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The Third Man. Part II

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This story is No. 2 in the series "The Third Man". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: Sequel to The Third Man. Starts very much in reverse to the part one: Helen (OC) returns from Sunnydale to London, hoping to resume her former post at Hogwarts, while Giles is dealing with her and Buffy’s leaving. But their paths will soon cross again.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Harry Potter > Giles-Centered(Recent Donor)AstarteFR15840,157011,3407 Feb 1431 Oct 14No

Chapter One

Chapter 1

Disclaimer: This is a Harry Potter/Buffy crossover. I do not own any characters you recognize.

AN: This is a sequel to The Third Man that I decided to post as a new entry, though I’m still not sure if that’s a good idea, so I’d appreciate an advice. The Third Man got very long and this sequel will probably be just as long as well, as I plan to end somewhere in season 5.

For anyone who hasn’t read the first part – this sequel starts at the end of Buffy’s season 2, or rather before the start of season 3.

I know I left many things open, many questions unanswered (like the stolen council books, the weird magic-(not)-working in Sunnydale). They should all be resolved in this one, but it will take some time. Right now, things were left in a pretty depressing place, for Giles especially...

Also, sorry for my English (looking for betas...)





The short flight from the Sunnydale airport to LA was maddening. Helen was so agitated that she didn’t take any notice of anything or anyone around her, and only the thought and her certainty that she was doing the right thing kept her from breaking down. When she changed the plane in LA to fly to London, she dared to slip a drop of the sleeping draught into her glass of water, the same potion she had added into Giles’ whiskey glass the evening before. She closed her eyes. It was the right thing... she said to herself again... I’m sorry. But I don’t regret it. And then she fell into a dreamless, deep sleep that would last almost the whole twelve hours of the flight.

It was early morning in London when she landed, the mid-July sun was shining and Helen was grateful for that, she thought that the usual London weather with its grey sky and dismal clouds and rain would make her lose it on her way to her apartment in Bloomsbury. She unlocked the door with a short notion of wondering whether this was the life she would have now – crossing this doorsill every day from now on. She never liked the place, or rather – she never really thought much about it, lacking any real attachment to it as it was. The thing she would most likely associate with it was that it was the place she went to when there was no better one to be staying at. It was ungrateful and she felt a little guilty towards the three hollow, barely furnished rooms for treating them as an orphan child. But – she bought it after Claudius had died and after her auror-apprentice year six years ago, only to leave it a few weeks later to teach at Hogwarts. And she merely returned there almost four years later, after the battle and after that infamous ritual she had tried to perform to efface her magic – when again there seemed to be no other place for her to go. She spent a few months there and then left for Sunnydale. And now, two years after that, here she was again, standing in her half empty anteroom, staring at the blank, cold walls that were about as welcoming as a dental surgery.

She threw her small magically reduced bag on a dresser, then walked over to the living room and sat down on the sofa that still looked almost new. She looked around the room, a tiny bump was building up in her throat, something very close to panic was beginning to seize her. If she had been expecting some answers to pop into her head as to what she should do next the moment she would enter this home, then she was disappointed. The only thing she could think of was that this place could never be her home, that no matter what she’d do to it, she would never feel like home here. Though as frustrating as that was, she swallowed through that bump, whispering again – it was the right thing to do.



In Sunnydale


“I still can’t believe how she could do that to him,” Willow was saying for the third time, as her, Xander, Oz and Cordelia were sitting at the Bronze, talking about Buffy, Giles’ last trip to find her and about Helen’s leaving.

“Hmpf,” Cordelia smirked impatiently, “it was the first smart thing she did, when you ask me.”

Xander and Willow looked at her outraged, Oz merely raised his brows, which in his case meant almost the same.

“Oh, please,” Cordelia continued, “tell me – what kind of a life would she have here with him anyway? A constantly knocked-out librarian, former Watcher, a loser on just sooo many levels, and now just as slayer-less as the next guy, I mean – let’s be honest, Buffy and the whole Slayer-thing were his best assets... what kinda future would that be for her living in a school library, on top of a hellmouth that will never run out of its demons and sleazy monsters that always ruin your clothes... not that she had that good taste in dressing, but still... I say - good for her.”

“Ou-kayyy,” Xander said, “just-eh... make sure you never say it in front of Giles...”

Willow however was still not content. “That’s a terrible thing to say... And I’m sure it wasn’t like that.”

“Uhm... I don’t really know her that well,” Oz spoke for the first time, “but to me at least it seems like a pretty cruel thing, leaving him right now, after Buffy had disappeared too... I mean, he was already quite down because of that...”

Willow looked at him with her big sad eyes. She liked Helen, she couldn’t believe that she would hurt Giles this much without a good reason.

“Yeah, well, maybe her going away had nothing to do with Buffy,” Xander said with a shrug and pointed towards the pool table that finally got free, he was hoping to end the gloomy conversation that was only making them feel worse.



London

“Hey, you there!” A familiar voice sounded behind Helen, when she was walking down the Diagon Alley a few days later, on her way to the Gringotts. She turned around, startled, she hadn’t counted on meeting anyone close.

George Weasley walked towards her, with a surprised smile, but Helen didn’t miss the stealthy scrutinizing look either as his eyes wandered over her from top to bottom.

“Hello, George,” she greeted him with a false ease and waited for him.

“What are you doing here? I’ve been trying to reach you since a great couple of days, but you never were home...” He paused observing her closely. “I assume things are great then... in paradise,” he added, but Helen knew from his look that he sensed the opposite. And she also knew that there was no way to delude him, for – strange as it may seem – he was the one person she could keep no secrets from. Or almost none. Besides, it may be for the best if she told him, told someone, anyone.

“Are you on holiday?” He asked, when she hadn’t reply immediately.

“Uhm... not exactly... I-ah... I’m back... for good,” she wouldn’t meet his eyes saying this, but continued: “Listen, do you perhaps-ah... want to go for a lunch somewhere? I only have pounds so far, I was on my way to Gringotts, but we could go to some muggle restaurant, I’m in no hurry.”

“Well, I am actually,” he replied, and Helen thought there was a very faint trace of irritation in his voice. “As I assume you still don’t know, but I am a fresh father now of a two weeks old boy.”

When she opened her mouth in surprise, he added sarcastically: “You do remember my wife was pregnant?”

“I-ah...,” she didn’t know what say and felt embarrassed that she hadn’t asked about him at all. Truth be said, given all the stuff that was going on in her world she had forgotten all about George’s and Angelina’s baby.

George slapped her shoulder as a gesture of appeasement: “Tell you what. I really must run now, have to buy some things and stop by the Burrow, but we can meet later. How about day after tomorrow? Here? Noontime?”

She nodded, George smiled contentedly and with bow of his head he turned to leave.

“Give my congratulations and best wishes to Angelina!” She cried after him and watched him wave a hand before he would disappear in the crowd.



Sunnydale

Giles thought that the sooner he accept the fact that she was gone, the sooner he’d be better off. And he was trying, hard. Yet the one unanswered question kept torturing him. Why? Why did she leave? And then another joined in – why hadn’t he seen it? Why hadn’t he noticed anything? How could it be that he did not see it coming? What happened? Should he have insisted on her talking to him more? During the first weeks after the episode with Rodolphus Lestrange she seemed to have opened herself more... and yes, she was clearly troubled towards the end, he did see that, but so was everyone else, the burden of Angel’s curse was an all their shoulders in a way, putting all of them under pressure...

The fact that every other day he would wake up and have forgotten that she was gone wasn’t making it easier for him either. And there were moments when he thought he heard a melody played from downstairs. The piano was still open, a pile of notes laid on top of it. He was thinking about selling it.

Also, sometimes at night he could still feel the touch of her skin, he thought he felt her small hand resting on his chest, or one of her legs intertwined with his, like people who occasionally still used to feel their lost limb.

It was annoying... having all these feelings, and quite irksome too, he thought. But thankfully the holiday’s end was approaching and he was glad to soon be returning to the one job he still had left. He already made a few plans for some reorganising in the library and he almost managed to convince himself that it would be a through and through necessary act, not merely a tiresome and arduous enterprise that would keep him occupied and distracted for a decent period of time. Actually, why not start right now and here... he thought while his eyes wandered over the bookshelves in his flat.



London

“You look horrible,” George opened their conversation when he and Helen met two days later, being his usual blunt self.

She merely raised her brows. “Thanks. So do you,” she replied dryly, referring to the dark circles under his eyes.

“Well, I’ve just become a father, it feels like I had as much as two hours of sleep during the past two weeks. What’s your excuse?” He asked and Helen heard the exhaustion in his voice.

She paused for a moment, playing with her teaspoon.

“Helen?” He interrupted her musings again, leaning closer to her over the table, and gave her that look that demanded the whole truth. “What are you doing here?”

So she told him about everything that had happened in Sunnydale, about Acathla, Buffy and Giles, about Angel, and the haunting nightmares, and about the painting with the cherry blossom.

When she finished, George glared at her incredulously. “So let me check if I’m getting this right. You left him – after Buffy had ran away without a word – you left him too... because of a couple of bad dreams? Really?”

“I don’t expect you to fully understand... I cannot explain-“ She tried to defend herself.

“I can see that.” He said coldly and when she wasn’t saying anything, but kept shaking her head in a desperate search for better words, he asked her with a clear reproach in his voice: “Have you thought about what you did to him when you left?”

“I was thinking of him by leaving!” She said, getting more and more frustrated by his reactions.

“Oh were you now?”

She took a deep breath. “I miss him,” her voice broke. “I miss him every minute... But I don’t regret leaving, I felt-... I know it was the right thing to do, it felt like it, as the only way,” she added firmly.

“Right for whom exactly?”

Again silence. She was looking him in the eyes, furrowing her brows, bewildered and also daunted, feeling him slipping through her fingers as he neither seemed willing to understand, nor to approve, or at least to offer a consolation.

“Helen, I love you, I really do. I just think that you’re a very bizarre and very stupid fool, and I don’t like you right now...” Her eyes widened while she was wondering where this was going.

After a brief pause George continued mercilessly: “You know, everyone has moved on... we all have moved on with our lives, except for you. Despite everything you’ve done in the past few years... You keep doing the same shit over and over again.”

She looked at him, hurt and aghast. “What are you talking about?” She asked whispering.

“It’s like you’re still stuck in this parallel universe of yours, where everything is revolving around Helen, all things happen to Helen and everything happens because of Helen,” he drawled, “you just...,” he shook his head in disbelief... “you amaze me... really,” then added in an angry fed up tone: “and I’ve had it till here with that.”

Helen stared at him with an open mouth, as he went on: “I’ve had it with being your babysitter... Plus I’ve just become a father and there’s only so much babysitting I can take. You’ll excuse me now, I have to attend now to an actual child.” He got up all of a sudden, took his bag and was about to storm out, but paused once again looking at her. It was impossible to read his face.

“You could have done so well there,” he said in a low voice and resignation echoed in it, even sadness. “You were so happy last winter, I saw that... And now you’ve returned here – to London - to do what?... I-I don’t know what you want from me, ‘cause... you’re beyond any help.” He saw he must have hurt her. “I really must go now. I’ll see you.” He gave her one last look that could have been a failed smile, then turned around and left.

She was utterly perplexed. She remained sitting in the café for almost half an hour after George had left. He seemed to have taken it as a personal offence that she was back, she wondered why. She couldn’t remember ever seeing him this harsh and riled, though some of it she accounted to his fresh fatherhood and its joys. She paid the bill like in a trance and slowly walked out of the café, and while making her way to the ministry she kept thinking of George and of his newborn son whom she didn’t even get the chance to ask about.



Sunnydale

“What the-“? Xander exclaimed when he, Cordelia, Willow and Oz entered Giles’ apartment. There were books lying literally everywhere – on the floor, on the kitchen-counters, on the stairs to his bedroom, some were small piles of a two or three pieces, others were dangerously high “towers” of ancient looking volumes.

“I-uh... I am re-organizing,” he replied while stepping aside and letting them in.

“So what happened in Cleveland?” Willow demanded as they were fighting their way to the sofa.

He had returned the previous day from another trip where he was looking for Buffy, but again empty-handed. “Nothing,” he replied.

“No Buffy?” Oz asked.

“No vampires, no Buffy either,” he said simply and looked slightly irritated at the four of them now making themselves comfortable on his sofa. “And I do have a phone,” he added glaring at them.

“Yeah, we know,” Willow said in a high voice, “but... we-“

“They just wanted to make sure you’re not getting hammered or something worse,” Cordelia said, clearly bored, “like turning into Ripper and going down that road again.” She then grabbed an opened book from the coffee table without looking at anyone. Apparently she had had far better and more exciting plans for tonight than checking on an old man (the school librarian for crying out loud!), but had been overruled by the rest of them.

They all turned at her, with shock written on their faces, except for Giles who seemed to be rather amused. It wasn’t like he hadn’t guessed why they’d come. They wanted to distract him and didn’t want him to be alone too much with Buffy and Helen gone. And though that was actually exactly what he wanted to be right now, he couldn’t really be mad at them. So instead of throwing them out, he went to the kitchen to get them some drinks.

“So... you need some help?” Willow asked when he returned, pointing at all the books and the emptied bookracks.

He smiled. “No, but thank you,” he replied and sat down into an armchair, moving some books away. “And while I appreciate your-uh... concerns,” he frowned briefly at the bizarre notion that a bunch of teenagers have been worrying about him, “next time you can call me... my phone does work.”

“See? I told ya, Will. It’s not like he’s got any reason to unplug it now, right?” Xander joked when his tongue once more beat his tact. Giles looked at him sharply.

“Xander!” Willow whispered and shot her friend a reproachful glance.

“Sorry,” Xander murmured.

“See? This is why I didn’t want to go,” Cordelia said without raising her eyes from the book she was leaning over.

There was a grotesque silence for a few moments, where everyone was clearly feeling uncomfortable and neither knew what else to say or to do, except – as usually – for Cordelia: “What’s a Horcrux?”



AN: Thanks for reading. Comments, critics about anything are most welcome. Also looking for a beta, I’m pretty sure it’s full of errors...
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