Genre: Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Word Count: 1487
For ragnarok_08 who requested Buffy the Vampire Slayer: harvest festival.
Also a nod and a thanks to alton_lust for her comment: *I mean I took it out and hid it in an iron pot long ago like the tale says is the health insurance policy of most witches.*
And, as always, a thanks to sparky955 for her beta and to everyone who joined in me in my celebration of the 13 Days of Halloween. Now, get out there and treat or trick!
Buffy looked up from her bed as Willow drifted into the dorm room they shared.
“Why the long face, girlfriend?” Buffy was ready for anything that would free her from the joys of intercellular reproduction, which on the surface sounded like fun and a little kinky. It wasn’t.
Willow dropped an envelope on the bedspread near Buffy’s hand and collapsed, face first, onto her bed.
Intrigued now, Buffy sat up and reached for the envelope. Inside was an elaborately designed and handwritten invitation to Witch Willow.
“So you’re invited to a party. What’s the big?”
“The big is that Tara has an exam and can’t come with. I’ve been waiting all year for a nod from these guys and now this. Stupid exam.”
“Do I detect a hint of annoyance with our education system? Willow Rosenberg, the ultimate student?”
“Don’t. I feel bad enough already.” Willow’s voice was muffled by her pillow.
“What does Tara say?”
“She said I should find someone else to go with me. I asked Xander, but he’s too busy making sure Anya doesn’t turn any little kids into toads.”
“What about me?”
Willow sat up, her face hopeful. “You? You’d be my Plus One? Are you sure? It’s your only night off.”
Buffy brushed a strand of Willow’s red hair from her face and smiled. “No vamps to stake and no ghouls to destroy. I could do with a party.” Buffy shut her book and set it aside. “Just once I’d like to have a fun and normal night off. No Gaknars need apply.”
“That is so cool.” The change in Willow was immediate and complete. “You’ll like these women, too. They’re like you, strong and capable.”
“Every woman is strong and capable, Will. They just have to believe in themselves.”
“Easier said than done, lady who can lift a car with one hand.”
“Don’t exaggerate. I need two hands, just like everyone else.” Then Buffy giggled. “We are going to have a blast.”
Buffy glanced around at the park’s lot. There were a handful of cars there.
“Are you sure this is the address?”
“Yeah, I verified it yesterday. Look, there’s a glow in the sky. I bet that’s where the party is.”
Buffy pulled her cloak tighter around her. “At least it’ll be warmer there.”
“Freaky weather for October. I can’t remember another Halloween being this cold. I wonder if they will be roasting corn.”
“Why would they be doing that?” Buffy followed Willow down the path. Sure enough there were small signs pointing them in the right direction.
“It’s a Harvest Festival. It’s to celebrate the end of the growing season and to ask for a quick return to the light.”
“I’m confused now. Isn’t our growing season year round?”
“Okay, Harvest Festival, got it.”
They came to the bonfire and Willow waved to a nearby figure.
“Willow, why are they all naked?”
“It’s called Sky Clad and, no, you don’t need to if you feel unsure about it,” the woman said as she approached. Buffy did her best not to stare. It wasn’t that the woman had something Buffy didn’t. She just had a lot more of it.
“Welcome, Witch Willow. Who is your guest?”
“Thank you, High Priestess. This is my friend, Buffy Summers.”
“And she has come to bear witness to the harvest?”
Willow looked unsure as she shot a look at Buffy. “Um sure, I guess so.”
“Excellent. Come and warm yourself by the fire. Have some refreshments. The ceremony will begin shortly.”
“Ceremony?” Buffy asked as she followed Willow.
“Salmon? They’re serving fish? I’m really confused now.”
“Samhain, Buffy. It marks the end of the harvest and the move back into the darker days of winter. It’s probably the biggest festival of the Wiccan faith.”
They approached a small card table filled with trays of cookies and other treats. There was also a cauldron with a cheerful red liquid.
“It’s elderberry punch with just a wee bit of spirits,” the petite brunette behind the table said with a wink. “Would you care for a glass?”
“Not just yet,” Buffy answered politely. There was a strong buzzing along her nerves and she moved her head slowly to the left and right, while scanning the bushes. Usually, it took a particularly strong vampire or a couple of demons to set off her inner sixth sense. She gathered up some desserts and stepped aside, her back to a tree, and watched the women as they crowded around Willow. Her friend seemed the focus of the group and Buffy was pleased. She’d watched Willow go from being a scared little mouse to a capable and competent young woman, in addition to a pretty powerful witch.
There was movement to her side and she pulled back her fist, only to stop at the sight of Spike.
“What are you doing here, Spike?”
“Really? You are, in all seriousness, asking me that, Slayer?” Spikes gestured to the crowd. “A horde of beautiful women, parading around as naked as wee babes? I may be dead, but I’m not stupid.”
“Leave them alone, Spike.”
“No worries. Tonight, it’s all about the looking. What about you? When you gonna strip off”
“You’re a pig, Spike.”
He smirked, winked, and took a step back into the shadows as the High Priestess walked past them.
“Will you be joining us?”
“Um, no, I sort of have a lot on my plate at the moment.” She gestured with the untasted treats.
“Very well. Do not interfere during the ceremony. There will be time afterwards.”
“Okay… wait, what?” But the woman had already walked back to the fire and began to chant. “Spike, what do you know about this group?”
“How did you know I was still here?”
“I can hear you drooling.” The woman tossed something into the fire and it flared green.
“Next to nothing. They’re new in town.”
“I don’t like new.”
“Hear me, welcome our sister into the coven!”
Willow was tugged forward. She was still wearing her cloak, but Buffy could tell that she was naked beneath it. “Um, Hi!” Willow waved an uncertain hand. She looked lost and very nervous.
“Are you prepared for the harvest?”
“What are we harvesting?”
The High Priestess paused and laughed. “Why your inner child, of course. All good witches must release their inner child and store it safely away. There can be no chance that it become involved or experience our ways.”
“What if I’m not done with it?” Willow sounded slightly angry.
“Then we will take what you refuse to surrender. Hold her.”
“No, you won’t.” Buffy dropped her plate and approached the group.
“You are not welcome in the circle.” Something slammed into Buffy’s stomach and she doubled over, her breath gone. “You will regret your actions.”
Spikes saw red. “As much as I’m gonna regret mine. Hey, Blue Eyes.” The high priestess turned, yet someone managed to avoid the punch.
“Buffy, Spike, no!” Willow seemed to find her nerve at that point. She ran from the bonfire and helped Buffy get to her feet. To the high priestess, she said, “I mean, it’s kind of you to offer and all, but I’m not willing or ready to do that.”
“That is your final word?”
“It… it is.” Willow closed her eyes, as if terrified of what would happen next.
“That is a shame. It will not be offered again.” The high priestess pointed. “You are not welcomed at our bonfire. Leave now.”
“That’s it? No fight, no fire and brimstone?” Buffy muttered, rubbing her stomach.
“Do what you will, so long as it harms none,” the high priestess said, then turned her back on them. Spike took a step forward and Buffy caught him.
“No, Spike, let’s just get out of here.”
They walked the path slowly even as the fire seemed to glow more brightly with each step they took away from it.
“So much for our big night out,” Willow muttered.
“Buck up, Red,” Spike muttered around his cigarette. “You stood up to a high priestess. That takes guts.”
“Is that why I want to puke now?” Willow sounds so forlorn.
“No, that’s just nerves.”
“C’mon, Willow. We’ll go see what Mom is handling out to the trick or treaters. You want to come, Spike?”
“I dunno, it’s sort of my only real holiday.”
“She has hot chocolate.”
“With those little marshmallows?”
“Yeah. We don’t need them. We’ll have our own party.”
The High Priestess looked back over her shoulder.
“Was it wise to let them go?” She looked over at the woman who asked the question.
“I think so. She will come to use at another time. And with the protection of a Slayer and a vampire, she will be fine.” The woman smiled. “And we will just have to wait a bit longer for our possession. Come, my sisters, let us dance. Samhain is upon us.”