The Morning After
NOTE: I haven't changed this chapter!! Just added lines to make it easier to read!
NOTE: Amy doesn't get changed back. Willow finds Rack by herself and goes to England to recover. AU from there on
NOTE: AtS until Connor. AU from there on. Cordelia accepts demonhood. No Jasmine. AI doesn't own Wolfram and Hart.
~*~ The Morning After ~*~
Hermione glanced at Snape slightly bemused. He was exploring the cupboards and drawers of the Rosenberg kitchen looking for ingredients suitable to prepare a substantial breakfast. Fascinated she watched him cook using Muggle ingredients and tools, using minor levitation, mixing and cleaning charms as he prepared breakfast.
"Do you like cooking, sir?"
Snape glanced up. He had almost forgotten the Granger girl was there. Unlike in Hogwarts she had been content to sit and watch quietly without interjecting her opinions and advice.
"As a matter of fact I do."
"Muggle cooking?" Hermione probed delicately.
Snape smiled slightly. He was clad in a pair of charcoal gray slacks and a pale green shirt made of a silken material. Not surprisingly not a speck of food or smudge showed on his clothes. He used the precise grace and deftness he demonstrated in a Potions classroom in a Muggle kitchen.
"As a matter of fact I enjoy it. It allows me to keep the mundane aspect of Potions sharp without experimenting with exotic poisons and antidotes." Snape replied bluntly as he arranged platters of broiled sausages, hash browns and French toast on the kitchen island. "Miss Granger, please see if Miss Rosenberg has any juice or milk."
"As a matter of fact I do." A weak raspy voice spoke from the archway. "Orange-cranberry. Wonderful combination. I am quite addicted to it. Dawn has been on this tropical fruit juice kick so I'm probably going to be experimenting in the next few weeks."
"Miss Rosenberg." Snape wiped his hands on a dishtowel and walked towards the redhead. "How did you sleep?"
"Very well, thank you." Willow murmured. "Please, just call me Willow. Miss Rosenberg makes me feel as though I'm going to be thoroughly dressed down, though I probably am going to be aren't I." Green eyes widened with haunting sadness. "Dressed down I mean. I must have broken every single rule in the book. Because I didn't know the damn book existed." A sharp bark of bitter laughter as she moved into the kitchen and rinsed a glass and poured herself a glass of juice. "Ignorance of the law is no true defense. I screwed up."
"You are not the only person to have screwed up as you so quaintly put it Willow." Snape spoke briskly as he moved towards the younger woman undoing the cuff of his shirt. "You didn't know what you were getting into. I had a 'proper wizarding education' and I too screwed up royally." He pushed back the sleeve of the shirt. "Do you see this mark? It is called The Dark Mark for a reason. It signifies allegiance to a powerful Dark wizard. I fell in with the Death Eaters when I was a teen. I heard the rumors and dismissed them because I was a cocky arrogant bastard. I still am but I'd like to believe I am a wiser one."
"He just let you go, just like that?" Willow was skeptical. "No offense but from my experience baddies are like spoiled children, very possessive with their toys, even broken ones. They don't just let go."
Snape laughed grimly. "So true Miss Rosenberg. Now I am a spy, a double agent. I report to the person who gave me a chance to make up for my youthful mistakes
Willow just nodded and concentrated on the delicious breakfast Snape had prepared. There was little conversation about magic or evil. Hermione watched the two adults a little warily afraid to say anything to set off the explosive tension she sensed.
Soon after they finished cleaning up the debris of breakfast and loaded the dishwasher the silence was interrupted by a loud persistent knocking. Everyone jumped.
Snape moved pulling out his wand.
"Are you expecting someone?" He asked in a low voice.
Willow shook her head. "No. Everyone should be at work."
"Willow! Open up! If you are in that is!" A loud husky voiced female yelled as she banged on the front door. "I spent all morning driving to get here so you better be in! I don't want to go to Giles and see Anya!"
"Oh Goddess! It's Cordy!"
Willow darted past Snape and to the front door to unlock it and pull it open.
A brunette with amber streaked hair cut in a sleek bob stood on the porch hand raised to knock. She had a piquant heart-shaped face with strong edgy features and hazel brown eyes. Her tall lithe but curvaceous figure was dressed in low hip hugger jeans, sandals and a loose white shirt.
* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *
Cordelia couldn't hide the relief from her eyes before she remembered the difficult past between her and Willow. She forced her first feelings down and slipped a mask of composed disdain in place.
"Hi Willow, do you mind inviting Angel in?" She stepped over the threshold without waiting for an invitation. "He's in the car. He refused to stay in LA when he heard."
Willow was confused. "Heard what?"
"Invite first. Explanation later."
"Okay! Angel, come on in!" Willow yelled out as she pulled the drapes down to shut out the sun.
The door of the black Corvette opened. A black clad figure jumped out covered by a thick blanket and he ran up the driveway to the front door. By the time he was in the house both women were beating out the flames out of his clothes.
"I told you to wait but noo you had to be the noble hero and rush to the rescue!" The brunette, Cordy, grumbled as she beat out the last traces of flames. "Where's Connor?"
Willow was even more confused. "Connor? Who is Connor?"
"Oh yeah, you don't know. Angel?"
The black haired man fidgeted. "Well... Connor..." He turned to the brunette with pleading eyes. "Cordy, you're better explaining."
Hazel eyes flashed in irritation. Fiery and spirited. Snape was intrigued despite himself.
Angel could be such a wuss at times. Cordelia sighed in exasperation.
"Connor is Angel's son."
"His son? I thought vampires can't--."
"Yeah, yeah. Wolfram and Hart did some major mojo. Turns out there is a prophecy calling for the Warrior of Light's son The Destroyer." Cordy explained waving her hands.
"And his mother?"
"Darla! But she's dust. I saw--." Willow stammered.
"Well dear old born again Lawyer boy raised Darla." Cordelia's eyes flashed. "You remember Vocah? Wesley might have called asking for some information."
"Vocah? When you were in the hospital in a coma? The never ending visions?"
Visions? Snape was even more intrigued. This obviously Muggle-bred female was a Seer? A True Seer with Visions from the Higher Powers?
"Yeah. That. Well they raised Darla in the box. Angel, like most males, was led by his dick. She got to him when he was in a beige period. He didn't give a damn about anyone or anything." She ignored the sounds of protest. Snape felt an unwilling sympathy for him being at the end of the brunette's scathing biting words. "Darla seduced him. Connor was conceived."
"Where's Darla now? Will she come after us?"
"No." There was hint of grudging admiration. "Darla staked herself so Connor could be born."
"Cordelia! You left a baby in the car!?" Willow was horrified.
The pair glanced at each other. Cordelia spoke.
"Well, not exactly. Connor was kidnapped by someone with a grudge against Angelus and taken to another dimension. He's at a rebellious age right now."
Angel lost patience. "He's a teenager."
"What!" Willow goggled at the thought of Angel having a teenage son.
"Hold on. I'll go get him." Cordelia disappeared out the door and appeared a few seconds later dragging a skinny teen around seventeen in oversized jeans and tee-shirt with combat boots. His long brown hair was over long and slightly shaggy falling into his lean face. He was being dragged in by the brunette who had a firm grip on one ear.
"Ow ow ow! Cor-dy! That hurts!"
"Well, if you came in when your father asked you nicely I wouldn't have to do this!" Cordelia retorted as she pushed him into the living room. She gave him a quick check straightening his clothes and smoothening his hair. The teen fidgeted and squirmed under her touch.
"Cordy! I'm not a baby! Stop fussing!"
"Well I changed your diapers young man! I think that gives me the right to fuss over you!"
The teen blushed bright red. Everyone couldn't stop the smile that crept up.
"Cordy!" He glanced at the man, Angel, pleading silently.
Pleased at this query for help Angel spoke up. "Cordy, stop embarrassing Connor." He glanced around towards the kitchen. "I believe Willow has some guests."
"What!" Cordelia shrieked. "Willow! Why didn't you say something!?" She glanced around warily looking for strangers.
"It's okay. They know about the demony side of things. In fact they met Spike last night."
"Oh. That's okay then."
Willow glanced at Connor who refused to meet her gaze so she looked at Cordelia and frowned.
"Cordy? Did something happen to you?"
Cordelia smiled wryly. "Well I got upgraded...."
Cordelia closed her eyes and held out her hands. When she opened them the hazel irises were more gold than brown. Willow leaned closer and gasped.
"You've got cat pupils." Willow studied the out held hands. "And claws."
"And a load of other changes including one that makes it impossible for me to wear bras anymore." Cordelia continued blandly ignoring Angel and Connor who were edging away.
"Bras?" Willow studied the other woman's wardrobe. "Is that why--?"
"I'm not wearing my usual tight tops?" Cordelia finished wryly. "Yes. There is some sort of ridge along my spine. It is too sensitive to be abraded constantly."
Willow blushed slightly. "Cordelia you might want to stop giving too much personal details."
"One of my guests is my cousin sister from England."
"That's okay if she knows of demony things."
"Well, she is a witch but she's not alone." Willow stammered glancing at the kitchen.
Snape decided to take pity on Willow and emerged from the kitchen.
Cordelia opened her mouth and closed it. The man was undeniably older closer to Giles age but there was an aura of compelling power about him. His untidy shoulder length black hair started an itch in her fingers to smooth it back. A slim black brow rose in query. Black inky eyes stared straight at her absorbing everything but giving a hint of nothing. His lean form was clad in a pair of crisp charcoal gray pants and a silky looking pale jade green shirt. His feet were elegantly narrow and long in black socks and dress shoes.
She refused to be intimidated by him. A brow of her own rose in challenging disdain.
"And who is he?" Cordelia refused to look away first.
"Severus Snape." Willow was surprised by the silent battle. "He is Hermione's teacher. Hermione Granger is my cousin."
Hermione edged into the living room and waved her hand shyly.
Connor glanced at the shy teen his own age with bushy brown hair tipped with honey. Cinnamon brown eyes peeked up at him before she glanced away and licked her lower lip nervously. She was dressed in a pair of cream slacks and a lilac shirt with sandals.
Snape was impressed. Not many could stand up to his penetrating gaze. He inclined his head and glanced at Willow.
"Would you care to make the introductions Miss Rosenberg?"
"Wha? Oh yeah. This is Hermione Granger. She's my mom's sister's daughter. She is a witch and is studying at a school for witches and wizards in Scotland called Hogwarts. That's Severus Snape. He's a wizard and Potion Master. He teaches Potions at Hogwarts. My aunt and her husband died a few weeks ago and made my mom Hermione's guardian. Since my parents are never home I'm Hermione's new guardian. Professor Snape came along to make sure I understood the situation and agreed to let Hermione go back to Hogwarts. They didn't know I am a witch." Willow explained in a babbling rush.
Cordelia nodded still studying Snape. There was something about him that drew her like a magnet.
"My name is Cordelia Chase. This is Angel; Liam O'Roarke during his living years. Both of us work for A.I., an investigative agency in LA. This is Connor O'Roarke. I think you heard enough to surmise by now that none of us are normal people and that Angel is a vampire."
Snape bit back a smile and settled for nodding.
Willow wrung her hands together.
"Cordelia, why are you here?"
"What?" Cordelia frowned before her face cleared. "Oh yeah. Vision."
"I was in it?" Willow was slightly scared. "Did I die?"
Cordelia frowned. "This was different from the usual prevent death or ritual mission. It has nothing to do with Angel but he insisted on tagging along."
"Really? What did you see?" Willow was curious.
"You, me, Amy, and she." Cordelia pointed at Hermione who goggled.
"Amy?" Willow frowned. "She's still a rat. I haven't managed to change her back."
"A rat?" Snape spoke up sharply.
"Well, yeah. My mom and a bunch of other parents were hypnotized by this Hansel and Gretel demon during high school. They tried to burn me, Amy and Buffy at the stake as witches. Amy tried to escape by changing into a mouse but something went wrong. She's stuck as one now." Willow explained to the Potion Master.
Snape frowned. "A botched transfiguration. If she had the potential to be an Animagi it might be why she was trapped in animal form."
Willow's expression brightened. "You know transfiguration? And this Animagi thing? Can you change Amy back?"
Snape shook his head. "Transfiguration is not my specialty but Minerva is an expert. Minerva McGonogall is the Transfiguration teacher at Hogwarts," He explained. "She is an animagi as well. If anyone can reverse your friend's condition, she can. I can take your friend to Minerva when I make my report to Albus tonight."
Hermione was surprised by the trust and praise for a Gryffindor coming from Snape.
"Well, what happened?" Willow asked impatiently. "Was it bad? I don't want Hermione to be any danger if possible."
Cordelia snorted. "Willow, honey, the girl's in Sunnydale! I don't know about the vision being bad though. The four of us were in the park, the one where the Independence Day BBQ is always held. There was a bonfire. It was night, a waxing crescent moon." She frowned as she tried to recall more details. "Wes made a tape of what I said after the vision. We can play it to get more details. But there was nothing menacing in the vision. No death, no pain, no terror." She tried to explain. "There was joy, welcoming, waiting, anticipation of something. Something good."
Snape frowned. A vision with positive portents. A trap? Or a gift from the Powers?
Cordelia sighed. "Well I don't know about you but I'm dying for a cup of coffee. We had an all nighter."
"Really? Was it messy?" Willow asked with interest as she hurried into the kitchen to make coffee and nuke a mug of blood for Angel.
"No." Angel replied. "Just a nest of vampires. But there were a lot of witnesses and victims. Cordelia had to do some fast talking to get medical attention without questions. We spent more time cleaning up after than staking."
"Tell me about it." Cordelia snorted sipping her coffee. "I'm starting to run out of excuses. I'm starting to wish LA is more like Sunnydale concerning questions." She winced stretching her arms. "I wish hospital staff don't ask such stupid questions. A dog bit her excuse is good, isn't it?"
Hermione's eyes widened as she stared at the Seer who was leaning against the kitchen counter working on her coffee.
"The guys are absolutely no good at the people side you know? And Fred is too afraid of her own shadow to give the speech. Sometimes the people we rescue are more afraid of Angel and he doesn't help with his caveman routine."
Angel ignored his bitching Seer.
"Ignore Cordy. She's been on an adrenaline high for the past six hours. She needs to rant and rave to get it out of her system." He told the others.
Snape smiled silkily. "I can see that Mr. O'Roarke."
"Just Angel Mr. Snape." Angel glanced at the taller man. He could sense the fear, the sorrow, the rage contained within the wizard but he didn't ask questions. Everyone had a past.
"Just Snape. Or Severus if you prefer."
"Thank you so much Angel." Cordelia huffed slamming her mug down.
Hermione stared at the people in the kitchen. They were taking it all in stride. Prophecies, True Seers, Visions that were accurate, demons, souled vampires. For them having a witch and wizard drop in was very normal. She blinked back tears. Would her parents have reached this point of ease and familiarity with the wizarding world? To know what to expect and how to react? Now she would never have the chance to find out.
Tears started to flow down Hermione's face.
Willow stared at Hermione in concern.
"What's wrong Hermione? Did something happen?"
Hermione shook her head wildly. "No. Nothing will happen. Nothing."
Cordelia stared at the teen in concern and softened. Nothing will happen. That was the goal, the purpose of every vision - to prevent the vision from happening. On the flip side if someone was removed from the picture nothing could happen. Hermione's parents had died, were removed from the picture....
"Oh, honey!" Hazel eyes softened and her features relaxed as she reached out and wrapped the shorter teen in her arms gathering the witch close. "It's okay dear. It's okay."
"It's not!" Hermione sobbed burying her face in Cordelia's shoulder soaking the white shirt.
"The picture has changed honey. What was expected won't happen but something else will. There is no rule saying the second scenario has to be bad sweetie." Cordelia crooned softly rocking the weeping girl. "I think your parents would prefer it if the second scenario means you grow into a beautiful young woman and meet a wonderful young man and have lots of kids and grand kids."
"But they won't see them! Or me!"
Cordelia laughed throatily. "Sweetie you are a witch! Surely you've seen ghosts haven't you?" Hermione nodded soggily. "Well I have one as a roommate myself honey. If there is life after death for souls what makes you believe there isn't a heaven of some sort? Or reincarnation? Your parents have simply moved on. It doesn't mean they can't check in on you or that you will never meet again. I'm sure there is some spell that would allow you to contact your parents spirits. I know for a fact Willow raised the dead you know? Buffy was in the grave for three months before Willow cast the Rite of Osiris to bring her back."
"I can't do it again Hermione." Willow hated to dash the disappointment in her cousin's eyes. "Buffy died a magical death. Her death didn't activate another Slayer and Faith was in prison. We needed a Slayer to fight Glory. It was Dark Magick but I was desperate. The artifacts I used in the Rite were destroyed when Glory blew up the Magick Box. They were unique, one-of-a-kind."
"What is with bad guys and explosions?" Cordelia mused. "I mean Wolfram and Hart blew up our old offices when I was in the hospital. Wesley survived by locking himself in the safe Angel used to store the old books."
Willow smiled at Hermione's watery laugh. "I can look for a spell requesting the presence of specific spirits. The Powers may or may not permit it though." She warned.
"That's Dark Magick." Hermione spoke in hushed tones.
Cordelia snorted. "Honey, it's Dark Magick if you bind the ghost for some nefarious purpose. Or if you get information from the spirit and use it in a negative fashion."
Hermione frowned and processed this new perspective.
Snape eyed the brunette intrigued. Pragmatism, affection, perspective.
Cordelia eyed Snape torn between conflicting feelings. She decided to ignore them for now.
"Okay Hermione is Willow's cousin and her parents died recently but why is Snapey still here?"
Hermione snorted at the nickname. Snape glowered.
"My name is Snape. Not Snapey."
Cordelia ignored him and willed the answer out of Willow.
"He's going to teach me the proper way to do magic. With control so I don't get addicted to the magic and go Darth Willow."
Cordelia frowned. "Is Darth Willow anything like Vamp Willow? If so Darth Willow must be a really skanky nympho. Does she have better taste in clothes than you?"
Willow blushed bright red. "Cordelia!"
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