Happily Ever After
“Well,” Hermione yawned, “that’s it. I guess we should get going.”
“Are you sure?” Giles watched Severus stand up for the first time in weeks. He was a little bit shaky, but not too bad considering the speed at which his legs had been forced to heal. “You’re welcome to stay at my place for the evening.”
“Oh yes, I can see it now, four people trying to share that excuse you call a sofa bed.” Severus drawled. “With hospitality like that, I can’t imagine why we’d opt for the muggle automobile now.”
“Thank you Mr. Giles, but we probably should get going. Professor Dumbledore set the portkey to return at 9 a.m. Hogwarts time, so we can’t spend the night on the Hellmouth.” Hermione answered, ignoring her professor’s sarcasm.
“Besides, I so don’t want to fight L.A. morning traffic.” Cordelia added, having just returned from her evening out with Buffy and Willow.
“Then I suppose you best be on your way. Ms. Granger, it was a pleasure to meet you. Remus, err, well, good luck.” He offered his once class rival.
Severus stopped Giles’ comment with a single glare. “Please don’t give me any sappy goodbye speech. I know how you feel about me, and you know how I feel about you. It’s a miracle we haven’t killed each other, but I’d rather not press my luck.”
“Now, Sev, that’s uncalled for.” Remus scolded his fellow Order member.
“I thought all situations called for the truth.” Severus spat out.
“Now I know you’re lying. Only Gryffindors and Hufflepuffs ever believe that.” Giles said, feeling that familiar ire at his brother rise again. He had been nothing but the perfect host all week, and this was how his brother repaid him. Speaking of which, “Ms. Granger, as I can safely assume Severus is incapable of delivering any messages beyond his selfish wants, I have no choice but to ask you for a favor. Could you please tell Professor Dumbledore that as I had no access to Severus’ funds, I paid for his medical visits out of pocket, but if the Hogwarts faculty fund could arrange to reimburse me for those expenses, I’d greatly appreciate it.”
“You know, that is such a tacky mudblood response.” Severus growled. “I can’t believe you’d ask Ms. Granger for money to cover the debts of kin. It’s a good thing you left the wizarding world before it kicked you out.” Severus was absolutely appalled that Giles would bring up money in front of his student as though Snape was some drunken, lazy, lowlife that would be incapable of paying off his debt. In fact, he had already planned to take money out of his inheritance to cover the debt, but now he wasn’t sure his brother deserved those funds. Evidently Giles had turned out just like his father- too self-centered to care about tradition and taste.
The bell rang as the shop door opened and a young couple strolled in. “The only reason I asked is because muggle medical bills are outrageously expensive, which you’d know if you bothered to pick up a muggle newspaper once in awhile. Besides, I know you. As soon as you take that portkey back, I doubt you’ll give a single thought to the imposition you’ve been. You’re always like that- running away from consequences.”
“Ha! Funny that you’re talking about running away. You couldn’t leave me behind fast enough!”
“Yeah, well, you abandoned me in the snake pit long before I abandoned you!” Giles yelled, having never been so flustered before in his life.
“So, I’m guessing not the best time to visit?” A new voice cut in, halting the argument.
“Excuse me, sir, but this shop is closed right now.” Remus tried to cut in before the strangers could process the step-brothers fighting.
“Oh please.” The woman holding the man’s hand rolled her eyes. “Like I’d really spend my day-off shopping here when I work here every other day of the week.”
“Hello, Anya, Xander, is there anything I can help you with? Please, let it not be those damn gribles.” Giles tried to be professional even though all he wanted to do was wring his brother’s neck.
“Nah, we ran into Willow and Buffy at the Bronze, and they said you’d still be here doing some magical healing thingy. We figured we’d stop by, see if you needed any help, and…” Xander started to say.
“What he means to ask is, is my paycheck ready yet?” Anya cut in.
“Is your… oh, right, yes. I have it in the safe. Let me go fetch it.” Giles jumped on the opportunity to get away from his brother before he did something regrettable.
“So, Cordy, friends of yours?” Xander asked, observing the oddly dressed strangers. Anya squeezed his hand tighter at the mention of his ex-girlfriend.
“Yeah, right, because I so like to spend my time with old British dudes.” Cordy shot back.
“Oh, that’s right. Angel’s Irish, so I guess that’s oh so different.” Xander teased.
“Funny, ha, ha.” Cordelia deadpanned. “Since you were so obviously fishing for introductions, this is Hermione. She’s a witch. She’s way better than Willow; she has yet to cast an unsuccessful love spell.” Cordelia shot Xander a ruthless smile. “This is Remus; he’s some sort of wizarding werewolf.”
“How did you know?” Remus frowned. Not even Rupert knew of his lycanthropy, unless Severus had told him.
“Oh please, you flinched every time you went near the silver charms display. That’s so obvious.” Cordelia waved it off. “And finally, this is Severus Snape.”
“Ah, the evil step-brother.” Xander nodded knowingly.
“Bah, why does Rupert tell everyone that?” Severus grumbled.
“Actually, those were Buffy’s words. Gotta tell you, it’s generally better not to be labeled ‘evil’ by the slayer.” Xander answered. “Well, nice to sorta meet you. I’m Xander, and this is my girlfriend, Anya.” The ex-demon beamed at Xander’s use of the possessive pronoun.
“Soon to be fiancée, if he ever wants to have sex again.” She added with a smile.
“So nice to see you two lovebirds working it out.” Cordelia wasn’t sure whether to be smug or dumbfounded, so she settled for catty.
“Wait a moment,” Severus stepped closer to the pair on his newly healed legs. “We’ve met before.”
“No, we haven’t.” Anya looked decidedly nervous.
“Yes, we have. I never forget a face, and I know I’ve seen yours.”
Hermione glanced at Remus for some sort of sign whether this was normal Snape behavior or not. After all, if the wizards had been lying about the shortbread, and Snape was suffering from hunger, the Bruise-B-Gone could cause him to get a bit loopy. “As much as I hate to admit it, it’s true. He does have an uncanny knack for remembering things.” Remus said taking another look at the girl. She certainly didn’t ring any of his bells.
“You were a student at Hogwarts.”
“No, I wasn’t.” Anya insisted.
“Now I know you’re lying. You were a Hufflepuff.”
“What’s all this?” Giles came out of his office, carrying the check.
“Your shop girl is a witch.” Severus pronounced. “She went to Hogwarts. Perhaps she’s been a spy for the Ministry all this time.” Before anyone could react, Snape had his wand drawn and aimed at Anya.
“Hey pal, don’t poke sticks at my girlfriend.” Xander moved in front of her.
“Xander, please no sudden movements. Severus, I assure you Anya is not a spy. I know full well what her background is.” Giles was talking as calmly as he could, having recognized that gleam in Severus’ eyes.
“Clearly, you don’t. After all, you didn’t know she’s been a Hogwarts student.”
“That’s impossible. When did you see her at Hogwarts?” Giles challenged him.
“The day of the picnic.”
“What…oh, that picnic.”
Rupert had left Slytherin early that morning, sick of listening to all of Malfoy’s whining about the prefects’ duties during the picnic. At least that was the motive he gave Severus when his brother asked why he wasn’t waiting on everyone else to be ready for breakfast. Of course, he had his own reasons as well, but he wasn’t about to share them with his housemates.
He thought he’d be the first one to breakfast, but already there was a pair of Hufflepuff girls, fourth years by the looks of things, arguing at the door to the Great Hall. “I can’t believe you talked me into this, Hallie.”
“Are you kidding? This is going to be so much fun! It’s a picnic with lots of orphans making lots of wishes. How could it be any better?”
“Maybe for you, but what am I supposed to do? I don’t even like children. They’re loud and mean and leak from too many orifices.”
“I don’t know. Go for a hayride, bob for apples, have fun.”
“Excuse me,” Rupert interrupted their conversation. “I don’t suppose you’ve seen the Head Girl go by yet this morning?” They looked at him blankly. “You know, seventh year Gryffindor with red hair? Well, really more of an auburn when compared to Meggie’s…”
“Oh, her! No, we haven’t seen her. Come on, Hallie, let’s go get breakfast.” The smaller girl dragged her friend into the Great Hall. Rupert sat on the bench they’d abandoned, watching as more students went in for breakfast. He hoped Lily would get there before his own housemates showed up.
Finally, he saw, or rather heard, the Gryffindor girls coming down the hall. “Lily!” He called out as soon as she was close enough.
With a questioning look, she broke off from her gaggle of girls and joined him at the bench. “Rupert, what are you doing? Why aren’t you already eating?”
“I really need to talk to you. I…” Rupert heard Rabbie’s laugh echo down the hall. He really didn’t want the boys to be there if she said no. “Look, I know it’s not a Hogsmeade weekend, but I have to talk to you about something. Can we meet at our usual time and place?”
“What? Oh sure. Oh, wait, maybe?” Lily looked confused. “I’ve got lots of Head Girl stuff to do with the picnic, but I can meet you after breakfast. Will that work?”
“That will be excellent.” Rupert was relieved. “I’ll see you then.”
“Great.” Lily smiled. “Well, I should…” She rolled her eyes and shrugged. “Bye?”
“Bye. I’ll see you later.” Rupert couldn’t hide the grin from his face.
Lily had no sooner entered the Great Hall when his roommates turned the corner into the hallway. “I though you were hungry.” Severus greeted him.
“Mneh, I wanted to wait for you.” Rupert shrugged, and if Severus actually believed that, he should probably get his brother’s head examined.
“I just bet you did.” Severus smirked but didn’t push it any farther. After all, he had his own plans for the day.
“What picnic?” Remus asked.
“You remember, our last year, with all the orphans.” Giles filled in.
“Oh, that picnic. Wow, it’s a wonder you remember anything from that day. Didn’t you take a snowball to the head, and have to spend the entire day indoors?”
“I remember her because she was the stupid Hufflepuff I ran into.” Snape sneered.
Severus cast a nervous glance at the Gryffindor table. Today was the day he’d make his move. That is, if they ever made their move. He had no idea girls ate so slowly.
“I’m heading back to the room.” Lucius announced. To a man, all the Slytherin seventh years stood up except Severus. “Are you coming, Sev?”
“I’ll be along shortly. I just have to get more protein first.”
“More protein?” Lucius cast an incredulous glance at Severus’ plate where the eggs hadn’t even been touched. Severus’ mouth opened, but no excuse came out.
“It’s alright to tell him, Sev. I’m sure he won’t blurt it out.” Rupert interrupted. “He’s working on a project for Gran. It’s probably best if there are no witnesses.” He cast a meaningful glance at the Gryffindor Marauders.
“Ah, carry on then.” Lucius smirked knowingly. Whatever prank the brothers had in mind, it would undoubtedly be a good one. He could see why his father wanted him to cultivate a friendship with the pair.
“Thank you.” Severus went back to playing his eggs.
“You owe me.” Rupert whispered as he bumped into his brother on his way out.
“You have no idea.” Severus muttered as soon as the Slytherins had left the room. He took a sip of tea, thinking it was pumpkin juice, and nibbled on a bit of egg that was more air than food. Finally the girls stood up.
He followed them right out of the hall. Of course, the Gryffindor table was much closer to the door, so he had to hurry up if he wanted to catch them before they turned the hallway. He thought about being sneaky, but MacDuff had them walking way too fast. He resorted to being obvious. “Ms. Evans!” He called out. The girls kept walking. “Ms. Evans!” He called out again, breaking into a jog to catch up.
The moment Lily turned around he waved her over, and promptly tripped over a Hufflepuff. The pair tumbled down and landed on the stone floor. “Hey! Watch it!” The girl barked out.
“How dare you get in front of me, you stupid puffhead.” Severus sneered.
“Yeah, well, you’re a…”
“Anya!” The Hufflepuff’s friend jumped into the scrum and pulled her friend off of Severus. “You don’t have to pick on every boy you meet. For all you know, that one could be perfectly fine.” Then Hallie looked down at the sneer on Severus’ face. “On the other hand, maybe not.”
“See! Boys are bad!” The girl insisted.
“Fine. Let’s just go.” The Hufflepuff dragged her friend away.
Severus huffed and sat up. How thoroughly undignified, and now he’d probably lost his only opportunity to speak to Lily all day. Damn those stupid Hufflepuffs!
“Are you okay?” Severus looked up from dusting off his robes. Lily was looking over him, genuine concern clearly on her face.
“Oh, I’m fine. In fact, I meant to do that.” Severus tried to cover. Somehow his sarcasm wasn’t flowing as easily as it used to.
Lily giggled. “Hey, at least they weren’t Ravenclaws. Then you would have gotten an hour long recitation on the dangers of running in the hall.” Severus’ lips quirked up. Maybe she didn’t hate him as much as he feared. “So was there something you wanted to say to me? I promise I had nothing to do with that joke howler the boys sent you.”
“No, no. Well, I mean. Yes.”
“There is something I wanted to tell you. I mean, ask you. Something I wanted to ask you.”
“Oh?” Now Lily was really confused. She was always the one asking Severus for help on things. What could he possibly want from her?
Instead of standing up, Severus rolled sidewise so that he was kneeling on one leg and facing her. He took her hand in his. “Lily Evans, will you do me the honor of attending the Yule Ball with me this year?”
“The Yule Ball?” Lily blinked her eyes a few times in confusion. That was the last thing she expected from the lanky potions apprentice, but then, Severus had a habit of surprising her. “Already? It’s only November. Most boys ask so late and…LATE! Oh my gosh! I’m late! I was supposed to go right after breakfast!”
“Lily?” Severus’ face had gone white.
“Oh my.” Lily took a deep breath. “Severus, don’t take this the wrong way, but I don’t know? I haven’t even thought about the Yule Ball, and it’s so far away. I just… and today is such a bad day…”
“Does that mean…” Severus wondered if there was anyway he could recover from this, if she was actually saying no.
“That means, maybe? I mean this is all so sudden. I really need to think about this first. Can I get back to you later? How about we say by breakfast tomorrow?” Lily hemmed. She so needed to talk to Meggie about this, right after she talked to Rupert.
“If it’s alright?” She asked sheepishly. She knew it was rude, but she had really been hoping that this would be the year… and Meggie had said she thought that he was going to… and … well, if her crush didn’t ask her by tomorrow then at least she wouldn’t be alone.
“Fine. Tomorrow will be fine.” Severus said, his face going into that expressionless mask he wore most of the time.
“Thanks.” She turned her hand and pulled him up, helping him get back on his feet. “I’m so sorry. It’s just with the picnic today, and everything else, and I…”
“You said you were late.”
“Oh Merlin! I am. Sorry! I have to go.” Lily gave him a quick hug, not knowing what else to do and took off running down the hall, avoiding the underclassman as she sprinted.
“Well, not the most sterling performance ever, but not a no.” Severus sighed. “I guess I should go see Ru. He’ll know what to do.”
“Ah, well, that proves it. You must be confusing her with someone else.” Giles answered.
“And why is that?” Severus was clearly not convinced.
“Well, for one thing, anyone who’s met Anya would know that she’d be a Slytherin, not a Hufflepuff.”
“Are you a pureblood?” Severus asked Anya.
“How dare you imply… Why don’t you ask me your age while you’re at it?!” Anya decided going with an indignant huff would be the best way to play this out.
“Well, she certainly has the attitude down right for a Slytherin.” Hermione mumbled.
“Secondly, at the time that we were attending Hogwarts, Anya was employed by D’Hoffryn.”
“D’Hoffryn? I know that name.” Remus frowned in concentration. “Deadalus’ Demon Dictionary, was it? Wait a minute…”
“Anya was a vengeance demon by the name of Anyanka.”
“I prefer the title ‘patron saint of scorned women’.” Anya sniffed.
“I just bet you do.” Cordelia answered; having been one of those scorned women, she had doubts of Anya’s sainthood.
“So you see, she would never be at Hogwarts as a student. She’d only go there if she was … granting… a … wish.” Giles glanced at his employee with a new found worry, before shaking his head. “Still, I don’t see it. Anya would never be a Hufflepuff.”
“Well, hypothetically speaking, if someone in my profession were to be called to Hogwarts on business, let’s say, of all the houses they could hide in… people say the darnedest things to people wearing yellow striped ties.”
“Oh dear lord.”
“Hey, I was on a mission of mercy I’ll have you know!” Anya retorted. When that clearly didn’t take the worried look from Giles’ face she added. “It was Hallie’s idea?”
“Lovely.” Giles stared blankly ahead.
“Hey, I was just going to be another shoulder for the kids to cry on. Everyone needs someone they can talk to.”
“So sorry I’m late, but the strangest thing just happened.” Lily panted out as she ran up the stairs to the landing they always watched the Hogsmeade send-off from.
“Oh?” Rupert didn’t mind too much. He had been using the extra time to figure out what he wanted to say and he still didn’t know, to tell the truth.
“On my way out of the Great Hall, Severus came running out and he ran right over this Hufflepuff girl. They both fell flat on their faces!”
“And being the good Head Girl that you are, you had to help the Hufflepuff up and convince her that the big bad Slytherin wasn’t out to get her.” Rupert filled in with a chuckle. Severus was probably trying to catch up with whatever girl he would ask to the ball. Gran had been on both their cases for awhile now. Lucius had assumed Severus would ask Violet, but Rupert was secretly guessing Amelia Bosenbody; the Ravenclaw was the only girl with even a hope of following Sev’s potions talk.
“Actually, the Hufflepuff was fine. It was Severus who looked like he’d gone two rounds with a troll, and then… well, it’s not really important.” Lily blushed when she realized just how awkward this could all be. “So, what did you want to talk to me about?”
“Um, I’m not sure how to say this. How much time do you have?” He smiled charmingly at Lily as butterflies danced in his stomach.
“Well, I’m supposed to go to the tent by the lake soon for a prefects’ meeting with McGonagall.”
“I’ll walk you there. We can talk while we take the scenic route.”
“Can we run up to Gryffindor so that I can get my winter robes?”
“Sure.” Rupert agreed, knowing that he really didn’t want to go to Gryffindor Tower. With his luck, he’d be sidetracked by Meggie joining them, or worse. “So what I wanted to talk to you about… well, do you remember that detention I got a few weeks back from punching Black?”
“Of course, it wasn’t exactly your most shining moment.” Internally, Lily sighed. She couldn’t see how talking about detention could lead to an invite to Yule Ball. Then, in an attempt to be subtle, Rupert reached out his hand and brushed against Lily’s as they started climbing the stairs to Gryffindor.
“I had an interesting talk with Professor Lestrange then.” Rupert brushed his hand against hers one more time, and when she didn’t flinch away, he reached over and intertwined his fingers with hers.
“Oh?” Lily smiled. “What did she talk to you about?”
“Great-grandchildren mostly,” he answered. “But, she also reminded me that this was my last year at Hogwarts and that it’s one thing to regret the things you’ve done, but quite another to regret the things you never got around to doing.”
“And are there a lot of things you regret not doing?”
“A fair amount.” Rupert blushed.
“Such as…?” Lily asked, leading Rupert to the hall in front of Gryffindor.
“Such as never being a prefect or joining the quidditch team.”
“I thought you hated quidditch.”
“I do. At least, I think I do. I don’t know. I never tried out for the team to know for sure. Maybe I’d be smashingly good at it. See what I mean by regrets?”
“Is that all you regret?”
“Well, there is one more thing, probably the biggest on the list.” He paused in front of the Fat Lady’s portrait. “I’ll tell you when you come back out. How about that?”
“I’ll be really quick.” Lily grinned, having a guess at what that was going to be. “Now, turn around.”
“So you don’t hear the password.” Lily rolled her eyes. Rupert returned the eye roll, but complied.
“Young man, you can turn around now.” The portrait informed him a moment later. Rupert turned to face the door. “So, I see you are intending to court one of my girls. Are your intentions honorable?”
“Oh yes, ma’am.”
“They better be. You aren’t that Rosier chap, are you?”
“Oh no, ma’am.” Rupert shook his head while wondering just what Evan had done to get even the paintings talking.
“If I hear one word that you’ve broken Ms. Evans’ heart, I will have you locked out of every room in this castle. I don’t know about Slytherin, but here in Gryffindor, we…” The door swung open.
“Good, you’re still here.” Lily said, slipping her winter robes on. “Where were we?”
“Regrets.” Rupert said.
“And what do you regret the most?”
“I regret never really asking the girl I like to the Yule Ball.” Rupert watched Lily’s face for any clues to how she felt about that.
“You know, it’s not too late to do something about that.” Lily shyly smiled.
“I know, and that’s why I’m going to do something about it. Lily Evans, will you go to the Yule Ball with me?”
“Wow! That’s… wow.” Lily hugged him. Rupert took that as a definite ‘yes’. As the two of them linked hands and started walking back down the stairs to the castle door by the lake, they both were grinning widely. “Two invites in one morning- this sure is my lucky day.” Lily joked.
“Two?” Rupert hesitated. “What do you mean, two?”
“Well, I told you this morning I was running late, and then Severus fell on a Hufflepuff, and I had to help him up.”
“Right, and then… wait, you mean, Severus?”
“I offered him a hand, but he just stayed kneeling and asked me to the dance. It was really quite a romantic save for such a colossal flop.” She smiled. Poor Severus, the only boy more hopeless with girls in their class was Peter Pettigrew, and that was saying something. It was just awful the way Sirius and James always picked on him.
“Wait, Severus, my step-brother, asked you to the Yule Ball first?”
“And did you tell him ‘no’?”
“No?” But if she didn’t say no, Rupert reasoned, she must have said yes.
“No, why would I?”
“We are still talking about the same Severus Snape, aren’t we?”
“I doubt there are two.”
“I can’t believe this! What a bastard!” Rupert yanked his hand away to run it nervously through his hair.
“It’s not that big of a deal…” Lily started. “I’ll just…”
“Not that big of a deal?! I’ve been waiting to ask you all year, and now you’re going with my step-brother! I’d say that’s a pretty big deal!”
“I didn’t say…”
“And you know he probably only asked you in order to annoy me.”
“What? I don’t think so.”
“You can’t possibly believe he likes you.”
“Believe it or not, Rupert Giles, some boys think I’m pretty.”
“Oh, I know. I do. But Severus Snape isn’t some boy, and that’s not how he thinks of you. To him, you’re just a pathetic mudblood, diluting the power of the wizarding world.”
“I can’t believe you’d say that!”
“I didn’t. He did! Just last week! Lucius said mudbloods like you shouldn’t be allowed to come to school here, and Severus said ‘What do you think we should do? Drown all the Lily Evanses of the world at birth?’ He said that, and you’re going to the dance with him!”
“No, I didn’t say that, and the fact that you could repeat such filth in front of me… You’re unbelievable!” Lily debated slapping Rupert for that.
“I’m unbelievable?! You’re unbelievable! You’re the one who agreed to go to the Yule Ball with my brother and then didn’t bother to tell me until after I already asked you! How dare you lead me on like that! Well, I hope you’re happy going to the dance with a muggle-hater!”
“First of all, I didn’t say I’d go to the dance with Severus. I said I’d think about it. Second of all, if you had asked me earlier, then it wouldn’t be an issue now, would it? And, and, and now I don’t think I even want to go to the dance with you either, Rupert Giles!” Lily yelled at the boy she was mooning over just a few minutes earlier.
“You didn’t say yes? Wait, you mean you’re not going to the dance with Severus?” Now Rupert was really confused.
“I didn’t say either which way. I was late for meeting you.”
“Oh.” Rupert fell silent as he thought about it. “That’s so mean.”
“I mean, Sev’s probably crushed. When a guy asks you out, you either say yes or no; you can’t just say maybe. That’s cheating.”
“What?” Lily looked at Rupert like he had lost his mind. One moment he was saying the most vile things about his step-brother for asking her out, and now he was calling her mean for not going to the dance with him. How did she never notice that Rupert was insane before?
“You didn’t say yes to me either, did you? You said, ‘wow’, and you hugged me, but you never said yes. You’re not planning on going to the dance with me, either, are you?” Rupert looked at her like she had just kicked him in the stomach.
“You know what?” Lily looked at the boy she had liked since third year, and wasn’t sure she even recognized him anymore. Of course, maybe she was the crazy one. Maybe what she really needed to do was talk to Meggie about this. “I’m late. I need to meet McGonagall. Excuse me.” She stormed down the stairs to the main hallway.
“So, is that a maybe?” He called after her. Rupert watched as she went running down the hall. “Oh, bollocks.”
“Who’s Hallie?” Remus asked, amused by the way this conversation was transpiring.
“She’s a friend.” Anya answered.
“Is this your friend Halfrek?” Xander asked. Anya nodded. “Patron saint of abandoned children, right? See, I really am trying to make an effort to remember your friends.” Xander tried to play his good boyfriend card now, because he had a feeling by the end of the evening he’d say something regrettable, especially given that worried look on Giles’ face.
“Did you only go to Hogwarts to help Halfrek out, or did you grant your own wishes?” Giles asked.
“It’s not like I could help Halfrek grant her wishes. We had totally different domains, and D’Hoffryn doesn’t like us crossing into each others’ turfs.”
“Ah.” Giles rubbed his glasses. “Now, you know, I don’t hold your previous lifestyle against you, but I really must know. What did you do while you were at Hogwarts?”
“Oh, you know, stuff.” Anya shrugged. “I mean, I’ve been there dozens of times over the years, and there’s so much to do there, what with the lake, and the quidditch pitch, and all those students…”
“The question is, you stupid bint, did you grant any wishes at Hogwarts on the day you ran into me?” Severus asked. If Giles insisted on playing good cop, Severus had no problem filling the role of bad cop.
“Well, maybe one.” Anya offered sheepishly, noticing the increased level of attention from the others in the room. “But, honestly, of all the wishes I’ve granted, it’s really one of the tamest. In fact, it should hardly count.”
They should have waited until the afternoon. They had been hanging around the school all morning, and the orphans had yet to show up. Of course, there were a fair number of neglected students already at the school, so Halfrek had gotten a few good wishes in already, but Anyanka was bored. Bored, bored, bored. She sat down on the front steps of the castle, prepared to mope the day away until Halfrek came to her senses and let her leave.
Lily had tried to busy herself with tasks for McGonagall so that she wouldn’t have to think. Unfortunately, all the alone time, running up and down the stairs to fetch extra cushions for the boats, just gave her more time to think about what Rupert had said, and what she had said, and what she should have said but didn’t. She still didn’t know what to do about the whole situation. Rupert had always been a friend, and after this summer, she was beginning to think that Severus could have been a friend too, but if he thought of her like that… but maybe he didn’t, and it was just Rupert. But, if Rupert could lie to her like that… It was just too hard to think.
Evidently, it was also too hard to look where she was going. Before her brain could even register that her foot had hit a person, not the next stair, she was tumbling down the stairs. Whoever she tripped over also slid down a few steps, landing in an odd position. “Ouch! Watch where you’re going!”
“I’m so sorry!” Lily said turning over to see who she had just run into.
“Oh, it’s you. I should have known.” The girl groaned. “Back to finish the job from this morning, I take it?”
“No, I’m… look, I’m really, really sorry. Is there anything I can do?” Lily picked up one of the cushions she had dropped.
“No, don’t worry about it. I guess that’s what happens when you sit on the steps.” The girl shrugged.
“I should have watched where I was going. I’m just so … distracted.” Lily struggled to find the right word as she picked up a second cushion.
“I guess so.” Anya said, watching the girl’s movements. “It must be very distracting, trying to carry pillows.”
“It’s not that. It’s just the Yule Ball.”
“The Yule Ball? That’s still a month away.” Anya commented, figuring the Ball would fall somewhere closer to the holiday.
“I know, but I’m in such a mess. Someone asked me to the Ball today. Actually, two someones, brothers really, and I don’t know what to do. Yesterday, I would have gone with Rupert in a heart beat, but now?” As Lily bent down to pick up a fourth cushion, the first one slipped from her grasp and fell down. “He was such a git, but what if he’s right?” As Lily bent down to pick the first cushion back up, the third cushion slid from her grasp.
Anyanka hadn’t become one of D’Hoffryn’s favorites without developing a certain knack for detecting scorned women in any environment imaginable. Sensing a possible opportunity, she stood up. “Here, I can help you carry those.” She picked up one of the slippery cushions. “So, when you say he’s a git, what exactly did you mean?” Anyanka asked, trying to make conversation.
“It’s really complicated. Do you know Severus Snape and Rupert Giles?” Lily asked the younger Hufflepuff.
“Which one was the one that ran me over in the hall this morning?” Anyanka asked. Names were good. Names had power. Now, all she needed were wishes that went with the names.
“That would be Severus.”
“We need to tell Dumbledore.” Hermione piped up. “If demons are infiltrating Hogwarts, Dumbledore needs to know.”
“It was years ago.” Giles sighed. “There’s not much Dumbledore can do about it now.”
“Just for curiosity’s sake, what was the wish you granted?” Remus asked.
“You probably don’t want to know.” Xander offered, knowing what kind of wishes Anya could grant.
“Honestly, it wasn’t that bad.” Anya insisted. “Given what had happened, she could have done much worse. You see, she had been asked to a dance by two brothers. When one of the brothers found out that the other had asked her out, he sorta flipped out and went all crazy on her.” Anya was keeping her eyes on Hermione, Remus, and Xander, hoping her employer didn’t notice her blush. “He called her a tease, and a mudblood, and some other things.”
“That’s horrible!” Hermione sympathized with her.
“That’s not how it happened. I didn’t call her a mudblood; I just said that other people in my house had called her that.” Giles interjected.
“Yeah, well, that’s not how she heard it.” Anya shrugged.
“And then he said that his brother said that all mudbloods like me should be drowned!” Lily sniffed.
“That’s awful.” Anyanka patted the girl’s back. The pair had reached the docks, and there were still no boats to be seen, so Anyanka figured she still had a few minutes to eke out a wish from the girl.
“And that’s not the worst of it. I mean, maybe he’s right, and his brother said that, which means I should go to the dance with him, because his brother just made me into a joke. On the other hand, what if he was just saying that to manipulate me into going with him? Slytherins are so tricky, and he’s in that house.”
“Yeah, don’t you think they should get a taste of their own medicine sometimes?” Anyanka used one of her standard lines.
“I just don’t know.” Lily sighed.
“Wait, we’re talking about Lily?” Severus finally connected the puzzle pieces. “You cursed Lily?”
“Actually, generally, she didn’t curse the scorned women. She cursed the men who did the scorning.” Xander filled in.
“Hey, I was an equal opportunity demon. I have been known to cast a spell or two on a cheating lesbian before.” Anya piped in.
“But what on earth would Lily wish for?” Remus asked what was on all the wizards’ minds.
“Well, she said…”
“I just wish Rupert Giles would know what it’s like to never have the love he’s hoping for amount to anything.” Lily wailed. It was no fair. She had liked Rupert since the first day he had talked to her in choir and had spent years cultivating a friendship with him. She had put so much energy into liking the boy, and when she finally thought she had him, he did something stupid like yell at her about his brother.
“You’ve cursed me?!” Giles yelled in shock. He knew that Anya had cursed many many men for many many years, but that he was in those numbers was unthinkable. He had never abused a woman, he had never cheated on a woman, in fact, he had never had a relationship get anywhere close to that stage until…
“Hey, Giles, I guess that explains why you have no luck with the ladies.” Xander teased. It was nice to know he wasn’t the only male in the Scoobies to have screwed up enough to earn vengeance.
“Oh dear lord, Jenny. I swear if this curse is why Angel went after Jenny…” The Ripper tone leaked into his voice as he stared at his soon to be ex-employee.
“Hey! Relax! I decided not to grant that wish.” Anya said. “After all, it was totally lame.”
“Wait, Giles, as in Sir Bradford Giles’ son?” Unfortunately, Giles was on the warning list of names D’Hoffryn had sent around this century. As much as demons enjoyed cursing watchers, over the years the watchers had found ways to reciprocate the vengeance on the demons, so in the past millennia the vengeance demons had decided on a truce with the Watcher’s Council. Anya would have needed a really good wish to justify granting anything against the head watcher’s family.
“Yes.” Lily sniffed.
“Oh, well, there’s no question that he’s going to have an unsuccessful love life. That family’s been cursed forever with that. Well, not really cursed, but they all work for the same organization that interbreeds worse than the wizards do, and his father has probably already arranged his marriage to some creepy looking girl with a weird nose.” Lily looked at her oddly. “What?”
“You got all that from his last name?”
“Our families run in the same circles.” Anya shrugged. There was no better way to explain the relationship between watchers and demons to an outsider. “Of course, you could have been the exception to break that cycle. You would have been a really cute couple. It’s sort of sad. I think your real problem is the step-brother. I mean, if he hadn’t asked you first, you would never have had to wait to give Rupert an answer. You two could be happily making out if it weren’t for Severus.”
“Yeah. He really did mess things up. I just don’t understand the boy. One day he is ranting against everything I stand for, the next day he’s kissing me.”
“Kissing! You never said anything about kissing Lily Evans!” Giles turned on Snape.
“Maybe because it wasn’t your business!” Snape snapped back.
“Wait, kissing? That wasn’t part of the story.” Anyanka said, sitting down on the stack of cushions they had set up on the dock. Lily joined her.
“No, it wouldn’t be. I’ve never told anyone about it, not even Meggie.” Lily sighed.
It wasn’t the happy sigh of a good kiss memory, Anyanka thought. In her line of work that was generally a good sign. “You can tell me. I promise I won’t tell anyone.”
“I don’t think there’s anything to tell. I wasn’t expecting it. This summer he just kissed me on the lips. It was weird. I ran away.”
“I would have thought that would be a hint to any man not to go any further. How dare he ask you out to a dance after that!” Anyanka decided it was time to add some fuel to the righteous anger fire.
“I know, but I also feel sorry for him. I mean, if he would just be nicer to people and maybe get a hair cut, I’m sure lots of girls would find him attractive. He’s not like Peter, where you just know there’s no chance. He’s more like a work in progress. Do you know what I mean?”
“So, you think you might like to go to the dance with Severus, even though it’s possible that he’s only using you to get back at his brother, or to play some nasty trick on the muggleborn?” Anya was confused.
“Maybe?” Lily winced. It did sound kind of sad that way. “I just wish he was heinously ugly. It would make it so much easier to just dismiss him, but I can’t.”
“Wow, that explains so much.” Hermione muttered.
“50 points from Gryffindor.” Snape responded. “I should probably count points off of Hufflepuff for your behavior as well, young lady! How dare you cast such foul magic on…”
“I didn’t grant that wish either.”
“Wow, you passed up two wishes in a row?” Xander patted his girlfriend’s shoulder gently. Maybe she was capable of mercy after all.
“She could do better.” Anya reasoned. “I mean, why wish something that was already destined to be true?”
“Wait, this is the same Severus Snape that ran over me this morning?” Anyanka clarified.
“In case you haven’t noticed, he already is well on his way to heinously ugly, and if spends any more time in a potions lab, it’s just going to get worse.”
“It’s not his fault. His father was this famous potions master, and he’s always trying to live up to these insanely high standards. He gets picked on all the time by the bullies in my house.”
“You don’t have to make excuses for him. The facts are he kissed you without asking, he asked you to the dance when you didn’t want to go with him, and he ruined your chance of dancing with his brother.” Anyanka answered, looking out across the lake. It looked like there would be no good wishes coming out of this one. In all her time granting wishes, it was usually the witches that came up with the really creative wishes, but this girl was a dud. Maybe there really was something to all that pureblood propaganda.
“I know, I just… I know what it’s like, having everyone expect so much from you.” A small noise distracted Anyanka from Lily’s whine. The demon turned her head to see a small fleet of boats were approaching from the Hogwart’s boat house. “I just wish sometimes I could do something so unexpected that I would surprise everyone.” Now Lily noticed the boats coming up. “Damn, I thought Hagrid was going to meet me. What is James doing driving the boats? I don’t want to see that bully right now.”
“Granted.” Anyanka said before the boy arrived. Her amulet glowed briefly, and a pair of cupid’s arrows shot from her amulet- one hitting Lily in the heart, and the other hitting the boy driving the boats.
“Cupid’s arrows?” Anyanka glanced down at her amulet. “Is that the best you could do?”
Luckily, the teenagers didn’t seem to notice the demon’s mutterings. “Hi, Lily.” The boy blushed as he pulled the boats up along the dock.
“Hi, James.” The girl returned the greeting shyly.
“Hagrid was running late so I volunteered to pick up the orphans at the Hogsmeade docks.” He offered. “Do you want to come with me?”
“I don’t have my Hogsmeade form signed.” Lily answered, her sense of right and wrong so strong that it briefly overrode the urges from cupid’s arrow.
“Don’t worry about. You can stay in the boat. That way you can say you never stepped foot in Hogsmeade.” He grinned.
“Okay.” She brought the cushions over to the boats, dropping one on each seat, then walked on the dock next to James’ boat.
“Here, take my hand.” James helped her into his boat, where they sat side by side. “I was wondering if you’d like to go out with me?” He said, wondering why he asked it the moment the words were out of his mouth.
“That would be nice.” Lily agreed, leaning her head on his shoulder.
“Wow, so Harry’s parents fell in love because of a demon cursing Professor Snape. That’s so romantic!” Hermione sighed.
“Don’t you mean creepy?” Cordelia interjected.
“But you’ve got to admit, it’s probably one of the least creepy wishes Anya granted.” Xander stuck up for his girlfriend. “I mean, everyone’s intestines stayed on the inside.”
“Yeah, I suppose, and her love spell worked way better than Willow’s.” Cordelia teased.
“Of course it would. I was a professional.”
“Yes, well, your professional meddling had so many unforeseen consequences that you are probably the sole being responsible for the latest Wizarding War.” Snape growled.
“Harry didn’t cause Voldemort, and the fact that you would blame the Potters’ son for Voldemort’s rise is more short-sighted than I’ve ever seen you.” Remus scolded Severus.
“Not everything is about Harry.”
“Hey, Sev, I need to speak with you right after this.” Lucius said as the Slytherins sat down for a Sunday morning breakfast.
“I’m afraid I have a prior commitment.” Severus informed his classmate. He had been floating on a cloud ever since Lily had told him ‘maybe’ the morning before. After all, it wasn’t a no. He had even skipped the picnic in order to practice what he would say when he spoke to Lily this morning. Actually, he had been hit on the head with a rock-packed snowball, and sent to the infirmary, but he had never been happier to skip out on festivities. He probably should have asked Rupert for advice, after all his step-brother had more dating experience, but Rupert was nowhere to be found yesterday.
“Did your prior commitment just enter the Hall?” Lucius muttered in response.
Severus glanced over to the Hall entrance. Framed in the doorway was Lily Evans on the arm of James Potter. As he watched, James leaned over and whispered something in Lily’s ear. The girl giggled and kissed the Gryffindor on his cheek.
“You know, you should probably close your jaw occasionally if you want people to think you’re chewing and not just gawking.” Lucius offered.
“I’m not sure it’s appropriate to chew. Am I the only one that finds that disgusting?” Severus knew that Lily didn’t care for Potter. She had scolded Remus repeatedly over the summer for not keeping Potter and Black in line.
“Yes, the Potter family is really slumming this time around. Of course, it’s not too surprising. Ms. Evans has been cushioning up to many of the traditional families looking for a way into our world. I had a suspicion she would try to use the Snape line.” Lucius reasoned, watching his classmate carefully.
“That’s madness.” Severus glanced up at the faculty table. Where was Gran? Surely she would know that he needed to talk to her? Of course, it was quite likely that Gran was with Rupert, as he hadn’t seen either of them since breakfast the day before.
“I’m glad to hear you say that. I would hate to think the mudbloods would use you and just throw you away, not caring at all about what you’re feeling.” It was a risk to play Lily against Severus, but Lucius had a good suspicion that there was something going on between them.
“I can’t believe that. Not Lily.”
“Oh? I heard that yesterday she agreed to go to the Yule Ball with your brother, and then dumped him to go out with James Potter. Sounds like blood-digging to me.”
“Of course, everyone knows he’s had his eye on her for years.” Most people would think that Severus was taking this conversation well, but Lucius could tell that small hitch in his breathing meant Severus was now completely shaken. He decided it was time to move in for the kill. “I know you said you had a prior commitment, but could you possibly reschedule? My father is meeting with Professor Dumbledore now to discuss recent events, but was hoping to speak with you afterwards. He has a job proposition for you.”
“Amongst real wizards. An acquaintance is looking for a bright young mind in potions who is willing to try ideas that others’ wouldn’t dare to. He pays well and could help you make the kind of connections you need to succeed.”
Severus glanced at the Gryffindor table. Lily was practically sitting on James’ lap. One more glance at the faculty table indicated that Gran and Rupert were still missing. He had no more excuses. “Alright. I’ll meet with you.” He may as well pursue glory through his work; it wasn’t as if he had any hope getting the girl.
“What do you mean it’s not about Harry? If there was one thing Voldemort was fixated on, it was Harry.”
“Not to mention immortality, racial cleansing, and overall malevolence.” Giles muttered.
“Voldemort may have known that Harry would be his downfall, but he wouldn’t have gotten very far without an army as well.” Remus commented.
“I still don’t see how Harry’s mum and dad falling in love would allow Voldemort to build an army.” Hermione frowned.
“No, but it did win Voldemort one of his best soldiers, didn’t it?” Remus cast a look at Severus.
Severus came out of the meeting with Mr. Malfoy dazed and confused. For years now his mother had been speaking up against the Death Eaters and their leader Voldemort. He knew his Gran didn’t approve of the Death Eaters either. But, Merlin help him, the last hour of conversation sounded so reasonable. Mr. Malfoy was right. Muggleborns really didn’t understand the way wizarding society worked, and it was unreasonable to expect them to adapt. Just look at how messed up Lily Evans had turned out- she had seemed a fair and reasonable girl, but then betrayed him by dating his worst enemy, without so much as an apology. Mr. Malfoy brought up that not all of Voldemort’s followers wrought death and destruction wherever they went; it was just a small minority giving the group a bad name. The much greater number of followers just worked to expand the wizarding culture and tradition by developing new spells, testing new potions, and chronicling the true history of the wizarding world. That was a platform Severus could respect; he too wanted to contribute to the alchemical wisdom of the wizarding world. Maybe his family had just never met the real Voldemort. Maybe the Death Eaters were really just an unfortunate offshoot of fanatics, destined to happen any time a charismatic leader had a good message at the right time. Stuck in inner turmoil, he decided to seek out Gran.
“There you are!” Gran smiled at her grandson standing in the doorway of her quarters, “I was hoping to see you today.”
“You weren’t at breakfast.” Severus commented.
“Well, no. Rupert came to see me last night, and we spent entirely too long chatting. Poor boy.” Gran answered.
“Oh yes, poor Rupert.” Severus answered bitterly.
“I feel so responsible.” Gran admitted. “I’ve been putting so much pressure on you boys to find someone. I should have said something sooner when I found out you were after the same girl.”
“Would you like some tea, dear?” Gran offered, guessing this was going to be just as long as the conversation she had with Rupert. The poor boys needed so much mothering.
“I would prefer some answers. You knew?”
“Cornelius mentioned it on Friday. Honestly, I had no idea you were interested in Lily Evans. I thought you were more attracted to Ms. Whitehorn.”
“But you knew before I asked her and made a total fool of myself?”
“Now Severus, asking a girl out is a very normal thing for any boy to do. You did not make a fool of yourself. You just need to take a deep breath and move on… and try not to hold it against your brother.”
“First of all, he’s my step-brother, not my brother, and second of all, why should I hold something against him?”
“You haven’t seen him yet?” Gran looked surprised, and for the first time in Severus’ experience, old.
“No, I was speaking with Lucius and Mr. Malfoy.”
“Mr. Malfoy is up to no good.”
“That’s not the issue. The issue is, what did Rupert do?” Severus felt his anger from breakfast beginning to return.
“He also asked Lily to the dance.”
“When he found out that you had already asked her, he said some things that he now regrets. I just want you to know that whomever Lily decides on, he didn’t mean to say those things. I don’t want this to come between you.”
“What did he say?”
“Oh dear.” Gran muttered. She really couldn’t have done a better job of sticking her foot in her mouth if she had tried.
“Gran, tell me.” And suddenly it was clear from Severus’ tone that he had inherited whatever it was that made Cassandra and Gran such formidable witches. No one messed with the Lestrange line and lived to tell.
“He might have told Lily that you had asked her just as a joke on the muggleborn, and that you weren’t really serious.” Gran caved in. “But honestly, he didn’t know that you liked her.”
“He said that about me?” Severus was shocked. “Evan would do that, Lucius would do that, but he should know me better than that by now. I would never ask out a girl as a joke.” Not because it was cruel, of course, but because everyone knew Severus was frightfully opposed to asking a girl out for any reason.
“He realized that after the fact, and was very, very, sorry. He was going to apologize, but he couldn’t find you at the picnic.”
“Well, he clearly didn’t try very hard, did he? I mean, it wouldn’t have taken a mugwump to figure out that I was in the infirmary.”
“I’m sure as soon as you see him, he’ll apologize.” Gran insisted.
“Of course he will,” or he’d be sorry. Severus scowled at the idea that his brother would insult him like that in front of a girl.
“So you won’t hold it against him, or Lily, no matter how it turns out?”
“And just how do you think it will turn out?” Severus asked his voice deceptively calm.
“Honestly, dear? I think you’d have better luck asking one of the girls in your own house. Rupert has known Lily longer. She’s more comfortable around him. You’re a very striking young man, but you’re much more intimidating than Rupert. Of course, there are girls, women, who find that very attractive.” She tried to cushion the blow.
“Well, that shows what you know about women.” Severus answered, his face falling into the stony mask he had perfected from seven years in Slytherin. “Lily Evans is currently dating James Potter. The issue is moot.” Severus spun around and walked out. All these years he had assumed that Gran would have all the answers, and now he knew she wasn’t even on his side. She clearly had hoped that Rupert would have gotten his object of affection. She didn’t even foresee Lily Evan’s attraction to James Potter. Gran knew nothing, and if Gran knew nothing about this, what could she possibly know about Voldemort’s followers?
“You’re telling me that Professor Snape became a Death Eater because Lily didn’t go to the Yule Ball with him?” Hermione asked Remus incredulously.
Remus cast an expectant look at the potions master. “It was just one of many reasons for my decision to join them.” Severus answered.
“Many reasons? Please, tell me another one. Your mother was one of the staunchest opposers of Voldemort. Your mentors were against him. You yourself had argued against his policies with our housemates. If you weren’t mad at me about Lily going to the Yule Ball with Potter, you never would have listened to Lucius.”
“So now it’s all about you, is it?”
“Well, if the shoe fits… You made my life a living hell that last semester at Hogwarts. Joining the Death Eaters was just one more step.”
“I didn’t join the Death Eaters to harass you. I joined the Death Eaters because it was clear I could never count on you or Gran to support me, not when it conflicted with your own goals. You drove me to it! I counted on you, and you stabbed me in the back!”
“Whoa.” Hermione muttered. She had seen her potions professor upset before, but it was normally a cold bitter anger. This was a fiery hot rage.
“I drove you to it? How could I, when you stopped talking to me?!”
“You were the one who quit talking to me first. You blamed me for Lily going to the dance with Potter.”
Well, I wasn’t wrong.” Giles cast an accusing glance at Anya before turning his ire back to his brother.
“Wow, talk about long lasting vengeance. Your spell is still working.” Cordelia told Anya.
“Yeah, normally the ones that take immediate effect are more amusing. Who knew this one would outlast them all?” Anya shrugged. Xander cast an unsure glance at his girlfriend. He knew he shouldn’t hold Anya’s past against her, but this was Giles’ life she was screwing up, and she didn’t even seem too upset about it. He decided he needed to intervene before Giles came to his senses and fired Anya.
“Okay guys, hold up.” He stood between the fuming brothers. “Okay, let’s try to put this in perspective. You guys asked out the same girl. She ended up going out with someone else. Okay, I get that you were both hurt and you did stupid things because of it, but you were eighteen. Everyone does stupid stuff in high school. Can’t you just forgive and forget?”
“With all due respect, I don’t think you understand the severity of the situation.” Giles turned to his former student. “Severus didn’t just do something stupid. He joined the dark side…”
“… .says Mr. Costume-changer-dude’s former best friend.” Cordelia added, trying to help Xander calm the watcher down, with her oh so special brand of tact.
“… and ended up killing his mother because of it.” Everyone gasped at Giles’ revelation.
“I did not!” Severus gasped.
“You designed the poison the Death Eaters used to kill your mother when she publicly objected to their attack on Diagon Alley. You may not have administered the dose yourself, but it was your work. My father was right; I should have just left you at the muggle hospital.”
“When has your father ever done what was right? He could have stopped this whole thing years ago, but his pride was in the way. Do you know what your father said, when I asked for help getting me out of my contract with Mr. Malfoy? His response was, ‘you made your bed, prepare to lie in it.’ Excuse me if I have absolutely no respect for his opinion whatsoever. You were supposed to be my kin, and you never raised a finger to help.”
“You didn’t exactly make it easy! You didn’t even show up to your own mother’s funeral.”
It seemed appropriate that it was drizzling that Sunday. The day was a dismal grey, and the small crowd of black suits and black robes added to the somber atmosphere. As the casket lowered into the ground, a heartrenching sob could be heard from the crowd. Rupert turned his head to identify who was crying, but his father tightened his grip on his shoulder, forcing Rupert to turn his head to the casket.
He really shouldn’t have been there. For all the time that Cassandra had been his step-mother, he really never had a chance to get to know her. She was practically a stranger. He had known her son more than he had ever known her, and in the end he didn’t really know Severus after all.
Of course, most of the people in the suits behind him didn’t know the real Cassandra Lestrange Snape-Giles either; they were just paying their respects to their head watcher. He wondered how many people on the opposite side knew Cassandra well. There were several of her former Hogwarts professors including Jigger and Dumbledore, as well as a few of the old alchemists they had had over for dinner. Rupert glanced across the grave to see Gran. The usually energetic witch looked like her life had left her. In a way he guessed it had. With her child in the ground and her grandchild lost to the enemy, there really wasn’t much left for her.
Risking his father’s ire, he glanced around again. He could swear that crow in the tree looked suspiciously too concerned in the proceedings, but maybe it was just his paranoia talking. A semester at the Watcher’s College was making him see demons in every shadow.
A priest threw a handful of dirt onto the coffin, a lonesome bagpipe played a slow dirge, and the crowd began to disperse. “Time to go, son.”
“I should pay my regards to my Professors.” Rupert turned, as if to go around the grave.
“No. You’re not to talk to those magicians.” His father instructed. “I’ve lost one of the most important people in my life to their trickery; I refuse to lose another.”
Knowing he couldn’t reason with his father, at least not today, he turned from the plot and followed the man back to the motorcade they had arrived in.
One by one, the wizards and witches paid their regards and blinked out of view. When Gran couldn’t hold back the tears any longer, Pa took her hand and apparated her back to the manor. Soon, only one wizard was left at the graveside. “You can come down now.” Albus Dumbledore commented.
The crow flew down from the tree, stretching as it flew, until Severus Snape was left standing next to the headmaster.
“She was a marvelous woman.” Dumbledore commented.
“I killed her.” Severus answered.
“She died doing what she had to do.” Dumbledore replied.
The men waited silently for a minute, until Severus felt he had to speak. “I never meant for anyone to get hurt. I just wanted to show everyone that I could do something spectacular. Lily, Rupert, Gran, even Mother had all given up on me. I wanted to show them that I could do something, make something no one else had ever made.”
“That you did.” Albus had been part of the mysterious death’s investigation. The toxin found in Cassandra was something never before seen in the wizarding world … except in the margins of an old lab notebook Jigger’s apprentice had stumbled upon when working on a wolfsbane variation.
“I shouldn’t have.”
“Probably not.” Dumbledore agreed.
“I don’t know what to do.” Severus turned to the wizened wizard. He should have been the enemy. The Dark Lord had declared him a persona non grata. Everyone bearing that tattoo should hate the headmaster, and his muggle-loving ways, but all Severus could see was the one man his mother had always trusted.
“Hogwarts has answers for all who seek knowledge.”
“I can’t go back there.”
“Not as a student no, but there are other means. Professor Jigger is looking to retire soon. He’ll need to train a replacement. Hogwarts won’t pay as much as your current position, but it has its own charms.”
“How can you trust me? I’m a killer.”
“Are a killer, or was a killer?” Dumbledore questioned him.
“My mother is dead.”
“Ah, but you’re not. Not yet, at least. Join me for a cup of tea?” Severus looked at the Headmaster as though the man was crazy. Surely, the wizard must know that Severus had sold his soul to the devil known as Voldemort. The headmaster wouldn’t be stupid enough to invite his enemy’s minion over for tea, would he? “I might also have some lemon biscuits your mother used to love when she visited.”
“She didn’t love them. She was just humoring you.” Snape replied without thinking.
“Well, you could always carry on the tradition of humoring an old man. No harm in that.”
“No. No harm in that.”
And with that, the last two visitors apparated from the gravesite.
“And whose fault was that?! Your father threatened to kill me if I showed up!” Snape yelled back, conveniently ignoring the fact that he was at the funeral.
“And you let that stop you? With followers that easily intimidated, I’m surprised Voldemort lasted as long as he did.”
“How dare you!” As if driven by some primal urge, Severus completely ignored his wand in favor of taking a swing at his step-brother’s head. Giles, who was in better shape and far more accustomed to fisticuffs, easily blocked the punch, and attempted to throw one of his own.
“Petrificus totalis!” Hermione yelled freezing the two brothers in one spot.
“Neat! Can you teach me to do that?” Xander grinned.
“Oh please. If you had a magic wand, you’d probably poke your eye out with that thing.” Cordy shot back.
“Oh no, they’re perfectly safe for muggles.” Hermione answered. “I’ve never heard of a muggle losing an eye from a wand accident.”
“Trust me, Xander would be the first.” Anya sighed. “Therefore I must insist you put that away.”
“Before you put it away, we should probably do something about them.” Remus nodded at the two brothers.
“I don’t know. We could leave them that way and call Buffy and Willow over to see.” Xander offered.
“As fun as this all has been, if we don’t leave now, I’m never going to get a parking space by my building, and you guys will miss your port-whatever. I vote we just put him in the car and drive away.” Cordelia offered. “Some of us have a real life to get back to, you know.”
“Remus, can you put Professor Snape in the car? Cordelia, can you help them?” Hermione grabbed her potions caboodle from the research table. The trio managed to get Snape and caboodle into the car, but they couldn’t fasten the seat belt around the frozen professor. “Oh well.” Hermione sighed. “Finite Incantatem.”
It took the potions master a few moments to realize where he was, but then he started bickering immediately. “He’s such a liar.” Snape muttered, as he was being belted into the back seat. “He always was. If he hadn’t lied to Lily all those years ago…”
“Yeah, yeah. Here’s a quarter, call someone who cares.” Cordelia said, climbing into the driver’s seat.
Xander and Anya watched them drive away before turning back to the watcher. “Are you okay?” Xander asked, noticing that Giles was no longer frozen.
“He’s gone?” Giles asked, wondering just how much time he had lost from that witch’s spell.
“Yeah, I think it’s safe to say Elvis has left the building.” Xander said with a deep sigh.
“I think I need a drink.” Giles turned to his office, stumbling against a display shelf.
“You know, if you want to apologize or something, you could call him. I’ve got Cordy’s cell number.” Xander offered. “It’s not too late to make amends.”
“Why should I apologize? He drove Lily to a vengeance demon. If he had just stuck to his own house…” Giles muttered, wandering back to his office.
“That’s so sad.” Xander commented as the office door swung shut.
“No worse than usual. At least his life and his store can get back to normal now.” Anya reasoned.
“Yeah, but he’s been feuding with his brother for almost twenty years. You’d think that when they’d realized it was all caused by a vengeance demon, they’d get over it. I mean, it’s nobody’s fault.”
“Oh, Xander, some day you’ll realize. Some people just weren’t meant to live happily ever after.”