Universes: Angel the Series, Harry Potter
Spoilers: AtS4:Home, HP5: OotP
Disclaimers: Joss owns AtS. JKR owns HP.
Pairing: Fred/Kingsley Shacklebolt
Notes: For the Mid Year Ficathon. The pairing listed was Fred/Kingsley Shacklebolt. This is tricky because Kingsley got about a total of two pages in OotP. What we know of him is this: he’s black, large, bald, appears to be in his thirties or so, has a wonderful/soothing voice, wears a gold hoop earring, works in the Ministry in charge of ‘finding’ Sirius, had no moral qualms imperio/memory altering Marietta in the presence of Fudge/Umbridge/other aurors to save Harry’s ass, was not in the original Order of the Pheonix, and got the short end of the dueling stick dealing with Beatrix [though he obviously didn’t die]. Hopefully I did him justice.
Genre: Romance, Angst
Max Rating: R-NC-17
Characters: Fred, Kingsley Shacklebolt
Type: AtS/Harry? Kingsley/Fred?
Want To See: A cool plot of how they met and how to overcome some of the obstacles in their relationship
Not Want To See: Fred becoming a witch. She still has to be the quirky,
It was the voice that caught her attention, she decided, a low rumbling, the sound like a tornado far away, vibrating the ground into your very soul. It made her think of safety, hiding in a storm cellar, waiting for the end to pass.
But it made no sense, the mere existence of this soothing-voiced man in the hotel. They had all parted ways to think about Lilah’s offer, and Angel had left to look for Connor. But here the fearless leader was, merely 15 minutes later, talking to a total stranger in the hotel lobby. Fred could think of no good reason that Angel would delay his hunt for his lost son.
Curious, she crept down the stairs, ever so quietly, trying to catch a glimpse of the stranger. She heard Angel mutter something about unusual circumstances, and it really was not a good time. He sounded overwrought and angry, and Fred wondered if he was about to do something violently foolish. Still out of sight, she tensed to run into the lobby. Then the stranger came into view- wearing a dress.
Fred blinked. He was a handsome man, very tall and broad shouldered, skin the color of cocoa, wearing one hoop gold earring, but he was still wearing a dark eggplant-colored dress. It wasn’t exactly threatening, despite the obvious physique under the robes. She relaxed a fraction and eased forward to get a better view.
“You come to us now? What, no other options left? Did you try the AMC?” The vampire gave a longing look to the door, checking his watch. “We’re not exactly the type you sort go looking for.”
“No, the American Magical Congress was no help whatsoever. If the Ministry of Magic is not acknowledging the problem, then the Congress cannot officially help.” He rubbed his eyes, shoulders slumping. “There’s no one, not officially. We need all the help we can get; you’ve got quite a reputation for unorthodox problem-solving in certain circles.”
“In other words, we’ve won our war and you want us to come fight yours?” Angel glared, stalking closer to the man. “No. We’ve just kicked the butt of a former higher power- I think we deserve a little vacation.”
Fred shook her head- there were never any vacations in their line of work, and she wasn’t sure she wanted one. Lilah’s offer was tempting, seductive with the possibility of that much power at their fingertips, but it wasn’t right. Fred didn’t know what to do. Things had fallen apart so badly with Gunn, with Wesley, with Connor and Cordelia. Hell, they didn’t even know where the last two were. She tried to ignore the sick twisting in her stomach, the ache that wouldn’t go away even though the battle was over. Fred was so lost in her thoughts, she almost missed the man’s response.
“We don’t want you to fight our war for us,” the black man intoned, hand going to his pocket, pulling out a slender piece of wood. “But we’re running out of options. The Ministry has our hands tied, but even the Order doesn’t see all the possibilities out there. They’re witches and wizards, all, so they don’t look outside the magical for solutions. You’ve proven that a combination of magical and Muggle can be immensely effective in combating the forces of darkness.”
When Angel looked unconvinced, the man softened a bit, “Doesn’t your motto say you help the hopeless? Surely you have someone to spare.”
Angel looked genuinely pained. “We’re short-staffed now, Shacklebolt. I remember the time before with…him, the horrors, and I feel for the Order. I’d like to help, but with everything going on in Sunnydale, and our own problems here, I’m not sure who can go to England. Not right now anyway.”
Fred leaned around the banister, clutching thin fingers around the wood. “I’ll go.”
“Fred!” Angel jumped slightly. “What did you just say?”
“I can go.” Fred trembled a bit, standing up slowly. The man, Shacklebolt, looked at her with surprise. His face was emotive, his lips twisting up in a bemused smile. Fred looked at him warily. “If you really want someone for non-magical defenses, then I’m your girl.”
Angel walked toward her. “Fred, you don’t understand what he’s asking. He needs someone to go help fight a war against a very bad, dark wizard.” He looked lost, sad almost. “We’ve just defeated Jasmine; you can’t mean to jump right in to something else.”
The young Texan took that in, cutting her eyes to the stranger. “He feels like tornado rumble, safe in the cellar. Does he really need us? There’s really no one else?”
“Yes, we do.” The man walked forward, extending his hand. “My name is Kingsley Shacklebolt. I’m a member of the Order of the Phoenix, a group of wizards devoted to fighting a great evil that has recently reawakened.”
Angel made a strangled sound, like a growl bit back. “You can’t have her.”
“Can’t have her?” Kingsley raised his eyebrows.
“She’s not cut out for your world- she’s not mystical like Cordy, not magical like Wes, and not supernatural like myself.” Angel bared his teeth. “She can’t go with you.”
Huffing, Fred took the outstretched hand firmly, ignoring the tremble in her legs and the glare Angel was sending her way. “Winifred Burkle, but I’m no wizard, or a witch even. I don’t know what I could do, maybe build things, you know, and I’m good with particle physics conundrums, what with the bending of reality and all, but no portals. I don’t like portals.”
Kingsley blinked. Fred tried to smile. Angel groaned, “Fred, you’re safe here. How am I supposed to protect you if you go running off with him to some war?” He seemed to crumple, brow furrowed. He made as if to hold her, stopping to say, “I can’t lose you. I’ve lost too many already. I have to keep you safe.”
She turned to him, face puzzled. “Can you? Are we ever truly safe? If they need us, then how can I say no? You don’t need me here, not really, not now. There’s just Lilah’s offer, but I’m not going.”
She watched the way the dark man’s eyes sparkled, the way his bald head shone in the dim lobby light. For a moment she was reminded of Gunn, of the way they had combusted in a sick spiral, falling prey to Angelus’ barbs and needling. It only made her think of Wesley, the kiss that shouldn’t have been, the knowledge that he’d been sleeping with their enemy.
Overcome by an urge to flee, to put this all behind her, even for just a little while, she steeled her spine. “I know how you feel, Angel, how you care, and I’ll come back, I promise.” She took a deep breath. “So, Mr. Wizard man, where are we going?”
“You’re not going anywhere!” Angel grabbed her shoulders. “Fred, you don’t understand.”
Kingsely stepped forward into Angel’s line of vision. “She may not, but she’s strong of heart. If she’s a part of your little demon hunting club, then she understands risks, and that they are hers to take.” He frowned. “If she is who she says she is, a Muggle with non-magical means of fighting, then she may be just what we need.”
Angel let go of Fred, his vampire visage sliding into place. “If she’s hurt, I will personally make sure you suffer for a very, very long time.”
They stared each other down for a moment, Kingsley breaking first, his gaze falling on Fred. “I’ll do my best.”
~~~ ~~~ ~~~
Fred decided a tornado was entirely too accurate a description when they popped into a dirty alley in what she thought was London. She kept a tight grip on her suitcase and tried not to vomit on his shoes. He held her shoulders steady until she stood up.
“Are you alright, Miss Burkle?”
“Fred, and I guess you really are a wizard.” She hiccupped and clapped a hand over her mouth.
He grinned. “Quite. This way, I’ll take you to the rest of the Order, so you can get settled in.” He directed her down an alley to a street full of grim houses. He clicked something in his pocket and the lights on the street went out, one by one. Fred would have been impressed if she wasn’t concentrating on not falling over.
When the street was sufficiently dark, he handed her a piece of paper to read. She squinted down in the gloom, confused. It stated, Number 12 Grimmauld Place. She blinked when right in front of her eyes the houses began squeezing apart, a dark and rather foreboding house inserting itself between them.
Unaccountably cheery given their surroundings, Kingsley chivvied her up the steps, knocking with a large serpent shaped knocker. A small, round, redheaded woman opened the door. “Ah, Kingsley, you’ve returned… and brought a guest! Your trip was successful, then.” The woman smiled warmly, at complete odds with the surroundings, and extended her hand. “I’m Molly Weasley, welcome. If you will, dear, please be quiet. We don’t want to wake the paintings up.”
“What painting?” Fred murmured, taking in the row of shrunken heads on the wall. A sinking feeling started in her stomach, curdling bits of fear that ran electrically through her skin.
Kingsley didn’t seem to notice, taking her bag and pushing them both into the hallway. Fred stepped very carefully. She took a breath of relief when she passed the gloomily covered portrait but froze in shock at what happened next.
The row of queer heads opened their eyes and began to emit the most fearsome shriek. Fred thought they were screaming the same word that Kingsley had used to describe her earlier, muggle, but didn’t stop to listen as suddenly the small table in the entryway sprung to life. It snapped open its lid, flapping the heavy wood ominously as it chased Fred down the hall.
She didn’t know which way to flee, never having been attacked by furniture before, and the confused yells of people behind her only scared her more. When she rounded the corner, a pair of candlesticks flew from the wall sconces and proceed to try to bash her around the head. She added her own shriek to the din, skittering through a doorway, slamming it shut behind her.
This room was equally horrid, the menacing creaks of ancient furniture giving her such a fright that she twitched violently. Not sure what to do next, she turned and ran once more, finding a smaller door at the end of a long passage that assaulted her with strangling draperies. She was almost crying now, her temple throbbing painfully. Fred was completely disoriented- her only thought to find safety. A staircase appeared at the next open door and she dashed down, tripping over a scuttling ottoman. She stumbled, finally coming to rest in a dilapidated boiler room. She squeezed behind the elderly appliance with effort, making herself as small as possible, shutting her eyes tight.
Eventually the sounds of clattering furniture quieted down, but Fred didn’t move. She held herself still, so still, and tried not to breathe. This was more bizarre than anything she’d ever seen before, Pylea and Angel-related stuff included. Her fingers trembled as she groped around behind the boiler for some sort of weapon. She clutched onto a piece of wood tightly, drawing it silently into her lap. Then she waited- if Shacklebolt hadn’t intended her to be pummeled on arriving, he’d surely figure out what happened.
A half an hour later, no more, she heard footsteps, two pairs. The door at the top of the stair opened, shining dim light into the basement. Fred could hear voices, Kingsley’s low rumble and another male voice, young and strong.
“Miss Burkle, are you down here?” Kingsley said, taking a tentative step down the stairs.
Fred remained silent.
The second voice spoke again. “I am terribly sorry for the way the house behaved, Miss Burkle, and you can be assured that everything has been well stunned. If you’ll come out we’ll show you.”
Still she didn’t move, but she did call out softly, “I’ve never been in a possessed house before, and I don’t think I like it.”
Kingsley’s head appeared around the boiler, face apologetic. “We are truly sorry.” He extended his hand down, and after a moment’s consideration, Fred gripped it tightly.
She squeezed out, frowning at the layer of dirt, dust and unmentionable other grime that now covered her clothes. She sighed and squinted in the light. “If it’s not too much to ask, can I have a glass of water?”
The dark wizard began to chuckle, before murmuring, “Your forehead! What happened?”
“A writing blotter, I think.” Fred slumped, leaning on Kingsley as they climbed the stairs. “What did those shrunken heads call me anyway?”
The wild-haired man with electric blue eyes took her hand and guided her around the faintly twitching ottoman. “A Muggle. It means a non-magical person, such as yourself. I had no idea what my mother did to the house, no matter how violently anti-muggle we knew her to be. This is likely her handiwork- my father was never this creative.”
Fred shook her head, confused. “So because the person who owned the house before now, your mother, hated people like me, she trained his furniture to attack them? What kind of bullhonkey is that! She should be hogtied and left for the vultures to get.”
The wizards exchanged glances. Kingsley said softly, “Actually, she’s dead.”
Fred humphed and pulled her arm from his. “Figures.” She followed him through a door into a brightly lit room full of people, sliding into the indicated seat.
“This is asinine, Shacklebolt.” A dark-robed wizard with a hooked nose and greasy hair glared at her over the table as Kingsley brought her some water. “Merlin’s beard, a Muggle? Are you out of your mind?”
“I don’t know, Severus; this could be beneficial.” The motherly woman from the entry way placed a tray of pastries on the table, smiling as Fred’s eyes lit up. They weren’t tacos, but they’d do.
The oily wizard narrowed his eyes. “Bringing Muggles into this conflict is irresponsible.”
“Not of they’re being affected, too. Remember last time, Snape? They were victims just as much as wizards and witches. Besides, she’s had experience fighting the dark.” Kingsley had his arms crossed across his chest, broad shoulders thrown back defensively.
Snape sneered, “With what, a curling iron?”
“A vampire, actually,” Fred said, clinking her fingertips on the glass. The entire room turned to look at her. She’d had enough of this. She’d come halfway around the world to help fight a war she knew nothing about, been attacked by antique furniture, and was now being argued over like she was a child. “I know what goes bump in the night- I’ve fought it before, both with Angel and in…the other place. Just because I can’t wave my magic wand and make it all better doesn’t mean I can’t help.”
When the scowling man didn’t look convinced she flicked her fingers around, swirling them through the steam from the pastries. “I know who you fight. I’m not scared, why should I be? I just helped end world peace!” The last bit was slightly hysterical; Fred’s hand gripped the table tightly, relaxing only when she saw the alarmed looks on the gathered faces. Trying to recover, she added, “It’s not all particle physics- I can do the Newtonian stuff too.” Blank faces all around. “Coyote and Roadrunner? Dropping anvils, slicing off demon heads…”
Molly laid a comforting hand on her shoulder. “We do appreciate your coming, despite what Severus intimates. Things are dire here, what with Hogwarts under siege.”
A choking sound from the frazzled-looking man made Fred look up. He was a bit nervous, never staying in one place; Fred was reminded of a trapped animal. He cleared his throat. “That troll should be stuck in a tarantella hex for the rest of eternity, but that doesn’t solve our little problem. Until I can figure out what dear old Mum did here, I don’t think our guest can stay here.”
“Arthur is still feeling ill, so we’re stuck here as well. What about sending her back with Severus to Hogwarts? I realize it’s not ideal, but we can’t have her wandering around wizarding London by herself; she’d be an awful target.” Molly mused, ignoring the bark of outrage from the gloomy man.
Just when Fred was beginning to think she’d better just go find her own hotel- not willing to give Angel the satisfaction of being right about the adventure- Kingsley rumbled from behind her, “She can come with me. After all, she is my idea.”
Molly urged Fred to have another pastry, all the while giving Kingsley the hairy eyeball for inviting Fred back to his house alone. Deciding they had better things to worry about, she continued, “That’s delightful, dear. Kingsley can keep you up to date on the goings on, and he should have all the necessary materials for you to think on how you can help us.” She gave a small huff of laughter. “When the end is nigh, we don’t look gift horses in the mouth, Severus.”
Severus just scowled, echoing Molly, “When this breaks, Shacklebolt; she’s gone. No more Muggles in this mess.”
The two men glared at each other, oblivious to Fred’s measuring look as she chewed on the lamb-filled pastry.
~~~ ~~~ ~~~
Fred celebrated her first night in the world of witches and wizards by vomiting on Kingsley Shacklebolt’s hallway carpet. She stared in wonder as he whipped out a wand and whisked away the mess, not embarrassed in the least. Deciding that she would rather walk halfway across London than do that apparition thing again, Fred nodded her thanks.
He merely smiled, taking her dainty hand in his own, and led her to the kitchen for a cup of tea. While she rested, he filled her in on just exactly what she’d gotten herself into. By the time he was finished, her eyes were glazed over, and she nodded numbly.
“It’s overwhelming, I realize.”
“Uh, huh.” Fred twirled the cup around, watching the tea leaves slosh.
“In the morning, I’ll bring some reading materials for you, and when I get back from work, we’ll chat.”
She roused a smile at that, handing over the teacup, watching in wonder as it washed itself and floated over to the drying rack. He pulled out a newspaper for her to read, grinning at her delighted smile at the moving pictures of witches and wizards alternately gesticulating and posing for the reader.
“Welcome to our world, Miss Burkle. I trust you’ll find it…interesting.”
Fred just gripped the paper tighter, barely registering his presence as he escorted her to a guest room to rest. Her dreams that night were full of paintings that attacked her, wrapping long thin fingers around her throat, only to be fended off by flapping newspapers. She awoke, startled to find herself in an unfamiliar place, but her hands still reaching for a pen to scribble her thoughts down anywhere she could, paper, books, or even walls.
Then she stopped, mid-stroke. She was not going to start scribbling on walls again. She was brave and resourceful and going to help save a world of people from unspeakable evil. Again. The Texan wandered into the breakfast room, grabbing the first stack of papers she saw. She was still reading when her host came home, weary and tired.
He took off his cloak, sliding into an overstuffed chair. “The Ministry wants to step up the search for Black- that’s Sirius, the man whose house you were in last night. I have to think of a few new leads to throw them. Something believable.”
Fred tilted her head, fingernails pulling at her bottom lip. “What about Los Angeles? Angel can probably plant some false leads. He’s good at that sort of thing.”
Kingsley brightened at that, a low rumble in his chest indicating his approval. He steepled his fingers for a moment before blinking and pushing himself up off the chair. “So, Miss Burkle-“
“Fred, what shall we do tonight?” He smiled, eyes flickering with wicked amusement though his shoulders were slumped with exhaustion. Fred caught herself just in time, before she reached out to rub the ache from his back like she had done to Gunn so many times before.
She thought for a moment, flushed with a peculiar sense of warm relief. Pushing the painful memory of Gunn aside, she decided she hadn’t felt so…free in a very long time. Even with the doom of a whole society partially on her shoulders, she smiled at the thought of this man with an accent-to-die-for asking her what she wanted to do for the evening.
So began the routine they’d fall into for the next few weeks. She’d read up on the latest wizarding events, putz around the house, use the funny green powder to call LA through the fireplace- that had caused quite a shock the first time she’d done it, nearly startling Wesley into impaling himself on the Ritual Dagger of Ephanzie. Kingsley had transfigured her a workshop, happily staffing it with whatever she wished, even going to far as to offer her an accelerator, not understanding exactly what that entailed. Appreciative as she may have been, she merely smiled and showed him the circuitry board to a dime sized communicator for attaching to buttons.
She would wait for Kingsley to get home, distracted by the latest Physics Today and Microfabrication Monthly. When he arrived, they’d eat a leisurely dinner prepared by the peculiar little gargoyle-like creatures called house elves, then spend a few hours talking or exploring London, both magical and Muggle.
Sometimes they’d meet others from the Order, comparing notes and making suggestions. Other times, he’d allow her to drag him through the technical stores of Muggle London, searching out the perfect widget or gadget, something she was just dying to try. She grew to love the expression his face when she presented a new toy, showing all the bells and whistles.
To Fred’s chagrin, most of her ideas weren’t entirely feasible. She hadn’t had any idea that electrical devices wouldn’t function in several prominent magical areas, or that the people she dealt with had no concept of some of the most elementary Muggle things. The discussion about two-way radios was disastrous, leaving Fred frustrated- doubly so because a mission could have been salvaged if Tonks had been carrying one.
She’d made no headway on the digital tracking device idea, baffled by the wizards’ desire not to be burdened down by ‘whizzing zizzies’ or whatever they’d called them. She’d nearly bashed her head against the wall when her carefully floo’d spy cameras and digital recording devices were overlooked in favor of a newly developed charm to make the wearer sprout time-altered facial hair growths.
But she didn’t give up. Talking with Kingsley at night was refreshing, if for no other reason than he was willing to listen to her, really listen to her suggestions. He’d nod, dark eyes bright with possibilities, happy to flesh out plans of presentation and attack with the other Order members. He truly believed her methods could help, even more so than when he’d appeared at the Hyperion.
She looked forward to those times more than any other, curled up, feet tucked under her on the large leather couch, Kinglsey at the other end murmuring away in that wonderful voice of his. As time went on, the space on the couch grew smaller, and Fred wondered what Kinglsey had done in the times before her arrival in his life- whether his couch had always been empty.
Things kept disintegrating in the world around them, though, no matter how pleasant the fireside chats became. Not only was Dumbledore, the person of whom everyone she dealt with was so respectful, thrown out of his school, but the bad men escaped from prison. Horrific things were happening to the children who supported Dumbledore, and Sirius- whom she decided she liked after all, even though his house tried to kill her- was going mad with worry about his godson. Each time something new unfolded, Fred was sure that the wizarding world would wake up- that the Ministry would see what was under their noses. And each time, a small voice in the back of her head wished they’d stay blind, to give her a few more weeks with Kingsley.
Then the unexpected happened. Fred had waited for hours after Kingsley went to check on things at the headquarters, muttering something about that fool Sirius and the blasted creature. She waited and waited, sitting on the couch, head drooping on her crossed arms. It was in the early hours of the morning that Molly came calling, her face ashen.
And Fred knew. Just as she knew that Jasmine was more than she pretended to be, that Lilah had shown up at the hotel for more than professional interest, how she knew that her life was forever altered appearing in a Pylean forest; she just knew.
“Where is he?”
“St. Mungo's, but Muggles aren’t-“
Fred stood up, fists clenched. “I don’t care if Muggles aren’t allowed. I’m going to see him. Now.”
Molly, ever a woman who understood determination, merely stood aside and showed Fred the way. She didn’t remember much about the trip, only half-heartedly taking in what Molly was saying – that Voldemort was really back, that the Ministry finally had to admit it and face the danger they were all in, that the media were circling like starved hippogriffs, that aurors from all departments were called up for active duty, and the whole wizarding world was in chaos. Fred didn’t see the crowds of witches and wizards swarming through the magical hospital, and she ignored the throng of reporters and frazzled Ministry officials.
It was only when she was standing by Kingsley’s bed, watching him sleep, that she finally understood what Molly had told her- that the Ministry acknowledged the problem- the problem she’d been brought to England to solve. That there was no more need for her clandestine efforts; her time was up. The young woman’s breath hitched, and she jumped when she felt a strong hand grasp hers.
“Is that you, Fred?” Kingsley’s voice was soft, but firm.
“Yeah, it is. Couldn’t keep me away- not really.”
He smiled, eyes still closed. “Good that you’re here.”
She nodded, but added another faint, “Yeah,” when she remembered he wasn’t looking at her.
“They finally know. The public cannot continue to turn a blind eye.” He didn’t see her flinch. “Thank Merlin something came of this fiasco. The Ministry has to act now.”
She kept silent, frowning. The pulse in his wrist was strong, and Fred wasn’t surprised to see him open his eyes, the mischievous glimmer in full glow. She tried to manage a small smile, but failed.
“Why the long face, Miss Burkle? I’ll be fine, so they tell me. A good curse can’t keep me down.”
“It’s not that, not really.” She took a deep breath. “I guess this means I’ve gotta go back to LA now, since you’ve got all the magical folks behind your effort. Don’t need the Muggle making suggestions you don’t use anyway.” She tried to keep her voice steady, but couldn’t help the break on the last words.
Kingsley twisted his head to look at her fully. “Is that what you think? That you’re only here for the war effort?”
She glared back, defiant. “Aren’t I?”
He rubbed his thumb across the back of her hand. “Well, I had hoped you were also here for me.”
Fred’s heart skipped a beat. Kingsley slowly brought her hand to his mouth, laying a gentle kiss on her palm. “I know this is a bit, er, sudden, but facing death by psychotic bitch does that to a man. I don’t know if the Order still needs you, but I do know that I do. I’m not much, but if you’ll have me, I’m yours.” He smiled shyly, saying softly, “I won’t give up on you, nor on our ideas. They’re too important; you’re too important.”
Fred blinked, body completely still. She looked down at the man who had seemed like a combination of Wesley and Gunn when she first met him- the solution to a sticky situation, and saw not the rumbly-voiced man in the purple dress begging for Angel’s help. Rather, she saw a man she had spent countless hours with, learning about his world as he learned about hers. He held her palm up to his face, pressing it close, dark eyes watching her intently. Looking down at him, Fred saw a man she could love, tornado and all.