Disclaimer: I don't claim to be in charge (ie: respective rights belong to the copyright holders of Buffy and Harry Potter).
Time-line: Buffy, Post Chosen (aka after Season 7). Harry Potter is after Book Five,
Order of the Phoenix. Just cause.
Note on Magical Abilities: Xander is not a Wizard. Xander will not be a Wizard.
AN: Hey boys and girls- this is the result of reading *way* too much Harry Potter fanfiction, as opposed to, you know, working on my dissertation. I would *love* some feedback on how you think the meet n' greet is going, especially as I am not totally comfortable with writing Severus.
******************* Chapter Five: Character Reference ***************
Severus Snape resisted watching the sway of the tightly clad leather hips of the dark-haired Slayer as she stalked out of his room with all the tightly coiled tension of a cobra and the control of a herd of rhinoceroses. He turned and stared moodily out of the fogged window that overlooked the lake in the Infirmary. That particular distasteful conversation had made the seventh time in the five days since he had woken that he had been threatened, life, limb, and in the hereafter if he so much as harmed a hair on his son’s head.
He had been trying the phrase out in his mind, these last five days, but it sounded no more natural, no more real, than the unblemished arm beneath his robe. Severus’s fingers did not delve into the sleeves of his robe, that was too much of a loss of control, even now, but he allowed them to ghost the fabric that covered pale skin and five nearly faded fingertip shaped bruises.
He still hadn’t seen Alexander, Xander, since the Final Battle. If he had died that day it would have been enough, more than he could have deserved to know that his flesh and blood lived. Severus’s eyes closed and he hissed softly as he remembered the way the afternoon sun had caught the blade of the Scythe that Alexander had held. The way Severus, from behind, had watched the tension that filled Voldemort’s shoulders as he raised his head, sniffed, and revealed the secret that had cost Severus his happiness while buying him a chance for redemption.
The moment his heart has stopped as he saw Amelie smile in the cocksure grin of a young man facing down death. In the devastating sweep of Alexander’s dark brows. But now, now that Severus was alive, and even approaching hale, he was restless and unsatisfied by the memory of a son who was close enough to touch. How much was he allowed before it was all snatched away again?
“Sulking still I see.”
Severus turned from the window and spared a glare for Draco Malfoy. The younger man still looked a wreck, purpled and bruising, growing eyebrows a faint glint of silvery blonde as they stubbled in. The heir to one of the oldest remaining Pureblood families had deigned to allow his nose to be reset, but he has fiercely refused to heal his other injuries.
They all had their own ideas about penance, the broken turncoats of the Wizarding World.
“Draco, Ginevra Weasley.” The youngest Weasley who had been standing in the doorway, her pale hand linked with Draco, blinked, obviously surprised by the acknowledgment for a moment before she nodded gravely at him. Severus studied her for a moment and inclined his head, giving her more deference than his original instinct had credited her with.
Ginevra Weasley was small, her head barely reaching Draco’s chin, but also whipcord thin. She had muscle on her from Quidditch, and a fierceness about her person that reminded him very much of her domineering mother. It would have been easy to dismiss her as shrewish, but her brown eyes when she looked at Draco were protectively warm and she held his hand tightly in a show of comfort, not control. All in all a good match for his headstrong godson. Cissy would have approved, if things had been different. If Voldemort has never rent their world in two. If their worlds had *ever* been what they had been promised when they were Draco and Ginevra’s age.
The girl stood on tiptoe, whispered in Draco's ear, and released his hand as she stepped away, leaving the two men alone in the Infirmary room. They stared at each other for a long moment before Draco cursed, his still-bruised hand running through white-blonde hair in clear frustration. "You can't expect him to come to you."
Severus felt a muscle clench in his jaw and he made the concentrated effort to keep his hands un-fisted. "Can't I?"
Draco muttered something under his breath that the older man thought was "stubborn old goat" before sighing in loud, Malfoy style theatrical exasperation. "Do you know anything about Xander's life? What he's gone through? Hell, that he prefers Xander to Alexander?" Severus said nothing in response but, despite himself, felt himself start to soften in the face of Draco's earnest exasperation. "I'm not just talking about the Slayers, and him being a Watcher, and growing up on an active Hellmouth," Draco continued heatedly. "I mean... even his childhood... I'm sure you had a reason for what you did, and it probably has to do with... with Voldemort... but the family you placed him with. It's a shock Xander's even willing to talk with you. He's not the kind to approach you and say 'Hey pops, thanks for the crappy second-hand upbringing.'"
The two men stared at each other for a long moment before Severus turned away first. He waited, heart hard, until he heard the younger man turn to leave with a snort of disgust. “Draco…” The footsteps paused. “He… I mean, he wants to know me?” The footsteps drew closer instead of further away and Severus hated that his heavy heart lifted, just a moment, when Draco’s bruised hand rested gently on his tense shoulder.
“I think he’d like to meet you first. But he’s not totally opposed to getting to know you. And if he changes his mind…”
“Buffy Summers will rip my spine out and use it in place of a feather boa.” Severus’s lips twitched despite himself. “So I’ve been told. Repeatedly.”
“Forthcoming lot, aren’t they?” Draco removed his hand but remained next to him. “I like them, the Slayers.”
“Hardly a recommendation of character. You’ve always liked me as well.”
Draco laughed, the sound hearty and so damn full of life. “I like Xander too. Maybe you’re not the greasy git you and everyone else thinks you are.”
This time Severus’s hands did close into fists as he remembered, with precise clarity, every life he had wrought dead with his handiwork. Every cruelty he had perpetrated. Every act of human decency he had denied in his time as spy for Voldemort. Everything he had done to keep his son safe, at the cost of his very soul. This time his voice was broken and so very, very small for a man who had done such terrible, terrible things. “Draco, you know I am exactly what they say I am. And worse.”
So much worse. Amelie had known even before she died. Had known what he would become. What she thought he already had.
“Meet him,” Draco insisted.
And because Severus was a terrible man who had been weak in so many other ways he bowed his head and said simply, “Okay.”
The Great Hall had been scrubbed clean and disinfected with spells, the few intact tables returned to some semblance of order, but it was hard not to see the bodies that had been stacked there in the aftermath of the battle. Of course, Xander had had a lot of practice ignoring bodies unless they came back to life. So far none of the Death Eaters had risen with fangs so Xander wasn’t particularly uncomfortable as he laid on the top of one of the tables and watched the magicked sky move across the ceiling.
He was so comfortable in fact that he didn’t even look up as measured footsteps sounded against the stone floor and the table he was laying on creaked with added weight. Xander knew, knew with the certainty that came from a life of believing the unbelievable, that the man who had donated half of his genetic code was sitting besides him.
“Your eye, how did it happen?”
Well, as openers went, it was surely original. Even Buffy and Wills never asked about his missing eye, though he knew Willow knew how much the socket ached on rainy days. It’s why she left tea on his desk at the Watcher’s Council when it was supposed to storm.
Xander considered his responses for a moment before settling on short and to the point, “Evil priest.”
Severus Snape snorted disdainfully as his fingers drummed on the wooden table top. “Might you not be a bit more specific? Did he talk your eye off? Hex you?”
Xander felt the old panic squeeze his throat for a moment, the suffocating feel of looking into Caleb’s dead eyes as his own was taken away. He swallowed, once, twice, and banished the memory to the place where he kept his other shames… Buffy body arcing through the night as she threw herself to a peace they would later take away from her. Cordelia’s face in the hospital, as she turned away from him forever. Anya as a Vengeance Demon because in the end, he had just been too afraid. “Squeezed it out like a grape with his thumb. Laughed a lot. There may have been screaming but that was probably me.”
“Ah, sheer brutality. How inelegant.”
It was Xander’s turn to snort, even as emotions rolled in his gut along with a too Scottish dinner. “Messy as well.” He watched the stars move across the ceiling, watched the moon dip into the starlight to make it brighter inside the Great Hall. “Have you ever… have you ever poked someone’s eye out with your thumb?”
The heartbeat of silence between them then was a peculiar thing. Xander could feel his pulse fluttering at his neck. The shaking in the hands he kept at his side.
“No.” Severus replied finally, words measured, slow with their own remembered horror. “But I… I’ve killed a child. While his mother watched. Voldemort,” and that name was spoken with such contempt that Xander wondered if that’s what he sounded like, so cold and bitter, every time he talked of Angel, “Voldemort was bored that night and wished entertainment.”
The second silence was more taunt than the first. Filled with a peculiar tension from two men who had so little, and so much in common, even beyond blood.
It was Xander’s turn to speak and the words, the god damn awful words crawled out of his heart like broken nails. “I killed my best friend, when I was sixteen. He… he was turned into a Vampire and impaled himself on the stake I held.” He took a deep breath but it sounded more like a shuddering gasp as more words pulled themselves into the muted light of the Hall. “I helped bring Buffy back from the dead so that she had to claw herself out of her own grave. We… we took her, from Heaven, or a place so similar we’re all probably damned.”
The third heartbeat of silence breathed relief as a cloud moved to obscure the sky in the Great Hall and father and son sat and pondered the failings of the other.
“Ms. Summers has an air of fatality about her that’s different from the others. I should have guessed.”
Xander smiled bitterly. “That she’s died twice?”
Severus cleared his throat and his voice when he spoke was slow, clear, and careful. “What about you? Have you ever… have you ever died?”
Xander swung his legs around and sat up slowly, so that he and the older man were side by side on the table in the Great Hall of Hogwarts. Xander still didn’t look at him, merely watched his feet as they swayed back and forth. The panic was back suddenly, the overwhelming memory of all the years he had spent as a Harris. The cold words, the fighting, the times he’d been backhanded into a wall or made to sleep outside in a pop tent. The fact that fucking sleeping outside in a pop tent had been some of his happiest memories, aside from Willow and Jesse.
God, he still remembered how good it felt that day he first saw Buffy, all golden and so fucking perfect he knew he’d cling to that feeling of happiness forever.
And the man who sat next to him, Severus Snape, spy for the Order of the Phoenix, one of the heroes of the Wizarding World, Voldemort’s trusted lackey…. his Father. His Father, worried that some Vampire might have sunk its fangs into him. Worried that he had fallen and skinned his fucking knee in a demon attack.
Like that was all that mattered. Like the worst part about abandoning him had come from being involved with Slaying when really, despite the pain and heartache and unbelievable FEAR, it was one of the best. Because he had been wanted. Because he had been loved. Because those people would have missed him if he had died. Missed him but not enough to break the laws of Nature to bring him back.
And it may not have been glorious, that death. It may have been a Fledgling, getting a lucky bite, or a demon with a well-timed slice. But it would have meant something, if he had died like Buffy, helping to save the world. It would have been so much better than dying slowly on the inside as he lived the life his fucking Father had picked out for him, a white trash Harris doomed to live a miserable, useless existence.
Xander looked up and met Severus Snape’s unblinking gaze. “Tell me about my Mother.”
The older man was the first to look away.