Of Shellfish Affections and Candy Thievery
Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter or Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I claim no rights to copyrighted material.
“We had the best search her mind, Moody—there’s nothing there.”
“She aided a murderer, girl. And there’s no trace of the Imperious in her memories. That should be something that bothers the lot of us. She’s hiding something, I tell you. She knows where Snape is, she must.”
“You’re paranoid. No one can hide their thoughts that well. Not from professionals. Especially not someone using muggle-magic.”
“Well, Ms. Nymphadora
, perhaps if you’d read the reports on this particular witch-“
“She’s a muggle, and the reports from the States are notoriously exaggerated. And don’t ever use my name again.”
“Exaggerated? She destroyed a town.”
“Supposedly,” the woman’s voice pointed out. “Moody, she’s been obviated so much that I doubt she’ll remember his local, even if she’d somehow managed to keep the information from our people.”
The man growled. “Mind you this, there’s something not right here, and I mean to find out what it is. This one’s just lucky she’s not a registered witch and that she’s got friends in high places. If. . .”
“Quiet—I think she’s waking up!” the woman hissed. “Get going before she sees your ugly mug and has a fit. Dobbs and I will take care of it from here.”
There was a sudden pop
Willow’s eyes flickered open at the sound. She looked around, taking in the usual sights of her home, the familiar touch of her couch beneath her. Two people were standing in front of her fireplace, their backs to it. Willow noticed their uniforms at once—they worked with the gas department.
“No leaks, thankfully,” one of them, a middle aged woman with a surprisingly young, strangely accented voice said. “Did you hear me, madam?”
Willow blinked in confusion. “Did I fall asleep?”
The male worker cleared his throat, drawing her attention. He looked about the woman’s age, but balding and his voice was heavy and laced with Jersey. “Yeah, you said you were tired, after the trip. Plane rides wear me out, too, you know?”
Without fully registering his words, Willow nodded along with them. She could remember it now, coming in from her boring trip from L.A. She’d seen Andrew from afar, retired to her hotel room where she’d watched TV and ordered far too much food. She’d had lobster. Funny, she didn’t care much for seafood.
She shook her head, pushing that aside. She’d gotten off the plane in Cleveland, taken a taxi back to her place, settled in right before the gas people had arrived to check on her lines. That was about right, she determined. She must have conked out for just a few minutes then.
But hadn’t she heard voices earlier? And neither one of them had had a Jersey accent. Was someone else here? And what was up with the woman’s obviously fake American accent. Willow stared at the other woman, uneasiness coursing through her. She could have sworn she knew the woman, even if her face didn’t look the least bit familiar.
“Thanks for checking on my lines,” Willow muttered. She stood up, her legs jelly beneath her. Her body swayed back and forth and a splitting headache shot from temple to temple. She grasped her head in both hands, groaning. “Who hit me with a bat?”
“Are you alright?” the woman chirped, stepping forward quickly.
Willow looked up. The woman’s look of concern was comforting, but Willow’s eyes crossed past her to the man behind her. His body was tense, his knuckles white where they held a long toolbox. If Willow didn’t know better, she would have sworn he looked ready to attack her.
“Fine. Just feeling a bit woozy,” Willow assured. She decided that sitting back down would be a good idea. She fell against the pillows, rubbing her forehead.
“Alright then,” the man said, tapping the woman on the arm to signal her. “We’ll be leaving then. Have a good afternoon.”
Willow nodded, watching them retreat to the front door, closing it behind them. Her eyes narrowed. That was a little weird, wasn’t it?
She shook her head. No, she’d just freaked them out with her klutziness, she was sure. Her purse was on the floor at the end of the couch. She picked it up, looking from its open zipper back to the little stand beside the front door where she usually sat her bags when she came in.
“That’s odd,” she muttered.
She dug inside, pulling out a small bottle of aspirin and tiny bottle of water she’d grabbed at the hotel. Willow took the pills and a swig of the water. It was cold. She frowned. I thought airports took up unsealed bottles?
Willow took a breath, pushing thoughts of plane security aside for the moment. When she made it back up, she decided that the clothes she was wearing felt a little worse for wear. She walked towards her room. The closet doors were looming, so she dug into her dresser, instead, pulling out a pair of sweats. The shower was calling. . .“Moo! Moooo!”
And it didn’t sound a thing like that. Willow glared at her alarm clock. Cows were cute, in a bovine way, but this Christmas present gone wrong was quickly becoming annoying. “Wake up, farmer. Ol’ Betsy needs a milkin’!”
Willow frowned. When had she even set the alarm? She smacked “Ol’ Betsy” on the head, stopping the plastic cow from continuing. She’d almost turned back towards her bathroom when she saw the item behind the clock. It was a small bag from a department store.
“I thought I left you in the living room, candy,” she remembered. Her stomach growled at the thought. To have eaten so much, she sure felt hungry.
She shook her head. “Why in the goddess’s name would I have eaten lobster?” she asked. Nevertheless, she picked up the bag, dumping out the underwear set to get to the heart-shaped box of chocolates there.
She sat on the edge of her bed and pulled off the lid. Four chocolates ranging from dark to milky stared back at her. There were supposed to be five. One was missing, and she was certain she hadn’t eaten it.
In the distance, Willow’s phone nearly rang off its hook. She ignored it, continuing to stare down at the box of chocolates. She could hear Buffy’s voice over the answering machine, asking her what had happened to her cell, instructing her to call as soon as she got in from L.A. But, still, the witch ignored the voice. Her eye had caught a slip of paper stuck to the inside of the box-top.
She pulled it free. A square valentine, perforated edges included, unfolded in her hands. The front showed a cartoon kitten dressed as a witch stirring a cauldron. “Dear Valentine. . .” the front read. She flipped it over. The back’s pre-written script read, “You put a spell on me. “
The to and from portion was blank, but at the corner, a pen had left its mark in small, precise font. Cataratas.
Beneath, it was signed a name: Bestman.
Willow’s brow furrowed. But a smile crept onto her face, even as her head felt as if would split open. A moment in a small room covering pamphlets crossed her eyes. A blurry memory. There was a man. . . She knew him. Somehow.
She walked to her desk, sitting down, her eyes scanning the window to make sure that the curtains were closed. When she was certain she was alone, she picked up her pen, holding it against the paper. She hesitated only a moment before writing: Planning a vacation?
Willow nearly jumped when the letters faded away, new words taking their place. She sighed, as if in relief, a sad grin planted on her face as she slowly read the message. She folded the valentine when she’d finished, her eyes distant with thought.
“Severus,” she whispered. End Notes: So, I only have one chapter to go on this story. Encouragement and suggestions are much welcomed. Thanks for reading!