: I own neither Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Harry Potter, but I would if wishes were horses.Summary
: After months without word, Snape stumbles back into Buffy’s life, this time with a proposition the Slayer is unable to refuse. It will take her to England to act as the last link between two sides of a war shaking the foundation of a world that could never be her own.Spoilers
: All seasons of BtVS and up to book 6 of HP.Rating
: FR15/Strong PG-15.Note
: This is a continuation of Perdition, with a plot bunny that finally seems to fit where the story left off. Read it
if you’d like the background, but this can be taken by itself too, if you accept that A Slayer and A Wizard walked into a bar…14th of January
Number Twelve Grimmauld Place
They were arguing again.
Buffy quelled the urge to interrupt. Instead she leaned back on the window ledge and watched Mundungus, who was in turn examining the latest of his ill-gotten goods – the silver inkwell he had probably pinched from the study. Nearly everything that wasn’t bolted down in the house had found its way into Mundungus’ grubby hands. Well, almost everything, since the heads were still mounted in the hallway. Since Harry hadn’t done anything after catching him pilfering the silver cabinet, Buffy figured there was no point in wresting a tarnished inkwell away from him.
Instead she looked over at the remaining Order members, now busily talking over one another. It was a cacophony of heated words coming from all around the old kitchen table. Harry was pointing angrily at Hermione, who was turning shrill from trying to get her point across. Both Ron and McGonagall were attempting to moderate between them and not having any success at it. The twins had their red heads pressed close together, and who knew what they were discussing. Their father was engaging his elder sons, who were both taking Harry’s side, especially Bill—whose scarred face was beginning to turn red as he insisted his enthusiasm had nothing to do with vengeance.
Moody was, unsurprisingly, reclining back in his seat, magical eye whirring in its socket. Beside him Tonks was trying to convince Remus that Harry’s notion was a good one, while he continually shook his head. Buffy was somewhat surprised to find him upright in his seat. When he had walked in he looked as if all his strength was spent in putting one foot before the other, but there he was—unbending in the face of Tonks’ flailing hands as she painted out her side of things in the air.
The other kids were pretty quiet. Neville seemed as if he’d rather be anywhere but here, but he often looked like that. Luna’s face was hidden behind her magazine. Sitting beside her, Ginny was watching Harry with a combination of longing and disgust, the latter seemingly odd on her freckled face. It wasn’t often she disagreed with Harry to side with Hermione.
Everyone else, names and faces Buffy barely recognized, were passionately holding by their opinions.
Most everyone agreed with Harry, she figured, and were prepared to send the kid off on another dangerous mission to destroy another horcrux. The few who weren’t, ones like Remus and Hermione, were more concerned with his safety. There was no proof the horcrux was still there, and given the Death Eaters encountered the last time Harry went off to destroy a piece of Voldemort’s soul, it was far too dangerous to attempt a mission until they were absolutely certain Voldemort hadn’t moved it. After all, as Hermione pointed out, he’d be a fool not to have hidden the remaining horcruxes again.
Buffy knew she would have been on the side of trying had it not been for Severus’ warning. The fact was Voldemort hadn’t moved them, was actually hoping Harry would come after them. He was reinforcing his traps, hoping one would snare Harry long enough for the Dark Lord to swoop down atop of him and settle things before all the horcruxes could be destroyed. Grimmauld Place was under a new Fidelius Charm, and Voldemort couldn’t touch Harry so long as McGonagall went uncaught, and the Transfigurations Professor hadn’t left Hogwarts since the school shut down. Now the horcruxes were serving as bait, and Voldemort was dangling each of them like a carrot. If Severus was to be believed, he was having fun watching the Order run all over England searching them out—picking the less wary off one by one.
In the last month alone they had lost six members. None of whom Buffy had gotten to know very well, but that wasn’t surprising since they didn’t quite trust her. Slayer or not, she was seen as another muggle, and if it weren’t for Harry she wouldn’t have been allowed into the Order at all. They may have been on the side of good, but the schisms between the two worlds ran deeply, and the wizards and witches gathered in this room regarded her as no different from the rest of the muggles helpless to stand between the Dark Lord and the rest of the world. Well, all apart from Mr. Weasley, who very nearly stalked her with his questions.
It was actually pretty lonely, not to mention insulting. She was one of the Chosen Ones, had saved the world countless times over, but any input she had to give wasn’t considered valid half of the time. All because she wasn’t a witch, wasn’t one of them
In Buffy’s opinion, Severus had chosen a terrible representative. Of course, given what the wizarding world thought of him, he hadn’t had a lot of options open to him at the time. Beggars couldn’t be choosers.
You’ll have to make them listen, he had told her when she had brought this very subject up for the fiftieth time. Make Potter listen, as impossible as such a task might be
, he had sneered.
But how to do that, when he was set on walking right into another trap?
Suddenly, it hit her. “I’ll go.”
Moody’s eye whipped around to stare right at her, and Mundungus nearly dropped the inkwell. No one else seemed to have heard.
It didn’t matter, not when Moody’s scared face turned even scarier as he smiled. “Now there’s a thought. Send a lamb to the wolves, eh? Well, here’s one for your notion, girl. They wouldn’t expect it.”
Buffy scowled. “I’m not defenseless.”
“No, but you’re not a witch, either.”
“I’ve fought off your kind before,” she insisted, sitting up straighter. “It’s just run and duck. Besides, I don’t actually have to confront anybody. I’ll scout it out. See what sort of traps Voldemort’s set.” Even if she already knew from Severus what traps were in store at the old orphanage, and Buffy herself had no intention of just scouting. What was the difference between Harry grabbing the horcrux or doing it herself? None, so far as she was concerned.
The ‘V’ word caught their attention, though. Suddenly, everybody was staring at her. “What’s that, dear?” Mrs. Weasley asked from the kitchen she had retreated to when it was clear no one had any intention of quieting anytime soon.
Miffed, Buffy let loose a calming breath before repeating herself. “I said I’ll go.” Heads were already starting to shake, the twins grinning as if she had said the funniest thing all night, and she began growing even angrier. “What? Someone needs to check it out, and it’s not like I’ve got something else to do tonight.”
Harry looked none too pleased. “I don’t need to be protected.”
And that set off another round of arguments as everyone turned their attention from the crazy muggle back to Harry. To hell with them
, Buffy decided as the voices began rising again. Since when have I ever needed anyone’s permission
? Not since she walked away from the Council, and she really hadn’t ever listened much to them to begin with. No, she’d go on her own tonight, after dinner.
Buffy looked up to see Moody with his creepy eye still fixed on her.2
Leaning forward, Buffy found that it wasn’t her imagination as Snape’s lashes fluttered uncertainly against the light. He was coming round.His heart gave out
, she remembered Doctor Kelby saying nearly two days ago, but we were able to revive him
Snape's tongue snaked out at one point to lick his lips, and then slivers of black could be seen. Buffy smiled. “About time you woke up,” she said lightly.
“What—” he paused, licking his lips again and clearing his throat. His voice sounded marginally better as he spoke again, although no where near as smooth as she remembered it being. “What day is it?”
“Sunday,” she supplied helpfully. “You’ve been out of it for a while.” She paused, uncertain whether or not she should tell him about the whole death thing. Buffy quickly decided that some news was better saved for the Doctors to share. “I’ll get you some water.”
He made a sound and closed his eyes again, which she took for an okay. Fixing a small Styrofoam cup, she dipped the straw in and then brought it to his lips. When Snape next opened his eyes, he didn’t seem at all happy with her. “I can do it myself,” he sneered, slowly lifting his hand to take the cup.
Weak as a kitten, she thought uncertainly, but since his glare was as strong as ever, she gave a mental shrug and handed his drink over. Sneering, Snape tossed the straw aside before struggling to sit up in the bed. Again, he refused her offers of help. “You’ve done quite enough,” he snapped at her, voice breaking under the strain.
Eyes rounding in surprise, and annoyance, Buffy sat back with a huff and watched him. When some of the water dribbled down his chin, it was hard not to aim a cocky grin at him and say told-you-so, but she managed. Wiping the water away with a surprising amount of dignity, considering he was wearing a hospital gown and had tubes sticking out of his arm, Severus lay back down and tried speaking again. This time, his voice was nearly back to normal. “I imagine you have better places to be.”
“Not really.” Buffy set the cup back on the small table beside the bed. “I was curious to see if your Dark Lord would show up,” she lied smoothly. “You know, bring a get well card or something.”
He stared at her, incredulous. “I beg your pardon?”
“Sure.” She crossed her legs and settled more comfortably in the chair, affecting a sunny smile. “He never did, though.” She nodded towards the table again. “No flowers.”
“You moronic…” Snape visibly calmed himself. “Consider yourself fortunate he did not,” he hissed.
So he wasn’t kidding. Buffy rubbed her arm uncertainly for a moment. “You really serve some… dark wizard?”
His eyes seemed to turn inwards for a moment, and whatever he saw caused a shadow to pass over his face. “You should have left me,” he replied before fixing his gaze back on Buffy.
Buffy blinked. She hadn’t expected that. “That would’ve been a bad idea,” she replied evenly. Because you’d be dead
. Tossing her hair back, Buffy fixed him with a steely gaze and said, “Am I going to have to kick your butt when they let you out of here?”
He smirked but said nothing, merely shut his eyes and settled into the pillow. After a moment he was fast asleep again.
Buffy waited several minutes until his breathing became shallow and even before leaving in search of coffee. This had become a familiar ritual over the last few days. Buffy arrived when visiting hours started, and spent the day sitting, or standing, near to Snape’s bed—unless she needed a short coffee or bathroom break. She had not completely lied to him about waiting to see if any Dark Lord, or whatever, would show up. She didn’t remember much of their conversation at Jack’s. It had happened over half a year before, and she had been drunk through most of it. She did remember him mentioning a club, now supposing this servitude was what he’d meant.
Disappointment didn’t cover how she felt about this revelation, but she really ought to have known. Probably at the first flare of attraction, because every guy she’d ever glanced at had a few skeletons hanging in his closet. Try a few thousand
.Just lucky that way
, she figured angrily, shoving the quarters into the machine hard enough to rattle it. Now she was going to have to find out about this Dark Lord, about what sort of things he liked to Lord over besides English wizards with permanent scowl lines drawn in their faces. I shouldn’t even wonder anymore
, she thought as the cup dropped with a click and coffee began pouring out. Of course he wants the world and everyone in it to call him Master and lick his boots. No one would be recruiting vampires for the Salvation Army. And ‘Dark Lord’ doesn’t exactly have a charitable ring to it.
Buffy was sick of dealing with vampire armies. Obviously she was going to have to talk with Severus and make certain to nip this in the butt before it had a chance to pain hers.
Buffy took her cup back to the room and sat down, thinking about what little she knew of him as she sipped. She shouldn’t have been as concerned as she was, but he had helped her when no one else had been able, had understood perfectly. He could have taken advantage but he didn’t, and Buffy wondered how dark a wizard he had to be if he helped troubled women find some safety and comfort. Maybe his situation was like Willow’s, and if so he needed more help than the Doctors could give.
She looked at his face. Unlike everyone else she had ever seen asleep, Snape’s face didn’t relax. If anything, it looked even tenser, as if he were fending off demons in his dreams. It didn’t look to her as if Snape were winning the battle.
She sincerely hoped he didn’t turn out to be an enemy, because Buffy didn’t want to have to kill someone she knew, had once depended on, again.
The next time Snape woke was four hours later, and this time he wasn’t interested in discussing Dark Lords. Instead, he turned to the IV drip in his arm. His lips twisted into a dark scowl that would have been intimidating, had Buffy not already looked into the eyes of hell itself. “Am I in a… muggle hospital?” he questioned. Then he shut his eyes painfully tight. “Of course I am. I would be on my way to Azkaban if not.” He glanced her way, and before Buffy could ask what an Azkaban was, he spoke up again. “I trust they didn’t try to sew my skin together.”
“No, they just bandaged the bite marks,” she replied, indicating the wrappings around his neck and shoulders. “You’re one lucky bastard, Sev. You know how many people survive a vampire attack? Let alone six?”
“They wanted to toy with me,” he murmured dangerously. Buffy wasn’t sure if he were angry at the vampires for trying something so foolish as let him live, or if he was ticked that she used the hated nickname. His gaze shifted from the bandages to her, looking ready to toy around a bit himself. “Lucky, indeed. How many victims are acquainted with the Slayer?”
Shifting in her seat, Buffy wondered how her secret identity always managed to become common knowledge to the people who knew her. Like Xander and Willow, it hadn’t taken him long to figure out the truth. “How did you know? Usually I have to explain it.”
“You ramble when you’re drunk, Summers. And I’m something of an expert in demonology myself.” His hand went up towards his bandages, before stilling and slowly dropping back down. “In my world we learn about the Slayer in school. It’s mostly considered an overblown legend which may or may not exist.”
“Like Big Foot?” she prompted.
He snorted. “That’s a species of half-giants whom happen to have been birthed by hags thousands of years ago. Vicious, but reclusive.”
Buffy blinked. “Huh. Loch Ness?”
“An overgrown lizard. Are we to go through all the muggle myths? Unicorns, sprites, pixies, faeries… all are quite real. They simply hide in magical forests that are inaccessible to muggles.” Snape frowned before finding a more comfortable position. “Bloody—is this damn gown open in the back?”
“Yeah,” Buffy absentmindedly answered, still awed by the fact there were unicorns. She dealt with so much evil that she had never truly considered the possibility that there might be some good out there, too.
Before she could ask about elves, the nurse came in to check on the patient. A mild-mannered, patient woman of sixty, Buffy had exchanged a few words with Janice. She enjoyed wearing a knit sweater over her uniform, and had short, curly hair held back with a headband. Although she could treat patients and visitors like overgrown grandchildren from time to time, Buffy liked the woman. Snape eyed her with something akin to horror in his eyes.
“Well, we’re finally awake I see!”
At the sugary-sweet declaration, Snape’s eyes narrowed into tiny black slits of hatred. He watched her approach the same way Buffy would have stared at a circling vamp. When she reached out to check his vitals, Snape jerked away from her. “Keep away,” he warned, lips drawn back in a snarl.
Janice raised a salt and pepper brow before clucking her tongue. “A bit cranky, are we? Well, that’s to be expected dear. You were in a very nasty way. Very nasty.”
“We?” Snape appeared to be reaching up the sleeve of his gown for a wand that wasn’t there. His eyes snapped back to Buffy, glaring momentarily, before turning back on the nurse who had suddenly pulled down the collar of his gown. “What in the hell do you think—OW!”
Her face was innocence distilled. “Sorry about that. Butter fingers.” She wiggled said appendages. “Hope I didn’t poke you too hard.”
“Is this the sort of care I’ve received?” Snape hissed furiously. “No wonder I’ve stayed unconcious for two days. Better than enduring your dubious attentions,” he finished cruelly.
“I’ll be in to change your bandages in a few hours,” she went on sweetly, as if he’d never spoken. “And I’ll let Doctor Kelby know you’re awake again, Mr Snape. Oh!” She smiled as she reached for the arm cuff dangling on the wall. “You’ve some forms to fill out, of course,” she continued as she wrapped his bicep and began squeezing the pump. Snape watched, scowling all the while. “Miss Summers here wasn’t able to supply us with your insurance information. Or give us the numbers to your next of kin.”
“Likely because they’re all dead,” he purred in a good imitation of her sugary tones.
She blinked. “Oh, that’s a shame.” She patted his shoulder, as if he needed the comforting, while he sat with a petulant, pained expression. Noticing his tight eyes, Janice stopped pumping and checked his vitals. After a few moments of silence, she spared them both a small smile. “Your ticker sounds fine.”
Snape grimaced and mouthed, ticker
Buffy, holding a hand over her mouth to staunch the urge to giggle at the look on Snape’s face throughout his new ordeal, lowered that hand. “Do you think he’ll have any problems with his heart?”
“Hard to say, dear. It’s different for everyone. But a nice young man like yourself ought to be just fine.” She smiled and patted his shoulder again before removing the cuff.
For Snape, it was as if she’d just kicked him upside the head, and it took a moment before his shellshocked expression melted away into a pinched look of fury. “Get out.”
“How about a nice dinner?” She asked, ignoring him.
“I’ll just bring something back from the cafeteria for you. I hope you like lime jello!”
And with that final, cheery statement she left—humming.
Snape shuddered. “What a horrid woman.” Then, his brain seemed to click onto the subject of their concern. “Why should my heart be an issue?”
Buffy sobered up immediately. “The doctor said that, while you were in the ER, it stopped beating.”
Snape lifted a brow before pursing his lips into a tight frown. “A possible side effect of severe hemorrhaging.”
“Hemorrhaging. Blood loss. A difficult thing to survive, especially if it was severe enough to cause my heart to stop.” He eyed her. “I suppose I have you to thank for my life.” He scowled again, a seemingly permanent feature on him…like that nose. “Spectacular. Just what I need, another life debt.”
Buffy waved it off as if batting away a fly. “Don’t worry about it. If I started counted life debts, everyone would owe me.” At his lifted brow she coughed into a hand. “It’s complicated. Or maybe not. Point is, you don’t owe me anything.” Her own brows rose. “Unless you count answers in that. Which, hey, maybe I do.”
Regarding her quietly for several long moments that seemed like hours, hours in which she didn’t breathe, Snape finally averted his eyes from her own with a nod. “Yes,” he muttered. “I might at that.” His head whipped around again. Too fast, and he winced and hiss, moving to press his hand against his neck again before forcing himself to calm. Opening his eyes, he stared intently at her once more. “I will on one condition.”
He pressed his lips together in silence, seemingly wrestling with himself again. Finally he said, “That, if I tell you, you’ll consider returning to England with me.”
Buffy’s eyes went wide as saucers. “I… what? I mean—I just met you. Well, not just, but I hardly know you.”
He sneered. “To assist me, silly girl.” Then the fight seemed to drain out of him, and he leaned back against the pillow and looked, for a moment, about twenty years older. “I am in terrible need of some help, Buffy.” He met her eyes. “If I tell you all of it, leaving nothing out, would you consider granting that help? You could save hundreds of lives in the process.”
What else could Buffy, hero extraordinaire, say to something like that but, “I promise to think about it.” And probably do it
Snape seemed to instantly relax, letting loose a long breath of air. “Good girl,” he murmured, closing his eyes. Keeping them shut, he began to speak, taking Buffy back decades to when he was a young man, angry and lonely. Back to when he was awed by a wizard named Lucius Malfoy, who first told him the name he would never forget…
“It all begins with the Dark Lord. With…Voldemort,” he whispered.
And as if that name had woven some sort of spell, Buffy listened to the rest, completely ensnared by his voice and the story he slowly managed to tell.