Title: Roses To Remember (Part 4 of 4)
Author: Restive Nature (aka Bavite)
Rated- PG-13 for some mild language
Disclaimer: All recognizable characters and settings belong to either Rowling or Whedon. *sigh*
Summary- Draco's a man on a mission.
Spoilers- Season 7 of Buffy, Season 4 of Angel. (Pretty much season 5 hasn't happened yet.) For HP- set six years after OoTP. (Just so Willow isn't cradle-robbing)
Distribution: TtH, VSS and my Yahoo group
The evening was almost perfect. Almost, not because Angel set himself off in a corner and got steadily more drunk as the evening wore on, often throwing hurt glances Buffy's way. Glances that the blonde studiously ignored. Almost, not because Xander tried to use every opportunity to make fun of Draco and so get the attention of his best friend back on him. Almost, not because of the hundreds of little things that always seemed to happen when Hellmouth alumni got together. But almost because both Willow and Draco knew the evening would have to end some time, giving them one less day of friendship and togetherness.
So they stayed together as much as possible. Draco behaved as gentlemanly as possible. Bringing Willow food, refilling her drink, squiring her around to the various people she wanted to talk to. She tried introducing him to each and every one of the girls But his mind, more attuned to her, couldn't concentrate on the girls who were giggling and whispering about them. Normally, he would have given the girls a cool stare until they stammered to a stand still and blushed at being caught out, but for Willow's sake, he refrained.
Music had started up, about halfway through the evening. Not the kind that Draco was used to, by a long shot. But not even the slow, gentle, quiet background filler. No, this was as Willow promised; raucous noise that prompted a body to move with it's thrumming rhythm. Except that Willow didn't seem inclined to move. She would much rather watch Xander and Dawn spazz their way around the room. And Draco, so amused by their antics at this point, largely from the few mixed drinks he'd indulged in, did not protest. He knew now, that if ever he should need some get-back on the boy, he could just bring up the dancing.
It was at this point that the first Hellmouthy disturbance of the party occurred. Fairly mild by later standards. Willow had excused herself a moment, explaining that she wanted to make sure that Buffy, who'd slipped out the front doors a minute before, was okay. And Angel used that opportunity to yank Draco from the festivities. And the blonde Englishman was treated to a long-winded, drunken ramble as to why he was going to be killed. Apparently, from what Draco could gather, Wolfram & Hart had long been a thorn in Angel's side. And just because Angel had given in and taken over the LA offices, was it in no way, an invitation for spies to pry into his private life. And Draco could only assume the Vampire meant what things were going on in the hotel.
He tried to reiterate that he wasn't a spy for the law firm, but Angel just threw him out of the way and headed off for the rapidly depleted supply of scotch. With an annoyed roll of his eyes, he pulled himself up and straightened his clothes. He saw Willow and Buffy making their way back into the lobby and with a relieved smile, headed off to the one person here he felt comfortable with.
But then the brunette, well, one of many there delayed him. He tried to remember her name and went with a hunch. "Faith?" She nodded, even as she pressed herself up close to him. "Ah well, if you'll excuse me, I need to get-!"
"Get back to Willow?" she laughed, mockingly. He glared down at her, realizing that like many of the others, she was inebriated as well. He glanced back to Willow, a pleading look on his face. He certainly didn't want her getting the wrong idea. But it seemed she already had. He tilted his head, hoping to convey silently that this was not what he wanted. The redhead tilted her head down to hear what her friend was saying to her and a knowing smirk crossed her face. "Come on, yo!" Faith laughed. "I just want to dance!" She yelled it loudly enough for everyone to hear and Draco caught the exasperated look on his friend's face. She gave him a slight nod and he allowed himself to be pulled after the strong brunette onto the space cleared for dancing. There were more woman of course, than men, so he soon found himself in the midst of a bevy of girls all vying for his attention. Once upon a time, that would have been a fantasy come true, for any hormonal teenage boy. But all Draco felt was the overwhelming suffocation of their various perfumes. Just as he began to shift and shimmy out of the crowd, the entire air of the hotel changed.
The girls still danced, as Draco made his way to Willow and Buffy. But both girls were glancing around nervously. "What's going on?" he panted.
"Don't know," Willow whispered, her eyes scanning the room.
"Stay put," Buffy warned, one hand hovering over the back of the waistband of her jeans.
"Oh, Faith's got it!" Willow crowed. Buffy relaxed, if only marginally. Draco watched for a moment, completely confused. The girls that had been dancing around them had now surrounded a new fellow.
"Who's that?" he whispered to Willow, having more than an ounce of sympathy for the man, who was looking just as nervous as he himself had felt a few minutes ago.
"Don't know," Willow shrugged. "Never seen him before in my life."
"Demon," Buffy warned quietly. Then began to giggle. The girls surrounding the man seemed not to want anything to get in the way of their good time.
"Anyone wanna see this guy boogey?" one of the girls yelled out. The man… well demon looked terrified. There were cheers and applause and soon, it looked like a game of hacky sack as the girls took turns kicking and punching the demon in a large circle. If Draco hadn't felt a little sorry for the bloke, he was sure he'd be laughing like the rest of them.
The demon didn't even try to get a shot in, just cowered as he was punched and kicked along to the next dancing girl-fiend. But it all came to an end when a commanding feminine voice shouted out from behind them. "Stop!"
The trio of Willow, Buffy and Draco whirled around. Draco raised his eyebrow, taking in the dark-haired woman before him. She was dressed prettily enough, but seemed almost too ethereal for the clothes she wore. In her arms, she held a wrapped, squirming bundle. Draco heard a low growl and glanced over to see that Buffy was holding a long piece of wood threateningly before herself.
"Drusilla," she greeted the woman in what Draco could only call a pleasant voice, but even he could sense the underlying threat underneath it. "What brings you, so stupidly here?"
"My friend said there was a party," the woman, in a lower class British accent replied. She eyed Buffy warily.
"Your friend?" Buffy scoffed. "And which insane part of your brain do you call friend again?"
"Scifigurl2001," Dru murmured dreamily.
"Huh?" Buffy was not alone in her confusion. Until they heard the nervous gasp behind them. Draco turned to see the young lady from that afternoon, Fred, come forward.
"Oh my God," she whispered, her eyes wide. "You're darkgoddessofnightstars, aren't you?" Dru nodded happily. Fred turned to Wes; "I've been consorting with the enemy."
"Well," he shrugged helplessly.
"It's okay," Willow offered. "That happens when you're in chat rooms. You never really know whom you might be talking to. Believe me, I know."
But then, drunken Angel made another reappearance, from the office he'd hidden himself in. "Dru! What the hell are you doing here?"
"Hello Daddy!" she waved at him cheerfully, then held up the bundle she'd been holding. "I brought a present for the birthday girl." All eyes turned to Willow.
"Ah, oh, Dru, um," she stammered nervously as the brunette held it out to her. "You shouldn't have. Really!"
"But the stars told me you'd like it," Dru pouted. "I won it specially for you." She turned back to Fred. "I learned how to play poker. But they didn't like it when I won. The stars were whisperin' in my ear. Tellin' me what to do. They said I cheated! So I killed 'em. All except my Aloysius. Won my kittens fair and square."
"It's a kitten?" Willow asked. Dru nodded and took a tiny step forward, and Willow gingerly took the bundle from her. She pulled back the slightly worn blanket it had been wrapped in, her nervousness displayed openly. For all she knew, coming from Dru, it was a demon cat. But when the tiny face buried among the folds looked up at her, Willow felt her heart melt a little. "Oh," she sighed. "She looks just like Miss Kitty Fantastico."
"Happy birthday Willow," Dru nodded, pleased with herself. But her gaze turned back to Buffy and the stake the blonde was still holding. Buffy dropped her glance to it as well; shrugged once and thrust it back into it's hiding spot.
"Just this once Dru," she warned. The brunette nodded. Then leaned towards Draco.
"She's very merry you know," Dru whispered conspiratorially, nodding towards Willow.
"Ah, yes," he gulped, definitely feeling the vibe from her that had bothered the others. "I had noticed that.
"No you didn't," Dru smirked. "But the worms say it won't matter. You'll wiggle about, burrow in deep and make a home. Just like they do."
"Oh, well, ah, t-thank you," Draco stammered. He felt Willow's hand creep into his and he gripped it tightly, his only other show of the tension he was feeling. Drusilla nodded regally then focused on Fred.
"Fred, dearie," she spoke a little louder to be heard, "call me!" She wiggled her thumb and pinkie fingers about her head, as she'd seen so many other humans do, (although for some reason, humans did it about their ear, crazy, in her opinion) and then turned to Angel. "Good bye Daddy. Don't call me."
"You can count on it," the inebriated Vampire grunted and turned back to his alcohol.
"Aloysius, come!" Dru snapped her fingers and stamped her foot, and slowly, the ring around the demon parted. The poor abused thing limped off, wondering if perhaps he might be better off staying with the girl-fiends that beat him, rather than the crazy Vampiress But as she commanded, so he followed. The group could hear them arguing on the way out, Drusilla demanding that he drop his ugly human façade.
Buffy and Willow turned to face one another. Their gaze both dropped to the kitten and they burst out laughing. Soon the whole room was in stitches. The party continued on, with one new addition to it, an absolutely lovely little kitten.
"Well, here we are," Willow chuckled nervously, as they stood in the end of the hall. She turned to face Draco, looking up at him shyly. He'd been so wonderful all evening, predicting her every need, but never in an overbearing manner. He'd stayed by her side, even putting up with listening to Angel sing 'happy birthday' to her in his less than pleasant voice. He'd held her arm when he escorted her back up to the room, the sounds of those still partying fading slowly from their ears.
Draco smiled down at her, enjoying her simple enjoyment of being with her friends. Even through all the twists the evening had provided. His glance dropped down to the kitten in her arms. Even knowing who had procured it for her didn't stop her loving it instantly. He'd never been much of a pet person, aside from the owl his parents had gifted him with for school. And his eagle owl mainly took care of itself, living in the owlery both at school and at home, where there were caretakers hired for the specific purpose of feeding and grooming the birds.
But the kitten, with its small triangular face was oddly appealing in an innocent way. It seemed to suit Willow so well. He brought one hesitant hand up to the kitten and after it sniffed him again; she began to nuzzle at his fingers. He rubbed her gently under the chin and Willow giggled.
"She has good taste," Willow sighed.
Draco's eyes shot up to hers. "Of course she does." But his natural arrogance was just a façade in that moment, one that he couldn't keep up. "She's hardly left your side since she got here."
"Like someone else I could mention," Willow returned, then blushed suddenly at her forwardness.
"Perhaps it's not us," he whispered, leaning in towards her. "Did you ever think that maybe it's you. There's just something about you."
"I-I guess,' she mumbled, her flush deepening. Draco sighed. This was it; the evening had come to its gentle end. But he brightened when he recalled that she had promised to have dinner with him tomor- no, it would be tonight, as late as it was.
He moved his hands to take her face between them and tilted her head back gently. His lips descended to brush gently against her forehead. Her eyes drifted shut, as she leaned into the endearingly sweet gesture. "Happy birthday Willow," he murmured against her skin, and then was gone. The soft click of a door closing jolted her out of her stupor. Draco was gone. She grinned, feeling a little silly. The kitten let out a rumbling growl, protesting the tight grip around her abdomen. Willow looked down, suspicion on her face. She could have sworn the kitten had actually said something.
"Did you just say 'love the person not the gender'?" she demanded. The kitten glanced up at her and blinked slowly. Willow shook her head, turning to open the door to her room. "Oh, you're losing it Willow." The door shut behind her. "But what a nice way to go."
"Bloody hell cat!" Draco shouted, having been shocked out of his comfortable slumber by four sets of claws in his pale ass. He whipped himself over, dislodging the kitten from her perch. She meowed happily, playing the game that she had every day for the last few weeks. She pounced again, but Draco managed to catch her around the tummy before she landed in a slightly more sensitive area. "Miss Kitty Leviosa," he growled, "I am going to de-claw you forcibly, yank out each and every one of those claws if you do that again." The kitten meowed and tried to bat at his nose, but he yanked his head back out of her reach.
Willow had laughed when Draco had promptly named the kitten Leviosa for her flying leap attacks. In grand tradition, she'd added the Miss Kitty before it. She loved the intelligent little animal, as she knew Draco did, even though neither were cat people. But every morning was the same, woken up by the kitten's claws as she clamored for attention. Whether it was pouncing on him, or sitting on his chest, kneading his flesh to her preference.
"Mmm," Willow mumbled sleepily, having woken up to this scene before. She tried to hide a grin. "Draco, you've threatened her with that every single day for the last two weeks and it hasn't stopped her yet." Draco rolled towards his lover, depositing the kitten on Willow's stomach. The kitten purred as loving hands automatically caressed her small head.
"Yes, I keep hoping that one day she'll listen," he chuckled. He winced as Willow's hand moved to tickle the portion of anatomy that Miss Kitty Leviosa had attacked this time.
"Do I need to bandage you up?" she asked teasingly.
"You might," he drawled, glancing backwards over his shoulder. "I think she drew blood this time."
"Oh, poor baby," she crooned, pulling her hand back and not even looking at him.
"Willow!" he protested, trying to draw her attention back from the cat. "It hurts," he pouted, using his little boy's voice.
"Hmm," she nodded, then made a scrunchy-nosed face at the kitten. "Want me to kiss it better?" His mind was instantly thrown back to a few nights ago.
"Why yes," he grunted, his voice thick with remembered passion, "yes I do."
"Draco!" she laughingly protested. He glanced back down at her, his body moving to align itself with hers. He nudged the kitten from her, not worrying about its indignant protest.
"Ah Willow," he sighed before his lips descended on hers, "you can kiss me anywhere."
The lovers stayed in bed a few more hours. Loving, sleeping, talking and of course more playing with the cat. But finally, Willow felt the need to fill her stomach and rose to shower. She'd invited him, but Miss Kitty Leviosa had fallen asleep on his chest. And though he'd yank out the tongue of almost anyone who said it, he had a soft spot for the kitten and didn't want to disturb her.
He listened as Willow hummed to herself while bathing. She'd already admitted that she had a horrible voice. But, when he asked, she admitted that it wasn't quite as bad as Angel's. He sighed, glancing over at the roses on the vanity. They'd continued to bloom, not losing their freshness, just as he'd planned and charmed them to do. But after today, they'd be the only things left between them. That and memories.
The twenty-eight days were up. Four weeks passed by as if it were nothing. Dumbledore and the rest of the Order would be expecting him back at Grimmauld place to share what knowledge he'd acquired. And somehow, the pride he'd taken in this job, the back and forth emotions of his ability to do it had faded from him. All that had mattered was getting closer to Willow. Oh sure, he'd been able to glean some information here and there when he actually remembered why he'd come. But it was more the carelessness of the group, forgetting that he was still very much a stranger, that had led to those incidents. So he knew now that these girls were Slayers, even if he wasn't sure precisely what that meant. The AI team were demon hunters. They all fought evil. It was good enough for him. He would bring back the preliminary information and allow others to investigate these claims.
But as he watched Willow emerge from her bathroom, he couldn't help the uneasy feeling that crept over him. She'd shared so much with him and he'd barely told her a thing. Oh, he'd shared that he was magically inclined as well. He felt honor-bound, in a way, to giver her that. He could see the worry in her eyes when she'd admitted she was a witch. His admission put them back on an even keel and allowed her to relax again around him. It also made her believe that he'd be open-minded about some of the things that came and went during his stay at the hotel.
Today was the day. It was the end. But somehow, the nobility of those he'd been acquainting with for the last year had rubbed off on him. Only to be reinforced by the openness of the beautiful woman before him. She had her weaknesses and insecurities, like he did. And he couldn't bear to think that he'd been less than honest with her.
"Willow?" he called hoarsely. She pulled on a long T-shirt and then turned to him. He held out his hand to her and with a grin she moved towards him. She took a seat on the edge of the bed, her smile faltering a little at the serious look on his face.
"Draco?" she whispered, apprehension in her eyes. "What is it?"
"I-!" he faltered as well. He couldn't meet her gaze and lowered his eyes to the sheet, covering his lap. He'd never in his life had difficulty lying to a person. Why now, could he not face the truth? "Willow, I have something to tell you."
"Oh," she whispered. She gave his hand a light squeeze. "Is it about the Order?" His head shot up; his mouth gaping like a fish deprived of oxygen. "It's okay, you know."
"B-but how?" he gasped. "How do you know?"
"You talk in your sleep sweetie," Willow giggled, enjoying the rare moment of flustered British man.
"Yeah," she nodded. "I mean, I was worried at first. Especially when you kept telling me to 'slam that bludger'. So not knowing what that means," she giggled again. "But yeah, we've had whole conversations while you slept."
"Oh hell and damnation," Draco muttered, dropping his head into his hands. "It was supposed to be a secret."
"Oh, you don't want me to slam your bludger?" she asked innocuously. Draco grinned up at her and she rolled her eyes. "I should have known. But no, I meant that it was okay. I discussed it with Buffy and the others and we're perfectly willing to talk with the Order. Give them what help we can. It's what we do. We're evil fighters. Evil beware!" she chuckled.
"Really?" Draco asked. She nodded. "You're not mad?"
"I was a little," she shrugged. "At first. But then I kind of put myself in your shoes for a minute. So, I get it."
"Thank Merlin," he sighed. "So, why didn't you tell me earlier?"
She blushed and pulled away from him. "I- I didn't want you to leave."
He pulled her back, wrapping his arms around her, murmuring into her hair, "I don't want to leave either."
After a moment of silence, Willow shrugged helplessly. "But you have to, don't you?"
"Yes," he replied, just as helpless. "I do."
Willow walked slowly back to her room, cuddling Miss Kitty Leviosa in her arms. Draco had just left. They'd decided that, as the others weren't aware of his wizard status, he'd return to his safe place to apparate back to London. He'd given her one last kiss in farewell and then was gone. The others had been sympathetic, but Willow couldn't deal with them just yet. So she'd given in to the impulse to hide away.
But her room was filled with memory of him. Willow deposited the cat on her bed and wandered to the vanity. At least she had his magic-charmed roses to remember him by. She bent her head to draw in the fragrance again. One that would remind her forever of him, his hands, his eyes darkening with passion, for her. She sniffled a little as she reached out to caress a petal.
"Ah!" she cried, her hands finding nothing. She looked on in horror as the petals crumbled as if ash. Within seconds, there was nothing but a vase full of water, debris floating on top. "Oh no! No, Draco..." She sank to the floor, the tears finally coming. Not even the door banging shut would lift her from the grief and loneliness she was allowing to consume her. But the disgusted voice in her ear definitely caught her attention.
"Well hell, that wasn't supposed to happen," a well-loved British drawl echoed in her ears. Willow twisted around, to see her beloved crouching behind her, a wide smirk on his face.
"Draco?" she muttered. "But, you left."
"I did," he confirmed casually.
"And you came back?"
"I did, obviously."
"But why?" she choked out. This was just too cruel. To leave and come back, for the Goddess alone knew what. Because Willow knew that Draco couldn't stay here. He was needed, back in his own world. He pulled her up, to stand and regarded her seriously, one hand reaching to wipe the tears from her cheeks.
"I am not an idiot!" he growled. Willow's eyes widened.
"I never said you were," she murmured.
"No," he chuckled. "As I was leaving, I was nearly hit by a car." She gasped, but he held her still. "And the driver called me an idiot. And I realized, that never in my life, have I been an idiot."
"Okay," Willow replied slowly.
"And what kind of man leaves the woman he loves behind?" he grinned.
"An idiot," she began to smile as well.
"Right!" he nodded definitively. "And as I am not, nor ever will be one, there was only one option open to me."
"To come back?" she asked hopefully. He shook his head.
"No Willow," he sighed heavily. Her face fell a little, until he slowly sank down to the ground on one knee. "My only option is this. Willow, my love, will you marry me?" The silence that followed was broken by Miss Kitty Leviosa's kittenish grunt. Willow, dumbfounded, looked from Draco to the kitten, her eyes narrowing thoughtfully. As always, the kitten gave uncommonly good advice.
"Yes Draco," she laughed joyously, falling to her knees to wrap her arms around him. "I'll marry you!"
Challenge fiction requirements
The number 28
Reference to a song from the 80's
A surprising friendship between two characters
Must include at least three of the following:
A quote from a movie from the 80's
A birthday party
"Put that thing away before you poke someone's eye out!"
A botched spell
"Don't make me spank you!"
An inebriated character singing badly
"Don't look at me, they're your friends!"
"Hmmm… tastes like chicken."
Fighting a demon while dancing