Author: Koohii Cafe
Disclaimer: Since I am a poor chickadee with no wealth to speak of, I think it's safe to say that neither BtVS nor HP are mine. ^^;
Written for: ‘The Missing Dursley’ Challenge
Summary: Petunia receives a letter that will turn her world upside down; her firstborn is finally returning home.
Author's notes: Set during Order of the Phoenix for HP and season one for BtVS. Buffy’s birthday has been shifted to accommodate the plot. Woo! A couple months is better than over a year, yes? >.> Here’s the next chapter!
The silence emanating from his aunt and uncle’s bedroom was deafening, after the roars and shouts that had echoed before, and the sight that greeted him when he reached the open door was almost frightening. His aunt, looking more terrified than he’d ever seen her, was curled up in the corner behind their bed, long skinny legs pressed close to her bony chest as she actually seemed to bite at her nails, eyes wide and fixed upon his uncle.
Vernon Dursley, Harry had learned from years and years of experience, was a man whose anger was deafening, brash, forceful, and painful. He screamed, shouted, and raged as loudly as he possibly could, using his voice to threaten and frighten, and his beefy body to physically carry out those threats when it was the worst. The louder he yelled, the angrier he was. The only time he was quiet was when he didn’t want the neighbors to hear. But this time- this time it was different. Harry’s uncle was actually silent, standing at the end of the bed with the letter crushed in one hefty fist, trembling as his beady little eyes glared steadily at Petunia. This kind of anger- Harry’d never seen anything like it.
He almost didn’t want to speak up, to bring any attention to himself with his uncle in such a mood, but if he didn’t- it’d be worse for him when Vernon realized it later. So, after a moment’s hesitation, Harry coughed loudly, causing both adults to look suddenly at him, and spoke.
“Aunt Petunia. A Mr. Rupert Giles is here. He said you should be expecting him.”
The name made both of them tense, and then, finally, there was a loud roar from Vernon, that familiar kind of anger, and the large man charged out of the bedroom and for the stairs. Petunia quivered in indecision for a moment, something that looked like an odd mix of fear, hope, and anxiety flitting through her eyes, before she too ran out the door and after her husband. The mystery deepened with every second, it seemed. And with his aunt and uncle too distracted to pay him any attention, he could-
“Boy!” His uncle stood at the top of the stairs, looking back at Harry as he stepped out of the bedroom to follow. “Go to your room. I won’t have the likes of you interfering with this.” And he was gone yet again, this time down the stairs and into the sitting room. An angry resentment settled into Harry’s mood, as it seemed he was to be left out, predictably. But instead of doing as he was told, rebelliousness bubbling inside him, he waited only until both adults had disappeared into the sitting room before sneaking down the stairs after them, and into the cupboard he’d once been forced into. If he couldn’t see what happened, then he could at least listen. He wouldn’t be left out again, not when he had to deal with that thing from everyone else in his life right now.
“I won’t have her kind in this house, or this family! Get out, I say, out of my house!”
Giles’ eyes hardened at those words, that tone of voice, and his harsh gaze settled on the owner of the voice, a large and overweight man who appeared to be the correct age to be Vernon Dursley. The glare only deepened as he sensed more than saw his charge flinch beside him. He didn’t know the full extent of what had happened between she and her family, but he knew enough to know that those sort of words would cut far deeper than she would let show, and he’d grown attached enough to her already that he wouldn’t stand for it. That hard looked made its way up and down Dursley, taking in every measure of the man, and finding him deeply lacking, and Giles stood, setting his tea cup down with a jarring clank of clashing ceramics on the coffee table.
“I have no idea what you mean by that, Mr. Dursley, but I would see you calm yourself and think twice about your words.” Anger flashed across his face, as the pudgy fool started to speak once more, and he cut him off quickly. “Let me put your fears to rest regardless. Our business here will be short. Ms. Summers and I have business elsewhere.”
“You- you think you can invade my home with that- that thing! And then demand me to rush through things!? I’ll think not, Mr. Giles. I don’t know who sent you but- but-” Maybe it should have been comical, the way Dursley’s face reddened as he raged over what it seemed he’d wanted himself, or the way he trailed off as he realized he had no clue who Giles really was, but any humor he might have found was wiped away immediately by the insult hurled at Buffy. There was no way this imbecile could have known about her status as the Slayer, but…
“Rupert Giles, of the Watcher’s Council.” His voice was ice cold as he glared at the other man, watching carefully for any reaction. There was nothing out of the ordinary, however, other than the way his eyes widened marginally at the casual use of such a powerful organization’s name. No indication that Dursley knew the Council was anything other than the rich and well known society for historical preservation that served as its public front in Britain. “It is obvious that you have neither the desire nor the means to care for Ms. Summers. We are here only as a formality, so that you may sign her guardianship over to someone deserving and able. Then we will be gone from your house, and you may go on with your life.”
“Gone?” The strangled whisper pulled his attention away from Dursley, to the almost wraith of a woman hovering in the doorway to the sitting room. Her eyes were haunted, somehow, and all for Buffy, as if she were drinking in a sight long denied to her, one she had needed. This must have been Petunia Dursley, the first name he’d been given in regards to this whole thing, and the one he had really come looking for. Then, she seemed to realize that she’d spoken aloud, and her gaze darted quickly to her husband, fearful.
Giles had no pity for her. Giles felt nothing for her but apathy, and disgust.
“Yes,” he answered firmly, sparing no feelings. “Even had I thought this would have been a viable home for Ms. Summers, your husband has made it clear that that is not an option. I would not imagine of leaving her to someone who can harass and insult and innocent child within moments of meeting her.”
“Is dead.” There was another flinch behind him, from the couch, and the watcher felt a twinge of guilt for putting it so bluntly, but he could tell that that was what was needed for these people. Dursley was trembling in anger still, as if ready to explode, and his wife- she was inconsequential. These were the people who had abandoned Buffy once. He’d be damned if he let them have a second chance at her when she’d already been hurt so recently. “What Mrs. Summers wished for her daughter, while admirable, is immaterial. Buffy would be far better off in the care of the Council.”
“You don’t know what you’re getting into.” Dursley had found his voice again, his angry glare now turned towards the teenage girl on his couch. There was a sneer on his face, before he looked back up at Giles. “Her father had the right idea, washing his hands of the little witch. Your Council won’t want to dirty themselves with her. Her kind is nothing but trouble.”
“You will hold your tongue, or I will hold it for you!” Something dangerous lurked behind his eyes, held in the promise of violence that rode his voice. God help him, if that fool said one more thing about his Slayer, he’d-
“Giles, just- stop.” The soft voice seemed to deflate his fury almost instantly, and he turned away from the pompous idiot to look down at Buffy. “They obviously don’t want anything to do with me. Just- get them to sign, and let’s go.”
She looked utterly shattered in that moment, hazel eyes swimming in a sea of pain she was having trouble holding back, before she bowed her head to hide them. Despite the fact that he’d come here with the intent of getting the Dursleys to hand over her guardianship, he knew she’d had hope for the family she’d never known. She’d talked to him about it somewhat, during their journey here; the desperate desire that this family wouldn’t throw her away as her adoptive father had. His gaze softened when he noticed the minutest of trembles in her shoulders.
“Oh Buffy,” he murmured. Resisting the almost fatherly urge to rest his hand on her shoulder for comfort, he turned instead to the briefcase he’d brought in with him. Without a word, he set it on the coffee table and clicked it up, retrieving two thick sheaves of paper. Holding out one to each of the Dursleys, he regarded then with a cold expression that brooked no argument. “You will sign over guardianship of Ms. Summers, and then we will leave. If you do not cooperate, the full force of the Watcher’s Council will come down upon you, and you will dearly wish that you had heeded my words.”
Dursley seemed ready to rally some blustering argument against it until the thread was issued. His chubby face paled then, especially after a look at Giles, and he took the papers with a forceful growl, making his way to the nearby dining room to sign. The watcher’s gaze fell upon Dursley’s wife then. There was a resemblance between this woman and his Slayer, if one looked closely enough; though her hair was shorter and a slightly flatter shade of blonde than Buffy’s, her eyes a pale and washed out green as compared to the younger girl’s vibrant hazel green hue, there was a similarity in the shape of her face, the turn of her nose, and that moment, the pain in her gaze. It was to be expected, as the woman was Buffy’s biological mother, but whereas the sight of Buffy’s pain had softened him, Mrs. Dursley’s expression only served to harden his determination.
“Do not waste my time, Mrs. Dursley,” Giles said harshly, glaring at the woman. “Ms. Summers and I have other things that require our attention this day and-”
“I- excuse me?” He halted abruptly, his gaze narrowing at the whispered interruption from the woman. That was Buffy’s middle name, yes, but-
“Her name… Her name is ‘Anne.’” She was trembling in seeming terror, but her tone had strengthened somewhat. Slowly, she pulled away from Giles, leaving the paper still in his hand, as she shook her head. “I- I know Joyce kept it as her middle name, but- it would have been her first.”
“Petunia?” The low rumble from Dursley sounded almost threatening, even to Giles’ ears, and the man began to rise from the table. Though before she had cowered, the bony woman somehow pulled herself up further now, shaking her head once more.
“Her name is Anne.”