A Letter Recieved
Chapter 2 - Letter Received and a Journey Through the Past
Willow Rosenberg was bored. For nearly a month, she had been stuck in her office, doing paperwork. The result was that she was completely caught up and had even been able to get started on research for projects that had been put off. None of this mattered, however - she wanted to be back in the field.
Willow wanted an apocalypse.
Oh, she didn't want one to succeed. She just wanted one to kill.
This might sound a little odd, but one had to look at this in perspective. Willow was a Wiccan, one of the most powerful in the world. She was also Deputy Head of the New Watcher's Council. The new Council had come into existence after the old one had been blown to pieces and - save for being brought out of the 1800's and being given some humanity - was relatively the same. Their job was simple: to train, guide, and mentor the Chosen, the Vampire Slayer.
At one point, it had been One. "One girl in all the world." Willow had in fact known the last Lone Slayer. They had been best friends. She smiled at the pictures on the wall; one of her with a blond girl and brunette boy and another of her and a whole group of people armed with crossbows and other weapons. Buffy Summers had started the process of multiplying the Slayers when she had drowned and been revived after fighting a powerful vampire at just 16. It had been enough to call Kendra, who had been replaced by Faith after her death 7 months later.
Eventually, there had been just Faith. Buffy had died protecting her sister and saving the world. For some reason, no one was called and the formerly rogue Slayer was left to fulfill the duty. The months that followed had been hard. It had taken a lot to trust Faith - she had, at one point or another, tried to kill all of them as she helped one of the Big Bads try to take over the world - but everything had worked out.
It had been Willow who had expanded on the "Chosen Two." Something (later they would found out that it was the First evil and its minions) had been taking out potential Slayers, had succeeded in destroying the Council. Eventually, Willow had had to cast a spell to unlock the powers of each girl. It had been dangerous, given her lapse of control not a year earlier, but worth it. There was now an army of Slayers and none were too alone or too young or unprepared. They could choose to lead another life, have another future if they desired. And they'd kicked the First's butt.
Her thoughts were interrupted by the sudden appearance of a strange bird. Instinct had Willow pulling a knife out before she had fully registered its presence. One she did...
"Fawkes?" The knife slid from her hand. She had never seen the phoenix before, but his appearance could mean only one thing - Severus.***************6 years earlier
The weather was not living up to its reputation. England was supposed to be cold and wet, not beautiful and sunny. It was still slightly chilly to Willow's California blood, but the view made up for it.
She had been in the English countryside for nearly a month now. Most of her days were spent studying and meditating with her teachers, a coven of Witches. She had managed to control her power to an extent and they even started practicing simple spells. Despite this, and the quiet confidence the women around her had in her, Willow was hesitant to even think about her life in California.
She was scared.
She had betrayed her friends' trust; she had hurt the people that she called family. She had killed a man. She had tried to end the world.
She knew that she had not been in her right mind. The dark magic of the Hellmouth had taken over when her emotions had reached an all-time high and her resistance was already weak from the magic withdrawal she had been going through. But she was afraid of losing control again. She could not risk it - she had gotten closer to ending the existence of life than anyone else - except maybe Angelus, and that was not exactly a point in her favour. Besides, the others wanted nothing to do with her. Why should they? She had nearly killed Dawn before she had gone evil, trying to get a fix. They should just stay away....
Severus regarded the young woman looking over the cliff. He knew that this was a bad idea, but his Aunt had asked and she was the one person who he could not refuse. It was bad enough that Albus insisted on having him around children, but helping a soul trying to find redemption? He had not even found it himself.
He knew who she was, of course. The Watcher's Diaries had finally come out a year ago, after nearly a 6-year lapse. For the most part, they were used as obscure DADA texts, but there were those that read them for entertainment. This girl, Willow, had featured prominently in the journals of Rupert Giles. Her obvious Gryffindor tendencies had made her of little interest to him until he had read of her first spell. As he continued to read, her exploits into the field of magic were a source of consternation and reluctant admiration. When he had finished the last volume, something had compelled him to reread the earlier years, paying more attention to the shy young girl who had been thrown into a very strange world.
He had been shocked when Aunt Gwen had approached him. Not just for the obvious reasons - comfort and guidance were not exactly his forte - but because he found it hard to believe that relatively wholesome, foolish (she had to be to take on a goddess, even if she had won) girl was capable of skinning a man alive. Such a powerful light force turning dark so quickly was like Potter turning Slytherin - impossible. Although, the warning signs had been there. The Watcher had been too busy training his new SlayerGiles.
He watched as the Watcher approached her and began to talk to her quietly. He had been a surprise, as well. Severus did not know what he had been expecting, but this middle-aged man in his tweed jacket with leather elbow patches had not been it. This man had trained the longest-living Slayer in history, and was responsible for the current one. He should have had an aura to match ... well, Dumbledore or some one like him.
Suddenly, both figures turned to him. Rosenburg stared at him in surprise as Giles motioned him over.
"Willow, this is Severus Snape."***************
It was their last day together. Neither Willow or Severus wanted to admit it, but they had grown to enjoy each other's company. It had been a rocky beginning; Willow had wanted little to do with the grumpy man and Severus had not realized what the diaries had meant by "Willow babble" until it had hit him in the face.
Eventually, they had managed to form a tentative friendship. They had talked late into the night on several occasions and both had benefited more than either knew.
"I don't want to go back." Willow was close to shaking.
"Don't be ridiculous." Severus raised an eyebrow. "They know the risks and still want you there. I doubt that the Slayer is worried about dealing with you if necessary."
She smiled faintly. It had taken a while for her to get to know him well enough, but she now realized that this was his way of reassuring her. "I guess that you're right." She paused and bit her lip. "I'll miss you...and everyone."
There was silence.
"Uh...Can I write you?"
His only response was a slight nod.***************One Year after that
Severus had never moved faster. His black robes billowed out behind him menacingly, causing any students he met on his path to make themselves as scarce a possible. It was just as well - if any of them had been able to get a glimpse of his face, they would have been very, very worried.
There was only one word for the look on his face. Relief. Like every other magical being, he had felt the sudden surge of power that had, apparently, encompassed the whole world two days before. The pure lightness ... the goodness ... had caused his arm to throb horribly. He had been lucky; many of the other Death Eaters had been left in states that made the results of the Cruciatus curse look comfortable.
Unlike everyone else, however, he had recognized the power. Willow had this unusual, and unmistakable, scent of strawberries to her magic. He had, once again, been left in awe of her power and strength, despite the obvious assistance that was made apparent with by the ancient undertones of the burst.
So, he had waited, his panic increasing with every report that came in. Sunnydale was gone in a sinkhole caused by the complete sealing of the Hellmouth that it had resided on. There was still no word from the Slayer, and the Daily Prophet had announced that the Watcher's Council had been blown up over a month ago. While many rejoiced at the triumph of the light, and bookstores could not keep up with the sudden demand for the Diaries, Severus waited for word from Willow.
It had been partially this worry that had caused Severus to hide in his private lab for the last few days. School was not yet out, but there were no exams as part of the 'celebration' that the Chamber of Secrets was finally closed. The other part of his stress was because of where the blame was still being laid - it had become almost common knowledge that it was a Slytherin who had opened the Chamber. It could not have been Harry Potter, of course. No, he was the hero that they had wrongfully suspected. In addition, the real culprit was being kept quiet. It was not the Weasley girl's fault (even Severus could admit that) but he wished that there was another explanation besides those "Slimy Slytherins" as one Gryffindor had put it.
And still, there was no word from Willow.
They had grown surprisingly close over the last two years. Letters had traveled between the two weekly, detailing Willow's adventures and the antics of Severus' students. It had been Severus that Willow had turned to with her doubts concerning her will power. And it had been Willow that had comforted Severus when Gwen had finally succumbed to old age at 110.
Entering his rooms, Severus was met with the most welcome sight in a long time. Willow was sitting in one of his high-backed chairs, staring at her hands. The light from the torches on the walls illuminated her profile, giving her an erthreal glow.
She looked up and smiled. "Severus. It's gone. The Hellmouth's gone. And the First. I did the most incredible spell - we've got Slayers now. Well, we already had Slayers, but -"
"Willow." He stepped forward and knelt beside her chair. "Calm down." He waited until she had taken several deep breaths. "Now, what do you mean by 'we've got Slayers now'?"
"They've been activated. All of the Potential Slayers. Or at least the ones in that were in Sunnydale. The others might not have been. We don't know yet."
"Wait." Severus did not like being confused. "Why were there Potentials in Sunnydale and why would you need to activate their powers?"
So Willow explained the arrival of the First and her part in its arrival. She talked about the battles against the evil-henchman Caleb and Faith losing the few leadership skills that she had possessed. She remained relatively calm until she reached the part about activating the Potentials.
"I did it, Sev. I used the scythe's power to make all of those girls Slayers. The power was ... incredible - but not in the evil-I'm-going-to-skin-someone-and-try-to-destroy-the-world way. It was ... good ... and light. It was incredible." She repeated, staring at the drink that Severus had poured her part way through her tale. She stared at him where he sat on the sofa. "I think - I think that I ascended for a bit."
Severus stared at that. No had achieved true ascension since Merlin himself had walked the earth. The power that one was said to get from such enlightenment was supposed to be truly amazing. It also guaranteed that Willow would never have to worry about "Darth-Willow", as she called it, appearing ever again - the power was reserved solely for the pure of heart and soul.
He realized that Willow had stopped talking and was just looking at him, obviously waiting a reply. He sighed and knelt back in front of her.
"Willow." He turned her face to look at him. "I'm proud of you. You won your battle. You're free." He rubbed his thumb over her cheek and stared into her eyes as that registered. The dazed, scared expression that shone in their depths was replaced with a shining joy. It lit her face up like the sun.
Suddenly, Severus remembered the terror he had felt over the last few days, and the relief he had felt at seeing her. Not really thinking about it, he moved his hand around to the back of her neck and stretched up to kiss her.
Her lips felt like heaven. It took a few seconds for Severus to stop enjoying the feeling and come to his senses. But just as he was ready to pull back and apologize profusely, she did the most incredible thing: she kissed him back.
They broke apart after a few minutes and just stared at each other in shock. Then Severus stood, pulled her up from her chair, and led the way to his bedroom. ***************
It took them a while to figure out what they were doing. Willow had to deal with her guilt over cheating on Kennedy and telling her, not to mention the idea that she was not gay, but apparently bi. She also had to get use to the instant celebrity all of the Scoobies received as the events of Sunnydale were reported to the Wizarding World and they tried to rebuild the now demolished Watcher's Council.
Severus had to adjust to the thought that anyone could care for him that way, especially as he picked up his spying duties once more. But they managed and somehow kept themselves a secret from the world.