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Something lingered from Ethan's spelled chaos, this was fact. Xander’s soldier showed more than Buffy’s aristocrat, but Willow too had a lingering shadow of Halloween. There was nothing tangible for her to speak of when Buffy crowed over a French test or Xander brought tactics into play. It was not knowledge that wove its way into her being. It was power. Something other. Something else. Something she could find no immediate use for because it was a relearning, a re-coding to her world that she could not put to words. It was sound, if sound was color. It was shape, if shape had temperature. But even that was wrong. Even that she could explain.

There were weeks of tiny glinting, gleaming, shinny baubles ghosting across her vision. Weeks of turning to catch a glimpse of nothing. Weeks where mystery was pushed aside in the effort of living, of surviving a dual identity on the Hellmouth.

Weeks of: “Feet, Wills, you need to use your feet.”
Weeks of: “Will-Willow? Hey, where’d you go?”
Weeks of: “Do you have an inner-ear infection? No, seriously. Doctors are a thing.”

The world wasn’t quite filled with this something, but populated, seeded. Just enough so that she thought her sanity had Gone-Fishing and Be-Back-Soon.

But she figured it out- figured it out on her own because she had to, because Giles was busy and Buffy had Drama and Xander had Cordelia.

Mostly, she came across it in the form of patina, a fine powder that took to some unfathomable current and drifted into nonexistence before she could find its origin. It smelled purple. It tasted like silk. It changed, of course, because whatever this was wasn’t easy.

But sometimes, sometimes she could follow the trail and find at the end something ordinary, mundane. A penny being twirled on a lunch table. A dolphin charm clipped to Cordette Number Three’s left shoe. An empty flute case in an empty room.

It took her weeks, but she figured it out. That it wasn’t the object, couldn’t be, because there was nothing that linked them together. Nothing that made them special. Nothing, not even their owners or the material or the place of purchase.

She doesn’t know what it means. Doesn’t know what it is she’s seeing, but she knows theses objects are held dear. Her best guess is emotional attachment measured in patterns of dust.

It becomes easier, once November dies and December holds them all in holiday thrall.

Sensory perception. Psijic manipulation. Sixth Sense. Echos of the Past. She cast her net wide into the supernatural and found nothing. November was long and cold and lonely.

But in December, when pre-cleaning for the family dinner, mixed with the candles her father would put out for Hanukkah, she found that something again.

Her mother’s pendant swirled a pattern of grasping touch. Three jagged-edges of electric blue jumped hoops through an afterburn of shining yellow, a spiral of gold, nestled squares, and through it all red wove a string in binary. It moved, rotated on an axel she could see in negative, spinning and spinning without losing self to the force of its own gravity. A mandala in her eye that overcame the simple twisted metal of something her mother had worn in youth.

When she picked it up, and she only did so once, metal that should have the cold of neglect warmed fingers. Warmed them so easily, so steadily that by the time she lost fascination with the pattern skin had forgetful summer’s burn.

She searched her house for another, and found only a charm of braided hemp inherited from Jessie. It was a kaleidoscope of diffused light shining across her room; it was a mobile that floated about on currents of air that smelled of grass and rain and cast stain glass shadows on everything.

If her mother’s pendant captured the eye and warmed her skin, then the braid of friendship could have kept her an eternity. She dared not touch it with bare fingers and so moved it, with shaking gloved hands and fumbling fingers, from its crowded box of Things To Forget and hung it from her ceiling. Her own personal northstar.

Things got easier in December, but December had to die as well and January came on the cusp of a spell that changed everything.