by s.a.

She wasn't doing anything wrong.

She was just dusting stuff off in the Restricted section when she noticed it, just ... lying there.

The book.

THE book.

The book she been eyeing furtively for the past few weeks, her fingers itching to crack the black leather-bound cover. She wanted to leaf through the thin, yellowed pages, seek out that one thing she felt calling to her.

And there it was, carelessly thrown onto the end table at the far corner of the loft, as if someone had left it there. Left it there specifically for her.

Her heart thudded in her chest. Maybe she could just -- take it. Slide it off the table and press it into her pocket. A small book, to hold such great mysteries. But then, since when did size matter?

One quick, anxious glance around, and then it was hers -- safely, gloriously in her pocket. She tried to quell her excitement, and cleaned as fast as she could, sending thin clouds of dust up into the air.

She raced down the ladder, nearly tripping in her haste, and blurted a quick goodbye to a surprised Anya, grabbing her book bag as she ran out the door.

This had to be special.


She'd formed the circle in her bedroom, after checking hurriedly to see if the others were home. Dawn was still at Janice's, Tara was still at school. She was alone.

The ring of small tea lights made the room glow, creating contrast in dark shadow and yellow shine. She called the quarters, feeling the soft rush of air that signaled the elementals taking post at each of the directions.

She mumbled a chant under her breath: "Hear me, Goddess. I call to you. Hear me, Goddess. I call to you."

She felt a presence in the room, and breathed a sigh of relief. Good. This was -- good. Steady fingers reached for the "Liber Animis Vocandis," and she inhaled deeply, letting her fingers run over the plain, undetailed leather. Holding the closed book upwards in the palm of her left hand, she raised it above her head, placing her right hand at her waist.

"Goddess of life and death, of spirit and flesh, I plead with you: show me the ritual I seek. Turn the pages of the Book to Call Back Souls; allow me to see with your eyes that which I so desire. Goddess, I beg of you, show me!"

The small flames from the tea lights flew upwards in a surge of power, and she had to shut her eyes against the great wind that blew through the bedroom. But then -- she felt the book fly open, she heard paper rustling. Squinting, she made out the sight of stilling pages, coming to rest on a delicately written manuscript.

The flames receded, as did the wind, and she whispered, "Thank you," as she calmed herself. Lowering her left hand, she slid the book to the floor before hunching over to read the tiny script.

"Praise be unto thee, Osiris, lord of eternity..."

She barely felt the time pass as she took it all in, coaxing each word into her mind with the practiced ease of the studious. Osiris, Lord of the Dead, Keeper of Souls, the Four Urns. It was all here, everything she needed to do.

This was right. It was necessary.

She could bring Buffy back.

Her normally bright eyes glittered matte black in the light of the flames.


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