Crowley had been relaxing at his flat, scaring some order into his plants, when he felt his core give a little tug. He held a hand up to the shivering plants, and looked down at his shirt. Nothing was there, and he frowned at it before feeling another tug. A summoning? He sighed and put the bottle where he was standing, straightening his clothes out to remove nonexistent wrinkles. “We’ll continue this later,” he told the trembling foliage, before turning and leaving for his Bentley.
He had to drive by following the incessant tugging in the middle of the night, and from there had to spend a bit of extra time getting away from the police out of sheer spite. It didn’t feel like whatever was pulling him was outside of England – and if it was, it could wait for him to park now couldn’t it?
After a little under an hour Crowley braked so hard his tires squealed in protest. He rolled down the window, not bothering to lower the volume of his Best of Queen album, and narrowed his eyes to get a better look at the house the summoning was taking him to. He got out and stalked closer, turning off the car with an irritated snap when he saw some of the houses around him start to wake up.
The chill that came with the start of November made him wish a scarf up to wrap around his neck, his coat growing thicker with a passing thought. He loitered outside of the house and took a moment to compare it to its neighbors before sneering in disgust.
It was indistinguishable, just another cookie from the same cutter than made up the other houses. How utterly boring; were it not for the summoning he would have driven straight past it. He stepped up to the walkway only to pause again as something he hadn’t sought out in years passed over him in a wave.
Protective magics encircled the house, and for a moment they pushed, nervous and confused and wanting this bastion of evil out of their midst before they recognized Crowley and backed away, forming a little doorway that couldn’t be seen by the human eye for him to walk through. He did so, and turned to watch it reform before walking closer to the house. The summoning pulled, and pulled, and pulled – and then tugged downward while he was peering through the peephole to see if anything interesting was on the other side.
His head jerked down and he flinched away like a bucket of holy water was sitting there without his notice.
And not the tiny baby swaddled in a blanket that was sitting there.
Crowley stared at it, uncomprehending, before it let out a tiny whimper and shivered in the thin blanket. “What the fuck,” he swore, dropping to his knees and scooping the baby into his arms. He hadn’t handled a child in – a while, but it was easy to wish the blanket warm and the baby clean, and the whimpers died down immediately. The baby tried to curl up closer, and Crowley made sure to blink – just in case his brain was conjuring all of this. It wasn’t often a human child found comfort in a demon’s arms.
Protect, the summoning whispered, and Crowley nearly threw the baby as everything clicked into place.
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” he hissed, forgetting himself and not bothering to speak in a human tongue with no one around to care. “No one? You’ve got no one?”
The baby slept on, deaf to his panic.
Crowley groaned and leaned his head back to hit against the door, still hissing to himself. “That stupid law wasn’t supposed to be used after the Witch Trials had finished; all of the magical folk have a laundry list between me and their kids.” He glanced down again and brushed the baby’s hair out of its face. He stared at the scar there in morbid curiosity. “Sowilo? That’s not the most comforting rune to carve into a baby’s face.” He turned his gaze over to the letter on the baby’s chest that he’d been ignoring, and with a snap of his fingers it unfolded itself and floated helpfully in his line of sight.
He read the thing with a frown before his eyebrows went up. “Blood wards?” he asked the letter, which knew better than to respond. “Those won’t stick if he doesn’t want them to and there are other options,” Crowley mused to himself. He was, after all, another option for the child. The archaic Laws of Guardianship ensured that.
After another hour of letter-staring followed by star-staring Crowley came to a decision and put the child down, standing up and stretching out his arms. All of the joints there – including the extra ones – popped in enjoyment and he sighed. “Right. Best give this lot a trial run. If I don’t like how it’s going I’ll take you, make this easier on all of us.” He miracled the blanket to be soundproof so the baby wouldn’t wake from too much noise.
Before setting off the Dursley’s cars so that their alarms were blaring in the middle of the night and settling into his snake form nearby.
That ought to wake them up.
He’d only left the baby – Harry? The letter called him Harry at least – in this family’s care for a month and already Crowley could tell this wouldn’t be a good match.
For one they already had their own child, blond and unusually large. It – he?? The woman called it Dudley and ‘Diddums’ so Crowley was going to tentatively assume the other baby was a male – screamed constantly, and really Crowley didn’t think he’d need his hands for this but he was seeing the error of his thinking quite clearly at this point. It took up all of the woman’s attention, and the man’s when he got home from his job. And what little attention they spared for Harry…
…Didn’t seem very positive.
He’d heard both the man and the woman yell at Harry for making half the noise that Dudley did, and was coiled under their window one night and heard them talk about giving the baby less food! So they could give it to their already larger child!
No, no, this simply would not do. Crowley did the best he could to sigh as a snake, coiling up tighter beneath the rose bush. He hadn’t wanted this, truly. He’d just wanted to stir up trouble centuries ago, the same as he did in the Garden. Why shouldn’t humans ask for power? Why shouldn’t they get it? Angels and demons don’t have to hoard the power – that only made everything boring.
So when the first witches and wizards offered their souls for power, who was he to say no? Filled out his quota for the year, and it looked like he was recruiting for Hell and not that he was trying to even the playing field between the Humans and the Occult.
But he had to add in that stupid Law, or he’d be showing his hand a bit too much and Downstairs might have had more to say beyond their pithy commendation.
His tongue flicked out as he thought. He knew that Law like he’d written it yesterday. Were all of Harry’s listed Guardians truly Unavailable? How in hell did that happen? Or rather, how did that happen in this day and age? There weren’t any Witch Trials anymore, where all of your family and friends could very well die for being a bit too interesting.
Maybe he should poke around, he thought, see what happened to them. Granted, the Law wouldn’t give care of Harry back to them if they were to become Available again, but he could just leave him in their care like he’d attempted with the Dursley family.
Mind made up, Crowley slithered away and turned back into his human form. He slipped his sunglasses back on and snapped his fingers, removing the magic that had been hiding his Bentley from view, and slid into the car. He thought he saw someone watching him through their window but, when he turned to look at the house in question, no one was there.
He drove back to London and thought briefly of calling Aziraphale before dismissing the thought. He didn’t even know if he would be keeping the child in his care; best not to get the angel’s expectations up for nothing.
He parked in a space near the rather rundown-looking Leaky Cauldron and swept forward, the door opening to let him in at his glare.
It was loud, laughter and cheers dominating the room, and Crowley looked around in puzzlement but didn’t do anything to quiet the room and draw attention to himself. From what he could overhear, it was revelers that were still celebrating the death of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.
Whoever that was.
As he was entering the room that would usher him into Diagon Alley, he heard one of them shout, “Lucius Malfoy got out on an Imperius plea!” and the others begin booing before he closed the door.
With a snap of his fingers the bricks sprang apart and began reconstructing themselves into an archway, displaying Magical Britain in all of its crooked nonsense glory. Crowley felt amusement tug on his soul as he walked through the winding roads, past more revelers and protestors and simple pedestrians. He remembered offering his input on Diagon Alley, remembered many a magic user swearing at him as he showed off asymmetrical designs and escorted goblins in to also settle. He remembered the British Wizarding World with the fondness of a parent whose child had become an adult beside them.
He arrived at Gringott’s after a few minutes of occasional wandering and didn’t bother to look at the sign before he breezed past the guards. Demon he may be, he had no interest in material wealth beyond keeping up appearances, so his greed was not worth warning against. The guards looked at one another as he walked past, as if they sensed something on the wind but were uncertain of how agreeable they found it, but did nothing to stop him.
The bank was as busy as it ever was, the talking, the shouting, the click-click-click of coins forever in motion all combining into a symphony of organized chaos. He went to stand in the queue after a moment of waiting around, but it looked like one of the guards outside had indeed reported him, because another came up to him, armed to the teeth and glaring at him a few rows more.
“Sir,” they said, the word more invective than greeting, “what is your business here? We will not offer asylum to Dark Wizards.” They purposely pitched their voice rather loud, and around them wizards quieted as their attention turned to their discussion.
Crowley felt spite burn pleasantly in his chest as he lifted his hand to brush back his hair, revealing his sigil. He saw the goblin still and grinned, lowering his sunglasses just enough that he could look over them at the guard and reveal his eyes. “Just looking to conduct some legal business. A child recently came into my care and I needed to follow up on that.”
The goblin did his best to look unaffected but Crowley saw the hand gripping the goblin’s spear tremble minutely before the being stood at attention, much more respectful now. “Apologies, sir, we did not recognize you. Please follow me, I can fetch you a goblin from Legal to assist you.” They beckoned him and went off to the side, and Crowley followed behind.
“No problem, no problem, I’ve changed my fashion sense quite a bit since your lot’ve seen me, it’s all quite reasonable. Let’s hope there’s no repeat performance though.” He let his eyes trail over the goblins counting coins nearby and didn’t bother to hide his smile as some of the towers of coins tumbled over, making the goblins swear violently in their native tongue.
“Let us hope,” the goblin echoed in agreement, being careful to not look at either the demon or the inconvenienced clerks.