the Princess Diaries
by Lori Bush

Fandom(s): Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Character: Dawn
Word Count: 1,081 words
Rating: PG 13 – Very mild offensive language
Note: Little girl, lost.

Inspired by God Save the Queen, by SRoni and Aadler.

~~~~~

I know, now, I wasn’t even there, but she told me. I didn’t tell anyone else, because, well, I wasn’t really there. But in the there where I was there, I didn’t tell, because she told me, and she didn’t tell anyone else. Well, Buffy, but Buffy was part of the plan. I wasn’t. And even if I thought they’d listen, which I really didn’t, I didn’t tell because she only told me so I could tell Mom if everything went to suckdom, to quote her.

And it did. I can kinda see where it all went to hell, but I agreed with Cordy — she did what she thought was right. I know the others think it’s all her ego and self-importance that kept her from telling them, that got Buffy in a coma and Nancy dead, but I still think she was right. They wouldn’t have backed her. They’d have argued about it until both Willow and Xander were dead. I think she was right, and not just because she’s my sister.

Yeah, I know, I’ve told people far and wide how much I hate my sister, how much I wish it was somebody, anybody, else, I dunno — Willow? Buffy? — but really, I’ve always thought she was pretty awesome, really. She’s super pretty, and yeah, like that’s not obvious, but she’s smart and even before the Slayer thing she was strong and athletic, and, I dunno, everything I always wanted to be. She’s only four years older than me, but she’s always been like the grown-up while I’ve been the kid. She let me know, as early as I could remember, which clothes looked best, and taught me the right Spanish to make Rosa the maid sneak me cookies and extra orange juice, and let me sleep with her when I was scared and Mom and Dad weren’t home, which was like, all the time.

So when she told me about becoming the Slayer and how she trusted me not to tell anybody, well, of course I didn’t. And then when I saw her bring Angel into the house a couple times, when she told me to keep it secret from our parents, of course I did. And when she told me Angel was bad, and not to talk to him anymore, I believed her. I wasn’t home when she had to stake Daddy — I was in L.A. shopping with Mom, something Cordy and I took turns doing on Mom’s occasional bursts of parental guilt (they were infrequent, trust me), but when we got home, the minute I saw her face I dragged her into my bedroom, and she told me about it. She was so angry her nails were cutting crescents into her palms, and tears were running down her cheeks, and that night, I asked her to sleep in my room with me, ’cause I know she needed it and she wouldn’t ever ask.

So when I saw her drag Buffy home that afternoon after school, of course I asked her what was happening. Buffy was totally freaking: “You told your little sister about being the Slayer? What the —? Slayers can’t tell their families!” And Cordy just rolled her eyes and snorted, “I didn’t tell my family, I told Dawn. She’s cool.” And my chest swelled a little.

When Cordy’s pants didn’t fit Buffy very well, I went and got the new black leggings Mom had just bought me. No big, she wouldn’t even remember and I’d just get more next time it was my turn to go. She sent me to go get Mom’s brown wig. When Buffy put it on, and her makeup was finished, she looked just like Cordelia, I swear. Well, from a distance. And considerably shorter. But then, I knew my sister better than anyone. To most people, they’d think it was her.

It all went to hell in a handbasket. I could tell the minute she walked in the door. Cordy was less — Cordy — than usual. Defeated. Broken. Worn. I had to ask, because she didn’t look like she was going to talk.

“Xander?” I guessed. She shook her head. Was she gonna make me guess, one by one, till I was right? Oh, man, were they all dead?

“Buffy,” Cordy choked out, “is in a coma. Nancy’s dead, and Giles is paralyzed.”

Now, the group doesn’t know I know anything. About half of them don’t even know I exist. But I know who they are. I made it a point to find out. I probably know more about them than Cordy does, although her perceptiveness can surprise even me. And Nancy was a bitch. I don’t celebrate her dying or anything, but if someone had to go, I’d vote for her or Tucker Wells. I wasn’t too impressed by either one. But Buffy? I really liked Buffy. I wasn’t kidding when I’d said I wouldn’t mind being her sister. And she came equipped with Xander, who, well, let’s just say that’s the only thing I didn’t like about her. Mostly ’cause if he was hers, he couldn’t be mine. He was — well, he was one of the few people on earth who treated me like a person, and not a little girl, and I couldn’t help but adore him for it. Okay, it’s a damn puppy crush. Still, I liked him …

Sometimes I swear she reads my mind. “Xander hates me now,” Cordy whispered. “He probably should.” Then I saw her do something I don’t think anyone else has ever actually witnessed. She pulled it all back inside herself, drew her innate dignity around herself like a shield, and stood straight, wiping her eyes. “I’m going to fix this. I have no idea how yet, but I will.” Her voice was so much stronger, her back so much straighter, for a minute, I almost thought she already had fixed it, right then and there.

It was later, when Marcie called and she had to go and face them, after she returned, I could see the cracks in her brittle veneer, how much she felt she had lost. It wasn’t until two years later — just a few months ago, soon after I actually really began to exist — I knew just how she felt.

By then, she had made it all right, and almost died in the effort. But the whole world might end because of who I am — what I am. How the hell are we supposed to fix that?


~ End

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