Disclaimer: Buffy belongs to Joss; Harry Potter belongs to JKR, blah, blah, blah
A/N: This is was originally written as a one-shot Valentine's Day Challenge for the Guild of the Fantastic Quill (send me a PM if you have any questions).
"Cupid Hates Me"
"Stupid lovey dovey stuffed bears and chocolates," Willow muttered, breaking into a full rant. "Why do they give chocolates anyhow? If a girl gets too many chocolates, then suddenly her butt's too big and you don't like that little red dress anymore. Plus, those heart boxes are a total rip-off! They have, what, three ounces of nasty cream filled sweets? And the prices!"
Willow averted her eyes down, trying to ignore the smiling pink and red heart-shaped cut-outs staring at her from behind a shop's spotless window. Ignoring the decorations did her no good, though. A second later she was stepping over a foil valentine featuring a cartoon dog asking innocently, "Will you be mine?" She ran her fingers through her short red hair, holding back a growl of frustration at the nameless child who had probably dropped the offending letter. Black boots clicked against the sidewalk at an even faster pace as she sped toward the corner of the block.
"And flowers? How does that show love, anyhow? Without mystical help they'll just wither and die and there's nothing left. Nothing!"
Any other day, she would have had the patience, the cool collective that came with hours of meditation, to steady her nerves—but not on this day. On this lovers' holiday, she needed more than the healing of the earth. Actually, she needed a potion, something that would help her forget, something safer and more affective than a spell. She had thought about calling one of her friends or students, having someone stay with her while she waited for February fifteenth to arrive, but she knew that none of them would understand.
When they looked at her, they saw Willow Rosenberg, the Wiccan witch with the powers of an earthbound goddess, the heart of an innocent, and the sweetest smile one was likely to find in the Northern Hemisphere. Of course, they secretly remembered that she was a conduit of dark strength, a murderer, but that was a fact that they often pushed to the back of their minds, filed away as unmentionable. But the side of gray, the place where love deserved to be, was completely ignored.
Willow growled, stopping before she turned the corner. "I don't need this," she stated, gesturing to no one. She sighed. Maybe she did need it, after all. She entered the alley way. A green door with chipping paint and a tiny diamond shaped window waited for her. She took a breath, mentally shaking off the nerve-wrecked rambling Willow and putting on a smiling, strong mask.
The flash of pearly whites never quite reached her eyes. It never did these days. The black abyss left behind from the pain of loss could not be so easily filled. For a short time, she had thought that love was possible, that Kennedy would be able to give her what she needed, but there was little left after a phase of passion and infatuation. The relationship had quickly faded after the fall of Sunnydell. A trip to South America had shown them that they were nothing alike.
Over the holidays, Kennedy had introduced her new girlfriend, taking a seat amongst a hundred other hungry slayers waiting to feast on goose, ham, turkey, and Katesh Vlor demon boar (one of Andrew's recipes). With Xander and Buffy and Giles surrounding her, it had been easy to pretend that everything was alright. But vacation time was over.
Now she had to endure the most horrible holiday of all. Alone.
She walked into the hide-away shop, stepping around a display of the latest in herbal, magical substitutes. She didn't bother reading the advertisement, instead veering toward the back of the shop where the shopkeeper could usually be found, hiding behind a stack of dusty books and scrolls. The Crow's Foot reminded her a lot of the Magic Box—except for the dank, musty atmosphere and the owner's greedy aura (somehow, it wasn't quite as 'pleasant' as Anya's had been). She stopped, hand hovering over the service bell.
"May I help you?" asked an overly pleasant voice.
Willow surveyed the shopkeeper a moment without answering. She had been in the Crow's Foot before, for a few minor ingredients. Always the little round man standing before her had frowned and growled the general direction of the items on her list, greedily snatching her money away before ushering her out of his establishment. So why, she pondered, was he donning a fake grin?
"I'm looking for a potion," Willow stated. The man's smile remained. "Forgetfulness or temporary memory potion—I read about one which sounded like what I need. . ."
The shopkeeper brushed off the rest of her sentence. "List?" he asked curtly. Willow pulled out a short slip of paper. The man looked it over and shook his head. "We're out of jobberknob, and there won't be a supply run until next week. I have a few more recipes."
"But the others probably take over an hour to stew, don't they?" Willow asked.
"A month at minimum. What about a nice spell? Always fast and easy for someone as experienced as yourself."
"No," Willow snapped, ignoring the fact that he had all but called her an amateur. "A spell won't do." She left out the fact that memory charms of were likely to wear off on someone as experienced as herself. "Don't you usually carry some pre-made potions?"
"Listen, sweetheart." The shopkeeper's phony smile disappeared. "We're even out of your basic love potion today, alright? Come back some other time, and I'll throw in a few salamander tails for the inconvenience. Now git."
He stormed behind the curtain, leaving Willow standing at the counter. She opened her mouth to unleash a few unlady -like words when she heard a muffled voice behind the curtain.
"Who was that?" a voice whispered.
The shopkeeper shushed the other person. "Just some muggle looking for magic cures—you wouldn't believe the amount of money they bring in."
Who was he calling muggle? What's a muggle anyhow? Willow leaned over the counter listening in.
"It's almost closing. Are you sure he's going to show?" asked a woman.
"He's been coming by twice a week for almost a month with fresh potions. Sells them for cash only. I have to admit, his stuff's good."
"Of course it is. Wouldn't you expect a murderer to know his poison's from his antidotes?" one of the others snapped. "You are certain that this is our man?"
"I wouldn't have owled you if I had any doubt. I saw his picture in the nationals—it's him alright, from that greasy mop to that huge honker, it's Snape."
Willow took a step back, her interest peaked. Nevertheless, she realized that the capturing of a murderer was not an event she wanted to be present for. She quietly tiptoed to the side exit and made her way out. She glanced back at The Crow's Foot, a chill passing through her. Perhaps, she needed to put the slayers on alert for this Snape guy.
Willow felt her face redden as she pushed herself off the ground, looking down at the man she had quite literally crashed into. He was dressed in what Willow could only describe as robes, and he groped through the black layers for a few bottles that were rolling out of his grasp. Willow picked one up and handed to him. He stared at her, black eyes burning a hole in her skin, before snatching the bottle and pocketing it. He stood, kicking one broken and leaking item to the side.
She watched him intently, mouth opening and closing like a blubbering fish.
"Watch where you're going next time," he hissed.
"Hey!" she snapped as he pushed by her. She grabbed his sleeve, and he looked over his shoulder, glaring. "You ran into me," she said, not at all sure that that was the truth.
"Me, purposely touch you? Idiotic," he sneered.
She held on to him, nevertheless, a dazed look passing over her face. She studied him a moment more, looking both deeper and further away until she could see the bright glimmer of his aura.
Not a murderer.
"Is your name Snape?" she asked.
Physically, he gave nothing away, but his aura pulsed, growing paler, sickly. "Excuse me?" He jerked away from her touch.
"Don'tgointhere!" she rambled. "I mean, someone's waiting for you. I think. . . it's a trap."
"It is," she clarified.
Confusion openly washed over his features as he stared at the red headed girl in front of him. "You are a witch," he said, as if that had not occurred to him, "of sorts."
She found herself nodding. This is stupid, Willow. Big Stupid! Mental slap on forehead stupid. Why don't you just tell this 'stranger' your life story while you're at it.
Before she could finish her mental qualm, she looked up.
A man was stepping out of the green door, but it was not the shopkeeper. He was pointing something at Snape's back. A wand?
"Watch out!" Willow shouted.
A shot of light lashed out, stirring the hair on Snape's head and hitting Willow in the neck. The witch gasped as the spell took her, and her eyes rolled back, her last memory of cold fingers grasping her wrist and her body being propelled through space and time.