Disclaimer: Still Don't Own. Wish I Did.
Three days later, Angel came back. He wore a look of weariness, combined with self-loathing, and a healthy dash of fear.
Cordelia took in his appearance. “Jeez. I’m almost afraid to ask.”
“You should be.” Angel said softly. “Can you call everyone into the office, please?”
Once everyone was assembled, Angel cleared his throat. “Okay. I did some digging, and I found out everything I could about ‘Harry Potter.’ He was born in 1980, to James and Lily Potter, a Wizard and Witch, respectively. A year later, on Halloween, a Dark Wizard killed his parents, before trying to kill Harry. For some reason, which they later learned was an ancient and powerful protection spell Lily used, based on her sacrificing her life for him, Harry survived, and the Dark Wizard, Voldemort, was reduced to being less than a ghost, though he didn’t really die.
“For the next decade, Harry lived with his aunt and uncle. By all accounts, they despised magic, and… tried to ‘beat it out of him.’” Angel looked uncomfortable here, and most of the others looked horrified. “When he turned eleven, he received a letter to attend Hogwarts, a magic school. For the next five years, or so, he encountered Voldemort, or one of his followers, pretty much annually. They tried to kill him in various ways, but they never managed it.
“When he was fifteen, Harry saw his godfather killed. That caused a major shift in his life. He dropped out of school, and began studying independently. His two best friends, Ronald Weasley, and Hermione Granger, went with him.”
Gunn and Fred both sat up a little straighter. They recognized ‘Ron’ and ‘Mione’.
“Ron, from what I’ve found out, was Harry’s best friend. He was hot-tempered, and always ready for a fight. Hermione, meanwhile, was much slower to anger, preferring to think things out logically, and plan accordingly.” Angel paused here, closing his eyes. “From what I know, Harry was in love with her. Completely and utterly. But, she chose to be with Ron.”
Fred shifted uncomfortably in her seat. The parallel was a little too close for her tastes…
“Two years later, when the three of them were seventeen or so, Voldemort attacked again. No one knows how, since no one witnessed the fight, but Harry killed him. Actually, it would be more appropriate to say that Harry destroyed him. They were picking up pieces of him for a week.”
Cordelia interrupted. “Why’d he do that?”
“Because Voldemort killed Ron and Hermione,” Angel said bluntly. “Once again, it was done right before Harry’s eyes.”
“What then?” Gunn asked.
“No one knows.” Angel said. “Harry disappeared. That was in… ’97. I’d guess that, from there, he created a new identity, and joined the Watchers Council. Then, he came to Sunnydale, and the rest is history.”
Fred was in tears by this point. How anyone could be that cruel, was beyond her.
“Do we know why he left?” Lorne asked, an unusually somber note in his voice.
“Yeah.” Angel nodded. “The Wizarding community is a small one. It’s like living in a small town. Everyone knows everyone else’s business. Harry, because of his ‘defeat’ of Voldemort in the eighties, was internationally famous. He ran in order to get away from it. After he lost his friends, I don’t think he was able to handle it.”
Gunn flashed back to Wesley’s words from a few days before. “I had my throat cut, and all my friends abandoned me.” He looked down, ashamed.
“This also explains what happened with Connor.” Angel said.That
got everyone’s attention. “What do you mean?”
“The reason Voldemort attacked, was because someone made a prophecy that Harry would, one day, defeat him.” Angel explained. “And then, when he read the prophecy about Connor…”
“It brought up bad memories.” Cordelia finished. “He was trying to protect Connor, not just from you, but from having to go through everything he did.”
“This also explains what I was feeling from him when he left.” Lorne said. “He had guilt coming off him in oceans
. Let’s tally it up, shall we? Survivor’s guilt, from his friends dying, guilt over leaving his life behind, guilt over failing with Faith, guilt over kidnapping Connor, guilt over not being able to save him…”
Angel’s fist hit the table. “Dammit… This was so much easier when I could hate him for what he did.”
“You don’t have to.” Lorne said. “In all of that guilt, I didn’t sense one bit of resentment. He doesn’t blame us for the reactions we’ve had to his actions. If anything, I think he blames himself. He’s got enough hate aimed at himself for both of you.”
“What do we do?” Fred asked.
“We leave him alone,” Angel said. “We’ve done enough damage. Let him heal.”
Wesley moaned as he came to consciousness. He’d been on a drinking binge until now, when his magically-reinforced constitution gave out, and he passed out on his living room floor. Honestly, it had been a long time since he’d managed to drink for three days straight. It was kind of comforting, in a way. Moving out to his balcony, he grabbed a bottle of whisky, filled a glass with ice, and started over again.
“Hey, Wes.” Lilah’s voice came from inside.
“Hello, Lilah.” He drained his glass. “What can I do for you? I assume that your hidden cameras at the Hyperion are still functioning, since I checked for them last time I was there.”
Though he didn’t turn to face her, he knew she was smirking. “Oh, they work, Mr. Potter. Don’t worry, it doesn’t change anything. Wolfram & Hart doesn’t really care about your magical abilities. We have plenty of Wizards and Witches on the payroll. Though, if you did
come to work for us, I’m sure it would be a nice bonus.”
“Oh, no doubt.” He refilled his glass, drained it, and filled it again.
Lilah quirked an eyebrow. “Why not just drink it from the bottle?”
“Can’t fit ice into a bottle.” He held up the glass, showing several ice cubes inside it.
“Ah. Can I assume this is a bad time for me to be here, then?”
“Rather, Ms. Morgan. I have no use for you, at the moment.”
Her response sounded hurt. “There’s a dollar bill in your wallet that says otherwise…” Sighing, she left.
Wesley’s grip tightened, until the glass shattered. Cursing softly, he cast a healing charm, watching as bits of glass pushed out of his hand.
“Damn… I just can’t win, can I?”
“I’m sure it’s not as bad as all that.”
Wesley turned to see the last person he expected standing behind him. He grimaced. “Hello, Albus.”
“Harry,” Dumbledore nodded in greeting. “How have you been?”
“Just bloody peachy. Yourself?”
“Oh, I can’t really complain. I’ve kept busy, you know. Trying to find someone who can hide as completely as you can is hard work.”
Wesley snorted. “Glad I gave you a hobby. Run along so we can start again.”
Dumbledore chuckled. “I’m only here to see how you are, Harry. I mean you no ill will.”
“Hmph.” Grabbing a new glass, Wesley held the bottle out to Dumbledore, who shook his head. “Not going to force me into a press conference, or something equally useless? Wouldn’t put it past you to try and force me back with the Dursleys, either, even if I am
Dumbledore chuckled. “Even if that were my intention, I doubt I could do it. The power you have now is quite beyond me.”
“Truer words.” Wesley sipped his drink. “So, what can I do for you?”
“As I said, I wanted to see how you are. Given the circumstances of your departure, things could certainly be worse.”
“Is that a fact?”
“Indeed, it is,” Dumbledore nodded. “I’ve seen men go through much less, and attempt suicide.”
Wesley snorted. “Who says I didn’t?”
Dumbledore looked surprised, but remained silent.
“Slit my wrists, about a year after it was over. The high of defeating Voldemort ended two months after the fact, and I realized that I had nothing left. Nothing to live for. I held on as long as I could, but eventually I just gave up. Unfortunately, someone found me, took me to a Muggle hospital. They chained me to the bed, if you can believe it. I got out, of course. Wandless magic was second nature by then. I didn’t have the gumption to try again, so I disappeared.”
“I see. Where did you go?”
“The Watcher’s Council.” Wesley sat, looking at the floor. “They were more than willing to provide a new identity, and even bound my magic, at my own request. In return, they had me watch over the newest Slayer. I messed it up, of course. Went in giving orders to people who didn’t know me from Adam. I’d gotten so used to doing it during the war, I almost didn’t realize I was doing it. Things only got worse from there.”
“And now, you’re here?” Dumbledore asked.
Wesley snorted. “Yes. Here. Here in my apartment, getting roaringly drunk, and running off the only person in the world who cares about me anymore. And no, you don’t count.”
Dumbledore chuckled. “Yes. I saw Ms. Morgan leave. She is quite attractive, I’ll admit, but does she not work for…”
“Wolfram & Hart, yes. Not her wisest choice, but then… I don’t really give a damn anymore.”
Dumbledore nodded. “Then I shall not make an issue of it.” He let the silence hang for a moment. “Molly misses you terribly.”
“I assumed as much,” Wesley shrugged. “Nothing I’m willing to do about it.”
“An interesting, and descriptive answer,” Dumbledore smiled. “Very well. If I may ask, what do you intend to do now?”
“In my experience, one does not drink this heavily without a good reason. I’ll admit, your experiences in the war constitute a good reason, but they were many years ago. I’m assuming there has been some upheaval recently.”
Wesley sighed. “Call it a memory charm gone wrong. I was, temporarily, reverted to the mindset I had at seventeen, just after the war. The old wounds became fresh.”
Dumbledore winced. “I’m sorry.”
“Me too.” Picking up the bottle again, Wesley shrugged, and polished it off.
“Well,” Dumbledore straightened up. “I think I’ve taken up enough of your time. If you don’t mind, I’d like to speak to you again. I promise, I won’t tell anyone where you are, but I do miss your company. You are, if not pleasant to speak to, rather interesting.”
Wesley snorted again. “Sure. I might not be here, though. I’ll, um, try to owl you with the details. There’s a Wizard post office around here.”
“Thank you, Harry. Good luck.” With a CRACK, Dumbledore vanished.
Wesley leaned back in his chair, his eyes closed. “Well, hell. Just what are you going to do now, Potter?” The question caused him to chuckle. He could almost hear Hermione’s voice answering him.
‘And just what is that supposed to mean, Harry? You know full well what you do now. You get up, and you try again. Just because you fall off the bike, is no reason to stop practicing.
Then, just as he normally would have, Ron’s voice filtered through Wesley’s buzz.
‘Come on, mate. You can’t feel sorry for yourself forever. And why aren’t you using magic? Even if you don’t particularly like Wizards on the whole, there’s no reason to hide what you are. You know how much good you could do with your power? Not to mention all the birds you could charm. Save ‘em, and they’re like putty in your hands…
Wesley began laughing, and decided to stop remembering his friends before the little voices in his head broke into an argument. “You know what, guys? You’re right. You always were. Why not? Can’t do much good in LA, obviously. Not with Angel looking over my shoulder.” He grinned as a thought came to him. “Hmm…”
Buffy ran her fingers through her hair. The conversation she’d just had was not
a good one. Spike was biting people, turning them. How was she supposed to deal with this? She knew he had a soul, but then again, that was no guarantee. Plenty of human beings went around doing evil things, and most of them had souls. She said ‘most’ because she was sure that there were one or two out there like Mayor McEvil, but they were the exception that proved the rule.
She was violently shaken from her thoughts by the ringing of a phone. Letting out a breath, she picked up the receiver. “Hello?”
“… Wesley? Is that you?”
*It is, Ms. Summers.*
“Hi! I didn’t expect to hear from you. Oh, and you can call me Buffy. You lost your job on account of me, so it’s only fair.”
She heard him chuckle. *Well, thank you. Listen, if you have no objections, I was thinking of heading out that way…*
*To be honest, I’m not entirely comfortable sharing city limits with Angel at the moment. If you don’t wish me to be in your territory, I understand. I can make other arrangements.*
“What? Oh, no, it’s fine. We’ve also got Spike issues, so…”
*All hands on deck. I understand. I can be there in, say, an hour?*
“Wesley, it’s a two hour drive.”
*Who says I’m driving? You haven’t moved, correct?*
“Right. Still right where I was.”
*Good. I’ll see you then.*
“’Kay, Wes. Bye.”
Buffy hung up, and smiled. Maybe things weren’t so bad after all…
As Wesley, now freshly showered and no longer smelling like a distillery, was putting the last of his things in a bag, there was a light knock at his door. He considered just disapparating, but ultimately went to see who it was. He froze when he did. “Fred.”
“What can I do for you?”
She shifted from foot to foot. “Can I come in?”
Sighing, he stepped aside. She spotted his bags immediately. “You’re leaving?”
“Yes, I am. I’ll be sending for the books I left at the office. Never did get around to collecting those…”
“Oh, right. I’ll pack those up.” She turned to look at him. “That name. The one you called me, after you…”
“Yeah. Angel told us who she was.”
Wesley looked confused for a moment, before realization dawned on him. “Ah. He actually managed some detective work. Learned my history.”
She fought down a giggle. “Yeah. He told us what happened, how you left, and why. If we’d known…”
“Ah, but you didn’t,” Wesley pointed out. “Because I didn’t want you to. I deliberately kept that part of myself a secret. I don’t wish to be judged by that part of my past. Harry Potter is a memory, nothing more. I’ve done everything I can to become Wesley Wyndam-Pryce. He’s not really good enough, either, but I’m not done trying.”
Fred looked at him. “I don’t think so. You want to believe that, but it’s not true.”
Wesley shrugged. “Perhaps not. But, as a wise old man once said, ‘many of the truths we cling to, depend greatly on our own point of view.’”
“… Obi-Wan Kenobi?”
“Sir Alec Guinness, actually. Whether or not he played a certain character, they are his words.”
“Oh.” Fred looked nonplussed. “Well, anyway… Angel told us to leave you alone.”
“And here you are,” he observed.
“I figured you were leavin’,” she said. “Didn’t want you to go without saying good-bye.” She looked up at him. “Or without sayin’ I’m sorry.”
“You have nothing to be sorry for, unless you put gum in one of my centuries old books…”
Fred couldn’t suppress the giggle this time. “No. I meant, for puttin’ you through all that with Charles…”
“Stop.” He held up his hand. “I reiterate, you have nothing to be sorry for.”
“But it must’ve hurt, seein’ us like that.”
“It did,” he agreed. “But it wasn’t your fault. Nor mine. It was a series of…” he grimaced. “I can’t believe I’m saying this… unfortunate events. You have no control over my memories, nor whom I associated with, once upon a time.”
Wesley smiled, trying to put her at ease. “Don’t worry about it. Go back to the office. Kiss your boyfriend. Be happy with the life you have. Or, conversely, if you can’t stand things as they are, change them.” He picked up his luggage. “That’s what I’m doing.”
“I couldn’t do that,” she said demurely.
“I’m certain you can. You’ve done it before. After Pylea, remember? You forced yourself to get over what happened.”
“I’m not totally over it,” she said.
“You’re close enough. You aren’t hiding in a room anymore.”
She smiled. “Tell me one thing, before you go. Did Hermione ever figure it out?”
Wesley chuckled loudly. “Oh, she had me figured from day one. Knew what I was feeling before I did. She confronted me about a week after I found out about them. I’d been avoiding them, see. She knew she couldn’t love me that way, but she was still my friend. Told me pretty much the same thing I just told you.”
Fred nodded, still smiling. “Sounds like a smart girl. I’ll see you around, Wesley.”
Fred let out a small sigh, and left. She had packing to do.