Victims of Circumstance
Author: Jinni R
Pairing: W/Severus Snape
Genre: BtVS/HP Crossover
Disclaimer: All things BtVS/AtS belong to Joss Whedon, Fox and/or whomever is currently claiming responsibility for them. JK Rowling owns Harry Potter and its universe.
Spoilers: Takes place after "Goblet of Fire" in HP 'verse and after Season 5 in the BtVS world. Tara and Willow were just friends. Xander and Anya are still together. Buffy died and was brought back. Willow still experienced some dark magic addiction, but never killed anyone.
Summary: A chance encounter over the summer brings about some unexpected complications in the lives of two very special people.
x x x Prologue x x x
Sunnydale. The Hellmouth. Seat of all that is evil and wrong in the world.
Or was it?
Severus Snape looked out of the window of the small, shabby hotel he had taken up residence in for his stay in the town, glaring at everything and nothing in particular. What had been going through Dumbledore's mind when he sent him to this place? Far from Hogwarts or even his own summer home. This wasn't how he had wanted to spend his summer break. Not in the slightest.
So how had he ended up here, halfway around the world from the few things he held dear to him?
Oh yes. He was making sure that the Dark Lord's reach hadn't made it this far; that the States were still pristine in their innocence of Voldemort.
And, so far, everything he had seen indicated that this, indeed, was the case. The one sleazy bar he had found that catered to wizards and witches had yielded nothing to make him think that these poor fools even knew about the war that was brewing across the sea, the one that would, if Dumbledore and others weren't careful, one day make it to their own shores and shatter their little worlds.
He sighed, letting the thin curtains on the window swing closed as he stepped back, turning to face his room. There was a double bed, not quite as comfortable as the four-poster he had back at Hogwarts, and definitely a far cry from the luxury he enjoyed in his own home, but it was manageable. A Muggle device on the small desk seemed to be the manner in which he was expected to make his morning coffee, though he had settled for summoning whatever he needed instead of even attempting to try to figure out the machine. Much easier and definitely less frustrating for him that way.
He sat on the edge of the bed, wishing that his exile in this place were over. He wanted nothing more than to apparate back to Hogsmeade and return to the school, make his report and then retire to his own home for the remainder of the summer. A few more days of this and he would be good to go, he assumed. Surely Dumbledore didn't expect him to wait around for the entire break in the vague hopes that he would hear something about Voldemort, when in reality it didn't even appear that this side of the world was even aware enough of the Dark Lord to speak about him on a regular basis.
So what to do tonight? His lesson plans for the next term were done, being the same ones he had used for the last five years. There were no experiments that he could dare attempt within the confines of this tiny room. The same could be said of the potions he needed to stock up on for Poppy. As far as he was concerned, there was absolutely nothing for him to do in this hellish little space.
Which gave him only one option.
Leave the room.
The thought was intriguing. Perhaps he could go back to the wizard bar and order yet another round of drinks while trying to get information; though he was sure now that there was no 'information' for him to get. This was, undoubtedly, one of his most unsuccessful missions ever.
No, the wizard bar was definitely out of the question.
But there was that little place right up the street. Something called 'The Bronze'. It appeared to be somewhere to relax and unwind, though a tad 'young' for his tastes.
'You're not an old man, yet, Severus.' He reminded himself acerbically. That settled it. He was going to this place. This 'Bronze'. And he would have a drink. Or two. And mix among the Muggles and just live for once.
He glanced in the mirror by the door on his way out, appreciating for the first time the fact that being away from Hogwarts meant that he could do away with certain things. Like perpetually black robes, oily hair and yellowed teeth. All part of the image he had cultivated over the years, the slimy git that no one except the slimiest of students liked. There was no reason for that image here, far away from Hogwarts and everyone he knew. No reason at all to keep up that appearance in a bar full of Muggle men and women who wouldn't know magic if it flew right past their nose.
The shirt he was wearing was dark blue, almost the color of the night sky, and had little silvery buttons. His pants were the same black slacks that he normally wore underneath his school robes; though without those austere garments covering them they actually looked like something quite normal. He could be, he reasoned, any other Muggle man out on the town, looking for a few drinks and maybe some conversation.
He smirked, an expression that was as much 'him' as it was the character he played while at school, and pocketed his room key, locking the door behind him.
Maybe tonight would be interesting, after all.
x x x x
The Bronze was packed for a Thursday night, Willow decided, rolling her eyes as Xander got turned down by yet another pretty girl. This one had been far out of his league, she knew, just like every woman he had tried to approach since breaking up with Anya. It was as though he were trying to make up for all those years that he had been too nervous or shy during high school. The college years were supposed to change you, after all, and even though he wasn't in school, Xander was still determined to change.
"She was too leggy anyway, Xan." Willow comforted him, patting his hand in reassurance as he sat down next to her. He took a sip of his drink, a beer of some sort, before answering.
"Yeah, but she would've been good for dancing with, at least."
Willow shook her head, smirking. "Get Buffy to dance with you."
Xander shook his head. "Nah. She's having too much fun with Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum over there."
The red head followed the direction he was pointing in with her eyes, chuckling softly at the sight that greeted her. Sure enough, Buffy had found herself a pair of identical twins and was now shamelessly flirting with both of them. She shook her head in silent amazement.
Next to her, she heard Xander whistle. Apparently another girl had caught his eye because he was suddenly up and absent from his chair.
Why couldn't she be more like Buffy and Xander? Seeking out casual relationships just to pass the time? Not forming emotional bonds? Just living for the moment? Why did she have to over analyze each and every moment of her life?
Well - why couldn't she just stop doing that?
The thought hit her like a slap in the face. There was, after all, no good reason to deny herself the pleasure of someone else's company. She had been a good girl for all of her life and where had that gotten her? No where. Oz had left and Xander had never been interested really to begin with. She was an adult and capable of making her own decisions, or mistakes, as the case may be.
"Carpe diem." She muttered, throwing back the last of her drink and standing up. The bar was crowded but she managed to make it to the front and get a shot of tequila, just the perfect thing to take the edge off. Just what she needed to get the courage to actually 'sieze the day'.
She'd be damned if she went home lonely tonight.
x x x x
His hands were hot on her body. Touching, examining. Caressing. Playing.
It was fire and ice, though she wasn't sure at times if she was the heat or the chill that flashed between them.
She arched up under his touch, her fingers seeking out his dark hair in the equal darkness of the room. The light wasn't necessary; after all, she could remember what he looked like. They had made eye contact through the crowd of The Bronze and had talked for what seemed like forever before leaving together, seeking the solace of his hotel room, only a few blocks up the street.
Their mouths had met, scalding and chilling, equal parts heat and cold; and magic had been made between them.
He was just as needy as she was, and before she had known it they were in bed, exploring each other's skin with their hands, tongues, mouths. His words, spoken with that whispery accent, so silky and smooth, had caressed her just as surely as his hands, enticing her body to new heights. She felt as though he were made for her by the time they consummated that which they had been feeling.
And, as the pleasure washed over her, coursing through her body as he peaked inside of her, she whispered the name he had given her, not knowing if it was the truth or an alias.
"Sev … "
x x x x
In the morning he was gone. A note on the bedside table all that she had to remind her of the night that they had spent, making passionate love time and again, until they couldn't keep their eyes open any longer.
Thank you for one of the most pleasurable nights that I have had in such a very long time. In my life I have little that I can hold to, little that I can grasp that can remind me of the lighter side of things, the hopes and joys and passions which others cling to so freely. I will cherish what we shared during my darkest times and remember that someone touched me with such sweet compassion. Take care in your journeys in life.
Until We Meet
x x x x
She held that note the day she found out that she was pregnant, searching over the words for any hint as to who he had been, any clue about where she could find him or how to search for him.
But there weren't any.
Even breaking into the hotel records and going back to who had checked in that night and the nights immediately before had given her no indication of who the father of her child was or how to let him know he was going to be a daddy. There was no one named 'Sev' or anything like it. Just as she had thought, it was an alias. Or else he hadn't registered under his real name at all. Either way, it didn't matter. In the end she had to face the realization that there was no way for her to find this man that she had spent a heated night with. There were no spells that she knew of to help her along this road. Nothing to help find the father of a child that had yet to be born.
She cried, letting Buffy hold her and then Xander, too. Giles would be back from his visit in England all too soon and they'd have to tell him as well. She knew he would be disappointed in her. She was disappointed in herself. Her one night of seizing the day had landed her in a most precarious position.
But she could do it.
"It'll be okay, Wills." Buffy murmured, rubbing soothing circles on the red head's back. She held her while she cried, comforted her while she sobbed in agonized grief. Xander held both of them while they grieved for the life Willow had sacrificed, each planning how to proceed with the future. And, in the end, they made the witch realize the very thing that they had been telling her all along.
Everything was going to be okay.
x x x PART ONE x x x
x x Four Years Later x x
Willow stared down at the letter in her hand and then up at the man that was sitting across from her, confusion marring her normally pretty features.
"I don't understand, Giles."
The former librarian nodded.
"About what I expected seeing as how we never really discussed the world of wizardry." The look on his face said clearly that he regretted that, especially in light of what she had just received, by owl post, only a few short minutes before. He didn't know what had surprised her more, the owl that delivered the letter or the letter itself. The letter certainly wasn't much to look at from the outside, except for the seal that held the bit of parchment together. Red wax burned with a crest of sorts. Giles knew what the crest was immediately, though his red haired protégé wasn't so informed. He had waited with anxiety as she had broken open the wax and read, her eyes scanning quickly over words that he knew were written in the scrawling black calligraphic handwriting he himself had seen so often.
After all, he had been the one to mention her to Albus. Shouldn't he also have mentioned Albus, and all of that world to her, in return?
It was too late now.
"The world of wizardry?" Willow repeated, her confusion multiplying exponentially with each passing moment. "Care to explain Giles?"
He nodded, taking off his glasses and polishing them on the edge of his shirt.
"You'd be surprised to find that the witches and wizards of this world have their own subculture, like many other groups. They have their own businesses, laws, rules and regulations, and schools."
"Like the one that sent this letter?" She asked, holding up the parchment.
"Yes, like Hogwarts. It is a seven year school, one of a few in Europe, where wizards and witches attend class and learn to control their powers."
Willow shook her head, trying to clear the cobwebs that had been strung between her own frazzled nerves.
"Attend class?" Her eyes flew to the letter. "They want me to teach a class, Giles! That's what the letter says. Well, they want me to assist anyway. And take over when the other Professor retires next year."
"I thought as much. I had mentioned to Albus how adept you were at Charms. It is no big surprise to me that he has sought you out for the position."
"Yes, but." Willow was speechless. She looked from him to the letter and then back to him. This was almost too much to think about. There was a world where she would have fit in, all along. A world of wizards and witches. One where she wouldn't have had to hide her powers or her desire to learn. It was both heartbreaking and exciting at the same time.
And yet, she couldn't help but feel like Giles had betrayed her by keeping it all from her.
"Didn't I tell you?" He finished the unspoken question with a sigh. "You were nearly out of school by the time you started to exhibit any great powers, Willow. And the wizarding world would have had no place for you. Would you really have wanted to go back to school, for seven more years, at the point where you were almost through?"
"So why do they have a place for me now?"
It was a fair question, Giles conceded.
"Because you are an adult, and have proven yourself time and again in the areas of magic that matter the most. You will, of course, need to learn their ways of doing things. Wandless witches are something of an abnormality in their culture. But that can all be remedied with some study on your part. Albus seemed very interested in having you on his staff -"
It was left unspoken that this could be the godsend that she had been looking for. A job. A job that could last for a long time. Not these fly by night programming jobs that were becoming harder and harder for her to get. Her trust money was almost gone. She needed a source of steady income, if not for herself for -
"Wait!" She cried, shaking her head in disappointment. "I can't, Giles. There's no way they're going to want me there when he finds out I'm a single mom."
Giles could have cried at the sadness in her voice. He knew that she loved her child more than anything and would go to any lengths to provide the best life for the almost four year old. But there were many opportunities that she had missed out on because of her status as a single, struggling mother. She was still trying to finish up with a college degree, one class at a time, in between taking care of the child and working. And it seemed like things were getting further and further out of her reach each and every day, no matter what she did to stop them.
But he was determined that this wouldn't be one of those disappointments she had to deal with.
"Albus is aware that you are a single mother, Willow." He smiled gently at her. "And he, of course, knows that where you go so does your child. Mention it to him when you respond and you will see."
Willow's heart leapt into her throat. She swallowed around the uncomfortable lump of something that felt vaguely like hope and looked into the eyes of her mentor with tears showing in her own crystalline green orbs. There were a million questions going through her mind at that moment. About Hogwarts, the world of the wizards, and a host of other things. But the most important one she could think of at that moment had more to do with reassurance than with a need for knowledge.
"Is this real, Giles?"
x x x x
- Miss Rosenberg,
Please rest assured that we have taken your family status into account and have already made plans regarding the layout of a suite of rooms for both yourself and your child should you choose to accept our offer. We will, of course, make sure that she is educated until such time as she, perhaps, is ready to enter Hogwarts for herself. Everything will be taken care of, you needn't worry.
Shall we get those rooms ready?
Please owl back
with your response at your earliest convenience.
The letter dropped from Willow's fingers to the ground, a smile growing across her face. She had been so worried when she had sent the owl back with her last concern. So scared that Giles had been wrong and the Headmaster had no intentions of allowing her to bring Sera.
He had been right of course. Giles, that is. She was welcome to bring Sera. They would have their own little suite of rooms in the school. Her precious darling would be able to get an education and, if she grew up to be a witch, could attend school at the same place her mother taught.
Willow sat on the edge of her bed and cried tears of pure joy. This was the miracle she had needed. It was a blessing and she had Giles to thank for it; enough thanks to disregard the resentment she had felt when she found out that there was a world outside of Sunnydale, a world of magic and intrigue.
He was her savior.
She would, of course, need to brush up on her Charms. The books that she had learned from had been old at best, ancient at worst. And she had no doubt that there were more modern ones that she needed to learn and be prepared to teach. A million and one preparations went through her head. There was so much to be done. She needed to plan, to pack, to prepare.
Both herself and -
She turned her head, scowling kindly at the child that was busily playing with her makeup.
"Seraphina Anna Rosenberg!"
The little girl looked up, blinking her dark eyes at her mother. She dropped the lipstick tube she had been busily mixing with an already open bottle of liquid foundation, a guilty look crossing her pale features.
"You must be your father's child more than mine." Willow muttered. "Always trying to mix things together. Maybe he was a chemist?" The question was more for herself than her daughter. Of course Sera didn't know anything about the mysterious man that had done little more than act as donor for an unplanned, but no longer unwanted, pregnancy.
"Not a chemist." Sera snickered knowingly, her mouth set in what could almost be called a smirk. Willow crossed her arms, waiting to see what would come out of her precocious child's mouth this time.
But it seemed that Sera had said all she wanted to say. The child held out her hands, silently asking her mother to clean off the mess she had made.
And of course Willow complied. She summoned a washrag from the bathroom, wiping off the bits of caked makeup, the mushed lipstick, and the globs of foundation. Staring at the beautiful child before her, she was reminded once again of the man that had entered her life for only one night.
It was difficult not to remember 'Sev' when she looked at Sera. The child was dark haired, dark eyes, and looked nothing like her mother. She even seemed to have inherited that very distinctive nose that Willow remembered all too well from that night more than four years before.
Willow blinked, giving her daughter a smile.
"Just thinking, sweetie."
"'Bout?" Was the impertinent response from Sera.
"Mommy got offered a new job. We're going to be moving." She said at last, hoping the child would understand.
"Good job?" Sera questioned.
"Very good job." Willow affirmed.
"Yay!" Sera cheered, jumping up and twirling in circles. This was her version of a happy dance and infinitely more precious than anything Willow had ever seen any child do before. Or maybe it was just that the child in question in this instance was her child. Did all mothers think that their child was the smartest, brightest, prettiest and most adorable in the entire world?
"Glad you're happy, baby."
"Granpa Giles stays here, right?"
Willow nodded, relieved that the child asked the question without any hint of sadness. She had worried about that. Would Sera react in a strong negative way about leaving the only family she had ever known? But the dark haired young girl nodded to herself with her mother's answer.
"Aunt Buffy and Unca Xander, too?"
"Yes, sweetie. They have to stay here. We'll visit, though."
Sera nodded again, her eyes so much older than her physical age indicated. She gave her mother a childishly comforting smile.
"Yes, we can visit. Can we pack? Don't forget Dusty."
The kitten, Dusty, poked his head out from under the bed at the mention of his name. He scampered over to Sera, waiting patiently for the loving adoration he knew would be lavished upon him at any moment. And so it was, the child patting him adoringly with gentle, sure strokes.
Willow stood, leaving Sera to play with the kitten, and picked up a piece of paper, eyeing the owl that was still waiting patiently for her response. She would need to get him some water and a bit of cracker before he set off again. Flying across the globe had to be tiring. She sat down, pen in hand, and began to compose her response.
x x x x
Dumbledore looked around at his staff, smiling gently at each and every one of them. Classes would be resuming in less than two weeks and everyone had already arrived back, ready to begin the sometimes tedious task of getting prepared for a new term.
"I have some pleasant news for you this evening." The Headmaster began, meeting each teacher's eyes in turn as he scanned around the room. Even Snape, lurking in the dark corner of the room, didn't miss out on cheery look from the elderly wizard.
"We have found an assistant to oversee Professor Flitwick's classes this year. She will be taking over at the conclusion of the year, when he heads off to his well deserved retirement."
The announcement was met with a smattering of applause, mostly because of the large grin on Flitwick's face. It was no secret that he had stayed on for an extra two years at Dumbledore's request while they searched for someone to take over his class. Now that the time was nearly at hand, it seemed that his enthusiasm would be reaching new heights.
"Well then." Dumbledore smiled, winking at Flitwick. "Professor Rosenberg will be arriving in the morning. I trust you will all make her welcome?" An extra hard smile sent Severus' way earned the Headmaster a glare icy enough to freeze water. The other teaches nodded and murmured their acquiescence. "Her daughter will be coming with her, as well. As this will be a new, and perhaps anxious, experience for both of them, try to allow them to acclimate before showing them the true colors of Hogwarts."
This was directed mainly at Snape and then at McGonagall, his smile not quite reaching his eyes. It was clear that he didn't want the newest Professor or her child to get caught up in the bitter rivalry between Gryffindor and Slytherin. At least until she had settled in, that was.
As the meeting continued on, Dumbledore couldn't help but feel as though there was something he was missing, something important that he just didn't know for once; a nagging suspicion that the newest Professor was going to bring with her new troubles and joys. How the students and staff would gasp to know that he wasn't all-knowing, with only a small amount of actual future-seeing being within his grasp. On the subject of Professor Rosenberg, however, everything was cloudy.
As though the Fates themselves weren't quite sure what was going to happen next.
x x End Part x x