Ten Years After

Chapter 15

Dawn awoke, feeling remarkably not-hung-over – “Yay for the nephrons of a twenty year old!” she said out loud then gathered her wrap from the chair, where Spike had thoughtfully put it for her, to go and open the curtains and inspect the day. A pale grey day – dry – the sun might break through later, she thought.

“Versailles,” she said. ‘Must stop talking to myself!’ she thought.

It seemed a good day to go to see Versailles, one of the to-do things. She dressed quickly, and checked with the girl in Reception that she could get a pick-up from the lobby after breakfast at such short notice – she could. She also asked the girl to organise a day trip to Disneyland Paris the next day as well – she’d just have to accept that her ‘Significant Other’ couldn’t do this sort of thing with her, and go have fun on her own.

She ate a healthy breakfast, thinking ‘sex is good for the appetite,’ and hurried back to her room to pick up a jacket and her small back-pack before the coach arrived.

Versailles was very impressive, ‘Makes the White House or Buckingham Palace look like cottages,’ Dawn thought as she stood in ‘The Hall of Mirrors’. If the Folies Bergeres had been ‘kitsch so over the top as to be stunningly spectacular’, then this was something even more extravagant. Perhaps you couldn’t apply the word ‘kitsch’ to something so obviously all real crystal and real gold, but it was definitely opulence taken to the extreme.

‘If the poor of Paris ever saw inside this room, then it was no wonder they staged a revolution!’ she thought. ‘Not that anyone could do anything practical with thousands of candles, crystal chandeliers, gold fitments and miles of glass and mirrors, but the cost would have been unimaginable at the time.’

‘I wonder if Spike has ever visited Versailles?’ she mused. ‘Had it been open to the public when he had been in Paris with Drusilla in the past? This room would have given any vampire the creeps anyway!’ Although there were fifty or sixty other people in it with her now – comparatively quiet! – and so perhaps the lack of reflection wouldn’t have been so obvious to other people.

She wandered through the building; room followed room, full of glorious furnishings and extravagant carpets and drapes. On the walls, and painted on the ceilings, were works of art by innumerable Old Masters; and here and there were dotted equally wonderful sculptures. After a couple of hours Dawn felt that she had had enough – it was like eating nothing but ‘Death by Chocolate’ for every meal, she thought.

The thought of chocolate made her realise that she was hungry, and she decided to be extravagant and eat at the restaurant rather than the café. The view of the grounds was spectacular, and she had been right to predict that the sun was going to shine; it now glinted on the water in the ornamental lakes and fountains.

‘Great!’ Dawn thought, seeing the small train that you could ride on through the grounds, ‘Just like going to that theme park with Mom and Dad!’

Then ‘No,’ she thought, ‘just like going to a theme park with Mom and Dad would have been, if I’d really done it. Time to make yourself another memory Dawn baby! Then next time you see something like this you can think it is just like Versailles!’


Just as Dawn got back to her hotel room her phone rang. It was Spike “Afternoon love, had a good day?”

“Yep, I’ve been to Versailles. Have you ever been there?” Dawn asked, as she shrugged out of her jacket.

“Not inside, but I once sha … em … once strolled around the grounds with Dru. She loved that ‘play house’ of Marie Antoinette, thought it would be just the place for a tea-party. Be a good place for skinny-dipping on a summer night, all those ponds and lakes. S’pose there’s too much security these days though!

“Anyway, just rung to ask if you wanted to eat out tonight, or maybe come round to my place – bit like old times, junk food and television, what do you think?” he continued.

“Sounds good to me, I had a big lunch, so maybe we could get some more crepes, and munchies, and wine because I’m not a kid any more?” Dawn answered, thinking ‘Hey, invitation to Spike’s place – that’s another relationship thing, as long as he remembers this is grown-up Dawn here.’

“Want me to come and pick you up?” Spike asked. “I could come over in about an hour, and we could get crepes and things on the way back.”

“Seems good to me – that’ll give me time for a shower and things – see you downstairs in an hour.” Dawn answered, and they rang off.

Actually she had planned to ring Giles, as she hadn’t talked to him for a few days, and so she showered quickly, and then rang him whilst she sat in her wrap before drying her hair properly or getting dressed.

“Hi Giles,” she greeted him, “It’s just me, checking in. Is this a good time to talk, or shall I ring Willow for a gossip and ring you in the morning?”

“This is a perfectly good time, dear girl. I arrived home about quarter of an hour ago, but Olivia and Thea are not home from Dance Class yet, and there is nothing useful for me to do, as Olivia and I are going to eat out tonight, and Thea is being indulged with junk food even as we speak! How are you? How is Spike, are you finding that he is able to help you come to terms with yourself?”

“I’m fine. I’ve been thinking things through, and Spike really has helped me a lot. He’s been able to answer some of my questions, and it’s just good to know that he’ll be around for me – he’s promised me that he will, and I believe him.

“It sounds so ungrateful being worried or upset about something that most people would give almost everything for, but when they finally confirmed that I was right it scared me.” Dawn continued, “But I’m learning to deal, and I’m doing the sights, and even being educated as well!

“We went to the Musee d’Orsay a couple of days ago – when it was damp and cloudy, so Spike could come too. He’d even met some of the models, well so he said anyway! Oh, and last night we went to the Folies Bergeres – have you ever been there?”

“No, I can’t say that I have.” Giles answered, “Did you enjoy it?”

“The show was pretty good, but the building itself is just amazing. You have got to take Olivia there just to see the inside of the building, Giles. It is so over the top that it is out the other side of kitsch into gloriously stunning!

“Then today I went to Versailles – equally stunning and equally over the top, but very different. Properly educational I suppose. Tomorrow I am going to go to Disneyland, and go on the rides like a big kid. Do you think I could take Thea in the summer if you and Olivia wouldn’t mind?” Dawn asked, wondering whether Giles would think it the sort of things only parents should do.

“I think it would be a wonderful idea – and I’m sure Olivia would agree with me – a twenty-something companion is the right person for Disneyland, although I’m sure we two old people might like to come along – just not for the rides! We must plan it when you come home.” Giles answered, and Dawn could hear the smile in his voice.

“I’m coming home at the end of the fortnight, I’ve decided,” she told him, “I think I’ll be ready for work by then, and I feel now that I want to help with the Key research, I’m happy enough with ‘me’ again to be able to face it and, to be honest, I’m beginning to itch to find out more now! How is it going?”

“Well! Very well!” Giles answered, sounding enthusiastic. “Since Willow and Mhairi have worked out how to lift the cloaking spells I am finding the research fascinating, and we now have developed a way of me retaining the information, with just a few tweaks to their spell. They seem to have a very good balance together, and are quite happy to settle comfortably into a meditative state together in one of the quiet rooms whilst I work in the Library – it is all proceeding most satisfactorily.”

“So what have you found?” Dawn prompted him, wondering whether he really was retaining it – or if he just thought he did!

“Ah, yes …” Dawn could hear Giles taking his glasses off and rubbing them, in the tone of his voice. “I am beginning to realise that there are a lot more records which include mentions of The Key than I had previously thought. The few we found earlier must have either been written in areas very well shielded from magic, or by people who were very determined to make their meaning clear, or … well I’m still not sure why they were not too difficult to find, to be honest. Possibly because they did not really give any idea about the power of The Key!

“I have found that the easiest thing is to let someone bring me a wide selection of material, and then I sit at the desk and consider it all, whilst Willow and Mhairi begin to lift the cloak. I will then feel that one or another of the scrolls or books is perhaps longer than I had thought, or has some resonance for me, when I consider the question of The Key, and when I start to study it I realise that there is a reference which everyone had previously overlooked.

“We discovered this by accident,” he admitted, sounding rather sheepish, “On the second day that Willow started joining with Mhairi. I had a scroll on my desk about the Monks, which I had scanned the day before, and dismissed as purely about simple monastic duties, mentions of demons discovered and destroyed, but nothing else. When I went to remove it from my desk, to make room for something else, I suddenly realised that there were five or six paragraphs about safeguarding The Key, and considering whether they may need to use The Key to fight a particular demon that had been reported! I was most fascinated, and have gone back and looked at other texts since. In a number of cases I have realised that they contain some reference to The Key which has not been noted and referenced when the scrolls came into the possession of the Council.”

“Having now read a number of previously overlooked sources, I am beginning to form a theory,” Giles continued. “I do not think that the earlier references actually imply that The Key is a single-use item. I think it is possible that you may be able to use it to open a portal without destroying it or, in fact, you.

“I think we have been too quick to base our understanding of The Key purely on what we gleaned from Glory, whilst fumbling our way, unbeknownst to us, through a mist of cloaking spells designed to turn us away from our course.

“There is still a great deal of further research to be done,” he continued, with relish, “and I am looking forward to you being able to help me with it. In a purely theoretical way at the moment, of course!”

“Hmm … not sure I like the sound of the ‘at the moment’ bit, Giles!” Dawn answered, laughing just a little, but with a query in her voice.

“Dawn, my dear, you know that I would never do anything to endanger you; not even in the name of research. You are as precious to me as Thea. But now that we have begun to realise the power of the magic that is part of you, I think it is important that we are as fully informed as possible, primarily for your own sake.

“I have not mentioned the exact nature of my current research to any of the other ‘Bods’.” Dawn smiled at his use of her nickname for the other four ‘master-watchers’ who ran the council, from B.O.D - Board of Directors.

“Should you and I decide to let them know our conclusions, we will,” Giles continued. “Should you decide to keep any knowledge to ourselves, then that is what will happen. However, the research is proving more and more interesting, and I am finding it most invigorating! Whether this is simply because it is so fascinating, or whether it is because I am working under the influence of benign magic all day I am not sure; but only the knowledge that I cannot ask Willow and Mhairi to spell-cast for even longer hours, and the need to see Olivia and Thea, stops me from working long into the night!”

His mention of Olivia and Thea reminded both Giles and Dawn that they were going out, and they drew the conversation to a close, after a few brief words about the report Dawn had sent regarding Drusilla’s demise.

Dawn really did feel that she wanted to get involved in the research now, and found herself wondering whether she would be able to find things, if she looked properly, without the de-cloaking spells – it would be interesting to find out, she mused, as she finished drying her hair.

She also found herself wondering whether Giles’ being invigorated was anything to do with the relationship Willow had spoken of between magic and sex, but immediately felt a desperate need to think of something else. Then she laughed out loud; her mind veered away from any thoughts of Giles and sex almost as completely as everyone else’s minds veered away from any thought of The Key!


Spike surprised her by picking her up by car. “I didn’t know you had a car, why have you been using taxis all the time?” she asked him, as she got into the Renault, and slung her pack onto the back seat.

“Parking!” he answered. “Got a space round the back of the flat, but the middle of the city’s a bugger to park – the Metro and taxis are easier. It’s useful if I want to go out of town, though.”

His flat was almost as surprising. The ‘appartement sous-sol’ was almost completely below street level, with windows opening into tiny paved ‘wells’ which allowed so little light to filter down that Spike was probably safe with all the curtains open at mid-day in mid-summer. But it was the fact that it was nicely furnished, and beautifully kept that most surprised Dawn.

“Can’t take all the credit” he admitted, when Dawn said how nice it was. “Rent it furnished, but the pictures are mine”, as Dawn admired a display of modern photographs of cityscapes on one wall. “And the books,” as she scanned a shelf containing a mixture of biographies, poetry, modern fiction, and classics.

She picked up a hard-backed copy of Terry Pratchett’s ‘Thud!’ and found it signed by the author – “Wow – neat!” Dawn said.

“Yeah – a winter signing session in a shopping mall!” Spike said, laughing. “Carried it around ever since.”

Also in the sitting room were a couple of matching soft leather armchairs and a coffee table in front of a very big television, and there was a tiny dining room with a table and two chairs visible through an archway. “We’ll just eat here as it’s hardly ‘dining’,” Spike said, putting all the ‘munchies’ on the coffee table, and heading through another door into the kitchen, returning with wine, glasses, and plates.

“Do you need to warm some blood up?” Dawn asked.

“No – fed before I came for you. I can just join you in unhealthy artery-clogging junk food – knowing it probably won’t do either of us any harm at all! Enjoy!” Spike answered, laughing.

He sat down in the chair with the best view of the television – then looked at Dawn and raised an eyebrow. She picked up her wine, settled herself in the same chair, on top of him, and they ate crepes in comfortable companionship.

The evening was fun, they talked, ate, criticised the television programmes, drank wine, and laughed. “Clem would love this,” Dawn said, “Wonder how he’s getting on?”

Spike said, rather sadly, “Don’t know. Know he got outta Sunnydale before it blew, but never heard of him since. You’re right – he would like this – but I’m kinda glad he’s not here right now – might have cramped my style a bit!” as he slid his hand under Dawn’s sweater in exactly the right place to make her squirm around on his knee and giggle.

‘Wonder if I can track Clem down when I get back to work?’ Dawn thought, even as she tried to roll around a little in the chair to get to any possibly ticklish bit of Spike.

Eventually they made their way into the bedroom, where the duvet had already been turned down by the time Dawn had been to the bathroom, and the only light came from some scented tea-lights. “I was thinking of getting rose petals,” Spike said, “but thought it might put you off a bit, after what I told you about Dru.”

“You could be right,” Dawn admitted, “but this is lovely – you are an old romantic!”

“Good job you didn’t call me a New Romantic,” he answered, “because I was always a punk!”


  • Chapter 16

  • The characters in this story do not belong to me, but are being used for amusement only and all rights remain with Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, the writers of the original episodes, and the TV and production companies responsible for the original television shows. BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER ©2002 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All Rights Reserved. The Buffy the Vampire Slayer trademark is used without express permission from Fox.