Chapter Five - In the Hands of Astarte
"Hey, we missed you at the dance," said Buffy as she met up with Xander who was sitting at a bench in the promenade. "So I'm guessing that you were at Cordelia's doing your comforting, caring, boyfriend thing."
"She told me to go to the dance, but it being Cordelia, I kind of had to read through the lines," said Xander who smiled softly, but he had the feeling that she had been just a little sullen that day, "So, did I miss anything?"
"Nope, not a thing," said Buffy shaking her head, "Unless you really wanted to see Willow gazing dreamily at Oz on the stage, which I don't think you want to do."
"No…that's okay," said Xander, and he thought about Willow and wondered were they growing apart as he had originally thought. "Buffy, do you think that Willow and I are still good friends?"
"Of course, you guys are, but I guess right now, things are just a little bit too anx and that just makes everything really unstable between you guys. And just because everything a little awkward right now, doesn't mean your not good friends, still," replied Buffy and with shrug she continued, "Just give it time, Xander, and everything will work out."
"I hope so, Buffy, I really do," he said with a sigh as he and Buffy continued to walk.
Not too far away, Cordelia had been spying at them, and wondered what they were saying. They're probably making fun of me, she thought, they always do. She had to admit her dream was really wigging her out. It's not that she didn't think that she was being stupid and overreacting, she did, but sometimes emotions overtake all common sense. She needed something to make Xander forget about Buffy and think only of her, and as she saw Amy walking by, she remembered the Valentine's spell. Sure, it had been the reverse of what Xander had wanted, but what had not worked then, could work now. After all, it couldn't mess up as bad as Xander's had, right?
"Amy," Cordelia called to the blonde that had crossed her path.
"Yeah, Cordelia?" the blonde witch turned around and walking towards her, thinking that Cordelia was probably going to say something bad about her outfit.
"Cute skirt," she said , with such a tone of insincerity that Amy knew she wanted something.
"What do you want?" she asked glancing at her superior expression.
"I want your help," said Cordelia, and Amy knew that she wasn't kidding.
"Help...in what?" asked Amy warily.
"I want you to cast a spell," she said seriously and she frowned when Amy shook her head, no, "Why not?"
"I promised Giles that I wouldn't after that incident with Xander," she replied, and she glanced at Cordelia. "I'm guessing this spell you want involves him?"
"Yes, it does, and I really want this spell. So what do you say about 50 dollars?" asked Cordelia, knowing that her father would just hand out the money like candy.
"You want to pay me to do a spell?" asked Amy, who never thought of her powers as a moneymaking tool.
"Yeah, what else can I offer you? I mean, you could probably play with a spell on popularity if you wanted to," said Cordelia and then she continued, "Why don't you?"
"Popularity isn't my thing, just my mom's," said Amy, who had seen too much of what popularity could do to want it.
"Well, what do you say?" asked Cordelia with raised eyebrows, "Will you cast a spell for me?"
"For fifty dollars? Yeah," said Amy with a smile thinking of all the things she could buy by her moneymaking magic skills, "Just tell me, what is this spell about?"
"I want to have Xander love me and for his feelings for Buffy, go away," replied Cordelia, "And if you breathe a word of this to anyone, you will die." Amy nodded, knowing that she probably would.
Later that day, Cordelia found herself in Amy's attic, which was full of potions, powders, and smelly-old books. It kind of reminded her of a scene from a horror movie. Then she remembered that Sunnydale was practically a horror movie in itself.
"Do you have something of Xander's?" asked Amy opening a book from her bookshelf and turning the yellowed pages.
"The only thing I could snag was a candy wrapper he wanted me to throw away for him, is that okay?" asked Cordelia handing it to Amy.
"Close enough," said Amy placing it on a clean surface on her table, where a tiny black cauldron lay, "What about something for Buffy?"
"I borrowed a clip from her," said Cordelia and than she continued uncertainly, "Is it okay that I wore it?"
"Yeah, as long as it was hers to begin with," replied Amy, "You really have something against Buffy, don't you?"
"No, not really," said Cordelia, who knew she was lying through her teeth, "I have a lot against her clothes and that thing on her face, you know, that thing? Anyway, having a boyfriend totally obsessed with her isn't exactly the healthiest relationship to have."
"So, what does this have to do with making him fall out of love with Buffy and into love with you?" asked Amy glancing at Cordelia.
Cordelia didn't respond, and with a smile, Amy pulled out a couple of ingredients from various jars and then she asked, "I need something of yours."
"Oh, okay, let me think," said Cordelia scrutinizing herself and than she finally pulled a silver ring she had never really liked and handed it to Amy.
Amy breathed deeply before she placed threw three rose petals into the cauldron, which Cordelia noticed was suddenly boiling with water, and Amy began to wove the double spell of loving and not loving:
Rose petals of Love, three,
I place in the hands of Astarte,
Controller of love and romance.
I call and plead to thee,
To assist in igniting a flame of desire.
I give to thee something his,
So that his love for her grows stronger.
Now I give thee something of hers,
To kindle the fire in his heart.
Thin out his passion for the other that dwells there too.
Something of her I give to thee.
Let that passion dwindle away.
Let him and his love come finally to peace,
And let the other be erased from his heart.
Rose petals of Love, three,
I place in the hands of Astarte,
Controller of love and romance.
I call and plead to thee, to assist in igniting a flame of desire.
She dropped three more petals into the cauldron and a poof of white and black smoke sparked from the cauldron.
"Is that it?" asked Cordelia in surprise.
"Yeah, just about," said Amy, and she coughed and held out her palm.
"Oh, right," she said and she pulled a crisp fifty from her purse and placed it on her hand, "So when do I know if the spell really worked?"
"When you meet him, you'll see," replied Amy, nodding her head, and when Cordelia started to walk out of the creepy attic, she continued, "Cordelia?"
"Yeah, Amy?" asked Cordelia turning to see the tacky clothing-clad witch.
"No guarantees and no returns," said Amy with a smile, "Come again."
"You better hope this works," said Cordelia with a smile that made Amy's fade, "And if anything goes wrong, you have to help me fix it."
"Agreed," said Amy thinking that the effort was worth about fifty dollars.
Cordelia arrived home, slightly drained. When she finally was able to go to bed, she thought of Amy's spell and wondered was Xander really in love with her now and did he totally despise Buffy? As she fell into a deep, an almost serene sleep, she thought, I guess I'll just have to wait and see.
Cordelia sighed and eyed her watch again, and wondered what was taking Xander so long. He had asked her to meet him in front of the school at seven to talk about something. It was nearly seven-forty, in ten minutes, classes would start, and her reputation as being the smartest of the popular crowd would be tarnished forever. Well, it would worsen because she was already dating Xander, which was had to be the biggest travesty in her years of popularity, as thought so by her so-called friends.
"Hey, Cordy, sorry I'm late," he said with a smile as he walked up to what he knew was a very ticked-off girlfriend.
"Late, you are beyond late, Xander, you are at the pinnacle of unpunctuality," said Cordelia, who was eyeing Xander to see if there were any major changes and then she thought that she should of also asked Amy for a "be a better dresser" spell.
"Look, Cordelia, I was thinking about a lot of things this morning and there is something that you have to know," said Xander and then he saw all of the kids at school and continued, "Let's go somewhere, where we can talk in semi-quiet."
"Okay..." said Cordelia, hoping that this was going to be good, also hoping that that spell had worked, and he was going to say what she thought he was going to say.
Finally Xander spoke, after they sat in a picnic table near a remotely remote spot, "Cordy, I have to break up with you."
"You, WHAT!?" asked Cordelia with widened eyes, thinking what did Amy do with her stupid spell.
"You see, Cordy, it's unfair to you to be with me when I have this undying love for someone else," said Xander with a sigh as he looked at what he thought was Cordelia's grief-stricken face.
In reality it was Cordelia's angry and stupefied face as she said, "Undying...love? For WHO?!"
"Who else, Cordelia? Who else could it be than...than Buffy?" said Xander and at that moment the bell had rung and Xander stood up. "I'm sorry Cordelia, I really am. I'm sorry that I led you on, but, hey, we always knew we weren't meant to be, right?"
"Yeah...right," said Cordelia acerbically as she saw Xander walk away from her and her heart.
"Amy, listen and listen, now," said Cordelia pulling Amy away from a group of friends she had been talking to, later that morning, and she said slowly, "What did you do?!"
"What do you mean?" asked Amy glancing at Cordelia questioningly.
"What do I mean? I mean, your spell screwed up! He's in love with Buffy and he just broke up with me. He is not supposed to break up with me, I'm supposed to break up with him that's how Cordelia's Dating Laws always work. So what...did...you...do?!" said ordelia, and Amy could hear her grinding her teeth angrily, not to mention see the fire blazing in her eyes.
"I guess something happened that made the spell mess up," said Amy with a sigh, who was beginning to re-consider the idea of building her own magic business.
"Well, you're going to fix it then, so what do I need for you to do that? I do not want Xander ranting and raving to Buffy of his, 'undying love for her'!" said Cordelia who was still conversing with Amy despite the fact that the passing bell had rung.
"You're going to need Buffy, but that means we're going to have to tell her," said Amy knowing that Cordelia did not want that in the least.
"Not necessarily..." she said as she told Amy, her plan.
At lunch, Cordelia, dragging Amy with her, found Buffy at the soda machine getting a diet soda. They also spotted Xander heading her way, too, so Cordelia, despite her two inch neon-green chunky heel pumps, pulled Buffy away right before Xander could even get near her.
"Cordelia, did you just suffer some type of mental breakdown?" asked Buffy who was pulled away from the machine so fast that she barely had enough time to take her soda can.
"You know, for a slayer, you aren't so tough," said Cordelia with a sigh, "Anyway, I will never, ever say this to you, ever again, but I need your help."
Buffy opened her soda can, sipped it, and with raised eyebrows retorted, "You, Cordelia, need me, Buffy, for help? Let me see…I doubt that it's an unsupernatural request. In other words, it's not like a 'do these shoes match with this purse' type of question, is it?"
"No, it's more complicated than that," said Cordelia as she saw Buffy glancing at Amy. Cordelia figured that Buffy was thinking that she wasn't her usual walking buddy. "You see, I bribed Amy to do a spell for me, to get Xander to, um, dress better."
"So how does this involve me, in any way?" asked Buffy glancing at their faces, knowing that something was definitely rotten in Sunnydale...again.
"Well, the title of the spell was still on the paper, but it was torn off somehow and I ended up reading a love spell," said Amy with a trying smile, "And well, it made Xander not like Cordelia and majorly fall for you."
"Excuse me?" asked Buffy feeling that she had been struck dumb as she looked at Cordelia and Amy with wide-eyes.
Buffy and Cordelia arrived at Amy's attic after school, and Buffy had to admit it was still the same old witch lair that she had seen before except it lacked the eerie voodoo dolls. The shelves were lined with books and even a cauldron was in the room, despite the fact that it was a very small one. Amy had taken a spell book from one of her shelves and looked through it. They both saw the expression on Amy's face before she even turned to look at them because it was the most evident expression of surprise that they had ever seen.
"Did you find a reversal spell, Amy?" asked Buffy knowing that she had, but also knowing, by the expression on her face that this reversal spell was not exactly something they would all be happy about. Amy glanced at Cordelia and than Buffy, and she thought quickly, knowing that if she told her what the reversal spell was about, it would tell Cordelia's real spell. After a little bit of thought Amy bit her lower lip and replied, "Well, I did find a spell, but you and Cordelia are not going to like it."
"Why? What happens?" asked Buffy eyeing Amy carefully, thinking that she didn't know the entire extent of the story because Amy seemed to be stalling to make a story as she went along.
"The spell, well, it had to do with passion and love, both things that Xander had for both of you. Evidently since he's with Cordelia, love, and since he's not with you, passion, but somehow things got reverse," said Amy with a nervous chuckle. "So he's in love with you, and the only way to break the spell is that the person that he is supposedly ‘in love’ with has to...uh...hehe...kiss him."
"WHAT?!" Buffy and Cordelia practically exploded in unison.
"Yeah...I kind of figured that reaction," said Amy as she eyed their expressions.
Cordelia walked towards Amy and said, "What's really going on?"
"Exactly as I said, but the thing is the spell has significant wording and it overpowered all the representations you gave me," said Amy in a whisper.
"So that means…" said Cordelia waiting for Amy to reply.
Amy took a deep breath, and didn't know if she should tell Cordelia, but finally thought that Cordelia should know. "That means it ignored all of those things that you gave me that had belonged to them because in the spell, feelings are truer than representations," explained Amy with a sigh, and for the first time in her life, she felt sorry for Cordelia, especially when she continued. "In other words, your relationship with Xander was passion to begin with, and his feelings for Buffy are a type of passion, too, but its so much more deeper that..."
"Just get to the point, Amy," said Cordelia, who knew what Amy was going to say, but she had to hear from her, to finally accept what she had known all along.
"Cordelia, Xander really is in love with Buffy, and this spell, it just made him act on his feelings," said Amy, and she was surprised to see that Cordelia could still keep a calm face.
Buffy, on the other hand, was far from being calm. The thought of kissing Xander was too thought provoking. She had to admit that they had their moments where they were very close, but Xander was her friend, and now lately her confidant and she had become his. As thoughts boggled Buffy's mind, she forgot that many aspects she named as reasons she couldn't kiss him were the very same aspects that made the showings of love, more truer than words.
"Buffy, are going to go through with it?" asked Amy peering at a distressed looking Buffy.
"Do I have a choice? I mean, I don't want him to be in love with me forever, now do I?" asked Buffy with a sigh and a shrug, and Cordelia was wondering to what extent was the truth of Buffy's last question.
"Cordelia, I know that there's something that you're not telling me," said Buffy glancing at an unusually quiet Cordelia as she drove home.
"So maybe there is, but what's it to you?" asked Cordelia as she stopped in front of Buffy's house.
"It's a lot to me, Cordelia, I have to know what started this thing. I mean, you made me involved, and if there's a reason, I want to know," said Buffy looking at Cordelia squarely.
"Okay, if you want to know, I'll tell you," said Cordelia with a sigh, "The spell I asked Amy to cast, wasn't a spell to make Xander a better dresser, not in the least. I asked Amy to make a spell where he can start loving me and start forgetting that you exist."
"Why would you want that to happen? Xander and I are just friends, you know that," said Buffy.
"Yeah, right," said Cordelia sarcastically, "Please, Buffy, give me some credit, I mean, don't you think I see? Xander is this big, oh, I don't know, white knight to you, with his obsession of protection over you. It's as if you weren't the slayer, and that you couldn't hold your own in any situation."
"Cordelia, he's my friend, and he cares for me like a friend would - " Buffy began to protest, but she stopped her.
"No, Buffy, you don't get it! He doesn't care for you like a friend would! It's not like that at all! That spell, it said that he'd forget the one he has passion for and the one he loves, he will love even more. If he feels passion for me, Buffy, that means only one thing. That he's in love with you," said Cordelia exasperatedly.
"What?" Buffy said in stupefaction.
"No, whats, involved Buffy, you know what I mean," said Cordelia.
"But if you think this is true, than why do you stay with him? Why do you want him back, Cordelia, if you have to go through all this just to keep him?" asked Buffy reflecting on the situation.
"Buffy, Xander and I aren't soul mates, I'm pretty sure about that, but right now, I can't help but feeling that he's the one, right now, not in the long run, just now," said Cordelia feeling very strange about discussing this with, of all people, Buffy. "Is that so hard to understand? Or can't you comprehend that I, Cordelia, can feel that way?"
"It's not like that and I understand, but it's almost as if you're blaming me for all that's happened between you and Xander," said Buffy with a deep breath. "Besides, I've talked to Xander, and he really likes you too, and you guys are, or with the spell involved, were, really a couple. I'm not going to interfere in your relationship. Let's not forget that I wouldn't be sitting here talking to you if you hadn't messed with magic. Well, I better get in, I'll see ya."
"Tomorrow at the Bronze, right?" asked Cordelia glancing at Buffy as she opened the door and stepped outside.
"Tomorrow," said Buffy, and she slammed the door gently. She stood there as Cordelia drove away, and she thought about their zany conversation. She hadn't any faith in any of Cordelia's "accusations," but she couldn't help but wonder if there was an underlying truth beneath it all.
Buffy walked into Sunnydale's only good hangout, the Bronze, and she heard the band playing an upbeat song. She saw Xander, Willow - who too had been informed about what Buffy had known before, - and Cordelia. The first thing she noticed when she approached them was that there was an air of coldness at the table. Willow was sitting between them, and was almost like a barrier. When she saw Buffy, she shrugged as she looked at Xander, then at Cordelia, and then at Buffy.
"Hey, guys, look, Buffy, here," said Willow with a bright smile.
"Hi, Buffy," said Cordelia who was still sullen.
On the other hand, Xander's spirits had brightened instantly once he saw Buffy, "Hi, Buffy."
"Hi," said Buffy with an uncomfortable smile.
"I'm gonna go and check on something, okay?" asked Cordelia as she stood up and walked to the Bronze's back room where Amy had to cast a spell for Xander not to remember anything that had happened. She saw Amy starting to mix something in a cauldron and said, "Are you ready?"
"Yes, when Buffy kisses him, he's not going to remember anything," said Amy nodding.
"Good," said Cordelia walking out and leaving Amy, again, alone. She shook her head lightly as she glanced at the spell book, and she decided against the spell. Xander had to know and he had to choose what he had to do. It was the right way, and if not that, the only way. Amy stood up and wove her own spell as she closed her eyes.
"When her lips meet thine, you shall recall all. Heed my words with your recollections, and heed them well," Amy chanted and when she came to the last line she said in her own voice. "Xander, I gave you this chance, so use it. Make your decisions wisely, and do what you think is right, not just for you, but for all. And not one word from your mouth that I let you remember all of this."
"Did you finish?" asked Cordelia coming in a few minutes later, "Oz is going to cue a really slow song."
"Yeah, I finished with everything, especially anymore magic," said Amy with a sigh, who never thought that she could get into as much trouble as she had the last time she used magic.
Cordelia exited again as Amy began to pack her magic tools. She grabbed her purse and was about to go out of the Bronze, when she heard Buffy tell her to stop. She turned around and saw that Buffy had followed her.
"Where do you think you're going?" asked Buffy glancing at her with a confused expression.
"Please, have some common sense. Do you really think I want to see my boyfriend kissing another girl?" asked Cordelia, and she turned around, again, and left.
Oz, who had to cue a slow song once Cordelia left, did. The singer of the band nodded at Oz's request, and nodded to the group, holding up four fingers, which meant the fourth song, "In My Heart."
"Buffy, do you want to dance?" asked Xander glancing at her with hopeful eyes.
Buffy sighed, knowing that there was no time like the present, and said, "Sure, Xander."
She and Xander walked to the dance floor and the soft melody of Oz's guitar continued. He held her close and she rested her head upon his shoulder as the lead singer began to sing.
//I have watched you from afar and I have had you in my heart for so long, baby, so long. And I have wondered every day, and I have had so many hopes and dreams of you, so many dreams of you. Don't you know that I have wandered aimlessly from relationship to relationship with you on my mind, all of the time? Don't you know that my heart is in your hand and I'm at your call, my love is yours to keep or to break,\\ the singer sang while strumming his guitar, and he began the chorus. //In my heart, oh, in my heart you shall stay, no matter if you walk away today. Baby, I will love you still. Yes, I will, you know I will...But don't walk away. Please see my view. I've had you so long in my heart...in my heart! Do you know my heart is connected to my soul because you are the link? You make my heart beats fast, this is love that will last...until the end of time...\\
Buffy couldn't help feel that his touch and his embrace seemed too familiar, as if she had been in such a situation with him before. They had their comforting embraces before, but nothing like this, and never had her heart beat as fast as it was now. A shadow slightly covered his face as she looked up to at him. As they moved farther and farther away from the shadow, she began to see his face more clearly, and at the same time, she was having an intense moment of déjà vu. Why is this so familiar? This question echoed in Buffy's mind as they moved to the music of the band.
Then she realized that this was almost like her dream, but Xander couldn't possibly be the White Knight, could he? She thought back about last night and what Cordelia had said, about Xander being some-type of white knight. Was he? Was he not? There was only one way to find out.
Her eyes looked into his and everything just seemed to...click. Xander's lips met hers gently, and all Buffy could think about was that this was wow and a whole lot more. At long last, they pulled apart, and they opened their eyes. The band was still playing their soft melody as they just stared into each other's eyes in wonderment. Xander had regained his memory and he knew of everything, even what the spell was for. He to choose, he knew, but how could he choose if he didn't know what were his choices? What he did know was, he wanted to kiss Buffy again, but he knew he couldn't because she wasn't one of the choices. She would first have to choose him, but that didn't stop him from softly giving her a sweet, ardent kiss on her right cheek before he let her go and walked away.