There's a bit from one of the Narnia books Willow loves to quote. It's from The Magician's Nephew, which I don't remember very well. I read my copies of the other books to shreds, but I never liked that one. So when I hear the poem, it's Willow's voice I hear, not something from C.S. Lewis's allegory of faith and Christian symbolism.
Take your choice, adventurous strangerShe always chuckles when she says it, saying that she had to make sure her dad never found out that the fantasy books she was reading were actually about lions and lambs and sacrificial kings and things like that, and Xander chimes in with how they tried the backs of every closet in her parents' house because she wanted to find Narnia, and Buffy tells how Dawn did the same thing as a kid and.... They all know her so well, for so much longer than I have, but they don't see the gleam in her eyes sometimes. The one where she's about to pounce on a problem, and worry it to pieces.
Strike the bell and bide the danger
Or wonder, till it drives you mad
What would have followed if you had.
She was always like this, she tells me, alone in bed at night when we're curled up in the warm dark, as intimate mentally and emotionally as physically. In whispers we talk about our lives, our pasts, our futures. And I see a little red-headed schoolgirl who loved school, and loved thinking, and loved twisting her brain around to a solution. A teenage girl whose closest friends depended on her to think of solutions. A witch with enough natural power and burning curiosity that once magic presented itself to her, she couldn't back away, didn't want to. And I love her so much it scares me
Her intentions are good. I reassure myself of that. And it's true, her intentions are always good. So good that she convinced me to help with the one thing I knew I should never have done, help in raising Buffy. Because we saw the monsters that came out of the rift before she went into it, and if she was lost in a hell dimension with those monsters, we had to get her out. She'd done so much, suffered so much, we couldn't let her abide in hell.
But then, again, the intellectual puzzle. How to do it. If we'd asked Dawn how she'd raised Joyce, we would have given away our plan. So Willow made little lists on pink-and-purple-striped post-it notes, jotting down the ingredients for upsetting the natural order of the universe. She planned, she researched, she threw herself whole-heartedly into the rescue operation. And the more emotional her protestations of fear and horror and pain, the colder the glitter in her eyes became.
She could never have wondered what would have followed. She had to try, because the curiosity would drive her crazy.
I won't tell Willow what I overheard, what Buffy admitted to Spike that she could not admit to anyone else. I won't tell Willow that Buffy wasn't in hell, wasn't in pain. I'll keep that secret, for Willow's sake.
I pulled Willow's copy of Magician's Nephew off the shelf and reread the scene with the poem. When Digory strikes the bell, he wakes a red-headed witch/queen from her rest. ~Lilith,~ my mind catalogs, pulling information from the world mythology class I took last semester, writing the paper the night after Joyce's funeral. ~Pre-Christian symbolism of the powerful woman, a demoness who was Adam's first wife, who refused to lie under him and was driven from the Garden of Eden.~ I don't remember what happens to her in the book, but I remember that she was cold and cruel and hurt everyone she could, and I remember I hated the book because I hated her, and I hated that Digory had been too stupid to not touch the bell and not wake her.
But now I've struck the bell, and I have my own red-headed witch to deal with. And I love her, and I fear her, and I don't know what to do, other than keep going, take whatever I can, and try to protect her. From herself, if I can.
And, if it comes down to it, I'll protect the world from her. If I have to.
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