Title: Strange Bedfellows
Author: Mrs. Hyde and MST3KguruK10
Fandoms: Harry Potter and Once Upon a Time in Mexico
Rating: Rated R for language, violence, alcohol abuse, and some sexual content.
Disclaimer: We do not own Harry Potter nor any characters associated with it. They are the property of JK Rowling, Bloomsbury, Scholastic, and Warner Brothers.
We do not own Once Upon a Time in Mexico nor any characters associated with it. They are the property of Robert Rodriguez and Columbia Pictures.
No profit is being made from this work and no copyright infringement is intended.
Author's Note: This is our crossover fic featuring the off-beat pairing of Professor Severus Snape of the Harry Potter universe and Agent Sheldon Sands, as played by Johnny Depp in Robert Rodriguez's film Once Upon a Time in Mexico.
The sun hung bright in the afternoon sky, filling the streets with lazy yellow sunshine. Dennis squinted against it as he looked down the cobbled road for a place with some shade.
He'd never been to Mexico before, despite the fact that his mother-in-law had been born here and that his wife had made regular trips to her mother's home town when she was a girl. Still, after ten years of marriage, he'd managed to pick up on some of the culture, and his Spanish was enough so that he could get by. But that wasn't saying much, really. He still felt like a fish out of water.
A happy fish, though. It really was a pretty country, despite being accursedly hot. The sky was always blue, and the Spanish architecture gave the place an antiquated feel that he imagined was otherwise lacking from this continent, a feel that he could appreciate, coming from England.
He did wish that he was here on happier circumstances. Over their years together, he'd always enjoyed Annie's stories of visiting her grandfather, and had wanted to join her one day in going back to her childhood summer stomping ground, but he hadn't been planning on going until the kids were away at school, and he certainly hadn't anticipated going to Mexico for the first time in order to divide her grandfather's estate.
Annie wasn't taking it well. Neither was her mother. His father-in-law had come to help his wife, so there was no way that Dennis couldn't do the same for his own. And so, nine-year-old Colin and six-year-old Ellie were duly packed up and brought along for the ride as well.
They, at least, were enjoying themselves immensely. Dennis was of the opinion that Annie was trying to cope with her grief by making sure that the kids had the time of their lives in the place that she had so loved as a child, and Dennis had done his best to help her. It really was a shame they were here, now, like this; he rather thought that he would have enjoyed simply sightseeing here. There was a strange, shabbily quaint charm about the streets of Culiacán that made him feel almost at home, like the narrow streets where his father still delivered the milk, or the old winding cobblestones of Diagon Alley.
And today there was a sort of bittersweet fondness in that association, because today was Colin's birthday. Not his son's—his brother's. He would have been forty-one today.
Would have been, had he not died at sixteen, murdered by Death Eaters.
Dennis always went for a walk on Colin's birthday. Sometimes it was down the familiar streets where they'd grown up, places where they'd laughed and chased each other, where Colin had told him fantastical stories of dragons and monsters and warriors and had dazzled him with the picture of a real fairy that he'd snapped in the park one day. Or sometimes he went down Diagon Alley and retraced the path he'd followed the day Professor McGonagall had taken them to buy Colin's school supplies for his first year, when they'd bought the book in Flourish and Blotts that told them it had actually been a pixie that Colin had caught on camera. The same path Colin had taken him on, bursting with pride, two years later when it was time for him to get his supplies for his first year at Hogwarts.
Annie didn't mark the date, per se, but she knew that he liked to go out on his own when it rolled around. She'd forgotten this year, but he didn't begrudge her that, particularly since she'd felt so guilty about it and all but shooed him out the door.
But now that he was out, he really didn't know where to go. He couldn't make his way back to his and his brother's old haunts, because they were half a world away. Instead he was under the empty blue sky in the dusty sunlight of Mexico.
And, incidentally, he was lost.
It was insanely hot in this country, he decided, wiping away the trickle of sweat that had run into his eye. He'd never been one for wizard's robes, being Muggle-born, and at the moment felt quite fortunate not to be draped in layers of wool and velvet. He wasn't worried about having no idea where he was; he was sure that he could backtrack to the house, or if he was desperate, Apparate there. No, what he really wanted right now was a little shade and something cold to drink.
And if he couldn't revisit the places where his brother had once been, he supposed he would have to make do in the new locale by having a drink for him.
He made it to the plaza at the end of the thoroughfare and was intensely relieved to find a tiny pavement café called El Cisne Oro with outdoor tables under a green awning. He sank into a chair, delighted to discover that a very pleasant breeze blew across the façade of the building, and he fanned himself with his menu until a young waiter came to take his order. He'd developed a taste for sangría since coming here, and he thought Colin would have liked it, so he ordered two, one for each of them, and settled down to enjoy the relative cool.
He idly watched the passers-by, feeling one hundred percent better already with the sweating glass in his hand. This wasn't the nicest part of town, he supposed, but it was pleasant and personable in its own way. There were lots of children, and not too many tourists.
Oddly enough, the only people he'd heard speak English today didn't seem like tourists at all.
There was a pair of old men sitting at the table just behind him and to his left, and they were speaking in perfect and unaccented English. Dennis wasn't trying to eavesdrop, but when he'd heard nothing but rapid-fire Spanish for days on end, his ears seemed to be a-quiver for the sound of a familiar word, and now that they heard it, they were determined to listen.
It wasn't as if it was hard to hear, anyway; the one talking was doing so rather obnoxiously. It didn't take long to surmise that he was an American; almost all the genuine English speakers here he'd seen were just that.
"Don't even think about it," Dennis overheard. "I want dessert, and you are going to buy it for me."
His companion replied with a sneer. Dennis had to strain to hear him at first; his voice was rough and hoarse, and it almost seemed that he had trouble raising it enough for even the other man to hear.
"Explain to me why, exactly, I should do anything of the kind?" the second one asked, and Dennis was rather pleased to realize that underneath his gravelly tones, his accent was pleasantly and surprisingly familiar—Manchester, where he grew up.
"Because it's my birthday, an event so monumental in the history of the world that not even a completely brain-dead Brit like yourself could fail to be aware of it. And that in itself is a damn good reason—because do you remember your last birthday?" the American asked.
"Well, then—unless you want a repeat, you're going to buy me dessert for my birthday—savvy?"
Dennis snorted quietly into his—Colin's—glass. The second one growled something he couldn't make out, but not long after the same waiter who'd taken Dennis's order was at their table, carefully repeating back a ridiculously long and complicated (and probably expensive) order from the American.
Dennis stared into the bottom of his glass, swirling around the last remnants of Colin's drink; a group of children on bicycles careened by, bells whirring and playing cards in the spokes rattling. Colin had taught him to ride his bike.
A pair of Asian tourists were snapping pictures of the quaint little café, as well as the little adobe jewellery shop and the boutique selling soaps and lotions on either side. It was unfortunate, really, that their pictures wouldn't be able to move, like the ones Colin had brought home after his first year at Hogwarts.
The two old men were snarling at each other over the mountain of confectionery between them. "Tell me, Andrews," the second one rasped, "how is it that any one man can lay claim to abysmal stupidity the depths of which the rest of the world cannot even hope to fathom?"
He stared down at his cauldron; there was no way the almost purple potion could be mistaken for the pale blue it was supposed to be. And more ominously, it looked as though the spatter of the stuff that he'd sloshed onto his bench by accident was eating the varnish.
A shadow fell over him, and he cringed.
"Tell me, Creevey," came the silken voice over his head, and he looked up into a pair of spitefully glittering black eyes, "how is it that, despite your brother having claimed such a vast helping of your family's abysmal stupidity for himself, you still manage to achieve depths of idiocy of which he can only dream?"
Dennis sat stock still, his brain a jumble. What…? Had that…?
He jerked around in his seat, unable to help himself, trying his best to be subtle, knowing he wasn't managing it, and frankly past caring.
There—one of the old men, the one with the long scar on his cheek and more or less facing him—his thin face was framed with long, greasy hair liberally streaked with white, his mouth was drawn thin and tight, his brow was furrowed into an expression that would have withered a manticore—
And then he opened his mouth. "Fuck you."
Dennis blinked. Oh. The American.
He turned his interest to the other one. He was facing mostly away; Dennis couldn't see much of his face, only his jaw and one cheek, both liberally covered with a bristling beard of the same iron grey as the close-cropped hair on his head.
Dennis thought he saw the American look at him; he quickly went back to his drink, fiddling nervously with his straw. Get a grip, Creevey, he told himself. You're sitting here getting maudlin in your cups and you've managed to convince yourself that your dead Potions professor is sitting next to you in a café in Mexico.
The thought calmed him a little, but…that tone. He'd never heard anyone else manage that perfect blend of burning spite and cool contempt but Snape.
He made no excuses for himself now; he was eavesdropping. And listening only further convinced him that no, it couldn't be Snape—Snape would never sit outside loudly sniping like an old fishwife. And the old boy was talking about what were apparently his grandchildren, which was simply outrageous as far as Snape was concerned.
But every time Dennis had decided that he was mistaken, the old man would sneer at his companion, and then it simply had to be Snape.
Dennis nursed the dregs of his drink for another twenty minutes before the tell-tale scrape of chairs behind him told him that the two of them were getting up.
He flicked his eyes over, much more surreptitiously this time. The American felt around on the back of his chair before coming back with a heavy cane, which he leaned on a bit as he stood. The other rummaged in his wallet, apparently coughing up as ordered. He tugged a little on his buttoned collar, and then moved to leave. His companion followed closely, cutting across Dennis's field of vision and hiding the other from view, but not before affording Dennis a glimpse of the man's profile—and a look at that large, hooked, and unmistakable nose.
Dennis waited just long enough for them to be out of earshot before throwing some money on the table and following them down the street.
Dennis ground his teeth as he tried to remember the directions the man at the café had given him.
His attempt at tracking the two old men had been a shockingly impressive failure. He'd thought he'd been doing all right, at first; he'd stayed behind them, near enough to overhear them continuing their constant stream of sarcasm and insults, the American stumping slowly along behind Sn—the other one, leaning heavily on his cane. Sn—the Englishman didn't seem much inclined to offer his friend any sort of consideration, as his long stride (and Dennis wagered that he would sweep over the pavement if he had been wearing robes) was more than his lame companion seemed to be able to manage. It had been a hard job for Dennis to maintain a discreet distance between himself and the American without losing sight of the other one.
It had been with a measure of relief that Dennis had finally heard the American holler for the other one—Greene, he called him—to wait. Greene had stopped and turned to wait with a scowl; he was too far away for Dennis to see his face properly, but that rigid posture, the arms crossed in impatience, annoyance radiating from him in waves…it had to be!
The American caught up to him, and they resumed their walk, much more slowly now. The one he was following took slow, even steps, his friend limping painfully along behind him, his gait even more uneven than before. Dennis hurried a little to catch up with them, straining to hear their now quiet conversation.
And then, without warning, the American picked up his cane, grabbed the other by the arm, and the two of them ducked down the nearest alley quick as a wink before Dennis knew what had happened.
He stopped, dumbfounded for a moment, and then jogged up to the alley—and nothing. They were gone.
He scrambled uselessly around, trying to figure out where on earth they could have gone. A quick spell showed that no magic could be detected, and he was definitely alone, they weren't just hiding somewhere—they were simply gone.
Dennis had eventually been forced to admit defeat at the hands to two crotchety old men…but no, there was no way he could stand to leave it at that—it would drive him absolutely mad if he never managed to just see that man, close up, to reassure himself that he wasn't Snape. Everything he knew told him that it simply couldn't be…but he just couldn't let it go.
As a last ditch effort, he managed to find his way back to the café and ask the waiter if he had any idea who those men were. Rather to his surprise, the waiter had.
"Oh, sí, señor. Señor Andrews and Don Greene."
Apparently they lived not far from the plaza, and had for quite some time; both were mostly reclusive and notorious eccentrics, but well known and largely respected in the local community. Both had been here as long as the young waiter could remember. Greene, as it happened, was a local peddler of various medicines and herbal remedies that evinced sometimes miraculous results—just like magic, the waiter said.
That did nothing for Dennis's attempts to assure himself that it wasn't Snape.
And so he'd asked directions from the young fellow and set about finding his way to where they lived.
He really had no idea what he was going to say. He was going to knock on the door, this Greene fellow was going to answer it, and he would be a Muggle and a total stranger, and Dennis would leave feeling like an idiot.
But he walked on anyway.
It was late in the afternoon before he finally found Calle del Sombras. It was a narrow, crooked street, lined with sagging and dilapidated houses, bunched together like jurors, their eyeless windows regarding him accusingly. No children played in these dusty alleyways, and a mangy stray dog was his only companion in the silent street.
He stopped in front of Number 13. It looked no different than its neighbours, aged and run down, but this one had a light on, seen through the wavy, murky glass behind the little iron brackets crammed full of potted plants. Dennis approached the door; the light outside was on as well, and dangling from a bracket next to it were those ubiquitous strings of dried peppers and garlic—only these were accompanied by a string of small bundles of what he recognized to be dried rosemary, tansy, and dittany. Medicinal herbs.
He reached upward, hesitated only a moment, and then he knocked.
Silence. He nervously scratched his calf with his toe, and heard the sounds of a distant catfight.
He nearly jumped out of his skin when the door was suddenly yanked open, and he found himself face-to-face with the American.
"What?" he demanded.
"Er—" Dennis found himself at a loss for words momentarily, but the impatient look on the man's face snapped him back. "Excuse me, sir, but I'm looking for someone—"
He stopped; the man's face had gone cold and closed. "Someone you know?" he asked with raised eyebrows.
"Well, no—not exactly—" Dennis rubbed the back of his head with his hand. "Look, I know this is ridiculous, but I saw you having lunch earlier with a—a Mr. Greene, I think it was—"
"Are you the little turd that was following us?"
Dennis's jaw hung loose for a moment before he recovered. "Now, look, sir, I wasn't following you, I just wanted to see Mr. Greene—"
The American—Andrews, he guessed, snorted. "Well, did you think that maybe he isn't interested in seeing you?"
Dennis clenched his jaw. "Excuse me, sir—I want to speak with Mr. Greene, please," he said firmly.
"Well, why don't you want in one hand and take a dump in the other and see which one fills up faster, kiddo?" he said, and began to swing the door shut.
Dennis reached out and grabbed it; it smacked against his hand with a thwap. The old bugger was stronger than he looked. "Now, sir, I don't mean to be rude," he said firmly, "but I really need to see Mr. Greene—I swear I've seen him before and I need to talk to him."
Andrews was frozen and on point, his arm braced against the door, his face expressionless behind his sunglasses. "Seen him before, have you?" he asked. "You an old friend, or something?"
Dennis held his ground. "Sort of—look, I'm really sorry to be bothering you like this, and I know it's crazy, but…but I swear he's an old teacher of mine. Back when I was at boarding school in England."
"Well, you're wrong, so fuck off," Andrews said lightly, flipping his wrist in dismissal.
Dennis straightened his shoulders. "Fine, then. I'm really sorry to do this, sir, but—" and he pulled out his wand with a little flick.
Andrews seemed to cock his head, an odd motion, almost like a hound catching a scent, and then Dennis yelped in shock when Andrews shot out his arm with the speed of a striking snake and seized his wand-hand in a vice-like grip. It was all he could do not to cry out when his wand was unceremoniously jerked from his fingers and Andrews began to squeeze, to squeeze right there on the meat between his fingers and thumb, and oh, dammit, it hurt!
"Don't you ever think about pulling your little magic wand on me again, mate—understand?" he said, his voice hard but coolly amused as Dennis writhed.
His shock let him see past the pain in his hand for a moment. "You—you're a wizard?"
Andrews grinned but didn't answer. "Now, I told you once that Greene isn't receiving visitors today, but it didn't seem to penetrate. How about now?" he asked, and he squeezed even tighter.
"Dammit, no!" he said, furious and hurting and now sure more than ever that it was Snape. "I have to know—I think he's my old Potions professor!"
And then there was a sudden growling curse behind the door, and Andrews let up, thank God, and as Dennis bent over to snatch up his wand from where Andrews had dropped it and he rubbed his throbbing hand, a voice like sandpaper snarled from the doorway. "Foolishly Gryffindor as ever, I see, Creevey, and never one to admit defeat even in the face of odds that any normal idiot would never take."
He looked up, his mouth hanging open, and he stared.
His grey hair was short, his cheeks and chin entirely covered by his rough beard. There were spidery scars tracing the edges of his jaw that disappeared under his neatly buttoned collar. Lines seamed the tanned skin around his eyes, and his voice was low and rough and when he spoke it was the sound of grinding stones.
And it was Snape.
Dennis gaped like a landed fish before stuttering, "Sir—I—it is you—Professor Snape!"
"Well, fuck." Dennis heard Andrews's voice a second before that same surprisingly strong hand flew out again, biffing him in the jaw with the knuckles before groping down to his neck and closing tightly around his collar. "Get in here."
Dennis was nearly jerked off his feet as he was yanked forcefully over the threshold and all but thrown into the room, and almost into Snape. Stumbling, he reeled backwards, staring up at his old Potions professor as he loomed over him, his black eyes glittering with fury.
The years had not reduced his menace.
"Your observational prowess never ceases to amaze, Creevey," Snape growled, stalking across the room, his long stride the same as Dennis remembered despite his Muggle clothing.
He jumped a little at the sharp sound of Andrews closing the door forcefully behind them all. He flicked his glance over to him; Andrews's expression was one of petulant annoyance, but Dennis was too dazed to think much of it.
He'd told himself that it was a trick of his imagination, and despite all of his misgivings, despite the niggling doubts, he hadn't, he thought, really believed that it was Snape, that he was here. He'd been dead for over twenty years and yet…here he was, alive and well—and obviously royally brassed off. Dennis looked at him, and Snape glared back. "Sit down!" he barked.
"Yes sir!" Dennis yelped automatically and was already in the nearest armchair before he'd realized what had just happened. He blinked, shocked, but had no time to consider the matter; a metallic click sounded behind him a second before the cold barrel of a gun pressed hard against the side of his head.
Dennis froze. Moving nothing but his wide eyes, he looked over to find Andrews leaning down next to him, his finger on the trigger, his free hand resting on the chair back behind him. "And now, son," he said amiably, "we're going to have a little chat."
"Put that away," Snape snapped.
"No," said Andrews.
"Don't be an idiot!"
Andrews sneered at him. "Give me one good reason why I shouldn't blow his brains out," he said, talking to Snape but looking at Dennis, grinning like a shark, his eyes obscured by his glasses.
"Because someone will come looking for him, imbecile—and I want to know who sent him," Snape said coldly, moving to stand in front of Dennis's chair with his arms crossed, looking down at him with an inscrutable expression.
Andrews held the gun to his head for a moment more; Dennis felt his entire body relax when he withdrew it, tucking it neatly away behind him. "Fine—we'll do this your way—which is always a mistake."
"Oh, yes, since your methods have in the past yielded such stellar results," Snape rasped nastily. "Sit down, Sands—when I want your opinion, I'll ask for it."
Andrews—or Sands, or whoever he was—pulled a mocking face at Snape but moved to perch in the chair across the room. Dennis pulled his wand back out, watching him warily for a moment. Sands made Dennis nervous; he never seemed to be looking right at him, but with those glasses, you never knew if he was or not, and the amusement he had seemed to derive from threatening him…Dennis just felt better with his wand.
But now that he was armed again, Andrews rather lost his interest, and he turned back to Snape.
He had no idea where to begin. "Sir—"
"Well, Creevey?" Snape grated. "Who sent you—or are we going to have to resort to Sands's methods after all?"
"I—what?" he asked, bewildered. "No one sent me—I'm here with my wife, she has family here—I was just taking a walk and I—I saw you."
Snape looked at him a moment more, those black eyes boring into him as if reading the fine print on the back of his skull, before snorting in disgust. "Perfect. Simply perfect. Twenty years of avoiding all wizard kind, taking every precaution not to be found, creating a new identity on the other side of an ocean, and I'm caught out by a useless halfwit who just blundered into it." He threw up his hands and stalked to the other side of the room, where he opened a cabinet, poured himself a liberal shot of whisky, and downed it in one gulp.
Sands smirked. "Should you be flattered, or are you just a halfwit too, then?"
"Given the company I keep, the latter seems to be most likely."
Dennis finally managed to find his tongue, but all the words just came out in a rush. "Sir, you—you're alive!" He went on over the snort from Sands and the withering look that Snape gave him. "Sir, you—you're a hero! Everyone thinks you're dead—the whole wizarding world knows about—about you!"
Snape's expression was growing blacker by the moment, particularly when Dennis stumbled over saying, "Harry told everyone about—everything—that you were—all that time you—you were with us!"
"You think this is anything new to me, Creevey?" he rumbled irritatedly, pouring another drink.
Dennis gaped at him. "But—but—sir! You—everyone—they all think you're dead! How did you—why—what are you hiding from us for? They gave you the Order of Merlin, they—they put your portrait up in the Headmaster's office! You're in all the textbooks—all the history books as instrumental to Voldemort's fall! Harry Potter named his son after you!"
Snape, who had just taken a furious drink, choked and sprayed it across the wall before whirling around, his face livid. "What?!" he demanded, his voice a study in appalled outrage.
"He did!" said Dennis stoutly. "Says you were one of the bravest men he's ever known and he named his younger son Albus Severus."
Snape just stared at him, aghast, until Sands, who had been quiet up to now, suddenly broke the silence with a roar of laughter.
"Albus Severus Potter!" he hooted. "Talk about the Trifectum of Suck!" He was sprawled back in his chair, guffawing loudly. "Oh, did that kid ever get pantsed in school!"
"Shut it, Sands!" Snape snarled.
Sands's head popped up. "Why don't we introduce him to Chiclet's kids? Maybe Albus Severus Potter and Little Sheldon Jeffrey could talk—they could bond over having the worst names in existence!" And he dissolved into laughter once again.
Snape was quivering with indignation, and he threw Dennis a look of utter loathing, as if blaming him for whatever Sands was going on about.
Dennis himself was absolutely confused. He had no idea what they were talking about, and couldn't for the life of him understand why Snape was hiding out in some miserable hovel down in Mexico with a madman when all of Wizarding Britain was singing his praises as a hero of the Second Voldemort War. Why, if he reappeared, he'd be greeted with honours, received by all the finest families, inundated with gold, have the pick of any position he wanted—what was he doing here?
"Sir," Dennis blurted. "What are you doing here?" Snape turned and looked at him, making Dennis feel if he were nothing but a dense schoolboy who'd melted his cauldron again, but he met his eyes. "Why are you hiding out in Mexico?" he asked. "You—you'd be welcomed back with open arms. What is there for you here? Why don't you come home?"
Snape tilted his head and raised his eyebrow.