Willow was feeling a little light-headed. She was kind of wondering if they hadn’t given her the wrong wine actually. Everything seemed distant, like she was an observer in her own body rather than in control.
But she hadn’t been drinking the wine for long. Maybe a half an hour. Their food hadn’t even arrived yet. Then again maybe that was the problem. If they had given her the wrong wine then the fact that she hadn’t eaten would make the effects stronger. And the one time she had tried alcohol it had hit her pretty hard. She didn’t have much tolerance.
She should probably say something about the fact that she was apparently slightly drunk, but she didn’t want to cut the lunch short. And she really didn’t want to let Severus know one glass of wine had done this to her. He already seemed to think of her as a kid, which was definitely not the opinion she wanted him to have.
And the food was here. That would help, and she could ask for some water. Then she wouldn’t have to drink anymore. If she ate slowly she should be fine to get to home and take a shower before dinner at Giles’s.
“Willow?” she heard Severus say, and he sounded concerned. Oh goddess, he’d been talking to her and she hadn’t even noticed! She had to say something!
“Yes, Severus?” she managed to get out. It didn’t even sound like her voice was slurred so maybe she could pull this off after all.
“Are you okay? You seem a bit pale?”
Willow shook her head a little to clear it. “I’m fine. Maybe just a little faint. I haven’t eaten yet today though so that makes sense.”
“Ah.” Severus replied. “You should start eating then rather than just staring at your food.”
Willow frowned at the caustic tine he’d used. Did he always have to be so cold? Well, it didn’t make the statement any less true.
She and Severus ate in silence for a few minutes before she could think of anything else to say. “So, how’s the food?” And that was so not the stimulating icebreaker she was looking for, darn it.
“It’s quite good actually. Better than I was expecting certainly. How is yours?”
“Good. The food is always pretty good here.”
“You come here often then?”
“Yeah,” Willow said. “Not as much recently but I used to come at least once a week. Everyone that works here knows my name and everything.”
“I see.” Severus said in what to Willow sounded almost like purr. How did he get his voice to do that? “And does Buffy also like this place?”
Willow felt like growling. Of course that voice would be because he was thinking of Buffy. She usually wasn’t this angry about people being attracted to her friend. It wasn’t really Buffy’s fault, but right now it annoyed her to no end. And she wasn’t really in a good state to deal with those feelings.
“Tell me, Severus, what’s the big deal with Buffy anyway?”
“I beg your pardon?” he said.
“Well, I mean I know she’s pretty and all, but it’s kind of ridiculous that with her dating your roommate, a man you have nothing in common with as far as I can tell, you’d have a crush on her.” And oh my god, Willow thought, why did I just say that?
Severus seemed just as surprised, or at least Willow assumed that was why he was now choking on his food. “You think I have a...a crush. On Buffy? Where would you get such a preposterous idea. I can barely stand the little twit.”
“Hey!” Willow said indignantly, “she is NOT a twit. And what else was I supposed to think? She’s the only thing you ever want to talk about.
“Willow—“ Severus tried to interrupt.
“No, I’m not done! I know it’s not because you’re worried about Sirius. It’s quite clear you two can’t stand each other. Which, come to think of it, is weird since you apparently chose to live together, but that’s not the point. The point is that every time I talk to you all you want to know is something about Buffy!”
“Are you quite finished making a scene now, Willow?” Severus said.
Willow bowed her head. What had prompted her to just say all of that? Was it the alcohol? “I think so.” Was all she managed to say with her thoughts so jumbled.
“Good. Now, I want to make it very, very clear that I am in no way interested in Sirius’s girlfriend. Do you believe me?”
Willow thought for a moment. Severus had managed not to sound cranky when he said that, just like he was explaining something to a small child. And did she believe him? Not really.
She watched Severus take a deep breath before hissing through his teeth, which she could almost hear grinding, “Why not?”
“Cause like I said, she’s all you talk about. I know what it feels like to be pumped for information. You’re not the first to try to use me to get close to Buffy.”
Now he was closing his eyes. Willow wasn’t sure why he was getting so upset. Sure, maybe confronting him like this hadn’t been her best idea, it wasn’t even an idea really, she just sort of did it without thinking. Still, it was the truth and it’s not like she’d been insulting him.
“Willow, I—“ He stopped and it looked to Willow like he was debating what to say. “I don’t approve of Sirius’s relationship with Buffy for a number for a number of reasons, but none of them are because I want her for myself. She is certainly not the type of girl I’d choose to pursue.”
“Then why are you always asking about her, huh? I know we don’t really know each other that well, I mean we haven’t talked a lot, but when we do you always ask about Buffy. Why can’t you ever ask about me?” Willow felt her jaw drop. She so did not just say that. This could not be happening to her. Why did her mouth just insist on saying everything she was thinking?
“You want me to ask about you, Willow?” Severus said with a quirked brow. “What do you want me to ask exactly?”
Willow closed her eyes and bit her tongue. She had to control this impulse to blurt out everything that came to mind. This hadn’t happened the last time she drank, not even close. Sure, she’d gotten a little emotional, but this, this almost felt like a compulsion. But that couldn’t be right. She’d have felt something if someone put a spell on her. Unless it happened when they were fighting the demon the other night. Maybe some mystical blood property thing? She’d have to ask Giles.
“Willow?” Severus said, and again it sounded like he was trying to get her attention.
“Hmm.” She managed still mostly lost in her thoughts.
“Are you sure you’re well? You seem distracted.”
“Um, yeah, sorry, I was just thinking about something I needed to talk to Giles about.”
“That reminds me. Buffy gave me a book she said she borrowed from this Giles person. She seemed to think you’d want it.” Severus said as he handed her the tome that had apparently been sitting on the booth next to him.
Willow was reaching for the book when Severus asked the most difficult question yet. “Tell me, Willow, why would you, much less Buffy, have any interest in an encyclopedia of demon mythology anyway?”
Willow was so taken off guard by the question she didn’t speak. She just answered. “It’s easier for Buffy to kill them if we know what weaknesses to look for.”
The second the words were out of her mouth she knew she knew she had to get out of there. There was no way she’d have revealed something like that without external influences. And it finally occurred to her why Severus was so interested in Buffy.
She jumped out of her seat. “What the hell did you do to me?”
“Willow, I have no idea—“
“Bull. You’ve been trying all along to get information about the Slayer and you did something so I’d finally tell you. I can’t believe I was so stupid!”
“I assure you that I—“ But she didn’t wait to find out what excuses he’d offer. At the least he’d arranged to get her drunk but more likely he’d drugged her in some way. Gods, he could have poisoned her for all she knew. She had to get to Giles.
They were potentially in a lot of trouble.