Burn for Me
Sequel to: "A Blaze of Glory" & "Fire & Ice - An Educational Introduction"
Author: CanadaB (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Pairing: Willow/Draco & Faith/Blaise
Disclaimer: I only wished I had any right to any of these characters or world. But, I don't. They belong to Joss and J.K. All praise goes to them.
Distribution: You're welcome to it, just let me know where it ends up.
Spoilers: After the Buffy series ends, and after everyone graduated from Hogwarts. Written before HBP came out, so there’s no spoilers for it.
Summary: The morning after Willow and Faith met Draco and Blaise.
Author's Notes: I know that in "A Blaze of Glory" I mentioned at the beginning that Faith and Willow knew they were in a wizarding club, but for the sake of this story we're going to pretend that never happened. Okay? Thanks. :-)
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"Red!" Faith yelled as she nearly plowed through the door of the hotel room that she was sharing with Willow.
"What? What's wrong?" Willow asked, sounding panicked, as she rushed out of the bathroom where she had been putting on her make-up. Willow let out a breath she hadn't realized she'd been holding, when she saw the grin on Faith's face. "Do I even want to know?"
"Of course you do!" Faith replies as she bounced on the balls of her feet.
"Fine." Willow sighed. "What is it?"
"I met a real, live wizard last night. Did you know there's such a thing as a Wizarding Society? I'm meeting up with him today. He's going to show me around his world. I'm so excited."
Willow couldn't help but smile at her friend's enthusiasm.
"I'm glad that you're so excited. And to answer your question - until last night I had no idea there was an entire society of magical people. You're not the only one getting a tour today. The guys should be here in about forty-five minutes, so I suggest you get ready."
Faith stared at Willow blankly. "What guys?"
Willow rolled her eyes at the Slayer. "Blaise and Draco. You do remember Blaise don't you?" Willow smirked.
"Of course I remember Blaise. How could I not? He's the first guy that I've met that could keep up with me. And the things that boy could do with his wand." Faith raised her eyebrow suggestively.
"I don't even want to know which wand you're talking about." Willow turned and headed back into the bathroom to finish getting ready.
"Good. I wasn't planning on telling you," Faith replied as she too headed into the bathroom. Faith quickly stripped and got into the shower. "So Red," she yelled over the pounding water. "How was your night?"
"Really good, actually; considering my best-fried ditched me for some guy," Willow teased.
"I take it that mini-Spike talked to you."
"Mini-Spike's name is Draco. And yes, he talked to me. That's why he's coming over today to show me around, and maybe even take me to get a wand."
"You handle a wand? Last I heard cauldrons were more your thing." Faith stuck her head out of the shower and grinned mischievously at the red-head.
"Crude, Faith. Very crude." Willow rolled her eyes as Faith ducked back in the shower. "Besides, we've talked about my severe lack of preference." Willow, rather evilly, grinned suddenly as Faith "Eeped!"
"That was really cold, damn it!"
"That was what I was trying for."
Both women laughed and continued to get ready for what was sure to be one of the most eye-opening days of their relatively young lives.
A knock at the door interrupted the giggling of the two occupants. Faith stood up from her spot on the bed and walked over and opened the door. She smirked as she swung the door wider for the two men to enter. Draco entered first and headed straight toward Willow, who was now standing up from a chair by the window.
"Good morning Willow," Draco greeted.
"Morning," she replied. She noticed his jacket slung over his arm. "Am I going to need a jacket?" She asked, indicating his.
"Yes, you will," he answered.
She turned and picked her black denim jacket off the back to the chair opposite the one she'd been sitting in. She was dressed in black jeans that matched her jacket, comfy but stylish black medium-heeled boots, and a dark green top. Draco smiled inwardly at her choice in colors.
He too was dressed in similar fashion - black slacks and a dark green silk shirt with silver buttons.
They turned to tell Faith and Blaise that they were ready to go, only to find the two brunettes snogging against the closed hotel room door.
"Uhem." Both Willow and Draco mock-cleared their throat at the same time. They looked at each other and smiled.
"Faith!" Willow yelled but to no avail. Thinking quickly she yelled. "Vamp!" Faith snapped around in a fighting stance with Blaise tucked behind her. She saw Willow grinning at her and scowled back.
"I'll get you for that Red," Faith mumbled.
"Yeah, yeah. Get your jacket and let's go," Willow said, clearly trying to hold back her laughter.
Faith stalked over to the bed and picked up her mid-length black leather jacket. It matched the low-rise black leather pants that she wore. She also had on black combat-style boots and a blood red tank top.
Blaise (who was wearing black slacks, a white sweater, and a black jacket over his arm as well) helped Faith put on her jacket.
The four left the hotel room and headed out in to the cool Rome morning. The two men had offered their arm to their lady, and so it was that they walked arm in arm through the streets of Rome.
"Where are we going?" Willow asked, barely able to contain her excitement.
"Back to the club. There's a public floo in the back room. From there we'll floo to the Leaky Cauldron in London," Draco replied.
"Flu? You're going to give us a contagious disease?" Faith huffed.
"London?" Willow squeaked at the same time.
Blaise smiled. "Not flu, floo. F-L-O-O. It's a fireplace connection." Faith looked like she wasn't sure which was worse.
"Yes, London," Draco answered Willow's question. "Neither Blaise nor I know our way around Rome well enough to feel comfortable, but we do know out way around Diagon Alley, which is our ultimate destination."
Willow nodded her head. "Makes sense. Sort of."
Faith kept glaring at Blaise the entire way to the club, not sure she wanted to travel by fireplace to London. All too soon for her taste they were at the club. They walked in to the front door and headed straight to the back room where there was a huge fire in an even larger fireplace.
Draco let go of Willow's arm and donned his cloak.
"A cape?" Faith asked incredulously as Blaise also donned his.
"A cloak," Draco replied. "Now we really must do something about your jackets. They will most certainly stand out too much." Draco pulled out his wand and waved it at Willow. Her black denim jacket lengthened and thickened into a beautiful black wool cloak.
Willow ran her fingers over it amazed. "It's the softest wool I've ever touched." Draco grinned knowingly.
Blaise pulled out his wand and pointed it toward Faith.
"Hold on a minute," she spoke up. Blaise stopped mid-swish. "I'm not getting rid of my leather. It's kind of like a trademark." Blaise nodded and swished his wand at her. Her leather jacket instantly became a leather cloak. "Nice." Faith nodded her head in approval.
"Now then," Blaise said. "Draco will go first to show you what to do. Willow, you'll go next, then Faith, then I'll go. That way there's one of us on each end of the floo."
The two women nodded mutely, grateful that the men had obviously thought about this situation. Draco tossed a handful of powder into the roaring fire. Once the flames turned green he stepped in to the fire and said clearly, "Leaky Cauldron." With a swirling flash he was gone. The two women stared wide-eyed at the fireplace.
"You're next Willow," Blaise stated. "Fair warning, you may feel slightly dizzy." Willow just glared at the brunette wizard.
She cautiously tossed a handful of powder into the flames. As soon as they were green she closed her eyes and stepped in to the flames. "Leaky Cauldron," she said clearly but weakly. Willow felt like she'd been sucked into a tornado. She spun and spun until she was suddenly spit out on to a hard stone floor with a loud "Umph!"
"You plan on lying there all day, or are you going to move so that Faith can come through?" A smirking voice asked above her asked.
Willow pulled herself up, ignoring the offered hand of help, and dusted herself off. "Listen up buster," she turned to face him and glared at him. "You might have warned me what that little trip was going to feel like. I feel like I just went three rounds with Glory-the-pissed-off-Hell-God again. And don't you dare get all smirky and patronizing with me mister or I will kick your lilly white ass from here all the way back to Rome!" Her eyes were flashing back and forth from their moss green to black to green to white to green.
Draco took a step back from the thoroughly unhappy witch whose wrath he'd just incurred.
"I apologize Willow," he said, sounding sincere. "But we really should move out Faith's way."
No sooner had Willow taken one step to her left than Faith gracefully dove out of the fireplace and somersaulted easily to her feet.
"Damn, that was fun!" The Slayer exclaimed. "Let's do it again."
"Later," Blaise answered as he stepped out of the fire. "But first, I believe you were promised a tour of the Wizarding World."
Willow and Faith stared dumbfounded as the wall at the back of the Leaky Cauldron resealed itself behind them.
"I'm never going to get used to all of this," Willow muttered.
"Yes you will," Draco reassured her. "Would the two of you like to exchange some of your money in to wizarding money?"
"Uh, yes please," Willow replied.
"This way then." Draco and Blaise led the two Americans toward a large white building that looked like it should've collapsed long ago.
"Do I kill it?" Faith asked Willow as they walked inside the bank and Faith saw a goblin.
"No!" Willow ordered. "No slaying unless attacked."
"Spoil sport," Faith grumbled. Draco and Blaise watched the exchange with curious glances.
Seeing a Malfoy and a Zabini the goblins immediately helped the four young people. Faith and Willow got a much better exchange rate, almost nothing, than they would've if the two men wouldn't have been there.
"So, where too first?" Draco asked the group as they left Gringott's Bank.
"I think we ought to get these lovely ladies their wands," Blaise spoke up first. Willow nodded enthusiastically, while Faith just shrugged.
"Olivander's it is then," said Draco.
The four walked down the fairly busy street. Willow and Faith pointed and asked questions, Blaise and Draco answered, and the general public stopped and stared at two of England's most elitist purebloods walking arm in arm with two Americans.
The bell above the door chimed as the group entered Olivander's.
"Ah, Miss Rosenberg. I was beginning to wonder if I'd ever get to meet you." Willow stared at the . . . person behind the counter.
"How do you know my name?" She asked, shaking her head and bringing herself back to reality. She didn't survive life on the Hellmouth by being distracted by something new.
"It's just this thing he does," Draco whispered in her ear. She shivered at the intimacy of the movement, and the feel of his breath on her skin.
"Let's see if we can find a suitable wand for you Miss Rosenberg," Mr. Olivander said, breaking the moment. He hurried off to the back and brought out a stack of boxes taller than himself.
Over and hour later Willow finally had a wand.
"Most peculiar," Mr. Olivander wondered aloud. "That wand is nine and a half inches of ebony wood with skin from a basilisk. There's only one other wand I've ever sold that was exactly like that. In fact, the skin came from the same basilisk. Don't you find that rather odd, Mr. Malfoy?"
All eyes landed on the blonde. "Rather. And here I thought I was unique and special," he replied in a mock-hurt tone.
"It's the same as yours?" Willow asked.
"Exactly," he replied.
"Now for you Miss Jenkins," Olivander said as he hurried off to the back again.
"Jenkins?" Willow questioned.
Faith shrugged her shoulders. "I took Anya's last name after she died helping save the world. I figured it was the least I could do for her. For a demon she was pretty cool."
Willow nodded and, to Faith it looked like, she wiped a tear from her eye.
"Demon?" Both men said together.
"Long story," both women replied. Everyone laughed at the double unison of the group, the tension of the moment broken.
Mr. Olivander came back in carrying only one box. It was so covered with dust that the color of the box was indistinguishable. "This box has been set aside since just after this store first opened. It was said that only the Chosen One could wield it. Seeing as you are the last called Chosen One, I'd like for you to try."
Faith took the wand and felt a warm tingle rush up her arm. Her whole body felt on fire. The wand itself was much thicker than Willow's had been, and it came to a much sharper point. "A stake," she breathed in awe.
"Exactly," Mr. Olivander concurred. "It's made of thirteen inches of Ash, with a drop of Slayer's blood, a drop of the first vampire's blood and a drop of holy water."
"It's . . . amazing." Faith was near speechless. All four people were gathered around Faith to get a good look at her wand.
"I didn't know you could do magick Faith," Willow said.
"Me either," she replied.
"If I may," Mr. Olivander interrupted. "That wand allows the magical properties that are inherent in Miss Jenkins to be harnessed for magical purposes."
"So, it takes the magick that makes her a Slayer and channels it so that she can do magic?" Willow clarified.
"More or less, yes. She won't be able to do the same kind of spells, most defensive and offensive spells, but she will be able to do some simple charms as well."
"Wicked cool!" Faith exclaimed. "Always wanted to do magick."
Draco and Blaise had been silent through most of the exchange, not understanding what was going on. It was almost like the other three were speaking in some sort of code. It was time to get the girls out of the wand shop so that they could get some answers. The two men looked at each other, nodded, and reached for their respective date.
"We really should be going if you want to see the rest of Diagon Alley today."
"Pay the nice man so that we can go get lunch. I'm starving."
With a few pleasantries exchanged, as well as a substantial amount of money, the small group was out the door and back in the hustle and bustle that is Diagon Alley.
As soon as the door to Olivander's was closed the two men started in on the two American women. Questions and answers were flying so fast that it was difficult to tell who said what.
"What do you mean you can't do magic?"
"Anya was a good demon."
"Saving the world?"
"Why would you kill a goblin?"
"What's a goblin?"
"I tend to kill anything not human."
"Why would Olivander want to meet you?"
"Why did we end up with the same wand?"
"Why do they make identical wands?"
"I don't know."
"I don't know."
"Enough!" Faith yelled, trying to get everyone's attention. Not only were they not accomplishing much in the way of information gathering, they had attracted the attention of quite a large crowd wanting to know what the heirs of Malfoy and Zabini were arguing with these two strange women about.
Blaise, Draco, and Willow all stopped mid-sentence and looked at the Slayer. "How about if we continue this conversation somewhere a little more private?" She suggested.
"Good idea, luv," Blaise agreed. "Let's head over to Florean Fortescue's Ice Cream Parlor and get out of the flow of traffic. We seem to have attracted quite the crowd."
"Good idea," Faith said.
The four head back up the street to the ice cream parlor. Willow and Faith were still amazed at the sights. Faith stopped at a news stand when a movement caught her eye.
"Hey Wills, come check this out." The Slayer indicated toward the picture of the front page of the Daily Prophet. "The pictures move!"
Willow looked at the picture in shock. Her eyes scanned the other publications at the news stand. Her heart pounded in her chest when she saw one particular moving picture.
"I, um, I think I can do you one better Faith," Willow squeaked out. "There's one that not only moves, but we're on the cover of it."
Faith glanced up to where Willow was pointing. Willow felt Draco step up behind her to read what The Quibbler has written about his date and her friend. What was written had Draco and Blaise in total confusion.
"ARE THE HEIRS OF MALFOY AND ZABINI ALREDY SIGNED TO A MARRIAGE CONTRACT UNDER THE NEW MARRIAGE LAW?"
"What new marriage law?" Willow asked Draco, trying to keep any accusation out of her voice. She still hadn't turned away from the picture of the four of them heading into Gringott's together.
"I have no idea," Draco replied sounding half confused, half angry.
Blaise turned to check the headlines of the Daily Prophet.
"NEW MINISTER OF MAGIC PATIL INSTITUTES NEW MARRIAGE LAW."
"Uh, Drake," Blaise stammered out. Draco leaned around Willow to see what had his best friend worked up.
"Damn. Buy the Prophet and I'll get the Quibbler and let's see if we can't figure out what in the bloody hell is going on."
Papers purchased the four continued on the ice cream parlor. Seated at the table Draco and Willow poured over the Quibbler while Blaise and Draco read the Daily Prophet. The four were silent except for the occasional: "damn", "shit", "what the hell", etc.
"We're in some serious trouble mate," Blaise said to Draco as soon as they were all finished reading their respective articles.
"How so?" Draco asked, still not entirely sure what he had read.
"Apparently the new Minister of Magic Patil passed and is now enforcing a new marriage law to help, and I quote 'spread the gene pool' end quote. He spouted some muggle science nonsense about too much inbreeding among the purebloods. So, now, apparently, any half-blood or mudblood that wants to marry a pureblood just has to submit a contract to the ministry. If there is more than one contract submitted the contractee may choose between them within thirty days from the receipt of the first contract." Draco nodded unhappily at the news so far, but motioned for Blaise to continue.
"However, if only one contract is submitted, after thirty days of receipt of said contract it goes in to affect and the two are official and unbreakable betrothed. Once a betrothal is in place, whether by choice or default, it cannot be undone - the couple will wed within six months."
Blaise finished and looked over to his friend expectantly. "Well then," Draco said after a moment of thought. "Maybe the article in the Quibbler is the best thing that could happen. If everyone thinks we're already contracted, no one will send in a contract and we can stay single until WE choose to wed."
"Not a bad plan," Blaise agreed. "But once everyone realizes that we're not planning weddings every father with a single daughter will be sending in contracts."
Faith and Willow continued to listen to the conversation, neither having a clue to most of what was being said.
"That still buys us a little time to come up with a plan. Not to mention that we'll be back in Rome, so it will take even longer for people to notice we're not betrothed to anyone," Draco stated.
Blaise nodded his head in agreement. Blaise raised his head at a sudden commotion outside the window to the parlor. He shook his head as Harry Potter was thronged by women. Matters were made even worse for the war hero as a near flock of owls headed his direction. Apparently being a war hero meant that you got first choice in the women.
"Poor Potter," Blaise said. "I bet Weasly's dealing with just about the same thing. What with them being war heroes and all."
"And what are we, chopped liver?" Draco asked sounding offended. "We're war heroes too, you know. At least one of them has the mudblood Granger to get him off the hook."
"You know as well as I do that Hermione is better than those two combined, even if she is a mudblood. If it wasn't for her we never would've won the war. Potter may have delivered the fatal blow, but she made sure that Voldemort would stay down this time."
"Um, what's a mudblood?" Willow asked timidly.
"It means dirty blood," a voice behind them spoke, startling them all out of their conversation.
"Granger," Draco nodded in greeting.
"Malfoy. Zabini." Hermione greeted in return. Blaise nodded his head as well.
"What's dirty blood mean?" Faith spoke up.
"Mudblood is a crude slang reference to any one that's muggle-born. It means that your blood isn't pure, like that of Malfoy and Zabini here," Hermione stated as she pulled up a chair and sat in between Draco and Blaise, facing Willow and Faith. She held her hand out over the table. "Pardon my manners. I'm Hermione Granger."
"Willow Rosenberg." Willow shook her hand.
"Faith Jenkins." Faith too shook her hand.
"The Americans everyone is talking about today. You two have caused quite a stir."
"How so?" Willow asked, curious but somehow at ease with Hermione.
"Everyone's speculation whether or not you're purebloods, and if not are you going to put in contracts on these two. Or if you are, are you all going to get married quickly to avoid having to marry below your stations."
"People are wondering all that about us?" Faith question. Hermione nodded her head.
"What about you Granger?" Blaise asked. "You going to petition for anyone?"
"Actually, I am," she said. "I've been dating someone since I graduated two years ago and we decided that this would be a perfect time to get married."
"Who? Potter? Weasel?" Draco asked. Things between the Gryffindor and the Slytherins that fought with Dumbledore had mellowed out dramatically, but something’s never change.
"Actually, no. He was a Ravenclaw. Roger Davies."
"He's a nice guy from what I know. Smart too," Blaise reassured her. "If you want us to threaten him in to behaving for you we will." Draco shrugged his shoulders in agreement.
"Thank you both, but I don't think that will be necessary. He's been a perfect gentleman the entire two years we've been together. Well, I'll leave you all to your afternoon. It was wonderful to meet the two of you," she smiled at Faith and Willow. "Good luck with everything. Bye."
Everyone at the table waved at Hermione left the ice cream parlor.
"She seems nice," Willow said.
"Now that she's not being the ever-annoying know-it-all, she is," Draco replied, earning himself a scowl from his date. "What?"
"I used to be a know-it-all bookworm, thank you very much," she informed him.
"That may be, but you're certainly not annoying. If you were I wouldn't be spending my time with you," he retorted smoothly.
Blaise turned and appraised Faith. "Oh no, I didn't even graduate from high school, so I'm definitely not a know-it-all. But Willow here did help me get my G.E.D. so at least I have a high school diploma."
"Why didn't you graduate high school?" Blaise asked.
"I was so busy being a bad-ass rebel teenager and trying not to die that I didn't see much use in school." Faith shrugged it off.
"Trying not to die?" Blaise sounded worried, Draco looked it.
"Tends to happen when you don't have a life expectancy past sixteen years old." Both men's eyes bugged out of their heads.
"You really know how to break someone in slowly, don't you?" Willow teased. Faith laughed.
"Sixteen?" Blaise squeaked. "Why only sixteen?"
Willow held up her hand to forestall any more explanation by Faith. "Let me. Please. Have you ever heard of the Vampire Slayer?" Both men shook their heads. "Well then, let's start at the beginning. Vampires are real. Demons, werewolves, etc. are real. There's one girl in all the world chosen to stand and fight against the forces of darkness. She's imbued with special powers to fight against these forces. Speed, power, healing, hearing, those kinds of things. You with me so far?"
Both men nodded mutely, not sure they were really following or not. Willow continued anyway. "So, to make a long story short, Faith is the last called Vampire Slayer. Or as the wand guy said, the last called Chosen One."
Everyone say silent as the men tried to digest the information Willow had just given them. Draco was the first to regain the power of speech.
"Well I'd say this has official been the strangest day off my life. First I find out that I may have no choice in who I marry, and that even if I do have a choice it may not be one I like. Then I find out that my best-friend is dating a mythical vampire killer. Anything else you'd care to tell us I'm still so stunned I can barely see straight?" Draco stared at Willow daring her to say something else that would break the small thread that was holding on to his sanity.
"Um, not right now," Willow answered. "Maybe later when you're less likely to loose your marbles."
"Do I even want to ask?" Blaise ventured.
"Not right now you don't," Faith answered.
Both men nodded, still trying to take in everything.
"I'm just glad that we're not like Potter and have women and owls flocking us today," Blaise said, trying to break the tension at the table.
No sooner had the words left his mouth than six owls head straight for their table and dropped of three letters in front of each guy before flying back out of the parlor.
"You just had to say it, didn't you Blaise," Draco huffed. "You just had to say it."
Willow and Faith couldn't help but giggle at the outraged and helplessly dumbfounded looks on Draco's and Blaise's faces, respectively. Blaise was still sputtering indigently when Draco ripped open his three contractual options, vaguely thinking that at least he had options. He read the names of all three would-be wives before speaking.
"Lisa Turpin, a Ravenclaw; Megan Jones, a Hufflepuff," he spit out the word with disdain, "and one name that sounds vaguely familiar but I can't place it."
Draco lightly smacked Blaise on the shoulder to bring him out of his thought-filled stupor.
"Oh, sorry." He hurriedly opened his three offers and read the names. He sat staring at the third letter he opened with a different kind of confusion on his handsome face. "How did Salem Academy graduates find out so fast?"
"What do you mean?" Draco asked, sounding perplexed.
"This one is from an American witch named Sarah Hoffman. Since the only American school is Salem Academy it would stand to reason she was an alumni."
"Don't know how they found out so fast," Draco replied shrugging his shoulders. "Who else offered?"
"A Gryffindor named Lavender Brown and Elenor Branstone, a Hufflepuff."
"What is it with Hufflepuffs wanting to marry us Slytherins?" Draco asked rhetorically.
"Okay. Time out." Faith held up her hand. Everyone turned to look at her. "I have so many questions that I don't even know where to begin."
"What's up with the owls?" Willow broke in, unable to contain her question.
"Owl post," Draco answered. "We use owls to deliver our mail." He heaved a long, deep sigh. "Next question."
"What are Huff 'N Puff, Raven's Claw, and Griffith Moor? Other schools?" Faith asked.
"It's Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and Gryffindor, luv," Blaise replied. "On a student's first day at Hogwarts, our alma mater, they're sorted in to one of four houses. That house literally becomes your family for the next seven years. Each house has a separate dorm within the castle, points were won and lost by each student for their house, and at the end of each year the house with the most points won the house cup."
Faith and Willow nodded, following so far. Willow questioned, "What determined which house you got placed into?"
Draco took over the explanation. "The Sorting Hat was placed upon your head, and based upon the qualities it found it placed you in one of the four houses." Draco help up his hand to forestall the next question he knew was coming.
"Each house was known for different traits. Hufflepuff for loyalty, Gryffindor for courage, Ravenclaw for intelligence, and Slytherin for ambition. And before you ask, Blaise and I were both in Slytherin. Slytherins hated Gryffindor, had a grudging respect for Ravenclaw, and barely tolerated Hufflepuffs."
"So the fact that Hufflepuffs or Gryffindor willingly submitted a contract to marry a Slytherin is rather . . . curious, to say the least," Blaise informed the two women listening with rapt attention.
"The very least," grumbled Draco.
"Sounds like you would've been in Ravenclaw and me in Slytherin with our boys her," Faith said, nudging Willow.
"I'm not so sure about that. Not with the little power trip that I went on," Willow rebutted.
"Good point," Faith acquiesced.
"What power trip?" Draco asked, somewhat calmer now that he had something to take his mind off his impending nuptials.
Willow took a deep breath and looked Draco straight in the eye. "Remember last night when you asked if I'd delved in to the Dark Arts?" Draco nodded as Blaise gasped. "Well the story goes like this."
Willow laid her entire past out there for these two wizards she and Faith had just met. As soon as Willow finished her story, before either man could ask her any questions, Faith launched in to her own story. She, too, bared her soul to these two men.
Neither woman knew why, but they knew that they could trust these two men. The feeling that more than a budding friendship was on the line permeated the air as Faith and Willow waited for Blaise and Draco to process what they'd been told and react.
Silence weighed heavy at the table in Fortescue's Ice Cream Parlor. Willow and Faith sat still as stone, barely breathing for fear of their dates' reaction go their life stories they'd just told. Looks of confusion, hurt, betrayal, pity, and finally anger settled over the two British wizards' faces.
"Please tell me that the two of you are joking," Draco ground out. "Because I really don't need anymore stress in my life right now."
The two American women shook their heads, confirming they were not joking.
"How dare you." Blaise's voice may have been quiet, but the steely intensity behind it spoke volumes. "It's a damn good thing that the Dark Lord is dead or else I'd worry that the two of you would help him."
"Hang on just a minute," Faith spoke up. "First of all, Red and I were just trying to be honest with you. The two of you kept looking at us like we were your get-out-of-jail-free cards so we thought you'd like to know exactly who and what we are." Willow nodded her head in agreement with the Slayer.
"And secondly, we play second fiddle to no one," Faith ground our menacingly.
"Oh, that's very reassuring," Draco drawled sarcastically. "So instead of worrying about you helping the next Lord Voldemort, we have to worry that you ARE the next Voldemort!"
People in the ice cream parlor were all starting to stare at them, most flinching at Draco's use of the Dark Lord's name not once but twice.
"I have no idea who this Voldemort guy is - I'm assuming he's the latest Big Bad to come through Wizardtown - but Faith I and I have spent our lives fighting against each and every Big Bad that the Powers That Be have see fit to throw our way," Willow launched off in to a tirade.
"Yeah, we both had a lapse in judgment at one point. But you live your life where every day, and especially night, is literally life-or-death, and then you tell me that you never make a bad choice in the heat of the moment that you regret and have to live with until your dying day." Willow shook with barely controlled rage, and she was just getting started.
"You've faced one evil wizard and you think you know what real evil is. Let me tell you about facing evil. Between us, Faith and I have fought ancient and/or sadistic master vampires; Dracula, Kakistos, Spike, and Angelus to name a few. We've fought and walked away from angry Hell Gods that wanted to gut our friend in order to return to her world, and in the process unleash literal hell on Earth. Each and every one of our friends has tried to kill us at one time or another. We've lost more friends and allies that I can count. Faith's been in a coma after having her own knife sliced through her stomach and falling off a building onto a moving truck. And we've fought, and soundly beat, the First Evil. And once again I mean First Evil literally.
"So, your Voldemort doesn't even produce an eye blink from us, nor is he much of a blip on our radar. And until you have gone through even half of what we have, don't you DARE judge or condemn us!"
Willow's fragile grip on her rage shattered, as sis the window behind her, as her eyes turned completely black. Faith didn't even flinch as the window exploded, she was too busy trying to reign in her own anger. The two wizards, as everyone else in or around the ice cream parlor, jumped with fright.
"If and when you two ever pull your heads out of your asses and you realize there is more to the world than just what you see, come find us and we'll talk," Faith spat out through clenched teeth. "But until then Red and I are outta here." Faith stood up and taking Willow by the hand, led her out the door to a still panicked Diagon Alley, trying to shield her from curious on-lookers.
"Shut your eyes Red," Faith whispered as they exited the ice cream parlor. Faith led her across the street to a narrow alley. There she leaned Willow against the wall, then proceeded to take out her own anger on the brick wall.
After a few minutes, Willow had regained control of herself and her emotions. The first thing she noticed was that Faith was pounding a huge hole in to the side of the building. The second thing she noticed was how bloody the Slayer's hand was.
"Faith," Willow spoke so softly that if it wasn't for Slayer hearing Faith wouldn't have heard her. Faith turned to her friend to make sure she was okay.
"I'm better now," Willow replied. "Thanks for getting me out of there."
"No worries Red," Faith said. "It's not like I wanted to spend any more time with those two jackasses."
Willow nodded. She took Faith's bloodied fist and waved her hand over it. Faith's hand was healed and the pain was gone.
"That's what I'm here for."
The two women chuckled and gave each other half-hearted smiles.
"Let's finish checking this place out," Faith suggested.
"Sounds good to me," Willow answered. "Where to first?" She asked as she and Faith left the alley and emerged in to a now calm Diagon Alley. The window to the ice cream parlor had been repaired, but there was no sign of Blaise nor Draco inside the parlor.
"Let's head right and work our way back up the other side," the Slayer offered.
"Lead the way."
The two headed off, despite earlier events, still excited to see Diagon Alley and the Wizarding world.
The two women had already spent five hours shopping and exploring. They each had bags of goodies that they'd accumulated. They were starting to tire, and they were definitely hungry, seeing as it was after five o'clock London time. They'd managed to cover most of Diagon Alley. They even bought a beautiful black owl, so that no matter where they ended up they could keep in touch with each other. They'd also joined several mailing lists at various stores and picked up a few catalogs as well.
"Red, I need food," Faith whined, sounding exhausted.
"Me too. Look, there's a little cafe." The two women made their way in and found a seat out of the patio.
"Ah, my feet thank you, Wills," Faith teased.
"If yours hurt, can you imagine how mine feel?" The women laughed amiably, finally able to let go of the anger from earlier in the day.
A shadow fell across their table.
"I was wondering if I might join you ladies."
The two women looked up to see an old man in long, brightly colored robes and a matching tall, pointy hat. With his long, white beard and a twinkle in his ever-knowing eyes, he was the epitome of a stereotypical wizard. He looked harmless enough, but there was such power radiating form him that even Faith, the non-witch, could feel it.
"Uh, sure," Willow stammered. The man sat, to Willow's right and to Faith's left, so that he faced the still bustling street.
"Allow me to introduce myself," the old wizard said. "My name is Albus Dumbledore. I am Headmaster at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry." Both women gave Albus their undivided attention. "Oh, what a beautiful owl. What's her name?" He petted the black owl through the bars of her cage.
"Athena," Faith supplied. "After the Greek Goddess."
"Her totem animal was the owl," the Headmaster supplied. "Yes, that makes perfect sense."
"The Headmaster looked back and forth between the two women as they sat in silence for a moment.
"I was in town today because I was informed there was an accident over at Fortescue's earlier today. Apparently the front window exploded." He looked over his half-moon spectacles at a blushing Willow. "Lucky for you, Miss Rosenberg, no one was hurt." Willow ducked her head in shame.
"It wasn't her fault, sir," Faith defended.
"Yes, Miss Jenkins, I am quite aware of the circumstances surrounding the incident. You will find no judgment from me regarding this, or any previous, incident." Albus turned to look at the Slayer. "I know, better than most, the tempers of Misters Malfoy and Zabini." Faith nodded her head in agreement, and Willow dared to raise her head again to face the aging wizard.
" I neither condone nor agree with their actions and re-actions, but I do, however, understand them. I believe they were both informed that they must choose a bride within the next thirty days; were they not?" Both women nodded. "A bride not specifically of their choosing?" Again, the women nodded.
"You must understand how Misters Malfoy and Zabini were, unfortunately, raised. What they were told today goes against everything they were both raised to believe. And to be told that you have absolutely no choice in the matter only makes it that much worse." Albus looked back and forth between his companions. "Please don't think I am excusing or defending them, for I disagree whole-heartedly with how their parents brought them up." Albus placed a hand on each of the girls'.
"But I will commend them for going against their upbringing and turning against Lord Voldemort. Both of their fathers were Death Eaters, loyal followers of the Dark Lord, and were killed in the final battle. They are both, now, man of the house, as it were." Faith and Willow looked stunned at this revelation.
"Both wizards," Albus continued, "are extremely wealthy. And I would venture to guess that most of the reason they were propositioned today was because of their fortunes and social status. But you two - muggle-born Americans - had no idea who they were when you met them in Rome last night." Seeing their shocked looks, the Headmaster chuckled.
"Don't look so surprised. For one thing, you two are the talk of the town - everyone wondering who you are and if you've landed two of Wizarding Britain’s most eligible bachelors. And for another thing, I pulled Misters Zabini and Malfoy aside after the window incident to question them about it. They told me everything. And the parts they left out told quite a story too." Albus winked knowingly at Faith, who burst out laughing.
"You are too cool," Faith complimented. "If I'd have had principals like you when I was growing up, I'd have probably stayed in school."
Albus smiled at the Slayer. "I shall take that as quite a compliment, Miss Jenkins. Thank you."
"Faith. Call me Faith. Every time you say Miss Jenkins I want to turn around to see if Anya is around," she said.
"Of course. Faith it is. You both may call me Albus."
"I'm Willow. Um, Albus?"
"I was wondering, since you're a teacher and all, if you could teach Faith and I to use our new wands," she asked nervously.
The Headmaster smiled warmly at the two Americans. "Alas, I am afraid it is not my place. I believe I will leave your magical education in the hands of two very capable wizards." Albus pointed with his head toward the far side of the street where Draco and Blaise were heading their way.
"I bid you both a wonderful night and ask that you come visit me at Hogwarts if you ever need anything." With a pop, the Headmaster was gone.
Willow and Faith barely noticed. All their attention was focused on the two wizards that had just reached their table, and towered over them with unreadable faces.
Willow wandered down the hall toward the main part of the manor, heading for the dining room. It had been three weeks since that fateful day in Diagon Alley, and she had been staying at Malfoy Manor since then, with Faith staying with Blaise at Zabini Manor. Willow thought back to how this had all come about.
The four young people were motionless, the eerie silence making them uncomfortable.
"Uh, may we sit down?" Blaise asked tentatively. The women nodded ever so slightly. Once seated the men looked back and forth from each other to the women sitting with them, unsure how to proceed.
"Look," Draco finally managed to find his voice. "This isn't easy for either of us, but we're sorry about how we acted earlier." Blaise nodded his head, and both men looked pleadingly at the woman that had been their date earlier that day. "We understand now that you both were simply trying to be honest with us, for which we are grateful, regardless of how we behaved before."
"Please understand," Blaise picked up where Draco left off. "If it had been a normal morning, I have no doubt that we would have been able to take everything you said in stride. Unfortunately for us all, it was not a normal morning. We freely admit we handled the entire situation horribly, and we came here to ask for your forgiveness."
"Please Willow." Draco sounded like he'd never apologized before, which wouldn't have surprised Willow. "I've never been any good at asking for forgiveness, I've never had to be," he confirmed her suspicions. "But for whatever reason, I can't abide the thought of you being upset with, and not talking to, me."
"I supposed I could have handled things better myself," Willow supplied. "I'm sure that blowing up the front window of the ice cream parlor was completely unnecessary." Everyone chuckled at that. "I should also apologize to you for my lousy timing and lack of tact and understanding."
She looked searchingly in to Draco's grey eyes; what she found was regret mingled with relief. She knew in that instant that everything would be okay, and that nothing would ever be the same.
"Morning," she chirped as she entered the large dining room. Draco looked up from where he was reading the Daily Prophet at the head of the long table.
"Good morning, luv," he returned, standing to greet the redhead. He wrapped her in his arms. "Have I mentioned today how glad I am that you're here and that we're getting a chance to really know each other?" He kissed the top of her head.
"I think you just did." Willow giggled at what had become their morning ritual since she started staying with him. "I'm really glad to be here too Draco."
Willow hugged him so much tighter suddenly that Draco looked down at her concerned.
"You okay Wills?" He'd taken to calling her by her nickname on her second day at the Manor.
"Yeah, sure. No problem. No problem at all. What makes you think there's any sort of problem?" Her words rushed out in a single breath.
"Gee, I wonder why I think there might be something wrong," he drawled out sarcastically.
She smiled sheepishly. "Sorry. Just have a lot on my mind."
He nodded in understanding. He, too, had a lot on his mind. He only had one week left to decide which witch he would marry. He'd received a few more offers over that last three weeks, but he just couldn't bring himself to consider any of them. The only contract that he wanted to seriously consider was non-existent.
He knew that if Willow submitted an offer he would agree in a heartbeat, just as Blaise would with Faith. But alas, neither woman had so much as brought up the topic of marriage, let alone submitted a contract for one.
He broke from his musings as she pulled out of his arms.
"I just came to tell you that I'm meeting Faith in Hogsmeade. We're going to spend that day shopping and sight-seeing."
"Want some company?" He asked, reluctant to let her out of his sight. After next week he would be engaged to another woman, so he wanted to spend as much time with her before that as possible.
"Naw, that's okay," she replied, not looking him in the eye. "I know you've let a ton of work slide since I've been here, so I'll let you have today to catch up." She stood on her tip-toes and kissed his cheek. As she hurried out of the room she yelled back, "I'll be back for dinner. Bye."
Draco stood and watched her leave, knowing that he would have to let go the angel that had worked her way in to his now breaking heart.
He thought, a plan beginning to form in his Slytherin mind. He strode off to the floo to head over to Zabini Manor.
Draco Malfoy had a plan.
The Three Broomstickes was rather deserted, seeing as it was nine-thirty on a Monday morning. Faith was already sitting at a table, looking more nervous than Willow could ever recall her looking.
"I can't do this anymore, Red," Faith said before Willow has even made it to the table.
"Can't do what anymore?" Willow asked as she sat down across from the fidgeting Slayer.
"Pretend that I can just walk away from Blaise in a week." Willow couldn't remember ever seeing Faith so passionate about a man, let alone a relationship with said man.
Any doubts that Willow had about her plan flew out the window seeing the despondent Slayet across from her. Faith continued on, "He's the first man that could keep up with me, and I don't just mean in bed. Although he's fanfuckingtastic in the sack." Faith's face lit up, Willow laughed. "He makes me feel alive and, well, real. He's been teaching me how to use my wand, and it's been really cool. He doesn't treat me like I'm dumb for not knowing. And he says that he loves the fact that I don't care about his money or his family name." Faith dropped her arms on to the table. "Afinkamuofhem."
"What was that?" Willow giggled.
Faith slowly raised her head, looking utterly beaten. "I think I might love him."
"Oh," Willow drawled out. "Well then, I think you should do something about it."
"What? Bludgeon him over the head until he feels the same way?"
"Faith." Willow sounded like she was trying to teach a child why it shouldn't touch fire. "Why would you have to leave Blaise in a week?"
"He'll be engaged to some dumb witch-chick who submitted a marriage contract for him. He's gotten five more, ya' know!" Faith was starting to sound like a petulant child.
"There is a way to stop that."
Faith focused on Willow with all seriousness. "How?"
"Submit a contract yourself," Willow answered very matter-of-factly.
Faith's face lit up, as if she were just handed a brand new, shiny sword. "How?"
"That's why I wanted to come to Hogsmeade. I thought we could walk up to Hogwarts and talk to Albus. He did say that if we needed anything we could go see him."
Faith almost knocked the table over, she did knock her chair over, she jumped up so fast. "What are we waiting for? Let's go!"
Willow laughed as Faith pulled her out of The Three Broomsticks and in to the bright morning light. The Slayer was close to running as she dragged the redhead along behind her.
"Faith, calm down!" Willow was finally able to stop laughing long enough to yell at the over-excited Slayer.
"I don't wanna calm down. I wanna talk to Albus," Faith pouted.
"So do I, but I'd like to have my arm still attached to my body when we get there." Faith looked like she'd been scolded, which in a teasing way she had been. "It's only a twenty minute walk. Can we please enjoy it, and the sights, at a leisurely pace?" Willow pleaded with her friend. Faith dramatically "humphed", and hung and nodded her head.
Willow hooked her arm with Faith's and started up the street towards Hogwarts - home the wizards with all the answers: Albus Dumbledore.
Faith would never admit it out loud, but the scenery really was beautiful and she was glad that she'd been able to fully appreciate it.
The grounds of Hogwarts were relatively quite. Off to the far side of the castle there was a class being held by a small hut. Willow guessed it was Care of Magical Creatures class, based on what Draco had told her.
No one noticed the two women as they made their way up the hill to the front door. Faith pushed the heavy door open and the two walked in.
"I can't believe they went to school in a castle," Faith breathed out, looking around in awe.
"No kidding. All I got was a lousy Hellmouth," Willow retorted. Both women laughed, the dramatic atmosphere of the moment broken.
"Um, how are we supposed to find him in this very large castle, Red?" Faith asked rather practically.
"I believe, dear Faith, that he finds you."
Both women turned at the sound of the voice to see Albus walking down a set of stairs on their left.
"Albus!" Both girls greeted the Headmaster.
"Hello my dears," he replied, smiling at their casual greeting and infectious enthusiasm. "What brings the two of you to Hogwarts?"
"We were hoping you might be able to help us, or at least give up some advice," Willow told him.
"I will certainly of my best. Let's adjourn to my office. Classes are about to let out and the halls will be extremely noisy and crowded."
The two women followed Albus through the school, imaging what it must have been like, for Blaise and Draco, to be a student here.
"Have you been practicing with your wands?" Albus asked conversationally.
"Yup," Faith answered. "The boys have proven to be excellent magical teachers."
"I thought they might," he replied. "So long as they were properly motivated."
"They weren't good students?" Willow asked.
"Oh, no, they were very good students. They both graduated in the top five percent of their year. It's just that they were both something of troublemakers."
"I could see that," Faith responded.
"Here we are." A stone gargoyle moved to reveal a rotating staircase. All three ventured up the stairs and entered Albus' office.
He motioned for the two women to sit in the chairs facing his large desk.
"Lemon drop?" He offered. Both women grabbed one and popped it in their mouth. He smiled, his eyes twinkling even more that usual.
"Now, how may I help you?"
When Willow returned to Malfoy Manor that evening it was with mixed emotions. She and Faith, with Albus' help, had just submitted marriage contracts for Draco and Blaise. But not she was having second thoughts. Not that she didn't want to marry Draco, she did. What she was unsure of were his feelings towards her.
*What if he doesn't want to marry me? What if I'm just a distraction he'll happily set aside next week? What if . . .* As Willow walked through the Manor toward the dining room, all manner of negative and self-doubting thoughts ran through her head. By the time she reached the oak doors that separated her from Draco she had managed to work herself up in to a state just short of a panic attack.
*That's enough Willow!* the voice berating her inside her own head sounded, uncannily, just like Faith. *What's the worst that could happen? He says no. No real loss; you hadn't planned on marrying him when you met him less than a month ago. For pete's sake, you haven't even slept with the man. Besides, if he wasn't at least somewhat interested in you he never would've asked you to stay here with him. So get a grip on yourself and act like the badass witch that you are.*
She took a deep, reassuring breath, then pushed open the oak doors to the dining room. Every particle of air in her lungs seemed to instantly disappear at the sight in front of her. Every flat surface of the room held a lit candle, and there was a roaring fire in the hearth. She could also make out the quiet strains of soft music playing in the background.
He name was spoken so softly, so reverently, she almost didn't hear it. She looked over as the man that had filled her thoughts today stepped out of the shadows at the far end of the room and cautiously made his way to the stunned redhead.
It was more of a breath than an actual word.
"I hope you like it," he whispered as he reached her and wrapped her in his arms, never wanting to let her go. *And after tonight, hopefully, I'll never have to.*
"It's beautiful," she replied. "What's the occasion?"
"You are," he answered in a husky voice. He leaned his head down and softly, almost tentatively, touched his lips to hers.
She knew, the instant that his lips touched hers, that everything would turn out perfectly. She wrapped her arms tighter around him, pulling him closer to her. What had started as a soft, innocent kiss quickly deepened in to something so emotionally intimate and revealing that tears began to silently fall down her face.
"Don't leave me," he whispered, his forehead pressed to hers, when they finally broke the kiss in need of air. His hands cupped her cheeks lightly, lovingly wiping away her tears.
"Never," she breathed her reply, her fingers digging in to his hips. She was sure he'd have bruises later.
"I had the whole night planned out - dinner, music, romance." He chuckled self-depreciatingly. "But every plan I've made flew out the window when you walked through the door." The tone of his voice left no doubt that he was speaking of more than just tonight.
"I know that you don't know much about me or my world, but . . . What I mean is . ." He nearly growled as he stood up straight, arms dropping to wrap around Willow's waist. "Damn, I hate not knowing how to do this. So, I'll just be blunt." He searched her eyes questioningly. When she nodded her head he continued.
"I've always been terrible at showing my emotions, let alone speaking them. I was raised that it was weakness to show emotion. But with you it's different; with you I feel safe. And if I don't swallow my pride and tell and show you how I feel now, I may never get another chance." He shuffled uncomfortably, struggling to find the words he longed to share with the redheaded goddess before him.
"Somehow, in this last month you've managed to burrow yourself so deeply within my heart that I can no longer tell where I end and you begin. I'm not sure I even want to anymore.
"I wish that time were no issue and that I could take all the time necessary to show you what you mean to me. But I must make a choice by the end of this week; a choice in which the option I seek has not been presented to me. But I don't want to settle, ever. I want what I want, and what I want it you. I choose you, Willow. Even though you may not want or choose me, I want - no, I need you to know that I choose you of my own free will."
Willow was speechless. Her heart pounded so hard in her chest she was surprised he couldn't hear it. *He wants me! I didn't make a mistake.* The ghost of a smile on her lips urged Draco to continue. He reached in to his pocket and pulled out a small black box. He popped it open as he knelt on one knee.
"Willow Anne Rosenberg, will you continue to be my sun in the morning and my moon at night - ever guiding my forward in my life? Will you marry me?"
Willow was trembling, Draco was nervous, and the proverbial pin drop could be heard in the flame-embraced room. Words failing her, all Willow could do was nod, as a huge grin spread across her face. To Draco, she lit up the room, not the candles. He stood, wrapping her in his arms, swinging her around and around.
He finally set her down and took her left hand in his and slid the engagement ring on her finger; it sized itself as soon as it was on. It was a wide platinum back with a two karat round-cut diamond set relatively deep in the band. Upon closer inspection she noticed etching on either side of the diamond. On one side there was a dragon sheltering a Willow tree. On the other side there was a Willow tree sheltering a dragon. The symbolism of mutual protection, and the ability to be protected, was not lost on Willow.
"It's perfect," she told him. She pulled him to her to kiss him, but was interrupted by Athena hooting as she flew in to the dining room.
Draco caught the scroll that was dropped at him. He glanced at Willow with both question and hope in his eyes as he opened the rolled parchment. Willow waited with baited breath as Draco read.
"This is where you went today?" Draco asked, sounding both pleased and relieved.
She nodded. "Faith and I had no idea how to go about it, so we went to see Albus. He helped up get it all done today," she informed him.
"Remind me to thank the old man next time I see him." Draco was smiling, not unlike Willow did when he proposed to her.
"Does that mean you'll accept my contract?" She asked cheekily.
He turned from her and walked out of the room. Willow followed, suddenly panicked. She tried, unsuccessfully, to get his attention. She entered his study right behind him. She stood motionless as he leaned over his large mahogany desk. He turned back to her and handed her the marriage contract.
"This is what I think of your offer," he said, suddenly devoid of all emotion.
Willow was stunned. *Didn't he just propose to me? He just seemed happy to have gotten it.* She gently unrolled the parchment, a lone tear streaking down her cheek.
There, on the bottom of the parchment was . . . his signature. Her hand went slack, she barely noticed the parchment rolling itself back up in her hand. She looked up to find a cheeky, arrogant Draco Malfoy standing in front of her.
"Don't you ever," she swatted him with the rolled parchment. "Do," swat, "that," swat, "to me," swat, "again!" Swat.
He grabbed both of her wrists and pulled her flush against him. Her chest heaved with breaths as she tried to regain her composure.
"But you're breath-taking when you're flustered. The perfect blend of vulnerability and power," he whispered to her.
"Big meany," she pouted, sticking her lower lip out. Draco quickly caught her lower lip between his teeth in a gently, playful bite.
"I love you, Willow Rosenberg," he admitted quietly against her mouth.
"And I love you, Draco Malfoy."