Counted as Clay Jars
Title: Counted as Clay Jars
Pairings: So far, none. Could be some Dawn/Harry or some Dawn/Draco, but I doubt anything permanent will come of it.
Disclaimer: Joss'. Rowling's. Never mine.
Summary: With Dawn’s father absent after Buffy’s death, care for the younger Summers falls to one Rupert Giles. However, even as life returns to normal, pieces of his past come back to threaten the future.
"See Zion’s precious sons,
Once worth their weight in finest gold,
Now counted as clay jars,
The work of any potter’s hand."
A/N: Buffy AU, with spoilers up until and including "The Gift" (as well as events presumed to happen between that and the S6 premiere). Harry Potter, with spoilers up to and including "Order of the Phoenix." The dates are a bit off: they’ve been adjusted so that Dawn is fifteen and Harry is sixteen in the same calender year; there shouldn’t be any jarring changes. Everything should fit accordingly.
Previously on Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Dawn tried to bring her Mom back to life, Buffy died, the Buffybot took her role, Giles talked about returning to England, Dawn’s dad’s a no-show, Willow researched spells to bring Buffy back, and Xander and Anya got engaged but kept it quiet.
Previously in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: Sirius died, Harry whined and went back to the Dursleys, Lucius Malfoy went to prison, Lupin never visibly mourned, and Dumbledore became fallible.
Warning: This is a Work In Progress. I have no idea when the next chapter will be out, so please don’t ask. I’m graduating college very soon, so things are hectic here. I’ll get around to it when I can.
Part One — Material Memories
June 15, 2001
Rupert Giles rolled up his sleeves and splashed water onto his face, trying to cool down after lugging boxes of her things down into his car. Willow and Tara had suggested moving everything to Giles’ flat on their own power, thus eliminating the need for a U-Haul, but the sheer amount of things She’d accumulated over 20 short years necessitated so many short trips that the sheer amount of petrol burned was easily enough to cover the entire cost of a U-Haul rental. He’d thought Her a bit silly and materialistic when he’d first gotten to know Her, patiently (and sometimes not-so-patiently) helping Her learn what it meant to be Called, but now — as Her body rested in the ground and Her soul in peace — he couldn’t bear to part with a single material memory.
Her father hadn’t attended the funeral. His body had turned up in the Rhine on June 4th, involved in some illicit drug operation, leaving Dawn parentless and guardian-less, and leaving Rupert to discover the clause in Joyce’s Will, naming him as Dawn’s guardian should anything happen to the girl’s father. And so, green card renewed and application for citizenship in the works after the Council’s threats earlier in the year, Her house was being sold so that Dawn could move into the extra bedroom in Giles’ flat and he could be the parent he’d always wanted to be for the girl.
Even if he wouldn’t get the chance to be Her father anymore, the one he’d loved like a daughter and lost his livelihood for. Daughter of his heart - his Slayer. Besides his duty, he couldn’t go home to England anyway, not when She rested eternally in the Sunnydale cemetery.
"Maybe you should wear a t-shirt or something," Dawn commented, leaning against the doorway. "It’s like, what, a hundred twenty degrees out, or something? Are you British people immune to heat? I bet you don’t even own a pair of shorts." Dawn certainly wasn’t dressed to die of the heat — if she’d really been his daughter, he wouldn’t be caught dead allowing her out of the house in shorts that short or a tank top covering that little flesh. Perhaps a conversation would be in order... despite the fact Anya had just passed by, wearing even less... Role models. The issue was with her role models.
He gave a sigh and shook his hands over the sink, trying to dry them, as all the towels were packed away or already in his flat. "Dawn, it’s barely ninety. It’s cool today, compared to last week. And, for your information, I do own a pair of shorts. I simply prefer to look presentable when we visit the social worker to finalize the papers. And along those lines, perhaps clothing that functions to conceal some skin, rather than mere decoration, might be more appropriate for this rather important meeting than what you’re currently wearing...?"
"Anya’s wearing less than me," Dawn countered. Heaving another sigh, Rupert snatched his glasses from his face and cleaned them irritably. He should’ve expected it. After all, Dawn was fifteen. When HE’d been fifteen, he was calling on dark powers and considering a life devoted to pure evil — not that he’d let Dawn know that. Before he could respond, however, Dawn went on. "You should definitely make sure you roll your sleeve down, if you’re so worried about what they think of you. Did you get a new tattoo? You didn’t have it yesterday... It’s wicked cool."
Shoving the wire frames back onto his face, he stared down at his arm. It hadn’t been there yesterday, indeed. Nor had it been there when he’d dressed that morning. The red shape on his arm, in fact, hadn’t been there since October 31st, sixteen years earlier, when it had vanished in a shooting pain that woke him from a sound sleep in his father’s Bath manorhouse. It was supposed to have been the end of the one who branded him with it. The papers had reported the young hero’s triumph and the deaths of the parents. "Oh, bloody hell," he murmured, eyes locked on the red outline.
Dawn made some shocked reply, but Rupert couldn’t bring himself to apologize for his language. It had been ages since he’d sworn, especially in front of a child... but if the mark had reappeared, a few naughty words were the least of his problems. "Dawn... Dawn, I don’t think we’ll be able to make that trip to Bath, this summer. Or, perhaps, for a very long time."
"Huh?" He watched out of the corner of his vision as she glanced from his face to the mark on his arm. "Your dad didn’t want you to get a tattoo? Or — or is it that Mark of Eyghon-y thing? Why can’t we go to England, Giles, I really want to see Big Ben and double-decker buses, and Prince William -"
"I need you to not ask a lot of questions about this right now. I need you to run and find Willow and Tara... this is an emergency, Dawn." His ward scurried off in a panic, and though he felt a bit guilty for dismissing her in such a rush, the skeletal eyes staring back at him from the flesh of his inner arm filled him with such a terror that he pushed everything else aside. Skull and snake. The Dark Mark.
It seemed that somehow, impossibly, Lord Voldemort was back — and the Dark Lord didn’t take kindly to deserters.
"What’s that, Severus?" Minerva McGonagall asked, peering over her colleague’s shoulder at the breakfast table. It was late in the summer holiday, and even the normally reclusive Potions Master had taken to coming out of his dungeons to attend breakfast. It wasn’t that he longed for company — he was taking his time stacking books pertaining to his topic of research so that when he took his seat, he’d be invisible to Sybil Trelawney, if she happened to sweep in late, as usual. He came for the food. Though he’d be loath to admit it, he enjoyed snagging a pastry or two from the dishes near the Headmaster; foods he’d never consider ordering for himself. Despite what the students seemed to think of him, he hadn’t reached the age of ‘crotchety old man’ yet — he still enjoyed a sweet or two.
Or maybe it was just a mid-life crisis.
He sighed off his thoughts and shook his head, reminding himself of Minerva’s irritating presence at his shoulder. The list in his hands was longer than he’d expected. Twelve names of those unaccounted for since the fall of the Dark Lord. "Missing Death Eaters," he replied shortly. "It’s for Albus."
"Many were your classmates," Minerva noted, slipping the list from his hands before he could fold it away or protest. It unnerved him, the way she could always do just what he wanted least in any situation. Now, it was simply interfering in his business. "Thomas Sutton, Diedre Page, Phillip Henry... they were all Class of ’74. Ethan Rayne and Rupert Giles were Class of ’76. Jeanne Kilde, Hector Reach... Malcolm Archer... isn’t he dead?"
"None of the twelve were heard from after that Halloween, some even earlier. They disappeared from the wizarding world. I’m attempting to learn of their fates from a Muggle source, but it’s more difficult than I’d thought." Severus sighed and rubbed the bridge of his nose. "And yes, I do believe Archer is dead. And Henry and Sutton for certain; I found obituaries in the Times. The others..."
"Why are we looking for missing Death Eaters?" Minerva countered loudly.
It was the ‘we’ she’d so innocently added into the discourse that irritated Severus the most. It was his job to complete, not hers. There was no ‘we’ in this mess. He took a quick glance up and down the table, measuring the other instructors present — only Dumbledore seemed interested in their conversation, as Susan Hooch was telling her famous bawdy jokes to Filius Flitwick and Cassie Sinistra at the other end of the Staff Table. "Missing Death Eaters may be deserters. And deserters may take our side... and they may agree to spy from the inside, as they aren’t obviously against the Dark Lord. As I have yet to make a positive contact with the Dark Lord, we may need more help." And not just help — a replacement, should something go terribly wrong. It seemed more than likely it would. Severus pushed the thought aside.
"Right, then. I’ll look into Page, Rayne, and Giles. Miss Granger might be able to offer some research tips, you know. Having a Muggleborn to aid in the search might be a boon, when your quarry has no doubt learnt to blend in..." She pulled over a slip of paper and snagged the quill right from Severus’ hand. It was all he could do not to scream and wring the bloody woman’s neck.
"I do not work with students on matters of this level of importance. Not only could a mistake cost lives, but obtaining the girl’s help could put her in a very serious amount of danger. Now stop bothering me and let me complete my task!" he snapped, grabbing the quill back. At the end of the table, he caught sight of Susan and Filius watching their interaction carefully, both fielding broad smirks. He didn’t want to think about whatever disgusting notions the pair of troublemakers might have come up with over the past moments... After all, Susan’s elder son was a cross-dressing cabby and Filius had been seen in questionable company more times than Severus cared to contemplate. He scowled and ducked his head behind the piles of books, glaring at Minerva to back off.
It was too late. The Head of Gryffindor House had her partial list. "Fine, then. I’ll find these three in my own way. Page... she was Ravenclaw, yes? Binns was Head of House, then. He keeps on thinking that Parvati and Padma Patil are Diedre Page... perhaps he knows of her life or death? And... Rayne and Giles were Slytherins, correct? They’re only a year your senior. All the information you can give me will help..."
With a sigh, Severus dropped the quill and rubbed the bridge of his nose reflexively. "Correct. Rayne and Giles were Slytherins. Rayne was of a pureblooded family of limited funds. No siblings and his parents didn’t survive the war. Aurors took them out in his 5th year. He didn’t take it well, and their death drove him Dark. He took Giles with him. Rupert was a second child, aristocrats in Bath, I think. Or Salisbury. Blood about as pure as my own, I think. Giles, of course, wouldn’t be inheriting the fortune, so his father was pressuring him into some family occupation... was it with the Unspeakables? I can’t remember, it was too many years ago... but when Rayne started dabbling in the Dark, Giles did too, rebelling I think. Diedre Page I don’t remember."
Minerva nodded and tucked the parchment away. "Well then, I’ll let you know as soon as I track them down."
Severus sneered and flicked his texts open again. It didn’t matter whether she found them or not — so long as she’d just leave him alone. The Dark was rising fast, and it was no place for a Gryffindor.
However, before he could get any work done, he caught sight of Sybil entering the Great Hall. He tried to make his escape, but it was too late — she sank into a chair at his side and proceeded to proclaim that his fate was to fall in love with a devilishly attractive Diviner. Susan and Filius were laughing. Cursing the urge that brought him to breakfast, Severus sank lower in his seat and regretted the day he decided an Avada Kedavra was too Unforgivable.
Tara and Willow had joined Rupert at the flat almost immediately following the meeting at Sunnydale Town Hall, with the last loads of Buffy’s things, all folded nicely and packed away in the closet. "Where’s the Buffybot?" he asked shortly, closing the door behind the pair. Dusk was coming, and with it the denizens of the night. The Slayer could no longer protect them.
"Recharging. After that last fight, I don’t know if it’ll be up to full specs for a bit... Are you sure this is the best of ideas, Giles? Cause if the social workers get word of Buffy running all over the place, they might wonder why she’s not got custody of Dawnie... and did all the papers get signed and all? Is it all done?" Willow babbled, and Giles let her. It seemed to calm her. And with the news he’d soon be passing on, any comfort would be a gift.
"It’s done. Dawn is officially my daughter. However, that isn’t at all connected to what’s happened. Do you — do you remember when Ethan Rayne was in town? My schoolmate who invoked the god Janus?" He removed his glasses and cleaned them absentmindedly, weighing out the amount of information he wanted to impart. Too much and he’d risk alerting Willow to things better kept secret...
Willow nodded. "You and he did all the demon invoke-y stuff, right?"
She made it sound so simple. "Yes, well... that wasn’t all we did. I’m afraid another of my bad choices might come back to haunt us. It’s possible being in America will keep this away from me, but should figures in black robes and white masks show up, I want you to get away. Come find me, but get away before they can see you."
"White masks?" Tara asked skeptically. "What kind of demon are they? What kills them?"
"Not demon. Human. Dark wizards, the whole lot of them. Their leader has... certain reasons for wanting me dead, or back in England." Back in England, killing and torturing Muggles like Joyce, or Muggleborns like Willow, or Halfbloods like Tara. The Hellmouth might mask his magic, and it had been years since he’d used his wand which was tucked away in a kitchen drawer, but his name was clearly noted on Watcher records, should the Dark Lord have contacts there... and he had contacts everywhere...
"Does this have anything to do with that uber-cool tattoo?" came Dawn’s voice from the stairwell.
Rupert shoved his glasses back onto his face and crossed the living room. As expected, she was listening in at the top landing, knees hugged to chest, wearing her pyjamas — a pair of Buffy’s, covered in little pictures of sushi. "It’s early for bed. Weren’t you meant to be doing homework?"
"Giles, it’s June. I don’t have school, remember? Plus, you’re all talking about Scooby stuff, and I think I should get a say in it." She grinned and made a show of climbing to her feet.
"Then read a book, if you haven’t homework," he replied.
"It is the tattoo, isn’t it," Dawn countered, "and you weren’t gonna tell Willow. I bet you were being all secret-like. Were you talking about me? Mom and Buffy always made me go away when they were talking about me."
"It’s not about you. It’s my fault, this time. Please, Dawn, go find a book. There are many on my shelves. Just stay away from the Dark Magic volumes?" Rupert sighed and crossed back to the witches, rolling up his left sleeve as he went. "As I’m sure you heard from Dawn, all of this fuss centers around this tattoo."
Tara frowned and pursed her lips. "It’s ugly. What ever possessed you to put that on your arm?"
"It was a cult, of sorts. Being given this tattoo was a part of the initiation process. Hazing, so to speak," he tried to explain. Thankfully, it seemed neither witch had come across the Dark Mark in their research. He silently thanked the American system of magical education - though by overlooking two such bright witches the entire academy of intellectual wizards were missing key members, it meant that Giles had much less to explain. "We were involved in some fairly dark magics... more than summoning demons, though I’d rather not discuss the extent to which the group went. As with most cults, leaving wasn’t an option. I fled to the Mug- to the Watcher’s Council in 1979 and, though the leader of the group followed, Mr. Travers helped to hide me. On October 31, almost sixteen years ago, the leader of the cult was killed rather mysteriously... or, I believed him dead, until Dawn noticed the mark this morning." That done, he slipped his glasses off and wiped them on the edge of his shirt, trying desperately not to see the worried looks passing between Willow and Tara. Perhaps the night of his adoption of Dawn wasn’t the best time to relate the full extent of his youthful blunders... but it was now or never, and Lord only knew what Voldemort might have planned.
"So — wait, you joined a cult where they put oogy tattoos on you and ran away to be a Watcher?" Willow shook her head blankly. "This is weird even for me, and hello, grew up on the Hellmouth?"
He tossed his glasses on the table, deciding that being blind was preferable to the levels of skepticism in the room. "Yes. Cult, tattoo, Watcher, in that order. I should’ve told everything earlier on, but it didn’t seem important, as the man in question was supposed to be dead." A blur was moving at the corner of his vision, and he glared in the direction of the stairs. "Dawn, I may have my glasses off, but that doesn’t mean I can’t see you moving. Go read."
"But Spike’s coming... I saw him through the window, and I wanted to say hi..." she whined, crossing the room to throw herself in a chair next to Willow. In an instant, the two witches had shifted their focus to the girl’s well being. Well, they knew the truth, now. Whether they understood the significance of a Dark Lord returning from beyond the grave or not was debatable, but he wasn’t about to draw more attention to it than absolutely necessary.
As Dawn promised, the door was flung open mere moments later, and Spike stormed in. "Anya and I dusted five in the graveyard," he announced. "And Xander was just as useless as always. Tell me, Watcher-boy, did you ever think of training her bloody friends to help out? He’s helpless without a — bugger it all, Rupert, what the hell did you do!?"
The vampire’s gaze was clearly directed at the mark on his left forearm. Cursing to himself, Giles rolled down his sleeve, snatched up his glasses, and shoved them back on his face — he should’ve expected Spike to know of the Dark Lord... "It was 1977. As you can tell, I’ve changed a great deal since then."
"Yeah, well your bloody Lord Voldemort and Death Eater friends chased me clear out of the bleedin’ country!" he spat, crossing the room to Dawn’s confusion. "Do you have any idea what kind of shit you were messing with? You think life and death are some sort of game?"
"Get out," he snapped reflexively, shifting to the calculating Slytherin persona of Ripper he’d so carefully cultivated in his tenure at Hogwarts. "This isn’t your business, Spike. Buffy’s dead. You couldn’t save her, so why don’t you just leave the lot of us free of your meddling?" He saw Dawn flinch and Tara draw the girl to her side. It couldn’t be helped.
Spike sneered, and took a step backward, in the direction of the door. "How many did YOU kill? At least I had an excuse... I need blood to live. What’s yours? Or maybe you’re just no more than a murderer walking free."
"OUT!" Rupert snarled, fighting back a crackle of power, repressed for fifteen years. He couldn’t use it — using his magic would alert the Ministry and Voldemort to his presence in Sunnydale, and Dawn needed him. He hadn’t been able to suppress it enough, it seemed — Tara’s eyes had narrowed as she looked on him, measuring him.
The vampire crouched by Dawn’s chair and patted her shoulder in an oddly tender manner. "Take care, little bit. And be wary of old Rupert. There are facts he’s not telling."
Holding back a full-blown growl, Giles ripped open his desk drawer and pulled out a stake. "Get out of my house or, so help me, I’ll be hoovering you out of my carpet."
Spike rose and patted Dawn’s shoulder, leaving without a word. There was a long, silent pause before Dawn glared at her guardian. "You didn’t have to do that, you know. He’s not going to hurt me. He tried to save my life."
"And failed," Rupert snapped. The hurt expression that crossed her face pulled at his emotions, but he put the stake back into his drawer and turned to Willow. "You did an uninviting spell last year. I need you to find it and do it again. I’ll not have him invading my home and threatening me. My family."
He’d thought that including Dawn in his family would soften the blow, but instead she jumped to her feet and scrambled up the stairs, sobbing. Willow shot a glare in Rupert’s direction and followed her. "We won’t do the spell," Tara said, watching Willow go. "Neither of us a-are particularly fond of Spike, but he loved her. Loved B-buffy." She wouldn’t meet Rupert’s gaze. "Cutting him out would be cruel, now that she’s — she’s g-gone." Tara choked back a sob, shaking her head to stop herself. "He loves Dawn, too. She might be your daughter, in the scheme of things, but he’s like her big brother. You can’t do that to her."
"Then I’ll do the spell myself," he responded without considering the consequences, turning and crossing to his bookshelves. Third shelf, second section, behind the books on ancient Aramaic spell derivatives — a whole set of Hogwarts textbooks, from first to seventh year, their covers faded with time sat waiting for use. However, he’d left that world behind. Who knew if he could even do the magic alone, anymore?
"Giles... I think I’ve seen that mark on your arm before."
He froze before stuffing the old Aramaic texts in front of his schoolbooks, hiding the evidence. "O-oh?" Rupert hazarded a glance over his shoulder. For once, Tara looked entirely confident.
She nodded slowly. "I didn’t want to bring it up in front of Willow, but... if what I read about that group — that cult — was true, you were involved with some pretty serious incidents. Like... August 1978, in the magical section of one of the London train stations, there was an enormous attack. It’s in all the magical history texts. Hundreds died, and when the magical police reached the scene, that mark was above it all." Tara hesitated, and the stutter crept back into her voice. "W-were you th-there? Did you k-kill?"
The night Buffy died, he’d been the one to destroy Glory’s other half — an innocent young man; Rupert held his nose and mouth shut until he suffocated. But compared to that August night, Ben’s elimination was nothing. It had been all late commuter traffic, returning on a Sunday night from Scotland and the Lake District. The Dark Lord had learned, somehow, that one Jeanne Weasley Pullman would be on the train, sister to Arthur Weasley of the Muggle-lovers office and new wife to the Minister’s right hand advisor. She’d been killed first, a bloody job left to McNair’s experienced hands. From what the Daily Prophet reported, the only recognizable bit of her left had been her face. But that hadn’t been Rupert’s task — he, under the command of Malfoy, had been sent to dispatch everyone else riding that night. He could still vividly picture each face that he cursed to their deaths, though he’d long since stopped reliving the moments in his nightmares. There had been a little girl, blonde like his Buffy, and her mother, a woman who now wore Joyce’s face. A mousy, balding man, dressed in pinstriped robes. A group of university students, heading back from summer holidays. A woman with sleek black hair, exotically beautiful.
"Giles? Mr. Giles, will you answer me?" Tara demanded.
Rupert closed his eyes, trying to banish the stream of faces. "I was there," he whispered. He’d thought he was over the guilt, but it was back with a vengeance. "It was two more years before I left... but I was there. Me, and Ethan, and Diedre and Thomas. What I did was... unforgivable..."
"Spike was right," she said simply, and fell silent as Willow came back downstairs — it had to be Willow alone; he could identify Dawn’s footsteps by the loud clunking of her ridiculously useless, yet fashionable, shoes.
"By adopting Dawn, you got Spike, too," Willow announced. Rupert turned to watch her cross the room and pull Tara to her feet. "Until you come to terms with that, we will not be visiting, though Dawn can visit us. I will not be doing an uninviting spell. You can do it yourself, if you’re even able. And that’s that. Come on, Tara, let’s leave him to brood." He thought about asking them to stay, explaining to Willow everything Tara knew... but the lingering doubts about Dawn’s safety ensured Rupert’s silence. And then, before he could think of something else to say, they were gone.
Dawn was upstairs, alone and angry. He knew he should go and talk to her. Instead, he moved aside the Aramaic texts again and pulled out his sixth-year History of Magic textbook, paging through to find the writing in the margins. Stop reading this crap, Ripper — come to the Quidditch pitch after 8, and I’ll introduce you to someone with more power than Grindelwald.
It was Lucius Malfoy’s handwriting, from the fateful day that spelled the end for Ripper — a long, bloody end. Taking the book over to the couch, he flipped through to find the myriad of other notes dotting the yellowed pages. They were all likely dead now, or in Azkaban, but he could never escape their shadows. His classmates — the Slytherins. He wept, and never noticed the pair of blue eyes watching his actions from the stairwell.