Disclaimer: I don't own Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Harry Potter, nor am I making any money from writing in these fandoms, more's the pity.
Harry was still staring off into the middle distance when Giles came outside a few minutes later. For all he had fought the man’s corner before, he still wasn’t impressed with what Buffy had told him of his earlier behaviour. Dumbledore had seemed trustworthy, but he hadn’t mentioned anything about his man’s… problems. Giles recalled what Harry had said not twenty minutes ago about Dumbledore’s habit of withholding information. He still couldn’t believe that he had sent someone to Sunnydale without telling them about the Hellmouth.
Giles sighed loudly, waking Harry out of his reverie. The man seemed a decent sort, but he wasn’t about to take chances. Not now, not when the situation was so delicate, not when Willow’s very life might hang in the balance. And yet, he hated what he was about to do.
‘Buffy has retired,’ he said to the back of Harry’s head, ‘now that I’m here to watch Dawn.’
Harry’s reply was a simple nod; either he hadn’t caught on that this meant Buffy didn’t trust him, or he agreed with her caution. Giles decided he would have to spell this out a bit more bluntly than he’d hoped would be necessary.
‘She didn’t want to leave Dawn alone in the house with you. She’s very concerned. She doesn’t trust you.’ Still no verbal response. ‘Not only does she not trust that you are not a dark wizard who will harm her family, she also does not trust that you are not a mentally unstable incompetent who is addicted to various chemicals.’
Harry’s reaction to this was a soft snort of laughter and a slow shaking of his head.
Giles, who by this time was starting to get rather irritated, stepped out in front of Harry, leaning one hand against the veranda so that he could lean over and put his face directly before Harry’s.
‘And no matter how convincing Albus Dumbledore is, I don’t trust you either.’ He looked directly into Harry’s eyes, making sure that each word was understood. ‘And let me tell you now, so there is no misunderstanding: if you harm any of our friends, or allow them to be harmed through your incompetence or intoxication, you will not answer to Albus Dumbledore, you will not answer to the Slayer. You will answer to me
They stared into each other’s eyes for a long moment, Harry’s face a picture of calm to Giles’ tightly controlled power, before Harry blinked, nodded and gave a cheery ‘Okay.’
If Giles was taken aback by Harry’s tone, he didn’t show it. He knew his message had been heard, loud and clear, and if Harry wanted to demonstrate that he wasn’t trembling in his boots then that was fine with him. They both knew the score. He stood back and went inside, leaving Harry to go back to his sky-staring.
Back up in the house, a door on the first floor creaked open, and a brown head peeped out to survey the landing. Dawn sighed. She had heard Buffy coming upstairs and go into her room, she was just waiting for the- yep, there it was, her sister’s unnaturally heavy snoring drifting through the walls.
Still wary, Dawn crept down the stairs, past where Giles was resting on the sofa in the living room and into the kitchen. The kind-of-hot-but-totally-creepy British guy was out in the back yard. Dawn didn’t really know what to make of him: she’d thought he was Council, but then Buffy would never have let him in the house and there’d probably have been some kind of fight. He didn’t really look like a Council agent, either. He didn’t look at all like Wesley, or the retrieval team that had come for Faith. He wasn’t even wearing any tweed, just jeans and a hand-knit green sweater.
Dawn fixed herself a peanut butter sandwich, then after a moment’s thought, got a second plate. For all Buffy had made a little speech about including her in stuff, she’d still sent her to her room the very first time something happened, and had then gone to bed without even telling her if the Council was after Willow or not. Giles was just as bad, sleeping on the couch instead of waiting to fill her in.
She went outside, then, after taking a deep breath, sat down on the step next to the stranger.
He looked at her with his bright green eyes, and she felt her stomach flip a little. It was the eyes – they were gorgeous, but creepy. They were wide, with thick, beautiful black lashes, but the colour was just… unnatural. He gave her a long, considering look that seemed to last an hour and a second at the same time.
‘Famished.’ He cracked a smile, and the creeping feeling that had been going up her neck vanished.
Dawn gave herself a little shake. She was being ridiculous. He was a cutie with weird eyes. But damnit, he was Buffy’s age – why did she always crush on the unobtainable ones?
She handed him the sandwich and made a start on her own.
‘So,’ she said, still chewing, ‘I’m Dawn, Buffy’s sister.’ She held out her hand, which he shook, smiling.
‘Harry Potter. I’m here to help Willow. I’m a wizard.’ He took a bite of his sandwich and stared straight ahead, as he had been when she came out. ‘Giles contacted an old friend of mine in Scotland, and he recommended me to come help out.’
‘Cool.’ Dawn was a bit surprised that he was volunteering information. Normally her sister’s friends overlooked her as much as Buffy did, when they weren’t patronising or protecting her.
‘Not really. Back home I’ve been out of the loop for a while, and I kind of liked it. It was boring and normal and safe and now here I am,’ he swallowed heavily, ‘eating a sandwich on the Hellmouth.’
‘The Hellmouth isn’t here. It’s about half a mile in that direction,’ Dawn said, pointing. ‘It’s right under the High School.’
Harry choked on his mouthful of sandwich. When he started to turn red, Dawn thumped him on the back, and found she could feel the individual vertebrae, which was a bit gross really.
‘Jesus,’ he said, between coughs. ‘The school? Your school, I take it? What are you, fourteen, fifteen?’
‘Sixteen,’ Dawn replied, trying not to sound offended. It wasn’t like she was actually
sixteen anyway, but a year was a big deal when you hadn’t been real for most of your life. ‘But that’s just Sunnydale. Everywhere is evil, the school is just like the epicentre of evil- but then it’s a school, so it kinda was anyway.’
Harry laughed a little at that. For all he’d loved Hogwarts, the castle was the place he’d encountered much of the “evil” he’d faced in the wizarding world, more so than any other including the Ministry.
There was a silence. It wasn’t particularly awkward, and Harry took advantage of it to eat the rest of his sandwich. By his body’s reckoning, it was about dinner time anyway, but it’d been a long time since he’d crossed an ocean in one go and his body had been crying out for fuel.
‘Giles told us that he was going to take Willow to Devon,’ Dawn said casually. She had to be careful, she needed to pump him for information without him realising what she was doing and getting angry at her. If she pissed him off, he wouldn’t tell her anything.
‘Your sister said the same thing. I don’t know what he planned on doing with her to begin with, but he asked Professor Dumbledore for help, and he got me. I think he’s regretting it now,’ he added, putting his empty plate on the next step down and turning to face Dawn. The look he gave her was unnerving, like he could see right into her eyes and read the thoughts written on the inside of her skull.
‘R-really?’ she stammered, her eyes darting to Harry’s face then back to her own plate.
Okay, he so knew what she was doing, she could just tell. She could feel herself blushing, and cursed her pale skin.
‘He doesn’t like that he’s got one more person he has to look at who knows that he fucked up big time. And he really
doesn’t like that I’m going to fix it for him. The fact that I’m comparatively young and pretty scrawny and pathetic-looking makes it even more humiliating.’
He got up, picked up his plate and started back inside, leaving Dawn sitting there in shock. He turned back to face her as she got up to follow.
‘If you want to know what’s happening, I’ll tell you. You just have to ask me. No need to sneak around, that’s how bad things happen. And anyway, I have lots of questions for you, and I’m crap at being subtle so I’m just going to ask you.’
Dawn stood up to her full height and found herself tilting her head and twitching an eyebrow in a way that she’d definitely picked up from Spike. Who’d tried to rape her sister. She quickly shook her head and just looked straight at Harry, trying not to do the whole drowning-in-his-eyes thing.
‘What do you need to know?’
He sighed. ‘Everything. Absolutely everything about everything. The Hellmouth, the Slayer, the Council, but particularly Willow. I need to know about her personality, how she got into magic, and a ton of personal stuff that’s none of my business.’
Dawn thought for a moment. ‘We-ell,’ she said slowly, ‘if you want to know about Willow, you gotta talk to Xander. ‘Cept, he’s not gonna want to talk to you one bit.’
‘Right then,’ Harry said, ‘so I’ll need you to help me convince him.’ He went into the kitchen, left his plate by the sink then stuck his head back out the door. ‘C’mon then,’ he said, then disappeared back into the house.
Dawn unstuck her feet from the veranda and jogged after him.
‘But Buffy wouldn’t want me to-’
‘And where is Buffy now?’ Harry interrupted.
‘Asleep, but Giles-’
‘Is also asleep. Not your fault. If they’re going to baby-sit you, the least they can do is stay awake and, well, do it.’
Harry opened the front door, leaving Dawn standing stupidly at the threshold, and started down the path.
He turned round, halfway to the pavement.
Dawn grabbed her bag and checked that she had her door key, then skipped out the door and shut it gently behind her.