Author: Jinni (email@example.com)
Genre: BtVS/HP Crossover
Disclaimer: All things BtVS belong to Joss Whedon, et al. All things HP belong to JK Rowling, et al. The song lyrics are “Unwell” by Matchbox 20.
Distribution: WLS, WLF, NHA, BMP, Aislin, Serena, TTH, TQC.
Author’s Note: TQC Response: http://quickie.moonlitpaths.com
He watched her from across the room, admiring the curves of her face, her arms. She was like a statue that did nothing more than sit there day after day, rocking back and forth.
“Willow – are you alright?”
No response, not that he expected any. She had been catatonic since she arrived at the school, and showed no signs that she would ever snap out of it. He had been the ‘lucky’ one to draw the task of being her guardian. It wasn’t a difficult task, Remus had to admit, but it was one that seemed wrought with sadness. Each night, after he helped her into bed, he would go to visit with the Headmaster or the students – anyone to free him of the utter despair that came from living with a woman that was so lost in her own emotions that she wouldn’t speak or move for herself.
He hoped today would be different, though. Today he had news.
“Your friends – Xander and Anya. . . they got married.”
There! Briefly, so quick and fleeting that he might not have noticed if he hadn’t been paying strict attention. She had moved! Her hand, flat on her knee before he spoke, was now tightened, clutching the fabric. It was as if she were holding herself back from saying anything, doing anything. As if staying in this place she had built up in her mind was less painful than being out in the ‘real world’.
“They sent pictures – would you like to see?”
He nearly fell from his chair when she turned her head to look at him, sadness pooled in those green eyes he knew so well. This was the most interaction he had been able to glean from her in the month she had stayed with him. She licked her lips and coughed gently, faintly.
“Water?” He prompted, smiling faintly when she nodded. The water he summoned was cool and cold, and she drank it eagerly, swallowing mouthful after mouthful, though she had not touched the juice he had set out for her that morning.
“Pictures, please.” She whispered, her voice breathlessly croacky from lack of use. It should have been horrible to hear her speak after so long, but it wasn’t. It was wonderful. Like a miracle coming out in the darkest of nights.
“Of course. Accio pictures.” The little envelope containing the pictures flew to his hand, and he pulled them from within with all the delicateness in the world, careful not to smudge their sharp beauty. He placed them in her hands, motioning for her to look through them. He watched through hooded eyes as she looked at one after another, smiling at the non-moving bits of muggle ink and paper.
“They seem happy.” He offered.
She snorted. “Anya will drive him nuts soon enough. She’s just like that.”
Remus laughed, reaching out to pat her arm encouragingly. She stilled under the touch, her face locking up.
“I’m sorry.” He murmured as he pulled away, eyes wide with wonder at the sudden change in her emotions. It was enough to make him wonder if she hadn’t gone round the bend. Her mind had been sharp before, or so he had been told, but now he could see genuine beginnings of psychological disorder.
“I’m not crazy,” she sighed, as if reading his mind. “I’m just a little unwell – I know right now you can’t tell. But stay around and maybe then you’ll see – a different side of me.”
“I’d like that.” He whispered.
“Good. It could take some time, though. . . there’s still so much. . . pain.”
“Life is about pain. That’s what living is.”
She frowned. “And people wonder why I tried to end the world. Life is pain. Pain is life. And no one deserves to suffer. The world has a voice, you know. Lots of voices. Nature, too. And time. They all speak. And I can hear them whisper – and it makes me think that something must be wrong with me.”
“Nothing is wrong with you,” he hurried to interject. “The Headmaster said you will probably be connected to the earth and all that for a long time before the magic fades away.”
“I don’t know if I can take it that long. . .” Her words were a sigh, her hands rubbing absently at the bare skin of her arms. “I’m feeling like I’m heading for a breakdown – and I don’t know why.”
“Because you’ve been through a lot.”
“No more than others have endured. What made me different?”
He didn’t have an answer for that. No kind words to say to smooth over the evils she had committed while in the throes of her grief. There was nothing he or anyone else could say to try to make it better – they could only keep assuring her that one day it –would- get better. One way or another, things couldn’t keep getting worse. They had no where to go but up.
So he told her just that – “Things will get better. I promise.”
“That’s what I keep hearing. . .” She sounded so lost, so forlorn.
“They will. Slowly but surely.”
Willow smiled at him, a brief flash of light in the darkness of her face. “How do we make them start?”
He returned the smile. “Well – I think we should start with a long, hot bubble bath.”
She laughed, and he joined her.
“Xander once told me there was nothing that a bubble bath couldn’t fix.”
“Wise friend you have.” Remus smiled, helping her from the chair slowly. She was stiff from a day of inactivity and he let her adjust at the pace she needed.
“He is.” She agreed with a nod and a smile; unable to catch herself from remembering how he had single handedly saved the world. She would really need to make him a plaque or certificate for that. Xander Harris, average guy, saved the world. She smiled, her mouth straining under the wideness of it.
“He really is, Mister Lupin. He really is.”