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Renditions in E-Minor

Prologue

Willow hurried along the baked London pavement, carrying a number of brown paper bags. She was mostly late and it was a Very Bad Thing.

To any innocent bystanders she actually appeared to be just a moving mountain of brown paper, peeking vegetables and auburn hair; indeed, she could barely see where she was going. As was inevitable with trying to carry too much, the young woman tripped as she mounted the kerb (mainly because she wasn't aware that she was meant to be mounting the kerb) and the groceries went everywhere.

She surveyed the disaster; there were escaped sprouts making a break in the direction of the hedge, broken rhubarb stems and one of the milk cartons was gradually pooling its white contents around its base. It was a mess and, if possible, things were going from Very Bad to Dire. She was going to be very, very late.

Willow sighed deeply, pushing red hair behind her ear. She looked about the street; it was so humid today that the air trembled as she watched it and Willow knew that there would be a thunderstorm tonight, she could just feel it. The only person about was a man sitting on a bench on the other side of the road, the redhead didn't really look at him because she had the uncomfortable feeling that he was watching her and had just seen the entire spectacle.

She shook off the discomposure and went about collecting stray vegetables. She'd just managed to coax the leeks back into their bag when she was interrupted; "Want any help?"

The ex-witch startled at the question, looking up briefly at the strange man she'd seen before. "Oh no, I'm fine," she blustered, waving him away. Then she stopped and stood up straight. She looked back up into once familiar features.

"This isn't Istanbul."

--

Oz had hefted most of the weight of the vegetables as he helped Willow home. A slightly awkward silence hung in the air; the silence of people who have too much to say to each other that there is no where to start.

"So," Willow started brightly. "How have you been?" To her it seemed as a good a question as any; how many years had it been since she'd last seen him?

"It's been about fifteen years," replied Oz, as though he'd heard her unspoken question. "Good for some, bad for others."

Willow smiled to herself, what a typical Oz answer. "You're still…"

"A werewolf, yes. But a pretty much tame one," he shrugged. "Had some good therapy."

And that, Willow guessed, was pretty much the most answer she'd get out of him. "So… where have you been?"

"Around. You?"

The redhead shook her head at his evasiveness. "I've been living here since… well, since Sunnydale blew up. Giles lives just down the road…"

Oz whistled through his teeth. "Yeah I heard about Sunnydale becoming a crater. Still trying to explain that aren't they?"

She smiled in response. "This is me," she said, stopping at a winding cobbled path which led to a bright red door. They looked at each other awkwardly. "You want to come in for a cup of tea?" she finally ventured.

"Sure." Willow didn't miss the look of relief that crossed his features. "I should warn you, however," the redhead said. "I'm expecting company."

As she unlocked and opened the door, a barrage of noise came plundering out. Oz looked startled, or as startled as he ever looked. "Company?"

He got another smile in return. "You'll see."

--

'Company' turned out to be a small troupe of children encamped on the stairs. They looked up as Willow let her and Oz into her house.

"Auntie Willow," cried the smallest, a blonde-pigtailed girl on the bottom step. "You're late!"

"Yes," agreed the redhead, smiling sweetly as her. "Very late indeed. Olivia, where's Mummy and Daddy?"

"In the kitchen," replied one of the older children; a boy of about eleven, who looked very serious to Oz' eyes. "Spike's here and Daddy says that he's not allowed to teach us Poker." He pouted, to show what he thought of that.

Willow chuckled. "We'll see, we'll see."

Oz smiled at the children, all of who were peering at him curiously. "Hi."

"Willow!" called a voice from the kitchen. Oz watched as Buffy Summers appeared in the hallway. "Willow! We're almost starved, we wondered if you'd been abducted or something?" she laughed. The blonde caught sight of Oz. "Oh, who did you run into?"

Buffy looked almost exactly as Oz remembered her; blonde, athletically built, overflowing in confidence and enthusiasm. He smiled at her uncertainly… what would she make of his return?

Her intake if breath answered his question. Now… would it be followed by acceptance or accusation? "Oz," she breathed, glancing at Willow's expression and then at the watching children. "Are you here for… Sunday lunch?"

He looked from Willow to Buffy and back again. "Well, yes. If I'm invited."

"Of course," Willow intervened, brushing red hair back nervously. "Come and meet Xander, Cordelia, Giles and Spike. They'll be eating too."

Oz took a deep breath. So much for a quiet visit!

A/N This was, originally just going to be a one-shot, but there was too much to fit in soooo… it's probably going to a be a fairly short ficlet instead. Hope you liked it so far!! Please review :)