She waited till they had been walking a bit before she asked, "Are you all right?"
Willow started slightly and came out of her thoughts to blink at Hermione a moment before saying, "I'm all right. I'm good even. I...okay that frown face of yours not good."
Hermione's frown deepened as she regarded Willow. She, Ron and Harry had agreed to try and help Willow. They'd even started to discuss what they knew about her and Hermione had deliberately kept quiet about their newest classmate being a wandless witch. She had reason to. She wanted to satisfy her natural curiosity about the subject without upsetting Willow. She wanted to broach the subject carefully. The trouble was she was usually a rather blunt individual and she wasn't sure how to ask what she wanted to ask without just coming out and asking it. So instead she stalled, "You talk funny, did you know?"
Willow's response was to freeze. Hermione's comment reminded her of Buffy and home. Why were so many things reminding her of home, a place she wasn't sure she'd be welcome back to?
"I didn't mean to offend you."
"No, Hermione, it's all right. Everything is still of the good, but you might want to tell me what has you frowning since you were before I spoke."
Hermione decided that it was now or never.
"Well, its simple really," she started, "You're a wandless witch and from what I've read in..."
"Can we skip the titles?" Willow asked.
"Good, unless we have to research later. Then the titles are our friends."
Hermione frowned. Willow's comment made sense in a strange way, but only to one who was use to fighting evil. More questions, now suspicions, were buzzing in her head so she continued, "Well, everything I've read about wandless witches indicated that they've a tendency to go bad. They in a way have more power then those of us who use wands. Is power even the right word? I'm not sure. Still from my reading very few don't go evil. Ron, Harry and I were talking earlier and concluded your here to heal for some reason and I was wondering if perhaps that was it. I wanted to know if you were here because you took up the Dark Arts?"
Willow paled and stop moving.
"Dark Arts?" she managed to squeak, "You mean like evil, darkness, general badness, and...and...d-d..."
"It's true then," Hermione whispered her eyes widening, "its written all over your face."
Willow let out a squeak of panic as her hands flew to her face. She sighed slightly relieved when her face felt normal, no veininess here. She quickly grabbed her hair and relaxed further when she realized it was still red.
Hermione frowned as she observed Willow not quite understanding why the girl beside her was suddenly touching her face and grabbing her hair.
"Perhaps I put that wrong," she started to amend.
Willow cut her off, "Hermione listen to me, this is important. I'm going to admit your...wait I don't understand this big deal about being a wandless witch. Amy never used a...okay bad example. Michael! Michael nev...okay the only time he didn't was when he was doing spells with Amy and me. Oh this is bad, very bad. Not good...it-it's...just not good."
Hermione frowned at Willow's nervousness as she asked, "Who are Amy and Michael?"
"Th-they were friends."
"I-it's a long story which we don't have time for since we're almost at the Professor's office, right?"
At Hermione's doubtful look Willow continued, "Okay, Hermione, you're right. I was all with the dark mojo, but I'm better now. I was brought here to get better."
Willow paused and gave the girl beside her a worried look. Hermione beamed, "We thought so, though I was the only one to guess why."
"I'm not suppose to tell," Willow said softly.
"That's understandable, some of the parents might have had a problem with it. It'd almost be like bringing You-Know-Who here for rehabilitation. I know I probably shouldn't ask blunt, but would you tell me why you went evil?"
At Willow's haunted look Hermione continued, "I shouldn't have asked. Ron's always telling me I'm too blunt. I'm sorry, my foot likes to live in my mouth."
"I-its all right," Willow managed, "Whose You-Know-Who?"
Hermione stopped dead in her tracks and turned to look at the girl beside her in amazement. Astonished she asked, "You've never heard of Voldemort? Never read about him?"
"I was all with the muggleness," Willow confessed, "He must be a wizard thing. Is he your guys big bad?"
"Your evil," Willow explained, "the bad guy or girl who tries to destroy everything."
Hermione nodded understanding, "He's a dark wizard, his followers even refer to him as the dark lord."
Hermione paused to roll her eyes, "Some of the Slytherins in our grade even...that's why you're not suppose to tell isn't it? We're at school with some of his supporters and your recovering from going evil so it would be smart not to tell."
Willow nodded silently before asking, "So you won't tell?"
"Not a word," Hermione promised, "Not even to Ron or Harry."
Willow smiled, her secret was safe and they'd reached Lupin's office. The Professor greeted them with a smile. Hermione started to give her plea to stay and hear Willow's tale, but silenced herself as Lupin thanked her for guiding Willow to his office and that she didn't need to return because he would guide her back to the Gryffindor Tower.
As she walked away Lupin remarked, "She's the cleverest witch her age I've ever met, sometimes I fear she's too clever for her own good."
Willow frowned not sure where this conversation was leading.
"She's at the top of her class," he smiled.
"So was I," Willow said softly worry now beginning to penetrate her, "You think she could end up like me?"
"Not while she's got Ron and Harry to fuss over," Remus reassured her, "Worrying over them gives her something to do and they rescue her when she's too deeply engrossed in her studies."
Still Willow frowned thinking of Xander and Buffy, now comparing the little trio at Hogworts to the one she'd been a part of in Sunnydale. Harry was Buffy. She couldn't explain her understanding of this yet. It was merely something she sensed, knew. If Tara was here she'd probably say something about his aura and put two and two together. Willow missed Tara with everything inside her. As the thought fluttered across her brain and left a stabbing pain within her. She forced herself to focus her thoughts again. Ron, with his upbeat personality yet underlying seriousness and loyalty was Xander. Which left Hermione being her. Willow suddenly worried for the inquisitive bushy-haired girl, she didn't want Hermione to follow the same path she had.
Maybe that's what Carissa meant, Willow thought to herself, maybe I can say or do something to keep her from it.
"Willow, are you all right?" Lupin's inquiring voice asked drawing her out of her thoughts.
"I'm good," Willow answered simply with a smile as she took in his office. It was a rather organized mess. In the corner was a large tank of water, with a creature Willow had never seen before. She found herself drawn to it and she bent over to stare face to face with the green creature who pulled a face at her before burying itself in a tangle of weeds.
"A grindylow, for the third year's final," Lupin explained.
Willow smiled and nodded as she scanned his book self and then a hand-drawn picture resting on top. The picture showed two girl and a boy. The boy, Willow quickly realized was a younger version of Remus. The girl on his left hand side looked familiar somehow in her face, but Willow hadn't ever seen her before. She had dark hair, small eyes and a pretty smile. The girl on the right side had short cut lighter hair and an childish inquisitive look. It was this girl that caught Willow attention, she looked like a younger version of Carissa, the coven witch who had come up with the idea to send her to Hogworts.
"Who are they?" she asked as she picked up the picture.
"Old friends. This one is Serina," Remus told her softly pointed to the pretty dark-haired girl, "she was in the same year and same house as I. We remained friend up until her death."
"Shortly after we graduated, only a week after actually. It was hard on everyone, her brother especially."
Willow turned to look at Remus questioningly, but when he said nothing more she nodded her understanding, "We had people who died shortly after we graduate, actually we had people die at graduation."
Remus' eyes had widen, "At graduation?"
"The mayor wanted to eat us, but we fought back and won. We blew up the school in the process, but...should I not be talking about this?"
"No, it's all right. I know why you're here, and a bit of where you came from. If you want to talk about it, you're more then welcome."
Willow smiled before looking back to the picture. She pointed to the boy and asked, "This is you?"
"A long time ago and this," Remus said as he pointed to the other figure, " is Carissa. She was in a different house and a year behind me. Carissa had her own way of doing things the same as she had an odd choice in friends."
Willow frowned as she set the picture back down, "What do you mean?"
"She considered Snape to be her best friend even though he was constantly rejecting her friendship. Severus likes to insist he's a loner, comes from a rather colored past and it would be rude of me to go into it so I'll stop at that. She and I were rather good friend as well as her and Serina. Unfortunately she left at the end of her fifth year," Remus trailed off softly and frowned as he moved to his desk. In a distracted way he asked if she'd like some tea and Willow declined. He sat at his desk then looking her quietly. Neither knew quite what to say.
Finally Willow asked, "She only went to school for five years?"
Remus frowned and now looked the part of the distracted one, "She...she was a seer there was an incident where a teacher slipped her a potion that would increase her visions. She ended up having a series of strong visions and she attacked another student so naturally she couldn't stay."
Willow waited for him to continue and after a moment said, "You're not telling me everything are you?"
Remus' eyes flicked from Willow to the picture she held in her hand, "She went mad and spent several years at Mungos, a hospital for the insane. I was never allowed to visit her. About five years ago I-I heard she'd gotten better, had actually been better for some time, and was release. I've haven't heard from her since. I tried for a time to locate her, but couldn't."
Willow put the picture back and told him, "I'm sorry."
In her head she was wondering if she'd been sent to Hogworts by a mad woman and if she should say anything to Remus about just who it was who proposed the idea since obviously he didn't realize. She decided against telling him and moved to a chair next to the desk. On his desk she spotted more pictures, but this time mostly a group of boys. Remus smiled softly as Willow asked who they were.
"Their friends from my childhood. This one is James, then Sirius, the girl is Lily and Peter use to be in this picture but with recent events he's fled."
"People in wizarding picture have a tendency to move about and sometimes they leave the photo completely."
Willow nodded. They grew quiet again each lost in their own thoughts, not quite sure what to say. After a moment Willow asked, "H-how long have you been a werewolf?"
Remus smiled at her softly, "Since I very young. Honestly I can hardly recall a time when I wasn't."
"Oz was a teenager."
Remus who had been lounge back a bit sat up straight quickly. Sounding a bit distressed he asked, "A teenager?"
"His senior year, except that he had to repeat senior year. Does that make it his first senior year or...yea, he was a teenager," Willow repeated as she cut herself off. Her hands flutter for a moment and suddenly she wished she'd taken him up on his offer of the tea. She needed something to do with her hands. She didn't want to talk about the past. She still hurt, the past hurt, and she felt drained. The day had been long. Keeping herself in good spirits and not bursting into tears every few moments had made it longer.
"How," Remus asked, "how was he bit?"
"He had a younger cousin, Jordy. We still don't where, how, Jordy got bit. Oz was baby sitting. Jordy was in that little kid bitey stage and Oz got bit. It's a whole long story how we found out. He got all wolfy in front of me and I had to run and...and then I had to shoot him."
"To put him to sleep, so he wouldn't eat me. There was a guy too, that wanted to kill him but we, my friends and I, we didn't let him." Willow finished in a rush before frowning and staring at her hands. She shifted uncomfortably in her seat. Remus didn't say anything, he sat quietly pondering what she had said.
After a moment Willow yawned and he asked, "Tired?"
"Well its been a long day," Willow pointed out softly.
"Would you like to go back to the Gryffindor tower?"
"I...we haven't really talked."
"We can talk as we walk. I'm sorry if I'm making you uncomfortable."
Willow nodded, "It was hard. Oz left me because of a lot of thing involved with his wolfiness and it was hard. Then he came back and he had to leave again. I had Tara, I loved Tara. We, it was easier, better, that he left, but it still hurts. A-and I think about Tara when I think about him and its hard."
Willow wiped at the tears in her eyes and choked back a sob. Remus went to her then, pulled her to him in a hug.
"It's hard losing people you love," he told her softly as he thought about all the good friends he had lost over the years.
Willow accepted his comfort, held onto him a moment before she stepped away. Softly she said, "I think I would like to go back now."
He nodded and lead her from his office. As they walked they made small talk because Willow really wasn't ready to go into anything else. At last they reached the portrait of the Fat Lady who smiled at Willow.
"Are you going to be all right?" Remus asked concerned.
"Eventually," Willow managed.
"Thank you for talking to me."
She nodded and he gave her a soft smile before he walked away. Willow shifted the satchel she had been carrying her books in and froze. She was suppose to write Giles. She hadn't written Giles!
"Password?" the Fat Lady asked.
"I-I have to go for a moment," Willow told her, "I'll be right back."
Then she went off in search of the Owlery. She found it quickly and sent Giles a quick letter telling him she was fitting in okay and not to worry about her and to hurry back, then she tried to find her way back to her house. It was hopeless, she was lost. There were doors that simply weren't doors and the staircase had changed. She was very lost.
I'll find it soon, she tried telling herself, yea in a couple of years.
With a sigh she started looking at the pictures on the walls. They all moved! She had thought it was only the portrait in front of the door. She'd been so busy and distracted she hadn't really paid attention to the walls. She watched fascinated as a young girl left her picture only to step into the picture beside her.
I wish Tara was here to see this, Willow thought, Tara would love this.
Then all the pain she had been pushing to the back of her mind came flooding forward. She was simply too tired to keep it at bay anymore. Tears streamed down her face. She missed Tara so much. She felt as if Tara should be at Hogworts and not her. She wished Tara was there with her right at the moment. She felt pain for her reactions when Tara died. She'd killed someone. She still couldn't believe that she'd killed someone.
She whimpered then sobbed. She looked around swiftly and felt a momentary relief when she realized there was a girl's bathroom nearby. She ducked into it and slide to the floor sobbing.
"Oh Tara," Willow sobbed.
"Most people say Merlin," a high pitched girls voice chortled from behind her.
Willow screamed and spun around. She stared at the student, a ghost that had been a student, in front of her.
"Well that's no way to great someone!" the ghost shrieked, " Suppose everyone thinks its perfectly all right. Sure scream at Myrtle she won't mind she's..."
"Please don't be upset," Willow tried.
The ghost girl, Myrtle stopped herself mid rant and blinked at Willow.
"I..."Willow started again, "You, you're a ghost."
Myrtle sobbed, "Of course I am."
"Please don't cry. I just didn't expect to see a ghost in here."
"You didn't know?" Myrtle asked.
"No, no not at all," Willow confirmed, "I found out today that there are house ghosts, but I thought that was all."
"You haven't met Professor Binn's yet have you?" Myrtle asked.
Willow shook her head no.
"It was a great thing when he died and stayed," Myrtle told her gleefully, "He came into a class of first year Hufflepuffs and some of them cried."
"Oh, so he's a teacher?"
Myrtle nodded. They stared at each other.
"I'm lost," Willow said softly.
"Not my problem," Myrtle told her.
"I need to get back to Gryffindor," Willow tried.
"I stay here," Myrtle told her.
"You never leave?"
"Sometimes I do," Myrtle admitted.
They grew silent again and finally Willow asked the question that was playing in her mind, "D-did it hurt to die?"
"Oh it was dreadful!" Myrtle crowed but paused at the horror in Willow's eyes, "Are you going to cry?"
Tear began streaming down Willows face before the question was even completed.
"No, stop! Only I'm allowed to cry in here! It wasn't so bad to die, please don't cry."
"I can't help it," Willow sobbed, "Tara died an-and now I'm here and everything is so wrong and I'm lost. I'm so lost."
"Don't cry," the ghost order before hiccuping a sob herself, "stay here, don't cry.
Then she disappeared. Stunned at the girls abrupt departure Willow sniffled and got up to wash her face. She was staring in the mirror thinking of Tara when she heard two voiced at the door.
"I cannot go in there," a male voice said.
"B-but she's on my toilet! She's crying in there and only I am allowed to do this! I'm Moaning Martial! She isn't! Get her out! Get her out! Get her out!" a girl's voice screeched.
Mrytle had gone and got someone. Quickly wiping her face Willow grabbed her bag and cautiously opened the door. Floating there looking irritated as he watched Myrtle rant was another ghost.
"Hi," Willow tried.
The male ghost with a ruffle on his collar smiled at her kindly and with a nod he told her, "I'm Sir Nicholas de Mimsy-Porpington, Myrtle here said you need some assistance."
"I...yes...I got lost. You're the Gryffindor ghost?" Willow asked remembering the names of the ghost that Hermione had told her with Ron interrupting with nicknames for them. Ron had said Nearly Headless Nick and Willow had been glad to not have met him. The Nearly Headless part had given her the wiggins, but this ghost looked normal, his head looked fine.
"I am," Nick beamed.
"I need to get back there."
"Follow me then," the ghost told her with a smile.
"Thank you," Willow told Myrtle who blinked at her confused.
The Myrtle beamed, "Come back when you're not crying so much. We can talk about death, we could ponder it together."
It was Willow's turn to blink.
"Okay," she managed as politely as she could before she followed Nick. Nick was a wonderful guide. He kept up a lively conversation and when he got her to the Gryffindor Tower he waited till she was safely inside. She never got to find out why he was nearly headless.
Some of the students were in the common room studying. Ron was teaching chess a younger boy who looked a bit like Colin.
Ron shook his head, "No you're queen can move as many spaces as you'd like."
"Oh," the boy frowned then brightened, "So I could take that piece there?"
Ron frowned and looked to where the boy was pointing. He nodded and told him he could. Then he looked up and spotted Willow. He greeted her with a smile and asked how it'd been with Lupin.
Absently she told him it'd been all right and gave him a goodnight before she retreated to the girl's dormitory. She was exhausted and fully intended to get some sleep.
Sorry this chapter took so long for me to write. For some reason it just wouldn't come out, I've been struggling with it for awhile and am okay with the results, hopefully you are too.
NightShade - thanx
Cassie-bear01- I'm glad you liked it.
AineRose - thanx! This one is just a bit longer, hopefully they'll all be around this size from here on out.
dragonmage - I'm glad you like my story so far. And as to who the third person is I'm keeping my lip sealed. Spike? I love Spike. I hope you don't mind but I borrowed the idea and attempted humor. Concerning Ron, well I its going to be worse for him then his chess pieces rebelling...but in the end I think he might get it. And babble as much as you like. I do it all the time, it's good for you.
eowowiel - I'm glad you like my story so far. Spike...I'm not so sure on because at this point in their timeline he's all soully and I'm not exactly sure how I'd fit a soully Spike into this. Ron's only been this thick for a day and he's already getting to you? I must not be doing a good job then. Ron will get his I promise. Snape helping Willow? I love Willow/Snape helping each other. There will probably be some of that in here.
Dark Topaz - I'll try.