Heaps of Surprise
I really shouldn't be starting a new story. Really, I shouldn't. But here I go.
Buffy things belong to Joss, Potter things belong to JKR, neither of whom are me.
Severus was in agony. Oh, not the physical agony that comes from the Cruciatus, though he was intimately familiar with that sensation as well. His was the pain of a heart in turmoil. Dear, sweet Lily Evans, and her blasted bastard of a Gryffindor husband were expecting. Twins. They hadn't told anyone but their nearest and dearest—not even Dumbledore knew—wanting to keep it a surprise for some reason. How did he, a Death Eater and an enemy come to know? Simple, one of their idiot friends had squeaked to his lord and Master (which friend, Severus didn't know) who was perturbed by the thought of his enemies reproducing. So perturbed, in fact, that he'd sent Snape on a horrible, dangerous mission: get the Potter brats out of the way.
Only with much subtlety did Snape convince his Lord to allow him to wipe all memories of the soon expected infants from the minds of parents, friends and family, with the rationale that the last thing they needed was for the Potters to gain the added power of fury and vengeance. This was true, they would most certainly have fought with much more wild abandon, had they known of the children removed from their care. But there was also this, in Severus' heart of hearts: he didn't want to give Lily Evans that kind of pain. They may now be on opposing sides of a great war, but that didn't erase seven years of kindness, seven years of friendship, and what seemed like more than seven years of love. For that reason, also, he had a horrible time trying to convince himself to kill the children, as was expected of him. He would have merrily detested the little brats for belonging to James, and a large part of him did. But he could never destroy anything created by Lily. He could wish them misery, in “honor” of the one who made him so miserable throughout his school years, but he ultimately could not wish them dead.
Which is why the momentous day found him, after breaking into St. Mungos and performing dozens of powerful memory charms, carrying two infants (silent, thanks to a potion) out to the apparition point. The powerful anti-physical violence spell on the hospital (designed to stop all the healers' hard work from being undone) prevented Snape from simply doing away with his enemies while they were vulnerable, more's the pity. He popped home first, to give himself time to think. It would have been infinitely easier if he could just kill them, and much less dangerous to his person, but looking down at the beautiful little girl, with her fine deep red hair and bright green eyes, so like her mother, he knew he couldn't. He didn't spend too much time looking at the boy, of course, so disgustingly like his father.
He had to take the two children somewhere—somewhere that no wizard would find them, so that no one could make the connection, most especially his dark lord. He needed to put them in a muggle town, far from their home and native land. The west coast of the United States? That might be far enough. There was no call to send them as far as Asia, especially since they would stand out too much. California it was, then. He apparated to the coast, and on to the next coast, and in a few steps he was in a suitable muggle town in the damnably bright state of California.
Sunnydale. The name was, what? Quaint? Prosaic? Muggle. Definitely muggle. In the residential section he left the boy with the first drunk, arguing couple he could find, first altering their memories to include a hellish pregnancy and the arrival of little Alexander. He kept Lily's names for her children, of course. It seemed she kept up the family tradition of natural names for girls. He spent more time looking for a home for the daughter, at last settling on a couple that was wealthy and professional-looking (for muggles). He lingered just a little while with the girl, stroking her red hair and imagining that she was his
and Lily's daughter, before the fantasy was set firmly aside, and he left, memory charms in place. Willow and Alexander Potter would not give anyone in the Wizarding World any trouble. It was a good thing he didn't care for muggles or he'd feel quite guilty for loosing James' spawn on an unsuspecting town.
Years later, when Severus secretly renounced the Dark Lord and turned spy for Dumbledore, he confessed all his misdeeds to the old wizard, including the business of the unknown Potters. Albus was visibly startled, which was amusing in its novelty. They decided that it would not do to bring young children into a world of war and turmoil when they were perfectly safe in the states.
Later still, after the Dark Lord was stopped by an infant, and dear Lily and damned James died, the subject of the secret Potters was brought up again. And again, they were determined to be better off where they were, for the present. They were orphans now, though they knew it not. The world of magic may be safer than it had been, but that didn't mean they'd have a place to keep a pair of orphans, not when the orphanages were already so busy finding homes for so many other children of Voldemort's victims. The twins would live as they had done, only to be told of their heritage if and when they were found to be magical enough to be invited to Hogwarts.
Eleven years passed since his most difficult and emotionally tumultuous mission for either side (though having to teach potions to brain-dead children came a close second), and Severus Snape found himself in two minds yet again. On the one hand, he was disappointed that he wouldn't be able to watch Lily's little girl grow to be a miniature copy of the woman he had loved; on the other hand, the thought of James producing two squib children was nothing short of hilarious. It was so unfortunate that he couldn't tell anyone and share his mirth, but there were still enough Death Eaters about to put the 11-year-olds in danger, defenseless as they were, if they became public knowledge. It was a shame, but he was comforted by the fact that he still knew, and could meditate on that little bit of information to amuse him in his darkest hours. Like double potions with first-year Gryffindors.
A bit more than six years later, a different magically-inclined Englishman with a tarnished past was quailing under the pressure of a very sad resolve face thrown at him by a little red-haired girl.
“It's about as much as I can take, with my best-friend-girl gone when I need her so much, but you leaving all the time too? We need you here, and not just for the slay-age, though that does always go better with a seasoned watcher-man with us, but I've had so much time this summer and I'm practicing magic and I know you say it's dangerous to dabble so if you would help me learn I wouldn't be in as much danger, and it would give us something to do to keep us from going stir-crazy like Xander, who we really have got to get a hobby or a vacation or something before he explodes, but more than that, you can't go away so much because—because we miss you! I know you need to find Buffy, but Xander's right, she won't be found until she wants to be and I'm pretty sure that the librarian gig isn't going to support this whole 'fly around the world at the drop of a hat' thing, so...”
“Willow!” Giles interjected, overwhelmed. “I appreciate how hard this all must be for yourself and Xander, but you must understand, I cannot quit looking for Buffy. She is needed here far more than I am, far more than any of us are. I will help you with your studies, when I can, but I can't promise not to leave when I get a strong lead. Although...” he paused here, considering. “Would it help if I brought you and Xander along on the next 'wild goose chase'? It may only be a brief visit to the next town, or it bring us to another state and take weeks to fully investigate, but, if you think it would benefit your mental health...”
!” she exclaimed, hugging him tightly. “That would be great! We'd be helping and getting a mini-vacation all at once! Thank you Giles!”
“Yes, well, you're quite welcome, I'd be glad of the company. You may both accompany me on the next trip, wherever it takes us.”
Perhaps Giles should not have made such and open-ended offer before getting any as-yet unavailable details. Because a trans-continental, trans-Atlantic flight with a bored Xander and a hyper-caffeinated Willow was not on the list of things he wanted to do before he died. The latest tip had come from the mother country, more specifically, from Surrey. One of his old contacts had reported a story of some girl fighting what appeared to be a group of vampires nearby. Giles didn't think it likely
that Buffy had gotten so far, but he knew better than to underestimate his slayer, so he booked his tickets and dutifully got seats for Willow and Xander as well. He did so with a strong sense of foreboding. England was about to be exposed to the Slayerettes. God help them all. God save the Queen.
Giles-land was so exciting! The flight, granted, not so much, and the reason for the trip was a bit of a downer too, but apart from all that, everything was excellent! Heathrow was nifty and the cars drove on the wrong side of the road and London was all wonderfully new and old all at the same time. Surrey was a bit more like the suburbia she was so familiar with, but still delightfully different, because everybody here had that great accent. Some people—like the petrol station attendant, for one—sounded like Spike, but Willow was relieved to find that it didn't sound as terrifying out of context. Had they heard him at night, however...
Giles was letting them explore Surrey on foot for a while, while he met with his contact. So explore they did, hoping to find some teenagers who could tell them the latest in gossip on new blondes in town, or insight into any weird goings-on. Over all, thought, it was pretty much what they'd be doing at home: walking deserted streets together, passing shiny cars and perfect lawns. At least they didn't have to worry about anything too
supernaturally strange happening around here.
Harry Potter was wandering the excruciatingly dull streets of Little Whinging, putting space between himself and the Dursleys, and wishing he was at Hogwarts. That he could still wish to be in a place where he had been sent to his death just a few months ago was a testament to how awful the Dursleys were; and how wonderful Hogwarts was, most of the time. He was out and about this afternoon to try to distract himself from his near-constant need for news. If he were at home, he'd just wind up staring at the tv until his uncle tried to lock him under the stairs again. Not that Harry'd fit, of course, he wasn't the same tiny eleven year old he used to be, but Vernon would be sure to give it the good old Smeltings try. Plus, there was the possibility that he'd stumble onto a morning paper someone was through with. God, he hated this! Was it so hard for his friends to keep him updated on what was happening in the Wizarding world, what Voldemort was up to? He must have fallen into his old pattern by now, right? Disappearances, destruction, mysterious deaths, or—
Resurrections? He was sure he was going to pass out, if he hadn't already—this could be all just some strange dream. He'd dreamed about them enough since he saw their echoes earlier this summer, but hallucinating them walking up the street towards him was new. He stood stock still, afraid that if he moved too suddenly or blinked too hard they'd be gone, and he'd be left with nothing but an empty suburban road. His mother and father, walking side-by-side as ever, approached him slowly, as if concerned that they'd scare him away. Good on them, he was
scared. When they were close enough, he couldn't help but ask: “M-mom? Dad?”
His parents exchanged what might have been a confused and nervous glance. “Uh... best bud o'mine? Back away slowly from the crazy boy, please.” His father said. Harry barely registered the words in the shock of hearing his father's newfound American accent. Then again, his father speaking Hindi would hardly make the situation any weirder. Resurrection and apparent regression to late teens clocked in above unexpected accents on the weird-o-meter. His mother stepped a little closer to him, not heeding her husband's worry. She peered closely at him, as though attempting to detect any injury or madness that might explain odd behavior, a look of concern in her eyes that quickly changed to shock with a gasp and a step back.
“Eyes! Look! Green! My—his—the... look! Eyes!” His mother stuttered out incoherently. Yeah they had the same eyes. Why was this such a shock to her? Surely she must have noticed that when he was born? Everyone else did.
His father looked dutifully into Harry's eyes, and the last bit of evidence he needed decided him. These were not his parents, for all that they looked so bloody like them
. His father's eyes were hazel, not this deep brown color the young man before him had. It was still a familiar color, and he felt that perhaps he had seen it in the mirror of Erised, but not on James. An uncle or grandfather maybe?
“My God Wills! His eyes are exactly like yours! Well, maybe yours are a little girlier, but still, it's creepy. Oh, fuck, you can take the slayerettes away from the Hellmouth, but you can't get the Hellmouthy-weird occurrences away from the slayerettes.” Oh goody. His not-father was speaking gibberish. What fun.
“Look,” Harry started, “I'm sorry about that, it's just that you both look just like them and—and something odd is going on.”
His not-mother sighed. “When isn't something odd going on?” Harry'd drink to that. “Well, here it is, my name is Willow Rosenberg and this is Xander Harris. And since I think I'd remember giving birth to a British boy at like, three, I'm pretty certain that I'm not you mom.”
“That goes for me too, except, y'know dad instead of mom.”
“Right, well, I'm Harry Potter. Nice, er well, interesting to meet you?” They smiled, but the lack of recognition at his name revealed to Harry a horrible truth. These two were muggles. But his family history was so steeped in magic that there was no real way of finding out if they were related to him without inadvertently breaking the Wizarding Statute of Secrecy. He felt the tiniest bit conceited for thinking that every wizard knew about him, but they did, really. Whether he liked it or not.
These two were old enough to be out of school already so if they were magical, they'd have found out about it when they got their letters. So either they had declined and wouldn't be too keen to meet a wizard such as himself, or they'd never been invited to school. This just got more and more complicated. Which was impressive because the whole situation was quite baffling enough from the outset.
“Ok, so, what do we know? We know that we come from different continents. We know that—ok, looking at you is just too weird, sorry.” She turned to Xander. “We're just here looking for our friend for a few days, and we run into some crazy dual-doppleganger with your facial structure and hair and my eyes. Xander, why does weird follow us around like this?”
“Wills! Calm down." he grasped her shoulders in a steadying kind of way. "Who do we call when there's something strange in our neighborhood?”
“Ghostbusters? Oh! Giles! Right! Giles will be able to figure this out. This is probably completely ho-hum to him, being a watcher and all. Great! We have a plan.”
“Gotta love a plan.” Xander said to Harry in a companionable sort of way.
Harry nodded, then remembered that he had no idea who this Giles person was, or what a watcher was. Harry suddenly realized he needed a whole lot more information before he went anywhere with these people. They seemed friendly, if a little quirky, but then, Harry hadn't been able to figure out that “Moody” wasn't who he claimed to be for an entire school year, so he understandably mistrusted his own judgment of people for the time being. Harry didn't know if there were American Death Eaters but he really didn't want to take the chance and find out that these were the only two. If they were actors of Bartimean
proportions he didn't want to be surprised like last time.
Xander watched the kid's face flash through a large number of emotions—panic being a large one—and had to wonder what they had done wrong. He felt bad for the kid's confusion and distress, though Xander was dealing with some of that himself.
Fact was, Xander was used to weird, and this wasn't nearly as bizarre as seeing demons walking around in the bodies of dead friends, and with any luck at all this would be less traumatic. He knew that this could be some shape shifting demon or another, that would like nothing more than to feast on his and Willow's spleens, but somehow he didn't believe it.
The truth of the matter was that Xander had spent the past twelve years trusting Willow's eyes implicitly, and even when he found them in another face, he couldn't help but continue as he always had done. The fact that the face bore more than a passing resemblance to his own made the situation stranger, but didn't change his trust in Willow's eyes. It did made him want to get to the bottom of this--whatever this was--because finding his face and hair anywhere outside of a mirror or a photograph was a new experience, and for the Slayerettes, new experiences most often meant danger. Well, danger and research. Two of his least favorite things, but also two things that called for Giles.
But asking this kid to come with them to meet an unknown man was ludicrous. He couldn't possibly trust them yet (though how anyone could think Willow was malicious, he didn't know) and so there was no way he'd agree to put his safety so firmly into their untried hands. Or, if this Harry kid agreed too readily, Xander would have to be the nervous one. Cocky unknowns were also to be avoided, as a rule.
"So," he began, sticking his hands in his pockets and rocking on his heels in a distinctly non-threatening way, "wouldja mind meeting us--and our librarian buddy Giles tomorrow afternoon? You pick the place. It's just--you know how weird all this is, and Giles is definitely the guy to help get to the bottom of it. There's no way this is just a coincidence. You look a little too exactly
like Wills'n'me for that."
Harry thought furiously for a few long moments, before coming to a conclusion. "Would you meet me tomorrow at one at the intersection of Privet Drive and Mulberry? I'll get in touch with a few people around that I know that may be able to help. See you then?" At the synchronized nods, Harry turned and walked briskly back to his aunt and uncle's house. He had a letter to Dumbledore to write.
Willow and Xander took off in the other direction, anxious to get to the bus stop where Giles said he'd pick them up. They weren't late, in fact they had another hour before Giles was due, but they knew that the rest of their day would be a complete fact-finding wash. They were too confused and on edge to be able to do the whole "talking-to-strangers-to-get-some-vitally-important-gossip" thing properly. Their obvious agitation would make them stand out more than they did at the Sunset Club. So they sat on the bus stop bench, alternately talking in hushed, hurried voices and staring into space looking mystified.
Giles picked them up a little earlier than expected. He was extremely frustrated; the lead had sounded so promising. The girl described sounded like Buffy, and had been seen fighting amongst shopping bags, a Buffy setting if ever there was one. Unfortunately, a quick look into recent police records showed the event to have featured a blonde self-defense instructor with anger issues beating up a couple of would-be muggers into a bloody heap. It could have been a cover story (it would have been one of Buffy's finest, normally her stories weren't so convincing) except that both muggers were currently in police custody, and had been for a week. Demons did not often allow themselves to taken into custody, and Buffy would not likely have left them alive if they were dangerous enough to take on in a public place. The one
time it actually was
a gang on PCP...
He'd do a bit more digging, but thus far, this trip was looking to be as fruitless as the others had been. He was anticipating his companions' presence more for their company than for any real hope that they had learned anything of use. When he got off the bus, however, their perplexed and worried faces chilled him. Had they heard about Buffy? Did one of the local children see her somewhere, injured, or--
"Xander, Willow, what's happened?"
"Giles!" Willow exclaimed, exploding from her seat, while Xander added relief to his current repertoire of expressions, joining agitation and the ever-popular confusion. Willow began speaking at him rapidly, and only his considerable experience with this action allowed him to grasp her torrent of words.
"We were looking for teenagers like you said and we didn't find many until there was this one boy who was maybe fifteen and Giles! It was so bizarre! It was totally Hellmouth worthy! He looked just
like Xander but he had my eyes! There were exactly the same. And we were going to ask about Buffy and then he called us mom and dad and that's when we noticed the creepy similarities in his face and hair and eyes and he's kinda scrawny like me and we didn't know what to do so we thought of you 'cause you're so the figure it out guy but then the kid got kinda freaked so Xander said we'd meet him tomorrow and you've gotta come with us! You've gotta see this kid, it's so weird. And--and that's the story."
"You say he looks very much like you? This may be more an issue of genealogy than, ah, anything more... unconventional."
"But my parents don't have any British relatives! My family came from Latvia before moving to the U.S. and it wasn't just me. He looked just like Xander too!"
"Can you say for certain that your family knows where each and every one of it's relations ended up? None ran away, or were lost or--or disowned? As for the fact that he resembles you both, isn't it possible that you were merely reacting to his misguided belief that you are, in fact, his parents? Perhaps any minor resemblance you may have had to any person was exaggerated in this case in a subconscious attempt to justify the boy's mistake and make him seem less, ah, mad?"
"Hey Mr. Skeptic-guy, wanna show a little faith in your friends? We believe you when you tell us things that sound crazy, maybe you should return the favor." Xander defended with a bit of heat.
"It's not that--I--alright, I'll got with you tomorrow, but I fully expect that this time around, with a day to absorb it all, you'll find that you very little like one another."