Unfortunate Events For Unfortunate People.
Wilhelmina Potter's P.O.V
Dead people don't wake up. That was the natural way of things. Dead people don't wake up, and no one wakes up dead. Wilhelmina Potter was seventeen when she died in a dreadful burst of green and a cool, hard drop into darkness.
She was also seventeen when she woke up dead.
That was different. Not entirely pleasant, either. Mina wouldn't recommend it. If you died, take her word for it. Stay dead. It was a lot less hassle.
Nevertheless, in the beginning, she didn't remember much of the battle of Hogwarts, of her own death, just fragments and flashes of jumbled images, as if her last moments were immortalized in a partially torn picture book transcribed in a foreign language. She understood the gist of things, but the nuances were gone.
She remembered Sirius Black's face, but could not recall who he was or why his loss had bothered her so. She could recite her third year Potions essay, but didn't have a clue what half the ingredients were. She knew she had been fighting a war, but she didn't have the foggiest of why.
She didn't even remember waking up dead exactly, in the middle of the courtyard, Tom Riddle prematurely boasting his triumph over the Girl-Who-Lived-No-More. She supposed he was right in a way, she didn't 'live' as she staggered upright. Living things had heartbeats, didn't they?
Her chest was hollow.
That had been an eerie sensation, a sudden realisation of an absence.
However, what she did remember was the hunger. A burn that didn't go away deep in her throat. A knot in her stomach of a crank turning. A need that took, and took, and took, and took. Or was it Mina who took?
She wasn't too sure. She remembered… Screams. Something fragrant and intoxicating on her tongue, sweet like honey and heady like wine. Something warm on her face like scalding rain and, Merlin, the thirst. She remembered the thirst and… Crunch.
The Ministry said she killed thirteen Deatheaters, not including Tom Riddle who she ate first, that day in her awakening frenzy. They said she drained them dry, bit and drank and devoured like some feral beast. They called her an abomination. Wrong. She would feast on them all, given the chance. For all their sakes, she needed to be put down.
Mina didn't remember all that, only the hunger and the dazzling rush of red from the spell they used to finally knock her out.
Unfortunately for them, the spell didn't last long enough.
Unfortunately for them, Mina still wasn't in her right mind.
Unfortunately for them, she was still starving.
Dead people don't wake up. That was the natural way of things. Dead people don't wake up, and no one wakes up dead. Wilhelmina Potter was seventeen when she died in a dreadful burst of green and a cool, hard drop into darkness. She was also seventeen when she woke up dead.
She hadn't stopped running since.
Angel was in the Sunnydale high school library when he felt it. An unexpected stirring in the bottom of his gut, a twisting, squirming ball of… Something from the demonic beast within, the monster he called Angelus. There was a swelling rumble he could sense echoing in his head next, bouncing off his skull, gushing.
The sensation was strong enough to send him faltering by a bookcase, carelessly grasping out for a ledge to hold himself aloft. Buffy was beside him in an instant, her worry as clear as sunshine etched on her face.
"Angel, are you alright?"
Angel straightened himself out, blinking, smiling, and lied.
"Fine. The lights are bright in here and… I'm fine, honestly."
Buffy grinned up at him in the way she always did, in utter trust and blind affection. Angel felt shame nip at his heels. He didn't like lying, that was Angelus's thing he told himself, but Buffy…
Buffy would never understand, and that was a good thing. It revealed how pure she was. Angel hoped she would never understand the struggle of keeping a demonic voice quiet in her own head. To always have that contorted face, your own face, watching from the dark, waiting for the right moment to leap.
One wrong step, and the demon would come out to play.
No one, least of all Angel, wanted that.
Even with a soul, it was a twenty-four hour battle to keep Angelus, the beast, at bay. To not listen to the poison he dripped, or the rage he surged, or the temptations he proffered in sweet voices and fantasies.
Whatever had gotten the beasts attention this time couldn't have been anything good. Best to, much like with Angelus locked in his head, stomp it down and ignore it.
Yet, as Angel followed Buffy to the rest of the Scoobies clustered around the main table of the library, forming a game plan for the new weekly big-bad, the sensation in his head didn't lesson. It bloomed.
Something was off.
He couldn't describe it, not accurately, he could hardly feel it, but there was something in the back of his mind, an ember flickering and-
"What do you think, Angel?"
Again, he blinked.
Buffy frowned at his unusual absentmindedness.
"Will you come patrolling with me tomorrow night? I think I know where those vampire brothers are nesting, and I could use the back up."
Angel rubbed at the back of his neck, trying to ease the sudden tension knotting in his spine. No. Not tension. Tugging. Angelus was yanking at something, pulling viciously, trying to get his interest. His attention.
"Sure, I… I need to go. I'll see you tomorrow."
Buffy opened her mouth to respond, but Angel was already sweeping out the library.
He needed to feed, that was all. A mug of pigs blood would set him right as rain again. The strange sensation would go soon, fade as Angelus got distracted.
The sensation didn't go away.
Angelus kept wrenching, roaring in the void.
Two Weeks Later.
Buffy Summer's P.O.V
Angel was distracted, and Buffy didn't know what to do about it. No matter what she tried, patrols, mortal danger, joking, flirting, laughter, pretending she had an essay due on seventeenth century Ireland she needed help with, Angel was completely, utterly, wholeheartedly side-tracked. Most often than not, his gaze would drift, outwards, away. It took her practically shouting to get his attention back.
Buffy was not, in any shape or form, used to being looked over.
It was the curse of being an only child. She had never had to fight anyone, or anything, for attention before. Being the chosen one, the Slayer, only furthered that. Yet, with Angel's head off in the clouds, gods knew where, Buffy found herself trying desperately to get his notice, and keep it on her.
So far, she had failed miserably.
A week after it first began, this hazy inattentiveness, so uncharacteristic of Angel, saw Buffy asking him outright what the hell was going on, what was wrong, what could she do to help. Angel's answer was always the same.
When she pushed, Angel withdrew further, going as far as, once, plainly asking her to leave his home. She didn't see him again until three days later.
Buffy didn't like it. She didn't like it one bit.
However, this sudden chasm between them didn't last long. Two weeks into it, just as Buffy was ready to pull her hair out by the roots, god forbid after all the cremes and lotions she had invested her pocket money in, after her nightly patrol she had somehow managed to get Angel to tag-along with, came the two strange men, and suddenly everything changed.
On her way into the library after her patrol, to touch base with her Watcher and inform him of the nights happenings before she headed home, Angel at her side, silent as he had been for the last fourteen days, Buffy found Giles already entertaining two guests, nattering softly between themselves in his back room office.
The men were… Odd. Dressed in what Buffy, upon first glance, thought to be robes with hoods. From the corner of her eye, she watched as Angel's nostrils flared. Whatever he smelled; he didn't like it. Hardening, voice closed off and biting, Angel considered the two keenly.
"What are those doing here?"
He also, by the tone of his voice, knew what the bathrobe-boys were. At least someone did, Buffy thought, beyond the matter of them severely lacking any sort of fashion sense that past the sixteenth century.
Giles, at the voice disrupting whatever conversation he was immersed in, swivelled, face lightening up as he spotted Buffy in the doorway.
"They've come for the Slayers help."
Buffy cocked a brow.
One of the men, hood drawn down, stepped forward, grim and severe.
"We have reason to believe Sunnydale is in grave danger. We come barring a warning… However, I see you keep interesting company. A vampire walking side by side with a Slayer. How... Quaint."
The man, British by his accent, cut a snappy glance in Angel's direction. Right. Of course. Whatever they were, they obviously didn't like the fanged variety. By Angel's answering lip curl, there was no love lost.
Buffy found herself scowling too, again citing what she found herself repeating more often than not.
"Angel is different. He has a soul. And News flash, Sunnydale is always in grave danger. It's sort of a Hellmouths whole shebang."
The other man chuckled, his voice dry and husky like autumn leaves crinkling under boot, lacking all warmth, brittle and brutal.
"A vampire with a soul is still a vampire. I thought you of all people would understand that, given the scar I can see on your neck. What is the saying you muggles keep sprouting? Once bitten twice as shy?"
Unbiddenly, Buffy's hand darted up to her neck, fingers grazing the raised skin of the scar she had partly hidden by a lock of her sunny hair. When she blinked, she saw the terrible face of the Master, wrinkled in rage, lunging and-
Doggedly, she pulled her hand away, shoulders squaring.
Like hell was she going to let some-
However, Angel beat her to the punchline, chuckling sardonically.
"That's rich coming from the species that regularly tries to either subjugate, regulate or exterminate anything it can't fold into itself and consume. Tell me, Wielder, how well did that work out for the Goblins? I've heard they're little more than husks of what they used to be."
Turning to Buffy, ignoring the indignant huff and puff of the… Wielder, as he called them, Angel gestured to the two strangers before them.
"These are Wand-Wielders, Buffy. They use magic, like Wiccans, but they're not restrained by drawing power only from the earth. They carry their magic within them. They're also extraordinary arrogant, narcissistic, and loath anything that isn't like them. If they can't control it, they want it dead."
One of the Wielders gained his voice back, lurching forward, a long stick in his hand.
"What your tongue, abomination. We did not come here to fight you, but if you push it I would be more than happy to see your head detached from your neck. I would be doing the world a favour. One less of your degenerate kind prowling the streets is something to celebrate."
Angel went to take a stride forward, provoked, but Buffy, recognizing the quickly deteriorating situation, leapt forward, placing herself between the two clearly outraged supernatural creatures.
The last thing she needed was for these two to fight and accidentally squish her Watcher.
"Enough! Both of you! You! Either tell me what you are doing in my city, or get the hell out."
For a long while the Wielder and Angel merely glowered at each other, yet the former broke. Coughing, picking up the scraps of his composure, the Wielder took a measured step back, slinking an arm into his robe. What he pulled out wasn't something Buffy had been expecting.
Thick, clean, crisp, all wrapped up in a pleasant cream wallet. All very normal. He offered it out to her. Gingerly, Buffy took it, but she did not open it.
"A Dhampyr has awoken."
The word was lost on Buffy, but she saw Giles, saw the concern carving deep in the creases of his mouth and brows, heard the sudden, very unneeded, intake of breath from Angel at her back.
"A Dhampyr? What is that?"
The Wielder looked down his nose at her, as if she were meant to know every monster that went crawling about in the dark, and Buffy's fist clenched at her side.
"A dangerous being, something that should never be born."
Giles, having detected the uncertainty still lingering on Buffy's face, delicately intervened.
"A Dhampyr is a being that is born from a human and a vampire, Buffy."
Buffy grimaced, nose curling as if she smelt something foul like Xander's sock.
The Wielder scoffed.
"Ew does not cover it. Dhampyrs are exceedingly ravenous. They lack any sort of impulse control. They gain all the abilities of their demonic parent, and none of their vulnerabilities. Sunlight will not kill them. Stakes do not work. Decapitation will only slow them down. Nowhere is safe, they walk where they wished to, no invitation needed. In the first years of their undead life, they eat three times the amount a typical vampire would. They are notoriously volatile. As we have been trying to tell you, we are all in tremendous danger."
Well… Maybe not ew then.
Maybe big yikes.
"They also only eat vampires. They don't feed on humans, Buffy. It does nothing for them. Which makes me wonder why you are here…"
At Angel's declaration, his piercing gaze, the Wielders before them shuffled, uneasy. Angel actually laughed.
"The Dhampyr's half Wielder, isn't it? That's why you want it dead because it could, and likely has, fed on your kind. You similarly don't want your precious magic being bred out into a group you can't control. This Dhampyr ever figures out how to turn someone, they pass on their magic along with the vampiric curse, and they manage to create a strain of vampire that could challenge you."
Buffy glanced between the two, from Angel to Wielder, Wielder to Angel.
The Wielder didn't argue against anything Angel proposed, but he did glare fiercely.
"And these Dhampyrs… Why haven't I ran into one before now?"
Giles smiled at her, apparently the only one present fixed on the matter at hand, and currently not taking shots at the others in the room, willing to answer her questions. Of which she had many.
"They're exceptionally rare, Buffy. The last recorded Dhampyr was over two thousand years ago. In fact, all we know is hearsay and myth. We don't even know how they are made, and why not all human-vampire relations results in the birth of a Dhampyr. Yet, these Wielders are right. The tales and texts that do exist reveal how dangerous they are."
Buffy chewed it over.
Right. Some quasi-vampire had 'awoke', danger to all, yarda, yarda, yarda, typical Friday night Hellmouth stuff. Yet, how did that involve her? Apart, of course, from the whole chosen one destined to protect humanity at all costs. And why was Sunnydale in danger? Unless, in all Buffy luck, the Dhampyr, for whatever reason, was heading towards them.
Yeah, obviously it was.
"Why would it be coming here? I'm guessing by your British accents you're not from around these parts? It's a long way to come for a snack or two."
The Wielder broke its glaring contest with Angel to regard her in a clever sweep.
"Dhampyrs have an innate need to locate their sire upon awakening. It is the only time a Dhampyr has ever been killed, and the only thing documented as being able to destroy a Dhampyr during this time is a Slayer. You. However, if the Dhampyr reaches its sire… Their sire will protect them. It's instinctual. The sire, and those in his bloodline, if he has any nest-mates, will feel the same instinct to protect. It's the perfect time to attack the Dhampyr, before it reaches said protection, and while it's distracted by hunting it's sire down. It's vulnerable right now. The most vulnerable it will ever be. This is your chance to end it."
"This Dhampyr's father is in Sunnydale?"
The question was pointless. Of course it was. Where else would anything bad ever happen, but in Sunnydale? The Wielder nodded.
"We believe her father is, yes. We've been tracking her… As best as we can. We think she's making her way here."
"She? The Dhampyr's a girl?"
The Wielder pointedly glanced down to the folder clasped tightly in Buffy's hand, the folder she had forgotten she still held.
"Wilhelmina Potter. Seventeen. She awoke two weeks ago after dying. You have all the information we have on her in your hands. She was…"
Suddenly, the Wielder looked so very sad. It was, perhaps, the first truly human emotion Buffy had seen the Wielder, not including pride and spite, display. However, as quick as it came, it left quicker, and only a man on a mission remained.
"It does not matter what she was, only what she is now. A danger to us all that needs ending. That is your duty, Slayer, if I am not mistaken."
Something in Buffy's chest ached.
"She was seventeen?"
Seventeen and dead. As someone as young as this Dhampyr, as someone born into a role they had not chosen, as someone who had died too, sympathy bubbled up intensely, scratching at Buffy's rib cage. Compassion the Wielder saw and snarled at.
"Don't let her age fool you. She's fought in a war, killed one of our darkest, strongest wizards, and on the day she awoke, Wilhelmina drained eighteen witches and wizards before she managed to flee. What she was before was nothing but a mask. Dhampyr's fake humanity until they ultimately turn. The wolf hiding in the flock, waiting for the right time to strike. She is not human, Slayer. She never has been."
A gentle hand on her shoulder lazily drew Buffy away from the Wielder's scrutiny. Angel was beside her, looking down, imploring and soft and everything Buffy adored about him.
"She's half human, Buffy. Wielders are magical, but they are human. That must count for something. She's probably scared and lost and confused, dropped into a world she doesn't understand, in the throws of insatiable hunger… There's hope for her. If we find her, we can help her be good. Don't slay something just because it is different."
This was the hardest part of being a Slayer, Buffy thought.
Not the fights or endless patrols. Not coming home with vampire dust in her hair, and spending the remaining night whittling stakes when she could have been out with her friends being a normal teenager. Perhaps not even the constant threat of death.
The hardest part of being a Slayer was the morality that came with it. Deciding what lived and what died, most often than not, under her own stake. Determining where humanity ended and demonic began. The world was not black and white, not always, and sometimes, monsters had a nine-to-five jobs, and saints had horns.
Buffy glanced down to the folder in her grasp. A neat collection of a whole life. A compendium she would read and decide if someone deserved to die or live.
"How would I know this Dhampyr? Does it have horns? Fangs? Hooves? A six-six-six birthmark?"
The Wielder grinned at her, but all Buffy felt was the slip and slide of Angel's hand as he backed away.
"No. She will look human unless she's feeding. As for what she looks like while she's feeding… Pray you kill her before you get to see that side of her. We included a photograph in her file."
Peeking down, Buffy finally opened the file. The photograph was on top, ready and waiting, appearing to be a school year photo of some kind, showing a teen from the shoulders up in shirt and tie, grinning at whoever took the candid shot.
She was beautiful, in a ferocious way, Buffy would admit. The same way a big cat was beautiful. Deadly. As if she had been crafted by Pan himself, carved from madness and moonlight. Everything about her was crafty and keen, sloped and slanted with fox-like grace, a little daunting with charming dimples. Though her hair was cut short, slashed bluntly off an inch above her shoulders, the feral twirl of pale blond made her appear haloed in gilt fire.
Buffy also, absolutely, knew that face.
Knew it better than she ever wanted to.
She slapped the folder closed just as Angel went to peer over her shoulder at it. When she talked, it was pure business. To the point, razor-sharp, direct.
"You said this father vampire could sense her? That it worked both ways? That his bloodline might too? What happens with them when I kill her?"
The Wielder nodded, bleak and solemn.
"It would be my advice to be ready to kill him, and his ilk, too. As soon as possible. As your friend, your soul'd vampire, has proven just, vampires hold Dhampyr's in high regards. It's seen as a gift to sire one. Instincts, such a fundamental thing to a vampire, will push them to protect the Dhampyr. I would not like to be around a nest when one of them is killed, and trust me when I say I typically do not lose sleep when a vampire meets its demise."
Vampires, from what Buffy had witnessed herself, were family orientated, in a very animalistic way. Packs were common, a lone vampire odd. Undeniably, their concept of 'family' was completely inverted from what a human's concept of it were, unfamiliar, but they had a form of it, and that form, they held close. You attacked one vampire; the nest would come out for blood. They could do whatever they wanted to their own nest-mates, but if someone outside that unit dared tried the same…
Buffy glanced to Angel.
He loved her; she knew.
Was that love enough to override his instincts? Moreover, would this hurt him? Could Buffy do that? Hurt the man she loved, to protect those she had sworn to protect? Yes, she could. She had to. That was her destiny.
Buffy turned to the two Wielders.
"I'll do it."
The Wielders outwardly deflated before her eyes, anxiety lifting like steam in plumes and curls.
"Thank you, Slayer. We will be in touch if we find her drawing close. If that is all?"
Buffy nodded in the abruptly silent office. The two Wielders nodded their goodbyes as they left. Giles was the first to speak, sliding into Watcher mode.
"Perhaps we should do some research and prepare for-"
"I'm not killing the Dhampyr… Yet."
Giles frowned at her, perplexed. Buffy didn't blame him.
"The thing is we know nothing of this Dhampyr or how human they could be. I refuse to kill something before I can answer that question. Those Wielders obviously have an agenda, and I have a gut feeling they aren't being entirely honest. I just wanted them gone. Agreeing seemed to be the fastest way to get them out our hair."
Whirling to Angel, Buffy folded her arms across her chest, head tilting to the side. She barely managed to stop herself from tapping her foot like a mother about to lay into her errant child. Nevertheless, she didn't manage to prevent the scatter of disappointment seeping across her features.
"Is there something you want to tell me, Angel?"
Angel watched her, cagey, before he shook his head. Buffy sighed.
"You promised you wouldn't lie to me again, Angel. Not after Drusilla."
Buffy had nearly staked him, and Drusilla, after she caught Angel sneaking to the Vampiress in a graveyard of all places. Thankfully, she didn't, and Angel came clean… Eventually. Drusilla was his Childer, and all that mess, all that hurt and ache, would have been averted if for once, Angel didn't try to hold something back.
Not this time.
"I'll ask again, is there something you want to tell me?"
Finally, Angel met her gaze, olive locking with chocolate.
"I didn't know what it was, Buffy… I felt… something. The demon in me has been… Restless for a while. Impatient. A perception of something far away, growing-… I didn't know what it was, not until I saw the Wielders here. They hate my kind, often killing us on sight. When they said a Dhampyr had awoken…"
Angel trailed off, stare stealing down to the folder crumpled into her arms at her chest.
Buffy shook her head.
"It isn't yours."
The reality that Angel had to ask that hurt. Of course, Buffy knew he had a life before her, a long, long, long life. There had been other women… When he was a demon. Yet, Angel, the vampire with a soul, was hers.
Perhaps she was feeling a little jealous. Buffy had always struggled with that emotion, but she was trying to do better. That had to count for something, didn't it? And perhaps it wasn't as bad as it sounded. Perhaps Angel, blindsided by this sensation, was trying to make sense of it in any way he could.
"Did you mean it? That a Dhampyr has a soul? That it could be good?"
"Anything can be good, Buffy. If given the chance. Look at me."
Buffy squinted over to the man who had stayed relatively silent this night.
Pulling off his glasses, Giles used the hem of his striped tie to dust off the lenses, deep in thought.
"From what I've read, which is very little mind you… Perhaps. This Wilhelmina Potter did attack eighteen Wielders, Buffy. Drained them. I do not think it is wise to forget that."
Buffy groaned as Angel began, again, defending something he didn't even know. Anew, she tried to stomp down on the slither of envy she felt writhing in her chest. Instincts. It was merely instincts, even if Angel didn't know that currently.
"When she had just awoken, disoriented, starving. Those Wielders, if they were anything like the ones I've ran into, attacked as soon as she showed so much as a fang tip. They likely didn't give her another choice."
Giles, however, always pragmatic, shrugged, accepting that was, conceivably, a possibility too.
God, what a mess.
In the ensuing uncertainty, Angel ultimately broached the question hanging over everyone's head like a noose.
"If the Dhampyr isn't mine somehow, though I can't see how when I haven't had-… Why can I sense her?"
Unfurling her arms, Buffy slipped the photo out the folder, giving it one last, hard look before she dashed it onto the desk of the office. The heavy fluorescent light above their heads lit up the girls smile into something intense.
Buffy didn't need to be watching Angel, although she was, to see the recognition take root in his dark gaze.
Giles whistled lowly.
Angel appeared transfixed on the photo, pulling closer step by step, hooked and drawn. Delicately, he stretched out and took it, staring down at the girl smiling back from paper and ink.
Buffy resolutely swallowed down the pit of jealousy lodging in her throat.
"Oh dear, indeed. It looks like we have a Spike-spawn on the hunt for daddy-dearest rolling into town soon. And if we don't find her first, either those Wielders will, or Spike will, and either way, we're all screwed."
NEXT CHAPTER: When Mina finally snaps out of the feeding frenzy she awoke in, she finds herself in a rundown motel room, on the outskirts of some place called Sunnydale, covered in blood and wondering how the hell she got there...