Disclaimer: If this was all mine, I would not be writing fanfic. On second thoughts, I probably would, but it isn't mine anyway :)
Summary: Why did Giles go from devil-may-care rebel to top-notch Watcher? And is that significant ‘Dark Mark’ on his left forearm anything to do with it?
Notes: Another of the Wench’s evil gloveslaps: In GoF, Karkaroff names Travers as a fellow-Death Eater. Apparently (according to Wench’s obtuse mind), he is none other than Quentin Travers of the Watchers Council. So... I had to explain why and how he got let off/out/sentenced and why and how he can be so bastardy to Giles in season 3 and the like. Plus, is it me, or does the Mark of Eygon look strangely like a skull with a snake if you look at it with your eyes screwed up? Wench, this one’s for you, m’dear!
The young man was slouched in the chair in front of the desk, long limbs spread carelessly, in an attitude that clearly said he didn’t give a damn about respect and wasn’t about to change his mind about it.
The fire in the grate to his right cast strange light across his features, dashing them with flecks of gold and red. Clad in jeans and a T-shirt, his curly brown hair uncombed, he looked far too scruffy to be in the orderly, musty, book-lined office.
Sitting on the other side of the desk, his hands folded on the surface, Quentin Travers smiled a thin, cold smile. "Mister Rupert Giles," he said. "How very charming of you to return to us."
"Nothin’ else to do," Rupert Giles shrugged, raising his legs and propping booted feet on the front of the desk. Mud that was caking the soles fell in chips on the polished mahogany surface. "Got bored. Thought I might as well do somethin’. Oh, yeah, and your bloody lackeys yanked me in off the street."
"And all this time that you were in London," Travers continued casually, ignoring Giles as he pulled out a cigarette. Lighting it and drawing a deep drag, Giles smirked then blew smoke in Travers’ direction. "I suppose you were simply... having fun?"
"What of it? S’my life, innit?"
"As of your birth, Mister Giles, your life belonged to the Council. You father and your grandmother granted you that legacy. Along with your wizard roots, I must say you have quite the pedigree."
A little suspicion had filtered into the twenty-three year-old’s eyes. "And?"
"I wonder how... loyal you are to that pedigree and to what extent you would go to prove it," Travers made a casual gesture with his hand and Giles immediately lifted his booted feet off the desk. His face had visibly paled.
"What the hell are you on about?"
The cold, thin smile was back on Travers’ face. "I wonder, Mister Giles," he said, examining his nails, watching Giles through half-closed eyes. "What I would find if I asked you to roll up the sleeve of your left arm."
He had to give the young man credit.
There was no outward sign of panic, although the cigarette in his hand shook very slightly, so slightly it was barely noticeable.
"Whatcha talkin’ about?" he demanded.
"I think you know, Mister Giles," Travers stood up and walked around the desk, approaching the fireplace. Gazing down into the flames, he smiled - unseen - as he coolly added, "Did you follow Voldemort out of choice or necessity?"
The sharp intake of breath said more than a thousand words.
Turning, his hands folded behind his back, Travers calmly down gazed at the seated man, who was suddenly sitting upright, staring at him with the look of a wild animal trapped on all sides.
"Oh yes, Mister Giles," he said in a conversational tone. "I know all about your little... misadventure during your time in London. A little dramatic for a rebellion, wouldn’t you say?"
Giles’s eyes darted towards the door, then to Travers, as if he were contemplating how to make a break for freedom.
"I wouldn’t suggest running, Mister Giles," Travers noted dryly. "After all, just because I know about your brief period consorting with Death Eaters does not mean you are destined for Azkaban."
The panic in Giles’ eyes gave way to wary suspicion. "Then what the hell do you want with me?"
"What we want, Mister Giles," Travers said. "Is for you to assume your appointed place in the Council, which you have been attempting to evade for the past seven years. By flouting the traditions, joining the dark side and generally making a nuisance of yourself, you seemed to expect that we would disregard your bloodline and the high regard in which your family name was held." He stepped forward, bending to brace his hands on the arms of the chair, staring intently at the younger man. "I’m afraid you have underestimated us, Mister Giles."
"But if I went Dark Side, then why would you want me on your team?"
"A reasonable question," Travers agreed. "But I also know that shortly after your first Death Eater raid, you abandoned the other followers, after witnessing the death of one of your... friends."
"How’d’you know this?"
Travers’ smile was as friendly as a crocodile’s.
"I have very reliable sources, Mister Giles," he said with quiet confidence. "And I would suggest that you and I... well, I’m sure you would much rather become a decent Watcher than spend the rest of your days in Azkaban..."
Ash dropped soundlessly from the cigarette between the younger man’s trembling fingers.
"What do you get out of this?" he asked, his voice stilted.
Travers smiled coldly. "Nothing more than the satisfaction of seeing someone who has become little more than scum actually have a second chance and the knowledge that you owe me everything, including your pitiful life."
"I’m not your bloody minion."
"No," Travers agreed mildly. "But if you want to live a life of liberty, I suggest that you learn to respect me. I would deplore to let slip about your earlier associations to the heads of the Council..."
Had looks been able to kill, the hatred in the young man’s green eyes would have dropped Travers to the floor, stone-cold, within a heartbeat, his face tightening with disgust. "You really are a slimy little bastard, Travers," he muttered darkly.
Travers straightened up. His lips rose in the barest suggestion of a smile.
"Yes, I am rather, aren’t I?" he replied, a note of amusement in his voice. "But I’m a slimy little bastard who knows exactly what you were and from now, unless you want to become companion to the Dementors, I own your pitiful hide."
Rupert Giles looked like he desperately wanted to throw a punch at Travers, but his hands clamped around the arms of the chair, his nails biting into wood, the muscles in his cheeks twitching.
"What do I do?" he asked, through tightly clenched teeth, his expression black.
Travers returned to stand by the fireplace. "You resume your studies," he said. "You follow all the rules laid out in the Watchers’ Code of Conduct, you work hard, you keep your head down and," he added as an afterthought. "You call me Sir."
There was a choked-off sound of protest from the young man.
"Your dormitory room is in exactly the same condition as you left it in," Travers continued as if oblivious, opening his palms and warming them over the fire. "I would hope that you intend to clean it up somewhat."
The chair that Giles was sitting in squealed on the polished wooden floor as it was pushed violently backwards, Giles surging to his feet.
"I’ll stay and I’ll do what you’ve said," he spat vehemently. "But don’t think this’ll make me hate you any less than I do
"Temper, temper," the older man said passively, not looking around as the impetuous youth stalked towards the door and thundered out, slamming the heady panel of wood behind him.
In the silence that hung in the room in the wake of the boy’s departure, only broken by the crackle and pop of the flames, Quentin Travers slowly peeled off his jacket and undid the button of his shirt cuff.
Strange, he noticed, that his fingers still trembled with reverence.
Slowly rolling the sleeve up his forearm, his fingertips traced over the faint outline of a skull and snake, which had been branded onto his arm only a few years earlier, a sign of his allegiance.
Allegiance to Voldemort, the Dark Lord.
The Council knew of it, of course, but it made no nevermind to them.
All they were concerned with was that the age-old traditions were not broken, that one Slayer would fight until she died, supported by a Watcher, a cycle that had been in place for centuries.
After all, Voldemort was gone and the Council were in dire need of an agent, who was willing and ruthless enough to keep track of the Slayers as they were called and killed within months or years.
Most people were too emotional, forming attachments.
Quentin Travers knew that he was not.
After all, the Slayer was simply a randomly-selected muggle girl, briefly gifted with abilities to fight the darker forces of nature that should quite honestly have been kept in all-wizard families.
What did it matter if they dropped like flies?
They were only muggles after all.
Running a fingertip around the outline of the mark, Travers allowed a smile to reach his lips, malicious delight filling him as he recalled the ease with which he had manipulated young Giles back into the Council, as requested.
Brilliant to a fault, the boy had quite simply refused to acknowledge the position that was his, many believing him to be capable of rising to the top of the council if he applied himself.
Ignoring his studies, revolting against his family and disappearing for months on end, the honour that came with the name of Giles was permanently tarnished within the walls of the council.
He would always be a blotch on their records, they knew, unless they got him back on side or...
Well, the alternative would have been tidier, but probably less than satisfying for the Giles family and his father’s word still did carry a little clout.
It was off the back of his word that Quentin and his fellow agents had been called in and briefed on the situation with the boy and the need for him to be brought back into the fold.
Most of the other agents said it simply couldn’t be done, that the boy was a liability, a loose canon that should be dispatched immediately, to prevent further trouble, but Quentin had just proved them all wrong.
After all, one simply had to know the right information to get the required results.
Unable to tolerate the gorier side of working for the Dark Lord, Travers had been in the information-collection sector and had spent a few years controlling several people within high positions of power in the Ministry of Magic.
He had also been one of the few people who had known the identity of every Death Eater, which meant he had been present at the induction of young Giles and his four foolhardy friends.
Of the quintet, Giles had been the best and brightest, which lead Quentin to believe that he had only been dragged along to the Death Eater gathering by his friends, all of whom were far deeper entrenched in the dark than he was.
Still, he had faced Voldemort and he had taken the mark without a sound.
It was quite a feat.
Many older Death Eaters had been sent to their knees, weeping with sheer agony when they had been granted the Mark by their master, but young Giles had stood tall and stubborn, chin up.
The only outward sign that he was in any pain had been the slight tightening of his features, which had drained of colour.
Voldemort had been pleased with the young individual.
However, that pleasure had been short-lived.
While his friends supported the ideals of the Dark Lord, only favouring purebloods like themselves and cheerfully able to use muggles as playthings, Rupert Giles proved to think too much for the Dark Lord’s liking.
When the Council had stated they wanted him back, Quentin had remembered the questions the youth had asked, questions that had lead to him being on the receiving end of the cruciatus curse and almost killed him on several occasions.
There was no question in his mind why they wanted him back.
The boy was simply the brightest hope they had, in spite of his rebellious nature.
Of course, by asking so many questions, the boy was - in essence - questioning the very motivation of Voldemort. His friends had tried to lure him into the dark more entirely and it was that very thing that drove him from them.
During an attack on muggles, a friend had been killed, due to a combination of factors: a possession spell that meant he was more physically able to dominate the muggles, a raid by Aurors, multiple duels.
It had gotten out of hand and - mid-possession - the aforementioned friend had been struck by a spell that expelled the demon, but it already had too much of the boy and had killed him.
While the rest of the Death Eaters had immediately disapparated, Giles had tried to take the body with them, a last tribute to a friend, but Rayne, one of his other friends, had dragged him out.
That was the day the boy had changed.
Still as brilliant, but quieter, more broody, sullen and pensive.
He had vanished shortly after the death.
Even Voldemort was unable to find him and it had been whispered that he had taken his own life, unable to tolerate the guilt of seeing a friend fall in battle, which was a true sign of weakness.
Travers didn’t believe that, though.
As he had often observed, the youth was a lot more intelligent than he appeared, masking himself with the facade of an uncouth lout.
If anyone could escape and evade Voldemort’s attention, Travers knew he would not have been surprised if that boy had been the one to do it, probably resorting to some of the oldest magics available to him.
However, before anyone had been able to look too deeply into it, the Dark Lord had been defeated and Rupert Giles had resurfaced, as many of the Death Eaters were taken to trial.
Travers, himself, had been able to avoid it, by banking on the Watchers’ Council for their support. They had granted it in a detached fashion, as they did not need to lose one of their better agents.
No matter whether he was innocent or guilty, they had vouched for him and, with enough crocodile cries of innocence, he had walked free almost immediately, many believing that he had been under the imperius curse.
And that was why he had succeeded in bringing Giles back into the fold.
He bore knowledge that no one else in the Council did and had the cruel edge to be willing to use it, in spite of the fact that the boy no more wanted to be a Watcher than Quentin wanted to be a hula-dancer.
So, the boy would return to his studies within days and he would do everything that was essential to avoid being sent to Azkaban for the rest of his life.
It was an added bonus, however, that Giles would have to answer to him and treat him with some measure of respect, simply to insure that he would not be condemned for the mark he bore.
How ironic it was, Quentin noted, studying his dark mark by the light of the flames, that it was actually the mark that had placed them in their roles against one another: His making him dominant, while Giles’ reduced him to underdog.
Rubbing his thumb lightly over the slightly raised skin on his left inner forearm, a malicious smile crossed Quentin Travers’ lips. When Voldemort had said that bearing his mark would lead to power over those weaker and slower in mind, he had certainly not been exaggerating.
After all, the mark had given him power over the one person that even the council had never been able to break.
Yes, how deliciously ironic.