"I'm telling you, Giles. It was a technicolor, "the
hills are alive" surround sound sort of dream,"
she said emphatically. "That guy tortured her to death."
Giles nodded as he put the assorted ingredients for the spell
into order. The early afternoon sun streamed in through the
windows, giving a cheerful aura to his work.
"I don't doubt you, Buffy," he assured her as he
worked. She put her hands on her hips impatiently.
"Giles, we have to do something," she said plaintively.
"I have enough issues interrupting my beauty sleep without
having to relieve someone else's horrors."
He looked up swiftly, piercing her with his gaze.
"What else are you dreaming about?" he demanded
sharply. Buffy blushed and dropped her gaze. Mentally, she
cursed herself for mentioning anything that even hinted that
she still had nightmares. Giles would press her until she
told him, and the last thing she wanted to do was talk about
Spike with him.
"It doesn't matter," she mumbled. Giles moved away
from the counter, and walked toward her.
"Buffy," he said warningly. She shook her head.
"Not now, Giles. Really, it's ok," she rushed to
assure him. "I mean, we all have nightmares about what
Giles put his hand on her shoulder, causing her to look up
"It's ok to mourn him, Buffy," he said softly.
"The two of you had a relationship." He was amazed
at his ability to keep the bitterness out of his voice as
he spoke. "It's not easy to just forget and move on from
what happened." Sighing, Buffy wondered if she could
tell him how she really felt about what happened, that while
she was sorry Spike died, she hadn't felt about him the way
everyone thought she had. Everything had just become too complicated,
and she didn't have the words to explain. It had just been
easier to let everyone believe what they wanted to believe.
"We're home," Willow called, breezing into the
room. Dawn trailed eagerly after her, dropping her backpack
on the floor. Buffy and Giles sprang apart. "I'm ready
to do the spell if you are."
Giles nodded and turned back towards the spell ingredients
on the kitchen counter and picked up a piece of paper.
"Deborah and Jo have assured me that this spell should
do the trick," he said, handing Willow the paper. She
looked it over and nodded.
"Easy enough, but I'll have to be in the attic to do
Dawn perked up.
"Oh, cool. Can I watch?" she asked brightly. Buffy,
Willow and Giles turned to face her.
"No!" they said in unison. Dawn pouted, crossing
her arms over her chest.
"You guys never let me have any fun," she sulked.
Buffy looked at Giles.
"I'm going up with Willow, just in case," she told
him. Giles nodded his agreement.
"That would probably be wise," he concurred.
"Ready?" Buffy asked Willow. The redhead nodded
and they gathered up the ingredients, trooping through the
living room and up the stairs to the attic stairs. They met
Xander in the hallway.
"Oh, are we exorcising now?" he asked gleefully,
rubbing his hands together. The girls rolled their eyes.
"Just help Giles with the stairs," Buffy ordered.
With a shrug, Xander turned and grabbed the rope. Together,
with much grunting and groaning, the men managed to pull the
Buffy climbed the stairs first, watchful for any flying objects.
Her body was tense and prepared to duck. Willow crept up cautiously
behind her, arms filled with ingredients. Seeing nothing amiss,
Buffy began prowling the room as Willow began to set up the
"This is a cool room," Dawn said, poking her head
into the attic space. "Can I have it once the ghost is
Buffy whirled to face her sister.
"Dawn!" Giles yelled up. "Get back down here!"
At the sound of his voice, Hedwig's ghost appeared in the
corner almost as if he'd called her. Dawn gave a small scream
and scurried back down the stairs. Willow gasped in horror
as she stared at the ghost. Hedwig's face was bleeding, the
blood dripping on her dress.
"Go away!" Hedwig screamed. "I'm innocent."
Boxes began to shake as they were levitated from the floor.
"Damn it," Buffy cursed, taking a fighting stance
and preparing to knock them away. "Willow, get moving,"
she ordered. Willow began lighting the candles and chanting
Suddenly, Buffy felt a force grab her and fling her across
the room as it had before. Slamming into the wall, she staggered
as her head banged against the wooden planks. She dropped
to her knees in a daze. Shaking her head, she tried to stand,
but instead, found herself sliding across the floor through
the dirt and grime as some unseen hand dragged her across
the room. She clawed at the floor, trying to stop her slide.
Willow chanted frantically, ducking as a box whizzed past
her head, narrowly missing her. She couldn't stop to call
for help, because it would break the spell. She could only
watch helplessly as Buffy was pinned to the wall.
Buffy fought against the influence that held her in place.
She gasped in horror as chains materialized around her wrists,
holding her captive. Suddenly she realized that they were
the chains from her dream. Looking around wildly, she began
struggling against them.
Buffy could see Willow chanting, trying to quell the storm
that was brewing in the attic. Boxes, trunks and broken furniture
swirled through the air, banging into walls and the floor.
Wind rushed around them, tousling the girls' hair.
"Forget the spell, Will!" Buffy yelled at her friend.
Breaking off mid-chant, Willow held up her hand as a chair
tumbled toward her head.
"Statuo," she commanded, her voice reverberating
with power. The chair seemingly froze in place, suspended
in the air.
"Can you make it stop?" Buffy called, still struggling
with her chains.
"I'll try," Willow yelled back over the din. She
spoke several more words in Latin, only to have nothing happen.
As she spoke, Hedwig turned toward her. "The ghost is
too strong, Buffy!" Willow gave a small scream as Hedwig
appeared before her, bloody face twisted in anger.
"You're helping him!" she shouted at Willow. A
blast of angry energy sent Willow flying backwards. Her arms
and legs pinwheeled as she was launched across the room. A
heavy black trunk was hurled after her. She managed to toss
up a magical force field just as it reached her. It dropped
to the floor with a crash. Incensed, Hedwig turned back toward
Buffy who struggled in vain against her bonds.
"Giles, help!" she screamed as the ghost floated
toward her. Buffy tugged on the ghostly chains, trying to
pull them from the wall. She froze in horror as a knife suddenly
materialized in front of her. It was a thick heavy hunting
knife, and the blade glinted in the dim light. She threw herself
to the side as it slashed down and she hissed in pain as it
caught her shoulder.
"Buffy!" Giles and Xander rushed up the stairs,
skidding to a halt as they realized that Hedwig was blocking
their way to Buffy. Giles stared past the transparent figure
to Buffy, his eyes wide with concern as blood seeped from
"I'll never confess!" the ghost shouted at them.
"Never. I'm innocent!"
"We know." he said quickly, trying to calm the
angry spirit. He continued speaking soothingly. "You
were wrongfully accused. We know you never would've hurt Phillip."
Hedwig stared at him for a moment.
"It's a trick," she hissed. She lunged for Giles,
her claw-like hands reaching for his throat. He and Xander
dove out of the way. Giles crashed into the wall next to Willow
and landed in a heap on the floor. Willow screamed as Hedwig
leapt towards them.
"No!" Buffy shouted. "Leave them alone."
Her voice brought Hedwig up short, causing her to swing back
to the Slayer. Buffy twisted sideways as the hovering knife
sliced at her. She heard the whistle of the blade as it just
missed her. Rotating her body, she managed to turn in time
to catch the blade as it passed her hands. Using its own momentum,
she drove the knife deep into the wooden wall.
Giles groaned as he stood, Willow helping him up. Hedwig
hissed as she swung back towards them. Xander cursed from
the corner where he landed, knocking over a box as he clambered
to his feet. The ghost turned about the attic, unsure where
to direct her attention. The knife no longer a threat and
Hedwig's concentration divided, Buffy focused on the chains
Twisting herself around, Buffy turned to face the wall. She
planted her feet against it, and pushed with all her strength.
She felt the shackles bite into her wrists, blood dripping
down her hands as she pulled on the chains. Grunting, her
leg muscles shook with exertion. Suddenly, there was a cracking
sound and Buffy fell backwards as the wooden wall gave way.
Pieces of wood splintered from the wall, flying past her head.
She gasped in horror.
Behind the wall was a hidden compartment. Inside was a desiccated
skeleton, dressed in a bloody dress. Wisps of pale blonde
hair still clung to the skull. Hedwig turned, staring at the
"Free," she whispered. Slowly, she walked over
to her skeleton. Reaching out, Hedwig's transparent hand passed
through the remains. "You've freed me," she said
to Buffy, her voice filled with awe. Buffy stood as the chains
disappeared from her wrists.
Giles rushed to Buffy, Willow in tow. Xander limped as he
joined the group, still cursing under his breath.
Carefully, Giles examined Buffy's injuries, his fingers probing
the knife wound on her shoulder. Much to his relief, it was
a shallow cut, although it concerned him that her right wrist
was still bleeding freely. With his handkerchief, he quickly
bound her wounds to stem the blood. Satisfied that she didn't
require a trip to the emergency room, he peered into the dark
"There's something else inside," he said, moving
forward. Giles leaned down to scoop up a battered and worn
book. He turned it over to examine it, dirt and cobwebs covering
his hands. The leather cover creaked as he opened it carefully,
paging through it. "It's the diary of Hiram Scobie,"
he told the group as they gathered around him. Giles flipped
to the last entry.
" 'She died screaming her innocence,' "
he read. " 'She is dead, at long last, by my hand,
and at my will. In some long-confused part of my mind I seemed
to feel sure if Hedwig died, Philip would live again.'
" He looked up at the solemn faces of his friends before
speaking thoughtfully. "Scobie killed Hedwig, but obviously
Hedwig did not kill Philip. Only an innocent spirit would
have been able to generate enough mystical force to stay bound
to this room for so long. If she had been guilty, her spirit
would have left when she died. Her very existence here as
a ghost proves her innocence."
The attic was silent for a moment. Finally, the peace was
broken by Hedwig's sobs. The gang turned to stare at her.
Slowly, as they watched, her skin began to heal, the wounds
closing up and the blood disappearing from her clothing. The
wisps of knotted hair smoothed once again into golden silk.
Her eyes cleared and they were bright with tears as she looked
at the group. Buffy could see the relief and gratitude in
"Tell them. I would have never hurt Phillip. Tell them
I was innocent," she said, gesturing at the book. Buffy
"We'll them what happened," Buffy said solemnly.
"Thank you," she whispered as she began to fade
from view. As the group watched, Hedwig disappeared completely.
Silence reigned once more for a moment. Finally, Buffy turned
to Giles, who still held the diary open.
"Think that reporter who interviewed us would be interested
in that diary?"
Buffy climbed down the ladder and stepped back to admire
her handiwork. She cocked her head as she stared at the wall.
Unsatisfied, she moved to make an adjustment.
"I can't wait to see what the G-man has to say about
that," Xander said from the doorway of the living room.
Buffy grinned at him from over her shoulder and hopped down
from the stepladder.
"I know exactly what he'll say," she told him.
"He'll say that it's completely improper to hang an ancient
mystical weapon over the fireplace." Buffy turned and
gazed at her handiwork. The axe that she'd used to defeat
the First glinted in the sunlight. "It's my axe, I'll
do whatever I damn well please with it," she said defiantly.
Xander grinned as he moved into the room, standing next to
her to gaze at the weapon.
"I like it," he said after a moment. "It gives
the place character."
Buffy grinned. She noticed that he held something in his
"What's that?" she asked curiously. Xander looked
down in surprise. He'd forgotten about the paper in his hand.
"Oh, Jo stopped by and dropped off our mail," he
said. "I'm pretty sure she was looking for Giles. She
was really disappointed that he wasn't here."
Buffy scowled at the floor, her good mood gone at the mention
of the witch's name. She wished she knew why Jo rubbed her
the wrong way. She should be happy that someone was interested
"What did we get?" she asked sharply. Used to Buffy's
swift mood swings, Xander was unfazed.
"We got a postcard from Andrew. Seems he enjoyed the
Star Trek convention so much, he got a job working at the
Star Trek ride at the Las Vegas Hilton. He's a waiter at Quark's
Buffy stared at Xander for a moment before bursting into
"Only Andrew," she said. Buffy turned and began
walking to the kitchen, skirting around the newly delivered
furniture. She couldn't wait to sleep in her new bed. The
minute it had arrived and been assembled, she'd put on the
sheets and just lay on it, reveling in the feeling of an actual
mattress beneath her.
"So, where is Giles?" Xander asked, following her.
"Oh, he went to town to pick up a check from the real
estate agent," she said absently. "After the whole
thing with Hedwig, we went in and told them that we'd better
get some money or we'd sue them." Buffy cocked her head
at the memory, smiling. Between Giles' Ripper stare and her
Slayer glare, Kylie had practically been shaking in her high-heeled
shoes. "Although, Giles used way bigger words than that,"
"Of course he did," Xander agreed. Buffy glanced
at her watch.
"He'll be back for our First Family Dinner With Furniture.
He said he was just going to run into town, pick up the check
and come right back."
Dawn looked up as they came into the kitchen, Willow turning
from the stove where she was cooking.
"Did you see the paper?" Dawn asked excitedly,
waving a copy of the Whispering Pines Gazette in the air.
"Hedwig's on the front page."
Willow laughed as she stirred the contents of a large silver
"She's been bouncing about this since the paper came,"
she told Buffy and Xander. "She so proud about the comment
about her 'remarkably philosophic attitude.'"
Dawn ignored the comment as she smoothed out the newspaper
on the new kitchen table. " 'Founding Father's Dark
Secret,' " she read. " 'Residents were
shocked this week when evidence was discovered that Hiram
Scobie, possibly the most revered of Whispering Pines' founders,
may well have murdered a young girl in 1888. Newcomers to
Whispering Pines who recently moved into the long-abandoned
Scobie Manor discovered the evidence.' And I love how
they talk about me and my room. Liz will have to agree now
that lilac's cool. It's in the paper after all. But oh, I
like this part best: 'As much as it pains me to believe
it, it seems that Scobie went temporarily insane after his
son's death.' " Dawn looked up and gazed around
the kitchen. "Did you hear that Hedwig?" she called
Above the kitchen table, a baby rattle materialized. It shook
back and forth a few times before disappearing again. Dawn
grinned at Buffy, smartly refolding the paper.
"I'm going to go do my homework," she informed
the group. "Call me when dinner's ready," she said
to Willow, scooping up her backpack and heading up to her
On the second floor, Dawn bypassed all the bedrooms until
she reached the attic stairs. Reaching up, she pulled on the
new, longer rope Xander had installed and pulled. He'd also
fixed the steps so that they pulled down easily.
In the attic, she looked around, pleased. Her new bed sat
on one side, a desk and chair on the other. Xander had installed
some lights and Buffy had come up and painted the walls the
lilac she had liked so much. She figured that with a few posters
here and there, it would be like home.
Flopping onto the bed, Dawn leaned down and pulled her journal
from its hiding place between the mattress and box spring.
She opened it to a blank page and began writing about her
day. It took her some time to chronicle the recent events,
pausing once in awhile to think. Movement by one of the windows
caught her eye, but when she looked, there was nothing to
After she finished the entry, Dawn slid the book back between
the mattresses and tugged her English book out of the backpack.
Opening it to her assigned story, she settled on the bed,
lying on her stomach as she started reading. After a few minutes,
the day caught up with her, and she nodded off, her head resting
on the open book.
In the corner of the room, Hedwig materialized, her uniform
pressed, blonde hair up in a neat bun. She glided across the
room to the sleeping figure and carefully tugged the book
out from under the girl's head. Hedwig pulled the blanket
up over Dawn and leaning down, pressed a gentle kiss to her
Buffy moved restlessly around the kitchen, peering out the
window at the dark sky. She thought it might rain soon, but
she wasn't sure because the weather in Whispering Pines was
so changeable. Giles had been gone for a long time. Dinner
was almost ready, the table set for five. Willow had told
him they would be eating about now, and he'd promised to be
back in time for their first family dinner in their new home.
A sense of unease settled over Buffy. Giles knew how important
this meal was to them. He wouldn't break his promise. Not
unless he had to, and only for something very important.
"Where is he?" she asked Xander, a note of worry
in her voice. "He should've been back by now."
"He probably got delayed at the real estate office or
something," he said reassuringly as he looked up from
the newspaper. "Giles'll be back any minute now."
Giles climbed out of the Suburban and shut the door. He glanced
at his watch and realized that he had about ten minutes to
get to the real estate office before they closed. Whistling,
he started down the sidewalk. Night had fallen and most of
the town folk were home having dinner with their families,
where he'd be shortly. Their first family dinner. He smiled
at the thought. They really had become a family, he realized.
It would be hard to leave them again.
Giles looked at his watch again. He was running late. He'd
stopped by the bookstore and gotten distracted by some of
the used books they had. There had been several volumes on
demons that he thought would be useful in the future and had
asked the owner to set them aside until the next day.
A sudden noise startled him. He tensed, prepared for danger.
Laughter filled the air around him, vaguely familiar. He tried
to place it, its familiarity nagging at him. Distracted, he
was caught off-guard as strong hands grabbed him roughly from
behind. He grunted as a heavy fist slammed into the back of
his head. The blow knocked him off balance and he would have
fallen if the hands holding him captive hadn't kept him upright.
Giles struggled vainly against his captors, his head spinning.
He looked up just in time to see a green fist flying toward
him. It caught him squarely on the jaw, the force of the blow
knocking him unconscious. He collapsed, his limp body held
in place by large grayish-green hands.
"Now, now." said a voice Giles would've found chillingly
familiar. "We mustn't break Mummy's new toy." Drusilla
stepped from the shadows into the light of a nearby street
lamp. She stared down at the unconscious Watcher. She shook
her head. "No, we don't want to break my new toy."
Cocking her head, she tapped a fingernail against her pursed
lips. "Not until I've had a chance to play with him for
awhile," she amended. Leaning down, Drusilla put her
lips next to Giles' ear. "We'll have lots of fun, you
and me," she whispered, uncaring that he couldn't hear
her. "And she'll cry and cry and cry."
Pleased with herself, she looked up at her henchmen. "Bring
him," she ordered, her voice hard as she slunk back into
the shadows. Grunting, the quill demon hoisted Giles over
his shoulder, following Drusilla's mad laughter as she moved
down the street.