Title: Sirius Resolution
Author: Jinni (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Pairing: W/Sirius Black
Genre: BtVS/Harry Potter Crossover
Disclaimer: All things BtVS belong to Joss Whedon, et al. All things Harry Potter belong to JK Rowling, et al.
Distribution: WLF, WLS, NHA, BMP, Aislin, Serena.
Author's Note: New Year's Quickie #2. Pairing #30 at The Quickie Challenge.
He would never have been in this position if she hadn't done the unthinkable, the unbelievable. If she had just been content to sit in her little town, somewhere on the West coast of the States and attend her classes like a girl her age should, he never would be in this type of quandary.
But she hadn't.
And he was.
And, as he had discovered, there wasn't a damn thing to be done about it.
"Sirius, try not to look so glum."
That was her again, speaking to him in that incessantly happy voice.
He would have given her anything for the sole fact that she had given him the one thing that meant anything to him.
She had shown up at the Last Battle, wind whipping through her red locks. And she had cast magics so powerful that Voldemort had literally been shaking in his boots. This little slip of a woman, a red head so fiery she could have been a Weasley, had put the Dark Lord to shame, distracting that evil creature just long enough for Harry and Dumbledore to cast the final curse.
Or curses, as the case may have been.
He didn't know, and he hadn't asked.
And when she had stepped off to one side, to look out over the lake, no one had cared to check on her. They had all stood around, congratulating the Boy-Who-Lived on another job well done. No one had thought to go check on the woman that had helped make it all possible, coming out of nowhere borne on the wings of her Goddess, they had found out eventually, to aide in the destruction of a man that she had never heard of.
So she had sat by the lake, as Aurors apparated in one by one. She had just sat there, the winds she had brought with her slowly dying down as the Ministry worked to clean up the mess Voldemort had made.
No one noticed her. Or the man that snuck up behind her, the robe of his trade billowing around him like some great wings.
No one saw what happened next, though she would recount the tale time and again of how little Peter Pettigrew had snuck up on her, startled her out of her thoughts with his bare hands wrapping around her neck. What had happened to his wand, they wondered. Lost in the battle? Snapped in a heat of passion by Voldemort? No one knew. No one cared.
He tried to strangle her with his bare hands.
But she *did* have *her* wand. And she used it. Stunning the rat of a man to the ground. They had noticed her then, standing over the immobile form of a man that was 'dead' to the world.
And so she had captured the man responsible for his imprisonment; for those long years he spent in Azkaban. He had offered her anything she wanted in return. His undying devotion and loyalty. A life debt.
But she wasn't interested in his life, he soon learned.
No, she wanted something far more precious than that, something he had vowed to never give to anyone.
She wanted, for some reason he couldn't fathom, his heart.
Willow frowned when Sirius didn't answer her not-so-subtle teasing. This was the norm these days, she would flirt and he would brood. It was getting to be ubearable and, if she hadn't made a New Year's resolution to work her way into his heart, she would have just given up, threw in the towel, and retreated to her classroom, ever to avoid his ruggedly handsome presence.
But. . .
There was that pesky resolution to think of.
She sighed, tossing her napkin on the table and standing up before any of the other Professors could say a word to her. Not even Severus dared glance her way as she strode, sulking, from the Great Hall. She could feel tears stinging her eyes and she was helpless to stop them, arms crossed over her chest in a defensive pose.
Why had she fallen in love with him of all people? There were men lined up to take the place he had found in her heart, and he wasn't even aware that he held that esteemed spot.
It had happened slowly, of that she was sure. He had been there, by her side, once she had kindly handed over that Peter snake to those Aurors. He had helped her to her feet, brushing some bits of leaves that had gotten into her hair during her own windstorm. And he had just held her while she cried for what she had done, both that day and months before, in her hometown.
And he had understood. Everything.
So how shocking could it be that she had fallen head over heels for him? The only shocking thing, she had to admit, was that he hadn't fallen for her one tiny iota as far as she could tell.
She sniffled, waving her hand to open the wards on her doors, thankful not just for the first time that being a wandless witch meant she didn't have to keep track of her wand.
The room was cold, just as cool as her heart, and she stumbled to her bed in silence, not bothering to remove her robes. Tomorrow was a Saturday. She was free to sleep as long as she wanted.
And she was hoping not to wake up until she stopped hurting.
"You haven't seen her since -when-?" Sirius frowned.
"Last night, at dinner." Severus all but growled at the imbecile in front of him. It was a little known fact that the red haired Professor was a good friend of his, a kindred spirit in the paths of redemption he walked on a daily basis. And Severus didn't like the fact that Sirius Black was such an idiot in the ways of the heart.
Not one tiny bit.
"She *did* seem upset when she left." Sirius sighed. "But that was almost twenty-four hours ago. Surely she showed up for breakfast? Lunch?"
He didn't have to ask if she had come to dinner, they were currently in the middle of it.
"Have you gone to check on her?" Sirius prodded, unease settling into his heart. "To make sure she's okay? Didn't fall and hurt herself?"
Severus snorted. How likely was it that a witch of Willow's quality would ever fall and hurt herself so much that she couldn't get help if needed? He didn't mention that to Black, though. Let the dunderhead believe falsities if he wished.
"Seeing as how *I* am not the one that upset her." The Potions master purred, toying with his dinner knife in a manner he hoped was suitably threatening. "I was waiting for *you* to do the honors."
"Me?" The former Marauder questioned, raising his eyebrows. "I didn't upset her, either, you know."
The bark of laughter from the austere Professor was enough to make Black cringe and the other Professors turn their way. It was short, bitter, and full of the intense brand of loathing that Severus reserved for the man sitting to his immediate left.
"You are a moron, Black." Snape hissed, leaning in to put his lips only inches from the other man's ear. This was a private thing, not something for the rest of the staff, though the Headmaster undoubtedly already knew about the tattered state of Willow's heart, considering he knew everything else that went on in the school. "The only thing she has ever wanted from you is love. She gives you everything she's got day in and day out and you act like you don't even notice. You really are an incredible fool if you are truly that oblivious. And. . . if you're not and you are just toying with her, ignoring her for your own selfish means or because you cannot return her feelings, then you are a bigger fool than even I thought."
Sirius opened his mouth, closing it almost immediately when he realized that he had nothing to say in retort. He stood, throwing a final glare at Snape, before trudging out of the Hall, his colleagues' eyes following him as he went.
"Well done, Severus." Dumbledore murmured to himself. "Well done, indeed."
Sirius wandered, aimlessly, through the halls he knew so well. He had been here as a child, as a teen, and now as a man. The castle was the only home he had ever really known.
But now those walls seemed to be closing in around him, Severus' words echoing back at him through the walls of pain and disinterest he had built up around his heart. The greasy git was right, of course. He was ignoring Willow, ignoring the little signs she threw up on a constant basis. Every overture she made he was just as quick to shoot down; each flirting smile he met with a graceful smirk.
And why had he done it?
"To hide." He muttered in response to the question his heart had thrown at him. "To hide from the possibility of pain. If I don't care for her, I can't get hurt."
So easy, was it, he asked himself, to toss off the trappings of love and say that she was nothing more than an overly friendly. . . friend?
"Love?" The whispered word was like lead on his tongue, falling heavily from a mouth that was unused to saying such a thing.
"When did I start to love her?"
He frowned, noticing for the first time where his feet had led him. To the dungeons, to her door. It was tempting to just walk away from the door, just as he had walked away from his feelings for all those months.
So very tempting.
Instead, he found himself knocking. Soft at first, then louder when she didn't answer.
"Go away." He heard from within.
"Not hardly, Willow. Open the door and lets talk?"
And then. . .
"There's nothing we need to say to each other, Mister Black. Kindly leave me in peace."
Ouch. The sharp sting of her rebuke hit him like a slap to the face. He shook his head.
"If you don't open the door for me, I'll just have to open it myself."
"I think you either overestimate your own abilities or underestimate the power of my wards, Sirius. Go. Away."
Now that was a challenge if he had ever heard one, though the teary quality of her distant calls through the door gave him added impetus to get through those same wards she was just bragging about.
After all, he hadn't been one of the Marauders for nothing.
She wouldn't have used any of the standard wards, that much he was sure of. Probably something pretty complex, completely sneaky, just like her adorable, if not slightly Slytherin, mind.
All told, it only took him twenty minutes to get through the wards. The door swung open at his touch, revealing the murky interior of her rooms. The fireplace was dead, the room frigidly cold.
"Willow?" His whisper met only with the sweet sound of breathing, coming from the far side of the room. Her bed, he realized. She had fallen asleep while he tried to get through her wards. It was laughable, really, and he would have to remember to get quite a good chuckle out of it -
At a later date.
She didn't stir as he approached the bed, didn't part one eye in greeting nor did her mouth move to utter a curse at him for intruding on her. He lit the bedside lamp with a flick of his wand, gasping at what he saw.
A woman, cast into the very depths of despair; eyes puffy, circles beneath them from crying too hard. He sniffed. Yes, the scent of her tears still filled the air.
"What did I do to deserve your love?" He whispered, sitting gently on the edge of the bed. He couldn't deny that he felt something for her. That was the warmth in his heart, the one that was trying so stubbornly to batter down the defenses he had erected so long ago. He didn't deserve her, that much was true.
But he had her, just the same.
"And as soon as you wake up, I'm going to show you that I *can* actually care, have a heart. . . and all those other things I know you've wanted for so long. I do care, you know. Its just. . .hard. I don't want to get hurt."
"Like anyone ever does." An answering whisper responded. "I'm tired Sirius. If you really want to start making things right, you can let me sleep. I was awake all night. . ."
She didn't have to say it for him to know it. Her splotchy face and broken voice was evidence enough. She had spent all night crying, until she was so worn out that sleep was the only option left to her.
"Okay, then." He murmured with a tender smile. "But we're not done here. I've been a bad boy, I know."
"Yes, yes." Willow yawned, cracking an eye to look up at him. "And I'll spank you for it later. Sleep now, please?"
He stayed, staring down at her, waiting for her breathing to even back out into sleep again. But -
"You can just lay down with me if you're not going to leave." She chuckled, tiredly, moving over to the other side of the bed to make room for him. "I promise not to take advantage of you."
Sirius laughed aloud, toeing off his boots and shrugging out of his robe. The bed was still warm where she had been laying only moments before. She was asleep within minutes, but he still did not leave. This was what he had been missing out on. The feeling of belonging, of being loved.
It felt good, he decided, if Willow's sleepy acceptance of him was any indication.
He smiled, inching close enough to lay one arm over her waist, pulling her gently to him. He inhaled the scent of her body; salty with tears but still the cinnamon sweetness he had always associated with her. And, as he reveled in the feel of her body against him and sleep came to claim his senses, Sirius realized something he had never dared to hope.
Maybe, just maybe, he wouldn't get hurt. She was only looking to give him love, not pain.
And he was ready to accept it. . .
And give a little in return.