Thanks so much for the reviews! This time I'm posting *after* I get off work instead of before I *go* to work lol =)
I woke up tucked into the bed at our hotel room, Draco lying next to me, watching me sleep. It must have been late, but he was wide awake. "Hey," I whispered and he smiled back at me softly, his hand reaching out to brush my hair off my forehead.
"Hey." I had to smile as he stroked my cheek, his fingers running down to end at the tip of my chin. I loved him so much at that moment it almost hurt. Just something about looking at him in the semi-darkness of the most expensive hotel in Sunnydale- which was actually one of only three in the entire town- made my chest squeeze. He knew about my past, knew what I had done, and yet he still loved me. Sometimes I wondered if he felt the same- that he was lucky to have someone who knew him and wasn't afraid of him. But then, I didn't really have to wonder on that, it was in his eyes and in the way he touched me. Like I was the most precious thing he'd ever laid his eyes on.
I'm not saying our relationship was perfect. Far from it. We fought sometimes, so bad that it seemed like the house was going to burn down around us. But we always made up. And that was the best part of fighting. Always the best part. Sometimes I wondered if he picked fights just to get to the makeup sex. Huh.
"What happened after I passed out," I asked him suddenly, the events of the night finally coming back to me. His features hardened somewhat and I knew he was angry. Not at me, but at the pricks I used to call friends.
"That Bunny-girl tried to take you away from me, telling me that you'd be safer there with them," his tone was like ice and I shivered a little, even as I smiled slightly at his deliberate misuse of Buffy's name. Were they completely nuts? The easiest way to get hexed into next week was to threaten to take me away. And my husband, I am very proud to say, is very inventive with the hexes. Let's just say that he could give Anya a run for her money in the vengance business. My eyes teared up at the thought of the girl that had died because of me. If I had done the spell right the first time, this never would have happened.
"No," Draco interrupted me before I even knew I was speaking out loud. He pulled me closer, curling his body around my stomach and pulling my head to rest on his shoulder. I sighed and tried not to start crying. His next words, almost the exact ones Hermione had said, made the tears start. "This was not your fault, love. They could have prevented their own bloody disaster. Instead of overlooking the work of a sixteen year old girl, that Giles bloke left it to chance. From what I've heard, they criticized you for doing the spell in the first place. What about Bunny? She could have easily killed the damned vampire instead of just sending him to hell. Everyone knows that there are ways out of that demension."
"I brought him out of hell, Draco." My voice was small, barely a whisper of sound. But Draco heard me and his hand stilled in my hair, but instead of pulling away, he pulled me tighter. "It's my fault."
"Why did you bring him out, love?" His hands were gentle as they started stroking my hair and back again. Somehow he knew that I couldn't take any anger on his part. I needed him more now than ever. Of all the demons that I've faced, Angelus was the one that scared me the most. Maybe because he had the face of a friend.
"Because I knew that Buffy hadn't sent the demon to hell," I explained, my face still buried in my husband's chest. "I knew the curse had worked. I felt it go through me. By the time Buffy got back from wherever she'd run away to, he'd already endured three months of hell. I researched for another month, then brought him back. I never thought that Angelus might return."
"Can you redo the curse," Draco asked me quietly, his hands starting to knead the muscles in my back.
"Not until after the baby's born." My heart jumped at the thought of putting our unborn daughter at risk. "It took a lot out of me the first time. I'm a lot more powerful now, so it should be easy. But I've been trying to stay away from the powerful magic."
"Would one of us be able to do it?"
"Maybe Hermione," I told him honestly, lifting my head to look into his face. "I'm not saying you or Harry don't have the power, but Hermione's magic is a lot closer to mine. Where you guys are natural born wizards, our magic is more... earthy? That's not explaining it very well."
"It's okay, love." Draco smiled and leaned in to kiss me, his lips lingering. "Let's talk about this tomorrow. We've both had a bloody terrible day."
"You can say that again," I sighed, then snuggled down closer. I was exausted, both physically and mentally. It felt good to have his arms around me like this. I felt safe, even though I knew there was a sneaky master vampire roaming the streets looking to make my life a living hell. Oh, and did I mention that my 'friends' were pissed off enough to offer me to him on a silver platter?
Don't look so shocked. I know what they're thinking. Or at least one or two of them. I'm the one that got them into this mess, so I'm the one that's gonna get them out of it. Well, we'll see, won't we?
"So, you think that I can do this?" Hermione looked at me with those big, serious brown eyes of hers. We were gathered at one of the few decent restaurants in Sunnydale- once again the most expensive. Somethings never changed, and Draco would always be a bit of a snob. It was around noon, and we were eating at one of the tables outside. The sunshine was bright and it felt good, even if the air was a bit on the chilly side. It was much warmer here than it was at home this time of year, but for some reason I was having trouble staying warm.
"I know you can," I told her firmly, taking another bite of my salad. I put my fork down, feeling full. "We just have to go over the curse again and find a way to take out the clause. If we're gonna do this, I want to do it right this time."
"And if there's no way to do it without the clause?" Harry asked, the sunshine glinting off his glasses.
"Then we have to kill Angelus." Something deep inside died as I said it, but it was the only other option. I wasn't going to keep going through this, and I wasn't going to have my family put in danger because I was too much of a coward to do what should have been done in the first place.
"So, are we headed back to the slayer's place?" Hermione asked, her nose wrinkling at the unpleasant thought. "Or can we do this on our own?"
"I would rather cut off my hands than go back to Buffy's house." I grin ruefully. "Giles has a magic shop downtown. We can go there to gather the research materials and bring it back to the hotel. Since I already know what to look for, it should be pretty easy."