CHAPTER FIFTY: THE BEGINNING
Giles stayed with Buffy, Draco, Sara and Narcissa for only a week before he felt that he could safely leave Buffy to her own devices for the rest of the month. Buffy and Sara were getting along famously, even though Buffy still couldn’t quite bring herself to call Sara ‘Mom’. Having other people around had made the transition far smoother, but now that the two women were comfortable with each other, Giles felt that his time in the house just outside of Central London had come to an end.
For the next three weeks, Sara and Narcissa showed Draco and Buffy the sights of both Magical and Muggle London, taking them all over the countryside. At first Draco hated anything muggle related, but he soon caught onto Buffy’s excitement for all the touristy places that she had heard about over the years when she’d been growing up as a child.
Two days before Buffy was due to go back to Hogwarts to begin her advanced studies, Draco and Buffy found themselves once more in Muggle London. The trip into London had been Sara’s idea, and whilst Draco was hesitant at the idea of shopping in Muggle London (or just of shopping in general, Buffy wasn’t sure which bothered him more), he had wanted to get out of the house. So, the four relatives found themselves wandering through London Square, window shopping and real shopping.
Sara had told Buffy that she wanted to make up for the last sixteen birthdays that she’d missed, and whilst Buffy was reluctant to let Sara spend that sort of money, she could tell that Sara really wanted to do this for her. She had yet to see anything that she desperately wanted.
“If I were you,” Draco said, his arm looped between Buffy’s. “I’d get her to buy me the newest broom.”
“Ah but you’re not me,” Buffy said.
“Thank god,” Draco mumbled. He tensed his muscles and awaited the hit but it never came. Buffy came to a complete halt in the centre of the walkway. Draco too stopped, having no other choice while he was attached to her the way he was.
“Buffy?” he asked curiously, searching her face. She seemed to be frozen in one spot, looking at something just ahead of them in either fear or surprise. Draco turned to follow her line of sight but found nothing too shocking. He’d half been expecting to see Voldemort returned the way Buffy had stopped.
“Love?” he asked. “What’s wrong? Why’d you stop?”
Buffy just swallowed hard and felt her heart racing faster and faster. Ahead of her stood a girl of eighteen. Draco finally noticed that the person Buffy was staring at was staring at Buffy in much the same way.
“Who is she?” Draco asked.
Sara and Narcissa came up behind the two teenagers. Sara touched Buffy’s shoulder.
“What’s wrong sweetie?” Sara asked.
Buffy finally snapped out of it, seemingly at the same time as the girl she’d been staring at. Buffy and the redheaded girl grinned widely and found themselves running to each other, meeting in the centre. They flung their arms around each other and were yelling excitedly.
Draco looked at his mother and his aunt and grinned. “Reckon they know each other?”
Sara rolled her eyes at the comment but couldn’t take her eyes off her daughter. This was the first time she’d seen Buffy genuinely happy, and it was a sight to savour.
Buffy finally pulled apart from the other girl, fumbling over her words in all the excitement.
“Willow! What are you doing here?!” Buffy cried out, excitement in her voice as tears welled in her eyes.
“I got accepted to Oxford University!” Willow replied, her voice matching Buffy’s in the excitement level, the pitch of their voices nearly unrecognisable to the human ear.
“That’s terrific,” Buffy exclaimed, pulling Willow into another hug. Willow returned it enthusiastically.
“I didn’t know you were in London,” Willow said. “We begged Angel to tell us, but…he never would.”
Buffy nodded, somewhat a little surprised that Angel hadn’t even given the Scoobies hints of where she really was. She was grateful for that, but at the same time, part of her wished that the brooding vampire had
told the Gang where she was.
“So…what on earth are you doing here?” Willow asked. “Where’s Giles? Are you nearly finished with whatever the Council wanted you to do?”
Buffy grinned, her heart aching as she realised just how much she’d missed her best friend from Sunnydale. The only person who came close to even capturing half of Willow’s rambling quirkiness was Ginny and even then she could barely hold a candle to Willow’s wackiness.
“I’m going to school here,” Buffy replied. “Giles is one of the Professors here, and as far as I know he’s back at school, probably learning whatever he can about…well, whatever it is he learns about in his free time. Probably hitting on the younger staff members. And as for the Council…well…I don’t really work for them anymore.”
Willow’s face showed her confusion very well and Buffy couldn’t help but grin. It was nice that she could still read her friend after a year had passed.
“Anyway, tell me about you! How’s Xand and Cordy and Oz? They all graduated right? Did the others get into any colleges?” Buffy asked.
“They’re all really good. Oz is still all wolfy once a month, but he’s…he’s good,” Willow answered, her voice slightly sad when she mentioned the musician.
Buffy noticed the slight hesitation in her voice immediately.
“Are you guys still…well, ‘you guys’?” Buffy asked.
Willow shook her head. “We broke up just before Graduation. We kinda decided that we were heading in two different directions, and…as much as we love each other, our lives just aren’t really compatible.”
“I’m sorry Wills,” Buffy said sympathetically.
Willow’s eyes travelled to the group that was hovering behind Buffy, her eyes latching on to the blonde haired boy that Buffy had been linked to earlier.
“So, what about you?” Willow asked. “Who’s the cutie-patootie mini-Spike? Are you guys together?”
Buffy’s nose wrinkled. “Who, Drake? Ew, no. That’s my cousin,” Buffy said, shooting a quick glance to the group behind her. They all seemed to be emersed in conversation and would hopefully not mind Buffy ignoring them for a few more minutes.
“So…what about Xan and Cordy? Are they still together?” Buffy asked.
Willow laughed and nodded. “Yeah. They broke up cos, well…me and Xan kinda…”
Buffy’s eyes went wide and her mouth dropped open in comic shock. “You didn’t!”
“Oh we did,” Willow said, torn between embarrassment and pride. On the one hand, she and Xander had really hurt Oz and Cordelia, but on the other hand, she had kissed Xander many, many times which had been a dream of hers for years.
“But they’re back together?” Buffy asked.
Willow nodded. “Yup. Xander had to beg for forgiveness in front of the entire school, but he did it and they got back together. They’re kinda…disgustingly cute actually.”
Buffy grinned and laughed. “Well good for him,” Buffy said, genuinely happy for both Cordelia and Xander. Xander especially deserved some happiness in his life after the hand he had been dealt in the form of his parental figures.
“Yeah, they’ve gone on a bit of a road trip over the summer. Oz is touring with the Dingoes, and…I figured I might as well come and check out the city before I have to start going to college. So…tell me stuff,” Willow implored. “Boys, vamps, general baddies?”
“You want the answers in that order?” Buffy asked with a grin.
“Alright. Well, I’m dating a guy called Harry,” Buffy said. “He’s a year younger than me.”
“Cradle snatcher,” Willow coughed behind her hand.
Buffy hit her across the arm but grinned despite herself.
“Yeah, yeah I know. At least he’s not like two hundred and forty years older than me.”
Willow conceded that her friend had at least found someone in her own age bracket.
“So, we’ve been dating since Christmas Eve. Uh…as for vamps, I haven’t really had to deal with too many of them since the September.”
“But…isn’t that kinda the job description?” Willow asked. “Vampire Slayer and all that?”
Buffy nodded and breathed in deeply. “That’s kinda the thing Wills,” Buffy began slowly. “I’m not the Slayer.”
Willow’s reaction was very much like Buffy’s initial reaction to finding out that piece of information. Stunned silence followed by an intelligent question. “Huh?”
Buffy grinned. “I was never the Slayer. Turns out I’m the daughter of a wizard, making me a witch. And, speaking of witchiness, how’s with you and the whole wicca thing? Anything happening there?”
“Yeah there is,” Willow said. “But don’t change the topic. You’re a witch?
Buffy nodded. “Yup. A pretty powerful one at that.”
Willow looked incredibly impressed by this turn of events. “That’s really cool. So you can like…turn people into frogs or something? Not that I’d want you to, what with the frog fear.”
“I could,” Buffy said. “Wouldn’t really want to. Frogs are so slimy. Ferrets are my personal favourite.”
She raised her voice for the last sentence and looked over her shoulder as she said it. Draco scowled and walked towards them.
“Please don’t be suggesting what I’d have to kill
you for suggesting,” Draco said.
Buffy grinned and poked her tongue out at Draco.
“Course I am,” Buffy replied. “Drake, this is Willow, my best friend from Sunnydale. Wills, this is my cousin, Draco Malfoy.”
They shook hands, Draco openly appraising the other girl, earning him an elbow to the ribcage.
“What?” Draco asked, his voice slightly whining as he complained about the unfairness of Buffy’s treatment of him.
“You know what,” Buffy replied. “Keep your eyes to yourself.”
“You’re just jealous cos you can’t have my sexy bod,” Draco teased.
Buffy shook her head, a look of disgust coming to her face. “First, we’re cousins, second, ew, third, I’ve got Harry thank you very much.”
“Hmmm, Saint Potter,” Draco said sneeringly. “Missing your hand-in-hand walks through the daisies already I’ll bet.”
“I’d rather hang out with him than hang out with you,” Buffy said with a grin.
“I’d say something about him hanging around you, but…I don’t know if your friend will appreciate that sort of innuendo,” Draco said, looking at Willow.
Willow, true to form, turned bright red. Draco grinned and leant down to whisper to Buffy.
“She’s not a Weasley, right?”
“A whatley?” Willow asked, having heard despite Draco’s hushed tone.
“A Weasley,” Buffy replied. “They’re a family, seven kids, all with red hair.”
Willow nodded and glanced quickly at her watch. Her eyes went wide and she looked up at Buffy, panicked.
“I really gotta go,” Willow said with dismay. “I have an appointment with the Dean at one o’clock.”
Buffy’s face fell.
“Can I meet you tomorrow?” Buffy asked frantically, not wanting to lose the contact with her best friend that she had only just got back.
Willow nodded. “Yeah, I’m staying in the housing at Oxford, but I can probably meet you here again. Do you live in London?”
Buffy nodded. “Yeah, my uh…Sara, she lives in London,” Buffy replied, not wanting to overload Willow with information when they didn’t have any time to talk. “I’m only in London for another two days though.”
Willow wrote down her phone number on a scrap of paper and handed it to Buffy. “Call me tonight and we’ll organise something, okay. Don’t think that you’re gonna get rid of me that easy,” Willow said.
Buffy grinned and the two friends hugged tightly, Draco smiling softly as he saw the look of contentment on Buffy’s face. Willow and Buffy broke apart and Willow gave her best friend a shaky grin.
“I expect the full story tomorrow,” Willow said, trying to sound threatening.
Buffy snorted with laughter. “You might need two days to hear it.”
Willow just shrugged. “However long it takes. I’ve finally found you, I’m not about to give you up again. So…y’know, no skipping the country.”
Buffy nodded and they hugged once more. As Willow walked away and Sara and Narcissa approached their children, Buffy knew that her life had finally reached a high point. After a year and a half of all time lows, everything was finally perfect. She had a mother who loved her, a father who was a teacher at her school, a boyfriend, friends, cousins, a promising future and a best friend from her past. Buffy closed her eyes and smiled, thanking whatever powers that ruled the earth that things were finally beginning to look up.
To be continued in the sequel ‘A Witch’s Family’.