Written for the 2011 LJ Wishlist
Requested By: Nummy
Characters: Xander, Harry
Prompt: Xander’s Godfather would’ve been James Potter
Disclaimer: I own neither Harry Potter nor Buffy the Vampire Slayer and have written this for enjoyment only.Finding Harry
Xander sat at the weird bar across from the kid with glasses wondering just what the hell he was doing. Was this the right thing? Should he have left the whole thing alone? His gut said ‘no’, but his brain told him ‘hell yeah’.
The kid, Harry, wore a look he was familiar with. One he was starting to see on his own face in the mirror every morning and on he’d seen on Buffy for years now. That world weary look in his eyes and cautious way he regarded him were practically his friend’s trademarks. That just fed the gut feeling that he was right to come.
Then there was the way everyone else was looking at him
. Harry, not Xander, though he’d gotten some looks himself - no it was the almost reverent way they were looking at him… It was kinda creepy, really.
“Maybe we should go somewhere else,” Harry suggested, making Xander realize he’d been caught staring at the stare-ers.
“Nah, that’s not- Yeah, okay.”
Harry pulled out a handful of coins to pay for the drink he’d been having while he waited on Xander but the bartender flapped his rag at him and called out, “You know your money’s no good here, Harry.”
Harry gave a weak smile and wave. “Thanks, Tom.”
It was windy outside, the promise of coming winter strong in the air. Both huddled down in their coats a little further.
“Sorry about that,” Harry said. “I’m… pretty well known around here.”
“Then how about we go somewhere else?” Xander offered, stuffing his hands in his pockets. “There’s a few bars over by where I’m staying. They look like you could get stabbed in them, but probably not recognized.”
Although Xander had been joking, the fact that the kid agreed without so much as a questioning look made him wonder about his… what would he be called? God-brother? God-cousin? Anyway, agreeing to go to shady bars with some guy you don’t know just because he claims your dead father should’ve been his godfather said a lot about either his lack of brains or lack of self-preservation. But as they caught the subway- no, wait, the tube
(he swore he was getting used to speaking English, but Giles said that was a skill he’d forever lack) and went across town, Harry walked with an easy confidence that didn’t say “hey, I’m stupid and oblivious”, it was, again like Buffy - there was a subtle watchfulness to him and he moved like he wasn’t looking for trouble, but was ready for it if it came.
They didn’t talk much. Xander liked to think he was pretty watchful himself (an impressive characteristic for someone with only one eye) - years on the Hellmouth had taught him that the moment you stopped paying attention was the moment the denizens of the dark would spring. (“Denizens of the dark”? Damn it, he’d been spending too much time with Andrew lately) Plus, he happened to know that vampires liked to frequent the Underground.
But for all their vigilance, nothing interesting happened during their little trip. They arrived at the bar a block away from Xander’s Council rented apartment (or flat, he guessed he should call it) and sat down, finally faced with having a conversation again. Xander, not really sure what to say now that the time had come, wasted a little more time ordering a beer. The bartender slid two down to them and wandered back to the busier end, leaving Harry and Xander both blinking at the Harry’s beer.
“Uh, maybe you shouldn’t-”
But Harry was already raising it curiously and taking a sip. He made a sour face and sat the glass back on the bar. Xander shrugged, the kid was eighteen and that was good enough for the Queen so who was he to say anything.
“So, you said in your letter that my father was your godfather?” Harry asked, diving in where Xander had waffled.
“I guess so, but I was pretty small so I don’t really remember him. My dad died recently and when I was going through his stuff I found this.”
He pulled a yellowed envelope from inside his coat and handed it to Harry, who took it, but whose eyes were still locked on him, not the paper.
“I’m really sorry about your dad,” he said, his face filled with empathy.
Xander gave an uncomfortable shrug and murmured a thanks. Truth was, he still wasn’t quite sure how he felt about his father’s death. It definitely wasn’t something he was ready to talk about. They’d had a… complicated relationship. Or maybe complicated lack
of a relationship would be a better description.
“This is you?” Harry asked, looking at a picture he’d pulled out of the envelope with awe.
“Yeah. Hard to believe I grew into such a force of nature, huh?” Xander joked.
Harry gave a smile that was a little more genuine than the ones before it. It was hard not to smile looking at that picture. Willow had almost fainted from the cuteness. A tiny two year old Xander with spikey hair and a huge grin was burying a laughing James Potter in the sand at the beach. James looked younger than Harry was now in the photo, maybe seventeen or so - but still, the resemblance was striking.
Harry studied the picture a moment longer then started to pull the rest of the contents of the envelope out, pausing to look at Xander for permission. At Xander’s nod, he removed a letter and unfolded it. Xander left him to it, taking another drink of his beer. Having read it half a dozen times, he was well aware of what was written there.
Basically, it said that Xander’s father, Tony, had met James when Xander was two. He’d been in the States from England, visiting a distant relative. Apparently there’d been some kind of violence going on back where he was from and his parents had sent him away for the summer to try and keep him safe. He’d been completely clueless, prompting Tony to come to the conclusion that he was from way out in the English countryside. They’d actually met when Tony had pulled him out of the street and kept him from getting hit by a car - he acted like he’d never seen one before and was completely fascinated.
This was way back when they’d first moved to Sunnydale, before Xander’s father started his job at the plant, before he’d started drinking and hating life in general. Xander had to admit, he was a little jealous of James Potter for getting to know the man Xander never had.
Long story short, the letter basically talked about how Tony took James (or “Jimmy”) under his wing that summer, and one day, James returned the favor tenfold by saving Xander from “some disfigured, drugged out freak”.
Seeing Harry mouth the words with raised eyebrows when he got to that part, Xander spoke up.
“Probably a vampire. The town I’m from was ripe with them.”
Harry gave an understanding “ohh”, then went back to reading the last little bit of the letter. It just explained how Tony asked James to be Xander’s godfather, as they’d never gotten around to picking someone out (a precursor of his future lack of interest in his son, Xander was sure). James agreed, and after he went back to England he was good about keeping up with writing and sending little things for Xander.
Then one day they just stopped.
Xander’s father may have not been the brightest crayon in the box, but the sudden stop to the letters along with the vague mentions of problems there made him wonder if something had happened to his friend. As time went by and there was still no word, wonder gave way to certainty. Instead of telling Xander that he’d had a godfather and he just disappeared, he and his wife had opted not to tell him at all. But, he’d still written this letter, wanting him to someday know about James Potter (to be fair, the handwriting looked like he’d been drunk at the time of that decision though…).
Harry folded the letter carefully and gave the picture one long last look before tucking both carefully back into the envelope and handing it back. His face was blank as he took another drink from his beer.
“So you went looking for him after you opened this?” He asked.
"Yeah, didn’t find anything though. It wasn’t until a few weeks ago when I was at some weird magical apothecary picking up an order for a friend of mine that I heard the shop owner talking about ‘that Potter boy’ to some other customer,” Xander said, pausing to watch a look of annoyance roll over Harry’s face. “That’s when I started wondering if maybe James wasn’t a country bumpkin and was part of this reclusive magical world my friend had mentioned before. Didn’t really think they’d actually been talking about his son at the time though…”
“You had your friend look into it…”
“And here we are,” Xander said, picking up his beer and toasting the air.
“And here we are,” Harry repeated quietly, following the toast and taking a drink of his now surprisingly half empty beer. “So, I guess you’re here to find out what happened to him…”
“Nah, I know what happened to him. My friend was very… thorough, with her research. The whole dark side rises then gets smacked down isn’t exactly a new tale. I actually came here to find you.”
“Well, when she was looking stuff up, it came out that you lost your godfather a couple years ago and don’t really have much in the way of family any more. I thought, well, we’re kinda
like family, right?”
“Are you looking for money?”
Xander choked on his beer, spraying some on the bar and lapsing into a coughing fit. Over his hacking he could hear Harry still talking.
“I get it, okay. You find out your ex-godfather’s son is some celebrity and you think you’ll cash in. Well, I don’t-”
Xander finally recovered enough air to laugh, interrupting Harry’s momentum.
“You’re pretty full of yourself, aren’t you?” He asked, his voice wheezy.
Harry’s eyes widened and he sputtered.
“Either full or yourself or very, very jaded,” Xander went on, tone sobering.
Harry stared at him for a moment, obviously unsure what to say about that, before turning his gaze behind the bar and downing the rest of his beer.
“Listen, Harry… I have good friends, I have a job that I like and pays more than I really need, but I don’t have much in the way of family and I thought… you know, since you didn’t either, maybe we could just get to know each other, hang out…”
Harry stayed quiet and looked into his empty glass for a moment, then signaled the bartender for another. After it was in front of him, he started speaking again.
“Sorry about that, I just get a lot of people that want to be my friend just because I’m famous. I shouldn’t have assumed you-”
“Sure you should have,” Xander shrugged. “You have to be wary of new people, how else are you going to protect yourself?’
Harry gave a light snort as he downed some more beer. “That should be my life motto.”
“Tell me about it,” Xander muttered, downing the rest of his own glass.
Over the next hour, they progressively opened up more and more - while also drinking more and more. By the time midnight was nearing, they were both well on their way to being smashed.
“So, he... it was just his face
that was like a snake? That was nothing,” Xander scoffed, swaying on his seat slightly. “We had a guy that actually turned into a giant snake. GIANT. We had to blow up the entire school just to kill him.”
“You blew him up?” Harry asked with wide eyes.
Xander nodded. “Yep, with a ton of explosives, provided by yours truly.”
“Still, that’s easy,” Harry said, getting over his shock. “I couldn’t just blow up Voldemort - he had pieces of his soul stashed all over the place. If you blew him up he’d just pop up again somewhere else. Had to find all of those pieces and destroy them before I could even go after him.”
“Like some kind of evil magpie… Or a creepy weed… What a pain in the ass.”
“So, what are the Slayers like?” Harry asked, for once looking younger than he actually was instead of older. “I read about them once, in a book Remus gave me, but it was just one tiny paragraph and it said they were mythical creatures shaped like women that hunted evil.”
Pushing aside his main question of who would name their kid Remus, Xander explained to Harry about Slayers in a fast and dirty way that would’ve made Giles either explode or faint. Glancing at his watch in between being peppered with questions by Harry, Xander decided it was time to call it a night.
“Okay, I think we’ve both done enough damage to our livers for the night. Where do you live? We need to get you home.”
“In a room above the first bar we were at.”
“You live in a room above a bar?”
Harry gave a shrug. “I was staying at my school, but I finished my make-up work and the new students were due in, so I left a couple weeks ago.”
“Didn’t you say there was some kind of magical mall behind there? For someone who doesn’t like to be stared at, you sure picked the wrong place to live…”
“I didn’t really have anywhere else to go,” he said, looking at the bottles behind the bar instead of at Xander. “My two best friends, Ron and Hermione, are engaged, so I don’t really want to be their third wheel all the time. I’m really close with Ron’s family, but I dated his sister and we broke up, so I thought it would be a little awkward to stay there.”
“And you don’t have any family…” Xander added with a frown.
“Right. Staying at The Leaky Cauldron’s fine though. And it’s not like I don’t have the money to find somewhere better or more permanent…”
“But…” Xander prompted.
“I don’t know… I guess it’s more than that… It’s more than friends or family,” he said, taking another gulp from his glass and seemingly losing his train of thought when he sat it down.
“What’s more than friends or family?” Xander asked, not following Harry’s tangent.
“It’s that I don’t really know what to do with myself anymore,” Harry said, looking blearily down into his beer. “Honestly, I never really thought past the war, because I didn’t think I’d live through it. After it was over, I thought, ‘good, I can get back to my life now’, but then I realized that-”
“Your whole life, at least the part that mattered, had been about fighting. And you didn’t know what to do without it,” Xander finished.
“That’s it exactly,” Harry said, looking at him in surprise. “I mean, I could become an Auror, like I planned, but to what end? To stop cauldron smugglers and people making illegal love potions? That’s just… I want…”
“To make a difference,” Xander said with a nod. “I get it, man, I do. I could’ve gone off my own way after the Hellmouth went boom, but after seeing real evil, knowing it was out there… Well, I guess if I wanted to just help people I could’ve become a cop or something, but for me, it just didn’t measure up to what I’d already seen. I needed something-”
“More,” Harry nodded.
They both got quiet after that and drank another beer a piece before Xander suggested they get out of their while they could both still walk.
“My place is just down the street, you can just crash there,” Xander said, clumsy fingers trying to wrap his scarf more tightly as they stepped outside.
“Nah, that’s all right,” Harry mumbled, tripping over an uneven piece of sidewalk. He would’ve landed on his face had Xander not grabbed the back of his coat.
“You really want to go all the way back there like this? You know how embarrassing it’ll be if you puke on the sub- tube?”
Harry snickered. “You sound funny saying that.”
“Whatever, Mr. Perfect British Accent, you’re staying on my couch, that’s that.”
“Is it a comfortable couch?”
“Very,” Xander lied.
After quite a bit more stumbling and an ugly run in with a bag lady, they made it relatively unscathed to the Council issued apartment Xander was staying in. It was nice, if not sparce. Buffy and Dawn had wanted to pick out the places and decorate them all, but to save the Council’s budget, Giles had taken control of that (after much pouting and whining from the sisters). That meant that it was nothing more than a clean, functional one bedroom apartment with bland but well-made furniture.
After trying and failing to hang their coats on the rack by the door, they both collapsed on the couch - Harry on one end, Xander on the other.
“You lied,” Harry slurred slightly as he shifted. “This couch feels like a bus bench.”
“Slayers are hard on furniture,” Xander said, head leaned back and eyes closed. “They’re like… I dunno, it’s like they’re filled with cement. They look little and cute, but they’re… dense. Heavy. And if you ever repeat that I probably end up losing an important part of my anatomy. I’m already down an eye, can’t afford to lose anything else.”
Harry burst out laughing. “Already getting blackmail material, that’s-”
The front door clicked and swung open and in the blink of an eye Xander was on his feet and sober, a long knife in his hand. Harry was also up, a wand (Xander had seriously thought Willow was screwing with him when she’d said they used wands…) gripped tightly and his body tensed in fight or flight mode.
Three girls in sparkly, tight, club-wear stood blinking at them for a second before bursting out in giggles.
“Nice moves, Xander,” a blond on the left said with a grin. “If you’re looking for a fight though, I think all I’m up for tonight is one with pillows.”
It took Xander a second longer than it should have to place them as Slayers. When he finally did, he grinned sheepishly and put the knife back in its hidden sheath under his shirt.
“Sorry about that guys, wasn’t expecting company.”
"Our fault entirely,” a dark, exotic girl he’d only met once and couldn’t recall her name said. “We shoulda checked to see if this place was taken.”
“That’s okay - the more the merrier,” Xander said. “This is my friend, Harry.”
Harry glanced at Xander questioningly as his slid his wand back up his sleeve, then gave the girls a stuttered hello. They all giggled again and headed back to the bedroom, leaving Xander trying to convince himself that the floor wasn’t much worse than the couch to sleep on and Harry blinking at the bedroom door.
“Who- what- who-”
“Welcome to my world,” Xander said with a put-upon sigh. “Slayers in my bed without me…”
“Those- They’re Slayers?!” Harry finally got out a question.
“Yep. Deceptive, huh? Like Transformers the way they go from being harmless to epic badassery. Although it would be cooler if they could join together and make a giant, Godzilla sized slayer…”
“I bet they’re really something to see in action,” Harry mumbled before turning red. “I mean, you know, fighting and stuff.”
“Oh, they are,” Xander said with a grin. That was when the metaphoric light bulb went off in his head. “Hey! You should come work for us!”
“What?” Harry said, his attention finally pulling completely free of the bedroom door.
“We have a witch on staff - my best friend, Willow, actually. And a few other people that can use magic. But not really on the kind of level she can, or that she says you can. I think it would really be helpful to have a full-fledged wizard around - take some of the burden off Wills.”
“Uh, I don’t know…”
“Why not? You need something to do, something with purpose. What’s more meaningful than saving the world from the forces of evil? Plus, it’d be nice to have another guy around. We’re kinda outnumbered by like a hundred to one. And, you know, it’d be nice to have some family around, too…”
When Harry stayed quiet, Xander felt a brutal stab of disappointment. He just shrugged though, playing it off.
“Just think about it, let me know. Well, if you remember anything tomorrow… Keep going like this and they’ll have to change your title to The Boy Who Drank A Lot.”
“You’re in what?” Xander asked, already having moved on to pondering where the most comfortable section of flooring might be.
“I’ll work for the Council.”
Xander’s head snapped up and he couldn’t help the big smile from spreading across his face. “You will?”
Harry was grinning, too. “Yeah, I will.”
A little later, Xander fell asleep as soon as his head hit the carpet, happy with the fact he’d not only met an almost-family member that seemed to like him, but that he also might’ve actually helped him find some purpose.
Harry stayed up a little while longer, staring at the ceiling and listening to Xander’s snoring. But instead of lying there thinking about his future with dread and disappointment, as had become the norm for him, he was actually excited for what the next day would bring. When he finally drifted off, it was to thoughts of new family and adventure. A new place to belong.