***For Jen's Birthday***
Author's Notes: Okay, someone asked why I aged the kids like I did.
Well, I did it because I wanted to have a cute little kid romance on
the side while I wrote this. It's going to be pretty heavy Willow
content in the story and I plan on a sequel to take place after the
end of the fourth book. And I want the kiddies in their romances by
then, and it'll be darker, so them being older works out better for
The redhead looked from her book, taking in the bright smiles of Ron and Dawn. Both teens looked entirely too happy, rousing Willow's suspicions almost immediately. Rather calmly, the redhead marked her page in her book and folded her hands on top of the page. A quick glance to the right let her know that Madame Pince was busy doing some cataloging. Draco was also busy, still serving his punishment with Willow after classes. Currently the Slytherin was returning books to the stacks, shooting poisonous glares Willow's way every five minutes. Poor boy looked so utterly unhappy; it was kind of cute.
But back to her two, no make that four, visitors. Hermione and Harry materialized behind their other two friends, both fidgeting entirely too much for her liking. Ron and Dawn looked ready to pull off some sort of scheme while those two looked ready to bolt.
"Hello guys," Willow finally replied, staring each and every one of them directly in the eye. "What are you up to?"
Dawn feigned innocence, placing a hand delicately over her chest.
"Why would you think we were up to something?" the young girl asked sweetly. Willow bit her lip to keep from laughing, leaning back in her chair and arching an eyebrow at the assembled group in front of her.
"Dawn Marie Summers, do not even try that innocent lamb act on me," Willow gave a short laugh before fixing her with a deathly glare. "The only other times I can think of you trying it has led to you wanting things from me. Things that I probably shouldn't give you. So tell me, what is it that you want?"
"Fine," the look of innocence dropped immediately from her features. Ron dropped his fake smile at the same time while Hermione and Harry became even more nervous than before.
"The thing is, I don't want you to do anything," Dawn ventured, a sneaky smile spreading across her face. "In fact, I've come here to ask you to do absolutely nothing while we're in here."
Willow gave the younger girl a strange look before catching onto how Hermione kept shooting nervous glances over to one side of the library.
The Restricted Section.
"Any particular reason why I should do nothing?" Willow asked suspiciously.
"You love me?" Dawn ventured a guess. Willow gave her an unimpressed look and Ron stepped in.
"Because it's something very important and we wouldn't be asking you unless it was absolutely necessary? And we have a permission note?"
"That is a much better answer," Willow grinned. She accepted the note from Ron, trying hard not to laugh when she saw Lockehart's signature there. That man would sign anything as long as the person showed sufficient awe at his presence. That probably meant Hermione asked him. The other three wouldn't be able to fake that.
The redhead leaned forward, looking over the four students and trying to mentally assess how much damage they could inflict should she let them get away with whatever they were doing. Her brain was telling her not to let them do whatever they were doing, but her gut was telling her that Ron was telling the truth.
"Fine," she eventually replied. "But there better not be any dead students or living dead walking these halls after you finish doing whatever it is that you're doing. And I'm looking at you when I say no raising the dead Dawn."
Dawn rolled her eyes, hands on her hips.
"You try it just once and no one ever lets you forget."
"You tried to raise the dead?" Hermione squeaked, her eyes wide and disbelieving. Dawn shrugged.
"Tried, but didn't complete. Anyway, who cares? We have work to do. Later Willow."
"Thank you Willow," Harry chimed in before following Dawn towards the stacks. Hermione and Ron echoed their sentiments before following their friends. Willow waved off their thanks, carefully watching them as they slipped into the stacks. She refolded the note from Lockehart, returning her attention to her book.
"Any particular reason why you're reading up on dream magic?"
Willow sighed and dropped her book again, seeing Draco standing before her, lip curled into his traditional sneer. His eyes were flickering between Willow and the direction that Dawn and the others had wandered off to.
"Run out of work already?" Willow mused, drawing his attention to her again. "Well, have no fear. There's a stack of books over there that need to be reshelved."
Draco followed her pointing finger, paling significantly when he saw the pile of large books next to Madame Pince. He shot the redhead another glare.
"You're really enjoying this, aren't you?" he spat at her. Willow smiled smugly before picking up her book once more.
"Back to work Draco."
"I just think that there's something wrong with her and she's not telling me."
Harry sighed, shrugging helplessly in light of Dawn's distress. Hermione was barely listening, pouring over various texts trying to find the Polyjuice Potion. Hermione had explained her plan to Dawn ahead of time and though she wasn't one hundred percent behind it, even Dawn had to admit they were at the end of their rope. Besides, there was the whole issue of Willow to deal with. Dawn stood next to Hermione, shooting worried looks around the corner at the redhead.
"I mean, she's just so not there anymore," Dawn complained. "And she won't tell anyone why?"
"Maybe she's just getting a bit stressed out," Ron suggested. "After all, her first year working here at Hogwarts and look at all that has happened."
"And there was all those things that happened back in your home town," Harry added. "Maybe all of it is just catching up with her. I bet she just needs a break, maybe a vacation."
"Christmas break is around the corner," Ron reminded her. "A break will do her good. Maybe she can get over all that happened."
Dawn nodded, but looked unconvinced. She stole another look at her friend, watching as she poured over her book in consernation.
Back in black and white. They were becoming more and more frequent these nights. Willow wasn't sure she was going to be able to handle all this. It was getting to be too much. Especially now.
She was holding a dying Jesse in her arms.
Tears rolled down her cheeks as she cradled Jesse's head in her lap. They were both back in their black robes, the Slytherin patch on the left side. They were on the floor of the Slytherin Common Room, a fire roaring in the fireplace just in front of them. Jesse's face was stark white, the tiny dribble of blood flowing from the corner of his mouth was a scarlet red, the only colour he possessed.
"It didn't have to end this way," she whispered softly to him. The hissing began again, fading away as she heard the loud sounds of footsteps nearing.
"Oh, but it did," came the reply. Willow didn't look up from Jesse's face, not wanting to look on HIS face as he spoke.
"It always ends this way," the voice continued. "Joseph always has to die. Even the second time around, even when he was Jesse. Just his fate I suppose."
"You killed him," Willow accused weakly, cupping Jesse's cheek with her hand. Her friend looked up at her, giving her a weak smile that faded the instant HE began speaking again.
"Joseph should have known to be more loyal," HE snapped back. "You should have known as well. I don't know why the two of you didn't realize it before all this happened. But you know now, don't you Willa?"
"Why are you doing this?" she cried. "Why am I seeing all this?"
"Because you have to know!" HE roared, descending upon her rapidly. Willow cried out in shock as she was yanked up by the arm, Jesse's head falling from her lap and onto the floor. Her heart pounded furiously as she watched Jesse's eyes droop shut and his body begin to fade away. And then she knew that he had died.
"You have to know!" HE shook her again. Willow dropped her eyes, staring at his chest and not his face. "You have to know Willa. I'm coming back for you. And this time, things will go as they were meant to. You won't be able to escape me this time. Do you understand? Nothing will stop me, not even you."
Willow cried, struggling when he grasped her chin in his hand. Her face was angled up to his roughly and his lips crashed onto hers just as quickly. Willow sobbed as she tried to get away from him in vain. Defeated, the redhead gave up, body going slack in his arms. His lips pulled away from hers and he rested his chin on her head.
"This time you will be mine."