And How Does That Make You Feel?
I disclaim ownership of any recognizable persons, places, or ideas. That's right, I disclaim it!
They looked exactly like one another. Before Giles became Buffy's watcher, he never had to worry about eating his words. He was an eloquent, well-informed man, respected by his peers. These days, it was a revoltingly common occurrence. Why did he even bother speaking anymore? This boy--Harry--looked just as similar to his young friends as they had described.
"Remarkable, absolutely remarkable." He murmured. He figured that statement was safe.
"We know, we remarked on it." Willow said, slightly smug.
Giles sent her a withering, if slightly fond look. "And your parents look like Willow and Xander here?"
"Well, they did. They, well, they died, you see, when I was a baby. But I have pictures of them when they were young, and but for a few differences, Willow and Xander could be their doubles."
"Excuse me? Willow and Xander are right here and right now Willow and Xander are wondering if you could show us these pictures." The only lady finished, crossing her arms indignantly.
"Ah, well..." Harry wasn't sure how to proceed. His owl to Dumbledore had been answered with great rapidity, Hedwig appearing with the sun. She had a note on her leg assuring Harry that these two were not Death Eaters, and encouraging him to tell them as much as he liked until Dumbledore himself showed up.
If they were harmless, why did Professor Dumbledore need to make an appearance? And how did he know that the two random apparently muggle teenagers he met out of the blue on his walk weren't Death Eaters? Did he know everything? Regardless of whether or not Dumbledore was moderately omnipotent, Harry did most often trust his judgment. "Well, if Dumbledore says it's alright." Harry mumbled.
But not quite mumbly enough, it seemed, because Mr. Giles heard. "Dumbledore? Dumbledore, now that name rings a sort of bell... where did I hear it?"
"Could've been anywhere, it seems like everyone knows Albus Dumbledore."
"Albus Dumbledore? Oh! No, hang on a moment, it couldn't have been the same man. The Albus Dumbledore I read about was, ah, active in the late 1800s. He'd be over 150 years old now, if he were still alive."
"Hmm." Harry made a non-committal noise. Dumbledore didn't act 150, but that didn't mean his birth date wasn't some time before 1850. Harry reached into his bag and pulled out a leather-bound photo album, clutching it to his chest. "I'll show you the photos, but you have to understand first, they're a little--different than pictures you're used to. They may be a bit hard to believe, but well, look at them and then I'll explain, or, try to." He handed the only pictures he had of his family to the girl with his mother's eyes.
Willow opened the album and gasped, almost dropping it. Xander caught it and helped to hold it steady before peeking at the pictures alongside his best friend. He let out a low whistle.
“Giles, my man, you are not going to believe this.”
The pictures were moving. Harry was right, these weren't like any pictures he'd seen before. And since they were allegedly of people who had died when the kid was a baby, Xander could rule out some new photo technology—that Willow had never heard of. Yeah, not likely.
Since technology was out, that left Willow's other little preoccupation, one that made Giles squirm almost as much as the first: magic. Yep, the supernatural followed them around like a homesick puppy.
Giles took the album as it was passed to him and gave a resigned sigh.
“Can't the two of you ever get into any mundane hyjinx? Like solving the mystery of who keeps taking my lox out of the staffroom refrigerator? Must you always
get into magical trouble? Honestly, between the love spell and that mass power outage this summer, we know that magic you seek out
has a tendency to go awry, but now that it comes to you? I'm more certain than ever: the earth is doomed.”
“I don't have to explain magic?” Harry asked, hesitantly relieved.
“No, no I'm afraid we're quite familiar with magic. And what spell did you use to enchant the photos? It wouldn't happen to create an alternate reality in which copies of your parents would be born and raised in a rather dangerous California town would it?”
“Hey now! We're no copies! We're the genuine article! Entirely original! I am not a number, I am a free man!” Xander was a little caught up in the moment.
“Well you certainly aren't Patrick McGoohan. Revelations concerning my television watching habits aside, it is a potion, not a spell.” Said a man who must have popped out of thin air, however impossible it might sound.
“Whoahw! Where the heck did you come from?” Xander yelped.
“Hello Professor Dumbledore.” The kid knew the new guy?
“Ah, Harry, good to see you again. Care to introduce me to your new... ah...”
“Er, right. These are Willow Rosenberg, Xander Harris and Rupert Giles. Guys, this is the headmaster of my school, er, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Albus Dumbledore.”
Willow gave a nervous but friendly little wave, Xander gave a brief nod that still managed to look goofy, somehow, but Giles stepped forward, hand outstretched for a shake.
“Albus Dumbledore, good to meet you. Named for your father, were you?”
“No, actually, like your young charges, I am the original.”
“Ah, I see.” Deferred Giles, confusion tempering his embarrassment.
“I know this might not be the most important issue right now, but—Mr. Dumbledore, you do realize that you're just perpetuating generations-long stereotypes by dressing like that, don't you? I mean, not to be all rude but, I've never met any witches who actually wear robes and stuff, and if people see you they're just gonna assume we all dress that way. And if they think they're right about that, they'll think they're right about witches being green and warty and broomstick-riding, familiar-having evil! Well, maybe they won't think that about you, since you look all Merlin-y and he was supposed to be a good guy.”
“Miss Rosenberg, your worries are, I'm afraid, quite unfounded. For one, the non-magic community rarely has the opportunity to see me, and even more rarely in this apparel. The Wizarding Statute of Secrecy frowns upon witches and wizards who dress this way around non-magical folk, for precisely the reasons you listed, among others. But you should also let go your concern that I'm giving people the wrong idea regarding Wizarding style because, you see, this is how we dress in the Wizarding World, have done for over a thousand years. Harry wears robes at school, though I believe he and most other students don't wear their hats unless it's entirely necessary. They are a bit out of fashion, at the moment.” Harry nodded sheepishly. “However, I am confident that they'll be back within a few decades. Style does cycle in all cultures, even if our fads are a bit more subtle than those of your world.”
Giles was still stuck on a phrase five sentences previous. "Hang on, Wizarding World? Never, in all my years as a watcher and historian, have I heard mention of a Wizarding World. Isolated instances of witchcraft and wizardry, certainly, but rarely any organization, and never enough to constitute a separate world. A subculture maybe, but...”
“Ah, but there is where I must bring up our Statute of Secrecy yet again. It is not permitted for muggles—the non-magical community, if you prefer—to know of our existence. We take great care to alter the memories of those who see too much of our world. Sometimes we miss a few, and they try to tell others about what they've seen, but we can usually convince the public at large that the stories of the few are lies or madness and that their literature is fiction, and not fact or history. We have a department in the Ministry of Magic that deals entirely with the issue of keeping our secret. Our centers of community and commerce are hidden, our events are protected from wandering eyes. I understand that, as a watcher, expect to be the most knowledgeable about all things supernatural. And in the case of demons you may well be. But there's more to it than just the things that go bump in the night.”
“Man, you like speeches! Are you sure you didn't want to start with 'Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears'?” Willow gave Xander an odd look. “What? You study so much, I'm bound to pick up some of it by osmosis.” She gave him an even more disbelieving look. “It's not my fault you're taking both Shakespeare and biology this year! Maybe if you didn't study around me so much, I wouldn't have to know superfluous words like osmosis. And superfluous. Could we please move on to a topic that doesn't involve me losing dunce cred? We're totally ruining my image.”
“Yes well, ignoring Mr... Xander's scholastic efforts for the moment, there is the matter of the astounding likeness of Harry and Willow and Xander. Though, when all is explained, that is quite the least remarkable part of the story.”
“Ah, yes—well, supernaturally
remarkable stories should perhaps wait until we've retired to a more, ah, private location? We are a bit out in the open and I'm not sure this will be a story fit for the general public, given our, ah, track record.”
“Quite right. Would you mind, then, accompanying me to a friend's house? It's only a few blocks away.”
Harry was aghast. Surely Dumbledore wasn't going to take them to the Dursleys? That was the very worst place he could think of to have a magic-related discussion. Second place went to Salem, Massachusetts during those Arthur Miller-y witch trials.
Fortunately, Dumbledore took off in the opposite direction from #4. Harry was terribly relieved, if a bit surprised. What witch or wizard lived in the neighborhood, and why had they never spoken to him, in all his years of residence and long walks around town? His surprise widened with his eyes as Dumbledore knocked on Mrs. Figg's door. Mrs. Figg? Cat-loving, boring old Mrs. Figg was a witch?
That being a wizard meant that the seemingly impossible was in fact, possible was an easy concept to grasp in the abstract. And of course any laws of science he'd picked up before his eleventh birthday were thrown promptly out the window with his first classes at Hogwarts. Gravity? Bah. The linear nature of time? Meh. But the heretofore irrefutable notion that Mrs. Figg was a boring old lady? The destruction of that notion was incredible, in the traditional sense of the word. He couldn't credit it as the truth.
“Albus?” Inquired Mrs. Figg. Obviously, if she was a witch, it followed that she'd be on a first name basis with the greatest sorcerer living. Of course.
“Hello Arabella, dear. Could my friends and I borrow your sitting room? I have a rather pressing matter to discuss with them, and it would be better in a more secure and comfortable environment than the street.”
“Of course! Do come in, do! You know you're always welcome here, Albus. And any friend of yours is a friend of mine.” She ushered the into the sitting room, pushing a few cats out of chairs so that they'd have a place to sit.
As Dumbledore exercised his talent for looking both extremely out of place and entirely comfortable simultaneously, Harry realized how unfair it was for his Headmaster to be these people's first introduction to the Wizarding World. There was a danger that they would think every wizard was like him, that they had somehow neglected to notice a bunch of Merlins wandering around in their midst. Harry supposed he'd have to be the counterpoint, the evidence for just how unique Dumbledore was, even in the magical community. As the subject of his contemplation cleared his throat, Harry remembered that the questions he wanted answered were far more pressing priorities than inter-cultural awareness.
“This tale requires a good deal of background information, I'm afraid. I apologize if it seems like I'm trying to confuse the question with a great deal of history that doesn't seem to have anything to do with you, but at the end you will see, everything I'm about to tell you is terribly pertinent. I merely request that you bear with me until I finish with my tale, at which time I'm sure your inquisitive minds will have plenty that will need yet more explaining.”
Disclaimers finished, he launched into the tale of Voldemort's rise and fall and recent incarnation. He paused here, and as he had requested, the slayerettes refrained from asking any questions. Of course, they were busy sending Harry looks of horror and sympathy, so they may not yet have registered the break.
“You needed to understand about our war, because it is what caused you to be taken from you real parents.”
“What!” Xander and Willow leaped to their feet in perfect synchronicity.
“Hey, we've already got parents! Two separate sets! Not great ones, I'll grant you, but we know
“Just because we look kinda—ok, exactly—like Harry doesn't mean we're his siblings!”
Xander blinked at her. “Woah, Wills, I hadn't made it quite that far yet. Give a guy some time to catch up.” Turning to Dumbledore he asked, “You think we're his brother and sister?” The white head nodded. “You ever hear about having any siblings?” Harry shook his head. “Yeah, us neither. I'm guessing, being in your parent's country and all, you see old friends of theirs once in a while?”
“And they never mentioned anything? Nothing that might make you think you weren't an only child?”
“No one said anything, but then, people have a tendency to leave me in the dark.”
Willow and Xander exchanged grimaces. “We've so been there. This one time, there was a prophecy that our best friend was going to die—well, our best friend Mach 2, our original best friend did die.” Moment of silence for Jesse. “So anyway, Angel and Giles here knew about the whole 'destined-to-die-at-the-hands-of-the-master' thing, and they didn't tell us! I mean sure, there really wasn't anything we could have done, and everything turned out ok, but still! We were left out of the loop completely! You'd think the immanent death of a friend would be a pretty all-encompassing loop, but look, there we were, on the outside.”
Giles knew better than to get into that argument again, and so he guided the conversation back into equally contentious, but less personally dangerous territory.
“Yes, well, how is it that a couple could have twins without any of their friends knowing about it? I imagine they would have wanted to tell people their, ah, joyous news, and surely someone would notice
something, even if they kept mum, so to speak.”
“Ordinarily that would indeed have been the case, but the circumstances surrounding our young friends' birth and transplant are more complicated than you know, and I was getting to that.
“Lily and James Potter decided to keep their twins secret for two reasons, we think. For one, they wanted to surprise people. There was precious little to celebrate at the time, and they wanted to give us all a reminder that not all
shocks and surprises need to be feared. Another reason was safety. The fewer people who know about the children, the less likely it was that anyone would try to come after Lily while she was pregnant, effectively killing one powerful enemy of Voldemort at her most vulnerable time, and also ridding the world of the two members of the next generation of wizards fighting for the light. They did tell their close friends, though that would, in fact, be a great mistake.”
“Peter.” Harry ground out through clenched teeth. “It was Peter who betrayed my parents, again
. That bloody rat!”
“We believe it was Peter, yes.” Said Dumbledore, ignoring his pupil's lack of decorum. “It would mean that he turned traitor before we had previously assumed, but then it's possible that even he forgot he had been a spy at the time.”
“How could a man simply forget that he betrayed his friends?”
“A very powerful memory charm, placed on all who knew about the children. The death eater responsible was not told which of the Potter's friends had proven himself to be a turncoat, and so he could not assume he knew. He would, most likely, have picked the wrong man anyway.”
“Would've picked the wrong one... Snape? Was it Snape who denied me siblings all my life? Of all the—“
“Harry. You must understand that you were all quite fortunate that Professor Snape was the man chosen for the job. Had it been any other death eater, Willow and Xander here would be quite dead. No other death eater would have been able to convince Voldemort to allow him to alter the memories of your parents and their friends. And the course of history would likely have been very different. It is quite possible that you would never have been born.”
“Ok, so I'm feeling some serious gratitude for this Snape guy. But why wasn't he jumping on the babycide wagon if that was the party line?” the three most literary of the group gave a faint wince at the mixed metaphor, but the professor recovered to answer.
“There were a few reasons, I imagine, that he would put himself through such a dangerous ordeal as kidnapping and hiding you twins, against his then master's orders. First is that he may have, even then, begun questioning his cause, the roots of his spyhood just beginning to grow. A yet greater reason for Severus was you mother, Lily.”
“What, he was afraid of her?”
“No, quite the reverse. You see, for many of their school years, Lily and Severus were close friends.”
“Yes, quite. It doesn't happen ofter, but once in a while, a Gryffindor-Slytherin friendship does develop. They got along splendidly, most of the time. Ultimately, the only topics they really couldn't agree on were Voldemort and James, your father. Their differences aside, I imagine that Severus would find it nigh on impossible to destroy any child of his childhood friend. He was fiercely loyal to her, always will be, and it has long been my belief that Voldemort's nefarious intentions for Lily and her family were the last bits of persuasion needed for Severus to return to his senses and to the side of light. In the end, Severus could not even wish James dead, though they detested one another. He didn't want Lily to suffer the pain of being a widow.”
“So he, what? Took us to California and convinced the people we thought were our parents that we were their kids? He must have taken us right out of the delivery room so that a minimum number of people would see us and he'd only have to do a handful of memory changes. But, no... he'd have to do all the friends and the doctors, and the staff, and anybody who saw him carrying infants. He must have been magically exhausted
Willow looked impressed. Giles looked worried.
“Oh, yes, he certainly was. The way he tells it, He had to stay in the most disgusting motel in the western hemisphere for a few days before he had the energy to transport himself back across the Atlantic.”
“The poor dear, no wonder he's always so surly. Losing his one decent friend at the hand of the thing to which he pledged his allegiance... what a a sad, sad state of affairs.”
Mrs. Figg's observation reminded Harry of the question that had burned at him since he stepped through the threshold.
“Mrs. Figg? Why didn't you tell me you were a witch?”
“Oh! Bless you Harry, I can't so much as float a feather. I'm no witch, I'm a squib.”
Harry looked a bit embarrassed. “Oh, um, sorry. But all the times I stayed here, you knew who I was before I did. Why didn't you tell me about any of it?”
“Harry dear, I'm sorry. I'm sorry I couldn't tell you, and I'm sorry I made you so miserable here. But they'd never have let you come back if they thought you were enjoying yourself. And I couldn't tell you about your legacy, much as I wanted to. For one, you'd never have believed me. And we didn't know for certain that you would grow up with magic. Trust me, there's no bigger tease than finding out you're a squib.”
“Wait, I thought non-magic types were called muggles...?
“In ordinary circumstances, yes, muggle is the term. But in the case of a child born to a wizarding family, if the child does not possess any magical ability, he or she is a squib.”
“In this case it works out, because we could have someone keeping an eye on Harry without the ministry or other wizards knowing about it.”
“Um, keep an eye on Harry? You didn't happen to keep an eye on us did you? 'Cause that's a little creepy, no offense."
“I'm afraid that the situation was different for yourself and Xander. We didn't fear for your attack, as Professor Snape and I were the only wizards aware of your existence. Our reasons for not contacting you were much the same as the reasons no wizard approached Harry prior to his eleventh birthday. We did not know whether or not you'd believe us, we didn't want to tell you that you were orphans when you already had families of your own, and we didn't want to tell you that you'd be able to do amazing things when you were older, only to find that you didn't possess the talent when the time came.”
“Well thanks for my part, but Wills here isn't one of these squid people. As demonstrated by the supermojo at the beginning of the summer.”
Willow blushed modestly, but Dumbledore looked slightly alarmed. “I beg your pardon? You say Willow has performed successful spells? Have you ever received any letters form any wizarding institutions?” If the American Ministry failed to mention that a lost Potter been offered a place in an American school, they were going to get an angry letter.
“No, I'd remember if I got an invitation to magic school. Woulda been more fun than Hellmouth High, huh? Hey, Giles, do you think...?”
“Of course! A center of mystical convergence like the Hellmouth would most likely interrupt any long distance means of magical detection. Well spotted.”
Dumbledore wondered what it was about these children that always left him open for shock. Nobody else gave him this kind of trouble.
“Hellmouth? It was supposed to be a legend, not that most legends don't have some truth behind them, but—it exists?”
“It does.” Nodded Giles. “Much as we wish otherwise.”
“And Severus left the two of you there to keep you safe...”
“It sounded weird to us, too.”
Floundering back to a more familiar ground, Dumbledore asked “did either of you ever do anything growing up, something you couldn't explain?”
“Nothing except survive to 10th grade without a slayer or any idea about what goes on after dark in Sunnydale.” Xander muttered darkly.
“But, maybe that wasn't just luck like we always thought. Maybe we didn't do anything weird and magical that we noticed because our magic was so busy saving us from baddies. Like, we kept ourselves from getting munched, so we didn't have enough energy to make playing cards dance around us a la
“It couldn't spare a tiny bit of effort to push Tony down a flight of stairs or something?”
“I'm guessing not dying was a full-time job; revenge wasn't really as important.”
Xander's subsequent pouting was a little late for events that happened years ago. It's not as though anything could be done about it now.
“Wait, Wills, what's all this about our
magic? You're the witch, I'm just the Jimmy Olsen.”
“But how do you know that? You've never tried to do magic yourself. You've had magic done on you, but you've never tried to do anything magical on your own. I didn't do anything more strenuous than make some scapulas before I restored Angel's soul. And I know
that worked. I felt it.”
“You performed a... but those magics have been lost for centuries!” Dumbledore was in over his head again. He really needed to go away soon, or he may explode from all the shocks of the day.
Willow and Xander were anxious to change the subject because the whole 'those magics have been lost for centuries' thing was very Jenny, and Giles was still grieving. He looked so forlorn when Dumbledore had uttered the familiar phrase, and they couldn't stand to see him that way.
“Yeah, it was a... thing. Could we maybe talk about this later? It's been an overwhelming kind of day, and we really all need to go home and process all this. I, for one, am pretty sure you're telling the truth, though I'm sure Messrs. Skeptic-Pants could probably do with some more proof.”
“It's not that... this is just highly abnormal, even in my rather paranormal area of expertise. It's difficult to accept without more, ah, concrete proof.”
“Understandable. Would you all be amenable to meeting again, then? Excellent, I'll owl you with details when I know more.” No nods, just blank looks. “Ah, yes, we, that is to say wizards, send letters with owls.”
“Oh. Do you, um, need our address?”
“No, dear, the owl will find you. They are quite brilliant little creatures.”
“Yes, well, we'll await your... owl, then. Good day.”
Dumbledore gave a merry smile and a nod, and Harry waved. Willow had other plans. She gathered her newfound brother up in an unexpected, but not unwelcome hug.
“You're a good kind of guy, Harry. Keep in touch. Family is probably important or something. I wouldn't know. But anyway, don't be a stranger.” Xander showed his solidarity with an encouraging nod-and-smile. The two had given Harry the most heartwarming bunch of physical gestures he had experienced since he last saw Mrs. Weasley. Harry agreed to be in touch, exchanged farewells, and followed Dumbledore to Privet Drive.
When they were not far from #4, but still out of the Dursleys' beady line of sight, Harry turned to his Headmaster. “I've got family. Nice family. Non-Dursley family. I think I've had this dream before...”
“It did go rather better than I could have hoped.” Chuckled Dumbledore. “Though their sudden appearance does still raise several issues. But for the moment, Harry, continue to bask in your new discovery. Everything else can wait.”
Upon arriving home, Giles excused himself to make some tea and retire to his study. He knew that his young friends needed some time now to deal with this life-changing revelation, and would come to him when and if they needed anything. Plus, having Jenny's words thrown at him by a stranger brought on the rather immediate need to brood. His evening was quite booked.
Willow and Xander were quiet for a moment, before Xander looked up at Willow and spoke. “We've got a brother.”
It was true, and shocking, but not the most important new bit of information in Willow's mind. “We're siblings.”
“It is fairly a freaksome notion, after all this time. Want to go watch the Star Wars Trilogy and figure out how they dealt with it?”
Willow did want to, and so the tapes came out. It wasn't so much a way to put off talking about the situation as an affirmation that things were still good between them, if not exactly the same. In Willow's own internal version of Star Wars, Xander had always been her Han. Now that he had been relegated to Luke duty, the introspective girl had a whole new respect and a lot more sympathy for Princess Leia. Oz wasn't really the Han type, though three days out of the month he looked a bit like Chewie. She'd have to find new movie to relate to in that department. Maybe after the Ewok party. She and Xander were ok, so, in time, everything else would be.
Patrick McGoohan and his non-number status were featured in the television show "the Prisoner". Jimmy Olsen is Superman's less-super tag-along. Star Wars, Han, Luke, Princess Leia, and Chewie all belong to George Lucas. Though eventually, everything else will belong to him too.