Disclaimer: I own neither the Harry Potter series nor Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Pity, really. I would be rich and people would love me and write strange crossovers.
Summary: Buffy looks into the Mirror of Erised...
Set: Post 'Chosen'
Rating: T, might go up in later chapters
A/N: I haven't actually seen a single episode of 'Angel' so what I'm describing as events that happened there I only know from other fanfiction. I hope you can look past possible errors. Should I ever watch the show, I'll come back to correct. Also, Buffy's isolation is my own interpretation of her state of mind. That I won't change, even if it isn't true.
This story was originally supposed to be Buffy travelling inside her heart. But that didn't work out and I realized if I simply borrowed one element out of the 'Harry Potter'-verse, it would be perfect. And I really don't think putting the Mirror of Erised into 'Buffy' is too absurd to consider, so bear with it.
That said: Enjoy 'Your heart's desire' and please review if you have something nice to say or constructive criticism to give. I'll update as soon as I'm satisfied with the next part of this story.
Your heart's desire
There was a phone call, in the middle of the night. She meant to ignore it, but the constant ringing of her cell effectively kept her from falling back asleep, so she answered it in a reasonably foul mood.
"Who are you and why on earth would you call me at three in the freakin' morning?", she all but hissed into the receiver.
There was a rather startled silence at the other end and she seriously considered just hanging up, but then Giles finally spoke up.
"Buffy, I'm terribly sorry, I absolutely forgot the hour."
"God, Giles, we're as good as in the same time zone! What's so urgent that you're still up? And if you even say the word 'apocalypse', I'll let you know right away that there are plenty of other Slayers you could have woken to prevent it this time."
Her relationship with her former watcher was still strained to say the least and this was anything but helping. She almost wished she could keep a bit cooler than that, but was it really necessary to ring her up now? When she finally got some well-deserved sleep after a particularly nasty and gooey patrol? This was not going to get him on her good side again, whatever it was.
"No, no, it's nothing of that sort, thankfully. We merely found an artifact you might take an interest in."
"What is it this time? Another handy little Slayer scythe with mythical powers?"
Come to think of it, what had happened to the scythe? Had it been buried under the rubble when Sp-… No, not going there.
"It's quite astounding, really. It appears to be a mirror, at the very least six centuries old, but it doesn't show your reflection. Well, it does, but there's also-…"
He was cut of by a voice that could only belong to Dawn, who was obviously in the process of taking the phone away from Giles. At least, judging by the muffled complaints on his end that sounded a lot more like a spoiled child not getting his favorite toy than a grown and old man not getting to tell a story.
"It's so cool, Buffy! It's the Mirror of Erised, like straight out of the 'Harry Potter' books!", her sister's very excited voice all but squealed in her ear.
"God, you should really read those, they are so amazing… Plus, Zeitgeist much? But really, the Mirror of Erised! The one that shows you what your heart desires most of all in the entire world! And it's here, in our mansion now and we've all looked in it and it totally works and-…"
Now Dawn was obviously cut off by Giles again, judging from the small struggle she could hear.
"There was a scroll that came along with it to tell us what it does-…"
Dawn yelled gleefully in the background:
"But it's also in the description on the Mirror, as I've pointed out to those illiterates so many times now-…"
Buffy had quite enough of that now. She was tired and cranky and those two were way too cheerful for this time of the night and while this mirror thing didn't sound uninteresting, it wasn't the most fascinating subject when you only wanted to sleep forever.
"Yeah, yeah, yeah, mythical Harry Potter mirror that makes you see what you want, yada, yada, yada… Very interesting. Did you really need to call me now for that?"
Silence on the other end.
"Well… no… We were simply very excited about this.", Giles eventually stammered, at least sounding like he felt reasonably ashamed of himself.
Buffy decided to take mercy on him. Just this once. For the sake of loving him so much she missed him more than she'd ever admit. Even though she was still mad at him.
"Fine. I'll take the next flight to London tomorrow morning. But it'd better be worth it!"
A smile on the other end, warmer than she'd felt it from him in long years.
"I believe it will."
Amicable silence so fragile neither would break it for the world. Or even for a heavy dose of sleep.
Eventually Buffy said:
"Good night, Buffy. Call again tomorrow?"
"Course. Oh, and tell my sister to go to bed."
Her indignant voice from the other end:
"Hey! I'm no longer a teenager you can boss around! I'm-…"
"Good night, then!"
And Giles hastily hang up, leaving Buffy with a warm feeling of 'maybe we'll get along better this time' that lulled her back to sleep almost instantly.
In the end, Giles had to wait another day until Buffy could fly out due to vampire problems in Rome. The person who came to pick her up from the airport was, to her relief and disappointment, not Giles himself, but Willow. The others were, she explained, in the middle of daily slayer trainage. At least Giles, Dawn and Andrew were. Oz was on his way to get a Slayer they had found in Bath and Xander was on a date of all things. They all hoped the girl wouldn't turn out to be a demon.
The ride back to the headquarters was spend with only semi-awkward small talk – a step up from their usual interaction – and a bit of background information on this so-called Mirror of Erised. Apparently it didn't show you just something you wanted, but only the deepest, most hidden and strongest desire of your heart. Which was why they all wanted to and/or had to look into it, even the new Slayers.
It could be very painful, whatever it was one saw in the Mirror, but it also brought clarity over your priorities. After all, there were Slayers that were meant for the job and others that would – after their education in all things demony and vampiristic – merely have to guard their home towns and a bit of the area around it. The mere number allowed for that. Now that was news for Buffy.
When she asked where they had found it, Willow answered that Angel had sent it from Los Angeles (an export that must have cost him dearly, because the thing was supposedly really big), where he had gotten it from some demon they had vanquished.
"Wonder what he saw. I mean-… probably you, but-… um…"
Putting Willow out of her self-inflicted stammer, Buffy simply answered:
"He saw redemption."
There was still an uncomfortably large part of her heart attached to Angel. Even though it was pointless, really. Loving him was more than just a waste of energy. It was cruel and wouldn't lead to anything, most of all because she could love him as much as she wanted, he would always choose his path of redemption over her. Buffy wasn't guessing when she said what her ex-love of her life probably saw in that mirror. She knew, because his actions proved exactly that time and time again. He could claim he wanted to be with her, he could get jealous over her being with-… No! – but she knew better than to expect that elusive happy ending ever coming any step closer. Never mind the state of her metaphorical cookies; his would never be done baking.
They had reached the building now, the huge mansion towering over them as they made their way in sufficiently awkward silence after the forbidden topic of Angel. Willow looked sheepish and uncomfortable, but after entering the edifice, she started talking again, first overly cheerful, obviously trying to pretend there was no vast gap between her and her best friend and she hadn't screwed up by bringing Angel into it. As she went on, the honest excitement about the mirror was shining through, though, and brought a beautiful smile to her face.
"Xander and Oz and Dawn and Giles, t-they've looked, too. Xander said he saw himself with Anya and from what I could tell, they were probably doing something… well, naughty. He wouldn't admit to it, but he was all blushy and excused himself real fast. I-it's still sweet, though, I think. I honestly didn't believe Anya meant enough to him to warrant being his 'heart's desire'. Giles wouldn't tell us what he saw, but he seemed really content when he left the room. And Dawn, she saw herself training Slayers. Which is what she is doing right now. Proclaimed she now realized that if she couldn't be a Slayer herself, she really wanted to be a Watcher. The non-stuffy kind. You should probably talk to her about it, but we all thought it was a really great idea."
Now that… That was an idea no one had ever had before. Her sister had done such a wonderful job growing up to be one of the smartest, most amazing young women the world had ever seen, with her eyes set on a future in education and demon fighting; it was strange nobody had ever made the connection. For some reason, Buffy thought the plan of becoming a watcher had not been new to Dawn, though. And thinking back to the days spent in an overcrowded house full of Potentials and especially the way her little sister had handled the news of not being one herself, Buffy felt kind of stupid for not understanding what had been in front of her the entire time.
Dawn hadn't just accepted not having special powers. She had helped others embrace theirs, shared her knowledge the best she could, helped with the research she actually seemed to enjoy and had done more than enough to prove that she was absolutely in her element helping the Potentials become full-fledged Slayers.
There was so much strength in her Buffy had simply overlooked, too busy with her own problems. She would definitely have to have a talk with her sister, one that was long overdue. They had drifted so far apart, it was time to make it right again. And Dawnie would make one hell of a great Watcher.
"A-a-and Oz, he didn't see anything, only himself, exactly the way he was, which means he couldn't be happier, which makes… me happy."
If her smile was anything to go about, she was not lying about that.
Oz. Buffy had met him a couple of times since he and Willow had found each other again and it was incredibly reassuring that he was still the same guy he'd been in high school.
It was astounding, really. They'd run into each other while Willow had been on mission to find a freshly located Slayer in Istanbul – something they both found insanely amusing for some reason they wouldn't share - and from that point on, her best friend had started glowing like Buffy hadn't seen her since Tara died. Thinking about it, Oz really did still seem like the kind of person who wouldn't need more for his perfect happiness than his band, control over his inner wolf and Willow.
"Oh, and Andrew, he… he saw his friends. W-warren and Jonathan. I think it was mostly Jonathan that was hard for him. He saw the way it could be had he not killed his best friend. It was so sad… He was really upset. I felt so bad for him… and f-for the first time, I could really see that he's just as messed up as-…"
Buffy was almost sure who she would see. True, it could always be Angel, because he was the tragic love of her life, after all. He was the one thing she almost had in her grasp without ever being able to hold on to him, her other half, her perfect completion she couldn't ever really be with. If she saw him in a mirror that showed her heart's most deep and innermost longing, she would not be surprised. But it would be rather bitter, especially with knowing he wouldn't see her in return.
Who she was really expecting, though, was her mum. Her heart ached just thinking about it. Willow had told her no conversations could be held with the person in the mirror, so talking to her mother only once more after her death was out of the question. But she would see her, just as she used to be. She would look into a mirror and see all the motherly warmth she had missed so much reflected back at her. Her mum's smile, the kindness in her eyes, the reassurance Buffy had craved ever since she had found the body lying on the couch. God, she missed her so much…
Her steps had grown faster and her eyes moist just at the thought of what awaited her. It dimly registered that Willow was still talking to her and she tried to focus on what her best friend was saying.
"…but you have to be really careful not to get… a-addicted to it. That was also in the scroll, that people who find the Mirror are in danger of becoming kind of… stuck in the reflection of their dreams. Like they can't appreciate real life anymore because the mirror shows them having what they really want. A-and, Buffy, I felt that, too, the t-temptation to stay there forever, stay where I could be with Tara…"
Her voice trailed off. Buffy had slowed down during Willow's speech, suddenly becoming aware of her friend's obvious distress. She hadn't even wondered, hadn't asked her what the mirror had shown the redhead. God, no wonder they couldn't find back to each other! Buffy felt like a terrible friend.
Of course it was Tara. And of course seeing her must have been horrible for Willow and impossible to let go of. She realized how big a sacrifice it must be for her to follow the unwritten rule of not looking into the mirror too many times.
"I haven't looked into it since. Not a good track record with addiction and all that…"
On an impulse, Buffy stopped entirely and hugged her best friend. It was difficult to voice compassion for her, even though she more than understood what Willow must be going through. After all, she had lost someone, too. More times than a young heart could take.
The image of two clasped hands in flames shot through her mind before she could push it away. Which she did, immediately after realizing where her thoughts had led her. This was not a path she would let herself go down. There wasn't a lot that was taboo, but him she couldn't-…
A quiet trepidation seeped into her at the thought that Willow had just relived all her grief. Had to let go all over again now. And once Buffy saw her mum in the Mirror, it would be the same for her.
"I'm really happy with Oz, Buffy… I'm so happy that-… I wouldn't have believed it, that I could be so happy again. And I love him so much… But T-tara…"
Tara was the love of her life. She didn't have to say them for the words to ring deafeningly in the stuffy silence.
"I know.", was all that Buffy could say and tightened her arms around her friend.
They stood there like that for what seemed like an eternity, just holding each other, sharing a grief that couldn't be spoken. In a way, it was an almost cleansing experience. For the first time since before Willow had helped kick Buffy out of her own house, they felt like best friends again instead of two estranged people with unaddressed mutual resentment between them.
Buffy knew what she was about to see in this room would in all likelihood rip open scars. But this wound, her trip was mending and even if she got nothing else out of it, having her friend back was more than plenty to go on.
They eventually let go of each other, each wiping away at some stray tears and sharing an almost embarrassed laugh that still managed to sound like an inside joke. Conspiratory, light, despite the heavy issues that had just come onto the table. Then, as if following a silent command, their hands found each other and with a nod, they finally walked down the last few corridors until they reached the heavy door to the room holding the mythical artifact.
Buffy let go of Willow's hand and took in a deep breath.
"It's best if you don't look into the Mirror until you're standing directly in front of it. Then you don't have to see them all… fuzzy and unreal. They'll just be there and you can imagine the Mirror is showing them because they're really here. Same goes for walking away. Just turn around and walk out the door without hesitating or looking back. I don't know why, but it… it helps. Like you're looking into your heart and then walking away from it… If that makes any sense."
Buffy was still staring at the handle of the door, simply inhaling, exhaling, inhaling, exhaling… It suddenly occurred to her how difficult it must be for Willow to be standing outside that door without being allowed to go in.
"You don't have to stay here, Will", she said, "If it's too hard for you…"
"No!", Willow quickly interfered, "No, I want to be here. Trust me, y-you'll need someone… after…"
One more shuddering breath.
She finally reached out to grasp the handle.
"You think you'll see your mother, don't you?", her best friend's voice had never sounded so gentle, so understanding and Buffy didn't know how she had made it all those years without this wonderful, wonderful person to lean on.
She let out a choked up 'yeah' and opened the door.
Stepping into the wide, dusty room with the high ceiling felt like stepping into a dream. The sun bursting through the curtainless windows illuminated the room to a degree of glowing in a surreal light and set the large, unspeakably old Mirror into scene perfectly.
Suddenly, Buffy panicked. The door had fallen closed behind her and she was now about to face whatever it was her heart longed for most in the entire world. And what if it wasn't her mother she would see, after all? What if she turned out to be this incredibly shallow person who only wanted the beautiful pair of 900 Euro boots she had seen on her last shopping trip? What if her heart's desire was something vain and materialistic and-…
Before she could keep freaking out about this, she closed her eyes and walked ten steps until she knew she had to be close enough and facing the Mirror. And God, how much she yearned to see her mom smile just one more time; the destruction of Sunnydale had left her even without a single picture and she wanted to see her just that one-…
She opened her eyes and her knees gave out.
A toneless whisper that felt like a scream.
To be continued...