Title: Elementary Mathematics
Series: A Single Twist in Fate
Questions, comments, cheap shots or suggestions: firstname.lastname@example.org
Disclaimers: Rowlings and Whedon own them all. I’m just pulling on their stings. No profit is made, no infringement is intended.
Spoilers: Goes AU after the first chapter in TSS/TPS and before anything in the Jossverse occurs, but references will be made to events in both series. This story contains references to some events discussed in ‘The Prisoner of Azkaban.’
Summary: Discoveries are made and figures from the past appear forcing Angel to try and hold together his makeshift family.
AN: This story takes place in 1993, two years after the first story takes place. This represents an aberration in both series’ timelines.
Angel let out an unneeded breath in a much needed sigh as he approached the Doyles’ door. He reached up to loosen the collar and tie of his uniform a little more, as he checked his watch, frowning. Thanks to a scuffle near the end of his shift he was running late. Sometimes he hated his job, but he had to keep food on the table for Harry so he put up with it. Angel was pretty sure he’d put up with anything for Harry.
The scuffle had been easily dealt with, but it had unseen repercussions. A couple of vampires had attacked some of the dock workers. Angel had managed to dust the vamps before they could severely injure someone, but the furor over their ‘disappearance’ had him making extra rounds and then in his supervisor’s office long after his shift was supposed to end. He’d called and left a message at the Doyles, but he and Harry would barely have time to get home before dawn.
Angel knocked on the door and waited for it to open. When it didn’t, his frown deepened and he knocked again. Usually Allen was up getting ready for his teaching job by now. Just as Angel was about to knock for a third time, he heard the shouting inside. The voices were easily recognizable as the Doyles’, which worried Angel more than if the voices had been unfamiliar.
Angel knew the couple had to argue, but they made a point to keep it quiet and almost never disagreed around himself or Harry. Although Angel had befriended the pair during the past two years, he knew they still kept part of their lives separate from him. It didn’t really bother him too much. Despite nearly a century of isolation, or perhaps because of it, Angel understood the need for privacy.
Angel made the third knock especially loud, shaking the door in its frame. The argument continued to rage, but he heard the tumblers on the lock turn. Before the door was fully open, his son was outside attached to Angel’s leg like a limpet. Angel scooped him up into a hug.
“Da,” Harry said, nestling into Angel’s arms as the vampire placed a kiss on his forehead. “Al’n an’ H’ree are mad.”
“I noticed that,” Angel said, entering the apartment cautiously. The living room was empty, and he could trace the sound of the argument to the bedroom. That meant Harry had managed to open the door himself. Putting aside the strange mixture of irritation at the neglect and pride in his son’s abilities aside, Angel tried to focus on the moment.
“Do you know why they’re mad?”
“Al’n turned green.”
“Allen did what now?” Angel asked.
“Al’n sneezed and he turned green an’ his face was pointy,” Harry explained, waving his fingers in front of his face to demonstrate.
The guileless look in Harry’s eyes let Angel know that the boy believed everything he was saying. Angel frowned at the news as he started to gather Harry’s things together. He had always thought he had smelled something not quite human about Allen, but given the man’s initial distaste for Angel, the vampire had kept his suspicions to himself. Whatever Allen was, he was trying to pass as human, and Angel was hardly the person to point fingers at nonhumans passing. Besides, the man was wonderful with his son. Now, Angel wondered if the level of fighting between the couple hinted that even Allen may have been surprised by the revelation.
“So when did Allen turn green?” Angel asked.
“At supper,” Harry answered, reaching for his stuffed bear when Angel picked it up.
Angel’s concern instantly morphed into irritation on his child’s behalf.
“They’ve been fighting all night?”
“No. Al’n went away. Then he came back after I was supposed to be in bed. He was talking funny, an’ they started yellin’ again.”
Angel gave his son a mildly reproachful look.
“If you were supposed to be in bed, why weren’t you sleeping?”
“They was really loud, an’ I din’ wanna make ‘em mad at me,” the little boy let out a large yawn and lay his head against Angel’s shoulder. “Da, I’m tired.”
“I know,” Angel said, placing another kiss on the boy’s hair. “We’ll go home and sleep in a minute. Da’s just going to go and tell Allen and Harry we’re leaving.”
Angel set Harry down on the couch then, walked back to the couple’s bedroom. Although his words to his son were gentle, the knock he placed on the bedroom door wasn’t. The door jerked open to reveal Allen and Harry, both with angry expressions on their faces. They both spoke at once.
“What do you want?” Allen barked at Angel.
“You left the door unlocked all night?” Harry accused Allen.
“I’m here to pick up my son,” Angel snapped, although he kept his voice quiet. “He let me in.” He gave them both a significant look.
Harry gave a small gasp while Allen’s face softened a bit. Both of them knew that the young wizard had to have been quite upset to have tapped into his powers. The fact he’d achieved that level of stress while under their care hit both of them hard.
“Angel, I’m-,” Harry began, but Angel cut her off with a gesture.
“Right now, Harry, I don’t care. I just want to take my son and go home. We’ve both had difficult nights. When you get this,” and he gestured between the two of them, “Whatever, settled, let me know. I’m not sure I want Harry here until then.”
As he turned back towards the living room, he heard Allen mumble.
“I’m not sure this will settle.”
“Yes it will,” Angel said, glancing back over his shoulder. “The two of you love each other enough that you won’t let this stop you. You’re good people that way. I wouldn’t trust you with my son, otherwise.
“And who knows,” he continued as he turned and walked to retrieve Harry. “When I’m not angry and tired I might even be able to help. I’ll talk with you soon. You’ll want to lock up behind me.”
With that, Angel was out the door and on his way. Behind him he heard the lock reengage, but the screaming didn’t start back up again. He hoped this was a good sign.
Even though he pushed the speed limit as much as he was willing to with Harry in the car, Angel didn’t make it home before dawn. He used a bit of his preternatural flexibility to unstrap Harry and lift him into the front. He took a moment to gather Harry close and latch on to his bag before sprinting to the front door, and slipping inside. He managed to get them both indoors with him barely smoldering, but he was so preoccupied he didn’t notice the large black dog watching them from across the street.
Sirius Black waited an hour after Harry and the stranger entered the flat before moving. It was only when he observed no motion inside the home that he decided it was safe to explore. After all he’d gone through to find his godson, he didn’t want to ruin it by being rash now.
After Peter had betrayed Lily and James, framed Sirius, then faked his own death, Sirius had been imprisoned at Azkaban. It hadn’t taken long for the effects of the dismal place to set in, especially coupled with the despair he felt over failing Lily, James and of course Harry. He took little notice of his fellow prisoners, until one brought news of Harry’s disappearance. He managed to use his animagus form to escape with a few months after hearing of his godson’s abduction.
The next year was spent dodging Aurors and Dementors while tracking down every rumor he heard of Harry’s whereabouts. Most of the information was worthless, but every now and then he’d eek out a useful lead. He still considered himself lucky for happening upon the card game where the gossip exchanged between players included the rumor that Harry was now in America. Otherwise he might have been crisscrossing Britain until the boy was at Hogwarts.
Now it looked as if his persistence had paid off. He’d finally caught a glimpse of the child. Even at a distance he’d recognized Lily’s eyes in the boy’s face, and the shock of messy black hair could have only come from James. Sirius had finally managed to honor the vow he’d made to the memory of Lily and James when he’d heard of their son’s abduction. He’d found Harry, and soon he’d have the information he’d need to get his godson to safety.
Sirius had noted that both Harry and the stranger had been out all night. Judging by the uniform, the man had been at work, but Sirius didn’t know where the man had left Harry during that time. The boy looked healthy, if tired as he leaned on the man’s shoulder during the sprint towards then inside the flat. Sirius was glad to see Harry hadn’t come into any harm.
He decided to do a little investigating. He padded over to the man’s car to take a look inside. The car was a classic convertible, black with a dark tint on all the windows but the windshield. The car was well taken care of, but when Sirius, still in dog form, rose up on his hind legs to peer inside, the illusion of a show car was shattered. A car seat occupied half the back seat, and a few colorful toys lay next to it. The passenger seat was home to a few more toys as well as some supplies. They were laid out for easy access and seemed to hint at the fact Harry and the stranger were usually the car’s only occupants. There wasn’t much else to see, and though Sirius pondered using magic to open the boot, but he wasn’t quite ready to shed his disguise by doing so.
Leaving the car alone for the time being. Sirius moved towards the flat to snoop around. He was annoyed to find most of the windows were covered by thick curtains. The drapes would have made sense if they’d only covered the stranger’s bedroom windows, keeping the sun away from someone who slept during the day, but he couldn’t figure out why the man kept the whole place dark.
The only room Sirius managed to see into was what he guessed was Harry’s room. He was forced to admit it was nice. It was painted cream except for one wall which was dominated by a mural depicting a sunny outdoor scene, a large body of water, lots of green grass and a pristine blue sky. Sturdy low shelves were lined with books and stuffed animals, and a low wooden chest contained more toys as well as miniature sports equipment. A chest of drawers and a small bed finished off the room, but there was no sign of Harry in it.
Sirius stalked back to his original observation post, growling with frustration. It was all so mundane, so blatantly muggle in nature, that Sirius couldn’t figure out how the stranger had managed to pilfer Harry away from the home that Dumbledore himself had picked for the child. A part of him wondered whether the stranger had even done it at all, or whether he was just someone who had taken on the responsibility for caring for an orphaned child. The man obviously cared for Harry and took good care of him, but Sirius knew his godson wouldn’t be safe here. It was only a matter of time until the remnants of the Deatheaters managed to track Harry down, and then he was doomed. After all, how could a muggle be a match for a Dark wizard?