Title: An Untimely Frost

Author: Jedi Buttercup

Disclaimer: The words are mine; the worlds are not. I claim nothing but the plot.

Rating: T

Category: B:tVS/Independence Day (ID4)

Summary: Mrs. Madison had been able to land an altogether more costly blow. 600 words. Part of the "Buffy Summers, Alien Slayer" series.

Spoilers: B:tVS mid-"The Witch" (1.3); Independence Day (1996). Follows "No Victory Dance" and "Hero on the Hellmouth".

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Rupert Giles slumped back against the wall of the science classroom, feeling every minute of his age. It had been a great many years since he'd attempted a casting of any magnitude, and with only Xander and his two enthusiastic yet completely human friends to assist him he hadn't been sure he could effect the reversal of the spell cast upon Miss Madison without leaving himself vulnerable to an attack by her mother, a witch of significant power and ability. He could perhaps have given Catherine Madison a run for her money during his Ripper days, but he had long since let his connection to the darkness lapse, and his skill with light magic had never been significant.

As it happened, he hadn't been able to stop her completely; though he'd been able to reverse the soul-switching spell placed upon her daughter and the spell that had blinded another of the cheerleading students, Mrs. Madison had been able to land an altogether more costly blow. In her rage, she had invoked Corsheth in an attempt to rip Amy's soul from her body, and only Jesse's timely and tragic intervention had prevented the girl from succumbing. Xander and Willow had tried to lower the mirror above their workspace to reflect the magic as soon as she had began to cast, but had not been strong or swift enough to reposition it before the malevolent energy reached its target.

Fortunately for all concerned, Mrs. Madison had been caught in the backlash of a second attempt at the spell, and had likewise vanished in a roar of energies. From the look on Xander's face, Giles feared that the boy might have attempted homicide in reaction to his friend's disappearance had the witch not been beyond his reach. Young Willow, standing beside the boy, was pale and shaking with sobs, and Amy seemed equally traumatized by the entire experience; Giles could think of nothing to say to them, save perhaps that at least they had not been forced to slay their friend themselves, and he suspected that such a comment would entirely fail to comfort them.

If only his Slayer had been here with them-- but the Council had taken that out of his hands, and he had neither the authority to order her to stay nor the funds to requisition a team of operatives in her place. The appearance of safety for the entire country, and indeed the world, were more important to them than any one town, even if said town were in fact the mouth of a Hell that could open to swallow them all if left unprotected. The Council had decided that with the Master of Sunnydale trapped and quiet in his underground lair, his childer all dead in the invasion or spread out in an apparent attempt to find a means of turning the alien presence to their benefit, there was no threat in the town worth guarding against. Giles knew that they were wrong, but he also knew they would never listen.

The Harvest may have been delayed, but it would undoubtedly still arrive at some point in the near future. By the time the Council deigned to act it would be too late, and it would be up to Giles, with whatever help he could assemble, to stop the Master on his own. Little though he wished to involve the children any further in the supernatural after the tragedy they'd just experienced, they might prove the deciding factor in the battles to come.

Giles levered himself awkwardly to his feet, already mourning the loss of their innocence.

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