Hogwarts, Meet Willow
I owe you all a large apology. You’ve all been great – encouraging and understanding about my lack of work over the last year. I unfortunately neglected to post this chapter. I posted it on ff.net … in June 2006. I’m sorry! … ummm … enjoy?Chapter 4 – Hogwarts, meet Willow
Severus woke up two days later, much to the surprise of Pomfrey and the joy of Willow. She’d been asleep by his bed and her fist words upon waking had nearly stopped his heart.
“You’re free, love.”
Free. No more hiding, no more pretending. There was a lot he could do to stop Voldemort, a lot he had to do, but…
He was given the day off, partially because it had been nearly 1:00 when he’d awoke. He and Willow had spent the afternoon in his quarters, catching up – much to the consternation of his colleges, who didn’t know what to make of Severus having a personal life.
Severus’s first full day up happened to be a Saturday, and a Hogmeade day at that. Excitement rippled through the halls, as Christmas break started in only a week and this was the last chance to shop.
The sight of Severus entering the Great Hall cause almost complete silence. At Dumbledore’s insistence, the Prophet had published a story about Severus’s duties and discovery. The students had no idea what to make of the hero – they still thought that he was a git.
Little had changed in his appearance; his robes were black and his sneer was firmly in place. Few noticed that his hair lacked its usual shiny greasiness in favor of staring at the elaborate oak cane he used. The clank of it touching the ground was still the loudest sound in the Hall.
Dumbledore stood as he reached the teacher’s table.
“Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in welcoming Professor Snape back.” There was a scattering of applause, but not one of the Slytherins moved. “He will start teaching again Monday. Enjoy your Saturday.”
“Was that really necessary, Albus?”
“Yes, Sevrerus. How are you feeling?”
Severus merely sneered, as Albus knew what his answer would be. There was silence for a minute before Minerva spoke from Dumbledore’s other side.
“Where’s Willow?” The question caught the other teachers’ attention. They’d heard about the girl from Pomfrey and McGonagal, and had felt the power she’d released while healing Severus, but had yet to see her.
“She’s currently looking up information for a Watcher in the States –“ He pause for a second as Minerva lifted her teacup to her lips. “Something about an apocalypse. His smirk widened as she choked on her tea.
“Excuse me?” Professor Sprout looked startled as Minverva coughed.
“An apocalypse, Pamona. She’s rather annoyed. She is on vacation, after all.”
“Terribly inconvenient.” Dumbledore agreed, his eye twinkling madly.
Any response their dumbfounded colleagues might have given was interrupted by the arrival of Willow herself. Her appearance caught the attention of several students – she simply did not look like she belonged in the Great Hall. There was a medieval feel to the dark green dress she wore. It had a tight, decently low-cut neckline and long, flowing skirts. Her red hair contrasted sharply with the color and shone like silk in the sun light. What eventually caught most of the students’ interest, however, was the power wrapped casually around her like a cloak. The entire student body was watching as she approached the head table.
“Ms. Rosenburg, I trust all is well?”
“Please, Professor, it’s Willow. And, yes, everything is settled. Or it will be soon.” With that, she walked over to Severus and sat next to him. This caused a flurry of whispers. There was another seat open, you see, and no one willingly sat next to
their snarly potions professor.
“Oh, for –“
“Calm down.” Severus turned his and smiled at her. He was careful to keep his face hidden from the students. He had a reputation to uphold. As it was, the teachers on the other side of Willow gaped at him. “How are Faith and Robin?”
Willow sighed as she grabbed some toast. “Annoyed. Their research team is full of idiots.”
“The ‘apocalypse’ was just a fear demon – Gachnar, to be exact.”
It was then that she realized that the other teachers were listening.
“A fear demon?” Pamona enquired faintly. “Aren’t they something to worry about?”
“Not as a rule, no. The most effective way of killing them is to simply step on them.” She smiled calmly at the various faces of disbelief directed her way. “The largest is only about six inches tall, after all.”
There was silence before Madame Hooch began to snicker. “Six inches?” Some of the other teachers joined in.
Five Minutes Earlier
Harry Potter listened to his best friends Hermione and Ron bicker over Ron’s homework. It was a common topic, and one that would never be fully exhausted. In fact, Harry was certain that it would continue long after they had graduated by simply replacing ‘homework’ with ‘work’. Hopefully, however, they would have realized by then that they actually enjoyed these ‘chats’ and cared about each other – as disturbing as Harry found the idea, at least snogging was relatively quiet.
He was about to start refereeing them when movement caught his eye.
Both Hermione and Ron turned and Ron’s jaw dropped.
“Bloody Hell! Who’s she?
Hermione began to berate Ron for his language but Harry’s attention was focused solely on the woman in front of him. He could feel the power radiating in a way that even Dumbledore couldn’t on a regular basis. Plus, something about the way she carried herself made Harry like her immediately.
The others around them had noticed the Redhead and were now talking quietly amongst themselves.
“Why’s she sitting next to Snape?”
“She must be nuts – Snape?”
“Who is she?”
It was Hermione, as usual, who had the answer.
“Didn’t you hear what Dumbledore called her? That’s Willow Rosenberg!” She was met with blank faces. “Oh, for – Do you remember all the stuff in the papers a few years ago about the slayers?”
“No.” Ron looked as clueless as usual, but he wasn’t spraying toast with every word he said, so Hermione was willing to overlook it for once. “What’s a slayer?”
Surprisingly, it was one of the twins who answered. After the fiasco last year with her toadliness, Mrs. Weasley had insisted that both Fred and George return to school and complete their NEWTS. Of course, she had no legal control over either of them (their age and the success of the their joke shop, Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes, insured their independence), but not even the illustrious pranksters were willing to piss the matriarch off. Their … vacation had had some good points, however. Both had begun to develop their own style, so it was possible to say with certainty that it was Fred who began to speak
“Slayers, Ronnikins. As in Vampire Slayers?” Fred shook is head at his brother’s ignorance. “Vampire Slayers are protectors of man-kind from all of the dark creatures out there. They’re usually young –“
“Babes.” George finished with a grin.
“Really!” Hermione glared at the pair before turning back to Ron. “Slayers are typically teenage girls who are given super-strength, speed and other powers. They do protect us from the various demons that roam the earth. It use to be that there was only one. When she died, the next was called.”
“’Use to be’?” Fred asked. “I thought that that was still true.”
“No.” Hermione shook her head. “A couple of years ago, something started attacking the girls that were candidates to be Chosen. It even destroyed their guardian’s Headquarters. The current Slayer couldn’t handle it and its army.”
“Why didn’t the Ministry help?” Seamus asked. By now, they’d gathered a large crowd of people who were either interested
in the Slayers or wanted to know more about Willow.
“Who knows?” Ron Snorted. “It’s the Ministry. What’s this got to do with the bird?”
Hermione sent him a scolding look. “Well, the only way she and her companions could think of getting all of the help they needed was to activate all of the potential Slayers. There are thousands of them now.”
“So, Ronald, Willow is the one who activated them. We’re talking ancient magic – Dumbledore couldn’t have done it, even if he was Wiccan. She’s probably the most powerful Wiccan in the world.”
There was silence for a moment as everyone stared at the laughing red head up at the teachers’ table. Finally Ron summed up how everyone was feeling.