Title: A Single Twist in Fate
Disclaimer: The only Buffy I own is my car. For entertainment purposes only, all characters are the property of Rowlings or Whedon and their people. No profit made and no infringement intended.
Spoilers: Everything and nothing. Goes AU at the end of the first chapter of ‘The Sorcerer’s Stone,’ and before the Buffy movie. Some references to canon will be made in future installments.
Summery: One needed a purpose, one needed a family, so the Powers made a single change to give that to them both.
Author’s Note: The first two paragraphs are taken from the first chapter of ‘Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.’ The ‘’ denote italics. “Good luck, Harry,” he murmured. He turned on his heal and with a swish of cloak he was gone.
A breeze ruffled the neat hedges of Privet Drive, which lay silent and tidy under the inky sky, the very last place you would expect astonishing things to happen. Harry Potter rolled over inside his blankets without waking up. One small hand closed on the letter beside him and he slept on…
As soon as the wizards were safely out of sight a solitary figure detached itself from the shadows nearby. No one remained to see the person make its way over to the steps of Number Four. The porch lights fell on the figure for a moment, briefly revealing it to be a man, or at least someone who looked like one. The shabby fedora shadowed most of his features, but even the dim lighting couldn’t hide the lurid colors of the shirt he was wearing. He reached down to scoop up the bundle on the steps below him.
“It’s a good thing you’re a sound sleeper kid,” he muttered to the child. “Cause this has the potential to be a bumpy ride.”
The child shifted in his blankets, letting go of the letter he had grabbed a moment before. The man holding him fished it out of the blankets as they made their way towards the sidewalk.
“That’s right kid, you won’t be needing that,” the letter flared bright before disappearing in a puff of smoke. “Trust me, following the old guy’s plan doesn’t turn out well. He had good intentions, but well the road to hell…er, heck
is paved with those.
Harry continued to sleep, snuggling into the man’s arms.
“Cute kid, but I’m not the one you have to win over. He’s going to be a heck of a lot tougher crowd, but our original plans for him don’t work out to well either. Let’s get going. We’ll drop you at the safe house, them I’ll go talk to the smelly hermit in the alley. Hold on kid,” the man said as they began to fade from sight. “Next stop, America.”
Later that night, after safely depositing his tiny cargo with friends, the lone figure watched as his next target scavenged the alley for rats. He didn’t waste his time with too much watching. Instead he quickly made his move.
“I find it hard to believe that it actually could get worse than this,” he said, indicating the refuse surrounding them and the rat carcass in the other man’s hands. “I mean look at you, the smell alone.”
“Then go away,” the ragged figure said, moving deeper into the alley.
“Sorry, much as I’d like to, no can do. In fact you need to come with me.”
The ragged man made no move to get up from his crouch. He just kept glaring at the man speaking with him.
“Sorry, I don’t go off with strange demons.”
“I’m strange. A vampire, living in alleys, feeding off rats, says I’m strange. Whatever happened to the mighty Angelus?”
“It’s Angel,” the vampire replied curtly.
“Oh right, you got a soul, filled with remorse and guilt. So you’re embracing your inner hermit and hiding from the people you used to hurt?”
Angel kept silent, avoiding eye contact.
“Uh-huh. I’ll take that as a yes.”
“What do you want?”
“To offer you an alternative. You want to make up for the awful things you did? Well you aren’t. You’re just taking an easy out.”
“So what do I do instead?” Angel asked.
“Come on,” the figure said, “I need something to eat. All this talking is making me hungry.”
Angel eyed the man a moment longer before slowly getting up. As he tentatively began to follow, he asked another question.
“Who are you? What are you?”
“You can call me, Whistler. I work for the good guys, the Powers that Be. They sent me to give you a job offer. It wasn’t the one they originally planned but…,” Whistler made a dismissive gesture.
“Anyway, the Powers know you’ve got the guilt thing going on, but hiding doesn’t make it better. If you want forgiveness you have to earn it. Otherwise there’s a good chance you might end up the monster you think you should be.”
The strange pair stopped for a moment while Whistler ordered a hot dog from a cart, then dug in with fervor.
“Too bad you can’t taste these, they’re excellent.”
Angel grimaced at the thought. He tried to focus on the conversation. The last thing he wanted to think about, with all the warm blood wandering around him, was eating.
“So how do I earn it?” he asked, hoping to steer the conversation back towards the topic.
“You work for it. Instead of hiding away from people, you get out among them,” Whistler gestured around the busy street, using his hot dog as a pointer.
“I don’t know if that is a good idea,” Angel said, swallowing hard and glancing around nervously.
“What, you’re scared of a little temptation? You keep remembering what happened last time? Everyone falters, Angel, but the true test is whether you get back up again.”
Angel remained uneasy, still shooting nervous glances around him.
“It isn’t going to be easy,” Whistler said, starting to move forward again, “but a little temptation is the least of your worries. There is plenty of blood out there, just going to waste. I can show you how to get.”
“So what do I have to worry about?” Angel asked, curiosity overcoming trepidation.
Whistler gave him a small smile.
“I’ll tell you all about it, but first, there’s someone I want you to see.”
The next day, Angel and Whistler stood in the hallway outside an apartment in LA. Angel had showered and changed into the fresh clothes Whistler had given him. His hair was still slightly unkempt, but he looked less like a bum and more like the person Whistler, and the Powers, needed him to be. Whistler reached up and knocked while Angel shuffled nervously from foot to foot.
A very young woman with short brunette hair opened the door. When she saw Whistler she broke into a large grin. In the background a baby was crying.
“Whistler!” the woman exclaimed. “You’re back, and you brought your friend. Come in, both of you,” she said, stepping aside.
“Little Harry isn’t giving you trouble, is he?” Whistler asked as they stepped inside.
“No, he’s just hungry. Allen is with him now. Who is your friend?”
“Sorry, Angel, this is Harry Doyle. She’s been helping me out by keeping an eye on someone along with her husband, Allen. Harry, this is Angel, he’s the one I was telling you about.”
Angel made quick work of the handshake, muttering a hello while shuffling along behind Harry and Whistler. They soon arrived in the kitchen, where a short dark haired man, who looked barely out of his teens, was trying to feed a small boy. The little one was having none of it.
“Come on, Harry,” the young man said, his accent a startling reminder of Angel’s homeland. “I know you’re hungry. Just try the yummy peas for Allen.”
Little Harry remained stubbornly tight lipped, turning his head to avoid the food. Various green splotches along his front and Allen’s showed that the battle of wills had been going on for a while. Allen seemed to be taking it all in stride.
“I don’t think he’s taking those anytime soon,” the adult Harry said, surveying the damage to them both.
“He’s a stubborn one, but he hasn’t come up against the likes of me before.”
“Lord help us all,” Harry muttered. “This isn’t a battle of wills, Francis. It’s supper.”
“Maybe he just doesn’t like peas,” Angel ventured.
At the sound of the new voice, little Harry’s head swung towards the new arrivals. A small bandage covered his forehead. Green eyes narrowed as he looked over the newcomers suspiciously. Allen turned to look as well, and a second pair of eyes narrowed as he looked Angel up and down.
“Whistler,” he said, sparing the demon a glance and a nod. “This is him?” His voice was skeptical.
“Yep,” was the response.
“Don’t look like much,” he said with a sniff. “You sure he’s up to this?”
“He’s up to it,” Whistler said, at the same time Angel asked.
“Up to what?”
“The reason the Powers sent me to you, the task they need you to do,” Whistler answered.
Angel shifted again, waiting for the rest of the story.
“First, let me introduce you to everyone else, then, if I could have a moment with Angel?” he directed the last part to the couple.
“Allen Doyle, this is Angel,” the two men shook hands, Allen still looking skeptical. “And this is Harry, Harry Potter,” he said, gesturing to the child in the carrier. Little Harry chose this moment to let out a wail that echoed off the walls of the kitchen.
“And that’s our cue to leave Whistler and Angel alone,” the older Harry said, gathering the carrier as she went. Angel just stared after them, slightly mystified.
“Harry, little Harry, is the reason I’ve brought you here. The Powers need you to look after him while he’s growing up.”
Angel blinked a few times, absorbing the news. Finally he spoke.
“Maybe the whole ‘chasing rats’ thing didn’t clue you in, but I’m a vampire.”
“What better guardian for a child in need of protection.?”
“I can think of a dozen off the top of my head. Why does he need protecting anyway?”
“His parents were killed, but Harry managed to escape, under very miraculous circumstances. The wound under that bandage is a curse mark, from a very powerful Dark wizard. He cast a killing curse on Harry, and it rebounded and hit him instead.”
“If the guy is dead, why does the kid need protecting?”
“You’re dead, too. Why do you think?”
“The wizard’s not really gone.”
“No one knows, kid, but even if Voldemort kicked it, his followers would still be after Harry, seeking vengeance.”
“Voldemort?” Angel asked, confused. “That little kid managed to kill Voldemort?”
“I see you haven’t been completely out of the loop during your quality time in alleys.”
“A Dark wizard trying to take over Britain, who has a grudge against anything, human or otherwise, that wasn’t a pure blood wizard, someone like that, as powerful as he is, was, everyone has heard about him.”
“Everyone in touch with the supernatural you mean?” Angel nodded, and Whistler went on. “You know as well as I do that wizards are even better than demons at staying below the radar.”
“What does this have to do with the kid?”
“The boy was left with relatives, who know of magic but hate it. If he’d been left there he’d never learn enough to take care of himself.”
“So why me? I’m not a wizard.”
“No you aren’t, but the reason Harry was sent to those relatives was because his aunt, his mother’s sister, was there. One of the leaders of the fight against Voldemort thought that somehow the love Harry’s mother showed by dying for him gave him protection. Since his aunt shared his mom’s blood, he thought the protection magic might emanate from her as well.”
“It’s always about blood,” Angel muttered. “So why bring him here, away from that protection?”
“The Dursleys, Harry’s relatives, are idiots. They hate magic and anything not ‘normal.’ So the Powers set off to find a different relative,” the demon trailed off.
Angel stood there looking extremely guilt ridden.
“I killed my family, wiped out the village. You have to know that.”
“True, thus the guilt and redemption. But
… well kid, tell me if this sounds familiar. There was a young Irish kid named Liam. Loved to drink and loved the ladies. Had a tendency to sleep with anything that moved.”
“Your point?” Angel asked irritably.
“My point is, young Liam charmed his way beneath the skirts of a many a woman, not all of them bar wenches, and safe sex wasn’t exactly an option back then. Eventually something was bound to happen, and the girl’s parents were probably not thrilled to have the village drunk for an in-law, so they probably sent the girl away. In the meantime, the whole village gets wiped out in a bloody massacre, so the girl’s on her own, with a son who eventually grows up. Said son has a daughter, daughter has another daughter who has a son, and so on.”
Angel just stared at Whistler, dumbstruck.
“Yeah, kind of figured you’d have that to say. Anyway, the point of this story is that unknown to the guy who sent Harry to the Dursleys, there was another relative available. One who had no problem with the supernatural. One who was equipped to protect Harry.”
Angel didn’t seem to be keeping up with the conversation, as was evident from his next words.
“I had a son,” Angel said, still out of sorts.
“Yeah, congratulations, you’re a great, great-I ain’t listing it out-grandfather. Now, catch up, we’re on a time limit.”
Angel blinked a few more times at the revelation, then shook his head slightly.
“So I’m related to Harry,” Whistler noticed Angel stopped referring to him as ‘the kid.’ “That doesn’t negate the fact that I’m still a vampire.”
“What better protection for a kid with lots of dangerous enemies.”
Angel grimaced, but continued on.
“And I don’t have a home.”
“A situation that I can help you rectify,” Whistler countered.
“And I know nothing about children. How am I supposed to take care of a baby?”
“We’ll get you a book,” Whistler retorted. Then he went on, more serious. “Look kid, I understand it’s a lot to take in in a short amount of time. What They’re asking of you won’t be easy, but redemption never is. If it was, you would have found it hiding out and draining rats. Redemption is hard. Humanity is hard. I think it’s worth it. What about you?”
Angel was quiet for several minutes, his expression closed. Whistler watched him, hoping for some sign the vampire would make the choice the Powers, and Harry, desperately needed him to make. Finally, without a word, he turned on his heel and headed out into the living room. Whistler followed cautiously.
Little Harry had continued his protests throughout Whistler and Angel’s conversation. Harry Doyle was rocking the squalling child while Allen tried a variety of means to get him to stop crying. The increasingly desperate young man had finally resorted to making faces, which had little Harry mildly interested, but didn’t seem to be stopping his tears.
Angel approached them cautiously, and made a motion to request to hold the child. Big Harry paused and Allen gave an all too real frown. Then the older Harry slowly handed the boy over to Angel, who took him with exaggerated care. The baby regarded Angel for a moment before taking up his wailing with increased vigor.
Angel’s eyes widened at the renewed noise. He tried bouncing up and down to rock the boy , still employing exaggerated care. The child wasn’t impressed, but when Allen went to take the child back, Angel turned away. He tried to drag up the faint memories he had of his sister at this age.
“Shh,” he said, quietly. “It’s okay, Harry. I’ve got you. No one’s ever going to hurt you again. Shh, it’s alright.”
Angel continued his disjointed bounce, and his reassurances for a while with little effect. He pulled back slightly, looking the boy in tear filled eyes. As he made eye contact with the boy, the cries abated somewhat. Harry seemed to be waiting to see what Angel would do next.
“You like silly faces?” Angel asked. “How about this one?”
Angel pulled a face, and Harry’s cries slowed a bit more.
“You like that? How about this one?”
Harry’s cries slowed a bit more. Every time Angel changed faces, the tears slowed down a bit more. Whistler and the Doyles watched as slowly Angel calmed the child down. The couple looked impressed, with even Allen softening slightly. Whistler just smiled and looked almost smug.
Angel had reached the limit of his strange face repertoire, but when he went back to the beginning, Little Harry’s eyes narrowed and his cries went back up a notch.
“Not going to settle for repeats, huh. Well, I’ve only got one more, but I’m not sure you’re going to like it.
Harry’s only response was more tears.
“Okay, I suppose you’ll have to get used to it sometime. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.”
Angel took a deep breath and allowed his true face to emerge. He heard the older Harry and Allen both suck in a sharp breath, but he kept his eyes locked on young Harry’s. The green eyes widened slightly, and the tears abruptly stopped. The whole room waited to see what the child would do next. A giggle rang out as tiny hands reached out to examine the sight before them.
“You like that, huh?” Angel questioned the child. “I don’t think I’ve ever gotten that response before.”
Harry tried to grasp the brow ridges in response, still smiling at Angel.
“Now that you’re entertained, let’s get you something to eat. You’re obviously not a pea fan, but what’s your take on crackers…,” Angel’s voice grew fainter as he carried the boy into the kitchen to look for food.
“You really think he can do this?” Allen asked.
“It won’t be easy, but I think those two might be exactly what the other one needs.”
The next few days entailed the total transformation of Angel’s world. It was a little overwhelming for the vampire. He had grown used to his self imposed isolation, and the ‘all at once’ method Whistler used to reintegrate him into society left him feeling off balance.
Angel had spent the rest of the first evening at the Doyles, getting to know the child who he was to get custody of. He hadn’t relinquished his hold on Harry until after the child had fallen asleep. He was mildly surprised that he was able to keep Little Harry entertained. He had rummaged through the kitchen, something he had sheepishly apologized for later, finally finding some crackers and cheese which he fed the boy. Then he had, through more trial and error, gotten Harry to fall asleep. Long after his hosts had gone to bed and Whistler had left, Angel had stayed awake, watching his new charge sleep.
Whistler had roused him off the couch the next day while the sun was still high up in the sky, with cracks about how he’d soon have to alter his schedule. Then he’d dragged him off for a haircut and a new wardrobe. The shopping spree had caused Angel to question where the demon’s funds had come from. It has also caused him to bluntly state he had no intentions of letting the other demon pick out his wardrobe.
Once he looked like a productive member of society, Whistler had helped him acquire the paperwork Angel would need. Angel had commented that he had never needed papers before, and Whistler had bluntly informed him that having a kid changed everything. By the time Whistler was finished, Harry Potter was officially in the custody of Liam Angelus Evans, his maternal uncle.
After the paperwork was taken care of, they stopped at a shabby building, that looked much like an abandoned warehouse. Angel followed Whistler inside, and stood slack jawed as the interior was revealed. A large room was laid out with a counter partitioning into uneven sections. On one side of the counter were various tables stocked with parchment rolls, quills and ink. On the other side, high walls topped by rows of windows were filled with numerous compartments. Each compartment held a perch, and about two thirds of the perches had owls of all breeds on them.
Whistler motioned for Angel to remain to the side, then walked up and stood in line. When he arrived at the counter he engaged in terse discussion with the attendant, which was masked by the noise of the birds. Then Whistler produced a letter from the pocket of his coat and tied it to the leg of the owl the attendant had brought over. Once the sturdy Great Horned had launched itself into the air, Whistler handed several coins over to the attendant. Then he walked back over to Angel.
“What was that about?” Angel asked as they walked out of the building.
“Owl Post Office, how wizards send mail.”
“So why were you using it?”
“By this time, that opponent of Voldemort I mentioned, whose name is Dumbledore, will have noticed Harry’s disappearance. So I sent him a letter detailing the Powers’ plans. The last thing the kid needs is another fight developing around him.”
Angel noticeably stiffened at that idea.
“No one is fighting over him. He’s staying with me.”
“That’s pretty much what I said in the letter. I also added a few references that will send him sniffing in the wrong direction if he decides to look anyway. It wasn’t easy. The man’s clever, and knows far too much for his own good.”
“As long as he stays away from my-away from Harry.”
Whistler masked his smile by turning away.
“Whatever, kid. Anyway, this whole night has been a lot of work. Let’s get some food for you, then we’ll call it a evening. Tomorrow we’ll get you a place to stay and a job.”
“A job?” Angel asked, sounding slightly indignant.
“A job. Did you think Harry’s things were going to pay for themselves? Don’t worry, it’s only going to be part time. It’s more important for you to spend time with the kid, but ‘productive member of society’ and all that crap.”
“Who’s going to watch Harry?”
“I’m sure the Doyles won’t mind. I think they’ve gotten kind of attached to the kid.”
Angel didn’t look entirely comfortable with that idea.
“I don’t think Allen likes me.”
“He doesn’t know you. Face it kid, there are porcupines less prickly than you are right now. When you’ve relaxed and he’s gotten to know you-oh screw the pep talk. It will work out eventually. I thought you knew the virtues of patience.”
“Not in this sense,” Angel said, looking uncomfortable. “It’s a little different when you’re stalking someone.”
Whistler made a dismissive gesture.
“Get over it, Angel. The things you see as faults can work to your advantage, too. You just have to get over your qualms.”
“Get over my qualms?” Angel echoed, incredulous.
“Get over it. Harry doesn’t need a broody SOB for a caretaker. Now let’s show you where to get your blood. “
The change of subject effectively ended the conversation. Angel followed Whistler, thinking over the demon’s words. He hoped he hadn’t gotten in over his head. Harry deserved more than that.
By the end of the week, Angel was employed part time as a night watchperson, and was the owner of a small two bedroom garden condo, complete with furniture. With the pantry fully stocked with food for both of them and work not starting until the following week, there was little excuse for him to spend his first night on his own with Harry.
“I don’t know what I’m doing,” he said to Whistler, as the two of them made their way to the Doyles home.
“Most first time parents don’t, Angel,” Whistler replied wearily. “We’ve been over this before. You’ve been taking care of him while you’ve been staying at the Doyles, right?”
“Yes, but-,” Angel started.
“But nothing. He needs to be in a home, your home, or the whole magic thing will be negated. We can’t risk it.”
Which was how Angel found himself home alone with a squalling Harry the first night in their new place.
“Shh,” he said, rocking the child with a bit more finesse than he had the first time. “It’s okay. You’re being held, you’re fed, your diaper’s clean. Why are you crying?”
Harry just kept wailing. The longer he kept crying, the more distraught Angel became.
“I knew this was a bad idea. What business do I have raising a child? I’m a monster, not a father,” Angel muttered as he rocked the child back and forth.
He had been holding Harry on his hip, as he’d seen Harry Doyle do, to try and take full advantage of the rocking motion. He looked down and tried a few half hearted silly faces, but the boy was obviously not interested in the game.
“Not going to be content with the fangs today, huh?” Angel asked, sadly.
Finally, Angel decided to try calling the Doyles to see if either of them had any ideas. The older Harry had been adamant in her insistence that he call her with any problems. He had agreed out of good manners before, but now he was desperate for ideas. He gathered Harry up in his arms as he moved towards the phone. Immediately, the baby noticeably quieted.
“That’s what had you upset?” Angel asked, flabbergasted. “You didn’t like you you were being held?”
Harry just sobbed and snuggled closer to Angel’s body.
“Not sure what you’re getting out of the deal, but I can handle this,” he said, starting to rock back and forth again. “It’s okay, I’ve got you.”
Angel cradled the boy close, and kept walking around the living room, rocking Harry back and forth. Slowly, the sobs became whimpers, then the whimpers subsided into hiccups which tapered off into soft breathing. Angel cocked is head and looked down to see the child had fallen asleep.
Angel took two steps in the direction of Harry’s room before stopping. He knew he should probably lay Harry down in his crib, but he found he wasn’t quite ready to relinquish his hold on the child. The warm body snuggled against his chest felt good. He sat down and looked down at the boy, listening to the quiet rhythm of his breathing and heartbeat.
Angel marveled at the fact the baby showed such trust towards him, even though he’d only been in Harry’s life a few days. He was even more floored by his own reaction. Angel was already fiercely protective of the small boy, and was determined to keep him safe from his enemies.
Even more profound for the vampire was the all consuming love he felt for the boy. The only thing he’d ever felt near it was his love for his sister, but this was even more intense. Even though he wouldn’t say it out loud, Angel knew why this was. He had fully accepted his role as part of Harry’s family, but not because he was some generations distant descendent. It was deeper than that.
A blood curdling cry startled Angel out of his brooding. Harry was thrashing against him, crying out in obvious fear, but when Angel looked down, he saw the child was still asleep.”
“Mama, mama!” Harry cried out, the first words Angel had heard out of him. “Mama! Dada! No!”
“Oh, god,” Angel muttered, suddenly realizing what Harry was dreaming about. “You saw everything, didn’t you.”
Harry screamed in utter terror as he jerked awake. He flailed against Angel’s chest, still caught up in the nightmare. Angel just held him, pulling away to try and make eye contact. Harry surprised the vampire by not crying, instead emitting a weird whimpering noise. Angel thought the sound was more heart breaking than weeping.
“Mama? Dada?” Harry asked, looking at Angel, fear and confusion in his eyes.
“I’m so sorry, Harry. I know you don’t understand, but they’re gone.”
“Mama, Dada no?” Harry asked, green eyes reflecting the question he couldn’t form.
“Yeah,” Angel swallowed hard. “They’re gone. I’m so sorry.”
Silent tears trickled down Harry’s face. They were so quiet and so pain filled that Angel almost wished the boy was wailing. He gathered the baby close to him.
“Shh, shh, it’s okay, Harry. I promise it will be okay. I’ll keep you safe.”
Harry thumped Angel’s chest a few times and the vampire held him out to look him in the eye.
“Kid?” he said, patting Angel on the forehead.
“That’s just what Whistler called me,” Angel said, sounding slightly put out. “How old is he to call me
“An’el?” Harry again patted Angel between the eyes.
“That’s better, but,” he sighed. “I don’t want you knowing me by this,” he said, brushing his own forehead.
“Who?” Harry said, poking Angel in the chest this time.
Angel looked down at Harry for a few moments. He knew the answer he wanted to give, but he wasn’t sure if he deserved it. He also was loath to negate those who had sacrificed so much to keep Harry alive. In the end, though, he couldn’t ignore his heart’s answer.
“Da,” he said, gently taking Harry’s hand and placing it near his heart. “If you want to, I’d like to be your Da.”
Green eyes that at barely a year had already see too much, peered at Angel. He almost felt they were gazing at his soul. Then Harry settled back against the vampire’s chest.
“Da,” he repeated with a small sigh. “Da no, no?”
“Never,” Angel said, understanding the question. “I’ll be here Harry. As long as you need me and beyond. I’ll protect you.”
“Da,” the baby murmured, snuggling close.
“That’s right, son,” Angel whispered, kissing the top of Harry’s head. “I’m your, Da.”
Angel soon joined Harry in sleep, lulled by the heartbeat and warm weight of his son.