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The Stray

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Summary: After ten years of searching, it wasn’t magic or skill that lead Sirius to finding his missing godson: it was pure, dumb luck. It’s a good thing that Joyce has a soft spot for strays. Particularly one that her daughter just hit with a car.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Harry Potter > GeneralwinterdFR1315,2561333,18820 Nov 1020 Nov 10Yes
Title: The Stray
Rated: PG
Summary: After ten years of searching, it wasn’t magic or skill that lead Sirius to finding his missing godson: it was pure, dumb luck. It’s a good thing that Joyce has a soft spot for strays. Particularly one that her daughter just hit with a car.
Time Period: S/3 Buffy.
Disclaimer: I own nothing. JK owns all things Harry Potter. Joss owns all things Buffy.
AN: Years ago I issued a challenge where Harry Potter is adopted by the Summer family. I always kind of liked the idea, but I never got around to writing it myself. This is not exactly an answer to that challenge but was inspired by it. I’m planning on making this into a series of one shots, but for now that’s all this is. Also, it has been a long, long, long time since I have written Sirius, so if he is OOC, I apologies. Anyway, I hope someone enjoys.

Of all the ways that Sirius pictured himself dying, being hit by a speeding muggle car was not a fate that he had ever really considered. He knew it was a risk every time he wondered into their world; what with their mentality that of all of them needed to own one by the time they were of legal age to operate the bloody things. That seemed especially true here in the States, so perhaps he should have proceeded with a bit more caution. However, the thought that he, the elusive, dangerous, and swift Sirius Black -- the most wanted escape criminal in the Wizarding World -- should meet his fate because he was chasing a scrumptious-looking rabbit and therefore simply failed to look both ways before crossing a street seemed a bit too ironic for his taste.

At least Snivellus would have a good laugh about all this. Should his untimely end ever be discovered, that is.

Sirius didn’t remember much about the crash itself. All he did remember was darting through some bushes with a growling bark and then a pair of high-beam lights barreling at him. Then there was a pitchy screech and then nothing after for several minutes. The next clear memory he had was lying on warm asphalt underneath a clear Californian spring moon.

The distracted thought that Moony must have been in a fighting mood that night briefly filtered through his head, but he had forgotten it almost as soon as the thought had formed. Blinding pain, he discovered, can do that to a person.

A light, repeating whimper escaped from his throat as he tried to move…well, anything really. His paws twitched a bit along with his hind legs. At least his legs still worked, but it was quickly obvious that he was not going to be chasing rabbits again any time soon.

Over the throbbing in his ears, Sirius could hear an idling engine. The smell of carbon monoxide was heavy in the air, but he could still make out the faint scent of perfume and coffee, along with the stronger scent of vanilla and sweat. There was something about the second that set his fur on edge, but as he was in no condition to fight there wasn’t much he could do.

Shoes crunched on gravel in a fast pace before a woman in her forties knelt beside him.

“Oh, God,” she whisper.

Her hands hovered, but she seemed afraid to touch him.

“I-I’m sorry. I didn’t mean too,” a second, younger woman said from off to the side. “It-it jumped right out in front of me.”

There was a pause.

“Is it dead?”

“No,” the older woman said. “But he’s hurt. We should get him to the Animal Hospital.”

Animal Hospital? It took his cloudy brain several second before he could remember what those words meant. No, he couldn’t go to a hospital of any kind. He had to leave. He had to move. Now if only his body would cooperate with him.

He was saved, however, from that particular fate when the girl said, “I don’t think it’s opened this time of night.”

“Well, we can’t just leave him here,” the older woman pointed out.

No, he couldn’t stay here. He needed to get up. He needed to move. He still had a mission. He still had to find Harry.

Gritting his teeth, Sirius tried to push himself up but only succeeded in raising his face up a few centimeters or so before falling again. So much for that idea.

The woman in her forties laid her hands on him, but only to stroke the hair around his ears.

“Mom, don’t,” the younger woman said. “He could bite.”

“He’s not going to bite me, Buffy,” her mother said. “Are you, boy?”

The woman smiled kindly as she continued to gently pet him. He could hear the girl shift uncomfortably as she made a small grumbling sound in the back of her throat, but she didn’t offer up further protest.

“See,” the woman said after he didn’t so much as growl at her. “Now help me get him into the car. Maybe we can find someone would can look at him.”

Sharp pain shot through Sirius as a pair of smaller, yet more powerful, hands slid around him and lifted him off the pavement. Some part of his mind thought it odd that they were able to lift him so easily. He knew that his animagus was rather large and heavy, but the two women seemed to have no trouble picking him up and moving him. However, Sirius forgot most of these thoughts as the pain raced through his body.

A sharp yelp escaped from his throat before he could stop it as they took him to their vehicle. The younger woman stopped and looked down at him. It was the first time he had seen her face. She was pretty and blond and pretty much what he always pictured the typical Californian teenage girl to look like. Had he been younger, not a wanted criminal, or in excruciating pain, he probably would have thought that she was just his type.

The fact she hit him with a car pretty much killed that notion, however.

There was a small grimace on her lips as she help maneuver him into the back end of the large muggle vehicle. She paused in closing its back door and speared him one last look.

“Sorry,” she muttered before shutting him in.

Sirius sighed as he tried to make himself comfortable between the bag of groceries as he pondered the sick sense of humor that the Fates had. After ten years of being on the run, dodging dementors and Aurora, dark wizards and former friends, this was how his search for Harry was going to end. Not with his recapture or finally finding the boy who had ‘simply vanished’, according to his relatives, but by him being hit by a pretty young bad driver.

No, he took it back. Now that he thought about it, that somehow seemed about right.

There was a crack in his cell. Just above the slit of window, the one that were too small and too high for him to escape through, was where it was. He couldn’t see through the window itself -- the angle was wrong even from the far side of his cell -- but he could always see the crack. When it rained, the water would catch and drip down from it like the faucet he and the others had broken in the forth floor boys bath during their second year. When it occasionally snowed, the flakes would sometimes catch on it for a moment before they melted. When the dementors came too close, a fine sheen of frost would glaze over and fill it for as long as they were around.

Unsurprisingly, he had never seen what it looked like in full sunlight on a beautiful day. He imagined it wasn’t much more interesting anway.

From somewhere further in the prison, Sirius heard a hysterical laughing scream echoing down the empty halls. The first time he heard it a chill had crawled up his back and caused the hair on his arms to stand on end. Now, the distinctly feminine sound did little more than remind him of the time. Bella was screaming. That usually meant it was close to feeding time.

Sirius lulled his head back. The crack was covered in frost. The dementors were near.

Closing his eyes, Sirius waited for the unwanted memories to wash over him.

First would come that cold, cold feeling of dread that would settle in his stomach. The dread slowly turned to horror as he realized what he was actually seeing. Godric Hollow collapsed in on itself. A few sparse flames crackled among the wreckage. The book he had bought for Lily last Christmas laid broken and torn on the ground near a cracked wand. If he looked a little further to his left, he could see a hand forever reaching for it but never being able to reach.

“Oi,” the harsh voice of one of the guards snapped.

Opening his eyes again, Sirius rolled his head towards the cell door. A brick of a man stood on the other side. A sneer tugged at his lips as her peered in at the prisoner. The meal trolley rolled obediently beside the guard. A stack of sandwiches wrapped in day old Prophets balanced itself delicately on a tray while the jug of water poured some of its contents into a tin cup for the prisoner. It never spilled a drop, although sometimes the guards would tilt it forcibly to make it do so. Stand up wizards, the guards were.

Sirius had never bothered to learn their names because he didn’t care enough too. Besides, they seemed the type to take offense if he tried. Particularly this one, if the disgust in his eyes were any indication.

“Comfy in there, are we?” he asked. The sneer twisted into a mock smile as if he had just told him some clever joke that Sirius wasn’t intelligent enough to understand.

A hundred replies died on Sirius lips. When he fist came to Azkaban three years ago, he would sometimes let one slip. He would then spend the next week regretting it as bothersome little comforts such as food were withheld from him until he ‘learned’ his place. It was easier for himself to retrain any sort of retort though he still let one slip ever so often. There were times when the hunger pains were worth it but not today. Not with this guard.

“Thought as much,” the guard muttered as he picked up a sandwich and the tin cup.

Wands weren’t allowed in this area of the prison because it was where You-Know-Who’s most dangerous followers were kept. To dangerous, it was. If a Death Eater grabbed hold of one…well, no one was really up to contemplating that. It did mean, however, that the guard was had to place the meal inside Sirius’ cell himself.

Sirius knew the rules. If one planned to eat, they learned them fast. Do not approach the guard. Do not make any sort of move else the guard might think you’re trying something, and there would go dinner. Just stay still and wait until he walked away.

From his spot in the corner, Sirius watched closely as the guard dropped the wrapped sandwich onto the ground and then slid the cup of water between the bars. For a moment, the cup tilted as if it were about to spill all its precious liquid over his dirty cell floor. It wouldn’t have been the first time and certainly not the last. Luckily, it straightened itself without loosing a drop.

There was an almost disappointed look in the guard’s eyes that he hadn’t ruined Sirius’ dinner, but he shrugged it off. There was always tomorrow morning.

“Bon appetite,” he said before disappearing from view with the trolley trailing behind him like some sort of overgrown blood hound.

Though hunger picked at him, Sirius made sure that he was completely out of sight before he reached for the food. Knowing that he would have to make it last, he took a tentative sip from his tin cup. It had taken months for him to stop cringing every time the metallic taste rolled over his tongue. Now, he hardly seemed to notice.

Unwrapping the sandwich, he took two small bites. The bread was stale and the meat was starting to turn, but it was eatable.

He had about twenty minutes before the guard would return for the cup and the wrapping, so Sirius took advantage of the time to read over the old newspaper articles. Usually, there was nothing of particular interest in them. Whoever made the sandwiches was careful not to use the front page of the paper were the real news was kept. He wasn’t exactly sure why, other than they wanted to keep the prisons ignorant to the outside world as much as possible. They usually used things like the gossip columns or the lifestyle section. Sirius was as caught up on the latest news about which celebrities were dating and how to even the toughest potions stains out of robes as any fishwife witch in Britain.

Today he had been lucky and found his sandwich wrapped in part of the sport page. He was halfway through an article about the Chudley Cannon’s latest spectacular defeat when a few lines caught his eye.

That cold, cold sensation of dread settled into his stomach before tinges of horror began to spread throughout his body. For a moment, he thought that the dementors had returned, but the crack over his window was now clear of frost and only dew remained. Slowly, he realized it was what he had read that caused the reaction, but he read it again to be sure.

“‘Our only regret is that we were playing this game for Harry Potter and were really hoping to win this one for the tike,’ Harker said. ‘I do hope they find him soon.’

‘Potter, the famous young boy who defeated You-Know-Who two years ago on Halloween, went missing earlier this year. No new leads had been found as of yet, but the Ministry assures the public that they will continue their investigation into his disappearance until the child is found.’”

Hunger forgotten, Sirius continued to read and reread the few lines over and over again until the guard returned and demanded he had it over. He almost refused. He almost began to shout and demand to know when Harry had disappeared. But he just felt too numb to do so.

They had lost Harry. He had trusted Dumbledore, even though the man had abandoned him seemingly without thought to rot away in Azkaban for a crime he never committed, and they had lost his godson. His only connection left to his best friend and Lily. The small child that he had loved like his own. They lost him and didn’t know where he was.

He could not let that happen.

He would not let it happen.

So two days later when the guard returned with another wrapped sandwich and cold glass of water, all he found was an empty cell with a dripping crack above the window.

When Sirius woke, the first thing he noticed was how sore he was. His entire body seemed to throb with each breath he took, but the soreness bothered him. A stiffness had settled into legs as well. Though every part of him seemed to protest, he made himself move. His paws twitched, and his legs jerked slightly. It hurt like hell to work against the stiffness, but it was good to confirm that he really hadn’t broken anything that he could tell.

His head was fuzzy still, though. Sirius had been injured enough in Quidditch and with his nights out with Prongs and Moony to know the signs of a concussion. He didn’t think that it was particularly bad one, but it was making things hard to focus on.

Carefully rolling over, Sirius tested his weight on his legs by pushing himself up into a standing position. He wobbled a little, but seemed to be able to stand well enough. That good. That was very good.

A ray of morning light was spread across the concrete floor that Sirius found himself bedded on. A few soft blankets had been laid on top of one another to make him a pallet and protect him against the chill of an early spring morning.

There was also a bowl of water nearby for him to drink from. Someone had used an old cooking pot for it and had similarly used a beat up plastic container as a food dish. It was obvious that these people had never had a pet before, or at least nothing as large as his Padfoot form was.

Food, water, and a warm bed; this place was already ten times better than Azkaban had ever dreamed to be.

A few uneasy steps later and he was lapping up the fresh, clean water. There was an odd taste to it, as if too much chlorine had been added to it at one point, but it certainly beat the creek water he had been drinking for the past two days. The sandwich meat too had a funny twinge, but he also found it quite heavenly compared to some of the other things he had been forced to eat.

Venturing further from his palette against the wall, Sirius looked about the room. Old boxes were pilled high around him. Some where partial opened, while others were neatly taped shut. In one area of the room, he could see some well used boxes marked ‘Christmas decorations’ next to bits of what looked like a disassembled pine tree.

Off in another corner was a large white cylinder. He hadn’t the foggiest idea what it did and nearly jumped out of his skin when the thing made a deep grumbling sound as if water were running through it.

Not far from it were two large metallic boxes. One had a door on the front of it, but Sirius could see the opening for the other. The one with the door also had a bright blue bottle sitting on top of it along with a laundry basket. He wondered if those were the machines he had heard Lily talk about once. The ones that muggles used to wash their clothes with. He’d always been curious how the did that exactly, but he wasn’t up for exploring at the moment.

A set of stairs lead to an upper floor that had been closed off by a door. Exposed pipes overhead groaned and squeaked, but whether it was someone using them or the sound that they always made he wasn’t sure.

The only thing that he knew for sure was that he appeared to be in a muggle basement in the little Californian town.

Sunnydale had not exactly been somewhere he had planned on staying for too long. He had spent the past two months in L.A. trying to find out anything he could about what happened to Harry when he his family had been visiting all those years ago. They’d always claimed that the boy had disappeared when they returned to Surrey, but Sirius had his doubts. And if he did, he knew that Dumbeldore and the others did as well.

Sirius felt that they had most likely searched for Harry here, but he had to come for himself. Much like he suspected they had, he found nothing, but he wasn’t ready to give up just yet. He had worked too hard to make his way to the States to do so, so he had decided to head north to San Francisco. It had a rather large populace of witches and wizards, and Sirius had hoped that maybe he could find some help there.

Along the way he had come across Sunnydale, a seemingly innocent-looking town along the coastline. There were rumors floating about which stated that the town was in fact the site of an active Hellmouth. That of course was a bunch of rubbish. Everyone knew that Hellmouths didn’t actually exist. They were what was the equivalent of a wizarding urban legend; something that older children told younger ones about to scare them on cold winter nights. There were areas around the world where the magical energies were stronger than others, but an actual gateway to hell? He thought not.

Still, Sirius had thought it best not terry too long. After all, he had places to go and wayward godsons find.

Then he had gone and gotten hit by that damn car.

He was supposed to be on his way towards San Francisco after he grabbed that rabbit for dinner last night. Judging by the amount of pain he was still in, however, San Francisco would have to wait a few more days until he healed up. Or at least until he could make it to the cave outside in the mountains where he had stashed his wand. He could heal himself easily with it, if he could just make it out of…whoever’s basement he was currently in at the moment.

Sighing, Sirius sat down in the middle of the floor as he considered his options.

If he was lucky, he could make it out of the door at the top of the stairs and the house before the muggles even noticed that he was missing. It should still be early, and with any luck the muggles would still be asleep. However, that hope was dashed the moment the smell of bacon started to drift down the stairs. Someone was up and cooking breakfast, and he might add, it smelt rather delicious.

His current state would also make it difficult getting past them. It had taken a lot out of him just wondering into the middle of the room. He couldn’t imagine trying to get up those stairs and out the door at this point.

There was also the doors themselves. In order to get out of them, he would have to transform back into his human state. Somehow, he doubted that a strange, ragged-looking man would be well received in the muggle house.

Taking all of that into account, Sirius concluded that perhaps it would be best to stay were he was for the current time. It would just take a few days to get back to his normal self. And if they feed him like they had that morning, then perhaps it wouldn’t be too bad.

The door at the top of the stairs creaked open and drew Sirius out of his current line of slightly disjointed thought. The smell of bacon that had only been a light scent moments before grew in intensity. It made his mouth water slightly. It had been quite awhile since he had bacon. He really was rather fancying some.

Of course, that could just be the concussion talking. He wasn’t really sure at the moment.

The stairs squeaked before a pair of nicely shaped legs appeared, which was soon followed by the full figure of the older woman. She glanced curiously at his bed, before finding him sitting in the middle of the floor. Deciding that the ‘friendly dog’ was the route to go, Sirius began to wag his tail. She smiled brightly and knelt before him.

“Hey there,” she said as she gently petted his head. “Are you feeling better?”

Sirius just panted lightly in response.

“That’s good,” she said, as if had actually answered her. “Now, let’s see how well you can move.”

Standing up, she moved several feet away from him. She then bent down and began to pat her knees. “Come here, boy. Come here.”

Sirius wondered if she would find it odd if he rolled his eyes.

Instead, he forced himself to stand up and limp towards her. He might have laid on it bit thick, but she was the mothering type; therefore, there was a chance of bacon in his future if he played her -- er, his cards just right.

“That’s a good boy,” she said, rubbing his head affectionately. “You’ll be running around in no time, won’t you?”

“Mom?” a second voice called from the top of the stairs.

The pretty bad driver trotted down into the basement. Now that Sirius got a good look at her, he could see just how young she actually was. If he were guessing, he would say that she couldn’t have been over the age of seventeen. Eighteen at the most. Just a girl. Barely legal in the Wizarding world, and probably not just yet in the muggle.

There was still something off about her, though. Something he couldn’t quite put his paw on. With any luck, he would be on his way before he found out whatever it was. He wasn’t particularly interested in the mysteries surrounding a young muggle girl. He had enough to deal with in his life already, thank you very much.

“Look who’s up,” her mother said, patting him yet again.

Sirius usually thought that rather annoying, but he found himself not minding too much with her. Every time she touched him, it just seemed so…affectionate. How could one really mind that?

“Up and moving,” the girl said approvingly. “That’s generally listed under the ‘good sign’ list. Right?”

“I hope so,” her mother replied. “I called the Animal Hospital last night. They won’t be open until Monday.”

Sirius quickly calculated in his head. Monday would be the day after tomorrow. By then, he should be healed enough to be able to disappear. That would be good. Very good.

The mother said, “I think you might have stunned him more than anything.”

“Yeah, well, yea, for me. I didn’t kill something for once,” the younger woman replied as she crossed her arms.

Agitated that dogs couldn’t frown, Sirius settled for tilting his head. Now what did that mean?

Before the conversation could go further, however, another set of feet pounded down the stairs.

An even younger girl came charging towards them. Her long straight brown hair bounced around her shoulders with each step she took, while the green bathrobe flowed around her like a cape. The silly cartoon characters on her pajamas were mostly hidden beneath it, but they did reemphasized her youth. She would need new pajamas soon, he decided, since the pants bottoms were already well above her ankles.

In an abstract sort of way, she reminded him a bit of how James looked during First Year.

“What’s going on?” she asked the young blond girl before she spotted him. “Hey, cool! A dog!”

Sirius didn’t have a chance to move before the young child was on him and petting him roughly. He tried not to whimper as she pressed down too hard on a tender spot on his side.

“Careful, sweetie,” the older woman said as she stilled the girl’s hands. “He’s had…a rough night.”

“When did we get a dog?” the girl asked brightly.

“We didn’t,” the blond girl said firmly. “He’s just…staying over for a little while. Like a house guest. Or dog guest, I guess.”

“Well, why’s he here?” the girl pressed.

The older woman glanced at her older daughter before saying carefully, “Buffy accidentally hit him with the car last night.”

“You ran over him?” the girl shrieked. “God, can’t you go one day without slaying something?”

Affronted, Buffy yelled back, “Yes. I mean, of course. I mean, he’s not dead, is he? So see, not slayed. Ergo, no slaying.”

The girl didn’t seem that convinced. Instead, she said, “Did you really just say ‘ergo’? What are you, like, a hundred?”

Seemingly growling, Buffy tilted her head back as if she were looking towards the heavens for help.

“Alright,” their mother said soothingly. “That’s enough you two.”

The girl looked smugly at her sister as if she had somehow won before turning her attention back to Sirius. He remembered that look well from his own younger brother. He wondered if they practiced it front of mirror, or if younger siblings were just born with the ability.

The girl asked, “Are we keeping him?”

“Dawn, he’s the size of a horse,” Buffy said as if it were a stupid suggestion.

Now it was Sirius’ turn to be affronted. He wasn’t that big.

The girl Dawn leaned back from him as if checking her sister’s assessment. “Maybe a little one.” Seemingly forgetting about that, Dawn turned her attention back to her mother. “Can we keep him? Please.”

“Mom, no,” Buffy said.

Joyce, too, was already shaking her head. “I don’t think -.”

“Oh, please, Mom,” Dawn said. “Please, please, please. I’ll take care of him. I’ll feed him and bath him and make sure that he goes for walks and -.”

Sirius ignored the rest of the conversation. He wasn’t really all that interested in its outcome since it was going to be a moot point anyway. In a few days, he would be gone, so whatever the mother’s decision was it wouldn’t matter.

Instead of listening to the girls argue for and against keeping him, Sirius decided to try going upstairs. If he were lucky, he could make it there and find some of that lovely bacon he had been smelling for most of the morning. That seemed like a good idea for some reason.

Making sure that the women were all distracted, he carefully made his way up the stairs and out into a very small hallway. A glance to his left showed him a foyer and the front door. Either side of the foyer lead into another room, but he couldn’t really see into either one of them. A look to his left showed him the destination he was looking for - the kitchen.

Quietly making his way inside, Sirius looked about the small room. Muggle contraptions lined the counter along with glasses and dishes. A strange looking radio sat over the kitchen skin and flashed the early morning time, while the clock on the stove showed another. A few book bags had been dropped beside the backdoor and slightly blocked the way, but they had mostly been kicked to the side. In the center of the room was an odd looking table with at least four different stools around it. The table itself looked like it should have been part of the cabinets, which Sirius found very strange.

He had little interest in the muggle décor, but his search for bacon was cut short by the young boy standing a few feet away. His back was to Sirius as he stood at the stove and fried the meat that had drawn him upstairs in the first place. Sirius watched as the young boy’s head bobbed up and down to the beat of a song that he only seemed able to hear as he cooked and hummed lightly to himself.

Sirius, however, found himself frozen in place. The muggles, his pain, even that lovely bacon was all forgotten in that moment as he stood transfixed behind the boy. He - He looked just like James from behind.

It couldn’t be. After all this time, all that searching…It just couldn’t be.

The last bit of bacon cooked, the boy picked up the plate and turned towards Sirius. The world seemed to stop as the child froze and stared at him. A thirteen-year-old James stood before him; or at least someone who could have been his double had it not been for those bright green eyes that peered at him from behind a pair of horn-rimed glasses.

He blinked.

Sirius stared.

Then Harry yelled, “Mom, when did we get a horse?”

The End

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