Disclaimer: I own nothing. Buffy the Vampire Slayer belongs to Joss Whedon and David Greenwalt. Harry Potter belongs to J.K Rowling.
Warnings/Spoilers: Set between the end of S6 and beginning of S7 of Buffy. Post-Prisoner of Azkaban on the HP frount.
A/N: This is a Wishlist fic as well, it came from a prompt provided by sulien - as well as being a challenge on here. But, since it ran rather long I figured it was better suited to being posted separate from the general collection (Multitude) I had.
A/N 2: Part of the original promt (and therefore inspiriation) was the Seals and Crofts song, "Windflower" - which I also claim absolutely no ownership over.
A/N 3: Reviews are Good. This has been a subtle hint from the author - Please return to your regularly scheduled reading.
Devon is a good place to settle for a short time. It is familiar and comfortable to him with enough of a magical community that he can sneak in to send owls off to Harry at night but with enough of a wilderness that he can shift back into a dog and run off quickly into the woods and, at most, wizards will get spooked thinking there is a Grim about. Sirius knows from experience that he can't stay long but for a while anyway, it certainly isn't the worst place he has been since he got out of prison.
He smells it for the first time while he is still asleep - a scent that curls into his dreams and when he awakens all he can remembers is that they were warm and tropical. Sirius is actually surprised to still smell it in the waking world and tracks it out of the small forest he had been sleeping in and towards rolling hills with a few houses interspersed.
Sirius freezes at the sign of people but the scent is stronger here and he appears to be a large black dog so it is relatively safe. With that reasoning, he follows his nose to a single large tree with a bright tropical flower that is starkly out of place in England under it.
There is no sign of normal transplanting and the petals of the plant seem to still be opening, even now, under his gaze.
It screams magic
to him and curiously he goes back to the edge of the woods to wait and see if whoever is responsible for it returns.
Sirius watches her for a while before he decides to approach. He had been aware that it was the girl even the first time he saw her - despite the fact that on occasion she came out with an older gentleman as well.
He knows he shouldn't go up to her. There is no reason to - even his silly curiosity about the flower has been quenched but there is something about her that drawls him.
He leaves the safety of the forest, instantly feeling naked despite still being in Animagius form, and lopes over to her before he can talk himself out of this again and spend another day just watching
her. He slows down before he reaches her tree and stops a few feet in front of her.
Her eyes fall upon him but instead of gasping or startling in any way her head falls to the side a bit and her eyes unfocused for a moment.
"Hello, Mr. Shapeshifter," she says with a slight smile, just a twist of the lips that somehow seems more sad then happy. And even it doesn't last long before falling from her face leaving her staring in an almost blank manner.
"It's alright," she continues barely a whisper, her voice hoarse (and he can't tell if it's from disuse or crying but he'd bet on the latter judging on the redness of her eyes), "you don't have to change if you don't want to." Even before she finishes her offer she looks down her hair falling forward and absentmindedly traces the edge of a flower that had grown and opened even as they were talking.
Sirius comes closer slowly. And, this is stupid, an utterly
unnecessary risk - but as soon as he is right in front of her the reason he is doing this hits him hard and he settles back on his hindquarters and doesn't move away when she looks up and hesitantly reaches out to pet him.
He should look up upon her face and think of Lily. Red hair and green eyes - even if only on the most surface she is startling similar in appearance. But even amidst the War, Lily's eyes had always held a fire to them (not this dead numbness), he had never looked at her and seen such overwhelming sadness.
There is even something of Remus about her. The deep exhaustion he can see not only in her face but the set of her body, the deep Earthy smell of her magic that he wouldn't have picked up on in human form.
But instead the only thing Sirius can think of when he looks at her is Regulus the last few times he had seen him before he was killed (although he hadn't known it would be the last then). The hopeless eyes that tug at him even though he can tell she truly expects nothing and that darkness he knows she will never fully shake. And one of the things he regrets the most as he gets older, as blustering youth is well and fully over and he has far too much time to think while waiting for the War they know is coming to start again, is his brother.
He hates most of his blood relations. Full stop. There is nothing redeeming to be found in almost all of the righteously pureblood and utterly bigoted House of Black. But some...
As he gets older and more of the people he knew when he was young are dead Sirius finds himself wondering more and more often about those few who had had moments of brightness - if he had stepped in at just the right time (or series of times) if things might have been different.
If Narcissa might still hold within her that delicate little girl who seemed to glow
amongst all her dark-haired relatives and would smile up at him so gratefully when he would rescue her dolls from Bellatrix's rougher play. If Regulus might still be the boy who was brave enough to tackle Lucius in his own home for kicking the Malfoy house elf. (And there is of course Andromeda as well. But he has always been proud of her, would want nothing to have been different with her that might change the result that found her happiness with Ted and created the extraordinary little Dora.)
There might have been a chance for them once.
And there was still
a chance for this girl.
As slow as possible he turns from Animagius....back into his human form.
To absolutely no response, not even a pause in the hand stoking his hair. Sirius was aware that the girl seemed to have somehow seen through his form but he had still been worried that she might recognise him (she was very clearly magical and his Wanted poster is everywhere in the Wizarding World). But her face shows no change - barely seeming to notice that he has even shifted from dog to human.
Now he is very worried, something is clearly wrong and he has no idea where to even begin to help. He is acutely aware of how very damaged he is himself. (Was never the one good at this sort of thing even before.
So, with many stops and starts, he reaches for her - wrapping his arms around her too-slim form and pulling it into an awkward hug with his own dirty and overly skinny one.
And there is
a response to this, not the one he was bracing himself for either - her anger or fear, being abruptly pushed away.
No, she makes a sound like a whimper deep in her throat and clutches him desperately tighter.
She is often sent outside on her own to meditate and is during these times that he comes to her.
It doesn't take long for Willow to tell him everything about her - everything that has lead up to her being so broken (although he shys away from thinking of her as broken because she isn't
. She is so strong if she will let herself be.). So wrapped up in her guilt and pain and desperately in need of someone to talk to about it that it all spills out like a river (babbling she calls it with a small self deprecating grin that gives him a small glimpse of the girl she used to be).
Willow tells him how Tara was shot. She is monotone as she describes absorbing books and hunting down Warren, torturing him, killing him. How that wasn't enough, how she went after the other two of the trio - attacking her friends when they tried to stop her. She gets quiet when she talks about going up against Giles (a man he has seen in the distance before), draining him of borrowed magic. Feeling connection to everything, everyone. Feeling their pain and deciding to end it all.
Willow looks him in the eye and tells him how she almost ended the world.
She is stark in her description, doesn't try to sugar coat it whatsoever or give herself any outs. She is perfectly ready for him to turn away from her in horror - he can tell she is used to that reaction - and he might have before. But Sirius has made that mistake in the past and swears to himself that he won't again.
There is Darkness in this girl, but there is goodness as well. He refuses to only see her as the one event (started off by the traumatic occurrence of her lover dying in her arms) and not as she used to be (the hacker - whatever that is
- and novice witch helping the Slayer back on the Hellmouth), not as she is now (shaking in his arms, not believing she is worth redemption).
He tells her about his past as well - not out of any demand but out of an uneasiness of the unbalance between what he was giving. Sirius likes telling her about the Wizarding World, about Hogwarts and the Marauders but it is hard for him to form words to encompass how it all crumpled
. How divisions over purity of blood that had been poisoning their society forever suddenly reached a fever pitch. How friend after friend died so when the joy of Lily being pregnant occurred they hid it so carefully.
But of course there was Peter - the man he thought was his friend that had been spying on them for years. He told her how that man betrayed all their friends, giving away baby Harry's location to Voldermort, and massacred people before setting him up to take the blame.
Then the years in Azkaban. So alone amidst the screams. Staying as a dog to keep the Dementors away and trying to stay sane.
He somehow ends up with his head in her lap, her fingers threading almost rhythmically through his hair.
It is soothing. The centering human touch, the assurance that wordless assurance, that she is there.
me aren't you?" Sirius asks feeling incredibly amused yet almost asleep at the same time.
"Yup," Willow replied and he can hear the smile in her voice.
She actually does meditate too. He does understand how important it is for her to learn to control this strange wandless magic of hers. And while she did he would be as quite as possible, just lie on the tall grass next to her in the shade of what he thinks of as their tree and watching as flowers from different places around the world bloom around them. It is peaceful and his mind is (wonderfully) still in these moments.
"I'll go with you," he says instantly. It takes him off guard the feelings that swamp him when she tells him shes leaving, going back to her home in Sunnydale. He feels desperate and clingy - wants to grab her tight and not let go.
She is his
now - part of the very small rough and rag-tag group (Harry, Remus, him - and now her) of found family that he would do absolutely anything
for. It is frightening to think of her away from him.
He knows Willow is ready now, is in control of that massive amount of power in her small frame, but he isn't
. Has lost too many by both death or by their own choice.
She reaches out her hand cups the side of his face, sliding her fingers delicately up across his temple and through his hair - Sirius leans into her touch relaxing despite himself.
"Feel better," she asked with a smirk, pulling her hand away.
He started to nod, eyes he hadn't remembered closing opening again, before looking at her accusingly. "You just petted me again, didn't you?"
"Did it work?" she asked instead with a small smile and a raised eyebrow.
And Sirius couldn't answer, couldn't help but marvel in the change in her - the life that had returned. He had never known Willow before her Tara died but he wondered if she was like this. He felt that he had probably changed to, learned to talk to someone again - learned to breathe and think and exist outside the oppressive walls. of Azkaban.
"I'll come back," she assured him when he had been quite for too long. "There is just something building, something big and terrible. And I won't ever forgive myself if I'm not there to help."
"I'll go with you," he offered again quieter this time, grabbing her hand
She just smiled sadly. "You're needed here. Just like I'm needed there. You know that. This is your world. Your War."
And he did know all of that. (Had just gotten letters from both Harry and Dumbledore within the past week.) Didn't mean he needed to like it.
"You will come back," he repeated her words hugging her to him (and trying to make himself believe it). "You have to meet Harry and I just know you'll love Remus........"
And she just clutches him tighter.