Summary: Wesley receives an interesting phone call about an unknown cousin from Surrey.
Disclaimer: Everything related to Harry Potter belongs to J. K. Rowling. Everything from the B:tVS/A:tS verse belongs to Joss Whedon.
Story Notes: This story starts sometime between the episodes “Ground State” (4:2) and “The House Always Wins” (4:3) of Angel. The Potter-verse has been moved up 12 years. The title refers to two conversations between Wesley and Justine in “Deep Down” (4:1):
"We're always a slave, Justine. We just couldn't see the chains."
“You can continue being a slave, Justine. Or you can live your life. Your choice."
Chapter Notes: Some dialogue has been modified from the episodes “Forgiving” (3:17), “Double or Nothing” (3:18), “Deep Down” (4:1) and “Ground State” (4:2). Thanks to my beta deiticlast and the livejournal communities of britpickery , hp_britglish and little_details for all of their help.
“All glory comes from daring to begin.” Eugene F. Ware
Wesley slowly steered the ship to the next search coordinates. Angel was somewhere beneath the black water. He just had to find the right spot. Keep searching. Don’t think about Connor. Or prophecies. Or pillows. Just find him.
He heard Justine start speaking from behind him, “The great Wesley Wyndam-Pryce. Shining beacon of all that’s good and pure. But oh wait, no. That’s before he started banging the enemy and keeping a slave girl in his closet.” That sounded familiar. She had said that before. He tried to respond as he had the last time, but found himself frozen, unable to speak or to move.
She continued on, “All your energy wasted to save that thing. For what? A happy ending? For everything like it was? He hates you. They all do. And they are never going to take you back.”
Fred’s voice echoed in the darkness,"The prophecy was false. Angel was never gonna hurt Connor. It was all for nothing…Don't come back to the hotel…ever."
“You are a pitiful disgrace.” That was his father’s voice filled with such disdain. “For more than 16 generations your family has honorably served the Council. Until you. One Slayer rejected you. The other tortured you. Fired from the Council. Then what do you do? Work for the Scourge of Europe. You are supposed to kill vampires, not work for them. You could not even succeed in that. Fired twice from that ignoble band of lowlifes. You are no son of mine.”
Wesley was finally able to turn around only to find Angel walking out of the shadows towards him.“Finding me. Bringing me up. Must've been hard for you. No map. All that water. Look what…what went down between us... I had a lot of time down there…to think. You know, about the way things went, the way they could've gone. I just want you to know, as far as I'm concerned …I should have killed you. You took my son. Did you ever think I was going to forgive you? You're gonna die!” Angel's face shifted to his demonic form. His glowing eyes and fangs were the last thing Wesley saw before the vampire latched onto his neck.
September 3, 2002
Wesley jerked awake gasping for breath. As he rubbed his neck, he glanced at the clock. 6:13 in the morning. Less than two hours of sleep. One would think having vigorous sex with Lilah followed by three hours of hunting down and killing a group of Bohg'dar demons that had been bothering his client would have allowed him a night without dreams.
As his breathing and heart rate returned to normal, he slowly drank from the glass of scotch that he had left on his bedside table. Drinking a glass of scotch in the middle of the night had become an all too frequent habit. He should be worried about it, but with images from the night's dream flashing before his eyes, he just couldn't care. It was hardly the worst of his new vices. Sleeping with Lilah was by far worse.
Before he could decide whether or not it was worth trying to go back to sleep, the telephone rang. “This better be damned important,” he muttered to himself as he answered. “Pryce.”
“Are you Wesley Wyndam-Pryce, son of Iris Wyndam-Pryce?” a woman with a British accent asked.
“Yes.” Had something happened to his mother?
“My name is Lorraine Hughes. I’m calling in regards to your cousin, Petunia Dursley nee Evans.”
“I’ve never had any contact with that side of the family. Try my Mother.” He started to hang up.
“Sir, wait. We tried your mother. She informed us that she wanted nothing to do with the Evans family.”
Of course she did. Father felt the Evanses were beneath the Wyndam-Pryces. As he frequently pointed out they had been Watchers for at least sixteen generations. It was closer to twenty if you followed the Pryce line back. Whether his father would ignore that branch of the family would largely depend on his mood. Some of the early Pryces had questionable reputations within the Watcher community.
The Evanses, a petite bourgeoisie family, from a dying mill town somewhere near Manchester, were unsuitable for them to associate. His Mum cut ties with her family before he was born. What little he knew about that side of the family was from listening to cutting remarks from his father. “Jumped up aliterate drudges from the back of beyond,” was the tamest of his remarks.
Sighing briefly, he asked, “What seems to be the problem?”
“Yesterday morning at approximately 8:20, Petunia Dursley and her husband Vernon Dursley were in a car crash on the M25. Mr. Dursley was killed instantly. Mrs. Dursley was rushed to Whinging General Hospital. She is currently in Critical Care. Her condition is quite serious. The doctors are unsure if she will survive.”
“Not to be crass, but why are you contacting me?”
“The Dursleys are guardians of two 10 year old boys, their son Dudley and their nephew Harry Potter. Harry is the son of Lily Potter, Petunia’s sister. Marjorie Dursley, Vernon’s sister, has taken temporary custody of Dudley. Should Petunia Dursley succumb to her injuries, Miss Dursley will have permanent custody of the child. She has refused to have anything to do with Harry. Last night he was placed in emergency foster care. I’ve spent most of the last day trying to track down Harry’s relatives.”
Wesley glanced at the glass of scotch still in his hands, “Surely, there is someone more suitable. I've never even heard of the boy.”
“The Dursleys haven’t updated their wills since shortly after their son was born. Lily and James Potter died on October 31, 1993 in Godric's Hollow. They had no will on file. I haven’t been able to locate any information on James Potter’s family. You and your mother are the only other members of the Evans family still living. Unless Petunia recovers or regains consciousness long enough to relay her wishes in regards to Harry’s guardianship, you or your mother are all he has. If the worst should happen and the two of you refuse guardianship, Harry’s only alternative is foster care.”
His parents were not an option. Even if they were to agree, which they wouldn‘t, Harry would have a horrible time in his father’s household. A child with an unknown father and an Evans for a mother. No, he would be better off in foster care than in the care of his parents.
Wesley knew if his cousin Petunia died, Harry’s only real possibility was himself or foster care. The thought of him raising a child was horrifying. He had been fired three times. Failed two Slayers. Failed Connor. Been told never to return to the Hyperion by the woman he loved (he ignored her hypocrisy in asking for help during the summer). He’d had his throat cut and been left for dead. Been smothered with a pillow by a friend. And was currently sleeping with the enemy. He had no business taking care of a child.
Foster Care. Could he send a member of his family to foster care? While he knew logically that there were plenty of decent foster parents, there was no guarantee that Harry would end up with one of them. Could he justify it?
His whole life had revolved around it. Duty to the Council. To his Slayers. To Angel. To protect the world from supernatural threats. Again and again he had failed his duties. Could he afford to fail in his duties to his family? Was he willing to let a young boy suffer for his failure?
“I’ll catch a flight to England as soon as I can. I likely won’t be able to get there until tomorrow. I’m assuming Harry has somewhere safe to spend the night?”
“Yes, he can stay with the same foster family as last night.” Wesley quickly wrote down all the information he needed before hanging up the phone.
A child. He was actually considering taking care of a child. While he knew that there was a chance that Petunia would recover, he couldn’t make plans under that assumption. So, if he became Harry’s permanent guardian, what then? Bring him to LA? The child would have just been orphaned for the second time. Should he really have to deal with an entire different country along with a stranger for a guardian?
Did Wesley have any real reason to stay in LA? He’d succeeded in rescuing Angel from the bottom of the ocean and had given him all the information he had been able to find about Cordelia’s disappearance. His former comrades wanted nothing to do with him. His lover, Lilah, wanted nothing more than to recruit him to Wolfram and Hart.
All LA had was a reminder of his past failures.
Back to England, than, and if Petunia recovers…Well, a new start suddenly sounded very good. Maybe this time he might just succeed.