Everyone’s a Little Bit Crazy, From Time to Time
The walk to the woman’s cottage was quiet. Sirius found himself drawn to the woman - It had been so long since someone had been kind to him. Years even, if he didn’t count the recent encounter with Remus, Harry, and Hermione. Her presence was comforting; perhaps it was because she reminded him a bit of Lily with her red hair and the warm glow she gave off.
His heart tugged. No matter how many years went by, he missed his friends terribly.
Sirius glanced at her out of the corner of his eye. She wore a long, green linen skirt with white blouse, and he grinned at the image she conjured. The woman looked a lot like the Muggle women he and James met during a themed Muggle party once. Wizards didn’t often venture into the Muggle world often, but he had dragged James to go with him because of a pretty bird he had met. They event, luckily, had ended up being quite ‘far out’, as his date had put it.
As the cottage came into view, Sirius shifted nervously. Suddenly he was starting to get paranoid again. What if he had read her wrong? What if she had lied and was really an Auror? What if she had back-up waiting for him?
He fingered his stolen wand nervously in his pocket and looked over his shoulder; hoping that Buckbeak was still watching from the woods.
The woman’s lips pursed as she gave him a curious look. He grinned in spite of himself - she was rather cute when she did that.
“Sorry. I’m not used to - er - social situations much anymore,” he explained. Merlin knows being stuck in Azkaban had almost destroyed him and besides that one night at Hogwarts his only companion had been a hippogriff.
“It’s alright,” she said with a knowing smile as she paused at the doorway. Likely she could tell by his looks and smell he wasn’t exactly number one on party invitation lists.
Then she laughed nervously. “Oh, Goddess, I just realized I invited you to my home and we haven’t even exchanged names.” She shook her head and her cheeks tinted with embarrassment. “I’m Willow,” she said, almost rather shyly.
Sirius froze. He hadn’t thought this far ahead. He just met the bird and he wasn’t sure he could trust her. Awkwardly he cleared his throat. “My friends call me Padfoot.”
“Padfoot?” Her tiny nose wrinkled in confusion. “That’s an interesting name.”
He gave his most charming smile - the one that had worked on hundreds of girls back at Hogwarts. “It is interesting, and sadly not as pretty as Willow I’m afraid.” He was hoping his casual response would deter her from further questions. She seemed like a nice girl and he didn’t enjoy lying if he didn’t need to.
Green eyes studied him intently and he had to force himself not to cower under his gaze. He caught a whiff of power from her and Sirius wished he had paid more attention in class when they discussed the earth witches.
Willow nodded, apparently satisfied somehow. “Come on in, Padfoot. I’ll get dinner started. Maybe, while I’m cooking, you might want to, er, bathe?” she asked hopefully, clearly hoping that she wasn’t being rude in her assumption.
Sirius chuckled. “I stink that bad, huh?”
“Well,” her lips curled into a grin. “You kinda smell like dog,” she informed as she opened the door and walked into the cottage.
“Funny, that,” he replied with a secretive smile as he followed her inside.
Willow felt flustered as she moved around the kitchen. It seemed her mind had caught up with her mouth and she was wondering what on earth she had been thinking to invite her pantry thief into her home. Already she could hear her friends chastising her. Buffy would give her a stern talk about inviting strange men in - even if it was daylight and she knew Padfoot wasn’t a vampire. Xander would likely threaten to get the shovel out of his truck and scare the guy off. Giles, of course, would just give her a harried look and clean his glasses.
Although Dawn, likely, would congratulate her on picking up her own dirty-hot Aragorn guy.
Well, that’s what Dawnie would say. Not so Willow. No sirree. She didn’t think he was hot in that gee-I-just-want-to-bathe-him kinda way.
Although, subjectively speaking - like she would comment on a piece of artwork, she would say he was sorta… ah… hot in that gee-I-just-want-to-bathe-him kinda way.
She gripped the counter and took a deep breath.
She was obviously, as her coven mentor Amelia would say, going ‘mental’.
Not to mention, in the deepest part of herself, she feared her friends wouldn’t be interested in chastising her on picking up a stray man as they would for everything else she had done.
Willow sighed as she began mixing together the mashed potato mix. She had already spent two weeks alone in this cabin and was scheduled for two more. After that, Giles said she would be ready to go back to Sunnydale.
She was already dreading it.
Dreading that they would ignore her. Dreading what they would say. Dreading that they would hate her.
Dreading that she truly may have lost everything.
Willow set down the mixer and stared at her shaking hands through blurry eyes. She knew she had come very far in the last four months, but sometimes the shadow over her heart seemed to grow with a vengeance. FDR may have once said “we have nothing to fear but fear itself”, but dammit! Fear was pretty scary in itself!
Then she started giggling through her tears at the sudden memory of that cute little fear demon from their freshmen year Halloween. Who would have known that fear could be so cute and tiny?
A warm hand on her shoulder interrupted her mental babble and she looked up into Padfoot's grey eyes that gazed down at her with concern.
“Willow? Are you alright?” he asked uncertainly.
She winced, embarrassed at him catching her in the middle of one of her breakdowns - Breakdowns that were thankfully becoming sparser in number.
“Um,” was the only reply she could make when he unexpectedly wiped away her tears with his thumb. His skin was calloused and rough, and it made her skin tingle.
She stepped back and took a deep breath. “Just, ya know, having a crazy moment. I tend to do that, lately. Be crazy,” she added off his confused look. Then she frowned as she thought about what she had just said.
“But not crazy like ax-murderer or Norman Bates in the shower with a knife,” she explained with some dramatic hand gestures. “No, not killer crazy.”
Willow gasped at her words and clutched her stomach as a sharp stress pain hit her. “I mean,” she began in a softer tone. “Not crazy like you need to worry about being here. Really.”
Padfoot eyed her critically during her ramble - Willow bet he was wondering how quick he could get away from the crazy ‘Dark One.’
Finally, he just gave her a soft smile. “I think everyone’s a little bit crazy, from time to time.”
Surprised by his casual acceptance of her weird behavior, Willow found herself smiling.
“How about, since you’ve been nice enough to host me, you let me finish cooking?” Sirius offered.
Willow nodded slowly. “Thank you, Padfoot,” she said sincerely.
Please review. I’ve already been getting a lot of good ideas just from the first batch of reviews-- thank you so much everyone! And keep them coming : )
Still just sort of setting things up at this point and doing some exploring of mental states… Hope you likey.