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Rivals of the Chalet School - that would do nicely. Her friend (once-friend) loved those stupid books. She laid it down on the carpet, sat cross-legged before it, and began to chant. The book glowed slightly.


 


The girl took a handful of powder from a bowl at her right and sprinkled it over the book. She continued to chant, and the book glowed more brightly. As she stopped, there was a flash of white, which quickly died down, leaving Rivals of the Chalet School lying on the carpet looking perfectly normal.


 


The girl smiled. It was a powerful curse. That’d teach her friend, all right.


 


***


 


“Look!” Willow held the book out, eyes alight with excitement. “Rivals of the Chalet School! This is the kind of book my grandmother used to read - isn’t this amazing?”


 


“Yeah, real amazing,” drawled Xander.


 


Giles wiped his glasses and took the book.


 


“Fascinating,” he said. “I had no idea we had something like this in the library. Most of these old books were thrown out decades ago.”


 


“Giles,” said Buffy, laughing. “You have, like, five million books that are way older than that one.”


 


“”Well, yes,” admitted Giles. “But they have been amassed over years - centuries, even, of collecting and hunting. This is a random find - serendipitous, if you like.”


 


“Seren - what-now?” said Buffy, unimpressed.


 


Willow had taken the book back from Giles.


 


“A fortunate discovery made by accident,” said Giles, replacing his glasses on his nose. The phone in his office rang, and he hurried to answer it.


 


Willow opened the book at random.


 


“Seriously, guys, listen to this! “But there are people skating there!” cried Frieda. “That is where the big spring is, and no one ever goes there, for the ice is never safe! Who can they be?””


 


There was a blinding flash of light.


 


***


 


Buffy rubbed her eyes to clear them of the stars.


 


“What was tha -?”


 


Her voice faded into silence.


 


At her side, Xander, scrambled to his feet, staring around wildly.


 


“Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas any more,” he said.


 


“Oh my God,” said Willow, still sitting on the ground. “Oh my God. Oh my God.”


 


“Will?” said Buffy, turning to her. “What happened?”


 


“What? I don’t know! Why would I know that?”


 


“You said ‘Oh my God’ in a knowing-that sorta way.”


 


She bent down and gave Willow a hand up.


 


“Okay,” said Willow reluctantly. “I think it was me.”


 


“You?” said Buffy.


 


“Willow!” said Xander reproachfully.


 


“When I read that book - it was like the light came out of it. And it went all hot - and then it disappeared.”


 


“I think a little more might have happened than a book disappearing, Will,” said Xander.


 


“But that’s what I mean!” said Willow, flapping her hands with a slightly desperate air. “I think we’re inside the book.”


 


“What?” said Buffy.


 


“Look!” Willow gestured towards the nearby bonfire. The same had been lighted at the other end of the lake, and in both parts skaters crowded the ice. “That’s exactly what the book described. And - there!”


 


She pointed. Buffy looked in the same direction and her heart stood still. There were girls on the ice, not by either of the two bonfires, which lit the ends of the lake before the moon came up, but close to a large tree which overhung the lake. Long cracks were visible in the ice, and they were growing. Buffy began to run.


 


“Hey!” she called. “Hey - you!”


 


Her high voice cut through the sounds of enjoyment from the ends of the lake, and one or two of the girls looked round.


 


“Get off the ice!” shouted Buffy, reaching the edge of the lake and slowing down. “Get off the ice, you idiots!”


 


One of the girls swung round and went down again. The ice creaked and groaned, and more cracks splintered out. The girl seemed to lose her head and began to scream.


 


Buffy walked out onto the ice, slowly and carefully. The other girls had finally seen the point and were staggering their way off the lake, the elder ones leading the younger. Buffy reached the screaming girl and crouched down beside her.


 


“Hey.”


 


The girl, lying huddled up on the ice, continued to scream.


 


“Hey!” She said, a little louder, and laid her hand on the girl’s shoulder. The girl looked up with a jerk and stopped screaming.


 


“Who are you?” she gasped.


 


“I’m Buffy. And you need to get off this ice before it breaks and lands us both in the lake.”


 


As though to underline the truth of her words, the ice creaked once again. The girl let out a tiny scream and Buffy began to shuffle backwards.


 


“Hurry,” she said, holding out her hands to the girl. There was a horrible moment where she thought the girl wasn’t going to respond, but then she reached out her hands, and together they shuffled backwards until they reached the shore. Buffy helped the stranger to her feet.


 


“Is everybody okay?” she said.


 


Before anyone could answer, there were more shouts from the lake, and two more girls, carefully skirting the dangerous part, joined them.


 


“I say!” panted the taller, dark-haired one. “That was plucky of you. Jolly well done!”


 


Buffy stared.


 


“What is this, the 1920s?” said Xander sarcastically.


 


Willow nudged his arm.


 


“It is the 1920s here,” she whispered. “Or thirties. Or something”


 


Fortunately the two girls had not heard the exchange, for they had turned to those who had been ice-skating on the dangerous ice.


 


“You’d better get back to school,” said the dark one briefly.


 


“Are you all unhurt?” asked the fair one, more concerned than her friend.


 


“We’re fine.” The girl who had been screaming seemed to have recovered and was glaring at the two newcomers. “Come on,” she said to the rest of the girls, and they trooped off towards a building.


 


“Well, it looks as though we came out for nothing”, said the dark-haired girl with a friendly smile at Buffy and her friends. “I’m Joey Bettany, by the way, and this is Frieda Mensch.”


 


She held out her hand and Buffy, not knowing what else to do, shook it, as did Willow. Xander, however, was staring at the fair-haired Frieda, his mouth slightly open.


 


“Me Xander,” he said. Buffy and Willow looked at him. Willow sighed, and Buffy grinned.


 


“What he means is, he thinks you’re very pretty,” she said to Frieda, who blushed delicately and turned to Joey.


 


“Should we not return to School, Joey? Before Madame notices that you are gone.”


 


Joey flushed slightly.


 


“Yes, I suppose we ought.” She turned to the three. “I hope we’ll see you again,” she said, and she and Frieda departed hastily, leaving Buffy, Willow and Xander alone on the lake shore.




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