part three: reciprocating
Disclaimer: I own nothing. Buffy the Vampire Slayer belongs to Joss Whedon and David Greenwalt. Harry Potter belongs to J.K Rowling.
Warnings/Spoilers: Post-War AU Harry Potter (so some character death different than the books obviously). Season 6 & Slightly changed (no Kennedy) Season 7 BTVS.
A/N 2: Reviews are Good. This has been a subtle hint from the author - Please return to your regularly scheduled reading.Part 3: reciprocating
“Can I speak to you for a moment, Ms. Rosenberg?” he asked the young woman (some sort of tree name, his mind reminded him) as she started to file out with the others. She stopped her eyes going wide and the air around her seemed to spark slightly as she nodded.
They both waited for everyone else to leave. Remus put his papers into a battered briefcase that had been a gift a few Christmas’ ago from Ron and Hermione as he watched her in the corner of his eye. She was holding her books tightly to her chest, her eyes were now closed and she seemed to be breathing deeply and deliberately in an attempt to calm herself.
In the four years he had been teaching here he had had a wide range of students – and quite a few that were truly genuinely interested in the subject. But she was the first that he suspected knew it was real.
It was something in her papers that led him to believe she was writing from experience. Little bits of detail that he knew was neither in his lectures or in the source materials he suggested.
And he could admit….he was curious.
Plus there was something else about her that was off – something about how she held herself that felt familiar. A skittishness coupled with an utter despair that was all too recognizable.
But he didn’t understand why he felt such a pull to her. Mostly he avoided this sort of thing – sharing his feelings - it always made him feel either angry or uncomfortable. He was friendly and warm at work but he had copied the Black family’s way of dealing in simply avoiding certain topics and kept his grieving as a highly personal thing.
(Except for with his son. He would never never stop telling Teddy – no matter how much it hurt - about the wonderful, real, bright, colorful woman his mother had been.)
When the door closed he shut his briefcase and turned to her with what he hoped was a comforting smile, “Ms. Rosenberg –“
She actually jumped dropping her books and across the room a couple of chairs and desks fell over violently. Both of them just stared at each other for a moment. She started breathing harder and quicker, the air in the room felt thick.
“I’m- I’m sorry,” she said, backing up her whole body shaking quite badly and making it difficult for her to keep her footing. “I’m so
sorry. I’ve gotta leave. I shouldn’t have come at all. I wasn’t ready. I can’t…. I have to-“
Remus lunged forward a bit and grabbed her when she stumbled and almost fell completely. Her eyes went even wider. “Shh,” he said easing them both into seated positions on the floor. “Shh, it will be all right.”
She just shook her head, gripping his arm tight and leaning her forehead into his shoulder. “No, no it won’t,” he heard her mutter into the thick cloth of his jacket. She looked back up at him and her eyes were black, “It really really can’t be anymore.”
Remus swallowed hard but didn’t look away. This was different, yes, but he had dealt with such a multitude of differences in his life (such grays – especially were magic was concerned) that it barely fazed him (plus, when he left this morning Teddy had decided that he was still on his purple kick. So, odd colored eyes weren’t too startling for him).
“Moments,” he whispered. “These are all just a series of moments you have to get through. Each one is horrible. Each one is going to be a battle – make you want to curl up, ignore the world, and just wait to die. But that means that each one is going to be a victory when you come out on the other side. So. Just breathe. Breathe and get through this moment.”
She let out a shaky breath but she did as he said – she breathed. In and out. It took him a moment to realize she was matching breaths with him. And after he realized that he made a concerted effort to just keep breathing normally, not to speed his breathing up or slow it down.
After a few minutes her eyes returned to their original green and the heaviness in the air retreated. Gradually she released her grip on his arm and smiled at him awkwardly before her eyes skittered away again.
“I’m Willow, by the way,” she said looking back at him out of the corner of her eye and holding out her hand to shake.
Remus couldn’t help it, he snorted with laughter.
They had tea after her next class with him. And the one after that. And the one after that.
It became a habit. Tea and chatting with Willow.
She was an American from Sunnydale, California – home, sweet Hellmouth she had said with a mixture of bitterness and fondness.
It was Willow’s friend and mentor who had suggested that she take his class. Any class really. Have something other than her magical studies up at the Devon Coven to help keep her mind occupied. Keep her busy. Get her away and out of the house for a few hours every so often so she wasn’t always drowning in her memories.
(And anyway Willow had explained to him without any hint of irony, she had always loved school and learning of any sort. The classroom was a place where she felt comfortable. At which point Remus had to hide a grin in his teacup at how similar she sounded to another certain extraordinarily intelligent witch he had had the pleasure to teach.)
She talked a lot about those memories though. About how absolutely shitty things had gotten in Sunnydale with everyone – with her. Of what she had done.
And for some reason with her he actually felt a need to share. To offer comfort in the way of reciprocating information about his own life.
About Lily and James (she told him about Jesse). About Peter (she told him about Amy). About Sirius and Dora (she told him about Tara).
They talked of their unusual worlds - so different yet equally magical and secretive.
But mostly, they just talked. And Remus cherished the human interaction. Large stretches of his life were made up of being alone and despite what one might think given what he was, Remus hated
“Can I ah – can I ask you an awkward question?” she asked fiddling with the edge of her teacup breaking his train of thought.
“Of course,” he asked surprised. They talked about death, love, magic, guilt, mourning and monsters all the time. What did she think would make him uncomfortable?
“What do you do during a full moon? You don’t have to answer of course-,” she hurried at what must have been a look of shock on his face. “I was only being nosy because I thought there might be different ways in the Wizarding World of dealing with-“
“You know?” Remus got out, his throat feeling incredible dry. He had been enjoying the ease she held around him. Hating dancing around that bit (the dishonesty of it) in his telling of stories but dreading the day she found out.
“That you’re a werewolf?” she asked brows knitting in confusion and he nodded sharply, holding his breath unconsciously. “Well, of course. I knew as soon as I started taking your class. I could feel you. I told you right? How crazy sensitive I am to all
magic right now?”
He nodded feeling a bit stunned but she wasn’t done talking. She flushed slightly looking down at her tea again. “It’s actually what made me feel so comfortable around you - the familiarity of the wolf under your skin. My first boyfriend - Oz - was right there when I was just starting magic.” A fond smile crept across her face, “He was always a calming influence on me. It seems to be a trait shared by a lot of werewolves,” she commented looking up at him shyly.
Remus felt incredibly touched by her acceptance and slightly uncomfortable with the depth of his feeling. “Wolfsbane Potion,” he blurted.
“What?” she asked tilting her head in confusion.
“I have people who make me Wolfsbane Potion – it tastes disgusting but it allows me to keep my own mind during the change,” he elaborated answering her initial question. Mentally, he banged his head against the wall for blundering so badly in the conversational skills department. He could practically hear Sirius and Dora mocking him.
They often did that. They had a disturbingly similar sense of humor at times.
Shaking his head Remus concentrated again and smiled at the red-head in front of him as the conversation turned to Tibet and meditation techniques.