September 2, 2005
I woke up early, but decided I was far too nervous to go to the Great Hall for breakfast. I took my time getting dressed, a pair of dark wash flared jeans and a white scoop neck fitted shirt with tight sleeves to the elbow. I left my hair in loose waves and pulled on my black leather boots. They had two-inch heels, pointy toes, and a plethora of buckles going up to just under my knees that would be hidden beneath the wide flares of my pants. In my head, I called them the 'Boots of Buttkicking.' A confidence booster if I ever saw one.
I entered my classroom with two minutes to spare and I leaned back on my desk at the front and watched the kids as they filtered in. I suppose it because of the years of practice, but I find myself profiling people at the strangest times. So naturally, I began to do it to the teens as they came in.
The girl that took the seat directly in front of me was clearly the 'Smart Kid.' She had bushy curly brown hair and expressive chocolate eyes. Her tie was striped red and gold so I knew her to be a Gryffindor. Next to her sat a boy with flaming red hair and a wide grin on his freckled face. I was pegging him as the best friend suffering from unrequited Ducky love. The last member of the little group slid into the desk on the girl's other side. He had messy black hair, round wire rim glasses, and bright green eyes.
From all the snide descriptions I had heard Severus make, I knew I was face to face with the famous Harry Potter. Funny how he looked like a regular kid when he was the savior of the Wizarding world. I guess the two of us were a lot alike in that way. Both of us with stupid destinies we didn't want…
The boy gave me a goofy lopsided grin. I nodded at him, but kept my face pleasantly blank, so as not to show favor to anyone just yet.
A flash of white blond hair walked into the room. My heart leapt, but as my eyes focused more fully, my excitement completely dissipated replaced by avid curiosity.
The boy that sauntered in and sat down could have been Spike's son. His hair was the same shade, although I assumed his was natural and not a bottle job, his cheekbones were sharp enough to cut glass, and he was smirking in an incredibly familiar way. But the more I looked, the more I noticed that was different. Spike's eyes had been smoldering cerulean while the boy's were mischievous silver. He was thin, almost frail looking, and his hair fell into his eyes with a casual elegance.
He raised an eyebrow at me and I realized I had been caught. "I'm sorry," I said as the last of the students took their seats. "At first glance, you looked like a vampire I used to know."
The class fell completely silent at the word 'vampire.' The young man's eyes widened.
I ignored them all with a small smile as I picked up my class roster. I was about to begin the arduous task of putting the faces to the names when I heard it.
"You mean William the Bloody?"
I dropped the parchment onto the floor as I stared openmouthed at the flaxen haired young man.
He took my lack of answer and dumbstruck expression as an affirmative. "He's my great great great grandmother's brother or something," he explained with a wide grin. "You know him?"
I picked up the roster from the ground. "I knew him," I said slowly. "He died a few years ago."
I completed the roll call and the boy, Draco Malfoy, was staring at me intently. I could tell he wanted to ask more questions about Spike, but to his credit, he remained silent.
"Your lessons in Defense Against the Dark Arts have been, thus far, mostly centered on magical creatures and the spells dark wizards might use. I'm here to teach you something completely different. I'm going to teach you about demons."
It was awesome to have the class's rapt attention. It was doing wonders for my ego.
"This world is older than any of you know. Contrary to popular religious mythology, it did not start out as a paradise. For untold eons, demons walked the Earth. They made it their home. Their Hell. But in time, they lost their purchase on this reality. The way was paved for mortal animals. Mankind. All that remains of the Old Ones are vestiges, certain magics, and creatures like vampires."
I watched the girl I had pegged as 'The Brain' trying desperately to write down everything I was saying. Hermione Granger. She was going to be the one with all the questions, so I could only pray that I knew all the answers.
"The books tell us that the last demon to leave this reality fed off a human, mixed their blood. It created a human form possessed, infected by the demon's soul. He bit another and another, and so they walked the Earth, feeding, killing some, mixing their blood with others to make more of their kind. Waiting for the animals to die out and the Old Ones to return."
They were hanging on my every word. I was doing the Happy Dance in my head that I had memorized the Watcher's Council speech about how the world used to be.
"So, can anyone tell me what works for vampire slayage?" I asked, hopping up on the desk and crossing my legs.
There were three hands that shot up into the air. I pointed to a tall brunette boy with large ears. "Yes, Mr.…uh…"
"Longbottom," he supplied.
"Thanks. I will learn all your names, but it might take me to the end of the year, when it won't matter anymore," I chuckled. "Okay, Mr. Longbottom. Vamp Death?"
"A stake to the heart," he answered.
"Good. Five points to Gryffindor. Any others?" I asked. "Yes, Miss Granger?"
"Sunlight," she said primly. I could tell she had the rest of the answers, but she held her tongue.
"Excellent," I grinned. "Five more points to Gryffindor. Anyone else?"
The pale blond boy had his hand raised. I wasn't surprised. "Mr. Malfoy?"
"Beheading," he answered.
I gave Slytherin five points and provided the rest myself. "There's also fire and holy water."
"You can't actually kill a vampire with holy water, can you?" the redhead next to Hermione Granger asked. Ronald Weasley, I believed.
"I have," I replied with a shrug. "But only once and that was by tricking him into drinking it. Other than that, short of having enough holy water to fill a swimming pool, you're probably right. It's more of a repellent than a fatality. Like crosses. Alright," I said, standing and pacing before the group. "Now let's discuss the myths verses the truth."
We spent the rest of class discussing things like coffins, bats, Renfields, and smoke. I thought about telling them that Dracula could actually do all those things, but decided to save that for another day. As the students gathered their books, one black haired girl with a strange upturned nose was suddenly right in front of me.
"Professor Summers?" she sneered. "Why do we have to learn this rubbish? None of us are ever going to run into a vampire anyway."
The class froze; the venom in her voice directed at a teacher probably something they had never heard before.
She wanted me to get angry. I could read it in her eyes. It was a challenge. Clearly, she was one of those people that thought Slayers were subhuman. Didn't help that I wasn't a witch either.
"Where do you live, Miss Parkinson, when you aren't at Hogwarts?" I asked, my eyes boring shamelessly into hers.
"Uh…London," she said, furrowing her brow and obviously having no clue where I was going.
I smirked at her. "Me too. Did you know that, in the past two years, there have been over six hundred unsolved deaths where the bodies had 'neck trauma?' That's just in London alone, not the surrounding areas. What do you think happened to those people? You think they all impaled themselves on BBQ forks?" I exclaimed. "Everyone you pass on the street at night might very well be a vampire. And as a Slayer, it's my sacred duty to kill them. But as long as there is one, they can multiply and they will always be an issue. And Slayers can't be everywhere. So, how is it you figure that doesn't apply to you, Miss Parkinson?" I growled.
She looked shocked for a moment, but she recovered well. She scowled disapprovingly at me and then flipped her short black bob as she stormed out of my classroom.
As the other students filed out, they snickered appreciatively at my answer to the girl. I knew that the Slytherins would be the most opposed to me, since a good chunk of their parents had been Death Eaters. I had killed a lot of them, after all.
I was startled from my thoughts by Draco Malfoy standing in front of me.
"Can you tell me about him?" he asked nervously. "Do I really look like William the Bloody?"
I gave him a sad half smile. "Why don't you come to my office after dinner? I think I have some pictures…"
Draco broke into a huge grin and bowed to me aristocratically before hurrying out of class.
I found myself looking forward to that during the rest of the day. I hadn't been able to talk about Spike since he died. My sister still hated him for something she didn't understand, Giles thought that he had been evil all the way to the end, Willow believed everything Giles said, and Xander…well, as hypocritical as it was, I knew that he thought anything that wasn't human was evil. I wasn't even really sure where he stood on Oz, although he had made nice because of Willow. But he had never been kind to Spike.
And I missed him. I felt as though there was a hole inside me that he had left. An emptiness that, at times, seemed to burn. People pretend that time heals all wounds, but I don't think that's true. Lessens the pain, sure, but some of them never fully heal.
The rest of the day passed easily and before I knew it, dinner had come and gone. I went back to my rooms and dug out all the pictures I could find with Spike in them. There weren't a lot, since none of the Scoobies had liked him much, but there were a few.
I gathered them up and was walking into my office just as Draco entered from the other door. I motioned for him to sit and wordlessly handed him the photograph on the top of my pile as I sat behind my desk.
It depicted Spike tied to a chair that Thanksgiving at Giles' apartment. I was in it as well, crouched behind him, checking his ropes, and peeking my head over his shoulder to snark at him. He was glaring venomously at me.
I watched the boy run his fingers down his cheekbones, staring intently at the photo.
"You really do look like him," I said softly. "Must be a family resemblance."
"It sounded like you were friends. Why are you tying him to a chair?" he asked incredulously.
I laughed heartily, and it was the first time I had actually done that in…well…I couldn't even remember. "It's a really long story."
Draco looked up at me very seriously. "I'd like to know it."
I sighed, not because I didn't want to tell him the story, but because I had no clue how to start. "Well, I guess we can begin where I met William the Bloody, or Spike, as he preferred to be called. It was eight years ago, when I was sixteen. I had just staked a vampire in an alley behind a club, and someone started clapping."
"Nice work, luv."
"Who are you?"
"You'll find out on Saturday."
"What happens on Saturday?"
"I kill you."
"It's not like I hadn't gotten that threat before. Hell, it wasn't even the first time that week. But there was something about Spike. He was so cocky…so arrogant…I was actually a bit scared of him," I said with a fond smile. "We fought, more than once, but something unforeseen always happened so neither of us could get in a death blow."
Draco Malfoy was entranced by my tale. Occasionally, he would look down at the picture clutched in his hand but, more often than not, he kept his silver eyes glued to mine.
"But a few months after that, we had a problem. A vampire named Angelus was trying to open a portal that would suck this world into Hell. So Spike came to me and suggested a truce. So we could, you know…avert the apocalypse," I said with a wry grin.
"But he was evil!" Draco exclaimed. "He was evil and wanted to save the world?"
"Well, Mr. Malfoy, Spike was…he wasn't a normal vampire. See, Slayers are taught that vampires have no emotions because they lack a soul, but there was no denying that Spike was completely in love with his sire, Drusilla."
Even after this long, it was hard for me to say her name without complete distaste.
"He was a paradox amongst all the other vampires I've ever met. He embraced elements of humanity like love, loyalty, and honor. And human food, like Buffalo wings and chocolate. Drinking and smoking. So, when he said he wanted to save the world, it wasn't because it was the right thing to do, it was just because he liked it," I explained.
"We like to talk big, vampires do. "I'm going to destroy the world." It's just tough guy talk. Struttin' around with your friends over a pint of blood. The truth is, I like this world. You've got... dog racing, Manchester United, and you've got people. Billions of people walking around like Happy Meals with legs. It's all right here…"
Draco was leaning forward in his chair now as I wove the story around him.
"So, we made a deal. If he helped me stop Angelus, he and his sire could leave Sunnydale undusty."
I closed my eyes, trying to remember everything and yet cut it down in such a way that I could tell the boy what I knew and not take days.
"After Dru broke up with him, left him for a chaos demon if I remember right, he came back. We fought a couple more times and then he was captured by a military organization call the Initiative. They put a microchip…"
"A what?" Draco interrupted.
"A microchip. It's like a little computer…" I trailed off as I realized he was still staring blankly at me. "Like a spell that hurt him every time he hurt a human. And he came to us, my little band of world savers, for help. So that's what you're seeing in that picture. He had just come to us and I didn't trust him, hence the tying up."
Draco looked down at the picture, turning it this way and that as if life's answers were held within its image. And, not for the first time, I wondered why he felt the need to know about Spike so badly. Sure he was his great…grandcestor, but I had never felt the need to find out about anyone on my family tree.
"So…uh…he found out that he could still kill demons, so he started helping us. At first, he did it because we paid him, but then...he fell in love with m…with someone from our group," I corrected hurriedly. It didn't look like young Mr. Malfoy had noticed my slip, but I was sure the dark scowling figure leaning in my doorway had.
I handed Draco another picture. "This is him and my kid sister, Dawn, having hot chocolate," I explained. They were sitting at the counter talking. Dawnie was grinning at something Spike had said and he was smirking. I think my mom had taken the picture before things got bad.
"The girl he loved was terrified of loving him back. You see, she didn't want to believe he could love her. He was a demon and that went against everything she had been taught. But Spike was different. And after he allowed himself to be tortured by a Hellgod and didn't give away the group's huge secret, she knew what he felt was real. And over time, she began to love him, too."
Draco looked dreamily at me and it was a strange expression on his Spike-like face. I could only hope he wasn't bound to his ancestor's fate.
"But the girl was afraid," I continued softly. "Her friends would never approve because they hated him, so she told him he was a disgusting soulless demon and that she could never love him."
A tear slowly rolled down my cheek. I knew Draco saw it. I knew Snape saw it, but I had no desire to see the sneer I knew was going to erupt on his face, so I turned away from both of them to stare at the stars emerging from outside my window.
"He went to Africa and faced the trials of a demon that grants wishes to win back his soul, to be the kind of man he thought she deserved. And when her friends turned their backs on her, saying she was being careless and rash in her strategy to fight their Big Bad, he was the only one that stood by her. And she knew she needed to tell him the truth about what she felt, but they were coming up on a huge battle where the fate of the world was at stake. She didn't want either of them to be distracted, so she decided to wait."
I got up and walked to the window, glaring down at the darkened grounds as I tried to find an eloquent way to finish the story without crying.
"And so one morning, we all marched into the Hellmouth," I said softly, my voice breaking in the middle. "We fought, we bled, and when we crawled out, Spike was gone. Sacrificed himself so the rest of us could live. So the girl never got to tell him that she loved him."
I sighed and turned back to my captive audience. "And that's most of what I know about the last years of his life." I handed Malfoy another picture.
"This is the two of us at my twenty first birthday party," I told him.
We were sitting behind the couch at the old house on Revello Drive talking. Just talking. But the looks on both of our faces spoke volumes. Love. Longing. A dash of sheepish fear. I had wondered after first seeing the picture if our emotions were always there, written out and obvious for everyone to see.
"Other than that, what I know about William the Bloody is only basic. He was turned in 1880 and became part of the Scourge of Europe. In 1900, he killed a Slayer in China. In '43, he was capture by Nazis, but escaped. He went to Woodstock and in 1977, killed another Slayer in New York." I paused for a moment, debating. "If you want to know what he was like in the twenty or so years after he was turned...I know a guy. I can drop him a line and see if he feels like sharing."
Draco's eyes widened at my suggestion. "What do you mean you know…"
"Mr. Malfoy," Professor Snape interrupted from the doorway. The boy jumped and twisted in his chair, staring at the man in surprise. "It's time to return to your house dormitory now."
Draco nodded sullenly and handed me back the pictures. His fingers lingered on the last one and I pushed it back into his grasp.
"Keep it," I said with a small smile.
He grinned at me and followed Professor Snape from the office.
I pulled a spare piece of parchment from my desk and dipped my black quill in ink, intending to do just what I had said I would before I lost the nerve.
Owl post. Wacky, right? But not as much as the fact that I'm a Professor at a magic school. How's that for wow?
So, I know it's Evita-like to not talk to you for…gee…two years and immediately ask you for help, but that's pretty much exactly what I plan to do here.
I have a student in one of my classes that is…well, was related to Spike…
I paused, chewing on the pinky nail of my left hand. I stared at the paper. Angel wasn't going to be happy seeing that name written out in his letter and we hadn't exactly parted on the best of terms.
When the dirty rundown bus pulled in at the Hyperion Hotel, I was bitchy and tired, devastated and angry. The man I loved was gone and his death had leeched the color from my world. During the week that followed, we stayed with Angel and his group as they made the big move to some law firm or something. I didn't care enough to pay attention. The vampire tried to talk to me on several occasions about the future status of our "relationship" and whether or not I was going to be cookies any time soon. I punched him and the next day, Dawn and I left for Rome. I hadn't spoken to him since and I felt a bit guilty about it since I did make the ridiculous baked goods speech only a week and a half before. But hell, it felt like it had been an eternity.
His name is Draco and his great great grand something was Spike's sibling when he was human. The kid was curious after he found out I knew the infamous William the Bloody.
You wouldn't believe how much this kid looks like Spike. The hair, the cheekbones, even his ears. If his eyes weren't liquid silver in color, (I kid you not!) I might have believed I was looking at Spike as a teenager. It was weird at first. Not so much now.
Anyway, I've told Draco most of what I know about the exploits of William the Bloody. But I was wondering if there was any way you might be able to write to him and share a story or two from when Spike was just turned or something like that. I think he'd really appreciate it.
I wrote out instructions on how to get my new owl, Acerbus, to deliver a letter back. I tied the parchment to his leg and watched him fly of into the night. I had thought Dumbledore was nuts when he had presented me with the owl. I couldn't figure out whom exactly I was going to write, seeing as all the wizards I knew were already inside the castle. But then I figured I could always write to Dawn. Sure, the people in her dorm would get suspicious of an owl tapping at her window all the time, but hey, that wasn't my problem. My sister could cover for herself when it came to cases of extreme weirdness at this point in her life. She was an adult now, after all.
I sat down at my desk and tugged my journal from its hiding place. I had tried in the past two years to write as little about Spike as I could get away with, even though not a day went by that I didn't think of him and feel the acute pain of his loss. But in talking to Draco, someone that wasn't going to judge me, about him for the first time since his death was cathartic. I readied my quill and opened the book to the second page…
My jaw must have hit the edge of the desk, I was so shocked at what I saw. Writing. And far more beautiful and flowing writing than mine would ever be. I let the ink filled quill clatter to the desk as I leaned dumbfounded over the entry.
It wasn't long. In fact, it barely covered the page, but I could almost feel the emotion rolling off it in staggeringly crushing waves. The third paragraph, where he spoke of feeling as though he no longer fit in the world…
I knew what that was like. The last two years with the Scoobies had felt like that. But at least my friends were, for the most part, still alive. This person, this R.L…it sounded like all his friends were dead. And that last part? About how he wanted to meet the writer of the first entry? It made me feel…
But all of this paled to utter insignificance in light of the fact that clearly someone had snuck into my room and read my journal! And, whoever it was, they were obviously insane, claiming my entry was four years from when they were.
I sighed heavily and looked around the room, searching for evidence that there had been someone else there. Nothing was out of place that I could see. My eyes fell onto the portrait next to the outer door. A vampire.
"How long have you been in this room?" I asked him.
He glared at me for a moment. "Over fifty years," he sneered at me.
"So, you can tell me if someone got into my office today?" I asked, although I said it as a statement.
"God," the painting complained. "What is it with people in this office asking that? No one's been in here but you, the kid, and the greasy overgrown bat from the dungeons!" With that, he stalked out of frame.
"Hey!" I called after him. "What do you mean about people in this office?"
But it's not like he was going to come back and clue me in out of the evilness of his painted heart. And he could have been lying, but I didn't really think he would bother. 'R.L.' seemed pretty damn benign, so it wouldn't have made sense to hide his presence. And I doubted he was writing in my journal to hurt me in some way. That's the only reason I could think of that a vampire, albeit a painted one, would conceal him. That and he mentioned that someone had asked him that before.
It made me wish Willow or Giles was there. I had never exactly been a dab hand at solving the mysteries like they had, but I was going out on a mental limb and assuming that this R.L. character hadn't really been there today, just as the painting had told me. And his entry was dated four years before mine was…
I could conjecture about alternate realities taking place in the same space, but that didn't feel quite right. But then again, channeling Andrew never did.
I picked up my quill.
September 2, 2005
Well, I wish I knew what was going on here. When I opened my journal tonight, there was a new entry that I didn't write. According to the painting on the wall, no one entered the office today that I was unaware of. So that begs the question, who exactly is R.L. and how did he manage to come by my journal?
The entry is dated September 1, 2001. Four years ago. I've come up with a few ideas of how that's possible, but each of them is more unlikely than the last. I even have one where R.L. is a teeny tiny man that lives in the secret drawer and the only reason he thinks it's 2001 is because he doesn't get out enough! Yeah, that one is definitely the worst of them all!
So I guess I'll just have to address the guy and pray for some answers.
Who are you? You seem like such a sad sort of person. You spoke of a 'condition.' What does that mean? And why is it you seek someone that doesn't judge the groups that your 'Ministry of Magic' looks down on?
And why the hell am I writing to you? You probably don't even exist and are some elaborate joke to drive me crazy! I somehow didn't actually consider that possibility until now. It's probably no coincidence that this guy sounds so great. You know, with the dreams of teaching, praising my open-mindedness, and just enough tragedy to make me want to hug him to take some of it away?
Yeah, now that I think about it, there must be a spell or something. Maybe Severus is screwing with me. Or that Parkinson girl. That makes me wonder if I'm even qualified to teach these kids anything at all. I'm not a witch. I know next to nothing about magic. I don't even know how to tell if a spell of some sort was done on this, but really, it's the only thing that makes sense.
So much for writing about how nice it was to finally talk about Spike. I wish things had happened differently in that hole. It should have been me that died, not him.
I shut the book, completely convinced of my revelation halfway through the entry. It was the only explanation. Someone was playing with me. Which was too bad. R.L. seemed like a really nice person.