Spike took a long deep breath, let it out slowly, looking at Totenberg in a new light. A not entirely flattering light. Their calm firmness that she'd always counted on suddenly seemed dark and grim, foreboding and dangerous. A cave can be a safe hiding place, or lead to endless darkness where no one can hear you screaming. She had relied on them for shelter and protection all these years, never considering the other side of what protection meant. "So what do I do now?" Her voice felt very small in her mouth.
A wry smile tugged at the corner of his mouth. "Depends. You gots loyal servant in Sascha. He don't got a choice in that matter. Can leave it at that; he be back by nightfall. His turn outside the door, after all." Even when they were home in Schadelthron, the trio always arranged themselves the same way. One outside the door, one inside against the wall, and one at the foot of her bed. It was just the way things had always been, and now Spike could see the genesis of the plan. Always know what was on the other side of the closed door.
"Or," he continued, "you could go tell him you and I, we talk, and you understand better now. Tell him you wish you could have fixed -- is true, yah?" Spike nodded, slowly. She would have fixed it if she could have. A broken wing? Sure, just a matter of coaxing bones back to the right place, binding muscle around them, clean up the bleeding. A broken neck, with the light slowly fading? The little she had learned and been able to piece together would have had a thing that flapped and screamed endlessly, but never flew or sang again. "Be his friend as well as his mistress. Tell him why. Or at least as much as you willing to tell of why." He raised an eyebrow, looking at her long and hard. "Cause there more than you saying, I thinks."
Spike flinched, trying to keep it off her face. When she was little it seemed as if the Hounds could read her mind. She'd learned since that it was more a matter of attention to details, such as the incriminating smears of chocolate on her apron, but even now it was spooky how they picked up on what was unsaid. "There is more," she said slowly, "but I can't really tell you about it now."
"Would Hogwarts approve? Or you doing some wild work on you own again?"
Hogwarts the staff would almost certainly not approve, Spike thought, with a chill down her spine, imagining trying to explain to Headmistress Wroxton about the false Horcruxes and the Order of the Phoenix Reborn. Hogwarts the castle on the other hand . . . that certainly seemed to approve of the work being done. Perhaps its years standing and observations of the students was more acute than the long-lived, but mortal witches and wizards administrating the education. Or perhaps it was simply ignorant of the failings of flesh. She chose the safer answer.
"It's not wild work, per se, and it's not on my own," she hedged. "But at the same time, I'm not exactly free to talk about it just yet."
He steepled his fingers, resting his chin on his thumbs, fingers across his lips as if to urge silence. "Maybe later, then. Right now, though, I think you need to talk with Sascha. Is what you Atyets would do."
Spike nodded, pushing her chair back. "Thanks. For the advice, the history lesson, and for your trust." Halfway to the door, she stopped, turned back, and hugged him tightly where he sat, her head on a level with his. "Most of all, for your friendship."