With a Strange Valentine
Disclaimer: I do not own Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Harry Potter, and I am making no money off this fic.
Willow’s eyes flickered open, and she pushed herself up on her elbows, staring at her dimly lit surroundings in child-like wonder. Shelves of bottles and jars littered with worn labels and a layer of grime rested in the cabinet across from her. The rest of the room was almost bare of décor, scattered only with a few remains of mismatched furniture, a broken recliner there, a few cobwebs here, a slanted table at the room’s center.
But what she noticed last, that which she should have noticed first, was a tall man garbed in black on black robes and craning over a boiling . . . cauldron? Who uses cauldrons anymore? The Weird sisters?
She smirked remembered that she had been content with a few basic lab flasks for her first couple of years as a witch.
The man looked down into the red bubbling liquid, squinting in disgust at the pink smoke that rose from the concoction, swirling about the locks of greasy black hair that hid most of his face. He pulled out a tiny dropper, holding it out with long steady fingers and counting silently.Who’s the vampire wannabe?
Willow sat up, rubbing her temples in frustration. What had happened? Wasn’t she ranting about something? Chocolates? Then she had walked into a magic shop and. . . . Oh, boy.
Her eyes widened. Someone had been trying to trap a murderer. The murderer, a man named Snape, the man in front of her! So why had she decided to give him a heads up? What had convinced her of his innocence?
“Stupid, fuzzy brain,” Willow muttered.
“At least you are willing to admit your mental weaknesses,” came the snide reply.
“You. . . Snape.”
The man’s coal-like eyes shot up, instantly sending a chill down Willow’s back. He made no show of emotion, but she could feel the coldness coming from him. “The primate speaks. Perhaps, I can teach it to string together sentences next.”
Willow thought she had lost her tendency to be pushed into a shy blush by a simple comment, but obviously that was not part of being one of the most powerful witches of her lifetime. She recovered from the statement and put on her intimidating-evil-Willow face that she had used on Andrew more than once.
“Where am I?” she asked.
Snape stared at her, unflinching. “In a basement,” he said. “Now remain quiet. I have work to do.”
“Quiet?” Willow repeated. She jumped to her feet, ungracefully teetering on the heels of her boots before stepping forward. She approached the potion maker, arms crossed in a defensive stance she had learned from Buffy. “You want me to stay quiet? What did you do to me?”
“Nothing harmful.” He raised a stick—wand, Willow amended—and pointed it at the cauldron. The spoon began to stir the potion on its own. “The auror stunned you, and I was forced to apparate with you, not a wise decision on my part. Apparently, you fainted from the excitement.”
“What? Whose aura stunned me?”
Snape blinked, much like Willow had moments earlier. “You’re a witch,” he stated.
“Yes,” Willow replied. “And you’re obviously some sort of wizard, Sorcerer, magicky person yourself.” The spot behind her eyes began to tingle before images flooded her mind. Willow walking toward the shop, muttering nonsense about Valentine’s Day. Willow laughing at something Xander had said. Willow cradling her dying lover in her arms.
Willow pushed off the assault. “Get out of my head!”
Snape stumbled back a step. His thin lips formed a frown of worry, but his eyes were wide in awe. “You have studied Occlumency?” Willow’s dumbfounded expression gave him the answer he needed. “You’re wandless—a muggle witch. What’s your name?”
Snape made no show of recognition, but his eyes shifted to the cauldron beside him. He raised his wand to stop the stirring. The pink smoke began to burl out in clouds, wrapping around the two. Willow could smell the spicy, sweet scent of the elixir, and it tickled her nose.
“Eros’ Brew,” she said with a grin.
The wizard nodded. “That is one of its many names. It is an advanced love potion. I was planning on selling the stock, but I will be forced to take my goods elsewhere.”
“I had too much contact with love spells and potions as a teenager.” She shrugged. “But I’ve never tried Eros’ Brew before,” Willow said, staring at the pink clouds. “It’s too strong. Once drunken its effects are almost irreversible. Actually, I’ve read that you don’t even have to force someone to drink it, contact to the completed substance is usually enough of a stimulant to cause the same results. Rumor says that the scent alone acts as an aphrodisiac. . . .”
Willow’s mouth snapped closed. The wizard stared at her for a moment and the two automatically took a step backwards.
“I’m immune to the effects.”
“I don’t feel a thing either.”
Willow bit her bottom lip. Nope, she didn’t feel like there was a pack of giddy bunnies jumping in her stomach, no sir-ree. She fiddled her thumbs. “So, I should be going. . . .”
“You cannot,” Snape snapped. “Not yet,” he added more gently. “The person who stunned you most likely saw your face. Were you to leave at the moment, you would be recognized. I cannot afford such a risk.”
“So, what? I’m supposed to stay the night at your place so that you don’t get caught?”
“Essentially. However, your stay will be much shorter than you assume. I will be leaving as soon as the potion is complete.”
“And that will be?”
The two were quiet. Snape took the chance to begin packing his goods into a tiny box that seemed too small to hold all the bottles. Willow sat back on the dingy gray sofa, nervously tapping one foot on the floor. From the man’s behavior, she was certain that he wanted her to keep her mouth closed for the remaining fifty-five minutes. She watched him anxiously.Tap.
“Stop!” Snape shouted.
Willow grinned sheepishly; maybe she shouldn’t spend more time with Dawn and Andrew. “Snape isn’t your first name, is it?”
The man turned toward her as if another snarky remark was already on the tip of his tongue, but his gaze softened when he met her eyes. “Severus.”
The young witch held out a hand. With hesitation, Snape slowly took it and shook it briskly. “Nice to meet you, Severus,” Willow smirked. “Let me guess—you were a teacher at some time? Or at least a faculty member at a high school, right?”
“How did you . . . ?”
“Believe me, I can tell,” she answered. “The tapping gets former educators every time. I’m guessing that you’re no longer teaching, though. Murder charge is sorta hard to pass off on a résumé. Why do they think you did it, the men from the shop?”
Snape glared, a dangerous look in his eyes. “What makes you think I didn’t?”
Willow stared at him, reading him. Her eyes widened. “No wrath,” she whispered.
“One doesn’t need hatred to kill, Willow,” he hissed. “One only needs a reason.”
“Someone’s blood is on your hands,” she said softly. “I’m just having a hard time believing that you’re a cold hearted murderer.”
“Why is that?” he snapped. “What exactly would you know of the subject?” She looked away. “Just stay quiet until the hour is up, and then we can both go back to our lives.”
Willow let out a short laugh, her eyes glittering wet. “You think you’re some big bad,” she growled. “You’re a fool. When I look at you, all I see is a sad old man rolling around in self hate. That must be what I saw when I saved your ass from getting caught. You’re too busy moping to be a killer.”
Snape’s wand was at her throat, his anger displayed in his every feature. “You would do well to keep your mouth shut. You understand nothing.”
Willow lowered her head, and the wand flew from the wizard’s hand. She raised her arm, and Snape was slammed against the wall. Willow’s hand wrapped around his neck, her eyes flashing black for a moment that brought the man to silence.
“Listen, teacher. I’m trying to give you a free lesson,” she said, her voice mocking his calm and calculating tones. “Obviously your little mind game earlier didn’t dig deep enough, because I do know what I’m talking about. I do understand. I have killed, for wrath, for revenge. So don’t tell me that I’m wrong. Don’t tell me a lie.”
She dropped him to the ground, burying the darkness that threatened to burst from her. Snape gasped, rubbing his neck. He looked up at her. “Then you are the one I’ve heard of. The wandless one who almost ended the world before the American Wizarding Council had even detected you. You’re thought to be a myth amongst the more sensible minds of my community.”
Willow frowned. She opened her mouth to speak but a loud pop echoed from overhead. She gasped, and Snape pushed himself off the floor, quieting her with a gesture. He grabbed her arm and led her to the other side of the room.
“They’re here already. I have no idea how they found me so soon.” He shoved his box of potion ingredients into her arms. “Hold this while I prepare the potion for transportation.”
“What?” Willow whispered. “Leave it. Let’s get out before they find you.”
Snape snatched his wand off the ground. “I can’t leave it behind! Do you know how long it took to reach this level?” he hissed. He swished his wand and the boiling cauldron rose in the air.
Willow could hear footsteps getting closer, voices approaching. “Come on!” She grabbed his arm, pulling him toward her. Snape’s concentration severed, the cauldron fell to the floor in front of them, splashing a wave of red droplets. Willow gasped as the hot liquid scalded her hand and face. She looked up to see Snape, dumbfounded and covered in tiny crimson dots.
“Oh bloody hell,” he swore. “What have you done!”
Before Willow could answer, the basement door flew off of if its hinges.