Disclaimer: I don't own anything you recognise, but I do take credit for the plot and any OCs.
Author's Note: This is my first fic, so any feedback you can give me would be great. The Watcher's Apprentice is to hopefully be the first of eight fics in The Apprentice Series - a completely AU series that continuously crosses over Harry Potter with Buffy. For The Watcher's Apprentice, only basic knowledge of either is required. The Buffy-verse is hardly changed, though the Potter-verse is completely different. I know that technically this should go in the "Buffy the vampire Slayer Crossovers" section, but this story takes place much more in (an AU version of) the Potter-verse, and any Buffy knowledge needed will be explained. Please see my profile for a full explanation of the changes I have made with the timelines.
The Watcher's Apprentice
Albus Dumbledore looked down at the letter he had just received from his good friend, Arabella Figg, with a frown on his face. He sighed as a knock at his office door sounded, and he called "Come in Severus, Minerva." The door opened and they entered.
Minerva had her mouth open as if she were about to question Albus but, looking at his face, she decided better of it. When they were seated, Albus cleared his throat and gave them the bad news. "I have just got confirmation that Harry Potter is no longer in the Dursley household, and probably hasn't been for almost a fortnight." There was no reaction from Severus, though undoubtedly many emotions were hidden beneath his customary mask. Minerva gasped.
"What? How could he have gone?" Her mouth opened and closed, almost like a fish. It seemed that she could not believe that somehow this six year old boy would have gone.
"That is what I intend to find out," said Albus. "There is a rumour that he was being mistreated, abused physically and mentally, but they are only rumours. However if they are founded there is the possibility that he has run away from his home." Severus shifted uncomfortably, and Minerva glanced at him, almost in pity. Severus then spoke for the first time.
"Presuming he has not run away, what could have happened?"
"Any number of possibilities," replied Albus. "The worst case scenario would be that he has been taken by the remnants of the death eaters-" Severus snorted, cutting Albus off.
"And I suppose that's why you have got me involved." he sneered.
"Yes," replied Albus simply. "Your…colleagues…" Albus said, choosing his words carefully, "may have some information, and if they do not, at least we know where Harry is not."
Back at his rooms, Severus immediately went to his desk and started writing a letter to Lucius Malfoy. Part way through, it struck him that Malfoy's child, Draco, would be about the same age as the Potter boy, only six years old. He couldn't imagine how Draco would react if he was ever kidnapped – he would probably start crying because he didn't have his own personal house elf or something equally pathetic. Severus finished his letter and read it through, made a couple of changes until he was satisfied with it, and then attached it to his owl's leg. "As fast as possible to Malfoy Manor, Nightshade." He whispered to her, and she took flight out of the window. He watched her as she got smaller and smaller, silhouetted against the evening sky.
Harry crouched behind some bushes in Hyde Park. During the two weeks he had been out on his own, he had slowly made his way to London, where he had been for three nights now. He knew that normally he would have been sent to his cupboard for the night by this time because it was getting dark, and as it was June it must be quite late. He watched a young couple get off the bench closest to him, and stroll off. The woman giggled as the man whispered something in her ear, and they followed the path round a corner, out of Harry's vision.
Harry turned round, towards the woods, and walked in. Instead of feeling scared with the approaching darkness, he felt oddly calm. No one was in these woods apart from an old tramp that lay on an aged, frayed blanket all the time. Harry walked away from him, and found the tree that he had used last night. It had fallen over, but still had leaves on it that could be used as a make-shift mattress. He lay down on them and almost immediately fell asleep.
The next morning, Severus was getting dressed when Nightshade returned with another letter attached to her leg. He allowed himself a brief smile when he read it, though it was quickly replaced by a worried frown. He finished getting up, and then hurried to breakfast where he could speak to Albus. He rushed through the corridors, almost running over two tiny first years, and barking at them to "Watch where you're going!"
The Great Hall was noisy as usual, and Severus sat down at his usual seat, noting with annoyance that Albus had not yet come down. He took some eggs and bacon from the dishes in front of him and started eating. Minerva glanced at him from across the other side of Albus' chair with a questioning look and Severus silently shook his head at her. She seemed relieved, but Severus couldn't understand why – didn't she realise that now the Death Eaters would be looking for him too, and it would be a race against time as to who could get to Potter first?
Finally Albus arrived, striding gracefully between the Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff tables. Severus tried vainly to catch his eye, but it seemed like Albus was determined not to look at him. Once Albus was seated, and had a plate full of food in front of him, Severus got up and hurried to his side. Albus continued munching as Severus told him his news. "Lucius Malfoy thanks me for the good news and tells me that he will start a search for the boy, because he does so want him back safe and sound."
"This means we're going to need our most trusted allies all looking for Harry. It's time for a regrouping of the Order, I feel." Severus nodded swiftly, and swept away, down towards the dungeons to get ready for his first class.
It was two days later, a Saturday evening, and miraculously Albus had managed to get all the remaining Order members together, along with a few new ones, including a girl only just starting her Auror training, whose name, Albus smiled, was Nymphadora Tonks. He had never personally met her, but he was assured by Alastor Moody that she was "Prime Order material."
It was almost time for the meeting to start. The only people currently in his office were Severus, Alastor, Remus Lupin and Mundungus Fletcher. There was an awkward silence between them as Severus held a large grudge against Remus, and Moody held one against Severus.
Luckily, right at that moment, the door opened and Minerva walked in followed by Molly and Arthur Weasley. Molly was closely followed by a young lady with bright green hair in a short bob. She wore an orange Weird Sisters T-shirt and red trousers that clashed horribly. From the glances Molly was giving her, it seemed as if she didn't approve of this girl, and from the look Moody was giving her, it seemed as if this was Nymphadora Tonks. "Aah, Minerva, Arthur, Molly, Nymphadora, I'll draw you up some chairs." said Albus as he took out his wand from his breast pocket and literally drew out four chairs in the air. Each took a seat, and the awkward silence again resumed. After a few minutes, when the other members had arrived, Albus cleared his throat.
"Good evening everyone, thank you for coming on such short notice. I'd like to welcome you all to the first meeting of the Order of the Phoenix since the end of the war. Old members will recognise some people, and also notice a few new faces. Introductions can be made at the end, but for now I must get straight down to business. It has come to my attention that Harry Potter has gone missing."
There was general uproar. Severus seemed to be the only person unmoved by the news. Even Minerva was joining in the hubbub, though admittedly she was trying to get everyone to calm down. After allowing everyone a moment for the shock to settle in, Albus banged his desk with a goblet a few times to restore order. "Quiet please, let me explain. Panicking will get us nowhere. I have received confirmation that Harry is not in Death Eater hands, but that they are also looking for him. It is imperative that they do not find him, which is why I have asked for all of your help to find him…"
Albus continued on, explaining to the members what could have happened to Harry. By the end of the meeting they had a proper search plan organised. It was almost certain that Harry was still in the country, so they would concentrate their search in England. The members were put into pairs to search for Harry, and the search was to begin the next day, in the towns surrounding Little Whinging.
Harry had found that sleeping in the streets was marginally warmer than in the woods because some heat came off the walls of houses. Harry wrapped himself in an old blanket he had found and munched on a cereal bar he had bought with a pound he had found on the floor. He had also bought a packet of crisps, but had already eaten those. Once he had finished his bar, he was still starving, but he tried to ignore his aching stomach and get to sleep.
The next morning, just as the rush hour was starting, Harry was woken by someone walking nearby. He slowly took his blanket off himself and crept behind a dustbin. He let out a breath of relief as the person came into view – it was a boy, about eleven years old, briskly walking through the backstreet, jingling some loose change in his hand. He had a scruffy look about him, though it seemed almost false, as if he had made himself look scruffier for fashion. Harry stepped out from behind the dustbin, just in front of the boy, who stopped, completely surprised. Harry looked at him for a second, and then decided he was so hungry, he might as well try. "Do you have any spare money?" he asked.
The boy took in Harry's appearance and then said "I don't know. I've got to buy some things for me mum, but she said I could keep the change – you can have it though. Follow me." Harry tagged along behind the boy. "I'm Michael, by the way. What's your name?" asked the boy.
"I'm Harry." Replied Harry plainly. He wished he had more to say.
"Oh," said Michael. "Where do you live? In that alley?"
"I s'pose. I found a good place – there's heat from the walls of the house behind me. I only got here a few days ago though."
"Where'd you live before then?" asked Michael.
"Four Privet Drive, Little Whinging, Surrey," Harry reeled off, as all small children do when asked their address or telephone number.
"Why don't you live there any more?"
"I ran away." Harry didn't know what else to say. "My family…"
"Ran away from your family, eh? I bet they've reported you missin' and soon you'll be all over the news." Michael nodded knowingly.
"I don't think so." contradicted Harry. "They hate me. My aunt always said she wished she had never taken me in, and my uncle, he…he hated me too." Harry finished lamely.
"Oh." said Michael, slightly put out. "Well, we're at the shop now. I just need to buy some milk." They went into the newsagents, and Michael got a six pinter of milk out of the fridge. He paid for it and then gave Harry seventy pence. "See ya." he called as he left, swinging the milk carton. Harry gave him a small smile and glanced down at the seventy pence in his hand. He didn't know how much it was – he only knew the feel of one pound coins and one or two pennies.
Harry, slightly embarrassed, walked up to the counter and asked the man how much it was. The man took pity on him and said "Sev'nty pee, but don't worry, have this for free." It was a sandwich.
"Thank you!" Harry cried, and made his way back to his blanket, munching happily.
The Order members were out, combing the streets of London amongst other cities. However, London is a big place, and they didn't find Harry. Little did they know that it would take them a very long time to find him…