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The Queen (BtVS - Chapter thirty-three)

Glare


Another chapter!
Let me know if you like it.








33. Shadow








Annie fainted a few steps from the door into Spike’s arms. Paramedics and nurses were immediately checking the child and reassuring Buffy as she tried to touch her.

The little girl raised a hand and asked for air. Everyone took a step back and the Slayer reached for her.

“Honey, what’s wrong?” she asked.

Annie coughed. “It was him, mum. Hermes.” She said. “We’ll meet again at dawn. He said so.”

“Who is Hermes?”

“Mercurius,” Spike said.

Annie nodded. “He’s very tall and wears a red cloak.”

“Did you … dream about him?”

“He came to see me. He says that we have a very special bond and he can always see what I see or feel what I feel.”

Buffy held her breath. “And he told you he will come back soon,” she replied nervously.

“Yes.”

Annie closed her eyes from exhaustion. Spike lifted her and put her on the bed next to Faith. Buffy was almost trembling.







“Oh there you are all ill and cute!”

Annie giggled at the funny expression of Auntie Willow. The witch was carrying with her a strange pink powder she was spreading all around the hospital room.

“Let’s start with the ritual,” Willow said. “Soon the man in red will be a distant memory, my darling.”

Buffy sat alongside her daughter and took her hand. “Are you ready, baby? Are you afraid?”

“Not at all.”

“You’re very brave,” she smiled. “I’ll stay right next to you.”

Annie looked at Willow who took a little bit of sand and touched her forehead.

“It tickles!” the girl exclaimed with a giggle.

“Yes. But now you really want to sleep. Close your eyes, Annie.”

She obeyed and felt a wave of heat was taking her and rocking her gently. She smiled giving herself without hesitation and fell magically asleep.

“It worked …” Buffy murmured.

Willow began to recite an ancient formula, but after few seconds she shook her head.

“What is going on?”

“Nothing … it’s just that … there’s a shadow inside Annie’s mind. This shadow prevents me from entering …”

“The Mercurial?”

“Yes, but it’s weird. It’s deeper that I imagined and it seems like it belongs to Annie herself.” Willow closed her eyes and took a deep breath. She channeled all her divine power into her words. Annie sighed.

“Are you –”

“Quiet.”

The sand began to fluctuate in the air. Buffy tried to look at it but it was too bright and she had to close her eyes.

A desert appeared and then fields full of flowers and colorful birds.

“It’s Annie’s imagination,” Willow explained.

A curious and fragile deer, some horrific monsters, classrooms and darkness. Spike making a funny joke and Buffy shining in the sunlight.

“Bring the Mercurial!” Willow ordered redirecting the flow of the spiral.

A gray shadow materialized. He was wearing a cloak and his throat was marked by an alchemical sign.

“It’s him!”

Something in Buffy reacted and she remembered … she remembered …

“I command you to leave Annie alone!” Willow exclaimed with determination. The shadow was incredibly strong. “Disappear!”

The projection of the Mercurial dissolved into Annie’s mind. Spike and Buffy held her.

“She will sleep for a few hours,” Willow said. “It’s really tiring for a child to be subject to a spell like that. She must have suffered a lot when the Mercurial made the first contact.”

“Bloody bastard!”

Buffy was strangely silent and definitely pale.

“What’s the matter, love? Willow just –”

“I just recognized the Mercurial.”








Buffy was leaning against the wall of the waiting room. She was really tired.

“Willow,” she started. “You do remember Dawn’s boyfriend, right? We still have pictures of him or something …”

Willow shrugged.

“Everything was lost after that attack, the one in which … Every photo we had on Lenny, everything Dawn gave us was lost. But I remember that Giles was searching for information about him.”

“Yes. He thought that Lenny’s identity was a fake.”

“Okay,” Spike said. “Can you two please update the poor vampire in the room?”

“Buffy is talking about … Dawn was seeing a guy in her first year in college. He was named Leonard and …”

“… and he was killed,” Buffy continued. “He was killed in a car accident after few months. Dawn was already pregnant. It was a very dangerous time; some people believed that the child of the Key was some sort of mystical gift and I had to defend my sister from many attacks. Later we discovered that Dawn was … she wasn’t going to make it. It was like all her energy was completely absorbed by the pregnancy and she was dying because of it. It was awful. I tried to talk to her about … but it was too late.”

Spike bit his lips.

“Lenny, or whoever the hell he was, had organized everything. He seduced my sister, convincing her that he was a normal guy and –”

“Lenny is dead.” Willow said.

“No, he’s not. I just saw him inside my daughter’s mind.”

“You just saw the shadow of the Mercurial … oh my God.”

Spike clenched his fists. “What did Giles discovered about the guy?”

“He was a trismegistus,” Buffy muttered in tears. “Giles said that Lenny was a triswhatever. A kind of sorcerer who –”

“Like Mercury,” Spike replied. “Mercury; Hermes Trismegistus. They are all names of the Greek god.”

Willow held her face in her hand. “How can I not have noticed?” she whimpered. “How could I not seeing it? Hermes Trismegistus who guide all the alchemists. I can’t believe it!”

Spike shrugged. “It’s not the first time you couldn’t see somebody’s true identity. This time Buffy was able to realize the truth, maybe because she was inside Annie’s mind.”

“The car, the sudden disappearance … they were all tricks to make us forget about him!” Willow said. “But then … if Lenny and Mercurius are the same, Annie is his –”

“Don’t say it!” Buffy warned. “Mercurius is a murderer. He killed Dawn and damaged the mind of an innocent child. He’s a threat for humanity and I’m the Slayer. I know what I need to do; I must kill him.”