Lottie had arrived a little before two, greeting Tony with a kiss on the cheek before giving Callie a similar kiss. She proved to be a smiling, cheerful young woman perhaps a few years older than Willow, with long gauzy sleeves and bangly, sparkling jewelry. Very feminine, somehow giving an old fashioned pretty damsel easily in distress sort of impression that Willow couldn’t quite explain. She also gave an impression of endless energy and enthusiasm.
Willow had been extensively quizzed by Lottie on her magical knowledge, both general theory and knowledge of traditions. She'd had to agree with the way Tony had described the bubbly young woman - the first impression of Lottie was a cheerful, giggly scatter-brain. Lottie was the sort of vibrant, personable sort that gave an impression of being beautiful, though when Willow looked carefully Lottie was more pretty and curvy than 'beautiful'.
By the end of the afternoon, Lottie had concluded that Willow had a tragic number of gaps in her knowledge of traditions, and almost as many in her knowledge of basic magic. The fact that Willow knew quite a few unusual bits and had an abundance of frightening experiences and raw power didn't quite make up for the disgraceful patch-work education. Lottie had sighed and suggested one tutor for tradition and history and a few others for magical theories.
For her part, Willow had decided that while she and Lottie would probably not be the best of friends, they might make decent casual friends. She also suspected that Lottie would be interesting, if exhausting, to hang out with on occasion. And she knew just what sort of computer to put together for the cheerful woman.
New Orleans was shaping up to be much better than Sunnydale in almost every way that Willow could think of... Yes, the humidity could be smothering. Some of the food seemed to bite back from all the spices. There were still vampires and demons, as well as fully human menaces. Her closest friend’s allies, and sort of boyfriend were either criminals or worked very closely with criminals. She was still trying to adapt to her schedule, with all the extra lessons - French, magical traditions, magical theory, dance from Dine, her part time job at Bayou Moon, and of course college. Add in trying to keep her friends from getting eaten and mixing up some of her herbal not quite potions for Nola's shop... So much to do and so little time to fit everything into!
"Those Harry Potter books had a brilliant idea with time-turners." Willow sighed, a small part of her mind wondering just what would be needed to make something like that, and how difficult it would be. The physical talisman would make it easier, as would having a semi-solid potion inside in the form of the 'sand', but to bend time...
"A good project for the long term, but not something that I'm anywhere near ready to even consider trying," Willow admitted. Maybe a good knowledge of physics might help.
"Be a reason you talking to yourself, belle Willow?" Remy's voice drawled from the doorway.
"My life is going to be very busy in the near future, and I was thinking that a way to give me more hours in the day would be fabulous. But I'm not aware of any such device, spell, or talisman, and the idea of making one... Let's just say that it might be something I could start tinkering with in a decade or so. Maybe," Willow smiled at him.
Walking closer, Remy offered, "Always good to have a long term goal as well as de short term."
"And what brings you here today, charmer?" She couldn't help smiling at Remy, or the warm, slightly confused feeling in her stomach. On the one hand, she knew full well that she was quite interested in Remy. On the other... there were so many reasons why it was probably a bad idea that she wasn't sure where to start.
"Two t'ings. Remy want to take you out for a nice meal, an' Remy be asked to see if you could find some information for some people," he moved towards her, catching her hand and kissing her fingers. "Remy always happy for an excuse t' see you."
"Did you need an excuse?" Willow murmured.
"Non, but Remy appreciate not getting in trouble," his eyes seemed to twinkle at her. "Got wit' Remy for a nice meal?"
"A nice meal sounds wonderful, and as for not getting into trouble..." Willow tried not to giggle. "I think you were born in trouble and still haven't escaped."
"Remy would be offended by dat statement, 'cept it prob'ly be true," he chuckled. "What be going to have you so busy?"
So Willow found herself explaining what would be taking up her time as they headed somewhere that Remy promised would have wonderful food. She mentioned that the lessons would probably level out, and she'd get used to them until they didn't feel like they were demanding that much time. She didn't expect the classes to be problematic as they were all fairly basic things. Maybe once she knew how her things would do at Nola's shop, she might be able to cut back on her hours at Bayou Moon, though it might be a bit soon to be thinking about changes to those hours. For now, she was only looking at about twenty hours a week, and all of them around her class schedule.
It might even be easier than Sunnydale, since instead of staying up late doing research to prevent the next possible apocalypse or demon invasion, it would just be classes, dance practice, and a bit of mixing potions and computer time. Nothing was supposed to be life-threatening or time-critical. It was a bit depressing that she'd forgotten what that felt like over the last three and a half years.
Looping her arm through Remy’s, she glanced at him, feeling herself smile. “Do you think some of your family and colleagues might want some of my medicines? The bruise balm, the sore muscle oils, the ointment for scrapes?”
“Some will, some might try some, and others won’ want stuff dey haven’t already been using. ‘Bout what you’d find anywhere,” Remy shrugged. “Might end up wit’ people askin’ if lessons in a few practical skills be good enough for a trade for medicines instead of money.”
Willow considered that for a few blocks before deciding, “That might depend on the lessons. I mean, the idea’s good, but… sometimes you need specific details. Which can be worked out later, of course.”
“Of course,” Remy was grinning.
“What has you so happy, charmer?” Willow asked.
“Didn’ Remy tell you once we get you t’ N’Awlins, you never want to leave?”
“You….” Willow had no idea what to say. “At the very least, once I have a place that isn’t Callie’s spare room, I’ll need to go back for my stuff.”
“If you want, we can arrange for all your stuff to come to you,” Remy offered. “No need t’ go back t’ de mouth of hell.”
“Disturbingly tempting,” Willow admitted. A part of her wondered if accepting that offer would be some sort of cowardice by not facing her friends and the issues while another part wondered if insisting on going herself would just be stubborn pride. “Ask me again when I have a place.”
Remy just laughed. “Maybe we jus’ need to make sure you be too busy to go get your t’ings yourself, hmm?”
“You’re trouble,” Willow found herself giggling. Remy was definitely a bad influence; one that she was enjoying. Just like she was enjoying New Orleans, and the chance to only worry about normal things – classes, job, boyfriend, slightly dangerous maybe-friend her parents wouldn’t have approved. Granted, there were classes in how to fall safely and some basic punches and kicks, and soon to be lessons in magic. Granted her boyfriend was a thief. Granted the maybe-friend was Belladonna the assassin who might just be trying to learn enough to let her Assassin’s Guild try to create someone sort of like a Slayer. Given all of that, and that there were still monsters munching on people and a real crime rate that was higher than she was used to in Sunnydale…
She couldn’t imagine wanting to go back to how things had been in Sunnydale. Not when this was the alternative.
End part 1.
Willow had settled on a bench on the campus, with one of her new textbooks open in front of her. Classes would be starting soon, and she wanted to get an idea about the material before class. Maybe later she’d wander around and try to get a better idea where everything on the campus as before term began.
“Do you know how to enchant weapons?”
Willow managed not to shout, though she did drop the book and gather a little magic as she twisted to face the speaker.
Belladonna. She was dressed a bit more casually, in dark jeans and some sort of cowl-necked purple blouse that went well with her eyes, and the beads on her braids had been changed to match. Willow almost couldn’t spot the weapons.
“Were you trying to sneak up on me, or was I that focused on my book?” Willow asked.
Belladonna only smirked.
“Enchanting weapons… it’s sort of tricky. If you mean for trying to,” Willow paused, glancing around and seeing nobody close enough to hear the conversations. “If you need to kill a demon or vampire tonight, I can do something that’d help. If you mean something that’ll still be there next month, next year, a decade from now… No. I haven’t learned how to make it stick long term yet. Most of the time we had to focus on short term, or we’d find something already enchanted. Which, by the way, I can identify is something is already enchanted. I just can’t do it myself.”
“Is that more advanced, or was your magical education just that scattered?” Belladonna tilted her head, the beads on her braids clicking as they moved.
“Yes to both,” Willow sighed.
“Ahh,” Belladonna dropped onto the bench, grinning at Willow. “Are you going to learn how to do that anytime soon?”
“Depends on what teachers I get, how fast they’re willing to teach, and how fast I pick things up. I’ll have a couple magic teachers pretty soon. But it’s a bit early to know when I’ll get to enchanting things. And I think making a specific effect, like not getting dull or glowing in the presence of a certain type of demon, or catching fire without burning the wielder or the weapon would be harder than just adding a magic owie on top of the cutty bashy owie,” Willow explained.
Belladonna snickered, “Has anyone ever told you that you talk funny?”
Willow blinked, and then gave a hesitant smile, “maybe… and don’t get me started babbling.”
“There’s a few things we’ve picked up over the years. Things with interesting stories that may or may not be magical. The stories say yes, but…” Belladonna shrugged. “Sometimes bad luck is just bad luck.”
“I can check those things for you. We can figure out a good time?” Willow offered.
The good time ended up being next Tuesday, with someone picking her up at eight. Willow wondered why she felt a chill along her spine, but tried not to worry about it. Things were better here, she didn’t have any enemies, and nobody would consider her a threat. There was nothing to worry about.
Willow tried to put the worry out of her mind as she watched Belladonna saunter away. Once the blonde assassin had left, she found herself unable to concentrate on her book. Instead she meandered around the campus, hoping to figure out where she’d need to go for her classes, where the offices and library were located, and anything else that sounded like a ‘might need or want to know’ facility.
After a while, Willow made her way back to the house. She needed to get her life together here, and the classes would be a good start. Classes, a part time job to keep her from over-stressing about class, and Remy. She doubted Remy would let her over-stress about anything.
There was a request for information from one of Remy’s friends, wanting everything on blueprints and maybe security measures for a particular house, address provided. That little checking of blueprints for one of Remy’s friends didn’t take long. She also did a bit of online research for Wesley about a talisman they’d found in a demon lair. The talisman proved to be an heirloom luck-charm, which were rarely magical, not that she’d be able to check that without seeing the object. Besides, Wes would be able to check that much on his own.
Maybe she was taking on a lot. But Willow needed to learn the right ways to base her magic, things she should have been taught earlier, back when she first began to move things and help mix up potions. It was also long past time to learn the basics of self defense. Classes for a real career and a part time job to help pay for said classes… well, why not? She didn’t want to be a student or stuck in unskilled jobs forever, and she wasn’t sure how much she could depend on magical dabbler and free-lance computer work to pay for things. And Remy… Remy had slipped into her life and she wasn’t sure if he could be removed with a crowbar, not that she wanted to try.
Besides, a busy Willow wouldn’t be a Willow moping about Sunnydale. Wouldn’t be stressing over the two Amys. Wouldn’t be trying to go too fast in fixing her memories – because memories were tricky. She didn’t want enough time to mope or get all depressed. Busy was good.
End part 2.
End Small Favor 22: New Influences