Death Shall Have No Dominion
A/N: Sorry for the wait. Now that I have less work, and more time, updates will be coming thick and fast. Well, faster.
Imagine that each separate perspective happens at the same time, and you’ve got yourself a chapter that actually makes sense!
Chapter 19: Death Shall Have No Dominion“Tomorrow night, Buffy will face the Master, and she will die.”
“ Giles, I’m sixteen years old. I don’t wanna die.”
“Shh. Don’t worry about it.”
She brushes her fingers tenderly across his lips and over his cheek. She lays her hand on his cheek and kisses him softly. He returns the kiss, and it becomes more passionate. Behind them the vortex continues to get larger. She breaks off the kiss and looks into his eyes.
“I love you.”
“I love you.”
She touches his lips with her fingers again, hating her life and the decisions she is forced to make.
“Close your eyes.”
Trusting her, he closes his eyes. She tries hard not to start crying, and kisses him again gently. She steps back, draws back her sword and thrusts it into his chest before she has the chance to rethink her actions. His eyes whip open in bewilderment and agony, both of them watching as the sword begins to radiate light. She steps away from him. He reaches out to her and looks down at the sword thrust completely through him. He looks at her imploringly, completely bewildered by this turn of events. She can only stare at the sword protruding from his chest, and slowly steps further back.
Darkness… and pain. An icy chill has blotted out what little sun I’ve found in… where am I again? Who am I?
…“Death is your gift.” It’s as if her body has been dipped in icy water.
“ Death is not a gift. It’s not a gift I want and it’s not a gift I want to give to anyone else.” She is confused as she looks at the First Slayer, resplendent in her war paint and rags, hard from the inside out, and she wonders if this is what lives inside her. She came here for answers, and now she’s not sure if she even knows the question.
“You’re the one that sets me free!” He is gloating, taunting her while his hands squeeze tighter and tighter. “ If you hadn’t come, I couldn’t go.” He leans so close she can smell the death on his lips, whispers, “ Think about that!’
She freezes with fear. The Master waits a moment longer and then bends down and bites her at the base of her neck. He drinks a few sips and lets her go.
She is overcome with dizziness. She falls to her knees, then falls face down into the pool of water. Her hair floats gently on the ripples that her body has created. The ripples fan out until the water is still.
I just want it to stop. I don’t want to see this anymore.
…“Angel, what, what is it? What’s wrong?” She screams, backing away as his face is revealed. Her Angel is a vampire?! “For a hundred years I offered ugly death to everyone I met, and I did it with a song in my heart.”
They’re coming faster now. Flash. Flash. Bleeding into one another like some kind of grotesque movie montage. And I suppose, in a way, that’s what it is. A horrible version of ‘This is My Life’. Flash. Flash flashflashflash.
…“Like I really wanted to stick around after that.”
“Was it me? Was I not good?” She’s crying. Wants to ask him why he’s saying these things.
“It’s what? Bells ringing? Fireworks? A dulcet choir of pretty little birdies? Come on Buffy, it’s not like I’ve never been there before.”
She knows he’s been there before, is reminded every time she sees him move, speak, pretend that he breathes. She always knew her boyfriend was dead, but this? She didn’t know he could be so cruel.
“If Angel achieved true happiness, even just a moment…he would lose his soul.” So I did this… I made him what he is now.
“You can’t do it. You can’t kill me.” She looks at him and in her heart knows that she can. With a warrior’s iron will, she forces back tears.
“Give me time.”
“In the end, you’re always by yourself. You’re all you’ve got. That’s the point.”
She just wants this finished. “You have the right to remain silent…” “The doctor said it was head trauma…” “He’s got your Watcher. Right now he’s probably torturing him.” Mom…I’m a Vampire Slayer. “Buffy this is insane, you need help!”
“If you walk out of this house, don’t even think about coming back!” What choice does she have? She turns and walks away.
“Every day you manage to survive, you’re only partly relieved because you know - it’s just a matter of time. Death is on your heels baby - and, sooner or later, it’s going to catch you. And some part of you wants it. Not only to stop the fear and the uncertainty - but because you’re just a little bit in love with it. Death is your art. You make it with your hands, day after day. That final gasp, that look of peace…”
… “Tell me to kill my sister.”
Stop it! “ Mom? Mommy?
” I can’t take this anymore… “Ted! You killed him!
” I didn’t mean to do it. It just… “We’re not supposed to move the body!!
” I should have done something to stop it from happening. “ I am free because you fear it. Because you fear it, the world is crumbling.
” So it was my fault after all. “Angel, I love you so much – and I’ve tried to make you go away; I killed you and it didn’t help... I wish I wished you dead…but I don’t. I can’
t.” Please, I’ll do anything. Just leave me alone! “I’ll slip in, have myself a real good day
.” I scream until my throat is raw. ” Willow says… kick his ass.
I can feel the blood drip down my face, feel the skin under my fingernails where my hands clawed at my face, my arms. Anything to stop it. A new voice intrudes.
“Have you figured it out yet, little girl? Lily, you call yourself.” The voice lowers to little more than a whisper, a hissing sound that penetrates the screaming of the innocents I couldn’t save. “I knew a girl named Lily once. She was brave, as you are. She fought to save her son – she gave her life in hope that he would be spared. In the end, it doesn’t matter how much she had to give. I will kill him slowly, savour the sound of his screams as the life is drained from his body. Is that what you aimed to do, little Lily – to give your life to save those you love? Or did a piece of you want your swan dive into oblivion to be your last? Think about that.”
With that, he’s gone.“Part of you is desperate to know... What’s it like? Where does it lead you? That’s also a warrior’s question. A warrior’s curiosity.”
I can’t see, can’t hear anything bar the voices that surround me, taunting me. Stop it!“You’re a god. Make it stop.”
I’m not. I’m Lily Asher; Hogwarts student - “You’re not welcome in Gryffindor house – not with me, not with Harry, not with Hermione.”
- amnesiac, orphan, enemy. I’m Buffy Anne Summers; Vampire Slayer - “The Slayer does not walk in this world
.” - daughter, sister, Scooby. “You’re the Slayer, and we’re like, the Slayerettes
.” I don’t know where one ends and the other begins. Nothing makes sense anymore. “ I’m gonna be a fireman when the floods roll back. There’s trees in the desert since you moved out, and I don’t sleep on a bed of bones
.” It’s all just static in my head. “Strong is fighting. It’s hard and it’s painful and it’s every day.
” I’m so, so
tired of being strong.
…“No weapons, no friends, no hope.” She sees the sword poised for the killing blow and doesn’t think she has the strength to resist it.
“Take that away, and what’s left?”
Nothing. There’s nothing of me left to give.
“Giles, this place is just so huge. How are we gonna find Buffy?” If Buffy wants to be found, Willow added silently. Once upon a time, they could have found Buffy simply because they knew how she thought. But now? They didn’t know her at all. Truth be told, there had been a rift growing between the Scooby Gang since… high school? Since before Angel lost his soul? Willow couldn’t pinpoint the time when the separation had become obvious.
Now they stood at the base of the steps leading to Hogwarts, looking out at the vast expanse of land beyond, with absolutely no clue where to begin.
Willow turned again to Giles, whose eyes seemed glued to the thick forest. “Giles?” The Watcher blinked in surprise. “Willow. You were saying?” The redhead sighed, and repeated her question.
Before Giles could answer, Draco interrupted.
“Just a suggestion, but we might want to start in the Forest.” Off their inquiring looks, he added defensively, “That’s where someone who didn’t know better would go to hide.” I’ve gone batty. I don’t have to defend myself to these… Americans. Bloody Lily’s turned me into a pansy. And Red’s looking mighty pissed off at me. Not that I care.
The Malfoy smirk returned. “ What’s your problem, Red? I’m being helpful, aren’t I?” Better than being impaled
know better. That forest looks…”
“Chock full of evil? Put me down for a ‘yes’ vote on that one, Wills.” Xander cut in. He paused. “ Buffy
might know better. Somehow I don’t think Lily is thinking about that right now.” His words sealed the discussion, and within seconds the group were trotting toward the forest. From the corner of his eye, Draco spotted movement. Turning his head, he saw an unwelcome sight following their lead. Potter and his band of merry do-gooders. Brilliant
. Ignoring them, he stepped up the pace until he was level with Xander.
“So, let me see if I’ve got this straight. Your Buffy is our Lily. Either that or some kind of doppelganger. How did she end up at Hogwarts then?” It was Giles that answered, tossing the words over his shoulder without looking back.
“ Perhaps we could save the friendly chatting for another time, Mister Malfoy. Now is not - ” He was interrupted by a scream from the woods. Their trotting quickened to a full-blown run, Draco’s heart pounding in his chest – and not just from the unwelcome exercise. Either one of the forest creatures had met their match, or… the alternative was too unpleasant to consider. He thought of Lily’s injuries with a groan of dismay. There’s no way she’d be a worthy opponent for anything in that forest
. He reached for his wand and held it in front of him. Here we come to save the day
, he thought suddenly, and had to smirk at the irony of his words. Next thing you know, I’ll be running errands for Potter and begging to join their little gang of heroes. Oh, Lucius is just going to be so thrilled
. Somehow, he didn’t care as much about that as he thought he would.
The Gryffindor Trio had used every shortcut possible to get out of the school without being noticed by staff or students. The last thing they wanted was for one of the Professors to catch them – Hermione was already agonising over the consequences of hexing Sirius. After nearly running over Mrs Norris, they had arrived at the entrance to Hogwarts and stood in the shadows of the ornate doors, considering their next move.
It seemed to Harry that the Hogwarts grounds had never looked so huge.
“Harry, how do we… is that Malfoy over there?” Whatever Ron’s question was, he was distracted by the unlikely sight of Malfoy surrounded by strangers. Who were carrying quite an impressive load of weaponry. Harry followed his gaze, watching as the unfamiliar group took off at a steady pace toward the Forbidden Forest. Surely Lily would have known to stay away from there, considering all the stories the Trio had told about their misadventures. Ron seemed to share this sentiment.
“She’s bloody stupid if she’s gone in there! What’s she thinking?” Hermione was staring at him, her eyebrows raised.
“Maybe that she wants to disappear? And who helped out with that decision, exactly?” Harry had to blink at the scorn in her tone. It wasn’t often that Hermione got mad, but when she did… she could almost match the trademark Malfoy brand of sarcasm. Ron had the sense to look ashamed.
“Don’t remind me, Hermione.” His attention was drawn back to the running figures. “ Well, we might as well follow Malfoy.” He looked horrified. “Did I really just say that?” Harry nodded absentmindedly, prompting a groan from Ron. “You’ll feed me to Aragog before you tell anyone
about this, right?”
Hogwarts robes flapping, the Trio began to run toward the forest. Harry realised with dismay that Malfoy and his group were just about to push forward into the trees. Beside him, Ron was panting at the unexpected exercise, eyes fixed on the Slytherin boy as though he could make him trip with the power of his mind.
“ Hermione, can’t you hex him or something?” Ron wheezed.
Even against the pounding in his ears, Harry could hear Hermione’s sigh of frustration. “You know I can’t do that, Ron. Besides, at this range I could hit one of the Americans, or Mr Giles. It’s far too risky.” Despite the rough ground, Ron turned wide eyes to Hermione while Harry pricked up his ears, his eyes still fixed on Malfoy’s group. “ How did you – no wait, let me guess. You read it in a book somewhere.” Hermione looked faintly surprised, to which Ron managed a grin.
“You think I never pay attention? Just tell me it wasn’t Hogwarts: A History.”
Hermione managed a faint smile before panting out, “ The photo Sirius had, from his time in America – somehow, he must have brought them here with him. I don’t know – ”
At that moment, a scream pierced the grounds, and the Gryffindor Trio dropped all pretense of banter and ran at full speed toward the Forbidden Forest.
“Any change?” Wesley asked as Tara descended the stairs. The Wiccan shook her head, her eyes closing briefly as if she were drawing strength from within.
“At least she’s stopped her awful screaming now. That was very annoying.” Anya cut in, earning her an exasperated glance from Wesley. Tara, the only other Scooby member to be left behind, ignored Anya’s comment with a practiced air. The ex-demon eyed the occupants of the room warily, her face softening.
“I care about Dawn, I really do. I just care more when my eardrums aren’t being assaulted. Don’t stare at me that way, Wes, I saw you filling your ears with cotton wool earlier today.” All eyes turned to Wesley. Without giving anyone a chance to cut in, Anya continued. “Who’s patrolling tonight? Not me – I put in my share of hack-and-slash last night. It’s someone else’s turn.”
“Are you sure that you don’t mean shriek-and-flee?” The comment earned Wesley a very early-Cordelia-esque glare from Anya, who promptly retorted.
be the first one to point that out, Sir Shrieks-Like-A-Girl.”
“I have never- er, shrieked
“Have - ”
From the couch, Cordelia sat up gingerly, a towel pressed to her head. “How very three years old of you, Wes.” She said dryly. “If this new vision montage is a scheme to knock me out of action altogether, someone upstairs is doing a pretty damn good job. Anya, I think Angel and Gunn drew the patrol straw. Can you ask them to find the horde of tiny, stomping demons partying in my skull while they’ve got the weapons handy?” She turned to Tara. “Do you want me to take over for awhile? I can handle Dawn duty.”
Tara smiled wearily, sinking onto the couch beside the former May Queen. “Thanks Cordy. She’s sleeping now – I can’t say how long it will last, but it’s something. I just hope the others find what they’re looking for, fast. I don’t think there’s… I don’t think she has much time.”
Wesley sat forward alertly. “How much time, exactly?”
Tara began to stutter under Wes’s gaze. “A f-few days, a week m-maybe. The seizures take a lot out of her. There a-are some potions that w-would help, but the Magic Box doesn’t have all the ingredients.” At this, Anya looked offended.
“For your information, we’re the best stocked – ”
“Don’t go taking it personally. I’m sure Glinda didn’t mean to pierce that thick skin of yours.” Spike spoke up from the shadows for the first time.
“Can the stuff be ordered?” The question was directed at Tara, who pulled a list from under a pile of heavy books and handed it to Anya. After scanning it, she looked up thoughtfully.
“Some of these…” she said, pointing, “are your standard ingredients – eye of newt, a few herbs. The others… not something you see in your generic supplier’s catalogue. If they even exist anymore, they’ll be almost impossible to find. The big suppliers we use are mainly pushing the candles and incense, spinning crystals and all that other tourist junk. I know people – well, demons – who’ve attempted to mix these things and ended up with only two arms, or with a hole in their chest. Some aren’t even here anymore. You’d need a skilled potions master to do this safely.”
Spike snorted. “Right, and those are just lining up to lend a hand – or in this case, a whole arm. Better not put that in the ad. Your standard Biteable won’t be too keen on doing something that might lose them a body part, not if they’re warned beforehand.” He pulled out a pack of cigarettes and made as if to light up. Anya raised her eyebrows pointedly, staring at the prominently displayed warning on the packet.
“Buf-,” she corrected herself hastily, “Willow
said no smoking in the house. And you know those things will -” Spike smirked. “Kill me?” He too examined the packet, his grin widening. “Right, so there are some exceptions. Lungs just don’t have the same value anymore. I knew a guy who would pay up to a hundred quid for a fresh set, got his rocks off just tearing ‘em up with his bare...”
Cordelia wrinkled her nose disgustedly. “Another thing to add to the list of never tell me
, Spike.” The vampire shrugged and tucked the cigarette back in the packet. “ Those were the days. Hey, where’s the Great Poof?”
went to Willy’s. He thought the barman might have some useful information he’s willing to, uh, share.”
Anya snorted in Wesley’s general direction. “ That Willy wouldn’t share his breathing space without monetary compensation. I hope Angel has deep pockets.”
“‘Course he does. Peaches has to put those big, meaty fists somewhere, don’t he? I saw that grin, Watcher the Second.”
“Why ‘Peaches’? It doesn’t exactly fit with the Scourge of Europe image.” The question came not from Anya as one might have expected, but from Cordelia, in an attempt to distract Wesley from memories of his time as Watcher. Spike spared a glance at the Englishman, then took the bait.
“Why not? Reminder of the good ol’ days, luv. Ever groped beneath that billowy coat of Angel’s? When he gets back, have at it. You’ll get it when you feel his firm little -”
Cordelia’s eyes practically bugged out of her head. “ Forget I asked. Tara, what was it you were saying about…” Inspiration failed her. “something?”
Flustered, Tara checked her list again. “W-well, if Anya can bring me the basic supplies, I can g-get things started here… at least until we find someone else who can f-finish it.” She looked up at the ceiling for a moment, deep in thought. “We should contact Giles – the others ought to know. Maybe Sirius can find someone willing to help?”
!” The scream came from the stairs, hoarse and desperate. Spike was the first to unfreeze, bolting up the stairs to where Dawn lay crumpled, her failing strength unable to support her more than a few steps.
Gathering her in his arms as though she was made of glass, he turned to take her back to her bedroom as the others looked on silently from below. As though she sensed the movement, Dawn’s eyes snapped open wildly, her pupils dilated in terror. Her hands beat weakly at Spike’s shoulders in protest.
“Put me… down! They have to know, I have to tell them, she would want them to know, I have to tell them, me, me, ME
! Don’t wanna go back in… there. Down! DOWN
! Oh, Buffy.” Her voice cracked and faded to a whisper as Spike shifted his arm to restrain her fluttering fingers. “Spike, please
… I have to… downstairs.” He was frozen for a minute before his face set and he complied with her pleas, navigating the stairs slowly and moving to set her down on the couch.
Tara knelt close to Dawn on the floor, laying a shaking hand on the girl’s forehead and whispering softly. When she at last sat back, Dawn’s eyes had cleared somewhat, and she struggled to sit up.
“She won’t come out. They have to go inside
… have to find her like they did in the Before
. She’s trapped there…she’s hurting and the white lady can’t help with her medicine or her little stick. She won’t come out because she knows He
knows what she is.” Her voice became a chant. “She knows he knows that she knows he knows. She knows that I
know too, but she doesn’t know herself…not yet. She doesn’t understand.”
“Who doesn’t understand, Dawnie?”
“ Three little ducks went out to play… into the forest and lost their way… Wizard duck said quack quack quack quack… but only one little duck came back. The wolf and the dog shall hunt in the dead of night but they are beyond saving.”
The group stared at Dawn, who continued to babble.
“When their minds are picked clean and their essence gone, they shall have stars at elbow and foot… though they go mad they shall be sane, though they sink through the fog they shall rise again, though lovers be lost, love shall not… and death shall have no dominion.”
The irony of this was lost on all but Wesley, who whispered “Thomas.” The others dared not look at him as Dawn continued.
“Miles to go before we sleep. Little Miss Muffet lost without her tuffet, the clock counting down from oh-three-oh. Tick tock, tick tock, the clock strikes and the world falls down.”
Cordelia looked stunned. “I’ve heard that before… where?”
“Dark-eyed death waits in the shadows while dark-eyed life fights her fog; two become one. The enemy is coming to the camp, and the friends shall not know, and they shall be led into blackness. The one with the name that rings truth has her own scars. Her own battle to face. Miles to go
Dawn’s voice was fading slowly, forcing them to lean close to catch her words. “Matchmaker, matchmaker, make me a match… run and catch, run and catch, the lamb is caught in the blackberry patch. The stars are singing for her and she shall not disappoint. There shall be tea and cakes for everyone. The demon will be set free from its cage and Daddy will come home just for the party, his arms filled with sweets for good little childer.”
Spike drew an unnecessary breath at the words, but said nothing.
“They’ve changed the locks and the key won’t fit the door, so he’ll change the rules instead. Old friends are arriving at the door, knock knock, who’s there? Their names cannot be spoken by more than a few. The others are coming too; not one alike, but all bound in their hate and spite for her. They want her but will settle for less. They are coming to take back what they meant to claim long ago.” Dawn’s face turned chalk-white and she closed her eyes briefly. Anya looked to Wesley, her face drawn with horror and confusion.
“What does she mean? What’s happening? Get some books and look it up
Wesley stood immobile, his eyes never leaving Dawn’s still figure. Her eyelids fluttered as her voice became the softest whisper.
“It’s time to go. The Ferryman is waiting. You can’t put it off; you can’t stay here forever. Now, close your eyes
. It’s but a short step to the boat, a short pull across the river. And then I promise you, you’ll dream a different story altogether…”
Dawn’s body twitched, then lay silent and still. Tara reached for her limp wrist, frantically feeling for a pulse. There was a collective intake of breath as she closed her eyes and set Dawn’s wrist gently on the couch.
“I-I think she’s sleeping. For a m-moment there, I thought…”
Wesley closed his eyes. “Yes.” There was no need to elaborate on what had entered everyone’s mind.
“What the bloody hell was that?” The words came from Spike, but the tone was unrecognisable. The blonde vampire was rarely frightened – or at least rarely showed his fear. The question hung, unanswerable, in the air. Wesley sank into an armchair, rubbing at his face.
“I honestly don’t know.”
“We need to contact Giles.” Cordelia stated the obvious from her perch on the coffee table, her eyes shadowed.
“Yes.” Wesley said again. “Cordelia, Anya, can you -” For once, Anya didn’t argue about working with the former cheerleader. Both women simply rose and headed toward the dining room. “Spike, I think it would be best if Dawn was taken to her room.” Spike nodded, lifting the fragile girl gently. Wesley raised his eyebrows at the wave of compliance sweeping the room, but refrained from commenting.
“ Tara, Angel’s keys are on the kitchen bench. Can you drive a stick shift?” She nodded uncertainly. “ We need as many of those ingredients as the Magic Box stocks, as well as some texts -” Wesley rattled off a list. “Take Cordelia’s phone with you, and a stake. I don’t need to remind you to be careful.”
Within seconds, Wesley was alone in the room with a pen and paper, writing down as much of Dawn’s ramblings as he could remember. Staring at the hurriedly scribbled lines, he felt a chill blow through the room and grasp his heart with icy fingers. In grand Sunnydale tradition, things had only just begun to get worse.
A/N: I am evil…with silent paws and painted toenails. A special something for anyone who can decipher Dawn’s ramblings and tell me what’s going down, who’s coming. Email me if you have an idea…please don’t put it in a review and spoil things for the rest.
If anyone’s interested, excerpts from Dylan Thomas’s ‘Death shall have no dominion’ and ‘I, Claudius’ were used in the last part of this chapter. Various quotes/scenes were taken from past BtVS episodes – I won’t name them because there’s too many.
Next chapter will be up in a week – depending on how long it takes my beta to get back to me. If anyone wants to join the beta-team, drop me a line. I’m after at least one more to lighten the load a little. Pretty please?