This is a derivative work using characters and intellectual property belonging to Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, Fox Television, JK Rowling, her publishers and probably others. When/Spoilers:
Post BtVS Season 7/ HP -OotP Pairings:
Prequel to "The Other Girl
", the sequel to the fics "Girl in a Bar
" and "Rock-n-Roll Girl
Feedback appreciated as always.--- --- --- [February 14th]
"I was told you needed a witch."
Dawn stared in amazement at the redhead standing in front of her, her mind abruptly taken away from the prophecy she'd been translating, which itself had been an attempt to forget that it was Valentines Day and that she was once again dateless for the evening. It wasn't that she hadn't had any offers but she'd lived with a slayer for almost ten years and had no urge to date one. And all of the boys in her classes were just that, boys. Something she certainly didn't have any patience for, even in desperation. All of which led back to her pathetic state of datelessness on the most romantic day of the year.
Looking at her, Dawn's first thought was that she was either a week early or the Coven had gotten the date wrong, and her second thought was that the woman standing there looking expectantly at her was vaguely familiar. But the only redhead she knew who was a witch was somewhere else in the Council complex.
And then it came to her. A photograph she'd seen only once, before Buffy had snatched it away. A photograph of the mysterious Ginny that Buffy spent so much time exchanging e-mail with. And refusing to discuss with anyone except Willow. Dawn figured that Buffy would forgive them for the photo incident some time after she returned from her next death.
But this couldn't possibly be her. Buffy hadn't said anything about her being a witch. Or even that she was coming to Cleveland. For a moment, all Dawn could do was stare in surprise before she stammered out "G..good afternoon. What can I do for you?"
Ginny raised an eyebrow at the response her simple statement had engendered. Pulling the documents and Council ID she'd gotten during her visit to the London office the week before out of a coat pocket, she showed them to the young woman. "Does this help?" she asked, smiling slightly.
"Yes. Yes it does!" Dawn replied with a little more enthusiasm. Taking the ID Dawn put it through the card slot in the security console next to the desk. While it chattered away, doing things to the ID card that only Willow could explain, Dawn pulled several items out of a drawer. Once it was done she handed the ID and the other items over to Ginny. "You're supposed to wear your ID somewhere visible when you're in the office." She pointed at the other things she'd given her "That one will let you pin it on, that one turns it into a clip-on, and that one is so you can hang it around your neck."
She pulled her own ID out of a pocket and using it to mark her place in the book she'd been reading, grinned at Ginny. "Or you can put it in a pocket, though Willow gets annoyed at that one. She wants us to get in the habit of wearing it now even though we're still small enough that everyone here knows everyone else. Personally, I think it's a geek toy thing."
Taking off her jacket and pinning her ID to her blouse, Ginny asked her "What does it do?", wondering if it was the same kind of thing as the pins she and Buffy had worn at that museum reception in October.
Dawn frowned for a moment. "It's what gets you into the Council buildings and all of the rooms you're allowed to be in. It's also the key to your room while you're here. If you need to get in somewhere and it doesn't work you'll need to talk with Willow. It probably does a bunch of Big Brotherish things also but no one who would know will admit to it."
"Is there anyone you needed or wanted to see before I find someone to show you to your room?"
"Buffy Summers or Willow Rosenberg?" Ginny asked hopefully.
"Do either of them know you were coming today?" Dawn asked, trying to find out if this was Buffy's Ginny without being too obvious about it.
"Mr. Giles asked me to start today so I believe Willow knows. Buffy doesn't even know I was coming to Cleveland. She thinks I'm still in London." Ginny shifted nervously. "I wanted to surprise her."
"Oh..." Inside Dawn was doing mental cartwheels. And having a hard time not showing how excited she was at knowing something like this before Buffy.
"You might want to wait a little while before surprising her then. Buffy's being anti-social right now. She just got back last night from a trip and she hasn't regained her sense of humour yet." Dawn shuddered at the thought of dealing with a cranky slayer. "If you try to see her right now there will probably be the throwing of sharp objects in your general direction before she even opens her eyes. Even Giles stays away from her in that kind of mood. But Willow will be back in a little while if you want to talk with her instead. She, on the other hand, should be safe to talk to by then. I'll leave her a note asking her to see you when she gets back, if that's okay?"
"That'll be fine." Ginny tried not to think too hard about what she'd just heard about Buffy and Willow. Maybe she could get an explanation later. Right now she was too tired for rational thought and knew any explanation would just be confusing. "You mentioned something about a room? It's been a long day..."
"Sure, let me check." She picked up the phone. "Andrew? Yes, Yes, I know! Can it wait? Yes, I can hang on." She rubbed her shoulder in frustration while she waited. "Yes. Do you know if that room Willow wanted for the Wiccan from the Coven is ready? Yes, she's down at the front desk. Great." She hung up the phone with an exaggerated motion and a sigh. "Someone will be right down to show you to it. Is there anything else I can do for you?"
"What's your name?"
"Oh! Guess I should have been wearing my id." She winked and held out her hand. "I'm Dawn Summers."
"Oh! You're Buffy's sister? You're a bit taller than her aren't you!"
"Yes." She smirked.
Ginny could tell by her expression how much Dawn was pleased at that thought and smiled at her. "And she isn't allowed to forget that is she?"
"Not at all." Dawn grinned again. "And we also won't discuss how much smarter I am than her. It wouldn't be fair."
Ginny chuckled as she followed the young girl who'd shown up to take her to her room. She couldn't imagine what Buffy and her sister were like when they were together in the same room. But what she'd seen and heard today and been told by Buffy over the past few months reminded her of the relationship between Fred and George, even though Dawn was obviously a lot younger than Buffy.--- --- ---
It was a brightly lit room in a turret on the south side of the old mansion the Council office was in. It wasn't huge but even with the very basic furniture it contained; a queen size bed, large dresser, and a small desk in one corner; Ginny felt it had a certain charm.
After unpacking the few possessions she'd brought to use until the rest of her things arrived she looked around, trying to decide where to place the muggle style photographs of friends and family she'd brought with her. Once that was done and she'd put away her few clothes, Ginny finally let the events of the day catch up to her. Collapsing on the bed, she closed her eyes and was asleep in moments. --- --- ---
Willow walked in the front entrance to find Dawn leaning against the receptionists' desk, chatting with the young slayer on door duty. As soon as she saw Willow she excused herself and slinked over to her.
Willow raised an eyebrow at the motion. "That's pretty good Dawn. Have you been practicing? Does your sister know about this talent?"
"Yup! Did it work?" Dawn grinned at her. "And I learned it by watching her."
"Well, if you'd done that in a public place there wouldn't be a drool free person within a hundred feet. And you'd be beating them off with a large stick."
"Cool!" She grinned again.
"I wouldn't try it around Buffy though." Willow said, pointing out the obvious.
"I know. She already wants me to join a convent."
"No... I'm sure she doesn't want that. But she might try to get you fitted for a chastity belt."
"Ew... thanks for that image." Dawn shuddered. She brightened up as she followed Willow down the hall. "Guess who showed up today!"
"Someone with red hair who resembles that picture Buffy has hidden in that secret compartment in her old weapons chest in her room?" Willow questioned with a smile.
"Hey! You knew she was coming, didn't you!" Dawn groused, her surprise ruined. "Does Buffy know?"
"No, and you can't tell her." Willow said forcefully.
"Buffy doesn't even know she's a witch." Willow grinned. "The look on her face when she finds out..."
"Is going to be priceless." Dawn finished. "You and Giles must have planned this." she said, cocking her head to the side in what Willow thought was a very Buffy-like manner.
"No, but would it be wrong to take advantage of the situation?" Willow asked rhetorically.
Looking at Willow quizzically, Dawn said, with some concern "She may be a witch but she gives off a weird vibe. She has that Wiccan feel to her that Tara always had but it's almost as if there was an echo or something else following her around."
"Hmmm... did she set off any alarms when she came in?"
"Good. I'm sure it's just something the Coven did to protect her from the Hellmouth here." Willow reassured her. "I'll straighten it out when I talk with her."
"Okay." Dawn paused before getting back to the important things. "How do you plan to surprise Buffy?"
"Something simple. We'll need Ginny's cooperation, but that shouldn't be a problem. She's the one who wanted to keep it a secret until she actually arrived. Hmmm, does Xander have any plans for tonight?"
"Yes, he and Andrew, and some of the geekier slayers, are planning to stay in and watch some classic space romance."
"Ah. 'Alien' or 'Star Wars'" Willow grinned.
"Yes." Dawn tried not to giggle but she wasn't very successful.
"Okay. Kennedy and I will take her out to that club Buffy likes. I'll leave Buffy a note. You just need to get her there. It might be a good idea to get her to eat first."
"Well, I have plans for Kennedy later..." Willow winked at her.
"So did not need to know that. Especially not today." Dawn grumbled. "Some of us don't have a date."
"Sorry." Willow said unrepentantly. "We'll start working on your social life once we get Buffy taken care of."
"I'll be thirty before that happens!" she whined. "How long have we been in Cleveland? And I still don't have someone to spend a romantic evening with!"
"Don't worry. These things take time." she sympathetically patted Dawn on the shoulder. "I need to go see Ginny. We'll see you at the club later. Okay?"
"Okay." Dawn watched her walk away for a moment before heading off in a different direction. She still had that prophecy to decipher. It wouldn't decipher itself. --- --- ---
Quickly making her way to the third floor, Willow quietly knocked on Ginny's door several times before the door opened and a sleepy Ginny gestured for her to come in.
"Hi! I'm Willow. Welcome to Cleveland." She gazed in curiosity at the taller redhead. "I see you already know not to verbally invite anyone into your room."
Ginny nodded. "The books Mr. Giles gave me were quite clear about the best defenses against vampires often being the simplest actions like that." She wasn't quick enough to cover her yawn. "Sorry. It was a long week getting ready to come here and the time change seems to be affecting me more than I thought it would."
"Not a problem." Willow reassured her. "Being near the local Hellmouth probably doesn't help. It can affect your nerves if you are sensitive to magic. Sort of like psychic sandpaper if you aren't used to it."
Ginny felt like she was being examined under a microscope for a moment. She shifted nervously as Willow circled her, humming slightly.
"They didn't do a bad job but we'll need to adjust a few things." she murmured. And then in a curious voice "You aren't really wiccan are you?"
"N.n.no... not exactly." Ginny stammered in surprise. "How can you tell?"
"Something about your aura. It sort of shifts colors if you look at it closely. Distracting but not a big problem to fix once we know how they did it. Did the coven explain why they wanted you to be disguised as wiccan?"
"No... and they said it wasn't a disguise." protested a confused Ginny. "They just sped up the process someone joining the coven goes through. At least that's what they told me." She thought for a moment. "And that's how it felt. Like I joined something."
"Ah... the wiccan cult initiation method." Willow looked closer at something only she could see. "Why don't you sit down." She motioned to the bed. "This will take more than a minute."
Somewhere in the process Ginny fell asleep. Willow's voice, sounding tired, gently woke her. "Ginny. You can wake up now. You're all set."
"What did you do?" She felt slightly different, and not quite as exhausted as she'd been earlier.
"I'm sure they have a good reason for what they did. Probably something their seer told them they needed to do." She looked at Ginny contemplatively. "They tried to give you a shield against the Hellmouth and similar energy. And to give you the ability to use your own magic disguised so other people think it is wiccan magic. To further confuse things there's that crash course in becoming wiccan they did to you." She shrugged. "Like I said, they probably meant well. Unfortunately that Hellmouth shield was interfering with the other things they did. Any attempt to do any magic near the Hellmouth could have been fatal for you. It also kind of echoed. Fortunately I fixed that before many people noticed."
"Does that mean I'm not wiccan any longer?"
"Oh. No, still wiccan. You actually joined the Coven like you thought. I won't interfere with that. There's a ceremony you would have to go through if you wanted to leave it. Your magic is just better adjusted than it was earlier."
"Thanks." Ginny breathed a sigh of relief. There'd been something attractive about the Wiccan philosophy and she wasn't quite ready to give it up.
"But that whole dressing and eating like the coven compulsion they gave you? That should gradually fade, unless you really dress like that or you are really a vegetarian?"
"No. I don't mind the clothes, mostly." she grinned. "But the vegetarian lifestyle was definitely new. If that'll mean meat will stop tasting strange I have no objection."
"That's good. There aren't many vegetarians around here. Slayers prefer other sources of protein so to keep things simple the rest of us eat what they eat, if in much smaller portions. And a lot of exercise for those of us without a slayer metabolism." Willow chuckled. "You really don't want to get in the way of a slayer feeding frenzy at breakfast. Almost as bad as trying to calm one down after a rough patrol with just a hug."
"Okay. I'll remember that." Ginny smiled hesitantly. She could tell already that there were things about slayers not mentioned in the Council books she'd been given.
"Now, let's talk about that non-wiccan magic you do..." --- --- ---
The sound of pounding on her door pulled an almost catatonic slayer out of the deep sleep she'd been in since collapsing on her bed the previous day. There had to be a better way to travel she thought grumpily.
"Buffy!" It sounded like her sister.
"Yes?" she mumbled as loudly as she could.
"Are you ready to go yet?" came Dawn's muffled voice through the door.
Go? Go where? She rolled off of her bed and stared blearily at the clock on her dresser. It couldn't possibly be the time she thought it said. Obviously, no one took the concept of 'do not disturb a sleeping slayer' seriously enough. "Where are we going!"
"Out" came back the reply. "Didn't you read the note?"
Looking at her travelworn face in the mirror and grimacing, Buffy grumbled loud enough for Dawn to hear her through the door, "Note? What note?"
"The one Willow left you. Can I come in?"
"Oh. Just a second." She fumbled with the electronic door lock for a moment. She really needed to talk with Willow and Xander about these doors. The geeks in the Council might love them but for an old slayer like herself a simple key was enough. She was sure she wasn't the only one to consider kicking the thing open instead of bothering with the lock.
Dawn walked into her room and wrinkled her nose. "We do have a laundry here you know. There's no need to leave stinky clothes in your suitcase after a trip."
Buffy glared at her. "And a 'nice to see you, it's been a long month' to you also."
"And proud of it!" Buffy declared, dropping back onto her bed in an exaggerated manner.
"There it is." Dawn exclaimed, grabbing Willow's note off of Buffy's nightstand and waving it in her face before handing it to her on her way out of her room. "I'll be back in an hour. You'll just have to skip dinner."
Buff opened the note and gazed at it for a minute before it registered.
The Wiccan from the coven arrived this afternoon. Meet us at
the club after 7. Kennedy and I are taking her to dinner.
Not the most informative message she groused as she stripped out of her travel stained clothes and climbed into the shower. And what did one wear to a club to meet an English witch who'd just arrived in the dynamic, fresh, and exciting city of Cleveland? Buffy grimaced. She'd obviously spent too much time with the welcome kits they sent out to prospective slayer trainees.