The Other Half::celeste::Chapter 9
“We’ve got a problem,” Giles began without preamble as he strode into Willow’s bedroom.
The usually cheery and somewhat homey room was now filled with a looming cloud of despair. Buffy had spent the entirety of the morning with Willow, after being sent away by Xander who had been busy hooking up the generator. Willow, seemingly in a world of her own where the sky must have been black, could only bring herself out of it long enough to tend to Faith, before slipping back into the deepest depths of depression.
Buffy herself had sat with her, hoping to offer some measure of comfort by merely being there. Willow cried, sometimes quietly, sometimes with sobs that had her shaking- but mostly she kept still and silent. In the earliest hours, she had asked to hear everything, and Buffy had told her. Now there was nothing left to say.
Giles’ entrance broke the monotony, taking Buffy away from the bleak surroundings and back into her world where there was still evil to be fought. “What now?” she asked, tone forcibly bright.
“Xander was just visited by a strange man, whom he says had shoulder-length black hair, black eyes, and a rather prominent nose.”
Willow, unexpectedly lured by the conversation, surprised Buffy by joining in. “He said ‘prominent’?”
Shocked as Buffy, Giles stuttered for a moment. “W-well not- not, ah, exactly. No. I believe he said, ‘a huge honker’. I paraphrased, a bit.”
“Pale, skinny, tall?” Buffy asked with a growing sense of dread.
“That, he didn’t say, but he certainly sounded spooked.” Giles began rubbing the back of his neck. “If I didn’t know better, I’d think it was the same man who-“
“Darkness,” Buffy finished for him.
At the mention of Kennedy’s killer, Willow’s reddened eyes hardened. “Is he okay?”
“Xander’s fine, Willow. Apparently, he had some cover story about working with Anya, but Xander says he was very interested in the Urn of Osiris. Wanted to know who it brought back from the dead.”
“That’s way to coincidental,” Buffy murmured. She then frowned thoughtfully. “But, the talking and cover story? Darkness didn’t seem the chatty type.”
“No. No, he didn’t,” Giles agreed absently. “And he gave a different name.”
“He gave a name?” Buffy asked incredulously.
Giles nodded. “Severus Snape.” He glanced back and forth between the both of them. “I don’t suppose you’ve met?” His eyes settled on Willow. “Swapped spells?”
“No,” Willow said, her voice unforgiving.
As Buffy and Giles watched, Willow stood and turned to the dresser where her laptop sat closed. Picking it up, she brought it back to her chair, sitting down and flipping it open. After a few minutes where only the swirl of electronics filled the room along with Faith’s shallow breathing, Willow spoke again. “Severus Snape, huh?” The tones of a modem rang out through the room as Willow plugged herself into the net.
Buffy, glad to see Willow moving about, but a bit worried over the disturbing glint in her eyes, kept her voice soft and even. “What’cha doin’, Will?”
“What I should have done this morning,” Willow replied before tapping on the keyboard.
Somewhat baffled by her cryptic reply, Buffy glanced to Giles but saw the same confusion on his own face. Eventually, under the pretext of examining Faith’s wound, he drew up a chair beside the unconscious Slayer. Buffy saw through the act, knowing he was just as concerned about Willow as she was.
It took several minutes of clicking and prodding at the pad, but then Willow swiveled the laptop around for both of them to see.
Buffy’s jaw nearly fell open at the face that greeted her, holding up a numbered sign within a mug shot. “Giles!”
Giles was staring with equally narrowed eyes. “That’s him.”
The man was undoubtedly the same one from the night before. He had the same lank black hair falling to his shoulders. The large ‘honker’ of a nose Xander had described peeking out from the dark locks hiding what Buffy knew would be two very sharp cheekbones. His lips were thin, forming a furious scowl that was threatening. She couldn’t really see the color of his eyes, since they seemed to be squinting in pain against the light, but she could well imagine the welling pools of fathomless black peering from beneath long dark lashes.
Willow turned the monitor back around and gazed at the face for several long minutes. The hatred rolling off her in waves nearly made it hard to breathe, and Buffy saw the barest hint of black invading her irises. Though, truthfully, Buffy could not find any way to blame her for it.
Still, her hair did not go completely black, and she began tapping away again. Giles and Buffy both watched as they waited for Willow to finish whatever she was hacking into now.
“Got it,” Willow finally stated after ten minutes. Buffy leaned over in her chair, trying to get a better view of the screen over Willow’s arm. She saw it was the registrar of a hotel, and Willow had one name highlighted. “Suite 15, Imalda Hotel.”
“I know it,” Buffy replied with a slight frown.
“That’s where he’s at,” Willow told her, pecking at a few more keys before lowering the computer’s top. She turned to Buffy, the set to her jaw and pursing of her lips familiar, and Buffy nearly smiled at seeing the resolve face again. “We can take him, Buffy.”
“What?” Giles said, sounding incredulous at the very idea of it. “Willow- we’ve no idea what could possibly kill this creature. We need to do more-“
“No,” she interrupted, cutting Giles off mid-sentence. Her eyes were still locked with Buffy’s, and the burning intensity in them was nearly a bright as the sun in mid-July. “We can do this, Buffy. If we have all the Slayers, and I go in ready with a few spells- I know we can do this.”
“Willow,” Buffy began hesitantly, “I know you want payback. I do too, but… maybe Giles is right. You didn’t feel how- how strong this thing was.”
“I don’t care. I’m stronger,” Willow replied, firmly. “I awakened the Potentials, Buffy. I can knock this guy back to whatever Hell dimension he crawled out of.”
“Willow-“ she tried again.
Willow cut her off. “I’m going with or without you, Buffy. Your call.”
There was only one answer Buffy could give to that. “I’m with you, Will.”
Nodding, her eyes conveying her gratitude, Willow stood. She seemed driven, no doubt with the idea of vengeance.
As Buffy watched her move towards her spell book, she frowned lightly, unsure of whether this was an improvement or not.
“I’m going too.”
All eyes went to the voice, leading them to the doorway in which Xander stood, watching them. At their disbelieving expressions, he smiled grimly. “Hey, Mr. Creepy didn’t drop by your house for a visit, poking around. And,” he looked to Willow, “Kennedy was my friend, too.”
“Xander,” Willow stated, eyes welling momentarily with fresh tears. She quickly blinked them back, nodding to him before regarding her book again.
“Seems I’ve been outvoted,” Giles observed. It did not take a mind reader to see he was against this, but he kept any doubts to himself. Instead he stood up and moved past Xander. “I’ll call Robin. Tell him to pick up the girls. Make certain the weapons are ready.” He sighed heavily. “All the good they’ll do.”
When Giles walked out, it left Willow, Buffy, Xander, and an unconscious Faith alone. The three of them, the core from the beginning, simply stood in a small circle broken only by the large bed.
“You know,” Xander began, “we’ve gotten out of worse fights. Thousands of UberVamps. Hell Goddess. High School.”
Buffy managed a small smile for him. “Yeah.” She gazed down at Faith. The Slayer’s face was drawn tight, even in sleep, and her pale brow covered in sweat telling of her ordeal. It was a sight that evoked déjà vu out of Buffy. “Yeah,” she whispered with even less enthusiasm.
Buffy knew Willow was right, and that this might be their best chance at cornering Darkness. They had gone in outnumbered before, against an impossibly stronger opponent, or with the sure knowledge someone would not survive the night- and somehow they were still here, still fighting. She couldn’t walk away. It wasn’t her nature, and neither was being cautious. Best she could do was to go in fast and swinging hard, everyone at her back.
She was about to head out after Giles to get ready, when a very odd sensation came over her. Something… familiar… was right in front of her. Freezing momentarily, Buffy soon shook out of it and slowly lifted her hand, reaching out for the source of whatever it was giving her the wiggins. As soon as her fingertips touched it, they felt as if she’d stuck them into an icebox, the very air chilling down to her bones.
“Buffy?” Xander asked, looking over at her oddly outstretched hand, which seemed to be caressing the air.
Blinking, Buffy lowered her hand. “Sorry,” she said to Xander, a crease drawn tight between her brows, “thought I felt something.”
There could be no doubt.
She had been found.
“Severus, you lucky bastard!” Sirius crowed triumphantly into the bedroom- pumping his fist wildly into the air and doing an impromptu jig around the three friends.
He came to a standstill in front of her
, goofy smile still on his face- his soul singing out in a triumphant chord with the rest of the Eternal. That Slytherin’s scheme had worked after all, Xander had gone back to the witch- and as soon as he led Sirius to the upstairs bedroom- one look at the small woman’s soul, and he had known.
It was nearly eerie how exactly alike the two were. Oh, not physically- that was for certain. Lucky bastard, Severus was. But their souls- yes- those were the two pieces meant to fit together. They flashed the same colors in the same patterns, sang in the same chords of longing and loneliness. It was a remarkable sight to behold. After staring at Severus’ for so long… he had nearly forgotten hers
But there were the subtle differences that made them fit like puzzle pieces. Bits that were incomplete by themselves, but when joined would flare with a light that would be bright enough to form a star. Sirius threw his head back and laughed in utter joy and delight. The first task was complete, she had been found.
Now he just had to get the two of them together again.
It was not going to be easy, as he had feared. Forcing himself to calm, he gazed at her again. Severus was not going to be happy. Oh no, he’d kick up a right hissy fit. She appeared nearly twenty years younger, but to a Wizard with the average lifespan of a hundred and thirty- at least- that was really such a minor detail. Still, Severus would not appreciate it. Might even find it offensive.
A wicked grin then lit Sirius’ face as he took in her shape. He might not appreciate it-- at first, anyway- but as much as he tried to raise above all those petty mortal
feelings, Sirius was certain Severus would come to appreciate the finer things. He smirked, folding his arms across his chest. Yes, female charms would win that battle on their own.
However, judging by the serious set to her face as she and her friends talked, Sirius supposed she was a bit older mentally then she might at first appear. Her face was nearly spritely, the small dimple in her nose rather adorable, and there was a blossoming appeal to the cherubic set of her cheeks, the constant pout of her mouth- unless it was frowning as she was doing now. Her eyes were older than her face, and they showed it.
Pretty much what he would expect of anyone who had been ripped from the After.
There was strength in this one, no doubt about it. A steeled will one could see just by examining the way she carried herself with confidence- chin high, spine straight, shoulders squared- a fighter and a leader, all in one. But there was a subtle distance she placed between herself and others, a closed off body language that suggested she did not allow others in easily. A loner.
While that may match with Severus, it would only further complicate things if neither were willing to follow. These two would be butting heads at every turn. And they would both be slow to open up, if at all. Not only did Sirius have to worry about Severus’ inability to trust and connect- it seemed he now had his other half to worry over the same.
Age, dominance, and loner status aside, he supposed he’d have to wait and see what other problems arose. Sirius was confident that, given time, the differences and similarities would eventually be the definitions to their mortal relationship. He just had to get them to that point.
Besides after the joining there would be no force that would be able to separate them again. They’d better learn to get along; they were in for a rough ride otherwise.
“Don’t jump ahead of yourself, Padfoot, old boy,” Sirius mumbled to himself. “First things first. Get them joined. Let them work out the rest.”
Sirius straightened the metaphysical representation of his spine. It would be a task, no doubt, but the Eternal had appointed him guardian and guide for a reason. He was Sirius Black- most sought after upper year at Hogwarts. If anyone knew how to woo a girl, it was he. If he had to sing pop music to Severus every minute of every day to force him to follow orders, by Merlin that’s what he’d do.
No bitter, sarcastic, cruel, greasy, terrifying, bastard, git of a mortal was going to damn them all on his
watch just because he didn’t want to send a bunch of roses.
With that thought bolstering his Gryffindor courage, and the victory of finally locating the Other Half, Sirius Aludra Black straightened his nonexistent cufflinks and prepared to head back to Severus.
Except the blonde was now staring straight at him.
Sirius smiled brightly back at her, knowing she couldn’t see it, but feeling it was the right thing to do. Definitely the one
, he thought as he watched her hand slowly extending towards his chest. There was no danger here, so he let her fingertips pass through what stood as his spirit, passing through robes and skin.
Her soul just barely flared, but flare it did. Dark magic had created a cage that was imperfect, not intended to house the soul it did, and made it impossible for him to reach back- to sing- but that small golden flutter gave him hope that there was a way as promised.
The hand was pulled away, and the small golden sparkle diminished.
“Sorry, thought I felt something,” she said to Xander, her lips pursing in a small frown.
Sirius winked roguishly at her, and then moved to the side to allow all three to pass back out of the room.
“You think this means you win? You’ve much to learn, Sirius Black,” a cold, high-pitched voice hissed from behind him.
He had no earthly body, but the effect was instinctive to the personality of Sirius Black. Fear.
Sirius slowly turned, forcing himself to lock eyes with his own personal face of evil. The red eyes glimmered with a vile hatred that promised nothing but torture and death. The face was little more than thin bleach-white skin stretched over the skull, the mouth a slit below two holes for the nose. The body was a parody of the human the Wizard had once been, twisted and covered by long black robes, a cloak draped over the shoulders, and a hood pulled up to hide the bald head underneath.
After the initial response of fear passed, Sirius remembered what he was now- who he was no longer. Voldemort was still alive, or what passed for it, in the other dimension. There was no way this was the scourge of Wizarding Europe. That left only one other entity. “You must be The First Evil.”
The slit stretched into something that might pass for a smile. “For an Eternal, you have somehow managed to miss a simple concept. I am The First, but I am also Lord Voldemort.” The red eyes flashed. “I am every speck of evil in everything, and the Dark Lord certainly counts as that- wouldn’t you agree?”
“Hm,” Sirius tilted his head. “Full of yourself, aren’t you? Is that a byproduct of Riddle’s megalomania, or is it something you two have in common?”
“I suppose a bit of both,” it answered in a hiss. “Not that it’s important, either way.”
“Guess not,” Sirius replied. He narrowed his eyes at the entity of Evil before him. “What do you want?”
“I was curious as to what could cause a sudden jolt of hope to flash through the Eternal.” The First snorted, a very odd sound from Lord Voldemort. “I should have expected something so trivial. What a waste of time.”
“I wouldn’t call finding the other half trivial,” Sirius countered smoothly. “In fact, I think the fact that you finally showed your ugly face only proves it’s far from trivial.” Sirius smiled, though it held no warmth. “You’re worried.”
“Fool,” the First hissed. “I’ve been around far longer than you and your merry gang of souls. I will be around after your lights all die. It’s your weakness that’s caused this opportunity.” It waved a thin, bony hand. “And now all eternity rests on one measly little soul that is too full of itself to join together. Face it, Black, you’ve lost. Why even try to fight?”
Sirius shook his head, amazed at this thing’s inability to grasp the essence of life. “Because I must, and I will. The odds might be in your favor, but I’ve never played on the odds, myself.”
“Or reason. You’re impulsive, and entirely too cocky. The same traits that led to your death will lead to the destruction of the Eternal. Then it will be both you and Snape who are to blame.” The First smiled again. “It’s a pity Severus will be gone, and not able to enjoy the fruits of what we’ve planned. You, however, you and that bitch will suffer the worst fates of all. I’ve a special Hell set aside just for the both of you.”
Sirius laughed. There was nothing else he could do but chuckle at the threat. “How magnanimous of you,” he finally managed, wiping his eyes. “I’ve always known I was special.”
The First suddenly shifted form, and Sirius was staring at himself- the bitter, lonely shell of a man who rotted within the walls of Azkaban. Facing it, Sirius sobered immediately, regarding The First wearily. When it spoke, it was in a voice made raspy from disuse. “This is who you are, Sirius, and you will spend eternity trapped in this shell- in that cell- and surrounded by Dementors who will suck out your soul every day, replace it every night, and then start the process all over.”
Sirius glared. “Sounds charming.”
“Cheeky bastard,” The First replied before scratching at the long frazzled beard that hung from its face. Sirius winced as specks of lice fell from it. “Or maybe I should have you watch the Potter’s death over and over again. Would you like to hear James’ last breath? Lily’s screams? Peter laughing?”
“Harry zapping Voldemort’s arse?” Sirius suggested darkly.
“Well, the ending would naturally change,” The First replied. “So many options. Should I let you choose? Perhaps cycle through all of them?”
“If you are trying to scare me off, you’re failing miserably,” Sirius stated heatedly. “You’re only encouraging me to peg you down a notch or two.”
”Is that what I’m doing?” The First asked in his own raw voice. “And here I thought I was stalling.”
“What?” Sirius asked, eyes widening.
The First chuckled. “Better run along, Sirius.” Its manic blue eyes glanced towards the window. “Darkness is falling.”
A dawning sense of horror filling his being, he urgently extended his consciousness. Sirius’ last image of the room was his own scraggly face grinning back at him, and then he shifted.
Severus held the small bottle of gin in his hand, glaring at the laughable size of the thing. A by-now-familiar sigh escaped his lips before he replaced it back into the ‘mini bar’. ‘Mini’ was right.
Raking a hand erratically through his hair, he crossed over to the smeletone and picked up the handset. The noise from the other end somewhat alarming, he held it at a safe distance before peering down at the glossy sheet containing the pertinent numbers to the hotel staff. Finding the one for room service, he hesitantly pushed in the buttons as Sirius had instructed, and then held the smellytone further away from his head as the ringing began.
A small voice came from the piece he was holding towards the floor. “Room service.”
Severus raised his voice loud enough to carry to anyone staying across the street, behind ten-foot-thick walls. “AH, YES. I’D LIKE SOMETHING TO DRINK. ALCOHOL. PREFERABLY IN A BOTTLE OF SUITABLE SIZE- ONE NOT MEANT FOR A HOUSE ELF OR GOBLIN.”
There was a long silence from the smellytone. Severus glared down at it, wondering if the damn thing even worked. Finally, the voice replied. “And what sort of alcohol would you like?”
“BRANDY,” Severus replied immediately, glad the connection had been re-established.
“And your room number?”
The voice paused again before answering in a somewhat strained tone. “Very good, sir. We’ll have your order sent to your room right away.”
Severus didn’t bother with reply, only dropping the thing back into its cradle before shaking his head in disgust. “Muggles.”
Until the welcomed numb of alcohol arrived, he then decided to continue in his retraining of magic. Bending over for the printed pages of spells, Severus lifted the topmost and glanced over the instructions. “Frankincense?” he questioned, wondering why on earth he’d have to burn Frankincense in order to summon a shield. “For the days of the word,” he muttered, picking up the next.
It was seven incantations later when he finally found a spell that didn’t require much accessorizing. Severus studied the instructions before grabbing the salt left over from his dinner the night before. He sighed in disgust before unscrewing the lid and carefully creating a trail of salt in a circle large enough to allow him to sit in the middle. With that finished, he tossed the empty container away and carefully lowered himself into its center with his legs folded awkwardly beneath him.
“Mother of all things,” he began in as serious a voice as he could muster for this sort of thing, “earth and air, fire and water, grant me your blessings. Fill me with your power. Speak through my lips. Act through my hands.”
He expected little to happen-- this was ludicrous after all-- but soon the circle began glowing a myriad of blues and greens. A very strange sensation flittered over his skin, something like static electricity gone mad, and than he felt control of his body slip in the same instance as his head threw itself back.
The single word that slipped from his lips was his voice, and yet not. “Unworthy.”
And, unable to even draw a breath, whatever had invaded his body suddenly fled from his mouth, the same swirling vortex spinning out before disappearing into the ceiling. Not long after Severus was finally able to bend down and catch his breath, his entire body seized again.
The same power from the time when he had inadvertently become a blowtorch, a power from things or places unspoken of in the daylight, filled the void the previous… thing… had left. Unlike the other which froze him, Severus was still able to move and retain some control over his limbs. Shakily he stood, breathing hard as if he’d been running miles, and slowly ambled his way over to the stacks of spells he’d printed. His vision was blurring, and his body felt cold as he hurriedly searched through it.
“What is this?” he worried aloud, his voice shaking. Finding nothing, he threw the papers into the air- and with his sudden fury- they burst into fire and floated down as ash. “Bloody hell.”
He was in trouble. Big trouble. He whirled around and caught his reflection in the mirror.
His eyes were black. Completely, utterly, black. Not his regular burnt brown, so dark they appeared black surrounded by milky white- no, they had gone all black. Staring into them, he suddenly felt as if anything was just at his reach, and all he had to do was summon it.
The light that erupted from his open palm filled the room, a blinding light that made his eyes useless- even to the point of burning.
Rubbing a hand over his eyes- Severus stumbled back to the bed, shaking his head. Luckily, his vision returned rather quickly, barring a few spots, but there was a level of awareness this time at the same pulsating force within him, sleeping.
“Different rules—you don’t say, Black,” he muttered nastily.
There was something different and still the same about it. He felt as he would after performing any dark ritual at home, but it was so much more intense- and even the power was tinged strangely- like an unfamiliar taste left in his mouth after two glasses of wine from separate bottles.
“Room service,” came a deep voice from the other side.And speaking of different bottles
… “One moment,” Severus replied before standing and crossing for the door, reaching for the handle. As he pulled it open his eyes remained on the circle in the center of the room, noticing the crystals had turned black, nearly like volcanic glass.
“Here’s your order,” the baritone voice continued from the open doorway.
Severus turned his attention, noticing a tall dark man not unlike Kingsley Shacklebolt. The bottle of brandy was in his left hand, but Severus was more interested in the right one- the one curled into a fist and suddenly heading for his face.
His eyes widened in alarm just before it connected with the most natural target- his nose. It knocked his head back, introducing stars to his vision, and had the wizard staggering while his hands sought to cover his now-likely-broken nose.
”If you say ‘knuckle sandwich’, we’re going to have a long talk later about puns,” a familiar man stated from behind the bigger one who had just hit him. Peering over, Severus recognized Xander Harris, from earlier.
“I was thinking ’rum punch’ myself,” the other replied with a negligent shrug. He then examined the back of his fist. “It bleeds,” his eyes found Severus, who was glaring spitefully over the hands covering his lower face, blood running down his slim neck, “so it can be killed.”Hell
, Severus thought, backing away only. Unfortunately he bumped into the far wall that cruelly cut off his escape.
Xander moved around the other man, and Severus’ heart started a frantic hammering rhythm as a crossbow was leveled at his chest. The one eye Xander had locked onto its target. “Let’s test that theory, then.”
Severus heard the click of the trigger mechanism, and threw himself to the side hoping to dodge the arrow entirely.
His flight came to a jarring stop as pain erupted from his shoulder, just inches away from his armpit. Severus gasped, a gurgling sound with the blood draining from his nose down his throat, and then gritted his teeth together as he looked over at what was pinning him to the wall.
He was met with an arrow shaft and feather sticking out of his shoulder, which explained the searing pain and the absent thought of now knowing what shish-ka-bob must feel like. He tried to jerk it so that the arrow would at least come clear of the wall it had embedded into, but then there was the sensation of the wooden shaft moving against tissue and bone- which was not pleasant.
Severus shuddered, reaching out with his hand and grasping the end of the shaft protruding from his body, and with a deep breath put all his strength into yanking the damn thing out. A scream was torn from his throat at the same instance the arrow was torn from his body. Suddenly he was free to move from the wall, which he did in the form of falling to his knees- gasping. He was left staring incredulously down at the bloodied arrow left in his hand while the nerves in his shoulder sent one wave of white hot agony after another.
He dropped the arrow, pressing his hand to the wound at his shoulder instead, compressing the palm into the wet wound and hoping to stem the flow of blood. Still panting, Severus gazed through his black bangs, and saw that while he’d been focused on the arrow, the two men had been joined by- a veritable army of girls.
Each held a different weapon: swords, axes, crossbows, and even… stakes. They all looked to be the same age as seventh years, except the two standing in front of the rest. The redhead whose eyes burned with a pure hate that made even Severus Snape sweat in nervousness at being the obvious target of such a death glare. Beside her, a blonde- shorter than all the girls behind her- held some very deadly axe-looking thing in both hands. He could imagine it singing out for his blood.
What he had done to piss these people off, Severus had no idea, but it was pretty clear he was now in a fight for his second life.
“I think I like you better like this,” the blonde told him in a cold voice. At his disbelieving look she smiled- and though Severus could not explain why the young blonde’s smile would be terrifying- it certainly was. “What’s wrong? Lose your friend The First? Not so tough without all encompassing Evil to back you up, are you?”
“What?” Severus asked, blinking. “What are you babbling about?” As if their faces would have some answers other than a murderous hatred, he peered carefully at each of them. Then, his sights focused on the redhead. “You’re the witch from the necromancy ceremony,” he observed.
“Wrong,” she replied, hand extending forward. “I’m the witch that’s sending you to the grave.”
But Severus was certain of it. A wave of fury swept through him. This woman, this thing
, had taken it from him. As if that dormant entity had taken over his body, he slowly rose to his feet- own hand extending out in front of him. The same presence spoke through him. “Give it back
Just as the power was called to him, pouring into his body, he watched as the redhead likewise bristling with barely controlled magics. As his vision darkened, he still noted her hair turning white, and an aura of raw energy crackling around her. “Oh, I’ll give it
“Okay,” Harris stated, backing away with the others and his head swiveling to take in both the witch and the wizard. “Is anyone else a tad bit worried?”
“Light and Dark magic,” a man Severus’ age stated in a hushed British accent that would have been welcomed to his ears had he not been focused on the face of the witch. “Everyone take cover!”
Just as Severus bared his teeth in furious snarl, the witch narrowed her own eyes before pushing her hands together. He felt and saw the ball of white energy forming between her palms, crackling with small lightening bolts.
Years of being around magic told him that globe was packed with pure force, and he’d better find a way to shield himself or he was dead. As if answering his thoughts, a barrier of magic rushed before him, blowing his hair, and crackling with its own black lightening.
Severus had been in many duels over the course of his life. Some sport after Death Eater meetings, a means of relieving stress and practicing their movements, and others with wizards and witches who tried to defend themselves against the masked followers of the Dark Lord. In those duels, he had been in control, knowing his abilities with a wand, and more dark curses than anyone aside from the Dark Lord himself.
This time, Severus knew nothing of his abilities, and was most definitely not in control. These were two beings of raw, wild, and opposing forces of magic. The people melted away, leaving only vessels of power with the intent of destroying the other.
She unleashed the globe, and it flew straight for him. The barrier surrounding him thundered as it was hit, reaching higher as the white magic surrounded it and tried to squeeze its way through to Severus. Severus himself kept his hand up, ignoring the cuts that lashed into his palm at each attack on the barrier.
But he was not used to such wild forces, having only begun training with this unfamiliar power, and soon the barrier cracked. A bolt of lightning managed to slip through, striking him in the chest, and sending him flying back into the wall.
His body collided with a painful crack, knocking the air from his lungs, and making more stars dance in front of his dark eyes. He struggled to breathe again, and when he was able to draw in air, he cut the barrier with a slash of his arm before sending his own attack.
“FlAMINIS!” He shouted, watching as the fire erupted from his arm and shot right at the white witch.
She arched a brow.
A shield leapt before her, cutting the flames down the middle, and sending them off to the sides without harm- where they passed by and burned the bed and night stand to ashes in a matter of seconds.
“Pretty good,” she acknowledged flatly as the flames finally died down. When her barrier fell, Severus saw her own hand was red, swollen with blisters. She seemed not to feel the pain, instead flicking her wrist. “But I’m better.”
The next volley of magic erupted from his feet like a geyser, trapping him in the middle. Severus arched, shouting for a moment as he was caught in the rush. The shout soon turned into a roar of anger, as his arms extended and began pushing the energy back from him, back into the floor. As he struggled against it, he locked eyes with her and saw she had no intentions of letting him beat it back.
Her other hand sent another globe of white energy flying at him, and he barely curled his arm protectively before him to dispel it. It burst against it, shredding the sleeve of his shirt and sending lashes into his skin.
There was a pulse from his body, a dark aura erupting from him in time with his heart, and a final push managed to beat back the fountain of white magic.
But it had taken too much from him.
Drained, Severus collapsed again to one knee, wheezing. Without the magic to act as a buffer, pain flooded over his mind. He chocked, closing his eyes and trying to block it out. Tremors took his body and it was another battle to even manage lifting his head to face the witch again.
Her face was set, and she extended both arms. A third ball formed between her hands, and Severus watched it grow with a sigh.
He’d tried.My apologies, Sirius
, he thought as his eyes closed. He tossed his head back, preparing to welcome death a second time.
Severus’ eyes snapped open, and he saw Sirius striding through the wall. His eyes took a once-over of the scene, and then he shook his head. “Isn’t it amazing what a little misunderstanding can lead to?”
“Black?” Severus questioned.
“Look at the scrap you’ve gotten in to. I’m gone a few hours, and you manage to piss everyone off.” Sirius said just before the witch tossed the ball of energy.
“SIRIUS!” Severus yelled in alarm.
“I see it,” Sirius answered, extending his own hand.
The ball veered off, moving away from Severus and heading to Sirius’ hand. Severus watched with eyes wide as the spirit’s hand seemed to suck the enormous ball of light in, absorbing it harmlessly.
!?” the witch cried in disbelief.
When the final bit of energy was gone- to who knew where- Sirius lowered his hand. “She packs a powerful punch, this one,” he said, sticking his thumb out towards the witch. He gazed at Severus’ battered body. “Guess you already know that though, huh?”
“TITANIUS!” she screamed, and more bolts of lightening leapt from her hands towards Severus.
Sirius sighed in a very put-upon manner before snapping his fingers, once for every bolt she sent at Severus. Severus was leaning back instinctively, and had a spectacular view as the lightening dispersed with a tiny sizzle and pop before it had a chance to strike his head. “Tenacious too,” he added as an afterthought before kneeling next to Severus, who only blinked owlishly at him.
“How?” she asked Severus.
He looked to Sirius.
The spirit grinned, flashing his pearly whites. “It’s white magic. As in, light magic.” He waved his hand and chuckled. “Our territory.”
Severus closed his eyes in relief and leaned heavily against the wall.
“But I’ve got good news,” Sirius went on; ignoring the irate witch sputtering in disbelief as she tried to figure out what was sucking back her magic. “I’ve found your soul mate, Snape.”
Turning to him, Severus lifted his brows in question. Who
Sirius pointed across the room. A growing sense of dread in his stomach, Severus’ eyes followed until they came to the blonde woman holding the axe, watching him with trepidation and growing anger.
“You’ve got to be kidding,” Severus stated, taken aback.
“Nope,” Sirius shook his head. “I’m absolutely, one hundred percent positive. You lucky bastard.” He leaned forward, eyes sparkling mischievously. “Pretty, isn’t she?”
Severus narrowed his eyes, grasping his shoulder. You’re having me on
“Not at all, Sev,” Sirius answered. “Now, introduce yourself like a well-mannered Pureblood, and we can start with the romancing.”
Severus, holding his bleeding shoulder, regarded Sirius as if he was insane. “You’re mad as a march hare.” He examined her again, taking in her appearance. From the steeled hazel eyes, to the blonde hair spilling over her shoulder, and the hands that were still gripping that axe-thing. But he felt nothing. No shock of recognition at all. He turned back to Sirius. “You’re wrong.”
“He’s talking to The First, Buffy,” one of the girls said to the blonde.
?” Severus asked incredulously. “Her name is… Buffy
“Oh, like Severus is any better?” Sirius replied coolly, before glancing over at the young girl. “And I resent that statement.”
The young girl naturally didn’t hear him, talking directly to Buffy again. “What’s it ordering now?”
“Let’s not find out,” she commented grimly before hefting her axe higher.
“What’s she doing?” Severus asked nervously.
“Dunno,” Sirius answered, peering at her. “What’d you say to her, anyway?”
“Nothing!” Severus protested. “I’ve never spoken to her before in my life!”
“No chance for after, either,” Buffy said harshly before she started running for him.
Now, Severus had thought of several different ways this scenario would pan out. He’d expected they would recognize one another, and maybe she’d fall into his arms without all the muss and fuss, and then he’d be done with it. Only having to worry about an annoying, adoring shadow tailing him everywhere- demanding his expressions of undying devotion.
He had most certainly not envisioned his soul mate swinging an axe for his head.
With a gasp, he ducked, scrambling to the side with his one good arm as the blade sunk into the wall where his neck had been.
Before he could try to get to safety, he was stopped dead in his tracks as her foot was kicked up into his abdomen- driving a pointy tipped high heel into his stomach. Severus coughed, feeling bile rise while his stomach clenched painfully.
A petite hand grabbed hold of his hair, lifting him off the ground by its roots. Severus gave a short shout of protest, but it was cut off as she threw him back against the wall and readied her axe for another swing.
Acting on instinct, he immediately shouted, “calascere
!” as she was swinging the axe back.
With a slight sizzle, the metal turned a bright cherry red. Buffy, apparently having no wish to attain third degree burns, dropped it nearly in the same instant. She gave him a reproachful look, as if he’d done something incredibly naughty that deserved punishment. That punishment came a second later in the form of the chair that had been under the writing desk.
He then learned that chairs, when smashed into one’s side, hurt quite a bit. He was knocked off his feet again, finding himself stunned on the floor with broken wood covering him. More unforgiving kicks followed, and they were far worse than the chair, even as he lay curled into a protective ball.
Once they finally stopped, Severus shuddered, his body beaten to a point that left him weaker than a kneezle kit. The only thing keeping him conscious was his stubborn refusal to lie down and die. He forced his lungs to draw in air through his tightened throat, before hearing Sirius’ shouted warning to move.
Somehow he managed to draw enough strength to roll to the side, just as the cooled-off crescent blade of her weapon sunk into the floor a hair’s inch beside him. He watched red metal glint, and then she was pulling it free, holding it up again just as her foot came down in the middle of his chest to keep him pinned.
Black met hazel, one set widening as the other peered steadily up. She hesitated, staring down at him with confusion flashing through her, drawing her mouth open, as if she wanted to ask a question.
The moment was brought to an end when a shadow suddenly shot from the wall, coiling around her wrists, and squeezing them together. The weapon fell behind her, sinking into the floor between Severus’ legs, which jerked apart wider to avoid the axe entirely. Buffy struggled, at first glaring down with hatred bright in her eyes, before the shadows pulled her back away from Severus.
He let out a long breath, not knowing how Sirius had managed it, but glad the spirit had finally intervened. There were shouts from the young girls, and the others in the room- but they were drowned out as the wall beside Severus suddenly exploded into a cloud of dust.
The wizard coughed as the plaster settled over his mouth and nose, inhaling the debris that burned the lining of his throat as it irritated it. His lungs worked harder to try and get a fresh breathe of clean air, but they were suddenly cut off with a choked wheeze as another shadow wrapped around his slim neck, up to his chin.Black! What are you doing!
His mind screamed since he couldn’t even breathe against the looping black tentacles ringing his neck.
“I’m not doing this!” came the reply from outside of the dust.
His eyes widened in alarm as more rattler snake-sized shadows slithered through the settling dust and encircled his wrists and legs in their unforgiving grip. Like a puppet on strings, Severus was suddenly lifted into the air, his wounded arm flaring in protest to the weight it was forced to hold as he was suspended above the ground.
From his vantage point, he could see the others in the room held in the same shadowed ropes, each struggling in vein against their hold, all except the man wearing the glasses. He stared at Severus in a grim sort of understanding before flicking over his shoulder to the hole in the wall.
Severus’ looked as well, and then felt his eyes threaten to boggle right out of his head. “What?” he asked softly, seeing himself walk through the gaping hole. Himself, if he’d gone insane in any case, and decided to wear those ridiculous clothes.
But the smirk was his, a smirk that spread into a genuine smile as they met. Severus felt a chill run through him at his eyes, two shining black pools completely void of any white, and seemed to swirl with infinite space within them. They had become an abyss that was currently focused on sucking him within.
“Who the hell gave you Polyjuice?” Severus asked angrily, yanking again at his bonds.
Some things were starting to make a lot more sense. Like why those people had come to his hotel room armed to the teeth. Some bastard was walking around in his body, and from the look of him- it seemed as if his motives were hardly altruistic.
Severus knew that face. It was the one from his younger Death Eater days. It was the face of a murderer intent on enjoying his craft.
“Shit,” he muttered, feeling there was probably a bit of poetic justice in this, but too worried to acknowledge it.
“Uh,” Harris’ voice said from somewhere over by the patio, “does this mean we had the wrong guy?”
“Obviously you idiot!” Severus spat, still wearily watching his own approach.
As his double approached, he raised his hand nearly triumphantly over Severus’ chest. The eerie smile growing to reveal a flash of teeth. Severus tried to lean away, but the shadows held him fast without hope of avoiding—whoever this was.
From behind the man wearing his face, an identical twin of the blonde girl stepped through the hole. Her own smile echoed the one the man before him, and when she spoke, her voice was filled with unrestrained smugness. “Checkmate.”