The Kiss of Betrayal is Always Toxic and Deadly
The secretary had allowed him to go into the office and wait. Severus was pinched. He knew he looked pinched, but he felt it too. He now knew what had happened to Willow. He knew most of the whys. Now he just needed to explain them to Rupert Giles and then insist that he, not Giles, should be the one to deal with Daphne.
A part of him felt like he should warn Flint that he was in for a rough time of it. Severus had never seen Astoria look so broken. She was taking what Daphne had done to Willow very personally. Perhaps he would, but for right now, he needed to explain to the head of the Watcher’s Council that one of his employees was not a danger, that circumstances beyond her control had contributed to her backsliding.
“My apologies, Severus.” Giles strode into his office. “Anya mentioned that you had something important to discuss.”
Actually, Anya had said that the ‘Bat Guy’ had looked ‘pissed off’. Giles was guessing that with this particular individual and with what the probable topic of conversation would be, they meant the same thing.
“You are not going to like what I have to say, and neither is Willow once I tell her,” Severus began. “Upon looking her over after the incident in the basement, I immediately noticed there was a foreign potion in her system. She was sweating it out, and it has a distinct odor, like poppies. Upon further research, I determined her to have been under the influence of a potion that dulls the senses. One of the main ingredients is poppy pollen, hence the smell.”
He paused while Giles seemed to digest most of this. It did not look like Giles liked where this was going.
“She was also showing mild signs of anemia. The blood loss combined with the potion made her control nonexistent. I feel irritated with myself for not noticing this sooner. I had no idea where to start my search for a culprit, as she had not been in contact with anyone she did not trust for some time. That is when I was paid a visit from a very distraught Astoria Greengrass.”
He paused again to draw a deep breath.
Giles’ mouth became a very thin line.
“As you are well aware, Astoria has the gift of Sight, which she abuses, but we’ve had that discussion now. She discovered her sister Daphne, who is well-trained in the art of potions mastery, is the one who has done this to Willow. She also informs me that Daphne has fled the country under the threat of Marcus Flint killing her over this. I believe there is more to the story than I am getting from Astoria, and I will get to the bottom of it soon enough. I will also deal with Daphne.”
Giles began to crack his knuckles one by one. “I do not believe that will be necessary, Severus. I shall take care of Daphne.” He had a stony look on his face, one that Snape hadn’t seen before on this particular man.
“You will not,” Severus said evenly. “She is my former pupil, and also the beloved sister to someone whose grip on sanity is far less stable than Willow’s grip on her darkness. Daphne is one of mine. You do not know her. You do not understand why she is as she is. I can’t have you going after her. Astoria would take it rather personally. Daphne must be dealt with in a certain way, and I am the only person, aside from Marcus Flint, that the child would not come after for dealing with her elder sister. You saw what she did to Hannah Abbott, and she wasn’t even trying. Honestly, I suspect the Ministry should be far more concerned with Greengrass rather than Rosenberg. Thankfully that coven has kept her mostly off the Ministry’s notice.”
Giles raised an eyebrow at Snape’s remark regarding what he would or would not do.
“All the same, she has stolen from Willow, and I’m worried about what she’ll do with that blood. As a potions master, I’m certain that the possibilities have crossed your mind as to the uses that the blood samples might have been put to. I’m not planning on killing her. I’m not even planning on hurting her... Much. Just what it takes to extract the information out of her that I require as to the location of the samples so that I might recover them.”
“Save your efforts. Astoria had already gleaned that from her and has employed Marcus to... retrieve the lot of it by any means necessary. Furthermore, Daphne is mine. No one outside our group gets to torture her. I know all too well what can be done with such blood because I’ve done most of it myself.”
Giles was mentally cataloging all of the ways that this could proceed and came to the conclusion that Snape was most likely the best person to take care of things, and he really did have Willow’s best interests in mind.
“I will acquiesce,” Giles declared, “On one condition. I need a sample of her hair.”
“For what purpose?”
Severus knew he should trust the man, but he was distrustful by nature. There were so many things that could be done with a simple strand of hair. He could never let any true harm come to Daphne. As angry as he had ever gotten with any of them, even Draco, he could never harm them. He could never let anyone else harm them either.
“For modifying the wards,” Giles responded. “I do not want her here again. Blood would also work, but I can do the rituals with the hair myself, and I need to enlist Draco’s help if I use the blood.”
Severus nodded. “I’ll speak to Astoria. I believe she keeps some on hand for everyone she cares about. Though having Draco put some countermeasures on for protection might not be the worst idea.”
“I already have, to an extent. With the assistance of Draco and Andromeda, I am now able to lock down the facility, immobilizing everyone who has not been included in the blood wards.”
“Speaking of which... If you are going to be here on the property, we should probably go and visit the anchor stone sooner than later to add you as well.”
“I would greatly appreciate that.”
Severus took a deep breath.
“I am sorry this happened. I should have seen she was in trouble long before now. I’m not in the habit of failing those in my charge.”
“I am equally culpable,” Giles stated. “I did have an inkling that she was slipping, but I did not stay on top of things after she started improving.” He sighed. “Should we schedule regular visits with Nott so he can monitor her health and for outside influences?”
“I think, given the most recent set of circumstances, that would be prudent. Theo is rather good at his job, and likely would have noticed her being influenced by a potion had he been looking for it.”
“I suspected as much. He is quite competent. I am pleased that we were able to bring him on board, even though Malfoy was not impressed with my choice.” He smiled a little at that thought. “Do you think weekly checkups would be more often than necessary?”
“At this point, no. As time progresses and nothing else occurs, they could be tapered off, I think. Malfoy doesn’t despise Theo as much as he suspects he does. Their upbringings were far too similar. Theo’s just always had heart; Draco has too, but it took severe circumstances for him to discover this.”