Fare thee well, great heart!
...When that this body did contain a spirit,
A kingdom for it was too small a bound;
But now two paces of the vilest earth is room enough.
—William Shakespeare, Henry IV, Part 1
“Can I get you some more tea, sir?”
Daniel Robson looked up into the kind face of the tea girl, and nodded his head. She had sure hands, tilting the silver teapot just so, and filling the cup to just the level he liked. Two lumps of sugar were added, and then she handed the saucer to him. Taking it, the Watcher let the warmth from the china seep into his hands, before saying, “Cheers,” and taking a sip.
He had been drinking tea and eating biscuits all morning. There had been a very perfunctory meeting scheduled with the PM. It had been regarding the possibility of a Slayer joining his security staff. Daniel had intended to listen to all that the Prime Minister had to say before refusing him firmly, and cordially. He had attended Cambridge with David Campbell and he was proud of the friendship they had maintained, and even happier with how the man generally took a hands off approach when it came to the Council. He wanted to keep their close relationship, in addition to refusing him. But it was rather hard to do any such thing when the damnable man was three hours late for their meeting.
“The Prime Minister will be with you shortly, sir,” Emma Harcourt said, stepping into the room. She was the PM’s personal assistant and seemed to run all of Downing Street by a schedule, which was what made this current lateness so uncharacteristic. Daniel had never known David to be one given to lateness, though he had been quite angry over being left out of the loop on the First. Perhaps this was payback for that slight. Before Daniel had a chance to develop that idea, the Prime Minister walked in, looking especially harried.
David Campbell was a tall man in his mid-forties with little hair, and even less beauty. His nose was bulbous and his jowls heavy, but there was a keen intelligence in his eyes, and a kindness to him that was expressed in his very manner. He had not been a public school boy, rather attending local schools before attending Cambridge. There was nothing Establishment about him, and perhaps that was the reason he was beloved by the public. It didn’t make sense for Daniel and David to become friends, one from privilege and the other not, but they had, and it had been a friendship that both men had valued.
“Daniel,” the PM stated, coming forward and shaking Robson’s hand. “It is so good to see you, I am sorry that we are running so late this morning.”
“Not at all,” Daniel said. “I hope it is nothing serious?”
David huffed, rolling his eyes, and reaching out to take the tea that was offered to him. “When is it not? I have been in this miserable job for two years and I often wish that when I was asked to lead the party I had done the sensible thing and gone screaming from the room.”
Robson laughed, shaking his head. “I know what you mean.”
“Yes, I’m sure you do,” the PM replied, nodding his head as he knew about Daniel’s brush with death at the hands of the Bringers. Turning, he addressed the two women in the room. “Ladies, if you would please step outside.” Once they were alone, all was silent for a long moment. Concerned for the way his friend looked, Robson said nothing, waiting for David to say what was on his mind.
It took a while, but then David said, “Tell me, do you ever wish that you could unlearn the things you know?”
“What do you mean?”
David put his tea down and ran a hand over his face, his wrinkles and stress lines in sharp relief. “Do you wish that you could go back, I mean, to perfect ignorance. Before the vampires, before the Council, before your calling—do you wish you had done something safe, like drive a lorry?”
The Watcher laughed. “I don’t suppose I ever had a choice. My father was a Watcher and his before him, stretching backwards in an unbroken line since the reign of James I. My son will be one after me. Now, do I ever wish that I had been born to another family all together? Well, that is quite a different thing, and my answer would have to be yes.”
The Prime Minister nodded. “Sometimes, I wish that I had never heard about magic or vampires. It was simpler back then. When I didn’t know to be afraid if Jane misses her curfew, or my wife issued verbal invitations to our home. I felt safer when I didn’t know that I ought to be afraid of the night.”
“Well, you can always talk about your concerns when it comes to the supernatural with me. You know that,” Robson said, looking at his friend with a concerned expression.
The PM’s gaze was bleak when he looked up. David Campbell, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, shook his head. “No, Daniel. There are some things that I cannot tell, even to you.” *~*
There was little that could be done that day. Asha and Thea departed with promises to research what types of cleansing rituals would be safe and address the nature of the dark magic within the baby’s scar. After they had left, Buffy got on the phone with Willow and explained everything. Her friend was keenly interested and promised to look into cleansing rituals as well. She had decided to return from visiting Kennedy in Brazil on Sunday, and to Buffy’s mind she couldn’t get back fast enough. The witch had offered to call Xander, which Buffy gratefully accepted as she wasn’t up for telling the story twice.
By the time everything wrapped up, and she had a quick bite to eat, it was already afternoon. Harry had settled down for a nap on the sofa in Buffy’s office (but only after she had made a little pillow fort to prevent him from rolling off.) If he was going to stay with her for any significant length of time, Buffy knew she had to get him furniture, food, and clothes, which was why she spent the afternoon online and ordering things for rush delivery from a Mothercare store. Time slipped away quickly, so she was surprised when the door to her office opened and her sister was standing in the doorway.
“Giles said you found a baby,” Dawn said unceremoniously, dropping her bookbag on the floor. Her eyes were drawn to the couch, and she walked over to look down at they baby sleeping there. “He’s small. How old do you think he is?”
Buffy stood, walking over to stand next to Dawn. “Probably about one. Willow said there was a spell we could do to find out his exact age, but that will have to wait until she gets back to England. I’m calling him Harry, by the way.”
Dawn’s eyes lifted and then narrowed sharply. “Short for Henry, like Dad was gonna name you? Why would you do that? Don’t you want to save that name for when you have a son for real?”
Buffy sighed, feeling a headache coming on. Leaning back against the lip of her desk, she looked at her sister, taking in her flashing hazel eyes and tense posture. “Thea seems to think that I keep him. The baby, I mean. It seems she has had visions visiting me, and of him being there, staying with me, even years from now when he is older. We are, of course, going to keep looking for his family and hope that Thea’s visions relate to me keeping in touch with him later, but right now we are going on the assumption that this is going to be a permanent thing. If Giles told you about the magic, you know he could be in danger, Dawn.”
“And it is just as possible that the danger has passed and you are being all concerned about nothing,” Dawn said, her voice edgy. “What do you even know about taking care of a baby? You used to kill your goldfish all the time.”
“It’s not even remotely the same thing,” Buffy said, rolling her eyes. “And I have been taking care of you for the past two years.”
“Yeah, and what a swell job you’ve done too,” Dawn said sarcastically.
Buffy winced, looking away. “I’m not the only Slayer anymore. It will be different with him. If he turns into a kleptomaniac, odds are that I will notice,” she joked, though it fell flat.
“I can’t believe you’re doing this to me,” Dawn spat, clenching her jaw while her hands began to shake.
Buffy frowned. “Dawn, you have only six months until you are done with school. And you were talking about moving down to Oxford early and getting an apartment near there over the summer. Odds are, you will only have to deal with Harry until June, and then you’ll be gone. It’s not like he is going to eat your food or steal your clothes.”
“You just don’t get it,” Dawn snapped. “You never get it.”
“Is everything all right?”
The two Summers women turned and saw Giles standing in the doorway.
“Fine, just fine,” Dawn said. “Buffy is totally ruining my life, but what else is new? I’ll be in the library.” She stormed off, grabbing her bag and practically rushing from the room.
Buffy gave Giles a small smile. “Turns out, teenagers are still bratty even when you move them to a foreign country and let them practically join a secret organization.”
He looked concerned, unconvinced by her flippancy. “She’s upset?”
“Angry, pissed, petulant; you name it, odds are she’s emoting it,” Buffy sighed.
“I wonder what set her off,” Giles murmured, looking thoughtful.
“Lord only knows,” Buffy responded. “Why she would feel threatened by a baby, I can’t even begin to imagine.”
“Hmm,” was all the reply she received from Giles. *~*
Alice Longbottom looked up from the Daily Prophet she was reading aloud, ribbing James about his famous-ness, pausing in mid sentence. Looking at the comatose man on the bed, she shook her head. She could have sworn that she heard him say something, but she had to be wrong. People in comas didn’t speak, and as much as she wished James Potter would wake and say something to make her laugh, the longer he slept, the less likely it was that he would. From his view in the Blue room, James had a perfect view of the formal gardens behind the Hall. The mullioned glass windows offered him an ideal glimpse of the rolling hills and distant forest that made up his birthright. There had always been a Potter at Hollowed Hall—it being built by the Norman émigré William Potter—and James had faith that there always would be. Of course, the Hall bore little resemblance to the castle that had once stood proudly on the sight. During the reign of Elizabeth I, much had been lost, including the Norman stronghold, which had sheltered his family for five hundred years. The current manor had been built on the very site, but James sometimes dreamt of the original castle, wondering what it looked like and how tall it stood. No tapestries or paintings remained from the burnt ruins, so all that James had was his imagination. It was pure luck that the library had been housed in the small chapel in those days, and so the family records and knowledge had escaped the fires.
The rain was coming down in thick, fat drops that were soon going to quicken and become a downpour. Outside, on the grounds, the picturesque view almost seemed to be mocking the young wizard. It felt to him as though the world had ended, so it seemed strange that the hills were still green and the flowers still bloomed. James stared out the window at the contemptible greenery and sighed, thinking that the weather perfectly fit his mood.
They had buried his father that morning.
It did not seem mete that Edward Potter had died. Even though his younger brothers had already gone to their graves, there had been an indefatigable quality to his father, James had thought. Despite his white hair, he had always seemed so young, so full of life. Even though he had been over a hundred when James had been born, it could not be seen on his face or manner. Edward had always been up for a broom race or a trip to an exotic location. He had never shown any sickness, or even stopped attending meetings of the Wizengamot. Until the day he died, he had been a force of nature, but now his fire was out.
It had been an ordinary day in July, but when neither of his parents had come down to breakfast James had been concerned. Both his mother and his father were very firm about schedules and proper meal times, so it had been with a nervous heart that he had climbed the stairs to the master wing of the house. His feet had been heavy as they made their way over oriental rugs and hard wood floors. And when he had knocked on the double doors, it had been the silence to his entreaty which made him turn the handle. Once inside, James had all his worst fears realized. His father lay dead on the bed, looking as though he had died in his sleep, and his mother was curled into a ball next to him, rocking back and forth and silently crying.
James sighed, reaching up to rub the back of his neck. It wasn’t how he had anticipated the summer before his seventh year going. Had it really been a week ago when he had received his Head Boy and Quidditch Captain badges? So much had happened since then that it felt like a lifetime ago. His father had been so proud, Edward having been a Head Boy himself. There had been plans to celebrate, which would now never come to fruition.
The funeral had taken place that morning. Following Wizarding tradition, the reception had occurred the day before. James had known how well respected his father was, but it had still been a shock to see the manor filled with people who all seemed to have a story or kind words to tell the new head of the Potter family. The burial had been sparsely attended, mostly because it was on private Potter land, and James had not invited anyone beyond family and Sirius. His cousin Harold was there, as was his brother Charlus. James’s mother’s family had been there as well, but they had left soon after the interment, as had Sirius. Only Harold and Charlus remained.
“Uncle Edward was a fine man, James,” Charlus was saying, drawing the youth’s attentions from his thoughts and back to the occupants of the drawing room. “I’ve never known a better one. You should be proud of him.”
“I am,” James said, looking at his cousin. Charlus Potter was a wizard of forty-four, who bore the messy Potter hair and stature, but was the only one in the last hundred years to inherit the purple eyes of Veturia Peverell. He was a bit of a snob, and, in addition, Charlus had never worked a day in his life, sponging off his late wife’s fortune. James had never been close to Charlus, always thinking the man to be extremely odd; if for no other reason than he had married Dorea Black, who was just as mad as the rest of her family, save Sirius, but James appreciated the sentiment about his father. “I am. I just wish that I had been allowed more time with him. I feel completely unequal to the task of filling his shoes.”
“James, you know my brother and I will be happy to help you in anything that you need,” Harold said, rising from one of the chairs to put a hand on his cousin’s shoulder. Harold was his younger brother’s opposite. A career man, he currently worked for the Ministry of Magic as an Ambassador to America. He looked nothing like the Potters, tending towards his mother’s Abbott heritage. He had blonde hair and bright blue eyes, and was extremely short for a man, but his physical attributes mattered little. James had adored and looked up to his cousin for all of his life. Harold continued, “Though neither of us have the same responsibilities you have, I have spent enough time in the past working for the Ministry that I will be able to answer any questions you have about your Wizengamot seat.”
The teen gave his cousin a grateful smile. Harold and Charlus were the sons of James’s Uncle Richard, who had been born five years after James’s father. Edward and Richard had also had two younger brothers, Charles and Henry, but neither of them had produced any children. All four brothers were dead now, leaving James, Harold, and Charlus as the only Potters left. Charlus had once had a son, born before James, but Rasalas had died as a child of dragon pox.
James’s mother had always been distantly formal with Harold and Charlus. Not for any logical reason, but simply because of what they represented. When Emma Potter had failed to produce a child after over forty years of marriage, the second brother Richard had been forced to marry and produce an heir for the line. Both Charles and Henry had died in the war with Grindelwald, so the duty fell to the brother who had been least inclined to marry. Richard had been a professor of Ancient Runes at Hogwarts, and preferred the academic life to the domestic one. James still wasn’t convinced that the man hadn’t preferred the company of men in all things. Still, Richard had done his duty and married Livia Abbott, who was all of twenty at the time, and she gave birth to Harold a year later. Emma had never been able to forgive Livia or her children for being proof of her failure. Even after James was born, she hadn’t softened toward them much.
James knew his mother was a wonderful woman. She donated her time to St. Mungo’s charitable board, and she had sponsored several Muggle-born witches in society. She made sure that all the tenant families were in good health, that their cottages were in good repair, and that they wanted for nothing when it came to food. Emma also was kind to the house-elves and always made sure they were well taken care of. Still, she did have her foibles and wasn’t a perfect person. But as her son, James loved her in spite of all that.
“I should check on, Mum,” James said, feeling incredibly weary. “She said she was going to take a nap, but…”
Harold gave him an encouraging smile. “Go ahead; we’ll have one of the elves bring us tea.”
James left the Blue Room, taking the long walk to the master wing. He had been concerned about his mother. She had seemed disinclined to eat anything, and even though she was younger than Edward had been, James knew that if she didn’t take care of herself she might get sick easily. He resolved to take better care of her. His father wouldn’t want her to waste away from grief, and James didn’t want that for her either.
Emma Potter hadn’t been as close to her son as Edward had been. James supposed that was because she was sick for much of his childhood. By the time she had recovered, he had left for Hogwarts. Still, even though they weren’t close, James knew that his mother loved him to distraction. She had been so happy when she had finally done her duty and born a son that she had been much more demonstrative than was common among pure-blood parents, just as Edward had been.
There was so much to think of now, James knew. Not only was he now the head of the family, despite the fact that Harold and Charlus were twice his age, but he also had to take care of his mother. Then there were the tenants on the estate, along with the ones who lived in Godric’s Hollow. And last, but not least, there were the house-elves who relied on the Potter Family as well. It was all so much to think about. James had known his father would not live forever, after all he had been one-hundred and twenty-nine, but he had thought he had a few more decades, especially seeing as his Grandfather Edmund had lived until he was a hundred and fifty-one.
Wrapping smartly on his mother’s door, he called out, “Mum? It’s James. We’re serving tea downstairs, would you like to join us?”
There was no sound from the other side of the door, and James was suddenly struck with a horrible case of déjà vu. His heart began beating quickly, and he tried to open the door. It was locked. James was about to perform a blasting curse when he suddenly remembered that he was now the owner of the Hall. Pressing his hand to the wooded door, he commanded it to open.
The lock clicked and the door creaked inward. James raced into the suite, immediately heading for the bedroom which he found empty. Then, seeing a sliver of light coming from the bathroom, he called out again, “Mum!”
He rushed over to the door, but this one was already opened. Once the door was flung wide, James let out a sob that strangled in his chest. There, on the floor of the bathroom, was his mother. She was covered in blood and both of her wrists were slit. Moving forward, the seventeen-year-old fell to her side and pulled the dead body of Emma Potter onto his lap.
Only then did tears fall. *~*
It was a curious baby and a sullen teen that Buffy took home with her that day. For now, she had given up her bid for independence and agreed to temporarily have driver until further notice. Dawn had refused to speak since they got in the car, but it would have been hard for her to do anyway as the moment Harry had been strapped in a car seat, he had started screaming. If Buffy didn’t know better, she would have thought that he had never been in one before (they hadn’t been able to get one on short notice that morning, the most important thing then getting the Slayer and child back to the Council as soon as possible). His little pudgy arms kept reaching up, as if beseeching Buffy to pick him up.
It was an incredibly long ride to Buffy’s mind, and she was never gladder than when they arrived back at their house in Kensington, just off the high street. Dawn scrabbled out of the car first, leaving Buffy to get the baby and the hastily assembled diaper bag. Once inside the house, Buffy stopped at the glare her sister sent her.
“You better not even think about forcing me to share my room,” Dawn said.
“He’s going in the office,” Buffy replied, rolling her eyes. “Moira had people over here this afternoon, removing everything, and it should be all set up as a nursery now.”
“What? But I like to do my homework in there!” Dawn protested.
“You’ve done your homework in there probably twice,” Buffy finally snapped, losing her patience. “Stop being overly dramatic.”
“Fine, whatever,” Dawn said, stomping up the stairs.
Buffy had expected the baby to cry from Dawn’s little display, but he was merely looking at his surroundings with wide eyes. The Slayer knew she would have to spend that night, once he was asleep, baby proofing everything. For the moment though, she went into the living room and put him down in the playpen with several soft toys, along with some plastic blocks to play with. Buffy then walked into the kitchen to check out the food situation. She hadn’t been shopping in a little while, mostly because she hadn’t anticipated having company. Thankfully, Moira had struck again in the form of stacked baby food assembled on the counter. At least one of them wouldn’t be going hungry.
She wasn’t sure what to do about Dawn. When Buffy had been in a snit in high school, her mother always seemed to know when to push and when to back off. And, except for that horrible time before Acathla, Joyce had always been loving—clueless, maybe—but loving. Sometimes, Buffy worried that she hadn’t inherited the mom gene when it came to Dawn. With Harry, it had been easy, even when she was learning. But with Dawn, it was as if she could never get ahead of the curve because the rules were always changing.
Her thoughts were derailed by a knock on the front door. With Harry entertaining himself, Buffy went into the hall, and opened the door wide, beaming at the person on the other side.
“Hey, Buff. I heard you kidnapped a baby today. Up to your usual Slayer tricks?”
“Tricks are for kids,” she replied, making Xander laugh, and steeped aside so that he could come in. She hugged him tightly once he crossed the threshold. “What are you doing here? Willow said she’d call, but I thought it would take awhile.”
He grinned, putting down his shoulder bag. “Her call reached me as I was getting my bags at Heathrow. I was coming home early anyway. After I talked to her, I went to see Giles at the office and he filled me in on the rest.”
They crossed into the living room together, and Xander’s eye immediately fell on the baby. “So this is him, huh? Jeez, Buffy, what’d you do, make a baby with Wesley?”
“What?” Buffy asked, looking at him funny.
“Oh, come on,” he joked. “Black messy hair, British, angular features. Tell the truth, you’ve been making time with an old Watcher in L.A. haven’t you?”
“I don’t know what is more horrifying about that idea,” Buffy commented, crossing to sit on the couch after she had picked Harry up out of his crib, “having a kid with Wesley or making Roger Wyndam-Pryce that baby’s grandfather.”
Xander gave a sympathetic shudder. “Too true, that would be one repressed little English muffin.”
Buffy grinned, shaking her head. Harry watched Xander with interest, all the while munching on the antlers of the stuffed stag Moira had bought him.
“So, you’re keeping him, huh?”
“For now, anyway,” Buffy said. “Obviously, if we find his family it all becomes a moot point.”
“But you want to keep him,” Xander said, looking at his friend closely.
“Yes,” Buffy murmured.
“Wow, it’s like you’re all grown up and stuff,” he commented.
“Of the two of us, which one has been engaged?” Buffy reminded him.
“Good point,” he laughed.
“So, are you going to be in England long? Or just stopping through?” Buffy asked. “You know, I don’t think you’ve been here long enough to appreciate all the delightful quirks of this country. Sure you’ve seen the funny money, but have you seen people queue? It’s not to be missed. Or there’s the way they pretend soccer is really exciting, or how they put vinegar on their fries. Think of all the valuable things you’re missing when you don’t stay.” Her face softened as she took in her friend. “It’s just—I’ve missed you.”
“I’ve missed you too, Buffy,” Xander said. “I just had to get my head on right, you know? Losing Anya was hard, especially because I feel like there is still so much that was unfinished about us.” He cleared his throat, looking down, but not before Buffy saw tears in his eye. “I think, though, I am ready to put down some roots. Robin is going to keep traveling for a while—though if you ask me he plans on looking up Faith one of these days—and Giles offered me a less travel-filled job. I am going to be still in recruiting, but the head there of, stationed here in London.”
“Yay,” Buffy said, grinning. “Do they have a place for you? You can crash here on the sofa if you want; no need to stay in a hotel.”
“That’s all right,” Xander said. “Giles hooked me up with an apartment, which he stereotypically called a ‘flat’. It has a garden in back and everything, and a little tool shed that is big enough for me to do some woodcarving in my spare time.”
“That’s great, Xander.”
“Xander?” They looked up to see Dawn standing in the doorway of the living room, beaming at Xander. She quickly crossed the room and hugged him tightly when he stood up. “I can’t believe you’re here. When did you get in?”
“Just a couple of hours ago, I wanted it to be a surprise,” he said, noting the tension between Buffy and her sister. “So, Dawnie, whatcha been up to? Giving the girls in Latin club a run for their money?”
“Nah, I haven’t really been a joiner here,” Dawn said, settling next to Xander on the couch. “I’ve been spending a lot of time in the Watcher Library. It is so amazing, Willow and I have been working with Wendy Rivers, and she has been tracking down so many rare texts, it’s unbelievable.” There was a note of false cheer in Dawn’s voice that was easily heard.
Xander shot Buffy a concerned look, and she gave him a shallow nod. She had been concerned about her sister too. “So, Buff. You didn’t tell me what you named the little guy.”
“Heinrich is a family name, so...” Buffy shrugged. “The anglicized version is Henry. That’s what my dad was going to name me if I was a boy.”
“Henry,” Xander repeated, rolling the name around in his mouth. “That’s kind of formal for a little guy.”
“Well, I’m not calling him Hank, that would be too confusing,” Buffy said. “My grandfather went by Hank as well as my dad, so, for a little variety, we’re calling the little guy Harry.”
“Harry?” Xander suggested. “Isn’t that what they call the prince?”
The moment Xander said ‘Harry’, the baby pointed his finger at himself. Buffy blinked, and then smiled at the toothy grin the baby was giving her friend. “It seems he’s already gotten used to his new name. Do you like ‘Harry’?” she asked him.
The baby pointed to himself again.
“Ladies and gentlemen, I think we have a winner,” Xander laughed.
“No kidding, good to know—Harry’s a winner,” Buffy said, laughing helplessly.
“Okay so Henry, called Harry, any thoughts on a middle name? I would just like to point out that Alexander has an ancient and noble tradition,” the former carpenter said.
“Sure, why not?” Buffy said. “Henry Alexander Summers sounds just stuffy enough to fit in at the Council headquarters. All I need is for Giles to hook me up with tweed diapers and we’re all set.”
Xander chuckled. “So Heinrich, huh? What’s that about?”
“My dad’s family was from Bavaria.”
“What, like lederhosen and feathered hats? Awesome!”
Buffy laughed, and Harry smiled and stuck his fingers in his mouth.
Dawn, who had been sitting stiffly through all the baby name discussion, turned to Buffy and said, “Don’t you need to be feeding him, or something?”
Buffy checked her watch and then nodded. “Yep, it’s about that time. Why don’t we order dinner from the Shanghai Garden? Xan, you want to stay for Chinese? You can eat all the MSG you want.”
“Sure,” he answered, “sounds good.”
“All right,” Buffy said. “Dawn, would you call and get our regular, plus whatever Xander wants?”
Her sister nodded mutinously, and Buffy left the room, Harry in tow. Once she was gone, Dawn sighed and sunk lower into the couch cushions.
“Is there a reason it feels colder than the arctic in here?” Xander asked, turning to the younger girl. “What’s going on, Dawn?”
“What do you mean?” Dawn demurred. “You saw for yourself. Buffy has a baby now, and she is totally all about him.”
“Okay, first of all, Buffy does not have a baby. She is taking care of a baby that she found, until his family can me located. If they can’t, Buffy will reassess at that time and probably adopt Harry. Again though, Dawn, why does this bother you so much? You love kids, and you’ve done babysitting in the past. What’s going on in your head, Dawn?” Xander questioned.
“Nothing, I’m fine,” she said.
“Yeah, and I’m the Tooth Fairy.”
“Really? ‘Cause I have a bone to pick with you about that time you forgot to leave me money for one of my baby teeth,” the teen joked.
“Humor as deflection, believe me I get that,” Xander said. “But you won’t feel better until you talk about it.”
“I won’t feel better even if I do talk about it,” Dawn snapped back.
“Okay, progress. At least you’ve now admitted there is a problem.”
“No, I didn’t—” she sighed. “It’s just a stupid jealousy thing. Don’t worry. It will go away and I will stop being a brat in a day or two.”
“Dawn, you know that even with Harry here, Buffy will still be your sister.”
“That’s the problem,” Dawn said, looking down at her hands. “The baby gets to have her for a mother, when all I got was fake memories and about six months of Joyce.”
Xander wrapped an arm around her shoulder. “I know you must miss Mrs. Summers. I do too.”
“No,” Dawn said, shaking her head. “That’s not what I meant. I mean, I loved Mom and all; she was great. Sometimes I want nothing more than for her to walk through the door and call me her pumpkin belly, but none of that’s real.”
“Joyce thought it was real, maybe that’s all that matters,” he replied.
She sighed again. “Do you remember when we all thought I was a Potential for like five minutes?”
“Well, after that whole thing, I remembered the comment Willow made about how Buffy and me share the same blood, and then that led me to thinking about how Buffy said I was made from her. But the thing is that if I was just made from her I would be a clone, and I am obviously not a clone because, hello—I’m actually hugely taller than Buffy. And then I got to thinking that maybe I am not a Summers at all, and I was just made and put in the Summers family by the monks and that the only reason the portal closed when it did was because Buffy mixed our blood in the hospital that one time right after I found out I was the Key. So I sent off a DNA test with a few strands of Buffy’s hair from her hairbrush.”
The words all came out in a rush, as if Dawn couldn’t keep them in her mouth one second longer. Her breath came in pants, and tears were falling from her eyes. Xander reached out and took her hand, squeezing her fingers in what he hoped was a comforting manner. Dawn took several shuddering gulps of air to prevent herself from sobbing. She then looked at Xander with big, pleading eyes, begging him to understand without her having to say it.
“I’m guessing that you are not jealous of the baby because he took your sister,” Xander said, his face full of sympathy. “You’re upset because he took your mother.”
“Wait, what?” Buffy said, gaping at the two of them from the doorway, Harry on her hip.