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Re-Discovering The Previously Unknown

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This story is No. 4 in the series "Correcting Past Mistakes". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: A vengeance demon is in town, and she's going to make sure her target is dealt with properly.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Harry Potter > Xander-Centered > Pairing: OtherGreywizardFR1816,7300186,94012 Aug 1212 Aug 12Yes
Disclaimer: They all belong to Joss and ME or JKR and her minions. Deal with it. I have.

Time Frame: Not long after the start of season one of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but the timeline has been adjusted somewhat from the original series episodes air dates to reflect some errors the original series writers made with respect to the solstice mentioned in the premiere episode. Also, this story follows my earlier story, 'And Now For Something Completely Different (Redux)'.

Spoilers: None intended, but if you don't know what happened up to this point, why are you reading this story?

Character Bashing: None at all.

Feedback: Of course!

Archiving: Talk to me first, please.

Author's Note 1: Many thanks to Bill Haden and Theo (Starway_Man) for beta-ing this story.

Author's Note 2: As usual, "word" indicates speech, :: word :: indicates mental communication and { word } indicates a character's thoughts.

Author's Note 3: This story is part of my 'Correcting Past Mistakes' universe, and falls in the time period shortly after my earlier story, 'And Now For Something Completely Different (Redux),' and approximately two and seventy years before my story, 'Portents And Retribution.' It should also help clarify who the characters in that last story actually are.

Author's Note 4: This is story #12 for the 2012 August Fic-A-Day Challenge.

~~~

Sunnydale High School library
Sunnydale, CA


March 17, 1997


WOOO-WOOO-WOOO-WOOO-WOOO!

"Good Lord! What in heaven's name is that confounded noise?" Rupert Giles, assigned by the Council as Watcher to the current Vampire Slayer, demanded as he rushed out of his private office barely an instant after the ear-splitting alarm began blaring throughout the library.

"Ah, great thundering Zeus! I didn't expect the alarms to go off *this* soon!" Alexander Potter (once Alexander Lavelle Harris) declared, as he pushed through the double doors separating the rest of the school.

"Xander! What the heck's going on?" Buffy Summers asked as she followed the tall brunet inside the room where the books lived, leading a beautiful redheaded girl, Willow Rosenberg, and a second, taller brunet youth, Jesse McNally, by only a short distance and a few seconds. "What's the alarm for?"

"Yeah, uh, those're just some wards I set up, around the school and a few other spots in town, a couple weeks back," the 'Britified' (as he typically referred to himself) youth explained to his audience, as he tapped what was apparently a deactivation code into a panel located just inside Giles' office, before the whooping abruptly stopped.

"To let me know when a, uhm, vengeance demon came to town," Xander then elaborated a bit as he turned back to face his companions.

"A, a vengeance demon?" Willow, the group's computer hacker, asked, a frown furrowing her forehead as she discovered something else new about the supernatural world she'd only recently learned about. "What are they, exactly?"

"Short description – they're former humans who've become demons, and who tour the world looking to exact vengeance on behalf of specific groups of people whom they consider to be victims, such as love-scorned women or neglected children," Xander informed his audience tersely. "They encourage their 'clients' – that's how many of them identify the people they're supposedly acting on behalf of, anyway – to vent against the person who wronged them. Well, until the victims use the words 'I wish' and then state their preferred method of punishment for the person who wronged them, because this type of demon need the dumb sap to use the W-word before they can act.

"Vengeance demons – or justice demons, as I've heard at least one of them describe herself – actually seldom give the wisher what they really want, since they're – evil," Potter clarified his earlier explanation, a pained grimace on his face as he said that last word. "As in mass-murdering, tearing people's hearts out of their chests, type evil. They're more or less like the genie in those old 'One Thousand And One Arabian Nights' tales, in that they generally pervert the meaning of the wish by taking their client's words literally; so that after all the bloodshed is over, the wisher ends up regretting making the wish, albeit way too late."

"So, err, why exactly did you think you needed to set up wards to alert you should such a being arrive here in Sunnydale?" Giles inquired. "I mean, apart from general principles, given what these creatures can, uhm, apparently accomplish. Should we be concerned about such a demon looking to open the Hellmouth, or-or possibly attempting to initiate an apocalypse?"

"No, nothing like that, Giles," Xander replied, shaking his head. "They need the planet intact almost as much as we do, given their – clientele. I was only interested in knowing if one – particular – vengeance demon would ever show up in town. That's all."

"Why?" Buffy asked, her classically beautiful features twisted into a puzzled frown. "Are you looking to kill it?

"Did it hurt you or someone you cared about in your previous life?" the Slayer then asked, delicately trying to wheedle more information about the previous timeline from this self-confessed time traveler. And that fact was something that Xander, his brothers, Harry and Ron Potter, and their respective significant others, Hermione Granger and Sabrina Spellman, had all finally confessed about – shortly after the unholy rite called the Harvest was aborted before it even got started.

{ Well, Xander certainly doesn't *look* angry about this demon he's talking about, } Buffy decided, as she watched her wizard friend for any further reactions. { He looks more like he's – worried or concerned, maybe, about whatever it was that happened when he met the demon. }

The petite blonde's curiosity was really soaring into hitherto-unreached levels now, as she gave some thought about what it was Xander might possibly be worrying about with regard to this vengeance demon thingy he'd just mentioned. Curiosity was a human survival trait, after all, as well as something nearly all teenage females indulged in when confronted with a hottie of the opposite sex.

And she was, Buffy finally admitted to herself, quite intrigued by Xander – and not just because of his accent, or the fact that he'd promised that he and his family would help out when it came to dealing with the various oogly-booglies that kept coming into this town wanting to kill her. It was pretty much everything about him that she found fascinating.

After all, it was only just recently that Xander had revealed to her and Giles and Willow and Jesse – the members of what he kept calling 'The Scooby Gang' – that he, his brothers and their fiancées had somehow managed to travel nearly a decade backwards in time, and occupy their past bodies, so as to avert a series of catastrophes and near-apocalypses, which had resulted in a truly horrendous future for the entire world.

Xander had also admitted, and somewhat reluctantly at that, how in the previous timeline he'd teamed up with her and Giles and Willow and several other people – including that ensouled vampire, Angel, who'd started working with the group a couple weeks back. But, dammit, the guy had been *extremely* stingy when it came to describing what kind of relationships he'd had with any of them in any sort of detail.

And every single time she'd pressed him for more details about anything like that, Xander had used some stupid cliché like "That's water under the bridge now" or something equally vague and ambiguous, to steer clear of telling her what she wanted to know.

That was something Buffy Anne Summers was finding more and more annoying, as time went on. Because she was pretty sure Potter was *deliberately* avoiding talking about such things, so that she couldn't ask him about their own relationship in the previous timeline.

Buffy was curious about whether they'd ever dated during the first go-around, because she knew she would certainly have considered Xander cute – even without that intriguing, barely noticeable, trace of English accent he had – and if they hadn't dated, she wanted to know 'Why not?'

And, if Xander hadn't dated her, then who *had* he dated? That Cordelia girl, who kept giving him those strange looks every so often? And why would he have chosen that airhead – or whoever it was who he'd dated – over her?

Shaking her head to refocus her thoughts on more pressing and relevant issues, since Xander's brother, Ron, and Ron's fiancée, Sabrina had just joined them and were being briefed about the current situation, Buffy decided that she and Xander Potter were *definitely* going to be discussing all of those topics, and more, *in detail*...as soon as things calmed down a bit.

~/~/~

An area outside the normal space-time continuum

The same time


"A very interesting individual, indeed," the tall, bearded, azure-skinned demon commented to the smaller, clearly feminine demon standing next to him, as they watched the scene within the Sunnydale High library unfold in the viewing portal before them.

The six horns forming a semi-crown across the top of his head, as well as his almost palpable aura of power, differentiated the demon lord from the demoness, making the respectful manner of the female much more understandable as she said, "He most certainly is, my lord. As are his companions – both those he has gathered together since arriving in this town, and those companions he traveled back through time with, originally."

"Has the wizard revealed any further explanation for his interest in locating Anyanka?" the demon lord, D'Hoffryn, asked, his question not offering any hint about his personal feelings regarding the mortal under discussion.

"No, my lord," Norfrelik shook her head in response to her master's inquiry. "He hasn't said anything more about his intentions towards her to any of his friends – at least, not while I've been observing him."

The demoness also didn't mention to her master her own personal curiosity in determining what this Alexander Potter's interests might be regarding her current rival for the position of D'Hoffryn's second-in-command, since she knew that her lord was well aware of the bitter struggle which had been going on between the two of them for the last six decades.

If D'Hoffryn did have any feelings concerning the ongoing battle between his chief lieutenants, it was most likely amusement, Norfrelik reflected to herself. Her boss was a firm believer in what humans referred to as 'Darwin's Law of the Jungle,' or something like that, and often stated that only the strongest and most ruthless deserved their positions at the top of whichever pyramid was being watched at the time.

Which probably also accounted, at least partially, for D'Hoffryn's interest in the youth currently under observation. The temporally-displaced wizard had demonstrated, on multiple occasions, a ruthlessness and single-mindedness of purpose which had given even the demoness pause, and had made Norfrelik thankful that she didn't need to be concerned about ever having to face off against him in any struggle for supremacy within their organization.

As D'Hoffryn teleported himself away without any further comment, Norfrelik resolved to herself to seize any potential opportunity which might arise, to either aid Potter (for any potential influence it might possibly offer her in the future), or to take her rival down, hard and fast, while making sure she didn't leave herself open to any subsequent reprisals.

~/~/~

Sunnydale High School hallway

A short while later


"There she is!" Xander quietly informed his companions as he noticed a gorgeous young woman with shoulder-length chestnut brown hair and a very intent expression on her face, involved in what appeared to be the typical conversation with Harmony Kendall – i.e., one which would end up giving the person on the other end a throbbing headache.

"I knew she was a demon! I knew it all along!" Willow exclaimed triumphantly, as she caught sight of the people Xander was pointing to. "So why didn't you tell us about her before now, Xand?"

The tall brunet's momentary puzzled expression almost immediately shifted to a wide grin, as Xander told the redhead, "Uh, sorry to disappoint you, Will, but Harmony really is human.

"She might be a complete and utter bitch, but Harmony's a one hundred percent human bitch," Xander informed the clearly disappointed hacker and apprentice witch (something that would have driven the American Ministry postal had they known about it, given how Willow's parents had unceremoniously kicked their representatives out of the house way back when).

"Anyanka's the girl talking to Harmony," Potter confirmed the vengeance demon's identity for Buffy and Jesse.

"So, how do you want to handle this, Xand?" Buffy asked as she tried to continue acting casually, while the quartet headed down the hallway towards the pair now under surveillance.

"Well, I've activated the wards to prevent her from teleporting away, so I'd appreciate it if you guys could distract Harmony, somehow. Y'know, so that I can deal with Ahn – uh, I mean, Anyanka," Xander quickly corrected himself. Peripherally, he noticed the frown that appeared on Buffy's face as she caught the apparent familiarity he'd used when referring to their ostensible foe, but the young wizard knew that now was not the time to indulge Buffy's somewhat annoying demands for information on the previous timeline.

"No problem, bro," Jesse immediately agreed with Xander's request. "We can do that, right, Wills?"

"Uh, yeah, Jesse. We can distract Harmony. I guess," Willow agreed, her voice conveying her uncertainty as she glanced between Buffy and Xander, trying to figure out exactly what was currently up between the two of them. By this point in time, she had long since gotten over the childhood crush she'd had on Xander – especially after he'd confessed that it had never been meant to be between them, and it simply hadn't worked out after a 'brief fling' during senior year. *His* pained and painful words, not hers...

Before the redhead could say anything more, though, Jesse grabbed hold of Willow's elbow, and began pulling her along with him as he headed towards the completely oblivious Cordette and the vengeance demon who was apparently looking to use her to unleash carnage in some manner. "You ready, Buffy?"

"Yeah. Let's go."

Xander looked a bit ill at ease when he heard Buffy's comment – almost as though he didn't want her around, the Slayer decided, as she gave Potter a somewhat narrow-eyed glance – but he nodded almost immediately, and said, "Yeah, let's," before then heading off after Jesse and Willow. He hung back a little, though, after deciding it would be wiser to let his teenage friends act out this little drama without him.

Xander knew how Anya – { No, remember that she's Anyanka, now, damn it! } he reminded himself again – was over a thousand years old, and would be able to spot the subtle differences between him and his school-age companions almost immediately. You didn't last that long in the vengeance business without being able to pick up on whatever might seem anomalous around you, after all.

"...some kind of cheerleading emergency. So you better get over there, quick," Xander heard Jesse saying to Harmony, whose eyes had opened so wide that he thought she momentarily resembled one of those heroines in the various Japanese anime movies he knew Jesse loved to watch. With McNally on one side of the cheerleader and Willow on the other, the pair began leading the confused blonde away from the scene.

"Anya Jenkins. You need to come with me right now, we need to talk in private," Xander said as he walked up and took a firm grip on the brunette's left arm, distracting her from his two friends as she turned to look in Potter's direction. For a few moments, Anyanka didn't resist as Xander began 'escorting' her down the corridor, away from the other teens.

But that didn't last long, as surprise quickly transformed into anger when Potter basically shoved her into an empty classroom, and slipped inside behind her. Buffy swiftly darted inside as well before the soon-to-be-dead male closed the door behind him. Anyanka noticed the damned asshole throw a quick glare in the blonde's direction, but she ignored it – because *no mortal* did this sort of thing to her, without ending up dead-dead-dead afterwards!

"You obviously know who I am, so you probably also know what I am – and what I do to men who're stupid enough to personally annoy me," the vengeance demon snarled, as Anyanka began reaching her hand up towards her neck to the amulet hanging there.

"Accio amulet!" Xander commanded as he snapped his wand up in the brunette's direction, and the demonic talisman abruptly tore itself away from the chain and flew through the air directly into Potter's other hand.

"NO!" Anyanka screamed in protest, her eyes wide with shock at losing her power center.

"Don't do anything stupid. And yes, Anyanka, I know who you are," Xander then replied in answer to her question of a moment earlier.

"But what's more important, I know who you *were*. And what a wonderful human being you could be again, if you just had the chance," the young man continued, while both Anyanka and Buffy stared at him in confusion.

"What in the name of Tarkna are you talking about, you, you – disgusting, revolting *man*?!" Anyanka demanded angrily, before she ignored Xander's warning and darted forward to try and regain her power center; only to be blocked by Buffy stepping into her path, and preventing her from moving forward.

"Ahn, please, listen to me…" Xander started to say, before he trailed off. The guy sounded desperate, almost as though he were begging the vengeance demon, Buffy thought to herself as she focused on the details of the conversation – though why Xander would want to do something like that, she couldn't even begin to fathom.

"Anya, I know you – the *real* you. I know about your life as Aud. I know how Olaf cheated on you. I know how D'Hoffryn persuaded you to throw away your humanity all those centuries ago, and become who – what – you are now. And I *know* that there's more to you than just a desire to rip apart any man you come across! Because in the timeline that existed before this one, someone destroyed your amulet – and you became human again," Xander then said in a big rush, much to the shock of both women.

"Believe it or not, you rebuilt your life, and you became a valuable part of our group here in Sunnydale," the wizard confessed, his tone thick with emotion as he spoke.

"You had people who loved you, and whom you loved in return..."

~/~/~

From her position within her home dimension, Arashmaharr, Norfrelik watched and her lips twisted into a pleased smile as various potentialities occurred to her.

"Thank you, little wizard," she murmured as her fingers began moving in a very specific sequence, her magic seeking to locate one particular possibility that might perhaps exist, out among the myriad possibilities existing in the Mandala.

"You've just given me precisely the information I need."

~/~/~

"What kind of ridiculous lies are you trying to tell me, you degenerate piece of male *slime*?" the enraged vengeance demon demanded, her eyes wide with unrestrained fury. "I don't know how you learned all that, but whoever your informant was – they should have also told you that I would *never* forsake my calling!

"And especially not to become some pathetically mortal *human* again!" Anyanka shouted, refusing to believe Xander's story for an instant.

"But you did, Ahn!" Xander denied Anyanka's claims. "Okay, I'll admit you weren't all that happy about becoming human again to start with, but you eventually grew to love it! You loved money, you loved the Fourth of July, you loved...you fashioned a new life here for yourself, and we were happy together!"

"WHAT?!" Anyanka exclaimed, her question echoed by an equally stunned Buffy. Neither of them could accept *that* concept, albeit for different reasons.

"I don't believe you, you lying piece of *offal*!" Anyanka then screamed, before lunging forward in another attempt to regain her power center. There was obvious death in her eyes as the demoness screamed, "Give me back my amulet!"

~/~/~

Norfrelik smiled with malicious pleasure as her spell located a reality whose history matched the admittedly general values she sought, and the demoness took note of the most defining personality characteristics of the players involved. Especially those of the Buffy, Anya and Xander of that particular alternate world, whose relationship was almost unique within the Mandala.

Now, if things played out the way she believed they would (and after all these centuries, Norfrelik could correctly anticipate how most humans would react in a given situation), all she had to do was wait for the Slayer to offer her the opportunity she needed by saying the W-word.

~/~/~

Buffy was absolutely *sure* she couldn't have possibly heard what Xander had just said correctly, seeing as how that would mean that Potter was...someone she didn't want him to be, not in any way, shape or form. And given the Slayer's distraction, the furious and desperate vengeance demon managed to slip past her, snatching at the hand holding her amulet.

Yanking his hand away, Xander was nonetheless unable to completely avoid Anyanka's mad and frantic rush and the pair fell to the floor, both struggling to claim possession of the talisman as both human and demon rolled across the floor, their fight knocking Buffy off her feet and atop them.

Caught unexpectedly in their tussle, Buffy's back landed atop their interlinked hands, and the faintly glowing amulet was instantly smashed against the floor, shattering into thousands of momentarily radiant fragments.

"NOOOO!!!" the now-human Anyanka screamed, her face screwed up in horror as she collapsed limply onto the floor. { No, no, no! I can't be human again! I *can't*! I *won't*! }

Buffy, meanwhile. turned a disbelieving face towards Xander as they sprawled on the classroom floor next to each other.

"You two were together in that other world, Xander? No way! I don't believe it!" the Slayer declared, feeling somewhat angry and betrayed at his words. But deep down, there was the tiniest smidgeon of belief that made the sixteen-year-old girl feel *pissed off*, not to mention a little jealous!

"Not if this *thing* was the mass-murdering demon you were just telling us about in the library a couple minutes ago," Buffy added, confusion and bewilderment filling her face before she went on, "I mean, for God's sake – you just *ignored* the fact that this thing murdered thousands of people for centuries?!"

Xander somehow refrained from mentioning anything about the doomed Buffy/Angel saga, by focusing on Anyanka – Anya, now. This wasn't exactly how he'd planned to turn his former fiancée human again, and just for a moment, Xander could not help feeling exasperated with the blonde Slayer over how she'd blundered into all this like a bull in a china shop, and basically ruined all his plans.

{ Maybe I *should* tell her about what happened in the previous timeline, after all. Tell Buffy how she actually preferred the walking corpse to me, and how she unleashed a soulless monster who killed hundreds of people before she finally sent him to Hell, } Xander coldly mused to himself for a moment, the look on his face making the Chosen One recoil in confusion.

"I just wish I could understand what it was you saw in her, that could make you do something like that!" the petite Slayer went on, her expression becoming puzzled as Buffy witnessed the look of abject horror on both Xander's and Anyanka's faces the moment they heard her words.

A fraction of a second later, all three heard the words "Wish granted!" echo through the room, and a cascade of alien memories suddenly filled all three of their minds.

~/~/~

"…You have friends who risked their souls to save you and a sister that loves you. Heaven isn't just a cloud somewhere. Or, at least it doesn't have to be. And you'll make your life a hell if you keep chasing everyone away. It's up to you."

In her mind, Buffy could hear Anya talking to her, and she could remember dying, and being resurrected, and feeling as though there wasn't anything good or right or enjoyable about living again.

At least, that is, she'd felt that way until someone who'd been through something almost as emotionally devastating had gotten through to her, and showed her that life was, indeed, still worth living.

{ No! That demon's name is Anyanka. Isn't it? } Buffy asked herself even as more alien memories flooded through her mind, despite all her efforts to reject and ignore them.

Other memories filled her befuddled mind as she struggled to figure out what was happening.

"…as for what you're feeling – it's love, Buffy. I can see it in your aura. You're in love."

Buffy could hear a blonde witch she'd never met before talking to her – and yet, she also realized that Tara Maclay was someone she knew and trusted at the most basic level of her being.

"It can't be. It's not possible," she remembered saying back to Tara.

"Sure it is. Xander's been in love with you for years."

"It's not..."

"You and Anya have a lot in common, too," Tara insisted. "You're both kind of outsiders, so it's only natural he'd go for you both." The blonde witch grinned and put her hand on Buffy's shoulder. "If you're looking for someone to throw stones, you came to the wrong Wicca. Although, your timing could be better. Anyway, you should tell them, or it'll haunt you forever."

"I can't."

"Sure you can, honey. You spend enough time with them and..."

"You don't get it – I can't tell them, because I love them *both*!" Buffy half-screamed as she jumped to her feet to start pacing as she ranted, "I *want* them both! Xander's so warm and down to earth and caring...

"And Anya's the only one who understands what I'm going through – at least the only one with a pulse! And they're always there when I need them, and..."

***

"...time you went back to being what you were always meant to be," Anya heard D'Hoffryn say.

{ No, my name is Anyanka. I haven't been Anya Jenkins for more than a day at a time for centuries, } the former vengeance demon, who had been named Aud in her first life, reminded herself, as the torrent of alien memories flowed through her mind despite all her efforts to shut them out and ignore them.

She looked up at her old boss and saw her chance to get back at Xander, for what he had done to her by leaving her at the altar. The old urge to gain vengeance flowed through her like a cold fire.

"My amulet..." she whispered.

"Is right here," D'Hoffryn said, and, true to his word, a copy of the amulet she'd worn for centuries appeared in his hand. "All you have to do is take it."

Anya/Anyanka/Aud's hand shook as she reached out, and her finger brushed against the delicate gold chain as she felt the power of the Wish dancing through it.

"All right," she nodded, about to resume her existence as an immortal demon. But suddenly, there was a crackle of energy and Buffy was shoving Halfrek, her fellow vengeance demon, out of her way as she marched over to Anya/Anyanka/Aud.

"You do not belong in this world, Slayer!!" D'Hoffryn's voice boomed and she could hear Buffy answering the formidable demon lord without a trace of fear in her voice.

"I came for my friend. Just stay out of my way, and I'll leave – with her," the petite blonde said, and Anya/Anyanka/Aud looked up at Buffy, before glancing back to the necklace.

"Please, Anya," she heard the Slayer saying in a gentle voice. "You don't have to do this."

"Of course, I do," the former demon remembered shaking her head. "I don't have anything left back there."

"You have me," she heard the tiny blond declared firmly.

Anya/Anyanka/Aud glanced over at Buffy for an instant before shaking her head, again. "You just hung around with me because you wanted Xander for yourself. Well, go get him. I won't stop you."

"No," the ex-demon remembered Buffy saying as the blonde knelt down in front of her as she huddled on the floor. "I hung around with you, to be with you. I need... I love you. Both of you."

"I don't believe you."

"Believe this," Buffy told her firmly as she caught Anya's mouth with hers and she just closed her eyes and wrapped her arms around Buffy's shoulders, enjoying the seemingly unending moment until she heard the blonde pull away just enough to ask, "Believe me now?"

***

"Xander, we have to talk," Potter remembered hearing Anya say as she walked up to her almost-husband, the alien memories flooding through the wizard's mind despite all his occlumency training and abilities.

"I can't, Ahn. I'm sorry," Xander then remembered himself apologizing, unable to meet Anya's eyes because of the shame he was feeling.

"What happened, Xand? Was it the visions?" he heard Buffy ask as she sat down next to him on the bed and put her arm around his shoulders, as if to provide him with desperately needed reassurance.

Xander nodded as memories he *knew* were false – thanks to the whole time traveling thing – continued to stream through his mind. { Come on, damn it – fight it! Don't let whichever vengeance demon bitch is responsible for this, win!! }

"But they were fake!" the wizard heard Anya protest again, her voice frantic with wildly churning emotions as Xander continued to fight against the alien memories violating his mind.

Buffy managed to quiet the near-hysteric Anya before turning back to Xander and asking, "What did he show you?"

"You don't want to know," he'd replied, refusing to look at either of them; only to hear Anya ask, "Please, Xander, tell us," as she got down on one knee in front of him and looked up at him.

"You don't play fair," Xander remembered protesting, as he looked into her lovely, love-filled eyes.

"No, playing fair just means you lose," Potter remembered Anya saying, and he'd almost grinned at her typically brutal frankness before acquiescing and telling them everything.

The memory of telling both women how marrying Anya meant that Buffy had died, and how her death had destroyed his marriage and career, telling them all of the horror stories he'd experienced until finally finishing his tale of what he'd done with the frying pan, steamrolled into Xander's mind. The conflict with his *true* memories of that day – the ones where the visions had been similar, but he'd given neither woman any sort of explanation, leaving Anya a weeping mess and Buffy a disappointed bystander – was really starting to make Xander's head hurt.

In any case, both Anya and Buffy had looked pale with shock when he'd finished speaking, and Xander then remembered telling them, "I can't do it. When I learned that you died, Buffy, it was like someone had carved out my heart.

"And what I did to you..." he'd said, heartbroken as he falsely remembered reaching out and almost touching Anya's chin. "I couldn't let that happen. I need you...both of you."

"You would never do that, Xander," the former Hogwarts student then recalled Buffy declaring, and her words were immediately affirmed by Anya flatly saying, "You aren't your father, Xander. And you never will be!"

"I could be," Xander remembered himself protesting. "That's the one thing I've always been afraid of. Now, I know that if things ever get bad enough, it'll happen."

"No, it won't. I know you, Xander Harris! The man I love is far too good of a person for that to ever happen," Buffy had told him, and he'd given Anya a very worried glance when he'd realized what she said.

Astonishingly, though, there wasn't any sign of jealousy from his fiancée – just worry. But Xander remembered ignoring that and how he'd continued his confession, "Buffy, I...you don't know how many times I've wished you'd say that, but I love Anya now and we can't..."

"Actually," Anya had interrupted him. "We can. I love Buffy, too," she had said nonchalantly, and then kissed the petite blonde, much to Xander's shock.

"And we both love you," Anya had then said, as she'd turned to kiss him.

"Really?" Xander remembered almost squeaking as he'd looked at Buffy.

"Really," Buffy had nodded, and then she'd leaned over and pulled him into a passionate kiss, too.

***

All of these and thousands of additional memories flooded their minds, and all three of them –Slayer, wizard and ex-demon – blinked at each other dazedly, as they found themselves laying on the classroom floor.

Unlike his companions, Xander truly understood what was going on. He had undergone mental attack before, especially in the incredibly nasty future that he, Harry, Ron, Hermione and Sabrina had returned from. That was why the wizard used a highly dangerous yet effective technique Sabrina had taught him last year, to quickly isolate and quarantine those alien – *false* – memories which had been maliciously and gleefully inflicted upon him, *without his permission*. After it was done, the memories were still there, since they couldn't be safely removed without turning parts of his brain into mush...

However, the vengeance demon who had granted the Slayer's Wish just now, did *not* succeed in enslaving Alexander Potter, scion of the Noble and Ancient House of Potter, to the intended result of its callous mind rape, the way it had managed to do with its female 'clients,' Buffy and Anya.

"Uhm, ah…are you guys okay?" Xander finally managed to get out, after staring at both girls for a moment, his mind finally managing to get itself back into some semblance of order after dealing with a lifetime's worth of memories he'd never actually experienced.

"Ah, I, uh, yeah, I think so," Buffy nodded, not knowing what exactly she should, or could, do or say, as a result of her wish unexpectedly being granted.

Granted in the form of memories which, given everything Xander and his family had told her about recently, the Chosen One now truly believed detailed her upcoming future. A future where she had apparently died by sacrificing herself to save her bratty little sister, and then entered into a sexual relationship involving both a man and a woman, the sixteen-year-old Slayer reminded herself dazedly.

"I, I, uh, I need to get out of here," Anyanka (Or was she possibly Anya?, some small part of her asked) said, as the ex-demon forced herself to her feet.

As noted, thanks to the results of Norfrelik's mind rape, Anya was now a hesitant believer that what Xander had told her a few minutes ago – was all true. That they *would* end up together, in the "till death do us part" sort of way. And the former demoness likewise suspected that she would end up in a romantic relationship with the *Slayer* as well, of all people. Now that she knew, from personal experience just what it felt like to be on the wrong end of a Wish, Anya decided that she never wanted to go through anything like that, ever again.

Let alone a wish that involved being emotionally connected to other people!

Swaying somewhat unsteadily, the brunette made her way over to the door and fumbled with the latch for a moment before managing to get it open. Looking back over her shoulder at the other two victims of the Wish, Anya shook her head, as if in denial of all of the alien emotions coursing through her, and then she practically ran out the door.

"You *sure* you're okay, Buffy?" the blonde Slayer heard her – friend? teammate? possibly future lover? – asking, as she shoved herself up off the floor (not nearly as smoothly as she normally would, she noted to herself) and the Chosen One turned to look over at him. Only to find Xander staring at her with an expression that indicated concern and apprehension, as opposed to the dazed and confused look Buffy was certain was on her own face.

"Yeah, Xand," Buffy replied, turning away from that terrifyingly and sincerely concerned look on Xander's face. "I, uh, I've got to get home. I'll see you tomorrow – maybe. Okay?" she said in a rush as she followed Anya's example and quickly fled from the classroom.

"Yeah. Whatever you say," Xander muttered, as he wearily made his way back to the library to talk to his brothers and the women they were betrothed to, about what had just happened.

Most likely he'd have to tell Giles what had happened to his Slayer, as well – and boy, wasn't *that* a fun conversation he could really look forward to.

Some days, it seemed, your plans just wanted to go spectacularly FUBAR; whether you were a time traveler armed with future knowledge, or otherwise.

~/~/~

"A masterful way to eliminate a potential competitor, I must say. And doing so while still allowing your rival to live..." Norfrelik heard her master comment, and she felt her heart almost skip a beat before she composed herself and turned to nod her agreement of D'Hoffryn's evaluation. "A truly elegant piece of vengeance."

"Thank you, my lord," the vein-y looking demoness replied, waiting to see if D'Hoffryn had anything further to say.

"It's a pity about the wizard not fully succumbing to your magicks, of course, but it'll take him a long time to completely recover from what you did to him – if he ever does. And while some might say that the Slayer was not really a suitable choice for granting a Wish, I personally don't have any problem with my subordinates looking to possibly expand upon their traditional areas of focus. One must adapt to the times, after all," the azure-skinned demon declared as he gave the demoness an approving smile, before teleporting away without any further comment.

Norfrelik released a loud, satisfied sigh before allowing a smug, triumphant smile to appear on her face as she gazed at the now-empty classroom which was the site of her final, decisive victory over her much hated rival. Buffy and Xander, she quickly dismissed from her mind, as they had never been anything but a means to an end as far as this 'justice' demon was concerned.

{ You've not only lost your position, you've lost your power, too, Anyanka, } Norfrelik thought to herself with demonic pride and contentment.

{ Go on, then. Live as a human, and watch as your mortal body rots and finally dies of old age. I can't imagine a more humiliating end than that. }

~/~/~

The Bronze
Sunnydale, CA

Two nights later


"I was hoping I'd find you guys here."

Xander's quiet tone was barely audible over the music blaring from the speakers set in the corners of the second floor. He looked and felt *much* older than he had a few days previously, burdened as he was by the knowledge that there was no way to safely undo what had been done to Buffy and Anya. And, to a certain extent, to himself.

Neither Giles, nor any member of the Potter clan, could figure out any way to get rid of those alien memories, other than smashing the amulet of whichever vengeance demon had cursed them all; and since Buffy, Xander and Anya had never even laid eyes on Norfrelik that day, or knew for certain who had granted Buffy's wish, the odds of ever identifying her as the perpetrator of the crime were virtually nil.

"I was hoping that, too," Buffy said, just as quietly as she glided onto the currently deserted upper level from the entrance on the opposite side of the floor. Her dreams had been completely dominated by Xander's and Anya's presence lately, and the blonde adolescent had been having outlandish thoughts of making love to them both, all night long; especially that daydream this afternoon, where Anya was sitting naked on her face, while Xander suckled on the ex-demon's breasts at the same time he was pounding into her...

"I – I think we need to – to talk," Anya stated, as she hesitantly joined the other two, carefully settling herself down on one of the overstuffed chairs situated around one of the innumerable low coffee tables which littered the upper floor.

"I haven't been sleeping very well the past couple of nights," she began.

"And I feel like there's something missing in my life…"


FIN

Author's P.S. and Disclaimer: All of Buffy's, Anya's and Xander's memories in the final segment of the story were either quotes or paraphrases taken from stories in the 'Finding Heaven' series, by shadows59. You can find it here: http://www.fanfiction.net/~shadows59. It's a simply marvelous series, detailing how the three of them found each other, got together, and then stayed together through various problems and mishaps.

You *really* should read it.

The End

You have reached the end of "Re-Discovering The Previously Unknown". This story is complete.

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