Warnings/Squicks: M/M relations (way later) and human boys (for now)
Rating: NC-17 (or MA 15+ or R?) There is violence and sex and vampires, and boys.
Summary: Saving both of them had a bizarre set of implications – not least of which was the chance to start again.
Disclaimer: Characters are the concept of the wonderful Joss and Co. Don’t make money from the writing etc etc.
The local village school was a ‘community school’ populated by children of the village, the coven and the surrounding farms and ‘country retreat’ estates of the resident yippies (upwardly mobile new age folk from London who procreated late, caused an upgrade in the few village food stores, renovated old houses, and imported their wine).
Consequently Alexander and William had a lovely time – always calling their teachers by their first names, were well treated, had many friends and numerous examples of their art work adorning the ancient fridge in the communal coven kitchen (and theirs at home!).
They began their magical studies the day after their eighth name day as was custom but knew to keep that knowledge strictly ‘family’ business.
By the time they entered high school, Blanche was leaving the Coven to live ‘in digs’ at her University of choice, Oxford. Her passion for History and ability as a writer in both English and French seeing her through her secondary studies with marks in the top half a percent of the UK. Her teachers all encouraged her to take Law, but she had been single minded in her quest to become a sociologist/archaeologist. She had been school Vice Captain and organized just about all the final year social and service events.
High School was a very different matter for her brothers.
Like their sister and the majority of their peers at the coven, Will and Alex went to the comprehensive school in nearby Caversham doing well initially, but both struggling to fit in, particularly at age fifteen in their third year, as their ‘differences’ were noted and challenged. Not that they didn’t do well, or have friends, but there were that other ‘group…
Fifteen year old William was sitting outside the Head’s office… yet again!! He pressed the icepack against his damaged cheek with his right hand, struggling not to wince, and contemplated explaining all this and yet *another* pair of broken reading glasses.
His assailant was leering at him from the opposite chair and kept mouthing ‘Die Goth’ and ‘Loser Emo!’ making ridiculous gestures of a knife cutting his wrist and sticking his tongue out in a poor impression of the seventies band Kiss, despite the boy’s father being present. Indeed the large man with arms folded across his chest and legs spread wide seemed almost to endorse his son’s behaviour.
Will knew that his wiccan training meant he could give the boy an incurable and very unsightly case of facial acne – or even genital warts at a push – but also knew that their mother Charlotte would be very angry, or worse, Papa Trent would be ‘disappointed’. It was bad enough that he had been in a fight
As he drew the ice away from his badly bruised cheek, and tried to remind himself, he was better than the loser bully on the other side of the waiting room anyway, the boy had no idea by how much. A far older memory bubbled to the top and his inner Spike growled but he restrained the urge to articulate.
In his new life he had had done Karate for seven years – the only reason he wasn’t a black belt was that “You have to be sixteen”, according to Sensei Richard. He had been studying at that level five times a week for almost eighteen months and was undisputedly the best fifteen year old fighter in the county – and southern England as of a month previously, fast, clever, and dedicated… But at school, his parents had ordered all their children they were not to use *any* of their special skills when in confrontations (and how he *wished* Hogwarts was real!)… except for one, he was allowed to run, and he was a champion at that, sprinting short distances as easily as he out ran just about anyone over the mile, any distance appeared effortless.
Sadly, at fifteen, William still seemed to attract trouble, and to some extent so did Alexander, but on the altercation was about another student. The lug opposite had been picking on a seventh grader, a quiet, rather withdrawn twelve year old, Josh, who had simply been in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Somehow it had come out that Josh had same sex parents, attempted to verbally defend them, and things went down from there. With lunch money gone and a rock thrown at the hapless youth, Will had stepped in. He regretted that Alex was away in London at Crystal Palace that day with the school county swim team, otherwise he would have stood with his brother in solidarity, these days they were usually inseparable.
William had stood his ground in front of the frightened younger boy, literally growling “Stay down ‘til I say then run!” as the mob of senior boys levelled for an attack. In the end he had used every *defensive* move he knew from sparring (and a couple of extras from older memories) to fend off the attackers, happy to note that in spite of forgetting to say ‘run’ at the height of the melee, Josh had crawled away unnoticed, then took off.
Finally the biggest of the group, the ‘king’ bully, with the assistance of two of his ‘minions’, managed to hold him as the head bully rugby tackled Will to the ground and began hitting him in the head repeatedly. Will kneed the huge opponent where it hurt most, in a desperate act of self defence, causing the larger boy to curl up and whimper pitifully. Sadly it was the last part that was witnessed by the duty teacher – the assumption being that there were only ever two boys involved.
Will waited quietly as the other boy and his father were ushered into the Heads office after three of his ‘concerned friends’ exited. Each one making time to state in an undertone, “You are so F@#ed. You stupid little Goth!”
Ten minutes later the head bully and his father exited, Will’s unscathed opponent grinning, and mouthing repeatedly “Your F#$@ed Freak!”, and not failing to ‘accidentally’ kick the leg of Will’s chair on the way past just as Mistress Willow came into the waiting room. She levelled a withering stare at the boy who out weighed her by at least fifty or sixty kilos. The boy was about to mouth “Witchy Mama come t’ save ya”, but the woman’s eyes flashed black and the previously smug bully chose to scurry away, his nether regions inexplicably chilled and trying to re-enter his body.
Willow settled beside the obviously hurting, distressed William as they waited for the Head to see them and patted his knee reassuringly. “You OK honey?”
William shrugged and really couldn’t look at her, but managed to mumble, “D’ya know? ‘Cause it was Josh?”
“He called home from his mobile, honey. He escaped thanks to you and hid behind the Science building. Rachel and Carol are both on their way. They rang the coven… he said it was you…” Willow patted his leg again. “You did the right thing honey, I know what happened – well at least, what we could make out from his call.”
Despite the acknowledgement, Will looked up with the begging eyes of a truly pretty youth, “But…Papa… Trent! They won’t understand… I shouldn’t have fought… but there were six of them! And they were kicking and really trying to *hurt* him… Really *hurt* him! So I… Geez! I’m *not* sorry… but I… Willow... I really just wanted to…”
Willow took the boy’s hand then pulled him into a hug, whispering, “But you didn’t… Now… It’ll be OK honey.”
Will pulled away then looked up with begging eyes and Willow’s breath hitched as he simply said, “I hate this place Mistress… Please… Help me!” with tear filled blue eyes.
Willow could not help it, the older he got, the more like Spike, William seemed to become.
The breaking voice might not have the resonance yet, but the stunning blue eyes, ever more defined cheeks, lithe form and deliberately messy dark blonde hair with its occasional blonde, red and black streaks matched an increasingly dark aura. Willow took an extra breath herself. She was Aunt Willow and this was William, hero to a fault, intelligent, a survivor, and Willow *knew* he still carried enough old memories to make killing a snap, but the transition to manhood this time around, as tortuous as it had been the first time.
Willow put on her best resolved face, smiled a little and tapped under Will’s chin (indicating he should walk proud!) before he stood as the Head, Mr Donovan’s door opened and they were ushered inside.
The High Mistress was dressed in a classic corporate black long skirt suit, fashionable gold silk scarf and four inch heels. Her white hair was swept up in a turtleshell clasp, and with elegant silver and rose stone accessories and touting a muted gold, designer laptop bag, she looked for all the world like a corporate lawyer rather than the ‘wierdo hippie Aunt from the next door village’s commune’ as Mr Donovan had expected.
Despite the Head standing, she waited for him then all others to settle before taking her seat, then settled herself whilst eyeing each calmly in turn.
Apart from the Head of School, two other teachers were present - the duty teacher who had witnessed the ‘heinous crime against the rugby star’, and the Pastoral ‘Head of Year’, all felt just a little nervous facing a woman who seemed to exude power.
The Head of School began in a well practiced, rather patronising (though he would later argue ‘conciliatory’ tone), “In the absence of William’s parents, I do appreciate your time, Ms…Rosenberg, at such short notice. Though I am *very* glad you could be here, though am sorry it could not be under more pleasant circumstances. Please… take a seat.”
William slumped into his chair and stared at the bag of ice he still held in his right hand. He had lost the gold back of his favourite earring in the foray and *really* wanted to tell someone… or talk to Alex… or Blanche… or just get a hug from his Mum. His Mum would understand… so would his Dad if Willow spoke to him first. Will stemmed a tear… His cheek really did hurt! And the hole in his ear where the earring had been partly torn out was still bleeding a little.
Trent was in London with Xander at the South East swim championships, and he knew it was Poppie’s mid-winter performance, so mother was there. Consequently, at fifteen years of age, he *really* appreciated that Willow, so absent from the coven of late, had dropped *everything* and come to his defence when the call was taken at lunch. But, despite him knowing from the before that she was a friend and powerful and… he still wished for… his Mum and Papa Trent!
Willow picked up on the anguish and leant over to pat the boy’s hand, at the same time pulling a small laptop from her bag, positioning it carefully on the large oak table and staring hard at the Head, Mr Donovan.
The Head began with no more adieu, “As my assistant would have explained to you, there was a very serious incident here on campus this morning, one which involved William and one of our best Rugby forwards, Justin Mattherson. Our duty teacher Mr Davis here witnessed the final moments of William’s attack on the senior boy.”
Willow went to reply, but was cut off as the Head teacher continued.
“It is both sad and atypical for a student with such an obviously outstanding academic record to also have the ‘track record’ of William here. It seems that despite his academic prowess in almost every subject thus far, and of course his running and music, he also seems to flaunt school rules and struggles to fit in.
“Any consequences will of course be discussed with his parents post fact, but Ms Rosenberg, it seems that several uniform violations, our need to remind him regards his hair colour and length following ‘the break’, and William’s recent violent actions toward other students would indicate a definite trend toward defying our school policies and an attitude toward authority that is quite disturbing and best ‘nipped in the bud’ as it were.
“I am well aware that boys will go through a rebellious stage, and do need to be brought into line for their own good, and that he is growing up in… [he cleared his throat] unusual family circumstances where being ‘different’ is encouraged… and although we do, of course, embrace ‘diversity’ [said with the inverted comma finger gestures that simply annoyed everyone!] here at the school, his current physical violence involving another student warrants stiff reprimand.
Willow reached for William’s closest hand and squeezed gently, out of sight of his interviewers.
“I have spoken to several witnesses, including a number of the senior boys and the other chap involved, Justin, and will be suspending William for three days. After which there will be the necessary two week probationary period when we will consider his future at the school. It is not a fait à complie by any stretch of the imagination, but I would ask that you and his parents consider that he might be… better suited to… well… an alternative mode of schooling.”
Willow struggled to keep her eyes their innocent green rather than sliding to black, even so, her ‘resolve’ face and tone were not to be trifled with, and the Head of School found himself silenced by the petite wiccan as she sat forward, deliberately leaned her elbows on the wide desk that separated them, then began speaking whilst freezing the three staff members present with an icy stare.
“I cannot speak to William’s breaches of your uniform code, but am really struggling to see how issues of hair and dress are compelling factors in the context of today’s ‘serious events’ nor the appropriateness of his remaining at the school. My nephew appears to have a badly damaged cheek which has had no more attention than some cursory examination by an unqualified staff member and some ice from the staffroom. And for your information, contrary to whatever reports you may have had, William was forced to defend himself against not one, but *many* assailants in order to protect another student, a student, who by the way, has had *no* support when bullying was reported *by his parents and teachers* on *three* previous occasions.
“Our coven is adjacent the Harvey-Page’s property and we are well aware of the neighbours desperation as little if anything has been done to assist their son this year.
“Your duty teacher today was not in the area to observe any of the ‘beginnings’ was he Mr… Davis? Though I do understand that it is nigh on impossible to be everywhere at once when in the yard, what surprises me is the method of reporting, willingness to accept inaccuracies and untruths without all the facts, and the follow-up post incident.
“It seems Mr Donovan, and colleagues, that with limited facts, and a focus on the sporting prowess of the older boy, the three of you have already decided that William here was the perpetrator of this ‘incident’. Did you think to ask the *real* victim of the piece? Do you even know that Josh Harvey-Page was able to call home *only after* he was saved from an angry mob of your senior students, headed up by your treasured rugby star? The same ‘star’ who had his older followers divest a twelve year old Josh of his lunch money by force, followed by taunting, pushing and punching him, and if I am not mistaken … not for the first time? Are you aware that Ms Harvey-Page felt compelled to pick up her son and have him examined by a doctor immediately following the call?
“What exactly *are* the school’s bullying policies Mr Donovan? I accept that William may have done the wrong thing in engaging in any fight but if he is to be punished for rescuing a younger student from such a mob, my question is, what is the school ethos and practices that it would allow such serious a situation to escalate over weeks to the point where it is up to a fifteen year old to defend a twelve year old friend against half the senior school?!”
The Head looked rather stunned, “That was not what we were led to… I hardly think that is the issue. Fighting is a serious matter…”
Willow stood, “I see.” The Mistress’ ire was up. She levelled near black eyes at the Pastoral head. Mr Johns, “Were William’s marks acceptable last semester?”
“Well, of course… um A…*A*s… well except Manual Arts… that’s a B minus…”
“And is he generally well behaved in class?”
“Well yes… always!”
“And he participates in extra curricular activities – music and sport?”
“Hmmm, I will not excuse William for fighting, Mr Donovan, as it is something neither I nor his parents would agree with, however I suggest very strongly that you *reassess* the incident after speaking to the Rachel and Carol Garvey-Page who I know for a fact, are on the way to the school as we speak. Regardless I assume you *will* be suspending the other boy also.”
The Head cringed a little at that, they needed Justin for the Friday match against Ealey Upper – a suspension would put him out of the team, but now it seemed there may be no choice, and it also meant another meeting with Robert Mattherson, former president of the school council and well know local businessman.
But Willow wasn’t about to let him off the hook, “I do insist that you have the teachers send home the work William is to miss and allow him to take any tests under my supervision. We will consider the future of William, his brother Alexander, and the twenty seven other children of our coven that attend here, after this matter has settled. And if we cannot be assured that our children are learning in a tolerant, safe, academically stimulating environment, I will be engaging a solicitor and contacting both the school Board and the Ministry of Education to explain the reason for so many students withdrawing at the one time.”
The Head was still a little gobsmacked as the petite redhead stood, nodded politely to all present and without further adieu said, “Good. We understand each other. I will take William home with me now and leave you to resolve the rest. You can expect a call from Trent Theodore ring you in the morning. As you are well aware, he is in London with Alexander at the Regional Swimming Finals.”
With that Willow swept out, William too miserable to even contemplate that she would have looked no less commanding if she had been six foot five and dressed in the new King’s full regalia. His inner Spike sulked, remembered all the times he had been in trouble in the other life and unlife, but thankful that Willow remained silent as he dejectedly pulled books from his locker then followed her to the car.
Charlotte was home and swiftly became extremely upset as Willow led William into the coven cottage that housed the family, but the Mistress intervened and began to explain as William skulked off to his and Alexander’s shared bedroom.
He grabbed his iPod, thrust his head phones, and flung himself face first onto his futon without bothering to push it out of ‘couch’ position’. Head under a large cushion, he flicked through his iTune selection and proceeded to play as much pained and angry music as loudly as he could whilst letting tears finally fall. His cheek hurt, his ear was throbbing and the only reason he hadn’t lost his favourite iron ball earring was that the blood had already dried around it when the back came off.
Charlotte came in some time later with a plate of home made tomato and basil soup, glass of water, plus wet warm face washer and jar of arnica cream.
She didn’t miss the slight tear and dirt scrapes on his grey pants and rip in his black sweat shirt, and heard the slight whimper as she lifted the pillow and eased the earphone out of an obviously damaged ear.
“C’mon sweetie… Willow said it’s been a long day…” That was all it took, William managing to get out a hitched, “Oh Mum… It wasn’t… I… just need a hug!” At which point Charlotte abandoned all intentions of tending the fifteen year old’s wounds, instead pulling him up and across her lap (with effort – he was just shy of her height, and weight!) until he leaned against her ample chest.
The boy, now crying hard into her shoulder, her sensitive Billie, always had a tough façade for all looking on, yet was blindingly intelligent, thoughtful, genuinely courageous for all the right reasons, and had a magical aura matching any of the best wiccans in the coven. Yet she worried for him. And not just about the prophesy that had hung over all their heads for so long.
It seemed that what made William great could also destroy him so easily. He sought approval, and seemed to think little of his own safety or value his own triumphs be they sporting, magical, musical or academic. She hugged him tighter and whispered, “I know what you did, my Billie… Willow told me… it was very brave… and it’ll be OK… Just… Shhhhhh… C’mon… Shhhh.”
Eventually she did bathe and tend his wounds with gentle strokes, and waited while he ate his soup. Placing the water on the bedside table, she kissed the now prone boy, handed him back his music and said, “Alex and Papa will be home soon. I’ll talk to Trent… and you are not to worry OK?”
Later, as William lay in the dark listening to an old tune, The Fray’s ‘How to save a life’ just one more time, his father entered. Instead of the ‘disappointed’ speech he expected, however, Trent simply sat on the side of the bed in the wan light from the hallway as William pulled out one ear phone. “I can’t say you did the wrong thing by fighting this time, son. Did you hurt them? The other boys?”
William answered in a still tear roughened voice, “No, not really. Well except for his balls.”
“You did well then. Josh’s mums rang just after we got home… I know about school and understand why they suspended you. But you did the right thing.” Trent simply squeezed William’s arm, then pulled the young man into a hug as William stemmed back tears – this time of relief.
That night Alexander spooned his still hurting and somewhat upset brother from behind for the first time in years, then as an afterthought kissed the back of his head before they both relaxed into sleep. There would be plenty of time to show his brother his three gold medals in the morning.