Secrets & Lies, Prologue

Author’s Notes: Future-ish; post BtVS season 7 and AtS season 4. I don’t know what’s going to happen obviously, so I’m taking some creative license here. Thanks for your patience!

Thanks very much to Rehatha for the actual spell used here; and for your other very helpful suggestions! What would I do without you?!

Rating: Adult; explicit sex

Disclaimer: Own nothing. All belongs to Joss, ME, Fox, et.al.

Pairing: Ultimately B/A. Has C/A and mentions of B/S

Distribution: My site, EverySixSeconds; sites currently with permission to host my fics; all others please ask.

Originally posted: Jan 1, 2003

May 2003.

The imperturbable proprietor of the magic shop and clandestine warlock looked at the young woman with concern as she sat on the floor and cried. He handed her Kleenex after Kleenex and waited patiently until the tears stopped. Then he led her into the back room, made a pot of tea and lit a rolled cigarette that looked suspiciously like a joint.

Angrily, Buffy wiped the tears from her eyes. Angel left her, Riley left her, even Spike had left her. They all left her. And each time it hurt.

She had thought that losing Angel the first time due to a clause in a damned gypsy curse had been painful, but that had easily been surpassed by the tearing out of her heart when she had been forced to send him to hell with Acathla. She had been raw and wounded, the pain refusing to subside as she personally and literally dealt with her own version of hell in the months that followed. Time had eventually begun to work its magic, easing her pain and helping to heal her wounds. Eventually and inexplicably Angel had been returned to her, a miracle that helped to heal what time had not. She opened her heart again, but then he left her. He had ripped her heart out in a sewer; leaving her just before she had a chance to confide in him and just after she had begun to believe that they had a future together.

It had taken her months to recover from the loss of him in her life. She filled her every waking moment with activity, knowing that it did no good to dwell on what she did not and could not have. But her heart had been battered and bruised, and Buffy was unwilling to take chances with it again.

The pain of Riley’s leaving, of Spike’s leaving – while each hurt, it was never as bad as anything she had been through with Angel. But that was because she never allowed it to be. She had kept the others at a distance, guarding her emotions. Still, she was only human so she did care.  She did love.  Just never as much.

She had thought she was doing just fine. She thought that she had maturely and confidently tucked Angel away in her memories to be cherished and remembered fondly.  Maybe not now, but someday.  She had believed that after all the time that had passed that her heart had finally healed and that Angel or any reminders of him could no longer touch her. That she had moved on. That is, until today.

By the time she and Nikkos finished their tea and were feeling somewhat buzzed from whatever it was that they were smoking – Buffy refused to ask what it was – Nikkos had heard Buffy’s sad tales of love lost. To see such a young beautiful girl so sad touched his heart.

He had hidden his surprise when she confessed that her lost love had been Angel. He knew the vampire; he was a frequent customer of the magic shop stopping in for books, herbs or other spell ingredients or just the occasional bit of gossip that might prove useful. When Angel found out that Nikkos had known Doyle, they had shared a pint in memory of their mutual friend and had become somewhat friends themselves.

In all the years since they had met, Nikkos also thought he had come to know the vampire’s taste in women. He’d met Darla and Cordelia and he’d heard tales of Druscilla. All were beautiful, but vain and shallow creatures who knew the power of their looks over the men that coveted them and worked that to their advantage. And Nikkos had no doubt that there were dozens or perhaps even hundreds of other girls cut from the same mold that had passed through the vampire’s long life.

Which made the girl in front of him pique his interest even more. She was undoubtedly beautiful, but that’s about as far as her similarity to the other women went. She had strength, character – that he hadn’t seen in the others, even in brief glimpses. Yes, she was something different, something unique and rare. Her aura was golden, rich and pure indicating a strong dynamic energy and the presence of higher power. Noting too, the mark on her neck, Nikkos suspected that there might have been more to her relationship with Angel than Buffy had elected to share.

After a long moment of consideration, he suggested something that might help her. Magic. He knew of a spell…

Buffy listened attentively while he explained the ritual, nodding her assent after only a brief hesitation when he finished.  Under most circumstances, she would have shunned the idea of magic but with her heart aching and her senses influenced slightly by the unaccustomed smoke, she readily agreed, desperately seeking an escape from the pain threatening to tear her apart.

With calm efficiency, Nikkos gathered the necessary materials together: five white calla lilies from the florist next door, pistachio nuts, a black candle and a pale blue candle.  While Buffy watched with eyes still red from her earlier tears, Nikkos dribbled the pistachio nuts into a circle and placed the bouquet in the center, along with the two candles.  He sat across from her, both of them cross-legged on his thick, scarred wooden table.  He handed her the heavy volume of magic spells along with his own scribbled English version for her to read from.  He was superstitious that the caster of the spell hold the book, even though Buffy would not be able to read the ancient Greek language.

His pale blue eyes met hers once more in question. Buffy swallowed the lump in her throat then nodded slowly.  At her signal, Nikkos lit the candles and began that spell that would protect the Slayer’s heart. He reached for her hands, holding them to form a circle.

He began to speak, his voice resonant and clear in the silent room.

It is the great cold of the heart, it is the dark
The woman lives, she passes, she dies.

Nikkos nodded and Buffy began to read. Her voice wavered at first, then grew stronger.

My heart aches
My soul bleeds
My spirit weeps
Beloved, your vows are all broken
Heart of my heart, you have forgotten me
Soul of my soul, you have deserted me
Blood of my blood, I gave of my life ’til we be done.
Soul of my soul, let it be done. Let us be done.

The words touched her heart. She had thought Angel her soul mate. She had believed in forever. Hadn’t he said that to her once? “Forever, that’s the whole point?” Or had that simply been a dream? Or just another one of his broken promises?

Tears filled her eyes as Nikkos intoned his lines.

It is the great cold of the heart, it is the dark
The woman lives, she passes, she dies.

When the dark haired warlock finished speaking, Buffy took a deep breath and read the next line of the incantation.

With lilies I mourn, by breath I expel

She blew a soft puff of air across the petals of the lilies. The gesture was symbolic; it was an exhalation of the love within her. She paused, taking a deep breath to quell the surging emotions. This was it. The end. It was finally going to be over for once and for all. She was giving up that last hope that she had been clinging to of ever having Angel in her life.

Let love pass from me, let it fade, let it die.
Let lilies carry the scent of love gone by.
With lilies I mourn, by fire I cleanse

Nikkos reached for Buffy’s left hand, drawing it over the flame of the candle burning between them. With a small, sharp knife, he made a cut into her ring finger, just above her palm where a ring would have lain. He allowed a drop of blood to fall into the flame of each candle and then he guided her hand over the lilies, and watched as another drop of blood fell. The crimson liquid was stark against the pristine white petal and Buffy felt a shudder of fear race through her. Her eyes watered and she choked back a sob.

Let love pass from me, let it fade, let it die.
Let lilies carry the stains of love gone by.

As the words fell from her lips, her voice quivering, the lilies changed from white to pink to salmon, eventually becoming the color of the blood that had been dripped on them.

With lilies I mourn, with water I extinguish

The tears that had been threatening rolled down her cheeks, falling into the flowers. Her voice cracked slightly with emotion, the hushed air in the room tense with expectation.

Let love pass from me, let it fade, let it die.
Let lilies carry the water of my life.
Let love fade to indifference
Let love’s heat chill to ice

A wind swept over her like a cool breath, it’s intensity growing stronger as the incantation progressed.

As everything passes
So everything fades
Fade away….

Nikkos spoke the next lines with reverence, his eyes upward as he felt the magic swirl about them, the room chill and dark. Buffy felt a small tremor of panic as cool air swept over her, but the rhythmic cadence of his deep, sure voice soothed her.

It is the great cold of the heart, it is the dark
The woman lives, she passes, she dies.

Buffy trembled, wetting her lips and shivering slightly with the growing cold. At Nikkos’s nod, she continued the spell.

Come great cold, chill my heart
Cast off the bonds that lie between us.

With each word that had been spoken the mark on Buffy’s neck had begun to fade. Now the scar from Angel’s bite vanished, leaving no discernible trace.

Come great cold, freeze my love
Return the unwanted to the unwanting.

The vase of flowers seemed to shimmer as they faded away before they disappeared completely. Buffy’s eyes widened in surprise, but she pressed on with the ritual.

Come great cold, freeze my heart
Marry me and let love never more burn me.

The cut on Buffy’s finger began to close and in it’s place a mark began to form, encircling her finger.

The blinds on the window clattered as a chill wind whipped into the room. Buffy opened her mouth in a small “o” as the chill air poured into her. She shivered with the cold.

The temperature in the room dropped to biting ice as Buffy spoke the final ringing syllables of the spell.

It is the great cold, it is my heart, it is the dark
I live. I pass. I die.

The wind howled and the blinds rattled again. Outside a dog barked furiously in the distance. The candle flames flickered, but continued to burn. A deep aching cold centered in Buffy’s chest, colder and colder until she shivered with a bone deep ache that was so terrible she couldn’t breathe. Her eyes widened as the crushing pressure on her chest increased. Then it faded, leaving only the light scent of lilies in its wake.

Buffy blinked, gasping for the air that she had been unable to get during the last part of the ritual. Her first deep exhaled breath came out white, thick fog as the spell solidified around her heart. Her heart that had been beating rapidly was beginning to slow, her earlier fear dissipating along with the rising temperature in the room.

Nikkos lifted her hand, looking for the telltale evidence of the completion of the spell. It was there. Encircling her ring finger was the vine-like mark, thorny and intricate and dark against her skin like a tattoo. She stared at it bemused. Her large hazel eyes met Nikkos’s and slowly she smiled. Finally, she shrugged. It looked rather … trendy. After all, tattoos were in.

She felt a curious lightness. There was no more sadness, no more pain. She flexed her fingers and wiggled her toes, as if testing her extremities would somehow validate her new feelings – or rather lack of.  Her eyes met Nikkos’s once again and she smiled, brightly this time.

Nikkos didn’t tell the young girl that there was a loophole to the spell before she left. She had been so pleased with him, so pleased that the ache in her heart had gone, that she hugged him energetically and promised someday to repay the favor. He didn’t have the heart to tell her that her true love could break the spell, should he ever find her…