The Witch in a Box
This is a derivative work. I don't own the characters/places/ip in this story. Joss Whedon created Buffy and Co with a little help from his friends at Mutant Enemy. J.K. Rowling owns the Potterites. Any other characters mentioned are the property of someone who is not me. ('Thunderbirds' was created by Gerry Anderson - Lady Penelope was voiced by Sylvia Anderson.)Warnings:
Romance, Attempted humour, implied lesbian subtext, a kiss and then some, soul-mate shenanigans, and eventual BtVS character death. (The primary pairing is f/f, but isn't the only one.)Author's Note:
Unfortunately, the original chapter 2 was lost in an accident involving a pickle, a cat, a cup of hot cocoa, and a snowball (Don't ask!). I don't think the replacement is quite as good as the original but it's what I ended up with. Author's Note:
There once was a Bad!Fic contest. This is a heavily revised version of my entry. With all the bad!fic-ness hopefully removed. And if you've managed to find the original (buried somewhere deep atff.net)... I've made some changes but not to who dies by the end and not to the main pairing. All else is negotiable.Author's Note:
This takes place 6+ years after Sunnydale became a hole in the ground and years after Book 7 of Harry Potter (EWE = Epilogue, What Epilogue?). (Also, a certain character doesn't die. How is left up to the reader. For this story that detail doesn't matter.) Spoilers for both - and all of Angel. Author's Note:
This story is not
BtVS Season 8 (comic book) compliant.Author's Note:
This isn't meant to be taken too seriously. Just something I'm having fun writing. I hope y'all enjoy reading it. Although words and names should be spelled correctly, and grammar errors are hopefully at a minimum (I do have standards), any continuity between chapters and following of canon is purely accidental. No warrantees expressed or implied.--- --- ---
Pulling her brand new Stetson down to shade her eyes better, Hermione leaned back against the large rock, rubbing her aching back. She'd purchased it after much teasing by Harry and Ron the previous weekend in Las Vegas during a surprise visit. She wasn't completely sure what had possessed her to agree to coming to California in the middle of the summer but she had her suspicions. They'd agreed with her, in principle, having been recipients of the Headmaster's machinations in the past themselves.
When Professor Dumbledore gave you that look, the almost pouty one with an extra gleaming twinkle in his eyes it was very hard to resist. And when he'd tricked her into accepting one of his charmed lemon drops, she'd known resistance was futile. So, when he'd suggested that her summer internship before beginning her teaching apprenticeship at Hogwarts would be best spent researching the mysterious Sunnydale Collapse that had happened several years ago, she'd eagerly jumped at the opportunity.
But now, they were two months into the dig and she wished she'd never heard about Sunnydale. Sure, the first week had been interesting. Helping set up the base camp with the three American wizards who'd proposed the dig had been a new experience. Watching them use a combination of muggle science and arcane magic to map the site had certainly been fascinating. But, even with magic, everything after that had turned into pure drudgery.
Sifting through the remains of the small muggle city along the edge of the new Sunnydale estuary had not met her expectations. The only relief from the boredom of digging and cataloguing their finds had been the weekly trips into Los Angeles for supplies, week old copies of the local wizarding newspaper, which was just barely better than the newly revived Quibbler, and some of their mail. She'd found early on that magic was extremely unreliable in the area and the Owl Post refused to deliver anything larger than an unmagicked letter, no matter how much they'd asked or offered to pay.
The boredom had lifted only briefly the day before when they'd stumbled upon another large cemetery. According to information they'd gotten from the authorities there were supposed to be even more but Hermione suspected some of them had been swallowed by the collapse. Assuming they could even trust the muggle government.
Something strange had definitely been going on in Sunnydale. Like the last cemetery they'd explored on the other side of the estuary, this one seemed to be made up of mostly empty crypts and graves. It was almost as if the occupants hadn't stayed around for the destruction of the city. And with few exceptions most of the empty graves seemed to set off the Dark Magic detector Hermione had borrowed from Bill Weasley and now carried with her everywhere.
She'd just put down her canteen when a noise from Crookshanks caught her attention. Instead of lying in the shade of a nearby tree or chasing butterflies, which he'd spent most of the past two months doing, the part kneazle cat was excitedly scratching away in the dirt in front of a cracked tombstone.
Hermione watched Crookshanks wistfully for several minutes. He'd survived Hogwarts and their battles with Voldemort. On several occasions he'd even saved her from surprise attacks by Death Eaters. He'd been her companion for a long time, traveling everywhere with her since Hogwarts. He was getting old but even now she couldn't bear to leave him behind, even for a summer. She knew that a lot of people didn't understand why she kept him. Most Hogwarts pets and familiars that didn't have a useful function after 7th year, unlike owls, were passed on to younger family members. But even if she'd had a younger sister or brother, she wouldn't have given him up.
She tried not to think about what that poison pen, Rita Skeeter, had said. She'd claimed at one point that Hermione wouldn't marry Ron Weasley because he refused to take second place in her bed to Crookshanks. Ron, as usual, had just laughed at the idea, once he'd calmed her down. Sighing, she rubbed her eyes as she thought about missed opportunities.
Harry and Ron were still her closest friends and, as much as she loved them, marrying one of them would have been like marrying a brother. But there were times when she wondered if letting Ron go had been a mistake, wondered if she would ever take that final step beyond friendship and find someone to share the rest of her life with other than Crookshanks.
"What did you find?" she said to herself, when it looked like he wasn't going to stop. Frowning, she stood up and walked cautiously into the large cloud of dust that now enveloped her familiar. "It's just another grave, most likely empty like the rest," she said, attempting to pick him up. Her failure to stop him could in part be attributed to his unexpected behavior. "Ouch!" she screeched, sucking at the thumb he'd bitten. She glared at him. He hissed and glared back.
"What do you expect me to do?" she asked. "Dig this person up?"
Crookshanks gave her the same look he used when she was late with his dinner or when she failed to show proper appreciation of his efforts to rid the world of small rodents and spiders.
"Okay, okay," she grumbled. "You better hope this one is empty like the rest. I don't want an angry ghost haunting us for the rest of the summer because you were curious and we disturbed it."
She looked around for something to dig with. Spotting a large shovel, she waved her wand. "Excavare," she muttered, quickly stepping back from the cloud of dust generated by the charmed shovel. Crookshanks strolled grandly back to his spot in the shade, head and tail held high.
"What did you find?" Professor Juan, the head wizarding archeologist, asked, attracted by the large cloud of dust. He stood next to her as the shovel cleared away the dirt and sand, trying to see through the cloud.
"I'm not sure what it is," she admitted. "Crookshanks thinks there's something special about this grave.
Professor Juan looked down at Crookshanks skeptically for a moment before carefully walking around the digging shovel. Kneeling down, he brushed the dirt away from the gravestone. He seemed to be memorizing what was written on it. She watched in interest as he returned to her side before pulling out his wizarding tablet computer and writing something on it.
American wizards didn't have the same prejudices when it came to mixing technology and magic that the British wizarding community had and she'd seen a number of interesting gadgets since coming to America. One of the first things she planned to do when she was paid for the summer and before heading home was to get her own tablet computer. She wasn't sure if it would work at Hogwarts but if it did she knew it would come in handy when she started working there in the fall.
"Hmmm..." he muttered to himself, reading something.
"What did you find?" she asked, curious but unable to read the screen from her position.
"Not much. The person who is supposed to be buried here," he waved at the grave, "was a teacher at one of the local muggle high schools who died mysteriously a few years ago. She also belonged to the Kalderash tribe, a gypsy clan known for its creative use of curses."
"What kinds of curses?" Hermione asked. Other than a brief mention in Defense Against the Dark Arts during Seventh year, Gypsy curses were unexplored territory for her.
"The usual," he said, shrugging. "The revenge kind that causes things like every third son in a family to die. Long lasting curses that affect generations of people. That sort of thing. I wouldn't recommend getting them angry. They are rumored to have cursed some minor demonic vampire with a conscience or possibly even a soul. The record isn't too clear on which," he added apologetically.
"What should we do?" She really didn't want to set off some gypsy curse if she could help it.
"If it isn't empty we'll let her clan know we found her, in case they want to bury her somewhere else. If not, we'll put her in the new cemetery with the others we've discovered." He made a note on his tablet. "If she was a witch they'll definitely want her back."
"There are gypsy witches?" Hermione asked, surprised.
"Oh yes," he said. "They are very rare but they do exist. Most gypsies can't do more than give people the evil eye and tell fortunes."
"And if it's empty?" Hermione asked nervously.
"Catalog it and move on, of course," he told her cheerfully. "Her death happened years before the city was destroyed so it probably wasn't related anyway."
"Okay," she said, shivering. "Do you want to see what's in the coffin?"
"No. That isn't necessary. Just let me know what you find," he said.
She nodded in agreement and turned back to watching the shovel continue digging its way through the soft ground towards its target. She wondered if muggle archeologists were so casual about their digs or if this was just because it was a muggle cemetery.--- --- ---
She stood at the edge of the grave, Crookshanks mewling at her. Looking down at the coffin she was surprised at how solid it looked. All of the other coffins they'd excavated had either been crushed when Sunnydale collapsed, destroying their contents, or they'd looked like they'd been broken open from the inside. Dr. Winston claimed these were the classic signs of a vampire infestation but so far they'd seen no other proof yet to test his theory with.
"Okay. Let's get that up here," she said, looking around for a clear spot to place the coffin. Waving her wand she muttered a charm. With a large grinding sound the coffin was wrenched free from its resting place and gently floated up to eye level. She pointed towards a flat piece of ground close by. The coffin followed her motion, gently coming to a stop. Before opening it, she carefully took pictures of the grave, the tombstone, and the coffin itself.
Hermione had become hardened over the past few years to death and destruction. It was a side effect of their long running battles with Voldemort. You couldn't take the time to mourn or be shocked in the middle of a fight. But she still cringed when she was about to open someone's coffin. There was something about disturbing the dead, long buried or not, that bothered her. She stared at it for a few more minutes, Crookshanks becoming impatient at her side. Hopefully it was empty and she could put it back in its hole.
Examining the coffin she noticed there didn't appear to be any way to open it. She walked around it several times before she could think of a way that would do the least amount of damage to the coffin and its possible contents. "Cedo Cessi Cessum," she carefully uttered. There was a small popping sound as the lid unsealed.
She waited several minutes for it to air out before gingerly opening it the rest of the way. Looking down into the coffin she saw something very unexpected.
"Dr. Winston! Dr. Penworthy! Professor Juan!" She shouted, once she'd gotten over her shock. They hurried over, carefully walking around the obstacles in their way.
"Oh my!" Dr. Penworthy muttered. Dr. Winston nodded in agreement. After a quick look, Professor Juan became absorbed in something on his tablet.--- --- ---
Hermione leaned back against the wall in the Unexpected Accidents ward on the 4th floor of St. Mungo's Hospital in London, waiting for Professor Dumbledore to complete his examination. It had been a long week getting to this point and she was more than exhausted. St. Mungo's had been the only wizarding hospital in an English speaking country willing to take the woman she'd found, currently presumed to be a member of the Kalderash gypsy clan, known as either 'Janna' or 'Jennifer Calendar', in that coffin in Sunnydale. And even then it had taken pressure from Professor Dumbledore before they were willing to admit her. They all assumed she'd been the victim of some gypsy curse and hadn't wanted any part of it. And with the Kalderash having disappeared some time in the last decade, they'd been unable to confirm her identity or any curses she might be under.
"Can you help her?" she asked Professor Dumbledore when he rejoined her in the hall.
"No," he admitted, quietly directing her towards one of the many waiting rooms on the floor. "Only the person who placed her in that state can undo it. Or finish it."
"What's wrong with her?" she asked curiously.
"Think of her like Sleeping Beauty," he told her. She gaped at his muggle reference. "She's asleep, waiting for her prince to come for her. But the charm that was used on her wasn't finished."
"So we need to find the person who put her to sleep?" she asked, aghast at the idea.
"And her Prince Charming," he told her with a slight twinkle just barely visible behind his glasses.
"Of course," she muttered peevishly. "Where do we find them?"
"I've already sent for someone who might be able to help us," he told her.
"You knew she was there all along, didn't you?" Hermione asked, glaring at him. "You couldn't have just gotten her out of there yourself?"
"I had my suspicions," he admitted, without saying more. "But no proof. Lemon drop?" He held one out to her.
Glaring at him in continued annoyance, Hermione sank ungracefully into a nearby chair. She idly wondered, not for the first time, how Professor McGonagall was able to put up with him on a daily basis. "Will they be here soon?" She'd dropped Crookshanks off with Ron and Harry earlier in the week and they had only so much patience for him, even on the best of days.
"Soon," he said, smiling at her. "While we wait I would be interested to hear more about your summer."
Sighing, she thought for a moment before beginning.--- --- ---
"Willow!" Buffy squeaked, coming into the flat they shared near the Council's Oxford office complex. "What's that?" She dropped her book-bag on the floor and pointed at the large bird sitting on the back of her favorite kitchen chair.
"Post Owl?" she answered innocently, looking up from the letter she was reading.
"A 'what' owl?" Buffy asked.
"Post Owl," Willow repeated. "It's used by certain groups of magic users to send mail."
"Like a carrier pigeon," Buffy said, cocking her head to one side as she stared curiously at the large bird.
"Not quite," Willow said, shaking her head.
"So, they can't use e-mail or the regular post like the rest of us?"
"Nope." Willow held out the envelope to the curious slayer.
"Willow Rosenberg, Third bedroom from the left, High Street, Flat 6, Oxford, England," Buffy read from the front of the envelope. "So... this means what?"
"It's very efficient magic. The owl brings your mail right to you," Willow said. "No matter where you are."
"Sort of like spam," Buffy said, nodding. "I get it. So what's the what with this magic missive." She frowned at Willow's raised eyebrow. "Hey! I can use real words just like you and Giles," she protested.
Willow shrugged again before answering. "It's a request for help from someone I met a few years ago."
"This isn't gonna be something apocalypse-y that'll interfere with Giles' wedding next week, will it?" Buffy asked cautiously. They'd all gone to a lot of trouble finding the one weekend that year without any pending apocalypses so Giles and his future bride could have a peaceful wedding.
"No idea," she answered. "But I owe him a favor."
"Who's 'he' and what sort of favor are we talking about here?" Buffy asked.
"He is Albus Dumbledore. He's probably the most powerful wizard in the British Isles," Willow told her. "He helped me out when I was getting over my dark magic binge after Tara died. He wouldn't be asking for help unless he really needed it."
"One of the good guys?" Buffy asked curiously.
"Very much," Willow said. "Sort of the Grandfather Christmas type. But with real magic."
"Okay," Buffy said, "but you aren't visiting this Al Dore guy on your own. I'm coming with."
Holding out a hand, Buffy winked at Willow when she didn't bother correcting her mangling of the wizard's name. It had taken her years to get Willow to accept her name mangling.
"Okay," Willow reluctantly agreed, taking her hand. --- --- ---
"You've been here before," Buffy said, looking around curiously. The trip up to London had been quiet. Willow hadn't allowed Buffy to drive and had spent the entire trip just listening as Buffy rambled on and occasionally ranted about her current dateless condition. The entrance to the hospital they were visiting, St. Mungo's - which Willow claimed was the most famous hospital in the world when it came to dealing with magically caused ailments, had been in some strange abandoned store.
"Yes, after Tara died," Willow admitted. "The Westbury coven wouldn't help me until I'd spent several weeks here in dark magic detox." She visibly shivered.
"So fun was not had," Buffy summarized, sympathetically squeezing Willow's hand.
"Not fun at all," Willow said. "And kind of scary to see what can happen to people who misuse magic."
"I thought you said these wizard people used wands?" Buffy asked. "Why did they send you here? Isn't it a different kind of magic?"
"Some of them like to think so," Willow told her as they headed towards the Fourth floor. "But magic is magic. Different people just have different ways to access it. These wizards use wands. Shamen use chanting and meditation. And Wiccans pray. And some methods are more powerful than others."
"Okay. Got it. We're all driving but some of us are in buses, and some of us are on bikes." Buffy felt proud of herself, even when Willow laughed at her analogy. "How does yours stack up?" She watched with interest as Willow blushed in embarrassment.
"Using your analogy..." Willow thought for a moment, absently pressing a button in the elevator they'd reached. "Wizard's wands are like SUV's. Lots of visible power, flashy looks but used to go to the post office. A lot of wasted potential. Mine... is closer to a Saturn Five."
"Oh... one of those rockets NASA used to go to the moon?" Buffy wondered.
"I'm impressed," Willow said with a grin.
"Oh." Buffy blushed herself. "Xander and Andrew have been on a space movie kick lately. Last week, when you and Giles went to that museum reception we watched that Tom Hanks movie "Apollo 13".
"We have got to get you a boyfriend," Willow told her, shaking her head.
"Yup! Someone to rescue me from permanent geekdom," Buffy agreed with a giggle. "And then we find someone for you," she added.
"I'm not ready yet, Buffy," Willow said. "You know that."
Buffy looked at her best friend in concern. It had been a year since Kennedy's death. More than enough time for her friend to mourn someone she'd broken up with months before that. "Leave it all to me."
Willow took a deep breath and simply nodded.--- --- ---
Buffy ignored the other two people in the hallway, an old man dressed in the same odd style as everyone else she'd seen in the hospital so far, and a tired looking woman close to Dawn's age who was dressed in more normal looking clothes. They seemed intent on approaching Willow and were ignoring her as much as Buffy was pretending to ignore them. Standing on her toes, she peered into the room they'd been directed to by the person Willow had claimed was something called a medi-witch. Lying on a bed, just within view was a vaguely familiar face. Although it was obscured obscured by a faint blue haze, if she weren't mistaken it was Jenny Calendar.
"Willow," she said faintly. Turning towards her friend and pointing at the window, she stammered out "Willow... tell me you didn't!"
"Didn't what?" She looked into the room. "Eep!" She turned very pale and fainted. Buffy just barely managed to catch her before she hit the floor.
"Damn it!" Buffy grumbled before sighing. "I guess that answers that question." Still ignoring their audience, Buffy casually lifted the slightly larger woman up in her arms and carried her down the hall to the waiting area she'd seen earlier, the old man and young woman following. Looking around, she gently placed Willow on a long, soft looking couch. Still grumbling to herself, Buffy sat on the arm of the couch closest to Willow's head and waited for her to wake up.
"And you are?" Buffy asked the old man, finally acknowledging his presence.
"Albus Dumbledore," he told her with a smile.
"Oh. You're the wizard guy who sent for Willow. So what's going on?" She had no plans to say anything about Jenny's possible resurrection if Willow wasn't awake to defend herself. She wasn't sure what these wizard people thought about such things. Besides which, for all she knew it had nothing to do with Willow.
"Professor Dumbledore says she can help," the woman said. She blushed when Buffy raised an eyebrow. "Sorry. I'm Hermione Granger," she said, as if expecting to be recognized. "I found that woman." She waved in the direction of the hospital room Jenny was currently lying in.
"You a wizard also?" Buffy asked.
"No..." she said, giving Dumbledore a puzzled look, obviously confused about something. "I'm a witch."--- --- ---
Hermione didn't quite know what to make of the small blonde woman. There was something odd about her, and not just her apparent ignorance of wizarding culture. She'd come to St. Mungo's with the witch Professor Dumbledore had sent for, so she wasn't completely unaware of magic.
"Where'd you find her?" she asked.
"In California," Hermione said. "In a cemetery in Sunnydale."
"Ah... is she still dead?"
"Dead?" Hermione echoed. "No, but..."
"She was very dead the last time I saw her," the woman said, giving her a piercing look. "Where exactly was she when you found her?"
"In her coffin," Hermione told her. The blonde turned visibly paler at her words.
"Damn. Is she conscious?" she asked with obvious concern.
"No," Professor Dumbledore answered. "I believe the muggle term is 'suspended animation'," he told her gravely.
"Well, that's something at least," she muttered. "Guess I should wake Willow up so she can hear this." She leaned over and spoke something Hermione couldn't catch into the redhead's ear, causing her to abruptly sit up.
"Buffy?" the redhead asked.
"I imagined that, didn't I?" she said plaintively. "That wasn't really Jenny was it?"
"Miss Rosenberg?" Professor Dumbledore interrupted. "I assume you know that woman?"
"Oh, hey Albus," She seemed to notice Hermione and Dumbledore at that point.
"Yes," she answered in what Hermione thought was an overly nervous manner. "She was one of my teachers in Sunnydale. Angelus killed her."
Hermione looked at her curiously. Angelus was a shadowy figure in wizarding history. A vampire who'd briefly terrorized a number of wizarding communities, he'd disappeared over a century ago.
"How many people did you try to resurrect before you were successful?" the blonde, Buffy Hermione assumed, said.
Hermione gasped. Resurrection was a very dark art. And other than Voldemort, who was a special case, she hadn't heard of it ever being completely successful.
"Umm... just Jenny," she murmured, just barely loud enough for everyone to hear. "And I thought I'd failed. I'm not sure why she's here now."
"You didn't fail," Professor Dumbledore told her. "But you never finished the spell. I assume you used an earth spell?"
"Yes," Willow told him. Hermione wondered why she was avoiding looking at her friend. "It was written by Sappho."
"Ah..." he said knowingly. "That particular spell requires a large amount of energy to perform, unlike some of the darker resurrection spells. I assume that you used dark magic when you resurrected Miss Summers."
"Yes," she admitted. "I couldn't use Sappho's spell on Buffy anyway."
Putting things together, Hermione just barely suppressed a gasp.--- --- ---
"Why?" Buffy asked. "Who was this Sappho?"
"She's a famous Greek poet," Willow told her. "Her lover died and she wrote a spell to bring her back."
"The slayer is rooted in darkness," Dumbledore added. "Sappho's spell would not have been able to overcome that completely."
Out of the corner of her eye, Buffy noticed Hermione's surprised look as she cautiously began edging back away from them.
"You wouldn't have been the Slayer anymore if I'd used it," Willow told her. "Found that out when I was researching why it didn't seem to work on Jenny," she explained.
"Actually, given the evidence," Buffy said, trying not to think about a life as an ex-slayer, waving vaguely in the direction of Jenny, "If you had I'd probably still be in whatever state Jenny is right now." She shook her head at her best friend.
"Oh," Willow murmured.
"You need to complete the spell, Miss Rosenberg," Dumbledore told her.
"I don't even remember it anymore," Willow admitted.
"I believe you just need to give it a boost of energy," he told her. "It cannot finish until you do."
"Okay," Willow mumbled.
"And then no more resurrection spells for you, Miss!" Buffy told her, waging a finger mockingly in her direction. "At least not until you can remember to dig the person up first."
"Yes, mom," Willow said sarcastically.
"So, can we get this over with?" Buffy said, hopping to her feet and pulling Willow up also.
"Why the hurry?" Willow asked. "Got a hot date tonight?"
"No." Buffy frowned at her friend. "We have that wedding rehearsal to go to."
"Oh my goddess..." Willow blurted out. "Giles! What do we tell him?"
"Damn!" Buffy winced. "Let's wait until after she wakes up. Hopefully the thing they had going on was just about sex," she said bluntly. "'Cause Giles and Lady Penelope sure look like soul-matey true love to me."--- --- ---
Hermione listened to the two women, completely mystified. Slayers were legendary mystical boogie-men. The petite blonde certainly didn't look like what she'd ever imagined one to be. Turning to Professor Dumbledore as they walked several paces behind the two women, as they headed back to the room Jenny Calendar was lying in, she asked "You knew she was responsible, didn't you?"
"The magic she uses has a very distinctive signature," was his answer.
"If she couldn't finish it before, why now?" Hermione asked curiously.
"She has access to a lot more power now," he told her, pausing at the door that was now blocked by Buffy.
"If she's dabbled in the Dark Arts should she be here, doing this?" Hermione asked worriedly.
"She's more than paid for that," Buffy said quietly, giving Hermione the distinct impression that she'd heard everything. Hermione watched Buffy continue into the room, going to stand next to her friend who was staring down at the woman lying in the bed.
"Yes, she has," he told her, the twinkle for once not present in his eyes. "Miss Summers is correct. Her power has cost her greatly. If you ask nicely some day she might tell you about it." He motion for her to enter the room ahead of him. "And when we get back to Hogwarts you'll want to look up soul-mates in the restricted section in the library."
She looked at him in surprise as he joined them in the room.--- --- ---
Buffy watched Willow curiously as she stared intently at Jenny, murmuring something under her breath. She really wanted to ask her what she was doing but had learned her lesson. The last time she'd interrupted Willow in the middle of a spell they'd ended up topless on a beach in the French Riviera. Faith and Dawn, who'd been with them at the time had yet to let her forget it but Willow had just been amused at her embarrassment, reminding Buffy that her favorite beach near the Council's retreat near Naples was also topless so it wasn't like it was something she'd never done before.
"Okay, I think I've got it," Willow told them. "The spell never finished because there was a missing ingredient."
"What?" Hermione bravely asked.
"Well, umm..." Willow blushed.
"It's not one of those things you have to do sky-clad is it?" Buffy asked. "Cause I'm thinking that could be a bit awkward here."
"Oh, nothing like that," Willow told them. "The spell requires the presence of someone who was more than a friend."
"Family?" Buffy asked. "I don't know where we could find a member of her family." She looked at the others. They shook their heads.
"More like lover. At least that's how I originally translated it," Willow explained, continuing to blush. "And I kind of had a crush on her in high school."
"And that wasn't enough, was it," Buffy said, shaking her head in amusement.
"I thought so at the time but nope," Willow looked crestfallen. "Though I might have mistranslated it."
"Would a copy of the spell help?" the old wizard asked.
"Sure. But my copy of Sappho's spells are at the bottom of Lake Sunnydale."
"I'm sure we can find a copy of it somewhere." He turned to Hermione. "I believe Professor McGonagall is at Hogwarts this morning. Could you please ask her to bring her collection of Sappho's writings here?" He turned to Willow and Buffy "Unless you would like to discuss this elsewhere?"
"No. Here's fine," Buffy answered for them. "Unless we can use that waiting room for a private meeting?"
"That should be no problem," he told them. Turning to Hermione he said "Join us in the room we were in earlier when you return. We'll have lunch there."
"Yes, Professor." With another curious look, Hermione hurried out of the room.
"That was slick," Buffy muttered. She wondered what he wanted to discuss with them that he didn't want the other woman to know.
"She'll ask later," he admitted with a smile. "But I thought you would like to discuss this privately first."
"Discuss what?" Buffy asked, looking between him and Willow curiously.
"Umm... Buffy. You know how there really is no such thing as a coincidence? For slayers anyway," Willow said.
"Yes..." Buffy said slowly.
"Could you come closer?" She motioned towards the bed. "Notice anything different?"
Buffy frowned, staring at Jenny. Taking a step closer, until she was almost touching the bed, she noticed something odd. The faint blue glow that surrounded Jenny had taken on a purple tinge. Reaching out towards her, Buffy noticed it turning a deeper purple. Stepping back, she saw it slowly turn back to blue.
"Okay, what was that!" Buffy said, giving Willow a confused look.
"I believe you misinterpreted the original spell," Dumbledore told Willow.
"You agree?" Willow asked him. "That there's a reason Buffy is here? And that she's influencing the spell?"
"Yes," Dumbledore said.
"Enough with the cryptic-ness," Buffy whined. "What are you two talking about!"
"Well, unless you and Jenny had a much closer relationship before she died than the rest of us thought..." Willow smirked in amusement.
"What? She was a teacher!" Protested Buffy. "Sure, she had that whole gypsy sex kitten thing going on but she was way too old. And a teacher. And she and Giles were definitely up to something when we weren't looking. And... and I'm so not into women!"
"What about Faith?" Willow asked with a slight grin.
"What about her?" Buffy said nervously.
"You can't deny that you and she got kind of close back in Sunnydale, before she went to work for the Mayor."
"Well... you know how she gets after she kills things," Buffy said, stepping over to the window and looking out over the rooftops at the section of London they were in. "Telling her no was always tricky. But it didn't really mean anything. Neither of us were interested in anything permanent back then."
"I thought so!" Willow crowed. "Xander owes me so much..."
"You and Xander were betting on me and Faith?" Buffy squeaked.
"Well... not right now. Faith is obviously interested in someone else right now," Willow said delicately.
"I do know about my sister and her crush on Faith." Buffy grumbled in annoyance. "Why does everyone assume I'm going to do something drastic?"
"Because it's Faith and your baby sister?" Willow said, unsuccessfully trying to hide a grin from her friend.
"Geeze, not much trust in the room right now," Buffy said. "As long as their relationship doesn't interfere with Dawn's classes and they behave like adults I promised to leave them alone." At Willow's disbelieving snort Buffy shook her head. "I even put it in writing. Just ask them."
"Sorry Buff," Willow apologized. "But that seems a little mature, even for you." Willow giggled.
"Ladies," Dumbledore interjected before they could continue. "As fascinating as your conversation might be," He winked at them, "this doesn't get us any closer to solving the problem."
"Sorry," they both said, blushing.
"But you agree that Buffy must have some kind of connection to Jenny?" Willow asked him.
"Yes," he said, nodding. "I have several thoughts but I believe we should wait until we can see the actual spell."
"And the reason you sent your friend to get it?" Buffy asked.
"She'll want to help, but if you think this is too private a matter..." He raised an eyebrow at Buffy.
"No. It has been proven to me over and over again that a Buffy trying to hide her personal life from interested parties..." she glared at Willow, causing her to giggle again, "means everyone finds out at the worst possible moment."
"Yup," Willow agreed. "I think it's a curse from the old Council when Buffy refused to listen to them but I've never been able to prove it."
"As long as it's just us," Buffy said. "Us, your friend, I'm assuming the person with the stuff from Sappho she's bringing back, and Jenny if this works. That's six."
"They'll be here now," Dumbledore told them. "We should join them in the waiting room."--- --- ---
Professor McGonagall was not what Buffy was expecting. She'd imagined someone very Giles-y with the faint mystic odor of tweed. Instead, what they ended up with was a tall, slim woman wearing old fashioned glasses with an expression that wavered between stern and stoic. She was able to quickly find the spell Willow had used, given Willow's description and Dumbledore's explanation of the current situation.
"I do believe this is the one," she told them, unrolling an ancient looking scroll. "We don't really know if she attempted to use any of them but this matches what you've described."
Willow looked down at it. "Yes, this is it. And that's the word that seems to be causing us problems right now."
"Ah, yes. Just as I suspected," Dumbledore added after viewing the spell. "There are a number of different interpretations for that phrase."
"Which means what?" Buffy asked impatiently. She'd been relegated to the sidelines by the four scholars once they'd finished lunch. She just wanted to find out what was causing the freaky-ness when she stood next to Jenny so she could go home. Willow could keep hanging out with the wizard types all she wanted, Buffy needed to go burn off some excess energy before the rehearsal that night.
"She'll probably remain like that until we find her soul-mate," Willow told her.
"And where do we find one of those," Buffy muttered, afraid she already knew the answer. Hermione just gave her a curious look at the comment.
"Well... there are spells for that," Willow told her gently. "But I don't think we need one just yet."
"Soul-mate can mean a number of different things in magic," McGonagall told them after Willow explained what they'd discovered earlier to her and Hermione. "It is even possible to have more than one."
"Let's get this over with then," Buffy grumbled. She'd done the soul-mate thing before and she wasn't sure she wanted to be any part of that kind of thing again. But she couldn't just leave Jenny like that even if they hadn't exactly been on the best of terms when she'd died.--- --- ---
Hermione watched wide eyed as Willow studied the spell for a minute. She'd gotten a quick history of the young witch from Professor McGonagall on their way to the hospital. She wasn't sure she believed Willow was this all powerful witch everyone claimed, and being able to practice magic without a wand seemed very strange, but she was willing to learn.
"Okay." Willow raised a hand and held it over the unconscious gypsy. "Fini."
Hermione gasped at the sudden bright light. When it faded the faint glow surrounding Jenny Calendar had disappeared also.
"That was it?" Buffy asked.
"Almost." Willow winked at her friend. "You have to kiss her. If you're her soul-mate, she'll wake up. If not..."
"Sleeping Beauty," Hermione added. "She'll stay unconscious until we find someone who is the right kind of soul-mate."
"Kiss her how?" Buffy asked, inexplicably blushing.
"Do I need to go get Faith and your sister so she and Dawn can show you?" Willow kidded her friend.
"You're going to so owe me for this," Buffy grumbled before leaning over and kissing Jenny.
She hadn't planned on doing more than brushing her lips against Jenny's. The thought that Fate and the 'Powers that Be' might expect something more from her and Jenny than the occasional nod when they met in the hall was close to wigging her out.
Her eyes closed, she was surprised at how warm Jenny's lips were. Before she could pull away, she felt them starting to move against hers. And in less than a second Buffy found herself participating in the most mind-blowing kiss she'd ever been a part of. In the history of the world, she was sure there had only ever been one kiss that came even close.
"I think we get the point Buffy," Willow interrupted with a giggle.
Buffy reluctantly pulled back to find herself looking into the wide, surprised ebony eyes of Jenny Calendar.
"Buffy?" she asked breathlessly in a shocked, disbelieving voice.
Buffy nodded, blushing even redder before answering softly, "Hey!"--- --- ---Additional Notes:
I can't explain how the wizard types knew Jenny was a gypsy without a lot of excess, unnecessary, boring verbiage so I'm not going to unless/until it becomes important to the story.
The name on Jenny's tombstone was "Jennifer Calendar" (See the episode "Passions") -- her pseudonym while in Sunnydale -- but you'll notice as the story progresses that she thinks of herself as 'Janna' - her true name. That is intentional.