disclaimer: So not mine. They belong to Joss Whedon and JK Rowling.
AN: The song "Ol 55" was originally by Tom Waits, but the version I was inspired by was Sarah McLachlan's.
She held out her hand to him. "Joyce Summers."
He gently took that delicate hand in his own. "Severus Snape."
"Look, there's something that I need to tell you..." They both said at the same time then laughed.
"You first." Joyce said smiling.
"I have not been honest with you, madam."
"You put a spell on me. That's why I called you Brian."
"You called me Brian."
"I know." She said. "It's odd."
The talk had been good.
The talk had been everything. She didn't seem to be put off by his nature. Her gentle and kind nature complimented his surly, abrupt, and seemingly closed-off nature in a way it should not have. They had both trusted way more than they should have. He shouldn't want to take care and protect her daughters already, but he did. Joyce should not want to see the school he taught at or meet Albus, but she had already said as much. She wanted that. She wanted to know his life in person. That was surely odd.
Dare someone as practical as he believe in this? This. Severus didn't even want to think what this "this" might be. This "this" was not supposed to be real. It existed only in fairy tales.
He'd never been to Las Vegas. The little place they'd ended up in was cozy, and right next to a chapel where Elvis married couples at all hours of the night. He should have hated it. he'd said as much, but Joyce had said he would not hate it because he was here with her. She was right, damn her sweet eyes. There was a female singer spinning a slow spell with her sultry voice in this little nightclub. The world had stopped for just a moment because some muggle woman who smelled wonderful was holding him close while they slow danced. It was very un-Slytherin, and he reveled in it wantonly. She was singing along with the singer in a whisper. Severus thought the song was Ol 55, but he knew very little of muggle music.
Perhaps that was something he could learn from her. Muggle music. Perhaps there were a great many muggle things that would be less annoying if she played teacher to his student about them. Very un-Slytherin of him, but perhaps the sway of whatever this "this" was did that.
The muggle suit had been uncomfortable when he'd been shopping for the cameo for Minerva's birthday that day he'd ended up in Joyce's art gallery, but tonight he didn't mind it. It went well with her black dress with the flowers on it. One of her hands was playing with a tendril of hair that had escaped from the band he'd put on it.
He'll never know what made him ask her, but she did not even hesitate. Her yes was out nearly before he'd finished asking. Maybe he did believe. Maybe this "this" existed.
Elvis married them. Well, a muggle man dressed as a sequined Elvis. The fellow'd had a white cape and everything. It was horribly tacky and muggle. It sort of did not matter. Their witnesses were strangers. There was a little muggle photo taken. Flower petals were thrown on them. She kissed him and wiped one happy tear from her eye with the tips of her fingers. Very un-Slytherin.
Severus checked them into a hotel. A nicer one. They snacked again. Champagne and strawberries. And cake. When they'd told the desk clerk that they'd just been married, he'd had the treats sent up to them. Complimentary. The little boy who had brought up their cart of food and spirits had congratulated them. Joyce had giggled like a young girl and tipped the boy quite well. Holy hellfire, he'd married a giggler.
Once alone again, and after a few glasses of champagne, several strawberries, and a piece of cake each, they talked more. The two of them had many things to figure out here. They undressed, and each discovered it had been a while for the other one. And none of that mattered. They were going to figure this out. They'd found one another late in life. Severus was going to be a father finally. Well, father figure. Well, he hoped. If they'd accept him, he would be. He was going to help Buffy fight and help guard Dawn. He'd promised as much. The war with Voldemort was getting heated. Joyce was going to give Severus a bit of solace in this madness. She already was. He was going to give her something to lean on for those long nights when the daughter of hers who also fought wars was out fighting said wars.
He was not much for touching others, but her skin was so soft and smooth. He liked the slight curl in her honey hair. He was going to help her get strong again. He was just going to be there. Whether there was Hogsmeade or Sunnydale. Severus now realized he'd loved this gentle woman the moment he'd spotted her leaning against that display case looking so weary. He'd wanted instantly to lend her some of his strength. Joyce could use a bit of his strength and he could use a bit of her heart. It was a pretty fair trade in his eyes.
Joyce sighed in her sleep and rolled towards his body heat. "I'll have to go home soon. The girls might be worried."
"They needn't worry any longer."
She smiled. She still hadn't opened her eyes. "Do know how long it's been since I have just slept in a bed with a man?"
"Are you attempting to make me jealous?"
One hazel eye opened. "I'm not. I just want you to know that I feel safe... and rested here with you."
"Rested? I must have been doing something improperly."
She laughed softly. "No, I mean, I haven't been in this position, no pun intended, in a long while, but you'll get no complaints here. I just meant that it's nice to know I won't have to go it alone any longer."
Severus hated it, but sunlight was creeping through the curtains. He really needed to get her back to her life, so they could work on starting their life. Theirs. Plus, with everything going the way it was going in his world, Albus was likely already looking for him. He had not meant to stay out as long as he had with Joyce, but then there were a long of things he'd done with Joyce that he had not meant to do this night. She knew more of him than his own mother had now. She knew more of him than Albus did even. Severus was not sure why he trusted this woman so, but he just knew he could. The unspoken terms of their endearment were quite clear to him.
It took them an eternity to say good-bye on her front porch.
He cupped her cheek as he kissed her goodnight, well good morning actually. Her fingertips clutched at his shirt a bit. Her blonde hair was in a curly disarray. Her dress was a bit wrinkled. He'd never seen anything more alluring.
"I must look a mess."
"You look lovely."
And she did. The sun was just rising, and its rays hit her just right. She glowed.
She kissed his cheek. "I'll see you later?"
"Stay safe. Speak to the girls."
They kissed again like two teenagers who just couldn't leave one another's company. The garbage truck making its noisy rounds caused them to part. Joyce laughed. Severus glared at the offending muggle machine as it passed them.
"Be careful." She whispered again, knowing he was moments from leaving her.
Severus tucked some golden hair behind her ear. "You already said that."
Joyce mimicked him and tucked some of his black hair behind one of his ears. "I don't like the idea of your being in the middle of what appears to be the brink of a war. What you do is dangerous. I can't stand the thought of you hurt."
He should have bristled at that, but he did not. "I'll be careful."
"See you soon?"
He kissed her one last time before apparating away. He made one last stop before going to Hogwarts. Severus made sure flowers were picked out and paid for. They would be delivered later that day when the sun was higher in the sky. Thank you for a lovely evening. See you soon?
Then he apparated right into a personal hell. The war in the wizarding world was no longer on its brink. It had broken. It had spilled out everywhere. It changed things instantly and forever.
But he would later discover a great many things had changed forever that day.
*~*~*Now the sun's coming up
I'm riding with lady luck
Cars and trucks
Stars beginning to fade
And I lead the parade
Just a-wishing I'd stayed a little longer
Let me tell you that the feeling's getting stronger