Charlie carried Willow to what had to be the only room in the whole building that felt like it had really ever been lived in. There was a soft bed with a multi colored green, blue and golden quilt and some stuffed animals. The walls showed signs of having held posters, carefully removed but not replaced. A small terrarium sat near a window, and there were shelves full of an odd assortment of books, some clearly bought for pleasure, and others school books, ranging from Algebra to History to Demonology and Herb lore. He settled Willow on the bed, carefully removing her shoes.
A quick trip to the bathroom gave him a washcloth, and he found himself momentarily baffled by the wholly muggle plumbing. Shaking his head, he returned to her room, where he carefully wiped the ashes and dust from her skin. She looked so pale, and a lot more fragile when her intense personality wasn't in effect.
She was pretty, with features that looked almost delicate. Nothing in her appearance hinted at her power. Not only had she been using magic without a wand, but there was that whole curse that put Maleficent to sleep... She had been floating, hair turning into red black shadow over her, blowing in an unfelt wind and her eyes pits of blackness that had given him this unsettling feeling of falling into her...
Groaning slightly, Charlie realized that now, he had to figure out some way to get a very large sleeping dragon back to Romania. It most definitely wouldn't do to leave her there, but... How did you move that many tons of sleeping dragon? It wasn't like he could just crate her up and send her by parcel post.
It was quite easy to decide that he'd rather think about Willow, and how to gently break the news to her that her friend was dead. He couldn't have survived all of those injuries. But how to tell Willow that? He held one of her hands in his, thinking that she looked so fragile to have so much power, to have done so much. He still had no idea how she'd been casting without a wand.
Before long, Charlie fell asleep, ending up sort of curled over Willow, his head resting on her stomach, still carefully holding her hand in his.
He woke up slowly, everything stiff and aching, and this sort of dry feeling almost like a sunburn inside his head that told him he'd done a bit more magic than he should have. He was sort of hunched and slumped, his head resting on something soft and warm... something that moved gently. He blinked as he realized it was Willow's stomach that he had been using as a pillow. She still seemed asleep, although it looked more like a normal sleep now, and less... well, she'd looked bad last night. Maybe he should go down and check on Suzie... see how she was handling things.
The living room was dark, the sort of deep gloom that came from having absolutely no natural light at all. Suzie was curled up in a chair, and William... was still draped over the couch.
"You know you have a black eye, Weasley?" William's calm voice was an utter shock.
He felt himself gaping. Entirely apart from the fact that he hadn't realized, William was talking? "But you... your chest was... crushed. How could you have survived that?"
William was remaining still on the couch, most likely in an effort to keep the broken bones from hurting. "We left out a few things in our introductions. I'm a vampire, so while I am technically dead, it's not any more dead than I was last week. Just a lot worse shape... ribs are going to take a while to heal... at least a week."
Charlie felt like the ground was spinning, and he carefully settled himself into the other chair, still staring at William. "A vampire... does Willow know? Is she human? You didn't... "
"Willow knows all about me being a vampire." There was an odd smirk there, as if there was a complicated history between Willow and William. "Red's as human as any other magic user is. Just stronger than some, and a lot more stubborn. Nobody ever told her a witch needs a wand, you see, so she does without. Suzie's asleep... last night took a lot out of her."
Part of Charlie was worried, wondering how safe any of them were with a vampire in the house, even if he was wounded. "But she's... You seem in much better shape this morning."
William made a rather rude sounding snort. "I didn't hurt her. She's just exhausted. There's a complicated explanation, but I'm not going to hurt you, or Suzie, and especially not Willow. She's my friend... the only one I've got. And if you break her heart, Weasley, that thing about not hurting you is off. I'll find you, hunt you down to the upper hells, and make you beg for death if you break her heart."
For some bizarre reason, that almost made Charlie feel better. "Right... the upper hells. Umm... any suggestions on how to get a fifty ton sleeping dragon to Romania? Or maybe about breakfast?"
"Breakfast is easy. Moving the dragon... can't box her up, can't call the council and say here's your dragon, take her... can you? Let them worry about the hows? Maybe a levitation and an invisibility... but how to apparate a dragon... oh bloody hell, I think we either end up putting the dragon in a huge box and sending her by boat or see if Willow can come up with something. Let's settle on breakfast... I'll give you directions, since the kitchen has a window and I'm a bit flammable. I got some blood in the fridge for me, but I think you'll want something more solid." William had this sort of smirk again, and he very carefully moved, hissing slightly as he rose to his feet, eyes flickering yellow.
Charlie found himself reminded all over again that William wasn't human. He also found himself both delighted that Willow had blood in the refrigerator and curious as to why it was there. "So... a vampire from the Longbottom family?"
"Yeah. Wasn't that strong of a wizard... better at the books than the spells part of it. I got turned, left home, and dropped the last name. William Longbottom won't do in vampire circles... I became William the Bloody." He was moving carefully, but still seemed to almost stalk across the house to the kitchen, pulling out a white container, a delighted smile on his face. "Red is a great friend..."
The name sounded almost familiar to Charlie, as if he'd heard it somewhere. "I'm going to regret this... but why do I feel like I should recognize that name?"
The vampire looked at him, carefully placing the tub into the microwave, pushing a few buttons to start the muggle machine humming. "William the Bloody... along with Dru, Darla and Angelus. Scourge of Europe... we were infamous. Should have made the be careful- run away lists in the Defense Against Dark Arts Books... At least, if the people writing them were any good we should be in there."
Charlie felt like gaping, or maybe running away out into the sunshine. William the Bloody, of the Scourge of Europe? "Wh.. What happened to the other three?"
William gave a small shrug. "Darla got herself staked, Dru's somewhere in Brazil with a fungus demon, I'm here and stuck on good behavior, and Angelus got himself cursed into a brooding nancy-boy. Calls himself Angel now and runs a detective agency." The microwave dinged, and he pulled out the container, the scent of blood filling the room. "Breakfast is good..."
Somehow, watching the vampire drink his blood, Charlie didn't feel so hungry anymore. "Yeah... breakfast. I think... maybe I'll just go sit down again."
end part 10.
Willow felt like she'd been used as a punching bag. Every muscle and bone ached, and her skin felt almost raw. Her eyes stung, and her head throbbed, certain signs that she'd over exerted herself. She'd tapped something, some powerful magics... powerful, dangerous magics. Part of her wondered where that had come from, had it been the Hellmouth? The power of nature? Another part was simply trying to decide if she was glad to have survived the experience. As much as everything hurt, it was not an easy decision.
A shower didn't exactly make her feel better, but she took one anyhow, feeling as if the dust was grating on her skin like sandpaper. The water drops stung against her skin, and she felt as if the water was pounding mercilessly on her. Clean clothing helped a little, and she made her very slow way downstairs, hoping that nobody had been killed even as she wondered how she'd got here.
Downstairs, she found Charlie and Suzie eating stacks of pancakes, Suzie's topped with strawberries and whipped cream. Spike had a container of blood out, sipping at it carefully, his expression tautly blank. Willow knew that he was trying to hide the pain, and she could still see the bruises on his chest. Everyone seemed to be getting along well... or at least not fighting at the moment.
"So, how did they take the news?" She directed her question towards Spike even as she took the chair away from the rest of them. The mingled scents of pancakes, strawberries and blood made her stomach twist and heave in an unpleasant fashion.
"They were pretty surprised. Think Weasley over there was debating making a run for it, but he didn't. Guess I am in the books... Makes me feel all threatening again." He had a small smile, one that said he was going to savor the feeling while it lasted.
Charlie looked over at her, his eyes filled with confusion and hinting that he felt rather worse for wear as well. "Willow... why were you out walking with a vampire? He's dangerous."
Spike grinned, pointing a thumb at Charlie. "Listen to him, Red. I'm dangerous. I'm the big bad."
Looking over at Spike, she shook her head. "You're gloating that he's scared of you. Yes, I know that Spike's a vampire, and that he's dangerous. We've got sort of an agreement, so he's not going to be hurting me. Even if he did, he umm... well maybe I shouldn't go there. But, has anything been done about the dragon?" Maybe it wouldn't help her case that she wasn't afraid of Spike if she mentioned that he wouldn't kill her, he'd turn her. She didn't think Charlie would think that was very reassuring.
Suzie answered, her soft voice reminding Willow just a bit of Dru. "Nothing's been done about the dragon. She's very big, and very heavy. They were hoping that you would have an idea."
Willow sighed, feeling like she should have known. "Well... how badly does the preserve want their dragon back?"
Charlie gave a smile. "Badly. I've been given a few papers that say any reasonable request I make has to be cooperated with."
Willow gave a small, weak smile, her head still throbbing. "Okay... we put her into a big crate and have her shipped by boat back to Europe, and have someone in the Magical administration that can be trusted pick her up and arrange for her to be transported to the preserve. Then someone should be able to break the spell, or let a guy dragon help her out of it... and the problem is solved."
Suzie gave a giggle, eyes dancing with amusement. "Are you matchmaking for Maleficent?"
Charlie grinned at the idea as well. "How do we get her onto a boat? The Magical Bureau doesn't handle ocean-shipping."
She waved a hand in the air dismissively. "Not a problem. I just use the computer and change the records of a boat going the right way to include one large box in their manifest, and away she goes. The hard part will be boxing her up and getting her over to the docks while all of us are magically wrung dry."
Spike just laughed, his expression full of amusement. "Not going to be a problem, Red. I'll just go take shameless advantage of the fact that the demon population wants that dragon gone and they'll box her up and have a bloody huge crate on the docks. All you have to do is get the matter of computer records fixed, and it'll be set. That dragon had them scared."
Charlie blinked. "That's... not the type of help I'd even considered. You really think it'll work?"
"That they'll box up the dragon if it'll get her gone for good? Hell yes it'll work." Spike gave a small, dry chuckle as he sipped at his blood. He didn't look very happy. Then, he glanced over at Suzie, and quickly glanced away again, his foot swinging against the chair.
Willow smiled, suddenly understanding. Spike wanted Suzie, wanted to stay with her, to court her... and most likely to shag her, as he would put it. If the dragon had been dealt with, Suzie wouldn't have any reason to stay here. Neither would Charlie... "Well, if you're supposed to make sure that Maleficent gets back, maybe... maybe we should go on the boat with her? Make sure nothing happens or anything. And Suzie needs a new wand, and it's been over a century since Spi... William had one. Maybe I could get a little real advice on my own, since you both seem to be in such good control of yours."
Charlie looked at her, a warm smile on his face. "I think that's a good idea. I'd be happy to help you learn... and if you can spare the time to go... Well, Suzie and I couldn't contain Maleficent on our own."
Spike grinned, his eyes almost glowing with happiness. "I like that plan, besides, Sunnyhell isn't good for the health."
Willow managed not to laugh. "So, we all go to Romania to see Maleficent home? And then... what happens then?"
Charlie walked over, sitting beside her. "Then, I help make sure you have everything you need, and we let Suzie and William try a little romance... and let Maleficent go back to her unquestioned rule of a small corner of the forest. Maybe something like... We all lived happily ever after?"
"Isn't that how fairy tales end?" Spike was clearly amused.
It was all wonderful, and funny, except for the fact that her body still ached. "Well, this has all the trappings of a fairy tale. Magic spells, a dangerous dragon, brave adventures from a far away land, and the chance for true love. Why not try to live happily ever after?"
Since everyone rather liked the idea of happily after, they agreed to try. And Spike had been accurate in his prediction of the reaction of the demons to Maleficent, and she had been boxed and on the docks in no time, Sunnydale Denial preventing the general population from knowing anything over than a series of fires, the police investigating in 'an effort to find the arsonist'. Travel to Romania sounded like the perfect way for her to get over 'her Oz-missage' as Buffy put it, the blonde entirely missing the fact that Charlie seemed to be pulling her out of that all on his own.
So they sailed away, into the future. Escorting a dragon back to her proper home, and hoping for a chance at happiness.
end Let Sleeping Dragons Lie.