Fortune Cookie Romance
Disclaimer: I don’t own HP or BtVS.
A/N: Sorry. I’ve been MIA for a while now. I’d blame college, but I’m pretty sure it was all my fault. Anyhow, I’ve found the notes that map this story to its ending, and Eros’ Brew should be finished within about two weeks, if you’re all up for it. This chapter’s a little more serious than the others. Also, the rating is a wee bit higher (just a warning).
Willow knew silence. Standardized tests had trained her to hold her tongue for long periods of time, but at least SATs had the calming clatter of pencil lead scratching and booklets shifting. The cab ride held no such comforts, and the tension present had nothing to do with test anxiety. Oh, come on! Talk to me!
Her mental shout-out had earned her a clearing of the throat from the man sitting against the opposite door. Snape. Still in disguise, it seemed. When they’d gotten off the plane, Willow had assumed that he would drop the random-business-man act and that they’d confer their plans. But Severus had walked out of the terminal, bag in hand, and up to a waiting cab, slipping in without even a gesture in her direction. Willow had run to catch-up and, begrudgingly, asked if she could “share” the taxi fare.
And the man still hadn’t spoken yet. Still mad about the peeing thing. Or maybe about murder thing. Who can tell?
Willow looked up at the driver. From what she could see of him, he was paying attention to the road and would probably take no notice of lighthearted conversation in the backseat. She’d have to tip him for caring less.
“Here on business?” Willow asked Snape.
The man stared out the window. “Convention.”
Willow was impressed. Ticked off, sure, but still impressed. She wondered how he had learned about business conventions but had never learned of the Mile High club.
When he didn’t ask her a follow-up question, Willow released a sigh. The seat belt digging into the flowing skirt over her thighs, she leaned towards the driver. At the next red light, she smiled up at the rear-view mirror and the driver noticed her close presence.
“You still going to the Hampton?” he asked, clearly puzzled by her display of friendliness. Welcome to L.A.
“Yes,” Willow chirped, “we both are. In fact, we’re going to the same room. We’re having an affair. I’ll give you an extra fifty if you make me a blond and him a young, whale-sized Southerner when you mention our descriptions to the PI who asks, okay?”
The driver opened and closed his mouth. “Whatever you say, lady.”
Willow leaned back into her seat, crossing her arms. She could feel Severus’s glare, hot on her cheek. She heard his buckle unclick and her body tensed. She expected his cold voice to be aimed in her direction. And maybe his wand, too.
Instead, she felt fingers touch her chin and turn her face. Her eyes widened. The man’s black eyes were digging a hole in her. She could feel him fiddling around on the outskirts of her mind, but she didn’t shove him out. He was still wearing a frown when he leaned against her, kissing her lips gently.
Without another word, he slid back into his seat, finding the buckle.What the. . . OH. Confirming our story. Gotcha.
Willow let out a breath she hadn’t realized she was holding.
The driver’s quickly averted eyes told her that the point had definitely gotten across. In fact, his eyes darting from the road to the rear-view in anticipation started to creep her out a bit. She distracted herself by digging out the fee (and the added “tip”).
“East Hampton Suites,” the driver announced, a hint of annoyance in his voice. Apparently, he was sad to see the couple go.
Willow unloaded a bundle of cash and pushed Snape out the curb-side. Severus shot her a quick glare, visibly biting his lip as she paid for his ride as well. When he turned toward the hotel’s entrance, Willow grabbed his hand, holding him back.
“We’re not staying here,” she announced.
Snape raised a questioning brow. “Do explain.”
“We’re staying at the Economy a few miles south,” she continued. His brow raised, and she smiled sheepishly. “My friend made reservations here, but I don’t think we should stay under my name, do you?”
Snape led her away from a crowd of teenagers walking past, his voice hushed. “And this delay was simply to throw off that pathetic driver? A bit much, I think.”
Willow snorted. “No. We stopped here because I need to check up on someone who happens to be at a law firm a few blocks away.”
“There you go with that ‘we’ thing.”
Willow pulled him along the sidewalks and into a small travel agency. The woman at the front desk opened her mouth, but, before she could utter a word, Willow cut her off.
“Just looking, thanks,” Willow snapped before hiding behind the door way, one eye on the watch around her wrist. “And just about now…” She leaned over, glancing out at the sidewalk. An old man passed. Not who she was looking for. “And he’s late.”
“What are we doing?”
“I need to make sure a friend gets to the law firm,” Willow said. Competent isn’t exactly the word of the day in Andrew’s calendar.
“His backup won’t be here until later tonight.”
Snape walked away from her, something resembling a snort issuing from his nose. He glanced at the wall of brochures, his fingers running over their glossy edges. So many places to escape to. And he’d chosen Ohio.
“Planning a vacation?” Willow asked, her eyes still out the glass door. They darted over to the man’s back. She saw him pick up a flyer announcing the romantic exoticism of Brazil. It was Willow’s turn to snort. “I saw Iguanza Falls last year. We stayed at the Cataratas.” Willow took her eyes off him again, glaring at the glass as if had been the one to wrong her. “It was beautiful. You should go sometime.”
“We?” Snape inquired. He turned to face her.
“My partner and I.” Willow took a breath, feeling a sting at her eyes. “My ex-girlfriend.”
Snape was quiet a moment. “Perhaps I’ll visit.”
Willow opened her mouth to speak, but a head of short blond hair caught her eye. Andrew strode past with a small bag in hand. Apparently, he’d already dropped his things off at the hotel. Willow motioned for Snape to follow her and took off behind Andrew’s humming form.
A few minutes of watching Andrew trip over his feet at the sight of an excitable movie poster, left Willow with a frown. She stopped when he crossed the street, heading along the sidewalk past a wide sign that read “Wolfram and Hart.” Snape came to a stop beside the red head.
“I’ve heard of this firm,” Snape announced, his dark brow knitted in thought. His piercing gaze found Willow.
“Not of the good, I know,” Willow said, blushing. “It’s hard to explain but we’ve got…old friends who work here. “
Snape didn’t reply.
Willow chose to ignore his silence, staring after Andrew’s bumbling form instead. The young man entered the double doors to the firm’s wide foyer. Willow watched intently, her face glowing slightly as she waited for a sign from within, anything to hint that the firm’s reaction to Andrew had been less than friendly. There was nothing.
“Hmm.” Willow cocked her head. “Part of me was expecting him to get kicked back out. Go figure.” She turned to face the man beside her. “You know, I don’t really need to watch the place all night. What are your feelings on Chinese?”
“I have had Thai once. I had no taste for it,” Severus noted, his voice crisp from the memory.
“Too spicy for your stuffy taste buds?” Willow grinned. “I think we can find you some nice, bland duck sauce somewhere.” She hooked her arm into the crook of his arm. “So you’ve never had a fortune cookie?”
“I fear I’m missing out on absolutely nothing.”o)0(o
“Drumroll, please. . . No, that’s an eggroll. . .Nevermind.” Willow cleared her throat and began to read the slip of paper. “‘A promotion is in your future.’ Oh, goddess, I hope not.”
She shuttered, dropping the slip into her platter of moo goo chicken. Snape raised a brow. You really are working those forehead muscles hard today.
Willow smirked at the thought of muscles then blanched, shaking her head as if it would stop the potion’s effect. It only made her dizzy.
“Are you having convulsions?” Severus asked, a plastic wrapper crackling in his fingers.
“Will you just open yours already?”
Snape sat a bit straighter. “These are foolish, muggle proverbs so general that they may fit any lifestyle.”
He sneered at the cookie, breaking it in half. “‘You will have a romantic encounter in the near future.’” His black eyes darted up. “Poppycock,” he snapped, tossing the slip into the cup of tea he’d abandoned. “I forgo your predictions; though, I might eat the cookie in the end.”Oh, Goddess. . .
Willow choked on her fortune cookie, lemon flavored crumbs spilling down her blouse. She regained herself, staring out at the cold presence before her. They locked eyes for a moment before she looked down, biting her lip. Ok, calm it down, tree-girl. There was no dirty joke there. You’re hearing things. Damn potion causing random phrases to take on new meanings! Come on! Have some lesbian pride already.
“Chew,” Snape commanded, leaning back into his chair. The dim light of the restaurant cast his gaunt face in shadow.
“You should wear your hair back,” Willow muttered.
Willow attempted to bite her lip and failed. “No-nothing. Just, you know, a suggestion.”
Snape stood suddenly, walking toward the back exit. Willow jumped up to follow him, a shameful frown on her face.
“Stop it!” she snapped. “I didn’t mean it like that. . .Seriously, keep your hair however you want it.”
She stepped out into the darkened alleyway. “Severus?”
A hand caught her from behind, pulling her to the ground. Before she could protest, she saw a flash of Snape above her, his body in a half-crouch, his wand at the ready. His hissed a word between his lips and a bolt of red flew out of the wand and toward the door Willow had just exited. She held back the screech in her throat when she heard a string of swear words.
A man fell out of the door, his wand flying through the air.
“Run!” Snape hissed, pulling Willow to her feet.
They crossed the alleyway and ran out into the empty street. The wizard’s arm tightened around her waist. Willow closed her eyes as a strange sensation swept through her. She grimaced, a force pulling at her, willing her to let go of the man at her side. Instead she held on tighter. In an instant, it was over.
With a pop
, they reappeared behind the airport terminal.
“They found us?” Willow huffed, regaining her footing.
Severus kept his arm around her, as if they might continue the trip at any second. “Obviously,” he snapped. “They were watching you,” he added.
They walked out onto the busy sidewalk where a crowd of tired passengers were exiting towards the car rentals. He lowered her head towards her ear, watching the corner of the airport out the side of his eye.
“Perhaps they realized who you were,” he answered, leading her into the parking lot. “You are, after all, considered quite the threat. You should separate from me before they bring up conspiracy charges. You’re a muggle—they wouldn’t bother with a trial before capturing you.”
The wizard waited for an elderly couple to pass before whipping out his wand and pointing it at one of the cars. She heard an electrical click from within it. She tried the handle. It opened. She slipped inside. Snape walked around the front, sliding into the driver’s seat as if it came natural to him.
“You know how to drive?” Willow asked. From what she had gathered, he didn’t seem very familiar with any form of transportation that didn’t involve magic.
“We’re not using the vehicle.” He reached across to grab her hand tightly. “Hold to me,” he ordered.
Before Willow could register what they were doing, she felt the familiar pull of that powerful force. They landed behind the hotel Hampton. Willow took a shaky breath.
“That’s quite enough of that,” she announced. “ Why are we here again?”
“Because I’m unfamiliar with the hotel you wanted to visit. We can stay here, in a room that is not under your name,” Snape announced.
“What was the deal with the car?” Willow asked. She shook her head, the answer already there. “My theory! About tracking magic. You took it seriously?”
Snape paused, finally releasing a sly grin. “They will have a difficult time finding the location of our last apparition, I assume.”
Willow snorted, approaching the back entry of the hotel. She held a hand in front of the door’s lock and the light flickered green above the card slot. She pulled the door open, gesturing for him to enter.
“I have a few tricks myself,” she said.
“As I’ve noted,” Snape said, amusement in his usually cold voice. He walked inside. “Which room?”
Voices were approaching from around the corner. Willow grabbed the wizard’s arm and pulled him towards the elevator. With a ding, it opened and the pair entered. Willow pressed a floor number without thought.
“Wanna suite?” she asked.
They walked down a long and rounded a corner. Willow looked over both shoulders, putting her back to the security camera. Her hand hovered over the card slot and the door popped open. She pushed it slowly, scoping out the room.
“Empty,” she announced.
She shut the door behind them, latching the lock without a second thought.
Snape nodded to himself. “You should be safe here,” he noted, “but it would be best if you changed your location in a few hours.”
Willow’s gaze narrowed. “You’re planning on leaving,” she said softly.
The man didn’t reply. She reached out, grabbing his arm. “Are you?” she snapped.
Snape’s black gaze caught her. “Yes. The longer I stay near you, the more likely it is that you’ll be charged with aiding a murderer…”
“But you’re not guilty.”
“I am!” he hissed, this face livid. He pulled out of her grip and stepped away, meeting her eye. She could feel his mind tugging onto hers. “I am a killer, Ms. Rosenberg. I have no idea why you refuse to belief that simple fact—perhaps the potion has a stronger effect on you than you know. Your judgment is obviously impaired, or you would have realized that I am not the sort of fellow to question!”
Willow shook her head, flinging his mental touch back at him. “Stop,” she growled, “trying to make me believe that!”
She pushed the magic back at full force. An image flashed across her mind. It was Severus, young, his face smooth but just as pale. And livid. He was arguing with another woman around Willow’s age, a red head with a round, pregnant belly. The scene flashed to another one, to an older Snape, the cold man who Willow had come to know. . .An old man was across from him. . .”After all this time. . .” the old man seemed to say.
Snape broke away from the memory, collapsing to the floor. He breathing was heavy, his hands shaking against the carpet beneath him. The knuckled over his wand were white from strain, and his face looked just as bloodless.
“Who was that?” Willow asked. “And who’s Lily?”
The wizard flinched at the name. “Who is the woman you killed for?” he hissed in return.
Willow’s face paled. “How. . .dare you,” she breathed. She could feel the darkness building in her, seeping through her pores as she approached him. Suddenly she stopped, her expression lightening as the relevance of his question hit her. “Oh. . . She was. . .” Her voice trailed off. “I look a little like her, don’t I?”
The look of hatred on Snape’s face had not faded in the least, but an answer seemed to force its way out of his mouth. “Yes. You do.”
“It’s hard for you,” Willow said. She shook her head, putting out a hand to help him up.
Begrudgingly, the wizard took it. He didn’t release it when he came to his feet. “That wasn’t yours to know. If it wasn’t for. . .” He glared at her. “If it wasn’t for this potion, I would have. . .”
“What?” Willow asked. She swallowed hard. “You would have what? Used that against me?”
The wand flew from his hand, bouncing off of the room’s door. Snape’s eyes widened, his face painted with a look of shock and contempt.
“What now?” Willow egged. “No wand? What would you do to me without your stick, hmm?”
She raised her hand, and he flew backward, bouncing off the closer of the two beds. He tried to raise himself onto his elbows, but she flicked her finger, and he fell flat against the comforter.
“Not much of anything, I guess,” she concluded. The witch approached, leaning over him. “Now who’s Mr. Bad Ass Wizard Guy?”
He jerked up, grabbing both of her shoulders and throwing her down onto the bed beside him. His lips found hers in an instant. Willow pushed her head back into the bed, a toothy grimace on her face.
“I am,” he sneered. He released a frustrated sigh and rolled away from her. He sat up on the edge of the bed, his legs hanging off.
Willow pushed herself up onto her elbows, her expression softening. I can’t believe I’m doing this! I shouldn’t. I really shouldn’t.
Snape turned. “What?”
“I. . .” Willow tripped over her own voice. “I mean, I’m not really into the stubbly crowd—haven’t been for some time now. But I wouldn’t mind.” She puffed out her cheeks. “I mean. I won’t slap you or anything.”
The wizard blinked. He opened and closed his mouth. Finally, he replied, “It’s the potion.”What in Hades am I doing again?
Willow raised a brow. “Yeah, and?”
Snape cocked his head. “You cannot be seriously entertaining the thought of. . .”
The witched awkwardly scooted closer, reaching out to touch his cheek. “You don’t know me very well,” she noted. “I entertain. A lot. Call me Ms. Hostess. I don’t see where I’m not getting this point across. I’m mean, kudos to you for trying to resist. But, we can’t just ride this out. . .” She hesitated, frowning. “Or I guess you could say that we can just ride this out, just not in that sense.”
She bit her own cheek to stop herself from going into full babble mode. “I mean, I guess we could just wait for it to end, but then I’ll go back to being all resentful of my ex, and you’ll go back to whatever asexual behavior you were previously maintaining. . .”
The wizard leaned into her, his dark hair brushing her neckline. She sucked in a nervous breath as his hand began to tug up her long peasant skirt. He ran his lips across her collar bone.
“After all,” she whimpered, “we are adults. And people get together all the time for his type of thing—and there are not even potions involved, most of the time. . .” Her voice cut off as his hand gripped onto her smooth hip, his fingers pulling at the string of cloth stretched across her skin.
“You can quit talking now,” he noted.
She released a nervous giggle before catching herself. “I won this one,” she concluded.
He conceded. “Indeed you did, Ms. Rosenberg.”