Willow was sitting meditating under her favourite tree on a hilltop in Westbury. Kennedy came racing up the hill toward her. “Willow! Come quick! She’s back! In London!”
Willow was on her feet, and running downhill to meet her girlfriend. “We got a location? Have you called Buffy?”
“We’ve given her the heads up,” said Kennedy. “Althenea’s working on refining the position better, so we can tell her which way to go.”
They ran together down the hill, and burst into Althenea’s cottage near the base of it. “You got her?” panted Willow.
Althenea looked up at Willow and smiled. “You still need to work on your patience. Almost there.” She looked back down at the London street map in front of her and blew a handful of sparkling powder across it. Little coloured lights started to glow on it.
Willow scanned the map for a red light while she caught her breath. There wasn’t one. “Damn! She’s gone again!”
Althenea looked at another map on the floor beside her, this one showed all of southern England, with a glowing red dot on it. “No, she’s still in London.” She looked back at the street map and frowned. “Why isn’t she on this one?”
Willow pointed to a blue dot. “There’s Buffy.” A violet dot was moving quickly toward it. “And Giles…” The violet dot seemed to merge with the blue, making a single bright purple dot. Willow pointed to a yellow dot moving slowly into a park, a couple of blocks away from the hotel. “And Xander… Wait a minute, Xander’s supposed to be in Cleveland with Faith!” She looked at the yellow dot more closely. Sometimes it seemed to split for a moment, becoming a pair of green and red dots. “She’s with Dawn!” She grabbed her phone and recalled a number from its memory.
Dawn picked an isolated tree for them to sit under. Lots of clear ground around it so no one could get close enough to overhear without her noticing. The park was nearly empty. Dawn saw one young woman with spiky green hair sit down on a bench nearby and take out a book, but she was far enough away that she wouldn’t be able to hear them. She shook her head a bit at the hair. People over eighteen shouldn’t be allowed to wear some styles.
They were just settling down when Dawn’s phone rang. Ron and Ginny were startled by the noise. Dawn was annoyed by the interruption, this wasn’t a good time. “Just a sec, I gotta answer this.”
Dawn pulled out her phone and looked at the display. She was expecting to see that it was Buffy calling, and was a little surprised to see that it was Willow. She was suddenly hit by a whole new suspicion. ‘Oh shit!’ she thought. ‘This has gotten complicated again.’ She thumbed the talk button. “Hi Willow, let me guess: she’s with me now. … How long? … Okay let me make sure I’ve got the right one…” Dawn looked at Ginny. “Could you please move a little bit away, just for a sec?”
Ginny looked puzzled, but she got up and backed off a couple of steps. Dawn listened to Willow for a bit. “Okay, you can come back.” She smiled at Ginny. “Had to get a little distance between us to make sure that it was really you and not Hermione that Willow’s locator spell was picking up.”
Dawn started listening to Willow again while Ginny sat back down on the grass. She and the others were really looking surprised now. “No! Ask Buffy to wait. Let me handle this. If she really starts to hide, we’ll never find her again. … Yeah, I got a pretty good idea why she kept appearing and disappearing, and I don’t think it was a deliberate attempt to hide, at least not from us specifically. … If Buffy wants to do something… Just a sec.”
Dawn lowered her phone. “How much do you guys trust Mr. Lupin?”
“He was one of my dad’s best friends,” said Harry. “And the best DADA teacher we’ve had.”
“That last bit’s not saying much.” said Ron.
Dawn looked at Ginny. “This is really your call. Do you trust Mr. Lupin?”
“What’s this all about?” asked Ginny.
“I’m going to tell you but if I don’t give Buffy something to do, she’s going to come charging over here, and she’ll start explaining it, and her speeches tend to get really long and boring, so if you trust him, I’ll send her and Giles to go talk to Mr. Lupin. Let them bore him. You want me to do that?”
Ginny nodded. “Okay, sure.”
Dawn started talking to her phone again. “Okay, Will. Tell Buffy that DADA stands for Defence Against the Dark Arts, and she and Giles should go see his friend Lupin. He’s looking like he might be an even better candidate that Giles thought he would be. He knows the girl, and I think these folks have a pretty good idea about what’s really what in the world. … Okay, talk to you later. … Bye.”
Dawn closed her cell phone and looked at the faces of the people sitting around her on the grass. There was a curious mix of suspicion, curiosity and fear on their faces, and Ron…Ron was looking at her cell phone.
“What?” asked Dawn. “Never seen a cell phone before?”
“Actually, no, I haven’t. It looks wicked though. Dad would love to have one of those.”
“Uh…maybe I’ll let you look at it later,” said Dawn. “Right now we have something more important to talk about. Have any of you ever heard of the Vampire Slayer?”
“She’s a myth!” said Hermione.
“I’m afraid you’re mythtaken…god I really said that, didn’t I?” Dawn shook her head. “Okay, tell me what you’ve heard about the Slayer.”
Ron, Harry and Ginny were all looking blank. “Never heard of her,” said Ron.
“Really Ron, you should try reading a little more,” said Hermione. “There was a chapter on vampires in one of the books on Professor Lupin’s ‘Recommended Reading’ list. It mentioned the Slayer. It was written by a Muggle, but it was surprisingly good.”
Dawn remembered that Lupin had mentioned Giles’ book being on their list. “The Muggle who wrote it wouldn’t have been named ‘Rupert Giles’ would he?”
Hermione frowned in concentration. “I think maybe it was.”
“Okay, then anything he’d have to say about the Slayer would be pretty accurate. Tell us about her.”
“Um, there is one girl in the world, given special powers to fight vampires and other demons,” said Hermione. “She’s super strong, fast and has enhanced senses for detecting demons. Once chosen the Slayer fights the forces of Darkness, until…well, until they kill her, and another is chosen.”
“That pretty much sums it up,” said Dawn, “Except we’ve changed things a bit. Ginny, you are a Slayer.”
“No! I can’t be! I mean I’m not strong, or any of that other stuff.”
“The strength doesn’t show unless you really try to use it, but um, have you lost any wrestling matches with your brother in the past couple of months?” Dawn saw from Ron’s reaction that she hadn’t, despite him being a lot bigger than her. “Met a jar you couldn’t open?”
“She’s got wicked good at Quidditch!” said Ron. “She’s a cinch to make Chaser this year.”
Dawn decided to ignore Ron’s incomprehensible statement. She could see that Ginny still wasn’t believing her. She looked around and picked up a rock off the ground. She handed it to Ginny. “Here. Toss this into that trash can over there.” She pointed to a trash can about twenty yards away.
“I can’t do that!” said Ginny. Tossing rocks was nothing like throwing an enchanted Quaffle.
“You haven’t even tried,” said Dawn. “Betcha a dollar you can do it.”
“No way she can even get close!” said Ron. “I bet you she can’t!” He turned to Hermione. “Er, what’s a dollar?”
“Muggle money,” said Hermione. “About two Sickles.”
“Hear that Ginn?” asked Dawn. “Throw that rock into that trash can, and your brother has to pay me two Sickles.” She looked at Hermione. “What’s a Sickle?”
Hermione grinned. “About fifty cents.”
“I think you’re going to lose your dollar,” said Ginny. She stood up, and turned toward the can. She weighed the rock carefully in her hand.
“Don’t think too much about it,” said Dawn. “Just do it.” She noticed that the woman with the green hair was looking toward them. She seemed to notice that Dawn was looking her way, and started reading again.
Ginny threw the rock. It looked totally awkward, and Ron smirked to himself: Ginny still threw like a girl. No way was that rock going to… “Bloody hell!”
“Whoosh! Nothin’ but net!” Dawn held out her hand toward Ron. “Pay up.”
Ron reached into his pocket. “Had to be luck.”
“Care to try for double or nothing?” asked Dawn.
Ron made a face as he pulled some silver and copper coins out of his pocket. He dropped a couple of the silver ones into her hand. Dawn looked them over carefully. “So those are Sickles. Neat!”
“So you’re saying that now Ginny is this one girl in all the world, who has been chosen to fight the monsters?” asked Hermione. She didn’t like that at all. The book had said that Slayers didn’t live very long.
“Yes, and no,” said Dawn.
“What do you mean?”
Dawn smiled. “We changed the ‘one girl in all the world’ part a couple of months ago. Now there are forty-seven of them, in Britain alone. Ginny was the toughest to find. We knew she existed, but she’d keep appearing and then disappearing again before we could get anyone close enough to find her. You’re living someplace that’s masked by magic, aren’t you? Like the Leaky Cauldron?”
“Uh, yeah,” said Ginny.
“The most important thing now though, is that as a consequence of the change, because there isn’t just one girl anymore, Ginny has a choice,” said Dawn. “It’s a choice Buffy really never had. Ginny, do you really want to be a Slayer? Do you want to be part of the fight?”
|Chapter 3: Movies||Contents||Chapter 5: Cauldron and Alley|