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One Whole Star

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Summary: When the Dursleys die in an unforeseen car accident, Harry is sent to the only remaining family willing to take him -- his cousins the Rosenbergs.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Harry Potter > Willow-CenteredTheAmazonZitiFR13314,9581711220,36727 Sep 0522 May 06No

Chapter Three

Author: The Amazon Ziti ( queenziti at gmail dot com )

Title: One Whole Star, 3/?

Rating: PG-13 or K+

Summary: When Harry is six, the Dursleys die in an unforeseen car accident and
Harry gets shipped off to the closest family willing to take him - the Rosenbergs in
Sunnydale, CA. An HP/BtVS X-Over.

Expect: that it takes a village to raise a child.

Warnings: Recollection, mostly inexplicit, of child abuse. Man I hate the Dursleys!
Possibly some slash and/or femslash later, though again, nothing explicit. The usual
amount of Scooby Gang-type teenage sexuality.

Pairings: HP? None for quite a while. Harry's only almost-seven, people. BtVS
might get a little more complicated, but that'll come later.

Disclaimer: None of the characters, places, plots or anything else from the Harry
Potter books or from Buffy the Vampire Slayer belong to lil' ol' me. The book Half a
Moon and One Whole Star belongs to Crescent DragonWagon. I own only my words,
my insanity, and my computer.

Spoilers: Eventually, BtVS spoilers through Season 4. No Harry Potter spoilers
worth your while until Harry gets his Hogwarts letter, and I intend on turning a lot
upside-down anyway. I wouldn't worry if I were you.

Author's Notes: This story starts in the summer (call it mid- to late-June) of 1996
- i.e., the summer before Buffy and Giles arrive in Sunnydale. Harry's about to turn
seven; Willow, Xander and Jesse are fifteen and have just finished ninth grade.
(God, they're young! I never really thought about it, but Buffy started Slaying when
she was fourteen! Geez.) The BtVS timeline is correct, but the HP timeline
warranted tweaking - thus Harry will begin Hogwarts in September of 1999, which
corresponds with S4, when the girls would have started classes at UC Sunnydale.
Good? Good.

Feedback: is a naughty naughty stimulant. And frighteningly addictive. However,
scientific studies have proven it has no significant negative long-term effect, so send
it on in, baby!

ONE LAST, QUICK, IMPORTANT NOTE: The “Author Notes” are not just for show. Your timeline questions are probably answered there.

* * *

CHAPTER THREE

* * *



When Harry woke up the next morning, dim light was streaking through the shafts
of the blinds on his window and falling over his new red blanket. Harry had never
slept anywhere with a window like this by his bed before; at home, he'd hardly
gotten any light from the hallway in his cupboard, and even at the orphanage the
windows in the dormitory had been high up on the wall, remote, and very dirty. He
knew what blinds were, though. He'd cleaned all of them in 4 Privet Drive twice a
week for Aunt Petunia. Now he blinked the sleep from his eyes, released his
stranglehold on Big Bear, and pulled the string that controlled the blinds. They
folded up the window just as they should and the sunlight swept into the room,
claiming every corner.

Harry peered out over the windowsill. All he'd seen of California so far was the sky
above the tarmac at the airport - he'd fallen asleep there and Willow had brought
him here. He thought vaguely of palm trees, but didn't know exactly what they
looked like.

The yard below his bedroom window didn't differ in any significant way from the
ones back in England, so far as Harry could tell. There was green grass and brown
dirt and white metal patio furniture. The trees had leaves, and the ivy draped over
the trellis alongside the house looked like ivy ought. There were squirrels and birds.
The clouds in the sky were shaped like clouds.

Before his disappointment became too acute, Harry remembered something
California had that England did not: Willow.

She had been incredibly kind to him yesterday and last night. Once, when Harry had
been sick at school and had slept in the infirmary, the nurse had felt his forehead
and been kind to him; and yesterday Ashlee, a stewardess on Harry's airplane, had
brought Harry juice and a book and an extra blanket. Neither of them compared to
Willow, though, and all of the other adults Harry knew weren't like that at all. Some
of them had smiled at him and patted him on the head after the Dursleys had died
and he'd been shunted from hospital to Social Services to the orphanage, but they
hadn't meant it. Harry could tell.

Willow meant it.

Last night, Harry had woken up and been afraid. He hadn't been able to remember
where he was, and he'd just had a horrible dream full of green light and screaming,
and there were shadows everywhere. He hadn't been able not to cry, just a little bit,
and Willow had heard him almost right away. At home, when Harry had woken Aunt
Petunia up, she'd told him to stop being a nuisance and a baby and to let decent
folk sleep. When he'd woken Uncle Vernon up, Harry had been told to shut his face
or Vernon would shut it for him.

Harry had also heard Aunt Petunia comfort Dudley when he woke up shrieking for
toys or sweets. Harry had disliked the noise she made but wanted something like
that for himself all the same. Willow had done it, but better. She'd been calm, not
panicky like Aunt Petunia, and soft and quiet. She'd sat right here next to him and
hugged him and tucked him in and given him her teddy bear and sung to him.

Too many good things were happening. Harry had never had so many good things at
once at home.

Soft footsteps padded down the corridor and paused at Harry's bedroom door.
"Harry, honey?" Willow said, not loudly. "Are you up?" Three knocks on the door,
and then a click as the doorknob turned and Willow peered into the room. "Rise and
shine!"

The moment Willow's calm gaze met Harry's she smiled. Utterly helpless, Harry
smiled back. "Hi," he said.

"Hey," Willow said, stepping inside. She was dressed already, in pink denim shorts
and a blue shirt that didn't suit her at all. Her damp red hair was tossed over one
slender shoulder. She crossed the room and sat on the edge of Harry's bed, close
enough that he could see that her arms and her long pale legs were freckled. "It's
almost ten - I thought you might like some breakfast." Harry nodded dumbly.
"Okay. Would you like to come down to the kitchen with me, see what we can scare
up?"

Harry nodded again and sat up, knocking Big Bear to the floor. He tensed, but
Willow didn't seem to mind. Instead of calling him clumsy and careless, she picked
Big Bear up by one arm and settled him on Harry's other side, by the wall. "Did Big
Bear work out all right for you last night? Any more bad dreams?" Harry shook his
head. "Oh, good. I'm glad. C'mon, sweetie, let's get you fed."

* * *

For breakfast Harry had sweet, pulpy orange juice in a plastic cup; an egg scrambled
with cottage cheese and a little cream; a slice of whole wheat toast, liberally
buttered; a bowl of crunchy cold cereal drowned in fresh cold milk; and strawberries.
It was the most pleasant meal he'd ever had, even better than last night's dinner.
Willow had turned off the air conditioning and opened the windows, flooding the
kitchen with sunlight and fresh air. The radio played quietly. Willow sat across the
table and squinted at the tiny print of the local newspaper. She was eating eggs,
too, spooning them on top of her bagel and cream cheese. Occasionally she sipped
from a mug that was more milk than coffee.

At home Aunt Petunia would have woken Harry at six-thirty so that he would have
breakfast ready by the time Dudley and Uncle Vernon came downstairs. Dudley's
breakfasts had always been enormous; Harry was typically given a dry slice of
bread, though on the days Aunt Petunia was in a good mood she'd let him toast it.
Harry had never had a breakfast like this before, and he was surprised at how much
he was able to eat.

Willow looked up halfway through her bagel. "So, kiddo," she said, "what would you
like to do today?"

Harry had no idea how to answer such a question. "I dunno," he said hesitantly.
"What do you want to do?"

"Well," Willow said, quirking an eyebrow at him, "I thought maybe we could walk
into town, let you look around. If the weather stays fine we could go to a
playground, if you want, and if it doesn't, we could swing by the public library and
get you a card. On our way home I'd like to stop by the supermarket so you can
pick out some things you'd like to eat. We can call a car to take us home if we're
too tired to walk back. How's that sound?"

It sounded like fun. On the few occasions Aunt Petunia had taken Harry on an
outing, he'd had to trail along behind her, carrying her shopping bags. They certainly
never went to a playground - frivolities like that weren't for freaks like him, after
all. "But those are all kid things to do," said Harry. "Don't you want to do some
grown-up things?"

"Oh, honey, I'm not a grown-up," Willow said, amused. "And a nice relaxed day out
sounds like fun to me. The only boring errand I want to do can wait a day or two."

Harry tilted his head, brushing his hair out of his eyes. "What's your grown-up
errand?" Uncle Vernon would have told Harry off for being too nosy for his own
good, but Willow seemed to like it when he asked questions.

"My grown-up errand..." Willow began, and hesitated. "Harry... I noticed that most of
your clothing is pretty worn-out," she said delicately. "If you'd like, I can take you
to get some new clothes and shoes and stuff. Sunnydale's got a pretty decent mall -
we could start there."

Harry stared. "You want to buy me new clothes?"

Willow blushed. "Well, yes. New everything, really; you didn't bring much with you."

Harry ignored this last; he'd brought everything he owned. "But you don't need to
buy me new clothes," he said. "We could buy them at Goodwill or something."

"Is that where your Aunt Petunia bought you clothes, Harry?" Willow asked softly.

"Only sometimes," said Harry. "My cousin Dudley's old clothes fit me just fine."
He'd heard that a lot over the years.

"And did your Aunt Petunia buy your cousin clothes from Goodwill?" Willow asked.

"No," said Harry. "Dudley needed new clothes."

"Hm," said Willow noncommittally. "Harry, let me ask you something. And I want
you to answer honestly, okay? Say what you think, not what you think I want to
hear. Can you do that for me?" Harry nodded, not a little apprehensive. "All right,"
Willow said. "Harry, would you rather have clothes from Goodwill? Or do you want
some new things?"

Oh. Harry looked down ashamedly, feeling his face heat. Aunt Petunia had called
Harry greedy when he asked for things, so eventually he'd learned not to ask. And
anyway, he should know by now that nice new clothes were for good boys, not for
freeloading orphans who forgot who their betters were. But...Oh, to be like other
boys, with shoes that fit and pants that didn't fall down and shirts without holes in
them -

Say what you think, not what you think I want to hear.

Nearly whispering, hardly believing he dared, Harry said, "I want some new things."

Movement at his side made him jump in his seat, but then a large, gentle hand was
on his shoulder and Willow was next to him. "Hey, love," she said, and leaned in to
kiss his cheek. "You did good. Remember what I said last night, that I want to help
you when you need it?" Nod. "Well, this is like that, okay? I can't always know what
you want, so I need you to tell me."

"But what if I want something bad?" Harry asked.

"Then I'll say no," Willow said. Harry could hear her smile. "But that's all. Don't
worry, sweetie. We'll work it out."

* * *

Before they left the house, Willow pinned a small piece of paper with her address
and phone number to the inside of Harry's pants pocket. "Just in case," she said
with a wink. Then she took his hand and led him outside.

6305 Westminster Place was lovely. A dignified grey with white trim, it had a large
sturdy porch along the front and right side, and a cobblestone walk to the street
down the center of its expansive green lawn. It looked very, very big, and all the
other houses nearby did, too. It reminded Harry of some of the neighborhoods Aunt
Petunia had had to drive through to take Harry and Dudley to school.

Before he lost his nerve, Harry asked, "Willow? Are you rich?"

Willow laughed. "What a question!" she said, not unkindly. "And - no, I don't think
we are, exactly. There are people in this town with much, much more money than
we have; they're definitely rich. I think the politically correct term for what we are
is 'upper middle-class'." Harry didn't know what 'politically correct' meant, but he
thought he understood the rest. "What that means, Harry," Willow continued, "is
that we don't have to worry. We can't buy a private airplane, but we can have a
nice house and a nice car." (Said car was parked in the drive on the left side of the
house.) "And some nice clothes. ...Shall we?"

They did.

The walk into town was short, and as there wasn't all that much town to see, the
tour was brief. They stopped at the public library, where Harry painstakingly filled
out a form that got him his very own library card. Then Willow called for a cab at a
payphone, and while they waited she bought a cup of fresh lemonade and a giant
cookie, which they shared, at a nearby cafŽ.

At the mall, Willow steered Harry straight into a bright, crowded clothing store.
When a salesgirl asked them what they were looking for, Willow grinned toothily and
said, "Everything."

Harry was a little worried, because whenever Aunt Petunia had bought herself
clothes she'd try on everything - everything - first. Harry thought it was entirely
tedious, and it took ages and ages. At this store, though, Harry and Willow were
taken to a large dressing-room just for them. There the salesgirl briskly measured
Harry up, down and sideways, nodded, and trotted off. She came back with
nondescript jeans and a shirt, "Just to check the size," and trotted off again. This
time she was gone for much longer, and she came back with a huge pile of clothes.

"Since we know your size, Harry, you won't have to try these on if you don't want,"
said Willow. "Just pick out what you like."

They started with T-shirts - sleeveless, short-sleeved, and long-sleeved - and
continued on through polo shirts, dress shirts, jackets, sweatshirts and sweaters.
Harry picked the colors he liked, and got to nix the ones he didn't. There were shirts
with stripes. There were shirts with pockets. There were shirts with cartoon
characters and superheroes. Willow and Harry looked at them all.

...And then they kept going. Shorts, jeans, cargo pants, khaki pants, dress slacks,
swimsuits, sweatpants. Pajamas of all kinds, in matching sets. Bathrobes. Socks.
Underwear. Belts and ties. Sandals and dress shoes and bright yellow rubber rain-
boots and sneakers that lit up when he walked. Slippers and flip-flops and water
shoes.

Harry only tried a few things on, but it still took upwards of three hours, including
their break for lunch (they had pizza). A Spider-Man backpack and a digital watch
later, all of Harry's new things were bagged and stacked in a shopping cart.

"Tired?" said Willow. "Me too." She called another cab. Harry fell asleep in her lap
on the ride home.

Instead of unpacking immediately, Willow left all of the bags in the foyer and called
Harry into the kitchen. They took a snack break slouched comfortably on the couch
in the den, drinking apple juice and eating slices of red pepper and cheddar cheese.

"So," said Willow, "did you have an okay time? Not too boring?"

"I had a great time!" Harry said, snuggling against Willow's side. "And thank you
very much for all of the nice things."

"You've thanked me already," Willow said. "And you're very welcome. I'm glad it
was a good day."

"It was the best day ever," said Harry.

* * *

Harry had always liked to paint.

He'd been very good at it, in the art classes in school at home. His teachers had
told him he was talented, and he'd won prizes. When he'd brought them home,
though, Aunt Petunia had thrown them in the trash. Not even the kitchen trash -
she'd gone to the side door and put them directly into the garbage cans outside.

But now, Harry had his own easel, with lots of paper and pencils for sketching, and
paints in a million colors, and a palette and brushes, too. Willow had told him
specifically that all of the art supplies were just for him. There were crayons and
markers also, arranged neatly in the drawers of Harry's very own desk. Harry had
been itching to use everything, especially the paints, since Willow had first shown
them to him last night. Now, after his long wonderful first day in Sunnydale, Harry
finally had his chance.

Once Harry had painted a picture for Aunt Petunia. It had been at the beginning of
the school year, just after he'd turned five. It was a picture of Aunt Petunia and
Uncle Vernon and Dudley all holding hands in front of 4 Privet Drive. It wasn't
exactly one of his best efforts - he'd only been five, after all - but he'd tried. It was
a thank-you, for feeding and clothing and housing Harry for four years. Harry knew
exactly how long he'd been imposing on the Dursleys' hospitality; they reminded
him every day. That picture had gone directly into the bin like all the others.

Harry could only hope that Willow would receive such a present a little more open-
mindedly.

The painting was going to be of Willow, of course, and it was to thank her for
everything: for the bedroom, for the easel, for the clothes, for the milk - for taking
Harry in at all. It wasn't much, and Aunt Petunia had always let Harry know that a
silly picture couldn't possibly reimburse the Dursleys for all they'd done for him, but
there wasn't very much else Harry could do.

Frowning, Harry wiggled a little on his Harry-sized stool in front of his easel, pulling
at the neat collar of one of his new white T-shirts. Harry took out the palette first;
he'd have to mix some colors carefully to make something like the color of Willow's
hair.

Red was first, of course. It was the most obvious. But Harry but a little bit of yellow
to the side for later, just in case, and brought out the brown and gold, too. The gold
even had sparkles in it. Harry grinned.

He didn't need to sketch anything beforehand. When Willow worried over his scar,
frowned at the newspaper over breakfast, split a cookie with him in town, Harry had
memorized her face. He didn't want to forget what Willow had been like once she
was gone - for of course this couldn't last. Sooner or later someone would realize
Harry didn't belong here and would move him. If he were lucky he'd go back to the
orphanage he'd stayed at after the Dursleys had died. If not...he didn't know what.

Shrugging this melancholy thought away, Harry picked up his brush and let it lead
him.

Willow's skin: very smooth and very pale, except for the slight tan on her forearms
and the faint freckles on her nose. Willow's eyes: not green and not brown but a
shot of both, wide-set and thick-lashed, brows arched, looking at Harry like he was
something special. Her chin, her nose, her cheekbones. Her tall thin body in those
awful pink shorts and blue T-shirt. Her hands, a little too big for her, strong and
capable but uncallused, one braced on a slender hip and one outstretched. Her
smile, quirky, toothy and crooked to one side.

And her hair.

Harry had mixed the color first but saved the actual painting for last. He put down
the red-brown first, filling in the space around her face. Some tossed back, some
draped over her shoulder, like that. It fell almost to her elbows in a single glossy
sheet. Harry bit his lip and tucked a tendril of hair behind one of Willow's ears,
reminding himself to add earrings, the little gold ones, later.

Next a little bit of yellow, just enough to tint and to show where the shadows were,
and then a ripple of gold, just there, where the light would fall. Harry dipped his
brush in water to blur the color a little. Then he took some more brown and
darkened the sides of Willow's part just enough to show it wasn't straight but off to
the side. Yes.

Harry loved Willow's hair. It was soft and it smelled nice and Harry could rest his
cheek against it when Willow hugged him. And last night, after Harry had admired it
aloud, Willow had said, "Yes, it's a lot like your mom's was, isn't it?" She'd given
him a sad smile, and she'd sounded like she thought Harry ought to know this
already. He hadn't quite had the courage to correct her. Aunt Petunia hadn't kept
any pictures of Harry's parents, and would hardly speak Lily's name, let alone
Harry's father's. Harry had no idea what his mother had looked like, but he was
comforted by the idea that she might have looked a little like Willow.

A touch of red - just a touch! - to her eyebrows, of brown to her lashes, and then
Harry put the brush down.

Blinking, he stood, and took a few steps back to look at his easel. Was he done?
How long had he been painting for? A glance to the neon numbers of the digital
alarm clock by his bedside confirmed that it had been just over two hours. Harry
pushed his bangs out of his face with paint-sticky fingers and squinted. His picture
wasn't, by any means, perfect. But it was nice, and maybe Willow would like it.
Harry hoped she wouldn't throw it out.

* * *

Harry trotted down the hall to the bathroom, peeking down the stairs as he went.
There was a soft light coming from the sitting room off the front hall. Probably
Willow was curled up in her armchair, reading. Harry would just wait for the paint to
dry before bringing Willow her picture. He was glad to give her some time alone,
anyway; Aunt Petunia had always said how glad she was to get him out of her sight
when she had sent him outside or into his cupboard. Harry was happy to make
himself scarce before Willow had to ask it of him.

After washing all of the paint out from under his fingernails, Harry chanced a look in
the mirror and for a moment could not move a muscle. The new T-shirt - the new
white T-shirt that Willow had bought just for him - was covered in paint.

There was red staining the hem at his hips. There was gold on his left sleeve and
green on his shoulder. There were splatters of pink across his chest and blue at his
collar.

Harry himself had green and red in his hair and gold on his face. That was easy
enough to deal with. But what would he do about the shirt?

Aunt Petunia had been so angry whenever Harry had made Dudley's hand-me-downs
messy. Stains showed frivolity and a vile disrespect for how much the Dursleys had
done for him by taking him in and feeding him and giving him clothes to wear. He
was a dirty little freak and a clumsy little beggar and all he ever did was give Aunt
Petunia more work to do (for though she'd given Harry a great many chores, she'd
never trusted him with the laundry). It didn't matter whether the stains were from
paint in art class or grass from getting pushed down in the schoolyard or oil from his
miserable attempts at cooking; they were all proof of his being a useless burden. He
was usually sent straight to the cupboard. That he would miss the next meal or two
was a given.

Being here with Willow was so disorienting. All of the rules were completely
different if there were any at all. Willow had given him an easel and new clothes
and as much as he wanted to eat every day. She'd taken him to get his own library
card, and they were to go to the playground, for as long as Harry liked, tomorrow.

Willow never reacted like Harry expected her to. She always smiled at him as if she
were pleased to see him. When she didn't call him by name, it was never 'freak' or
'boy'; it was 'honey' or 'love' or 'sweetheart'. Harry had been confused enough
when he hadn't done anything really reprehensible, but what would Willow do when
she found out how bad he'd been? Was there a closet somewhere in the house that
Harry would be able to fit into? Would Willow just yell, or would she slap him like
Aunt Petunia had? Would she send him away?

For the umpteenth time Harry hoped that if he were sent away, Willow would send
him back to the orphanage he'd stayed at in London. He didn't think there was
anywhere else in the world he could go.

Maybe he could get the stains out on his own. Doubtfully, Harry folded some sheets
of toilet paper and wet them in the sink. He dabbed with this at the paint. All the
water did was make it spread.

Harry bit back a cry of dismay and tried to think. He didn't know the first thing
about laundry. What had Aunt Petunia done to get stains out of everyone's clothing?
Was there special soap? Were you supposed to use hot water? Did you hope the
stain dried so you could pick it off?

The laundry room was just off the kitchen on the way down the stairs to the
basement. Would there be something there? There was a special deep sink just for
laundry, and a clothesline.

Perhaps Willow didn't have any special soap in her house. Harry couldn't imagine
Willow ever needing to get rid of a stain.

It was worth a try, at least. Biting his lip and clutching at the hem of his shirt, Harry
made his way downstairs, freezing in place whenever he thought he heard a
floorboard creak. He peeked into the living room on the way to the laundry. Willow
was curled up in her chair, asleep, with her book splayed across her lap and her
reading glasses slipping down her nose. That was good, at least; maybe she
wouldn't hear anything.

The laundry was small and white and warm, though the tile floor was cold on Harry's
bare feet. Here was the washing machine and here was the dryer. The sink was in
the corner. All of the detergents were on a shelf high above Harry's head. Harry
doubted that there was any way for him to reach them; he would have climbed up
on the washer or dryer, but both machines were taller than he was.

Harry hesitated and then pulled his shirt over his head. His best bet was the sink,
and he had to stand on his tiptoes, his chest pressed to the cold porcelain, to see
into it or to reach the faucet.

Cold water? Hot? When Harry had done the dishes for Aunt Petunia, she'd made him
use water so hot it scalded his hands. It hurt, but it also worked. Hopefully, Harry
stretched his arm across the sink and twisted the hot water on. The faucet screeched
halfway around; Harry yelped and jumped back.

"Harry?"

He'd woken Willow.

She was at the laundry door before Harry could even turn off the water. "What are
you doing? Is something wrong?"

"I'm sorry!" Harry whispered, backing against the wall. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean
to."

"Hey," Willow said. She looked worried. "Hey, it's okay. I'm just going to turn off
the water, all right? And now I'm just kneeling down so I can look at you. Can you
tell me what's wrong, honey?"

Utterly resigned to his fate, Harry held out the paint-stained T-shirt. Willow gently
pried his fingers loose from the fabric, shook the shirt out, and held it up. "Oh, is
that all?" She sounded relieved. "Look, it's just paint. That should come out no
problem. It's no big. Harry, can you - can you look at me?" Harry tried, but he was
too ashamed to lift his eyes to hers. Listlessly, he shook his head. "Oh, honey. Just
- come here, please? Ssh, no, I just want to give you a hug, okay? I promise it'll be
all right. I'm not mad. I won't h-hurt you."

Somehow Harry managed to look up this time. Willow was smiling, but her lips
trembled a little. She looked like she was about to cry. "I'm not mad," she said
again. "It's just paint, love." Harry collapsed into Willow's open arms, burying his
face in her shoulder. "We had such a good time today," she was saying, as she
rubbed his bare back. "I like you very, very much, Harry. I think we can be good
friends. Don't you think so?" Weakly, Harry nodded. "And friends don't hurt each
other, right? And friends forgive each other...

"Harry, you're bound to make mistakes sometimes, or to disobey - everyone does,
even grown-ups. Most mistakes don't even matter, and for the ones that do... there
is no mistake you could make that would make me hurt you. All right? And if
anyone does hurt you, they are wrong, Harry. They're wrong - it doesn't matter
what you've done. Your aunt and uncle were wrong to ever hurt you or make you
afraid." Keeping one arm wrapped firmly around Harry's waist, Willow cupped his
chin with the other, gently turning his face up to meet her gaze. "Please tell me you
hear me."

Harry blinked the tears from his eyelashes. "I hear you."

Willow stroked her thumb along his chin. "Do you believe me?"

Uncertain, Harry shrugged.

"Oh." Willow sighed and closed her eyes for a long moment. "Do you - Could you
think about it, a little?" Harry nodded. "Good," Willow said. "That's good,
sweetheart." She bent her head and pressed her warm smooth cheek to his. Harry
pressed back, and clutched at her more tightly.

* * *

After a quiet but not uncomfortable dinner, Willow said, "So - do I get to see what
you were painting?"

Harry, swallowing nervously, nodded.

"How about we take care of these dishes, and then we'll get you ready for bed, and
you can show me what you made?"

Dinner had been simple - canned turkey-barley soup, heated up on the stove - and
the dishes were done in short order with Willow washing and Harry drying. His heart
pounding in his throat, Harry led the way upstairs and into his bedroom. Carefully he
picked the painting up from where he'd laid it on his desk to dry. "I - I did it - It's
for you," he stuttered.

Willow accepted the painting with a smile. "That's so sweet, Harry. Oh!" One hand
flew up to cover her mouth. "Is this...This is me!" she exclaimed.

"I wanted to paint you," Harry said.

"Harry," Willow said breathlessly. "It's wonderful. Goodness, you're talented! It's..."
She trailed off, shaking her head. Her eyes were bright.

"Do you like it?"

"Do I like it? I love it, Harry. Thank you."

Harry, grinning helplessly, felt his cheeks heat. He barely managed a whispered
"You're welcome."


* * *

FIN CHAPTER THREE
Posted May 21, 2006

A rousing round of "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow" in honor of
AngusHardie, Annikaya, anonymous, anti-thule, apacalypse (Paca!), arkeus,
artemispheonix, Ashira, azntgr01, azulkan, bandgsecurtiyaw, becca, Ben,
BiteMyWalther, blue_icy_rose, Blueeyes37, buzibee, Cadence Cascade, Carey Harris,
catfishpeaches, Caylinn, Clarissa, Cor_Mael, Curalium Lacrimo, cutiedaniex,
Dbrookes, drowninmybrain, eclecticlioness. Elli, ERMonkey Burner of Cookies,
ginnyNharrysecretlove, hilarydilarydoc, hold your spin, Ibozun, imgonnadie,
immortalwizardelffan, indigo_star8, InvisibleA, japanese-jew, Jondar, Junky,
jvgymnast, keshkreature, kizunakat, Kyogre, Kyra2, Lady Azar de Tameran, lassyd,
Light Avatar, LilyXJames, lmill123, luvsanime, manic, merna_of_quills, MicheleB,
Miss Teinge, mscs3, mumimeanjudy, mutecaterpillar, Namariqueen, nyxsrabbits,
Patricia8, peppymint, pixy, potterhead224, pottersparky, Raliena, rhiannon3719,
Riyirowe, SamDragon, Shadowed Rains, shadowryder, shaytan, Shrina, siarah, Siri
Kat, slayerstoryguy, SusanAnthony, swirlytuti, The Female Nerd, Tombadgerlock,
twisteddagger, WhiteWolf, WingsOfFate, and Zea.

Thank you, so much, to everyone who reviewed - especially to those crazy folk who
kept reviewing. I know I would find it difficult to have faith in an author who took
six months to update, and the fact that you're still reading makes me feel like
putting on loud music and baking for everybody. So, who likes brownies?

(Actually, that's part of the reason I took so long - I had this huge revelation in
December that I did not, in fact, feel like running out and getting an interesting, if
useless, degree in philosophy or suchlike, but that I wanted to go to... culinary
school. Trust me, nobody was more surprised than I was - I'd been planning to be a
starving artist for years. Not that there's anything wrong with starving artistry. But
anyway, now I'm interning in a restaurant and applying to all sorts of interesting
places, and though I now have far less free time, I am also much more inspired to
write. Make of that what you will.)

Anyway, never ever think that I have given up on this fic. I think about it all the
time. I carry a little notebook around with me everywhere for when I get sudden
fabulous brainstorms. If you're ever riding the C train to Brooklyn, and you see a
girl with very very very short hair and very very very high heels, and she's scribbling
in a spiral notebook with a black-and-white print of the Eiffel Tower on the front,
that might be me. And I'll be writing this fic for you. So ha. (Although you probably
shouldn't say hi, given the possibility that, since New York City is so bloody
crowded, that girl might not be me.)

Coming soon in Chapter Four:
Finally, enter Xander (and possibly Jesse); and enter and exeunt Mr. and Dr.
Rosenberg.
Update drafts will be posted first to my LiveJournal at
www.livejournal.com\users\amazonziti . (Reverse the \'s to get there.)

* * *

So... What are you thinking right now? The review button's just down and to your
left. Much obliged. :)

The End?

You have reached the end of "One Whole Star" – so far. This story is incomplete and the last chapter was posted on 22 May 06.

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