Epilogue: Bittersweet Aftertaste
Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter or Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I claim no rights to copyrighted material.
Four Months Later
The lounge was lively as she passed, full of red-faced tourists, wiping the sweat off their brows and talking of tomorrow’s adventures. Willow gave the bar a fleeting smile when she heard a Hispanic accent mention Iguaza Falls, the magnificent array of waterfalls that spread between Brazil and Argentina’s borders. The last time she’d seen the falls, she’d not been alone. Kennedy had thought they were beautiful but had seen them before. Willow had been breathless.
Willow felt a sudden yearning. A part of her wanted to walk back out of the hotel, into the blazing heat of coming evening, just to get a ride to the falls. She brushed the thought away, determined, and walked past the red sofas of the lobby and down the white, marbles-like floors, ignoring the Argentinean beauty at the front desk who stared at the witch with a question in her dark eyes.Any other time, that would be interesting,
Willow thought, blushing at the image it conjured.
“Bad me,” she muttered. She pushed her duffle bag to her side, getting on the opening elevator with a chuckle. She pressed a button but pulled a small slip of paper from her pocket to double check herself. The kitty witch stared at her from over a bubbling cauldron; she flipped the Valentine over:I lost someone, long ago. She was irreplaceable. But that does not mean that I would be unwilling to join you for a drink.
The tight script was familiar to her now. She’d been reading it every night for the past few weeks, a question in her heart. She’d made up her mind the night before and ordered a ticket, leaving Buffy a message on the phone. Her Wiccan underlings would miss her, she was sure, but she wouldn’t be gone too long. Eventually everything would balance out . . .Surely.
Willow took a nervous breath, finding herself alone in the corridor. She followed a sign, staring at the brass numbers on the doors. 221. 222. . . Willow reached out towards the next door, putting a hand over the card slot. A second later it blinked green. She stepped inside.
White and beige assaulted her eyes. Pale flowers, pale walls, a pale comforter on the single bed. It was lovely in its own way, clean, but lifeless. The bed was undisturbed, but a small black trunk sat at its foot. She heard a sound from the bathroom, running water.
Her head suddenly felt too full. She took a seat at the small breakfast table beside the bed, tossing her bag to the floor. Two shot glasses sat before her on napkins that read Cataratas in shining gold font. Beside them sat a tall vial filled with a red, sparkling substance: Eros’ Brew.
She pulled the cork out of the vial, hesitating only a moment before she proceeded to halve the elixir into the two small glasses. Done, she corked it once more, careful not to get the substance on her fingers, and sat it aside.
“You let yourself in,” a voice stated.
Willow’s eyes darted up. Snape was standing at the bathroom door, a towel wrapped around his slim body at the waist. His wet hair hung against his pale skin, washed out by their white surroundings. There were heavy, blue circles under his weary eyes.
Willow sat the Valentine on the table, tapping it lightly. “I thought you had a mission,” she said.
“They don’t need me anymore,” he said, his voice strained.
“Do they know the truth yet? Why you did what you did?” Willow asked.
“They will. Soon.” He didn’t move from his spot. Black eyes darted to the tabletop. “The potion. . . Is this what you want?” he asked.
“Don’t,” Willow replied. She stood up, snatching up the two glasses and holding one out in his direction. He took it from her. “Don’t start,” she continued. “I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t, you know, want to.” Realizing that her argument was weak, she pointed to her face. “Does this like the face of the indecisive?”
The wizard didn’t smile, but his eyes widened slightly. “You understand then?”
“That this can’t be reversed?” Willow asked. “I know. I mentioned it to you.” She could smell the spicy liquid in the glass. “But it’s alright.”
“I’m not your type.”
Willow forced herself not to snort. You sure aren’t.
“Severus, I get this, alright. I know what you want to do. And I want it, too.” Her eyes fell, glistening slightly as a memory hit her. “You said she was irreplaceable. I know exactly what you mean. I’ll never find another Tara.” Her voice broke, and she swallowed down the sob that threatened to immerge. “I’ll never love anyone that way again. Not without help.”
She felt his hand on her shoulder but refused to look up. Not yet. She forced a smile onto her face. “So what if you have a penis—can’t hold that against a guy.”
“I believe I will be receiving the better end of this arrangement,” Snape noted, a hint of humor in his dry voice. He put a hand under the witch’s chin, lifting her gaze to his. “I’m selfish enough to persuade you to do this.”
“But you won’t have to,” Willow said. She stepped away from him. “We’ll never be happy, Severus, not with our lives, not with another person. But we can be content.”
Their glasses clinked together. Willow lifted hers, swallowing Eros’ Brew and seeing, from the corner of her eye, the man in front of her do the same. The potion was spicy on her tongue and somewhat bittersweet.