Albus Dumbledore and all things from the Potterverse come from the mind of J.K. Rowling. Joyce and all things from the Buffyverse come from the feverish mind of Joss Whedon and his minions at Mutant Enemy (though Fox TV probably actually owns them.) This is a derivative work. I don't claim ownership of the Buffy or Potterverse characters. On the other hand, this story idea is mine, all mine.Spoilers:
Buffy Seasons 1-7 (It's been off the air/in reruns for 3 years now. If you don't know how things worked out by now...) / Spoilers for all of the Potterverse except Book 7.Author's Note:
This is going to be a series of ficlets (1000-2000+ words), written as inspiration hits me. Most likely written months apart. This first one is heavy on the set-up. The rest will focus more on the characters. Feedback always welcome.--- --- ---
Invisible to the other mourners, Albus watched them slowly lowering Joyce into the ground from a distance. He wasn't sure if she'd ever understood how important she was to him. Accidentally trapped in her world, he'd felt like he lived in the shadows for the last two decades. Learning to survive in a place where magic users lived an even more hidden life than wizards. Here there was no magical government, no vibrant communities of magic users. Only the occasional coven or magical family with an overwhelming fear of outsiders.
What made it harder was that the magic he'd grown up with didn't work in the same way. He'd had to develop other skills. The rules governing the use of magic were so different that it had taken him the good part of a decade to even begin to understand how to apply his decades of magical knowledge. A large part of that spent learning to entice favors from the pantheon of gods and goddesses that flooded this universe the way its native magic wielders did.
Things he'd taken for granted since graduating from Hogwarts, things seemingly as simple as apparating were either impossible or came at a heavy cost. His wand had been useless, forcing him to learn to work magic without it. He could still remember his shock at finding his money was almost worthless, only the metal itself having any value.
All while he struggled to fit himself into this strange world where most magic was darker than anything he'd ever seen before, even during his pursuit of Grindelwald. He'd avoided becoming entangled with the more distasteful elements by sheer luck, but had managed to carve out a small niche to support himself while he researched ways to get home. His friends would have been aghast at the grey areas he'd wandered into but one of the things he was proud of was never crossing the line and using this world's equivalent of the Unforgivable curses.
It had been a long process but he believed that he'd finally discovered how to reverse the process that had taken him from his battle with Grindelwald to her Stonehenge. He'd come earlier in the week to see her one more time before he attempted to return to his own time and place. His calculations seemed to indicate that he would be able to go back at almost the exact moment after he'd wandered through the wall between his world and this one.
It hadn't been love at first sight, he wasn't sure if he believed in such things, and she'd never indicated that their relationship would grow beyond friendship. That the night they'd spent together had been a distinct anomaly in her life, brought on by the loneliness of unexpectedly being left to her own devices for a month and his reaction to surviving his encounter with one of the darkest wizards his people had ever produced. But her continued friendship had helped him to begin recovering a part of himself he'd thought lost in the long struggle against Grindelwald.
He didn't consider himself an overly sentimental person but he made no move to wipe away the tears he was sure were leaving a puddle at his feet. He'd had the vain hope that he would be able to return at some point or to find some way to continue communicating with her. But it was not to be.
Once the dirt finished covering her grave all he would have of her were the letters she'd written him over the years and his memories of the times they'd spent together. Two decades of memories condensed down into several hundred sheets of paper, some covered from one side to the other with her elegant script and others just short notes to remind him of her friendship.
The letters and the few times they'd been able to meet each year had been the only moments of real happiness in his life over the years. There were so many things he wished he could have spared her over the years. She'd truly loved Hank and had been devastated by his betrayals and later abandonment. As much as he wanted to curse Hank there hadn't been much he could do beyond offering a shoulder for her to cry on.
He'd been searching for a promising potion ingredient in Tibet when her heartbreaking letter had reached him. Her daughter had run away after an argument. He would be the first to admit that his experience with non-magical young women her daughter's age was limited and wasn't sure how he could help but he'd dropped everything and headed towards California. By the time he'd reached her the crisis was over and Joyce could no longer ignore the darkness that existed in her world, her innocence shattered. And an opportunity lost to tell her the secrets he'd been keeping from her, even as she described her own encounters with the evil that existed in Sunnydale.
He stayed even after most of the others had left. Joyce's older daughter, the one who looked so much like a smaller version of his own mother, stood there as they filled in the grave. He could almost feel the sorrow rolling off of her. He wasn't sure if it was cowardice or common sense that prevented him from revealing himself to her. Joyce had never confirmed his suspicions and he'd done everything he could to pretend he didn't care.
It was perhaps a little ruthless of him but too many people relied on him for him to become distracted by a possible act of paternity. There was still plenty of time for him to become a proper father. But only this one chance to return home. And from what he understood about this world, Buffy played a pivotal role that couldn't be ignored. The idea that someone could be chosen by some higher power to become a champion of good was foreign to his experience. Wizards didn't have gods to call on. But, from the research he'd done after a distraught Joyce had informed him of her daughter's fate, it was clear that she'd been selected to be a scourge of the vampires and demons that inhabited her world and her destiny was sealed.
Sighing, Albus watched even her leave after a brief conversation with the contradictory creature who'd won a place in her heart, a place he'd denied himself by his inaction and selfishness. Pulling a miniature stool from a pocket, he expanded it to its normal size and sat down in front of Joyce's grave, adorned with several simple bouquets. Whispering a silencing charm, he stared at her tombstone for a moment, gathering his thoughts.
"I'm sorry." He told her. "If I'd known you were still ill I would have done something. And now it's too late." He sighed. So many regrets, more than any in the century before he'd met her. "So many things I haven't told you. I'm leaving tonight and I don't think I'll be back this way for a long time. I cannot offer your daughters the protection they deserve. I can't see the future but I see enough to know that it isn't my place to interfere in what fate has in store for them."
Pulling a small bag of lemon sherbets from a pocket, a muggle treat she'd introduced him to when they first met, he popped one into his mouth before putting the rest of the bag next to the flowers. His mind wandered back to when they'd first met.--- --- ---
Bone tired, Albus stumbled occasionally as he walked through the heavy mist, knowing he was too tired to safely apparate home to Hogwarts. He'd run out of Nicolas's rejuvenating potion the day before, somewhere near Hadrian's wall. The last week had been an exhausting and mind numbing chase across England but he'd finally cornered Grindelwald, trapping him in Stonehenge. The ancient heart of the domain of the unknown magical people who'd disappeared from the isles long before any wizards had arrived on its shores, it had seemed fitting to end their fight there. Unlike their first battle on the edge of the Forbidden Forest near Hogwarts, Grindelwald had been unable to use one of his tricks and escape his fate.
There'd been no witnesses to their final battle, just the two of them in a duel to the death. He'd managed to place a protection charm around Grindelwald's body to keep any of the dark wizard's disciples from retrieving his body. Disposing of it would come later but for now Albus struggled to remain alert long enough to find some place safe to stay until he could return and deal with the grisly task. If he remembered correctly, there was a muggle inn nearby that took wizarding money.
Straining his eyes in the mist, he kept to the path from the old circle down to the road. He did recall there being as much mist on the plain earlier. He assumed it had appeared as a result of the amount of magic their duel had consumed, affecting the local atmosphere. It wasn't evil but there was a slight feeling of some sort of magical force behind it, a sort of tingling on the edges of his fingers and toes. He continued walking, hoping that it was his exhaustion that made the path away from Stonehenge seem never-ending.
"Mister? Are you alright?" A young, female voice asked, waking him up.
Sitting up in the damp grass, he realized that at some point he'd fallen asleep while walking. Not answering the voice, its owner hidden in the mist, Albus carefully checked his arms and legs for any damage. His nose was still slightly swollen from a blow several days before but nothing new appeared to have happened.
"Mister?" she asked again.
"Thank you, my dear. I'm quite alright." He said in a soothing tone. The mist started to clear and leaning against a fence, staring down at him, was a young woman holding a large bag. Her long blonde hair moved slightly in the same breeze that was clearing away the mist. Her style of clothes were very unfamiliar. He assumed she was some sort of muggle, though he didn't recall ever seeing muggle women wearing pants like muggle men.
Getting clumsily to his feet, Albus looked around curiously. He'd made it a mile or so from the stone circle before collapsing. Looking back towards it, there seemed something slightly different about it though he couldn't quite decide what it was. He could feel the woman, just barely old enough to be called that in his opinion, watching him. Looking back at her, he could tell she was puzzled by something. He suspected she'd never seen a wizard before.
"Are you one of those Druids?" she asked. "I came out here this morning to draw but if you're doing something religious I can come back later."
She didn't have a loud voice. Though he wasn't familiar with her accent, it sounded faintly American.
"A druid?" he asked, wondering what a muggle would know about them.
"You know... those people who dance around Stonehenge thinking they're recreating some ancient religion." She shrugged, throwing her bag over one shoulder in a fluid motion he found intriguing. "Hank thinks they're foolish."
"My fiance. He had to go to London for some conference and I came along." She told him, disappointment quite clear in her voice. "He's been in meetings all week. Today they're off some overnight retreat in Cardiff."
"Leaving you all alone?" He asked. He couldn't quite put his finger on it but there was something special about her. She had a glow to her that he found interesting. It was like standing next to an enchanted object. Something in his magic yearned to wrap itself around her.
"I thought I'd spend the day here drawing. There's something fascinating about Stonehenge." She told him. "I just finished my degree in Art History."
"It is an amazing object, isn't it." He agreed. "It was here long before Druids started using it."
"That's what one of my professors said." She nodded happily, smiling at him.
He kept her company for the rest of the day, sharing her lunch. He couldn't remember the last time he'd enjoyed just being with someone. --- --- ---
Author's note 2: Hopefully it was clear from the above that Dumbledore somehow travelled to a parallel universe that was several decades ahead of his own.