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An Ambiguous Alliance

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Summary: A temporary alliance is formed, events take place, and Severus Snape tells the tale.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Harry Potter > GeneralMarbleGloveFR1514,90610182,36312 May 0812 May 08Yes
Disclaimer: This is a Harry Potter and Buffy the Vampire Slayer crossover fic. I do not own any of these characters or their respective universes. I am, quite frankly, glad I do not own them, because if I did I would have to treat them at least somewhat respectfully and not repeatedly write fics that contradict each other.

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An Ambiguous Alliance
by MarbleGlove

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The Dark Mark burned late one Friday summoning all the Death Eaters to their Lord. It had all the initial appearance of a routine gathering. Dumbledore had not been overly worried about his Potions Master and Spy.

When Severus had not returned by noon on Saturday, Dumbledore began to get concerned. When, after some quiet checking, he discovered that none of the people he knew to be Death Eaters were at their normal routine, he became quite alarmed. The entire Order of the Phoenix was summoned to Hogwarts in preparation of a full-out attack by the entirety of the Death Eater army. It was a very long, very tense Sunday.

It was early Monday morning when one of the outposts saw Severus trudging up the path to the school entrance. He was alone.

The entire order, who had been waiting in tense anticipation of battle for nearly thirty-six hours at this point converged on him. At first he didn’t even appear to notice them as they pelted him with questions. Finally he stopped, swayed a bit. He squinted at Dumbledore, who was standing in front of him, and said, “G’way. Wanna sleep.”

Everyone else stopped talking, a few questions just sort of trailing off.

Dumbledore moved in to support the obviously exhausted man, taking his arm, while the others looked at each other in astonishment. Severus had masterful control of his voice. There were times when he was fall-down drunk and he could still insult with a precise and cutting enunciation. Each month he spent a week of short nights making wolfsbane and was still in sufficient control of himself to teach all his classes, and after the final grueling day of creation, deliver the potion himself, removing house points from any students that got in his way. For him to not only slur his words, but to say something as innocuous as he had, he had to be truly exhausted beyond belief.

“Severus. Severus. SEVERUS.” Dumbledore finally caught the exhausted man’s attention. “Is there anything you need to tell me before you go to sleep?”

It clearly took a few seconds before the words made any sense. Severus swayed again. Lupin came in and took his other arm and was a quietly astonished that there was no flinch like he was used to. ”S’okay. S’all okay. Wanna sleep now.”

With those words, the man sank down into what appeared to be a true sleep while being held only vaguely vertical by the grips on his arms.

Dumbledore was the first to recover from his surprise, of course. “Well. I suppose if everything is okay, then we should disperse. I’m sorry for the false call, but appreciate all of your responses. Thank you. Now, Remus, do you think you could help me get him to the infirmary. I think we had better have Madam Pomfrey check him out.

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Madam Pomfrey diagnosed severe physical and magical exhaustion, along with a variety of pulled muscles and minor scratches. He slept for twenty-four hours after that, and then spent the next twenty-four hours alternately sleeping and eating large meals. It was only after this that Madam Pomfrey finally allowed guests and Dumbledore and McGonagall both came to hear his report.

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“Have you ever wondered, Headmaster, what you would have been like had you studied the Dark Arts rather than Alchemy?”

“Yes.” Dumbledore was very serious. “What if I had studied the Dark Arts. What if Tom had studied Alchemy. What if.”

Severus snorted. “I doubt you came to the correct conclusions. There have been honorable practitioners of the Dark Arts before. Just as there have been immoral alchemists. Just, imagine yourself, as you are, but also as a Dark Arts Master.”

Now it was McGonagall's turn to snort. “What an appalling thought.”

Severus actually smiled at this. “Mix in young, female, and American and it’s even worse.

“You mean there is such a person?”

“Indeed. A young, cheerful, shy, eccentric, female American who happens to be a more powerful practitioner of the Dark Arts than the Dark Lord.

“Tell us everything”

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It always took about half an hour for all the Death Eaters to gather from all their various other activities. In the mean time, while waiting for the meeting to start, those who got there early would chat. This time, most of the small talk centered on who the two women were who were standing and talking with the Dark Lord.

The Dark Lord was according them considerable respect. The smaller of the two was extremely thin, had blonde hair, and was dressed in black leather. The other hair the color of blood, although that was presumably artificial, and wore a muggle outfit.

Finally, all the Death Eaters were gathered and the Dark Lord started the proceedings.

“Silence.” There was complete silence. As always, the Dark Lord started right into business. Important information was always given first so that those who had other business to attend to were not kept from it for too long. On the other hand, a Friday night summons was rare and implied that the meeting might be longer than usual. The whole weekend stretched before them, after all.

“The Watchers’ Council has requested our help and I have agreed to offer it. Listen carefully.” And then he stepped back and waved the two women forward.

“Okay, People.” Severus was reminded of Hooch teaching first years how to fly with the way the blond was dealing with the amassed Death Eaters. “I’m Buffy Summers, Head Slayer of the Watchers’ Council. This is Willow Rosenberg, Head Witch. The red head smiled shyly and waved.

“You all have been volunteered to help us. So listen up, and with luck, most of you will survive.” There was some shifting among the Death Eaters, but the Dark Lord was silent and watching, so everyone else remained attentive.

“We’re dealing with a group of demons. Willow?”

Suddenly a demon appeared and half of the Death Eaters pulled their wands, before realizing that it was an illusion.

“This is what you’ll be facing. As you can see, it’s eight feet tall, has claws on all six limbs, and can see in all directions from it’s eyes, placed here, here, here, here, and here. Oh, and here. They can see in a spectrum that ranges all the way from heat through color and into magic. Thus, wizards and witches are particularly visible to them. This is actually both good news and bad. While you can’t hide from them, we don’t want you to hide from them, we want you to confront them. And magic can be used to distract them, since they’ll see it wherever it is. Hopefully with all of you around, our slayers will have a better chance of getting by since they won’t be as visible as all you guys.

“The bad news is:

“They are fast. You cannot out run them. They will catch you.

“They eat magic, so any spells cast directly at them will simply make them stronger. Avoid doing that.

“While they can be physically hurt, at the moment, they are immortal, and will heal from all wounds within minutes.

“We’re dealing with approximately five thousand of them on a an area of ten square miles in the middle of the Black Forest in Germany.

“The good news is, they are guarding three”, the blonde held up three fingers in demonstration, “portals that look something like this. Willow?” Where the demon had been, there was now what looked like a large sheet of water hanging in the air.

“Somewhere in those ten square miles are three portals that look like that. The Watchers council currently has a hundred and twenty slayers. They have each been given a charged stone. If we can get at least one of these stones thrown through each portal, then Willow here, along with Lord Voldemort, can close the portals. So, if you see one of these portals, let out a holler to let a slayer know. The sooner the portals are closed, the better. Once these demons,” the demon reappeared, “are cut off from their home world, they can be killed.” There was silence. “Willow?”

The red head stepped up. “Okay, guys,” while her voice wasn’t shouted like the blonde’s, like Buffy Summers’ had been, everyone could hear her. Severus had an eery sensation that even if he blocked his ears, he would still be able to hear her. “You all will be here to distract the demons from the slayers who will be searching the grounds. You’re one task, really, is to stay within the perimeter and stay alive. Well, I guess that’s two tasks, but well, stay alive. This is going to be tricky. So my advice is to cast spells at everything around the demon. If you blow up the ground under their feet, that will trip them and slow them down. If you enchant a rock or tree branch to hit them, that will distract them for a bit. They’ll walk right through shields, and it will make them stronger so don’t try to shield yourself, but they are also attracted to shields, so if you place a shield somewhere where you are not, that might buy you some time. Because they see magic, we’re hoping that by importing a large number of wizards, we’re can confuse them and effectively blind them by giving too much input. For as long as you’re there, keep casting spells. Even if it’s simple levitation spells on leaves. As much distraction as possible is the goal. Do you have any questions?”

There was silence, but after a moment, a question came, rather condescending. “I believe it was stated that there would be a hundred and some slayers there? And yet, I know there is only one slayer at any given time.”

The blonde spoke, “Yeah. One girl in all the world, and all that. However, that all changed a few years ago. The First Evil tried to take out the entire Slayer Line, targeting all potential slayers. In response, Willow here cast a spell activating all the slayers. We’ve currently got a hundred and thirty-two slayers in existence.” She grinned and showed a lot of teeth. They were reminded that slayers were predators. “A few slayers are stationed world wide to watch various hot spots. All the rest are waiting for your appearance to start the search. Anything else?”

“Oh, oh.” The red head now raised her hand. The blonde rolled her eyes, “Yes, Willow?”

“Okay, since you guys are called Death Eaters, I’m assuming that you all know how to use the energy released from a death. So, once the portals are closed and the --”

“Most of them do not.” The voice slithered, and the red head shivered, but turned towards Lord Voldemort.

“They don’t?”

“To pull magic from the world around you in any manner is a skill generally reserved for Masters of Dark Arts, Alchemy, or Potions. Most wizards and witches are expected to rely solely on their own innate power as amplified by their wand alone.”

“Oh.” There was silence, as Willow blinked thoughtfully. Severus had a bad feeling about this. He was a potions master and so, of course, could access the power available through his ingredients, but always in a prepared ritual. He wasn’t quite sure what this Willow Rosenberg was capable of, but he was beginning to realize why Lord Voldemort offered her so much respect. She apparently was so used to such powerful people that she expected a bunch of minions to be able to raise power in the middle of a battle scene. His thoughts were confirmed when she continued to speak, “Okay, well, those of you who can use ambient power released from death, be careful. After the portals are closed, the slayers will set about slaying the demons. There will be a lot of power, so don’t let yourselves get overwhelmed by it but try to pick up as much as you can. I’ll be pulling in the rest to avoid letting the demons get too powerful off of their own dead.”

The blonde took over speaking again, “Unless there are any more questions, we’re ready to head out. Lord V? I mean, Lord Voldemort.”

The Dark Lord scanned the crowds in front of him. “Consider this a practice round for the final battle. When we are done today, you will all be blooded warriors. Do not let your brothers fall. We do this in order to ensure that the world we wish to take over is still there waiting for us. Do not disappoint me.”

“No, my Lord.” The response came in a resounding chorus.

“I will apparate to the base station the Watchers have set up along with Wormtail. When I summon you again, you will appear in the Black Forest, be prepared to fight.”

“Yes, my Lord.” The echoes had not had a chance to die down before Lord Voldemort and Wormtail each disappeared with a “pop”. A second later the redhead put her arms around the blonde and they disappeared together in a gust of wind that came from no where. There was no noise to signal their disappearance.

Severus timed the wait. It was only three minutes before the dark mark summoned them again. It seemed like an eternity and like no time at all.

And then there was chaos.

The battle had been like nothing any of them had ever imagined. It had been like a nightmare. In the first rush it seemed like people were dying everywhere, although in a later count, the Death Eater ranks had merely been decimated. One in ten. The rest became cautious.

It was Goyle who actually first came up with the idea of enchanting stones to be bludgers. Unfortunately, there was no time to modify the spell to focus just on the demons, but at least most of the wizards had played Quidditch once upon a time and were used to dodging them. Other wizards quickly passed on that idea and a few others transfigured tree branches into bats and started acting as beaters. It actually added a sense of fun to the entire proceedings.

The slayers added to the fun. They shouted out jokes and comments as they ran and dodged and hit the demons. More than once Severus saw a slayer pick up a demon and throw it at another demon, saving two wizards at once, before racing on, looking behind each tree, searching for the portals.

Lucius Malfoy, who had always shown an interest in Herbology and had some of the best gardens around started enchanting the trees and vines to grab hold of the demons. This too, was quickly passed along, both by Death Eaters shouting at each other, and via the slayers that were crisscrossing the whole area passing messages.

That was the same way that everyone knew when the first portal was found.

The second one came soon after.

Some of the younger and weaker Death Eaters were running out of power. They were moving slower, showing nose bleeds, and unable to cast anything further. More and more of the spells that were being cast, were 'Enervate's rather than anything offensive or defensive. The rest of the Death Eaters were taking more and more care to use as little magic as possible, to make what power they had last.

It became clear that doting fathers had an advantage, because they knew all the spells that were intended to keep young children amused and entertained. These spells never took much energy, but worked admirably as distractions.

For the first time ever, Severus cursed his dislike of children.

The third portal took an eternity to find.

By the time the call went out, Severus had been pushed back towards the perimeter. But he heard the call: stone had been thrown through the third portal, the portals could be closed. He was close enough to the perimeter that he could see the ritual performed by Willow and by the Dark Lord.

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Severus fell silent.

“What was it?”

“I don’t know. I didn’t recognize the ritual, and such things are not my expertise. Anyway, I was already exhausted and had used up all my concentration trying to pick up those damned baby spells.”

McGonagall had the gall to laugh at this. At his glare, she put up a hand to cover her mouth, but didn’t bother to stop her giggling.

Severus snorted, but he could see the amusement, as well. “Anyway, they were in a clearing but I was still in the trees around the edge. I was still dodging those incredibly fast demons that were everywhere. I just remember impressions. I was just seeing glimpses, but,” he paused. “Every year that I’ve been a teacher at Hogwarts, I’ve attended the summer ritual reinforcing the wards. You’re the main caster, Albus, not only because you’re Headmaster but because you are by far the more powerful, while Minerva here assists you because she is weaker.”

Minerva shrugged. “I’m okay with being weaker in comparison to Albus. I can still squash you, Severus, like a fly.”

Severus responded at his most haughty, “I think not.”

“You want to duel sometime, kid?” Minerva offered.

“Anyway,” Severus continued rather huffily, ignoring Minerva’s offer, “it was sort of like that. I don’t mean the ritual itself. Completely different. But, but that young woman led the ritual and had the Dark Lord completely out classed. I don’t think power was an issue when she was choosing the second caster, anyone could have done, because she was capable of carrying the full load. It was probably at the Dark Lord's request that he assisted, just so that he could get that experience manipulating that level of power.”

“She was that powerful?”

“She was that powerful.”

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When the ritual was over, Willow walked towards him. Severus had first thought he was in serious trouble and she was coming for him. But instead, she just smiled at him in passing as a dozen branches from nearby trees broke off and transfigured themselves into swords. Any demons within a ten yard radius of her were quickly decapitated by the swords that swung so wildly around her. Severus could feel the death magic streaming past him to be absorbed into the witch.

She walked and the swords killed and the magic swirled. Severus followed her because in his current state of exhaustion he couldn’t think of anything better to do. She soaked up the magic and he watched her hair that started out a bright red turn gradually darker and darker as she absorbed more and more death magic. Severus knew that battle grounds were dangerous to leave uncleansed, but it was generally done by a group of people dispersing the released death magics, rather than a single person gathering the magic into herself. After a while, he realized that her hair had hit a dark red that was almost but not quite black and was staying that way. Even as she walked on, killing and absorbing, and, he noticed finally, floating a few inches above the ground rather than walking, her hair remained the same dark red.

Through the trees, he could see Slayers living up to their title. They would call out Willow, “Staying in control?” And she would smile and wave and call back, “I’m doing fine. You?” Sometimes they would say “Just fine”, and she would pass on, other times, they were injured and she would heal them and her hair would grow slightly lighter for a moment. But always she floated on and he followed her.

He passed the remains of demons and people. He only turned back when he stumbled over the body of Death Eater who called out to him for help. Severus didn’t recognize the man, but didn’t pause for even an instant in his effort to help him. On their way back to the starting point, in hope of getting help, a demon found them but was killed by a Slayer before it could eat them, which seemed to be it’s intent. The Slayer pointed them in the direction of the starting point, “it’s just a little bit further. You can make it. You’ll be taken care of there. Just a little bit further”, before she was hidden by more trees as she searched out more of the demons. As both he and the injured Death Eater swayed exhaustedly in front of the dying demon, Severus could feel the magic being let off by the death and remembered how Willow had called it to her, and thought, what the hey. He called the magic to him.

It was a rush.

He got the injured Death Eater back to the starting point, where sure enough there were Watchers with a field infirmary all set up in the clearing where they had started out, and where the ritual had been performed. The injured Death Eater was taken off his hands and he set off back into the forest. He felt great.

After absorbing the power from three more demons, he couldn’t understand why anyone would ever want to sleep. He felt just wonderful.

There seemed to be a never ending stream of demons in that forest giving off power for him to take. He offered his services making various healing potions for the watchers and they accepted gratefully although he had to glare at several of them who gave him amused looks at his excess energy. Whenever he began to feel like he was dragging, he went back into the forest and pulled more energy. After a while, the forest seemed to be emptied, probably by Willow who was also walking around with plenty of energy, but she offered him more energy everytime he started to get shaky.

They had started out with nearly five hundred Death Eaters and there were now considerably less than four hundred. He heard that nine slayers died.

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“More than a hundred Death Eaters dead, and not a single innocent bystander or any member of the Order of the Phoenix even injured. It’s wonderful.” Minerva burst out.

“Nine slayers died.” Severus had come to really respect those Slayers.

“Yes, of course. I’m sorry, Severus, of course, they shouldn’t have died.”

“We were told, before the watchers left, to feel proud of ourselves, we had saved the world.”

Dumbledore nodded his head. “I imagine you did. Even if not the world, you certainly saved Durmstang. It borders the Black Forest and if those demons ate magic, that would probably be their first stop. The teachers and student would have had no way of stopping such things.”

“Yes.” Severus leaned back against his pillow and shut his eyes. It was like he was separating himself from his friends and employer who sat before him. “It’s changed the war.”

“How so?”

“Those of us who survived are bound together in our experience beyond just bearing the Dark Mark. We fought an overwhelming enemy and we supported each other and we survived. And we know our limits and we know our strengths now. How many fighters for the light can say as much?”

“Very few.” Dumbledore answered honestly. “Perhaps only me and Mad-Eye and now you.” There was a question in that last statement. The Death Eaters had saved the world and reforged the bonds of friendship with Severus Snape that had been broken so many years ago. Dumbledore could only hope that Severus was not shifting his loyalty once more.

“And me. Yes, me, too.” It was said quietly and with resignation but Dumbledore was reassured that no matter what the doubts he had, Severus would remain loyal to the light.

There was silence for a moment. Severus kept his eyes closed. Dumbledore and McGonagall looked at each other wondering if the man had fallen asleep. But he spoke again before they decided to slip out of the infirmary and leave him to his rest.

“Most of the Death Eaters slept for a full day after the battle. Only the Dark Lord, Nicholai Nott, and myself stayed awake the entire time. When the others woke up, they apparated home. Nott’s brother helped him get home and to his own bed before he collapsed. The watchers and slayers got into a series of muggle horseless carriages that took them all away. The last people to leave were the Dark Lord, Wormtail, myself, Willow Rosenberg, Buffy Summers, and some people who waited at a distance for them in one of the carriages. They said “thank you” to me and the Dark Lord. Willow and the Dark Lord discussed having a written correspondence to discuss different ways of working magic and the ramifications of raising the dead.

“But then they left and it was only me and the Dark Lord, with Wormtail waiting at a distance. He put his hand on my shoulder and said, “You have done well, Severus. The war has changed.” I asked him what he meant. If I had been less jittery with stolen power, never would have done so, but He seemed amused by my presumption. “The Watchers council doesn’t interfere with civil wars. Wizards fighting wizards don’t matter to them. Willow Rosenberg is a force to be reckoned with, but she is loyal entirely to the Watchers. As long as we don’t attack muggles in the muggle world and don’t try to destroy the world, we will not have any conflict with them. On the other hand, they are making the muggle world increasingly inhospitable to various dark creatures that will offer us some interesting opportunities for alliances within the wizarding world.” The Dark Lord laughed. But it wasn’t scary. It was a real laugh. Like he had been given an unexpected gift. It was a laugh of surprised delight. It had never really occurred to me before, not since I defected, but he thinks he’s doing what’s right. And taking over the wizarding world makes him happy. He told me: “We are stronger for this weekends events, but it is nearly sunrise now. Go back to Hogwarts and sleep, my loyal Death Eater. We have won this battle but we will have other battles before too long. Sleep, grow stronger, and we who have survived will fight another day.”

Severus paused.

“I apparated to the gates of Hogwarts and that took the last of my energy. Did you find me collapsed there?”

Dumbledore looked amused despite his worries. “No.”

“No?” Severus finally opened his eyes again, and looked inquiring.

“No. You were seen walking up the path to Hogwarts. I am not surprised that you don’t remember. I don’t think I have ever seen a more exhausted individual in my life. You said, and I quote directly, “g’way, wanna sleep.””

Dumbledore almost laughed aloud at the horrified expression on Severus’ face. “I never said such a thing nor spoke in such an imbecilic fashion!”

“Do you want to see it in my pensive?”

“Oh Lord.” Severus put his head in his hands, and muttered though his palms, “Did anyone else see me?”

Now Dumbledore really did chuckle. “Ah, I’m afraid your extended leave worried me. The entire Order of the Phoenix was there.”

“Oh Lord.”

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the end

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epilogue

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“Man, Wills, where did you find those people?” Xander had insisted on at least watching the fight, although he wasn’t allowed within ten feet of a tree without a slayer bodyguard. He and Andrew had run the base camp, providing food and first aid for all the various fighters. “The attack-rocks were fun, but that snake guy was just creepy.”

“Yes, Willow, I am curious as well. How did you manage to find five hundred dark wizards ready to fight when we only had three days notice?” Giles had been on the phone for those three days trying to find magic users who would be willing to fight for the slayers. Those who were willing to fight with magic weren’t willing to ally with the slayers and those who were willing to ally with the slayers, weren’t willing to fight. It had been quite frustrating.

Then Willow had appeared, said, “I think I’ve got something”, and disappeared with Buffy. Three hours later, they reappeared with five hundred minions and a distinctly evil temporary ally.

Willow blushed. Xander grinned. A blush was generally the sign of a good story. “There’s this little old magic shop that I go to when I’m in England and I need some really dark evil-y materials. So I loitered around there for a while thinking, hey, dark magic, we need magic users who can and will kill, it’s a match. And we really needed more people than I could simply ask, even if they did all say, “yes” which they probably wouldn’t. We needed a group of people.”

“Yes? So what did you do?” The long drawn-out explanation was raising their curiosities.

“I finally got tired of loitering and coming up with nothing. So I went up the darkest and evilest looking of the humans there and said, “Take me to your leader.””

Xander cracked up.

Giles took of his glasses, and pinched the bridge of his nose. When he finally look up again, he was smiling. “Yes, well. You always have been able to pull off the most amazing things.”

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the end, really

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The End

You have reached the end of "An Ambiguous Alliance". This story is complete.

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