpose other than I just wanted something a bit more exotic that Spanish or something. The words were taken from an online dictionary.