I do not own any of these characters.
Rupert Giles sat behind the counter at the Magic Box, attempting to solve the inventory discrepancies. Somehow he was either making too much money or he had severely miscalculated somewhere. Therefore, unless his partner had decided to not mention a severe price increase he had made a mistake. He had been working on the problem for several hours and consistently discovered there were several thousand dollars richer than they should be. As a British expatriate it behooved him to follow local tax laws to the letter for fear of deportation, especially for a foreign business owner. The inventory seemed to be in order with the sales, but where had that bloody money come from? Perhaps Anya had convinced a person that the lesser Hand of Ra was a Greater Hand of Ra; that would certainly account for some of the problem. He was so intent on his work, he didn’t even bother to look up when he heard the store bell ring.
“I’m sorry, we are closed. I apologize for not locking the door, but I am a bit distracted at the moment. If you’re a vampire, demon or cultist with apocalyptic designs, may I remind you that apocalypse season isn’t until May, so do be off until then. And we don’t keep world-dooming artifacts that aren’t under a slayer’s watch,” he muttered, not even looking up from his notes.
The footsteps approached calmly, and fairly quietly. Giles glanced up to see four people, two women, two men, dressed in robes. The first was a middle aged woman had graying frizzled hair and a calm, friendly smile.
It was a familiar voice that he could place instantly. “Hermione,” he muttered under his breath before catching himself a moment or two too late. “Excuse me, I’m afraid you have the wrong person, you see, my name is Rupert Giles, not this ‘Harry’ you speak of. And I spoke the truth about the store being closed. I am going to have to ask you to leave.”
“There is no sense in trying to hide it, Harry Potter, we know you have been living as Rupert Giles for the last three decades,” one of the men said. He was nearly twenty years younger than the with a feral look and vividly shifting hair color. humph, Remus and Tonk’s kid. I should have known.
“You’re what? Going to bring me in for some trumped up crime? Need me to save you all for some other great evil? Don’t you have some eleven year old kid to do your dirty work for you? Did one of our classmates go dark again? Let me guess, Malfoy?” Giles closed the distance between them as he through accusations.
“No, Minister Malfoy is not a dark wizard,” replied the now green haired wizard.
“’Minister Malfoy’ is it now? Good lord. I seriously doubt he’s grown up.” So intent on his rant was Giles, that no one noticed the back door open and close. “And I’m so glad the Amazing Technicolor Werewolf is here to enlighten me.”
“Harry, this isn’t how we wanted it to go,” said the second man, holding back the younger man who looked like he was going to jump Giles. He was a little heavy set with black hair that had gone grey some time ago.
“My name is not Harry Bloody Potter! I am Rupert Giles and have been for over twenty years! I expect you to remember that ‘professor’ Longbottom,” Giles snarled, shoving a finger in his face. “You’re not an auror Neville, So why is the Professor of Plants here to collect a wayward wizard?”
Unbeknownst to the crowd, Buffy, Xander and Willow had arrived and listened confused in the next room. Giles wasn’t Giles? Giles was a Wizard? And who were these people? Buffy was about to storm the room at the first sound of Giles’ raised voice, but Willow stopped her with a hand on her shoulder. Buffy looked back at Willow confused. Willow shook her head. “No, those people aren’t all they seem. Watch for a bit.”
“No Harry-er-Giles, We thought more friendly faces would ease you back into the fold.” Neville squirmed a bit. “We would like you to come back.”
“So what is it? A new Voldemort? Random ex-Death Eater killing people like my wife? What bunch of morons do I have to die for now?”
In the back room, the Scoobies looked at each other confused: Giles had died? Voldymart? Death Eaters? Giles had been married?
“Harry, We’re sorry, but it’s been almost twenty years since Ginny died,” Hermione replied said, moving forward to brush his forehead with her fingers. “Your scar is almost gone.”
Angrily Giles pushed her hand away. “Well as I said, it’s been twenty bloody years, the bedamned thing just blends in with the other lines on my face.”
“Does it hurt anymore?”
“No it hasn't hurt since that manky git bought it.” Pulling off his glasses Giles pinched the bridge of his nose. “Now once again, we are closed, if you wish to buy something from the Magic Box, come back during normal business hours.”
“Harry,” Hermione said pleadingly, purposefully ignoring his new name, “you don’t need any of this, you’re rich. You have vaults of money in Gringotts including twenty years of accumulated interest.”
“Yes and Magic Fake Money pays for things so well in the real world,” Giles said snidely as he slid his glasses back on his face. “I suppose I’m just going to take a couple of Knuts and buy a pint at the local pub? Good Lord you people are completely out of touch with reality.”
“Harry, what are you talking about?”
“Hermione, if you had kept close contact with your family, you’d understand exactly what I am talking about,” Giles replied exasperated. At her confused look he explained, “You were born in the real world, not to some self propagating abomination like the ‘wizarding world’. That place is little more than a massive breeding program for wizards. No other place in the world expects you to get married right out of school and have as many children as you can.”
“Harry, it’s not like that.”
“Oh really? Then why is it they only select specific people and then give them power limiters?” At their confused look, he points at the wands in their pockets. “Your bloody wands, they limit your power. They try and breed as many strong mages, but they are ultimately afraid of the power, so they make us depend on wands like a flying elephant’s feather.”
All four look at each other confused. Giles cleaned his glasses as he walked back behind the counter. “Oh good god, I feel like Buffy explaining popular culture. It’s Dumbo, go watch a bloody movie some time!” Giles sat down with an aggravated grunt. “They convince all the new people that ‘muggles are bad’ and use prejudice to keep the ‘purebred’ wizards from being interested in the real world. They even have laws from enchanting items that every other human on the planet uses. And in the 50s they put up shields to disrupt electronics. And do you know why?” Hermione, Remus’ kid and Neville shook their heads, the last woman, who was perhaps Buffy’s age with shocking red hair looked interested. “Because after the Second World War, they realized that so called muggles could easily destroy them. The Blitz proved that. You’re vaulted Diagon Alley was utterly destroyed. But they don’t teach that in the History of Magic. I wouldn’t expect anyone but Ms. Weasley there to know what the Blitz was. And today it is easier to destroy you all. GPS and a nuclear missile would clear Hogwarts off the map. I don’t suppose any of you know what a nuke is, hmmm?”
“Harry, I’m Granger again,” Hermione said, shifting. “After you left, Ron and I started to have trouble. We’re not together any more. Haven’t been for fifteen years.”
“Well that explains why the git isn’t here.”
“Git? Ron isn’t a git! He used to be your friend!”
“I always wondered about that, especially since he ditched us when we were on the run from a fascist government taken over by dark wizards at the ripe old age of seventeen,” Giles snarled, taking a sip of tea that had long since grown cold. The last woman who hadn’t spoken yet was getting as red in the face as her hair, Giles could see her hands were clenched so hard the knuckles were white. “A real friend would have stood by us no matter how afraid he was.”
It was about then, the Scoobies came in, having listened to the conversation. “Giles, are these people bothering you?” Buffy asked as she cracked her knuckles. Behind her, Willow shot them an impressive resolve face. Xander stood behind them both with his arms crossed in a vain attempt at appearing menacing; it wasn’t working. Giles smiled at them as he pushed his glasses back up his nose.
“Yes actually, where’s Dawn, Tara and Anya?”
“Dawn’s staying with Spike,” Buffy said with a smirk. “Old’ William the Bloody’s a surprisingly good babysitter.”
“Tara and Anya are back at Buffy’s having a discussion about orgasms. It was rather embarrassing,” explained a blushing Xander. Giles looked at Willow’s face as pain flashed briefly across her features.
“Tara?” All three nodded soberly. “Anya’s going to corrupt the poor girl.”
“We aren’t here to discuss orgasms!” The four Sunnydale locals turned to look at the fuming Amazing Technicolor Werewolf. His hand was going for his wand. He looked ridiculous.
“No, I agree, we were not. However, what are you doing here,” Giles asked exasperated as he glanced down at the inventory list. “I hope it isn’t to drag me back to a place I have no desire to return to.”
“Actually we are here on official business,” replied Hermione hesitantly. “We were sent to arrest you for tax evasion.”
The Scoobies looked at her like she was crazy. For several moments.
Then Giles burst out laughing.
“Do you really expect me to believe that?” Lupin growled in response. Giles ignored him. “I do not need to pay taxes if I have not made any Magic Fake Money in twenty years; I have not even lived close to there in the past decade; I have not even lived on the same continent for the last five.”
“I’m sorry Harry, but the order came from above.” Hermione smiled, but it was a sad smile. “It's not the same place you left. It's...gotten worse. They changed the tax laws to include interest on existing funds as income. You are late by 15 years.”
“Oh, ‘the orders came from above’. Right from the desk of ‘Minister’ Malfoy I expect,” Giles said, casting the papers out in front of him in anger. “You can take the bloody galleons for all I care, now I’ll go back to making real money. Buffy, if you would please escort the wizards out the way they came?”
“Oh, Gladly!” Buffy smiled at the invading wizards; it was not a friendly smile. Stalking right up to the mouthy werewolf’s child, she grabbed him by the collar.
“Stupefy!” Buffy felt a strong tingle, but was otherwise unaffected. She looked at Giles confused.
“Oh, yes Lupin, I forgot to tell you, Buffy here is the Slayer, so many of your low level spells will have little affect on her. She is nearly as magic repellent as giants,” Giles said, not looking up.
“That’s right, I’m the Slayer!” Buffy explained as she lifted the wolfy wizard by the collar with one hand. “And if you don’t leave, I’m going to have to forcibly explain where the sun doesn’t shine using my new troll hammer. You won’t enjoy it.”
“Oh and Willow, they cannot cast spells without their wands, so you might as well confiscate them,” Giles explained calmly. Willow nodded and flicked her wrist, calling the wands to her. The four wizards looked at her surprised and a little, just a little, intimidated.
“Hee, just like floating pencils!” She quickly put her resolve face back on full force and her hands (holding the wands) on her hips. Giles bent over the telephone and prepared to dial.
“If you refuse to leave, I will be forced to call the police. Without your wands you are three illegal aliens, three of which have no identity and one who seems to have disappeared thirty years ago,” Giles said smugly. “I am sure they will be very interested in four people with questionable identities and bizarre clothing. You might even be kept there for years. Or you could leave quietly and your wands will be returned outside. It is your choice.”
“Harry, this just means another team will be sent with less peaceful intent,” Hermione said sadly.
“Frankly my dear, I don’t bloody give a damn,” Giles said with a bitter smile. “I have a job to do, and I will not allow you to interfere. If you or another such group comes to arrest me, you, or they, will be treated as any other dark wizard on the Hellmouth.”
Buffy roughly picked them up by the robes, two in each hand, and marched out the front door. She deposited them in a heap. Willow handed back the wands to Hermione. Buffy closed the door behind her before shoving a finger in Hermione’s face.
“I don’t care who you think you are, or how you know Giles, but let me tell you this, I have a whole bundle of anger bottling up right now and I’m just looking for a reason to pound something,” Buffy glared up at the taller woman with a look of rage. “If I find out for some reason you have been harassing Giles again, a troll hammer shoved up your ass will be the least of your problems.”
“I don’t think you muggles understand the situation,” Neville started to say.
“I don’t think you-you whatever-you-ares understand who you’re messing with,” Willow replied, her arms crossed. She and Buffy gave them each a dark look before going back inside and slamming the door behind them.
“Well that could have gone better,” Hermione said to Neville. He nodded sadly.
“I don’t get it!” The redhead spoke up for the first time angrily, her fists clenched at her sides. “Growing up I here all these noble stories about him, and now I find he’s just a bitter old man spending time around people half his age.”
“I don’t understand why we don’t just go in and hex everyone to take him in!” Lupin’s hair had turned a bright candy apple red with little flames flickering.
“I think that would be a seriously bad idea,” the quartet turned to see Xander leaning up against a lamp post. “You're underestimating everyone here. And considering the state Buffy’s been in the past month, she's liable to do something she'd regret later, but you'd regret pretty quickly. Willow’s almost looking for a target to vent her stress on.” Xander walked over towards them calmly. “Look, I don’t know what kind of history you have with Giles, and yes, I know you want to keep calling him Harry, but that’s not who he is now, but we stand together here. Buffy is the Slayer; Giles is her Watcher; Willow is a witch, and a damn powerful on too.”
“And what are you? You stay with them, work with them,” Hermione asked.
“I-well let’s just say that I do whatever we need for support,” Xander shrugged.
“You’re just a muggle and you stay on the Hellmouth knowing what it is?” Neville gave him a look of utter confusion. Xander shrugged again.
“I don’t know what a muggle is, but like I said, I help my friends,” Xander said with a smile. He turned to the redhead. “And Giles isn’t a bitter old man, you just showed up at a bad time.” Thoughts flashed across his mind. Joyce’s death. Tara’s sudden bout of the crazies. Dawn’s not quite real existence. A hell-god dancing around Sunnydale. Spike as a babysitter. A very bad time.
“He-he’s my father.” Xander paused at this, his eyes open wide. The redhead was cleaning her glasses just like Giles: nervously and without looking up.
“Well that’s certainly something he’s never shared,” Xander muttered.
“He doesn’t know,” the older woman, Hermione, explained. “Her mother was hit with a killing curse and Harry just gave up. He apparated away and we didn’t see him again. But, Ginny, Lilly’s mother, was pregnant with her. For some reason, the spell didn’t kill Lilly and we were able to save her, but it was too late to tell Harry, he was gone. We didn’t know what happened to him for years.”
“What’s ‘apparated’ mean?”
“Oh, it’s a form of teleportation,” Neville explained, the professor in him coming to the forefront. “In our society we have to be licensed because people who try on their own can end up in other objects and such.”
“And that sounds bad,” Xander said with a wince.
“It can be yes.”
“So, he’s not just an arse?” Lilly asked hesitantly.
“No, he’s not,” Xander said with a smile. “Give him a week and then come back. He’s not going to be the same person in those stories, but give him a chance and you might be surprised.”
“I might do that,” Lilly said smiling slightly.
“Good, now why don’t you all head back to wherever you came from before Buffy discovers you haven’t left yet,” Xander said with a smile. Hermione raised an eyebrow and smiled a little. Waving their wands, the four vanished, leaving Xander alone on the street. He carried the bag of donuts back inside.
Twenty Years Earlier
Harry looked at Ginny’s corpse with a stunned look. She was gone, the baby was gone. He couldn’t deal.
Ron and Hermione burst in the door and looked at the corpse with the same stunned look. Then they looked at the petrified Death Eater on the kitchen floor. His mask broken when his head hit the counter, blood seeping from the shards.
“Harry, what happened?”
Harry looked at Hermione as Ron held his sister’s body. Harry looked at Ron. Ron was crying. First his mother now his sister. Harry looked at Ginny, or what used to be Ginny. He couldn’t deal.
So he left.
A moment later he was in Diagon Alley. Eyes were on him. He knew what they were thinking: “Look it’s the boy who lived” or “isn’t that Harry Potter?” or “Hey, I’ve seen that guy in the papers.”
Harry began to run. They all knew who he was. He needed to get away, to leave the Wizarding World. He left out the pub at the end of the Alley. They all knew who he was too. He ran until he was out of breath and needed to sit down. Day had become Night and the neon signs had long since flickered on.
Harry looked down at the wand in his hand. He had not let go of it since apparating from his home. He stared at it for a long time. And he broke it over his knee.
Walking along the street, he tossed the pieces in a bin.
He sat on a bench for what must have been hours.
“Hey mate, got a light?”
Harry looked up at a sandy haired man about his same age. Harry reached into his pocket and pulled out the magical equivalent of a lighter.
The man took a drag off his fag and sat down on the bench beside Harry.
“Name’s Ethan Rayne,” the man said, Harry shook the offered hand. “Some friends of mine are in town, come along, I’ll buy you a drink as thanks.”
“I might not be very good company,” Harry replied.
“And that’s why we’re goin’ to get good and bloody pissed,” Ethan said with a grin. “What’s your name, mate?”
He almost said Harry Potter. But he didn’t want to be the Boy Who Lived anymore. He wanted to be someone else. He glanced around. There was a record store across the way advertising the J. Giles Band.
“Giles,” he replied, mispronouncing the name of the band. Then he remembered that hellish thing "aunt" Marge referred to as a dog. “But call me Ripper.”