Dawn sat bolt upright, breathing heavily, sweat cooling on her skin. The nightmare faded from her minds eye but the fear and horror that came with it didn’t fade as easily.
It had been a week since she’d made that choice, since she had first heard those voices calling, pleading for help, and every night since she had woken from nightmares. They were never the same. But they had a similar vein running through them. Fear, betrayal, death. Every night she was killed. And every morning she woke with that same feeling of dread.
She couldn’t be sure the dreams were real. Her gut reaction was that she was experiencing the deaths of those who had fallen to Voldemort’s reign, or had fallen to his evil reign. Her head said she could be making the whole thing up.
But it was too real to really think that.
The sun was already beginning its ascent into the heavens, no point staying in bed
, she thought.
She pushed the bedcovers back and stood. She let out a yelp of surprise when she felt her legs give way beneath her. She fell to the ground with a thump. Last nights dream had taken more out of her than she had originally thought. She struggled back onto the bed and lay there for a moment, eyes closed, trying not to see visions of people in robes dieing in a flash of green light.
“You ok?” Harry asked, three days since he’d shown up in her room out of the shadows and she still wasn’t used to having a boy, dead or not, in her room.
She nodded, eyes pinched shut to keep back the tears.
“That was a bad one, wasn’t it?”
She nodded again, it hurt to talk yet. It wasn’t just the dreams though. This would be her last night sleeping in her own bed, and that had only hit her now, in the fevered aftershock of the nightmare.
“Those poor people! Tortured!” She gasped. “How could anyone do that?”
There was no reply.
He wasn’t looking at her. He wasn’t really looking at anything.
“Harry?” She would have reached out to him but her hand would just go straight through him and she couldn’t handle that right now.
“You knew them didn’t you? The wizards I dreamt about last night?” While he didn’t dream with her, since he didn’t sleep, he still saw them in his own way. Just another aspect of the bond that would tie him to her until either she or Voldemort died.
He shook his head.
“Their son. I went to school with him. He was only a baby when they were tortured by Voldemort’s followers looking for information. They lost their minds.” He said blankly. “They don’t even recognise him. And you know… For the first four years I knew him I never even bothered to ask why he had grown up with his Grandmother, or why he never mentioned his parents.” If he could have cried he would have.
“People just assume you don’t want to talk about it.” She said to him.
“Do you?” He asked carefully.
She shrugged again.
“I’m getting used to not talking about it.” She looked away. “They don’t want to listen.”
“I’ll listen.” Harry told her gently. She smiled and glanced away from his eyes, so honest and compassionate. She took a breath and started talking, about how she and her mum used to stay up late and drink hot chocolate, “with those little marshmallows”, waiting for Buffy to come home, or when the three used to rent out stupid movies for a laugh, or Buffy’s 17’th birthday when all they’d had was a cupcake and they’d just cuddled and watched the flame burn out.
Harry listened and watched, wishing he could put his arms around her and hold her as she cried, remembering all the happy times with her mother and sister, before her mother had gotten sick, before the slayer.
Downstairs Spike sat with his head cocked to the ceiling. Willow glanced at him and then up and towards Dawns room.
“She talking to herself again?”
He nodded, looking guilty. He never told Willow or even Tara what Dawn talked about when she was alone in her room, but he could never stop himself listening.
Part of it was that he was genuinely worried about the ‘bit, as he liked to call her. But another part of him, the part he didn’t like to confess to, was curious. He wanted to hear her stories about Buffy, about Buffy before he’d meet her, about the side of her she had never allowed him to see very often, but often enough for him to fall in love with her.
Willow was in the kitchen with Tara talking about Dawn and this new development so he leaned his head back again, closed his eyes and listened. As Dawn spoke, he could see her
in front of him, moving - fighting or dancing, it was all the same to him, and he had always loved to watch her move.
Willow had baked cookies and was now sitting on the end of her bed offering them with a glass of milk. Dawn knew trouble when she saw it. But she accepted the cookies with a smile and took a bite while she waited for whatever it was Willow was going to come out with.
It took a lot of throat clearing for Willow to take the plunge.
“We- ah… Tara and I, I mean… We’re worried… about you. You barely leave your room lately. I know things have been hard for you… for all of us lately, since-” She looked away awkward. “But you were doing so well. And now…” She hesitated.
Dawn froze. They couldn’t possibly know about Harry could they? But only she could see him, right? She looked over to the window where he stood, gazing out the window, trying to ignore the conversation going on behind him. Willow followed her gaze for a moment.
“Dawn?” She looked down at the bedspread, then back up again. “You’ve been talking to yourself.”
It was a statement of fact, not a question. Dawn was shocked.
“Spike could hear you.” A hint of pink coloured Willows cheeks as if she were confessing some dirty little secret. Dawn didn’t know what to say or where to look.
“Dawn-” Willow took her hand, gave it a squeeze. “You can talk to us.”
She wanted to, she really did. But she shook her head. They would try to stop her or worse, try to help. They would get hurt because of her again. Tara was only beginning to get over it. And Xander… Xander would never get over the loss of Buffy. Anya had been over to the house three times in the last two weeks looking for help because she couldn’t get through to him.
“It’s ok, Willow. I’m ok.” She took her hand back. Willow looked downcast as she left the room, which made Dawn feel even more guilty, over what she’d done. Over what she had to do. Dawn could barely swallow because of the lump in her throat.
She hugged her pillow to her chest and bit her tongue against the tears. She could almost feel the bed sink where Harry sat beside her.
“You don’t have to go.” He told her. But he was lying. She had made her choice. And she wouldn’t go back on that. She couldn’t. Even while she was awake now she could almost hear their voices, calling to her. No longer pleading with her. But like a siren song, they were drawing her to them. Dawn knew she would go mad if she couldn’t do anything to lay these voices at rest.
“I have to. I have to help them and I can’t do that from here.”
She put the pillow aside and grabbed her book bag, now empty. He never suggested that she tell one of the adults. Because he knew she wouldn’t, or couldn’t put her family in danger again so soon after the whole affair with Glory.
She grabbed clothes at random, packing a few sweaters at Harry’s suggestion, hiding a few knives and what money she had in the layers. She had a few valuables so she could maybe pawn them, her pocket money would only go so far.
She hid the bag under her bed and left the room then. She wanted to spend some time with her family before she left, she didn’t know when she would see them again, if ever.
Dark had fallen about an hour ago and Spike had practically fled from the house. He kicked a can as he walked down the street. The sound of the metal skitting across the ground grated at him but he had way too much pent up energy. He’d been inside too long. He’d hardly left the house these last few weeks, needing to be near the Dawn, to make sure she was safe. But it felt good to be out, be part of the night. Even if his most fearsome activities tonight consisted of beating up a drinks can.
But he found other entertainment soon enough. He joined a poker game and blatantly cheated to pick a fight which cheered him up immensely. But still he was back at the house before the night was done. Wouldn’t do for the sun to rise and trap him from his girl.
He lay on the sofa listening to the quiet noises that were the sound of home. The gentle sighing of the house settling. The sound of the branches as they brushed the windows. The heartbeats that both tortured at the demon in him and soothed his more human nature.
All of a sudden he jumped. He fell out off the sofa and rushed up the stairs, where was the third heartbeat? He ran past the master bedroom, down the hall to Dawns room.
He shoved the door open and let it bang against the wall, uncaring.
The room was empty.
The bed was made.
He sniffed, her scent was old, stale.
She’d been gone for hours.
His bellow of rage woke the couple in the next room.
I'll be continuing this story as a series. Don't worry it won't be long before I have the next chp up.