“Just what the hell do you think you’re doing here?”
Severus looked around the vast empty area; the only other person there was Xander Harris, of the multi-coloured eyes and the almost animalistic demeanour. “I’m not sure,” he returned absently. “I would have thought I was dead, but you’re here.” He focussed on the man standing before him, untamed and furious. “Tell me you’re not dead,” he demanded desperately.
Xander snorted, and shook his head. “Not quite. But we will be if we remain here.”
Severus blinked. “I am quite certain I don’t understand what’s going on. I’m dead,” he added firmly, “I know it. Nagini … bit me.” Images flashed through his head, of the great snake launching at him, and his hand flew to his neck, and came away clean. “I don’t understand. Explain,” he demanded.
Xander sighed. “We are between, but we can’t stay here. We have to either go forward or back, and I can’t go forward, Will won’t let me. And I’m not going back alone.”
Severus chuckled a little, disbelievingly. “Willow won’t let you? I know she’s powerful –”
“And the last time she lost someone she loved as much as she loves me, she nearly ended the world,” Xander explained, scowling. “Granted, I’m not her lover, but we’ve been friends nearly all our lives. She is not letting me go so easy. And I’m not letting you go.”
Xander grabbed Severus’ hand in a tight grip, and stepped closer, green-and-brown eyes becoming the sum of Severus’ existence. “Wake up,” Xander growled.
Severus woke with a start, and began coughing. Probably not best to take a sharp breath upon spontaneously resuscitating. He touched his hand to his neck, and felt the blood, but the wound itself was gone. He had to wonder if it was Willow’s magic, or something inherent in Xander himself. Xander! Severus launched himself to his feet, and scrambled out of the building. Once outside, he turned back in disgust. How ignominious: to be killed in the boatshed, of all things. He shook off the thought, and ran back to Hogwarts.
He slowed as he approached what remained of the great school with trepidation. He had been ousted from the school quite firmly, even if in the absence of his lover and the rest of the Slayer’s group. He had no idea what had happened as a result, but he was quite certain he was not welcome here. Never the less, Xander was here, he knew it, and the damned boy had better be alive.
The doors flew open, and he was enveloped and hoist aloft by strong arms; he flailed momentarily until his hands landed on broad shoulders and he looked down into beloved, variegated eyes.
“Welcome back,” Xander growled, pulling him into a hard kiss.
Welcome finally out of the way, Severus looked around to see his lover’s friends surrounding them, his former colleagues a little beyond the tight group. “What happened?” he demanded.
Willow frowned furiously at her life-time friend. “Someone stepped into a killing curse.”
Severus gasped then shook Xander. “What the hell were you thinking?” he demanded.
Xander shrugged, and smirked. “It tickled. And I figured, after Willow, it wouldn’t take me anywhere I didn’t want to go.” He stepped back, and straightened, eyes growing dark. “I felt you go, Sev,” he added, in a low voice. “I felt you leave me, and I couldn’t let that happen.”
“So the great idiot walked into a killing curse without even consulting me,” Willow added, and the deep pain was evident for anyone to see. She raised a hand to cradle Xander’s cheek. “You were lucky,” she added. “What I did to you did change you, but not enough to defeat a killing curse, not entirely. You’re lucky I was there, and could steer the magic.”
“I don’t understand,” Severus frowned.
“I tried to kill him,” Willow sighed. “Years ago, now, and I have mentioned it before. When I tried to burn the world, again he stepped into the flow of magic. I was throwing everything I had into raising Proserpexa, and he just walks straight into it. I marked him inside and out that day, and that’s part of how he defeated the hex. It hit the part of him that I created, and … bounced, I guess. I was then able to get to him, and redirect the power that had been used. He used it to revive the pair of you,” she smiled.
Severus reached forward, and shook Xander hard. “You ever do that again and … I’ll find you, somehow, and I’ll punish you.”
“Mmm… kinky,” Xander smirked. “In the meantime, aren’t we in the middle of a battle?”
Severus looked around, again, and noticed the lack of active fighting.
“He-who-needs-a-makeover called an armistice,” Buffy shrugged. “We’re supposed to hand over the Boy Wonder, but that won’t be happening.”
Severus nodded, and looked, finally, at the people he’d once called … friends? Allies, at the very least. “Minerva,” he began.
“The Council is adamant you remain our friend, Severus,” Minerva interrupted severely. “I do not see how that is possible, but they insist to the point of removing their support if we do not believe them, and at this point in the war I am not sure we could survive that.”
Severus held himself stiffly for a moment then bowed at the woman. “I will endeavour not to disappoint you again,” he offered.
Minerva nodded and grimaced. “Well,” she huffed, “are we to sit about and have a tea party? I believe we have a battle to plan.” With that, she whirled and stalked back into the castle.
Xander slung his arm around Severus’ shoulders. “Come on,” he grinned, “she’s right. Plus, I can’t wait to see the look on ol’ Volder’s and little Bella’s faces when they see both of us alive and kicking.”
“It was Bellatrix?” Severus gasped.
“Yeah, you can’t blame her,” Xander nodded. “She was aiming for Faith, I think. Of course, Faith wasn’t actually there by the time the hex would have hit, but that’s what she was trying to do.”
Severus growled. This battle would be the final one, and he would have his pound of flesh from that woman. Or maybe he would just sit back and watch Xander and her duel properly; see if reality matched up to fantasy. He smirked at the thought: they were together again, finally, and the war was very nearly over. He had a feeling that Xander’s little escapade had removed any limits the red-haired wiccan had placed on herself, and she would see to Voldemort’s end if nothing else.
The end was in sight, and he might even live to see it. A much better ending than any previous he’d considered, and infinitely better than a lonely death, gazing into Lily’s son’s eyes. The boat-shed: too embarrassing for words, and best forgotten.
“Oh, bloody hell,” Severus muttered. When Xander eyed him quizzically, he went on. “I gave Potter my memories.”
Xander snorted, and shook his head, grinning.
Severus sighed. Yet another thing to explain away.