Author’s Note: Thanks very much to my Beta, Letomo The following ways of notation may be found in this story. This is excluding whatever I need to represent chatting, texting and stuff like that. Speech: “Who’s on first.” Thought: *What’s on second.* Vision: #I-don’t-know’s on third.# I do not own Buffy or Harry Potter. Gazing into the Abyss
It was dark and cold in Boston, Massachusetts. Cold and harsh. A wind blew from the sea that went straight through even the thickest coat, the warmest gloves.
“Chicago ain't got nothing on the ol' hell-home,” Faith Lehane muttered as she made her way down the dark streets of Boston's South Side, an area she knew all too well.
Something was preying on the inhabitants of the South Side, leaving them like empty, living shells, drooling and mindless, unable even to walk, though they stumbled a bit if you hoisted them on their feet and pushed. There was also, probably not coincidence, a huge rise in the numbers of vampire attacks, and Giles had decided Faith was 'uniquely suited' to find what is preying on those people and 'dealing with it', having the ability to 'blend in and become part of the fabric of the city, due to her native knowledge'. Faith took a drag on her cigarette, trying to push back the feelings of loneliness and desolation that threatened to overwhelm her.
After the whole mess with the First Evil she thought she had a place among the Scoobies, finally some acceptance, some friendship. She thought she had a chance at a life with Robin. But she'd been wrong. Three months after the fall of Sunnydale Robin had taken up with a stuck-up survivor bitch from the Council, more brains and money and breeding than Faith had or ever would have.
Buffy had headed off into the world, sometimes with Dawn, sometimes alone. But no mail or call or anything had ever come Faith's way, from either Summers sister, not even an official message from Buffy to say well or badly done. *Not even a fuckin’ postcard saying glad you aren’t here.*
Willow had submerged herself in her magic again, trying to master it, not be mastered. Apparently that meant that there was no time for her friends, and certainly not for one like Faith, recently acquired and more than a bit embarrassing, and with bad memories to boot. *Willow did always think I wanted to steal Buffy, and the knife at her throat didn't help any,*
Faith thought darkly.
Xander had headed off to Africa. He’d been cold and angry when he left and the single five line scrawl she'd received from him through the head office were not suggestive of anything but the coolest regard. *Dumping a guy on the street in his underwear after taking his cherry? What did you expect, Faith?*
And Giles? Giles had shown his disdain in every word, every act. He'd appointed Robin as Director of North America, with Faith as his assistant. Then after the break up he'd moved Faith to the Eastern Seaboard, centred on New York. The Slayers he assigned to her were primarily of upper middle class birth and the ones that were not, were even higher; all were well educated, with plenty of money besides their Council salaries. Her duties were far more clerical than she had ever been used to, or had been trained for. Nor had she received training, only criticism and finally, a dismissal from her post. Kennedy had been made Sub-Director Eastern Seaboard. And Faith had been given 'a face saving assignment, to redeem herself. One last chance.'
Faith had almost cried after that phone conversation with Giles. She'd almost thrown it all, had almost climbed on her bike and taken off, to hunt alone and far from the Council, hunt alone and die alone. But she hadn't. It was quite possible that Giles would withdraw the protection of the Council from her, and allow her to be arrested and taken back to jail. Or worse.
Faith had heard about the Initiative. Giles' cold remark that if she wasn't interested in Boston, the US Military had stated they had an interest in working with a Slayer had sent a chill down her spine. Okay, she admitted it, she had cried. Ever since she had first seen Giles and Buffy interact she'd hoped for a similar relationship with the Watcher. Okay, B and G had quarrelled heavily and were mostly icily polite these days, but there was always the possibility of reconciliation. And at least the memory of better things.
Faith took another drag on her cigarette, the burning tip shining brightly in the dark of the night, lighting up the icy cold sea mist that clung to every house and corner, dampening the illumination of the few streetlights that were still working. *Or maybe those memories make things worse. To know what you’ve lost rather than to wonder about what you’ve never had?*
She shrugged. She never really had anything, not the way B and the others had. A few months with Dr. D. who was a better parent to her than anyone else, even if she only cared because Faith was a Potential. So was it really such a problem to lose it all? Again?
The South Side of Boston was poor and filled with vice and corruption. The city had banned a great many things in the Seventies. Drugs, prostitution, gambling, everything that the old Puritans had considered sinful and evil had been forbidden with righteous glee. And then the same men and women, though primarily the men, who'd campaigned to have the vices banned came in secret to the secret places and tried and tasted every one of them, satiating their darkest desires.
Faith's experienced eye noted the small signs that showed where a place could be found that catered to gentlemen's carnal desires, or one that provided a safe haven for high stakes card games, or both, or where girls just a bit too young to be legal allowed things to be done with them that had caused whispers when Faith had been in school. Many of them about Faith, though most of them were untrue.
The Government had tried to constrain the South Side, but the South Side had burst from the artificial and confining fetters with all the vigour that might be expected of it, of the seamy side of man. It lived, it sizzled, it thrived.
Most of the time, at least. Right now it was cowering; not just hiding from the icy wind, the cold, dark mist that blew from the bay, but from the clinging, dark evil that spread like an oil stain over the whole district. Faith could feel it in her bones.
She heard the scuffle before anything else. She headed towards it. It might just be a drunk being rolled, but it could be more.
“Gerroff me yer basters!” A rough, harsh voice shouted drunkenly in an accent that reminded Faith of Spike. “'M not fud fer some stupid bloodsucker!”
Faith's brows rose and she threw her cigarette away, speeding up and ducking into the alley. There were three men, or at man-shaped things struggling. Two had changed into their vampiric visage, the third was an emaciated scarecrow of a man with a thin, sallow face, a huge, hooked nose and a stubbly beard all framed or hidden by long, greasy black and grey hair. He wore some sort of long, black, over-coat and huge leather boots and an enormous scarf wound around his neck. An old knitted cap with two earflaps sat on his head. He raised his hands and the vampires laughed.
“Watch out, dude, this old drunk knows Karate!” One vamp joked as he launched a punch at the drunken hobo. It smashed into the man's face and Faith winced as she heard his nose crunch. The man screamed in agony. Faith ran up and slammed her stake into the back of one of the vamps, then pulled it out and staked the other, before it could even react.
The vagrant blinked at her, his eyes rheumy with drink and desolation and cold. “Whut?” His face was crooked, the jaw having been broken at least once and there were two or three yellow and broken stumps of teeth holding on in the abscess-filled cavern of his mouth.
Faith looked him over dispassionately. With his long coat and etched, bony face he looked more like a vampire than the two thugs that had attacked him. “Heya, pops. You look like you can help me. Do you know what's eating people around here? Well besides these two heaps of shitty dust?”
“Ger away!” The man shouted in a voice so harsh and fractured Faith could barely understand him. “Shtupid bitch! Yer like all of 'em! Why can't you basterds leave me arlone?” he sobbed, collapsing to his knees, his hands scrabbling at the frozen ground. “Why? Why me? Why always me?” He mumbled to himself, crying and tugging at the roughly-knitted scarf.
Faith sighed. “Great. Only guy in the whole fuckin’ city who knows about vamps is as mad as a fuckin' hatter and sounds worse than fuckin’ Darth Vader. Don't worry Pops, everything is five by five. I'll deal with it. Don't sweat it,” she turned and left, lighting a new cigarette. Then she sighed again, turned back, fumbled in her pocket and handed the man a twenty. “Here you go. Go have fun with this. Get some more booze, some food. Just... please find somewhere warm, even if just for tonight, okay?”
The man grasped the bill as if it was a lifeline, drool leaking down his chin into his filthy matted beard. “Thank yer, thanks Lady.”
Faith sighed and left the man alone, no doubt to spend his windfall on drink. But at least she'd tried.
Three hours later she was freezing cold, had killed three more vampires, for a total of seven in the last two days and was getting worried. She didn't know what was going on, but something was following her and it was able to do so without making a noise, or a scent. Faith could feel it, cold and menacing and draining her, sapping her strength from the mist. The cold was terrible and she realised that part of it was unnatural, caused by this being. *Need to trap the bastard,*
Faith thought, heading into a narrow dead-end street. She would have enough room to manoeuvre and if things went very wrong she could jump up to a fire escape and use it to get away. She smirked. She had her own tricks. This was her old turf after all. She’d run from plenty of gangs along these streets.
She ran into the alley and turned quickly, trying to see who, or what, was following her. They were dark, almost floating shapes in long dark coats, no, in robes. They had long, white, shining faces. Faith frowned. She felt a residue of darkness, of evil on these people, but nothing like the presence that had been stalking and haunting her all night. “Who the fuck are you jokers?” she snarled.
There was a chuckle. “We’re people who have need of your services, my dear. Or at least the services of parts of you.”
Faith froze for a few seconds. “Hell no! None of you is getting near me, understand?” She jumped, launching herself at the first man.
He wasn’t fast enough to duck and her fist connected and she felt a satisfying crunch as his ribs cracked under her attack, the scream was good too. She kicked out at the one behind him. He held out some sort of stick in one hand, it looked a bit like a stake, but too thin.
“I’m a vampire slayer, not a vampire, fuckin’ morons!” Faith called out as her foot snapped the knee joint of her second opponent. Again the scream was most satisfying. She was imagining the first guy was Giles and the second Robin. That worked quite well. Pity there were no women, she’d be able to imagine she was Alyssa, Robin’s new fuck-toy.
“Alarte Ascendare!” one of the men called out.
Faith felt herself being hurled into the air. She twisted, trying to force herself down, but apparently the guy had magic. That was annoying. She concentrated. Willow had once said that the Slayer had some inherent magical resistance. She really hoped she did, and it wasn’t something restricted to Little Miss Perfect Buffy. She really, really hoped that.
She struggled, trying to force herself down to the ground and it felt like it was working. She grinned. *Yes! Thank you, Red!*
A voice she didn’t know called out. “She’s getting down! Quickly, bind her, all together!”
Faith smirked. If they wanted to tie her up, they’d have to get closer, and if they got closer, she could land a few more blows. And they were only humans, after all.
The men gathered and pointed their little sticks, wands she supposed they could be, at her. “CONSTRICTO!” they shouted in a chorus. Well, three of them shouted. Two of them wheezed.
Ropes appeared, snaking around her arms, forced them to her sides, wound their way around her from her neck down to her ankles. “What the fuck?” Faith called out. “Hey! I don’t know what you guys heard about me, but I ain’t into this bondage shit!”
She gritted her teeth and exerted her strength. She was a Slayer, and had been for several years and her strength grew every year. The ropes creaked.
“Merlin! She’s breaking the ropes!” One voice, younger than the others, called out in near panic.
“Apparently what they said about Slayers being somewhat resistant to magic is true. Interesting. We will have to test it later,” an older, dry voice spoke. The same voice who had ordered the others to act together. “But I think for now it will suffice to stun her. All together once more, gentlemen! Rowle, Shunpike, pay attention, Rookwood, Carrow, stop your infantile moaning. You can heal yourself after we’ve captured her.”
“In your dreams, Lone Deranged!” Faith yelled, bending her knees and feeling the ropes give.
“Dreams have very little to do with your fate, girl,” the man replied, slightly testily. “First we body bind her, then we stun her. Get ready!”
“Petrificus Totalus!” the group called out.
Faith was in the outward stretch of her movement, and suddenly found herself stiff as a board, tied up, and floating. *Fuck. This isn’t good.*
She felt that she was being lowered, and struggled against the magic, but failed. “Most interesting. We need to do some experimenting. She hardly needs all her parts for the purpose we need her for,” the cold, old voice spoke.
“Yeah, we can cut her fucking legs off, for one!” The man she’d kicked wheezed and pointed his wand, growling the words angrily.
“No, Rookwood, not yet. It will be bad for the gestation of the child if she has to remain immobile for long periods. We may be able to remove some bones and minor organs, eyes and tongue and such,” the leader explained, as if talking to a child.
Faith’s mind froze, her pupils widening the only sign she’d heard the words. *Gestation? What the FUCK? They’re gonna use me to breed?*
Faith felt the cold of the snow, of the frozen ground. A man leaned over her, something in his posture showing he wasn’t young any more. “Very nice. Yes, you will do nicely, very nicely indeed. Gentlemen? Stun please, altogether again.”
Faith heard a shuffle as the five men got in line and aimed their wands. “STUPEFY!” They called out, and then all was blackness.
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Faith woke. It wasn’t a slow awakening, warm and comfortable in a bed. Not that she remembered many of those. Just a few nights and mornings with Robin, before everything flew apart.
It was a harsh, cold one. She had a gag stuffed in her mouth, a rubber ball with a leather strap, and she was chained, spread-eagled, to something like a gynecological chair, only less comfortable, if that was possible. There was no give in the chains, the heavy, broad, metal reinforced leather cuffs that held her down at wrists, elbows, ankles, knees and middle were set straight into the steel of the chair.
“Ah. Awake, I see. Very good,” the cold voice she’d head before spoke. A man walked into her field of vision. He wore a long dress, slightly open at the front, showing an intricately embroidered white frilled shirt.
Faith glared at the man, unable to respond. The man leaned over, looking into her eyes. “Angry, are we? Angry and powerful. Yes, you will make an excellent mother to the new Body of the Dark Lord. Yes…” He trailed long-fingered hand up her shin to her knee, squeezed, then ran it further up her thigh.
Faith tried to buck off his touch, but the straps held her down, firmly. Then they tightened and squeezed. Faith’s eyes bulged as the belt over her stomach pressed the air out of her.
The man sighed. “Not tamed yet. Don’t worry my dear. You will be. CRUCIO!” he stuck out his wand and a thin red line shot out of the tip, striking Faith.
Faith tried to scream, but she had no breath and the gag was still firmly stuck in her mouth. Pain wracked her, tore through her. It felt as if every muscle, every sinew, every tendon was being ripped off her bones, the bones broken, the marrow carved out, as if her head was stuck full of twisting needles. Her eyes seemed to melt under a white heat and the tears that ran down her face burned her cheeks. Her nails seemed to sprout barbs and then they were ripped from her flesh.
It stopped, slowly. Her muscles spasmed and twitched and she tried to curl into a ball, but failed.
“Very good, that worked quite well. Quite well indeed,” the man approved. “That was a two minute application of the Cruciatus curse,” he looked into Faith’s eyes. “You may be able to build up some slight resistance to it, but I doubt you can maintain it indefinitely. I’ve broken more stubborn girls than you. CRUCIO!”
Faith bucked and twisted as much as she could in the confines of her bonds. She sobbed in agony, snot running from her nose, tears from her eyes, drool forcing its way past her gag. She didn’t know how long the torture lasted, this time. And he didn’t tell her. He just waited for a bit, and then applied the spell again.
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Faith woke up and regretted it instantly. She was still tied down and everything still hurt, though not nearly as bad as it had when the spell had actually been applied. She thought her torturer had applied the curse several times over a period of several hours. Others had come in to take over for him, when he was hungry, or the spell was too tiring.
They hadn’t asked her anything, just launched the spells, let her recover slightly, then started again. She wasn’t sure why they did it. But she feared they wanted to break her. Faith knew she was close to breaking. Very close. She would do anything to escape another round of torture. She turned her head sideways and tears started again. *Buffy wouldn’t break, that’s what Giles would say. Buffy wouldn’t break.*
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Stanley Shunpike hummed as he swept the floor of the main room with his magic. Badly. Stan was not a very good wizard, neither powerful nor intelligent enough to compensate for his lack of power. Being the conductor on the Knight Bus didn’t ask for either. He was a member of a good, old Pureblood family, and for that reason he had been recruited. At first it had been under an Imperius Curse, but Stanley quickly realised he rather liked the power he wielded as a Death Eater. The fear he could cause just by donning his cloak and mask. The things he was now allowed to do with impunity. Stan didn’t actually know what impunity meant, but Lord Lestrange used it, so it had to be something grand. Stan was working his way up from nothing to grand.
He’d been promised a young, pretty and obedient Pureblooded wife of bloodtraitor stock to bear him children and plenty of Muggles and Muggleborns to have fun with if the wife bored him on occasion.
But then the Dark Lord had fallen and everything had changed. They’d had to go into hiding, had to flee to the bloody Colonies while back home the others worked on the plan that Lord Lestrange had come up with. And the Colonies were awful. The only good thing about them was that if a girl went missing here, if you picked the right girl, nobody bothered about it.
And then Lord Lestrange had another inspiration. And suddenly they had a purpose again, beyond survival. Lord Lestrange had chosen the girl, and seen to it that she’d been alone, that she wouldn’t be missed. The others, back home, had achieved a good deal of the plan already and altering it slightly more was easy.
And now they were going to bring back the Dark Lord, truly reborn, his soul planted in the body of a child of Lestrange and the girl they’d caught, filled with magic.
Shunpike swept up the last remnant of blood from the girl he’d taken a month ago. They seldom lasted long. But he’d picked a new girl already. He’d seen her while he was exploring around the Hellmouth. She was a Slayer too, dark-haired, bold eyed, younger than the one they’d chained up. He could break her, he was sure. And she’d last longer than a month, too. He Leviosa’ed the corpse out off the window into a garbage container. Carrow would Vanish her later.
He heard a whimper from outside as the corpse fell and cursed. He looked out of the window and saw that a man was underneath the body. A vagrant who’d been trawling through the trash for food, a wreck of a man who cowered whimpering in the corner of the dumpster to get as far away from the bloody corpse as he could.
Stan smiled. He could practice his Crucio’s some more. Carrow wouldn’t mind vanishing another corpse. He despised the Muggle scum who infested the streets around their hideout, and nobody would miss this piece of refuse.
“Levicorpus!” Stan shouted. The man in the dumpster wailed as he was lifted up by his ankle, his long, dark coat falling over his face, revealing a pair of huge sneakers and several layers of sweatpants. Stan grinned and with the utmost concentration drew the man into the abandoned warehouse, then let him drop heavily onto the floor.
“Well, well, well. What do we have here?” Shunpike sneered. “A muggle toy for me to play with,” he swaggered over to the sniffling wretch, standing wide legged and placing his hands over his head as he gloated over the fallen, whimpering man. “Do you know what’s going to happen to you, Muggle?”
“Ain’t a Muggle,” the man groaned. “Never Muggle!”
Shunpike laughed. “You don’t even know what a Muggle is, you pathetic drunk,” He prodded the cowering wreck with his foot. “Try and show a little dignity as you die, you snivelling coward.”
The man got to his hands and knees, swaying a little. Stan lifted his foot to kick him, but suddenly his ankle was gripped and then a fist shot out and struck him, hard, in the groin. A flip on his ankle and he was on his back. The homeless man was on top of him, his long, dirty fingers clutching around Stan’s throat.
“No’ a COWARD! No’ a MUGGLE!” he hissed, his dirty face inches from Stan’s. The young man tried to struggle loose, but the vagrant was much stronger than he looked, and knew how to fight, something that Stan didn’t.
Suddenly the hands let loose and Stan tried to get air into his lungs. Then the horrible fist came down on his Adam’s apple and Stan gurgled as his larynx shattered under the attack. The hobo wove to his feet, looking around with a dull-eyes expression. He leaned over and picked up Stan’s wand, waved it around. A few sputters of faint purple light trailed through the air.
The man grimaced. “Fuckin’ Shunpike. Not even yer wand is any good,” he growled. “Shoulda killed you years ago.”
Shunpike merely gargled, as the blood from the burst vessels flowed down his throat into his lungs, slowly drowning him. His eyes widened in terror. “S-Snape?”
Snape pointed the wand. “Stupefy!”
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Amycus Carrow was practicing his skills on a captive Muggle whore he’d picked up in a quay-side restaurant. Lestrange had made it clear that all of them had to keep their skills up. Frequent practice was necessary for that. He didn’t look up when the door opened. Rookwood frequently came to see how he applied Crucio’s and Rowle liked to play with the Muggles after they’d been well cursed.
“Carrow,” a hoarse voice swore. “Filthy bastard.”
Carrow spun, eyes widening, wand at the ready, but he was too late. “Sectumsem-”
“Stupefy!” Snape growled. Carrow fell and Snape limped over, then applied a Constricto and pocketed Carrow’s wand. He groaned as he stood upright and left the room after a quick look that showed him Carrow’s victim was unconscious, but had no wounds that would kill her before he could tend to her.
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Alecto Carrow looked at the girl on the rack. She was pretty, and Alecto hated her. She should have been the mother of the Dark Lord Reborn, not this Squib Bitch. She ought to be the one Lestrange would father the Child upon. Alecto drew her wand across the young’s woman’s chest, neck and face. “Let’s see how pretty you are after a few curses, little bitch!”
Faith whimpered as the door opened. Then there was a flash of light and then the sound of a body hitting a wall, hard. Uneven footsteps approached her and Faith closed her eyes, frightened of what would happen.
The straps loosened. “Gerrup,” a grating voice told her, harshly. “Gotta get outta here ‘fore more Death Eaters show up.”
Faith opened her eyes. The man in front of her had a long, sallow face, rotted stumps of teeth and a badly broken nose. “You? What the fuck are you doing here?” she asked, stunned, as he held out a hand to help her gain her feet.
“Wrong place, wrong time,” Snape answered shortly. “D’yer know ‘ow many of 'em there are?”
Faith shook her head. “I saw five, but they were all men, so this bitch wasn’t with them. I really wasn’t able to observe much later on. I think there were five guys who used that pain spell on me.”
Snape nodded. “I understand. Come on, we need to leave,” he gestured and Faith led the way out of the room.
There was a growl. “Think you’re going somewhere, slut?” Thorfin Rowle jumped at her, leering. “Not without some fun, first!”
Faith’s fist shot out, and a foot. The foot caught Rowle in the stomach, the fist smashed into his nose as he lunged. Severus grinned as he heard the man’s nose break and even wider when Faith grabbed the big, blond Death Eater and bitch slapped him for a few minutes until Rowle stopped whimpering and lost consciousness.
“Thought yer wer her,” Snape chuckled as Faith dropped the man.
“Who?” Faith asked, confused.
“Slayer,” Snape replied, picking up Rowle’s wand and constricting him. Leading the way he took her to the door of the basement.
“How many did you take out already?” Faith asked as they went up the stairs.
“Twa afore the Carrow bitch,” said Snape. “So there’s twa more, I think,” Snape’s wand was ready in his hand and his eyes seemed sharper, more present, than before.
“Okay. That includes the old bastard who tortured me. He’s mine,” Faith growled.
“That’s quite correct my dear, except that you are mine not… SNAPE?”
Snape didn’t answer, merely shot a wordless Sectumsempra at the voice. A body collapsed and then there was a pop. Snape hurried over as fast as he could, limping. There was a body on the ground, gurgling and bleeding. Snape kicked it. “Fucking Maeve,” he swore. “It’s Rookwood!”
Faith came over as well, her eyes narrowing. “What just happened?”
“He go’ away! Bastard!” Snape replied.
“Who was he? And what should we do?” Faith checked the man on the floor, noting that his head was almost entirely removed from his head.
“Lestrange! Giauzar fucking Lestrange!” Snape swore. “One of Riddle’s oldest lieutenants! Bastard!”
“Okay, who’s this Riddle?” Faith moved cautiously through the door, straining her senses as Snape swore and coughed behind her. “And what about this Lestrange guy pisses you off?”
Snape laughed hoarsely as he gestured with his stolen wand. “Tell yer later. Come on, we gotta get out of this place.”
Faith looked over her shoulder. “You know anyone you can trust who can take these guys,” she asked, subdued. “I don’t want them to get away. A-and I don’t think I can…”
Snape coughed and spat a gob of spit and blood onto the floor beside Rookwood’s corpse. “We’ll call someone later. Firs’ lessee what we can fin’ in ‘ere.”
Faith gave him a look. “What?”
“They can’t find this place. It’s under a Fidelius Charm. Lestrange has gotta be the Secret Keeper,” so I say we plunder it, fling them in the trash and then burn it to the groun’,” Snape spat again.
Faith noticed that there was a lot of blood in the spit. So much she thought it rather surprising the man was still on his feet, considering the internal damage he must have suffered. “Yeah, okay. I can use some money,” she shrugged. She’d done worse things for money than plunder the dead, or the undead for that matter.
Snape nodded and led the way, limping and coughing. The warehouse had been partially refurbished as apartments, except for the large lower storage room that held a number of chariots, of all things, and a stable as well as a great many boxes and crates of goods.
Faith whistled as she took in the contents, ranging from flat-screen TVs to computers, brand clothing and car parts. “What are these guys, truck robbers?”
Snape snorted. “Thieves, murderers, kidnappers, torturers,” he rubbed his nose and winced. “I don’ wanner leave this stuff… Maybe…” he stomped down to the basement again, then grabbed Rowle. “Enervate!” he snarled.
The big blond Death Eater started awake. Snape sneered down at him, then placed his wand on Rowle’s throat. “ ‘Ello Rowle. Care to tell me everything you know about this place? Or do I ‘ave to insist?”
Rowle growled. Severus shrugged, pulled back his wand slightly and spoke. “Aquamenti,” and a thick spray of water struck Rowle’s face.
After half a minute he cancelled the spell. Rowle sputtered. Snape gestured, casting the spell again. He repeated the action several times until Rowle was gasping for breath. “Well? Who is the secret keeper?”
“Rookwood! Rookwood is the secret keeper! Lestrange was the only one powerful enough to cast the spell!” Rowle, blurted out, in between hauling in great breaths of air.
Severus looked up the stairs. “Well, that should make things easier. Where are we?”
“The base of the American Order of the Knights of Walburgis is located at 1 Alger street Boston, Massachusetts,” Rowle coughed again.
Snape nodded. “Stupefy.” Rowle collapsed into unconsciousness again.
Faith lifted an eyebrow. “Okay. So now we know where we are. Do we still loot the place?”
Snape lifted an eyebrow. “O’ course.”
Faith grinned. “Good, I could do with some new clothes.”
They methodically worked their way up, combing the building for opponents and loot. There was a lot of loot. It was obvious to Faith that the Death Eaters had stolen a lot of things from their victims. A lot of things they hadn't really known what to do with, but had taken anyway. Computers, flat-screen TV's, entertainment systems. Non-technological items had been used. There were armchairs and recliners, tables and closets spread throughout the warehouse.
And there was a lot of money. Thousands of dollars, deeds to dozens of properties, and strange coins, bronze, silver and gold. Snape assured her that the actual gold content of the coins was minimal.
But Faith still thought they were pretty.
Snape kept his wand out almost the entire time, muttering occasionally. If she hadn't seen him do magic, she would've been sure he was just a more than slightly insane hobo. Even now she wasn't too sure about his mental stability.
Then he stopped. In front of a blank wall, eying it, and tapping it with his wand and scowling.
“You alright, Snape?” She asked after a minute or so.
“Shaddup, 'm workin',” he replied curtly.
“Ah. And here I thought you fancied unfinished brick. Like a bit of rough, do you?” She smirked.
He very slowly turned to her. An eyebrow rose under the grime of Faith didn't know how many years. “Why? Yer offerin'?”
Faith snorted. “Sorry Pops, I like my fun a little less smelly.”
Snape let out a gurgling laugh and then coughed, blood dribbling down his chin. “I'll wash then,” and he turned back to the wall.
Faith snorted. “Anythin' I can help with?”
“Yer can shut yer gob, I'm workin',” he answered.
“Doing what?” Faith eyed the wall critically. “If you want this down, just give me a hammer and ten minutes, tops.”`
“Wardstone,” he told her curtly.
Faith scowled, realising that was all that she was going to get. She moved a few steps to the direction they’d come from and watched him, crossing her arms. She saw that sweat started to pearl on his forehead, finally it started to run down his face in rivulets, until the moisture left tracks of semi-clean skin on his dirty face, down into his straggly three day beard.
He gritted his teeth so hard even someone with normal hearing could have heard it. Then with an explosive puff he let out his breath and lowered the wand. “Dun,” he told her, wiping his face with a sleeve of his disgusting overcoat.
“Okay. Now could you please tell me what you’ve done?” Faith asked with, for her, remarkable patience.
Snape grinned and tapped a finely chiselled piece of granite that Faith hadn’t noticed before. Her eyes narrowed. “Hey, that wasn’t there before!”
“Lestrange is an ol’ Pureblood, full of Pureblooded shite. They always anchor their wards and protections on a Wardstone, not the groun’ isself. Someone who knows what he’s doin’ can slip in and take over, if he’s right up near the stone,” Snape patted the stone. “No need to hurry as much now. This place is ours.”
Faith gave him a sharp look. “Ours?”
Snape smirked. “Needed at leas’ two persons to anchor the wards to us. Don’t get yer knickers in a twist.”
Faith looked around. “So we can just take our time? We could even live here?”
“If yer want to live in place where people regularly got tortured to death, then yeah,” Snape grinned. “Let’s go fer now. Lots of stuff to steal.”
Faith grinned back. “Pity their taste in clothes sucked. What’re we gonna do with them anyway?”
Snape coughed and spat some more blood. “Call the bloody Shrivers.”
“Shrivers?” Faith asked.
“Magical cops. Bastards,” Snape rasped, his breath rattling.
“You don’t sound too good, you know,” Faith told him as they walked on.
“Yeah, well, yah boo sucks!” Snape replied sarcastically and coughed some more.
Snape, for all his desire for plunder and apparent hard-heartedness, first led her to a room where one of the men who had captured and tortured her lay. A young woman, who had once been pretty or even beautiful, lay on a filthy, bloody mattress on the floor. With a look of utmost concentration on his face Snape ran his conquered wand over her body, casting spells and frowning. “We need to get 'er to a 'ospital.”
Faith looked at the wounds and the blood and the bruises and snorted. “No shit, Sherlock. So do you.”
Snape gave her a look, then coughed. “We can't take her to the same hospital. They wouldn't be able to do very much. Most potions and spells work better on those with magic of their own. I've done what I can.”
Faith gave him a look. “Someone I know can heal terrible wounds, even on people who have no magic whatsoever.”
Snape shrugged. “Mebbe she 'as a talent. But I'd need the power o' the Witch o' the West to be able to do more for 'er with my talent.”
Faith blinked. “Witch of the west. Who's she then?”
Snape laughed. “The most powerful witch in the world. Kept Voldemort from even thinking about going to the Colonies. Supposed to be scary as 'ell and to like flaying people alive.”
Faith nodded. ”Okay. That explains that. Well, do you know any hospitals we can take her too?” *Well, if I ever meet Willow again, at least I'll have something to tell her.*
Snape coughed. “Just a 'ospital. She's stable fer now.”
Faith looked around. “We may want to leave some money with her. If she was a streetwalker, she most likely won't have insurance.”
Snape coughed. “Need to keep some fer ourselves, too. Don't 'ave bloody insurance at all in the wizarding world. Would le' us die as soon as look at us. Bastards.”
“Is there anybody in the world you don't think is a bastard?” Faith asked, amused.
Snape seemed to think about it, then shook his head. “Narr, all bastards."
The rooms were luxuriously appointed, but by people without taste or any notion how various objects and colours went together.
Faith snorted as Snape almost pounced when he came into one of the apartments that was furnished as some kind of weird chemistry lab. He kept muttering to himself about the place being wasted on the likes of those dunderheads.
When he reached a cupboard filled with more weird stuff than Faith wanted to contemplate he grew silent, then sighed. He dragged a lot of trunks into the room and then he started waving his wand and casting spells and the entire content of the cabinet and then the room flew into of trunks. When the room was empty except for the tables and some cabinets he coughed again and blood dribbled down his throat.
“Shit, Snape! We need to get you to hospital, right now!” Faith swore as she ran to support him.
Snape shook his head. “Jus’ need to fin’ some potions,” he gestured at the cabinets. “Some in there. Shoulda taken them afore.”
He staggered over to the glass-fronted cabinets and made a gesture with his wand, then spoke a word. He looked over the labels, snorting. “Too dumb even to recognize the potions they brew? Hah, no, they’re all bought. Why do they even have a lab?”
Faith blinked. His accent had changed completely, now sounding even more upper class than Giles, in spite of his broken nose and cough. His voice was still hoarse though.
He took several bottles and downed them, coughing and rasping. Then he hesitated, shrugged and pointed his wand at his nose. “Remedio,” he hissed as the bones in his nose and face snapped back into place. “Episkey,” the redness of the breaks and bruises seemed to fade and a barely noticeable strain left the man’s face.
Faith whistled. “Wow. That would have been useful quite a few times.”
Snape nodded, then drank several more potions, took another deep breath and repeated his spells while he pointed the wand at his chest, shoulder, stomach, pelvis and knee. He seemed to lose more colour with every spell. Faith caught him just before he fell.
When Snape woke up he wrinkled his nose at the stench he exuded. He also marvelled at the feeling of softness that surrounded him. He looked around the room. It was luxuriously appointed, the decoration far too florid for his taste. Severus raised an eyebrow at an especially explicit set of wizarding paintings placed in six cartouches on the ceiling, surrounding a brightly polished mirror. The room smelled of aftershave. A lot of very cheap aftershave. He growled. “She had to put me in Shunpike’s room.”
He swung out of bed and into the attached bathroom, glowered at the décor, then showered quickly. He grimaced at the scent of the body wash and shampoo. Shunpike apparently tried to make up for his irregular hygiene habits by buying exceptionally fragrant soaps. He sighed and started cleaning off the filth he’d accumulated since he’d fled the shrieking shack, washing his hair thoroughly, then cut it with idiotic Shunpike’s abominable wand.
He eyed himself in the mirror, then opened his mouth. The potions he’d drunk had healed the abscesses in his mouth, but the teeth that were left were a disaster. But his teeth had always been a disaster. He threw on the neon green robe Shunpike had hanging off a hook, shoved his feet into a pair of bright red slippers and wrapped a bright purple scarf around his neck and strode out, looking for more suitable clothing than the horrors that were to be found in the moron’s closets. He was not going to try transfiguration with Shunpike’s wand. He’d have to try the other captured wands and see if they fit him better. Maybe he ought to get his own again. But that was for later.
Judging by the number of doors, the largest apartment was on the uppermost level. Whatever might be said about Giauzar Lestrange, he had far better taste in clothes, a much greater sense of style than either of his sons, Rabastan and Rodolphus, as well as considerably more intelligence. *Which is not unexpected since he married his first cousin. Inbred, the lot of them.*
Snape stopped a few yards down the walkway to the stairs. In an alcove that would allow for an excellent view of the room below, as well as the stairwells and the walkways, stood a sofa. It had obviously been dragged out of Shunpike’s living room as it matched his horrible taste in furnishing. On it lay Faith, sleeping fitfully.
Snape frowned. She had obviously set this up to keep watch, but had been unable to keep awake. That was strange, from what he knew of Slayers. Then he noted the tremors that ran under her skin, the involuntary pulling of muscles. He growled and took several steps back, turned and went down to the potions lab. Once there he checked the cabinets for ready made potions, cursed and went back up the stairs. Some distance away from her he loudly cleared his throat. Faith’s eyelids fluttered and finally opened.
“Good morning. Didn’t trust my spellwork?” He asked snidely.
Faith groaned. “Ugh, my mouth tastes like I drank from a toilet.”
“Really? I know Americans are disgusting, but the notion that you know what it tastes like to drink from one is rather perturbing,” Snape said pointedly.
“Well, aren’t ya a morning person. And I’ve seen lotsa thing’s goin’ wrong with magic, so excuse me if I’m a little careful, yeah?” Faith stretched carefully.
"We need to get you to a hospital,” Snape spoke firmly.
“Naah, I’ll be fine. Slayer resilience,” Faith shrugged, then stretched, a short expression of pain flashing over her features before she schooled them back into indifference and stood.
Snape raised an eyebrow. “Right. My name is Severus Snape,” he waited as if he expected her to react.
Faith gave him a look. “Faith. And was that supposed to mean something to me? And what the hell happened to your accent? Like the duds, by the way. Really you.”
Snape looked down again and then at her eyes. “I was on my way to get some decent clothes when I found you. You are suffering the residual effects of the Cruciatus curse and knowing Lestrange, a number of others. If you do not go to the hospital, your condition will deteriorate and you will lose control over your bodily functions, your mind will turn to mush and then you will die a horrible and painful death.”
Faith gave him a look, trying to suppress the trembling in her muscles. “Why do you care?”
Snape shrugged. “I’ve seen it happen before. It isn’t pretty. You saved me from that vampire, and though my life isn’t worth that much, I don’t like owing anybody a Life Debt.”
Faith ran her hands through her hair. “I really can’t. Hospitals and Slayer healing? Not a good thing to mix.”
“Doesn’t your Council have ways to care for injured Slayers?” Snape asked as he gestured for her to walk with him.
“The old Council took care of them by getting rid of those who would take too long to recover, or whose behaviour they didn’t like. The New Council cares for them as best they can. But I think in my case that they’d make an exception,” Faith told him in a nonchalant tone.
Snape gave her a sharp look. “I see. Well, we’d better loot this place quickly and then head for Muchu Alley and get you to a Wizarding hospital.”
“Mutually?” Faith looked at him as if he’d lost his mind. “What are you talking about?”
“The main wizarding street on the Eastern Seaboard. Right here in Boston,” Snape smirked. “Bet you didn’t know that.”
“No. I didn’t. But why would they help me?” Faith inquired.
Snape grinned and led the way up. “Because I seem to remember that there is a lot of money in this place and I’ve found that most people really like money.”
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Faith was looking on with amusement as her new companion rifled through the boxes and tins that sat on a table by the great fireplace that incongruoulsy stood against one of the walls of the warehouse part of the building.
“What're you looking for?” She finally asked.
“Floo powder,” he responded absently.
“Aren’t we sick enough?” Faith quipped.
Snape gestured at the fireplace. “They wouldn’t have built this if they didn’t have it attached to the Floo, and so they must have the powder… Aha!” he picked up a small tin and opened it. “Finest quality Floo powder from Tavistock and Brandywine. None of those idiots would be up to making their own, but this will do.”
He looked around. “We’ll take the Death Eaters and dump them somewhere and call the Shrivers. But we’ll take the girl to a hospital first. Go get her, girl.”
Faith shrugged. “‘S Fine by me, Snapey.”
Snape gave her a look. “Don’t call me Snapey, girl.”
“Don’t call me girl, Snapey,” Faith replied calmly.
Snape glared. “Considering our difference in age, girl
, I think I will.”
“Considering that you’re alone and it took five of your loser friends to take me down, and that I can rip your balls off with my pinkie, I think you might want to call me by my name, Snapey,” she countered.
Snape merely gestured with his wand and suddenly Faith was hanging upside down by her ankle.
“Put me down!” Faith concentrated and started to force her leg down, feeling the grip on her ankle weaken, but less than with any of the others who had cast spells on her.
Snape stepped up and looked into her eyes. “A powerful enough witch or wizard can break through a Slayer’s magic resistance. You build up resistance to spells that have been used against you. But even a slight variation,” he snapped his fingers, “And you need to adjust all over again. Don’t underestimate us just because the first ones you met were inbred morons.”
He lowered her down gently, until her hands were on the floor and she could get her feet under her. Faith glared at him. “Give me one reason why I shouldn’t slug ya?”
“Because you’re an intelligent young woman, know that I’m not your enemy and want to learn better ways of defending yourself against my type of magic,” Snape answered smoothly.
Faith let out a laugh. “Sure of yerself, aintcha? Well, okay. But ya don’t look like the teachin’ type.”
Snape raised an eyebrow. “Appearances can be deceiving. And you’ve already learned some things. Would you please get the young woman so we can get her to safety? I’ll start collecting the others.”
Faith nodded and left.
She returned shortly after to find Snape leaning over a glassy eyed Carrow. He nodded in satisfaction.
“What’d ya do?” Faith asked.
“I Obliviated his memory of this place and our encounters,” Snape explained as he dragged over Royle and cast a spell on him as well, grimacing as the wand in his hand whined in protest. “I need to get a wand of my own. These bloody things are giving me a headache. None of them work properly for me.”
“Ya don’t have your own?” Faith gave him a look.
“It was broken and at that time I had no desire to get a new one, so I’m less… gentle… with my mind spells than I would be with a matched wand,” he answered curtly.
Royle whimpered slightly and Faith grinned. “Lobotomies couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of murdering bastards.”
“Good to hear you don’t have any false morals,” Snape replied after a few intense seconds staring into Royle’s eyes and nodded in satisfaction.
Faith looked away. “I don’t like killin’. But I’ll make an exception when necessary.”
Snape rose from his kneeling position and gave her a look. “Doing what is necessary when others hold back can sometimes be the best, yet most difficult thing to do.”
“Yeah,” Faith hugged herself. “Probably helps I was a bad girl, once upon a time.”
Snape gave her a sharp look. “I doubt very much you were anywhere as bad as I was. Now help me drag these idiots to the alley. The dumpster seems like a perfect place for them.”
Faith flashed him a grin. “Out with the trash, eh?”
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The girl who suddenly appeared on the doorstep of the Emergency Room drew immediate attention. She remembered little of the ordeal that had caused her gruesome injuries, though doctors were amazed at how much, and how well, she had healed. No one found out where the hundred thousand dollars that she had arrived with came from, but general opinion was that some scion of an old family had abused her and her family had stepped in and anonymously tried to repay her. The perpetrators were never found.
BtVSBtVS HPHP BtVSBtVS HPHP BtVSBtVS HPHP BtVSBtVS HPHP BtVSBtVS St. Botolph’s Hospital, Muchu Alley, Boston, Massachusetts
Faith was lying in a hospital bed, feeling slightly out off it. She’d been given half a dozen potions, three men and two women had cast a lot of spells at her from their wands and had poked and prodded her for what seemed like hours. Excitement was running high. To most members of the Wizarding World a Slayer apparently was a myth and they were delighted to meet one. Some of the doctors were a little too delighted for her comfort.
But she had to admit they were good. The nagging, burning pain she’d had ever since Lestrange had started to cast his spells was gone, a great relief. Even old scars had been treated, including the one on her stomach. The slight stretchy feel she had whenever she over extended seemed to be gone, the skin less red than it had been.
Snape had told her not to tell them his name, and she hadn’t. He’d also told her he was going to use magic to change his appearance. He’d drunk a sip from a flask he’d filled from a bottle in the potions lab, muttering about barely competent brewing, and had changed before her eyes into a rather attractive blonde woman.
After placing the Death Eaters in the dumpster outside, leaving them there for an hour or so while they ate and gathered more money, then Snape wheeled it inside using magic and little care. Pushing the dumpster into the fire whiles shouting the address of the Department of Magical Justice and watched it disappear. Then they’d stepped into the fireplace themselves and emerged from another, even larger fireplace in the reception room of St. Botolph’s. He’d handed her over to the duty doctor, revealed she was a Slayer and had watched with a slight smirk as the hospital started to churn like a disturbed ant-heap and then had gone to sit in the waiting room.
Faith was not sure if he was still there. A face appeared, upside down and looking solemn.
“Slayer Lehane? I’m Arvid Wundermeyer, of the Department of Magical Justice. I was wondering if you would be willing to answer some questions about some people who showed up at our headquarters in a dumpster?”
Faith blinked up at him. “Huhn?”
There was a cough. “You’ll have to give her a bit longer, Shriver Wundermeyer. The potions we gave her would knock out a witch of her weight for two days. She’s only a little woozy.”
“I’ve got four hands!” Faith exclaimed as she held them out to Wundermeyer.
The Shriver sighed and nodded. “Of course you do, Slayer Lehane. I’ll be back later, when they’ve got them back down to two.”
The mediwizard shrugged apologetically as Faith giggled and studied the amazing new appendages only she could see.
The Shriver sighed and left Faith’s room, taking a seat in the hallway beyond. As soon as he and the Mediwizard were both gone, Faith got off the bed, shaking her head to clear some of the fog, grinned and hopped out the open window, grabbing the drainpipe and lowering herself down the three floors to the ground. Now all she had to do was pick up Snape and then they could get out of here.
Faith had circled the large hospital, at first nonchalantly, but as she noticed that her way of dress was utterly different from that of the women that she saw, circumspectly. She ignored the side entrances, unsure if they were even open to the public and unwilling to draw even more attention to herself. She arrived on the street she figured held the front of the building. There was a row of shops opposite and seeing one that held the same sort of silly robes that the women she’d seen wore, decided that she needed a disguise. She boldly crossed the street. She was just about to enter the shop when a display in the window next door drew her attention.
VISIT BRITAIN! It proclaimed. There was a large, hideous golden statue in a baroque hall, with the title Magical Freedom underneath, there was a grey obelisk carved with names, in some churchyard. It apparently was the Godric’s Hollow memorial to the fallen.
And then there was the black basalt statue, standing, looking commandingly out over a lake, through tired and jaded eyes. It was Snape. With disbelieving eyes Faith read the words on the pedestal. Severus Tobias Snape. Hero. Saviour. Martyr 9th of January 1960- 2nd of May 1998 Oh Lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood.
“Holy fuck,” Faith whispered. Then she shook her head and stepped inside the robe shop. “Heya, I need some clothes!”
The shopkeeper gave her a look. It was the kind of look Faith had gotten used to in her life. It was the kind of look that said ‘what are you doing here, poor white trash?’ She looked around the room and grinned. From the price tags she could see, she had more than enough money to afford the best the store had to offer. She took out a handful of Galleons and put it on the counter. “A set of good robes. And can you tell me the address of a good hairdresser? And I may be back later for some dress robes, too. I’m not much into it, but a friend of mine wants to take me to a house party in England,” she wrinkled her nose. “Kinda not my scene, ya know?”
The woman, upon seeing the pile of money immediately changed her tune and came out with a number of robes. Ten minutes later, a rather different looking Faith came out of the shop and strode confidently over to the hospital.
She made her way up to the third floor and saw Snape, or at least the curvaceous blonde he posed as. She gestured imperiously at him and turned on her heel. She could practically feel that he raised an eyebrow. But she heard him rise and then follow her.
“Problems?” he asked softly.
Faith nodded. “Apparently these Shrivers are less stupid than those Aurors you told me about. And the Mediwizards sent a message to them I had been cursed. They want to talk to me about some people in a dumpster. They think I’ve got something to do with it.”
“And we’re rather curious about who your companion is as well,” Wundermeyer said as he stepped out, wand drawn but pointed at the ground. There were five other Shrivers who followed him.
Snape didn’t hesitate but flashed out his wand. “Run!” he snapped at Faith
Faith stepped right next to him. “Hell no. We’re in this together.”
“We would like to know how you took down those Death Eaters. Who you are. Treason in the ranks, perhaps?”
Snape laughed, bitterly. “Like you wouldn’t believe, boy. Now get out of our way.”
Faith held out a hand. “You, Shriver Arvid! Do ya know if Snape got pardoned? What with him being a hero, saviour and martyr and all?”
Snape hissed. Faith had to give Wundermeyer credit. It took him exactly ten seconds to figure it out.
“WANDS DOWN! WANDS DOWN!” He struck the arm of one of his colleagues sharply. “Do you want to die that badly, Hornington?” he snapped.
Hornington glared at his superior. “She said she was a Death Eater! She admitted it!”
Wundermeyer snorted. “He
admitted to being a traitor. What I find far more interesting, is that he’s alive,” he turned towards Faith and Snape. “Yes, he received a full pardon, for all his crimes. Including the ones he listed in his personal diary, so that everyone would know what he did,” he licked his lips. “My cousin, Anthony Goldstein, his parents, my aunt… My niece. They’re alive because of Snape,” he looked up into the hard blue eyes of the buxom blonde. “You saved them, sir.”
Hornington paled and dropped his wand. “Fuck! That’s S-Snape?”
Another Shriver, a young woman with a scar running down from her forehead to her chin, scoffed. “Yeah, right! If he is, why are we even still standing?”
Snape lifted a shapely blonde eyebrow. The young men suddenly fell on his rear, looking stunned. Hornington stumbled against the wall, and Wundermeyer and the other two barely managed to keep their feet, dispelling the jelly legs jinx quickly.
“Would you like me to demonstrate a nice little spell that would make you lose control of your bladder?” he sneered.
The scarred young Shriver gulped. “No, Sir!”
Hornington apparently didn’t need the spell.
Wundermeyer looked at them with exasperation. “Sorry about that Sir Severus. My colleagues have been hunting those Death Munchers for a while. They were a bit upset someone else found them. How did you find them, by the way?”
Snape looked as if he’d bitten into a lemon, sucked it empty and then swallowed the rind. “Sir Severus?”
Wundermeyer grinned. “Oh, yeah. There was a bit in the Boston Globus. Apparently the knighthood comes with the Order of Merlin. First Class.”
Faith grinned at Snape. Snape scowled, which looked quite funny with his soft, rounded, pretty features.
“Looks like you’re a hero, Snapey,” she teased.
Snape gave her a look. “And what makes you think you aren’t, girl?” End note: Well, I hope this pairing is acceptable. I’ve taken note of the suggestions so far, and I’ve formed certain ideas. There’s another chapter to this story and then we’re on to the next development. Thanks for reading and please let me know what you think.