- Rough Draft
- Work in Progress
- Abuse - Child
- Dark Themes
- Death - Minor Character
- Discussion - Child Abuse
- Discussion - Murder
- Discussion - Torture
- Disturbing Imagery
- Hate Crimes
- No Beta
- Violence - Canon-Level
- Alternate Universe
- Fix It
Minerva McGonagall was not beautiful. Neither was she charming nor kind. And contrary to popular opinion, never would describe herself as clever. Clever was twisting words and sliding past offended egos, and defusing situations. No, Minerva was intelligent. She gathered information, she learned from her mistakes, and she took things as they were, not clouded by a haze of sentimentality.
So when Albus glowered at her over his glasses like he thought he could scold her like she was one of the students he caught mid-bully, Minerva nodded her agreement… but she waited.
She left Number 4 Privet drive long enough to apparate to her home office, grab a bundle of pepper up potion, a roll of ending parchment, and the transcription quill that she had liberated from her DMLE office. She was back at the end of the far end of the road just in time to see the streetlamps flare back on and Albus vanish into the night.
Minerva settled her cloak over Harry’s basket to fend off the night’s cold and went on to conduct a thorough examination of the wards Albus had raised around Lily Potter’s sister’s before she dropped down beside him on the stoop. The only thing standing between Harry Potter and the outside world was Minerva McGonagall and a single blood ward. Albus hadn’t bothered with anti-apparition, or magic notification, wand detection, or even a Fidelius charm, let alone the half a dozen spells she would have laid to keep informed about Harry’s heath and well being. She presumed that the blood ward was meant to keep out any marked Death Eaters, but that still meant any Wizard or Muggle short of the Dark Mark could roam in off the street and Albus would never know.
It seemed that the only spell Albus had cast himself was the privacy charm attached to the letter that was tucked in beside little Harry. No one would ever read that letter without Petunia Dursley’s permission, much to Minerva’s frustration. A twenty-year-old Minerva fresh in her time at the DMLE would have swept Harry off that front porch at nothing more than the lurking potential for danger and violence and the observed wretchedness of the Muggle’s personalities. But Minerva McGonagall was a woman who learned.
She spent three days in that dull garden, her disillusioned transcription quill writing down every word said in the Dursley home. It recorded every time Vernon Dursley called the hero of the Wizarding world a freak and said they should call the police to tell them some vagrant must have left the child, it caught every shout at Harry to stop crying, every foul curse Petunia sobbed about her sister’s death and how Lily had brought in on herself for taking up with those abominations. As the hours went on, the quill starting logging noises that seemed contextually appropriate – precisely the reason Minerva had liberated that particular quill from the DMLE. It made a note at every grumble of little Harry’s stomach, marked the duration when Harry sobbed himself to sleep in a windowless room because they thought it could stopper the sound.
On the morning of the third day, Vernon Dursley ran late to work. (Even when you hated a child, an extra body in the house always manages to slow things down.) Harry was wailing out what the quill had enough exposure to identify as his ‘wanting to be picked up’ cry, and pick him up Vernon did.
In full view of the kitchen window and the all-seeing cat, a second witness in case the quill couldn’t understand what it heard, Vernon Dursley shouted at the baby to “Shut up!” as he too the boy between his hands and shook him. Harry’s cries caught in his throat and Vernon Dursley somehow never saw the witch transform outside his window, stupefy sparking on the wand pointed at his head.
“Vernon!” Petunia shouted, scrambling away from her little boy demanding more porridge but unwilling to use the spoon himself. Minerva raised her wand and for a split second she believed that Petunia had found her line in the sand. That perhaps a woman who believed in apathy and abuse could still see the problem with violence.
Instead, Petunia plucked little Harry out of his uncle’s arms and hissed, “If you hurt him he’ll have to go to the doctor and then what will we tell them? They’ll think you did something wrong.”
And that was all evidence Minerva needed. More important still, it was all the evidence she could stomach. A ghostly white cat went tearing off into the morning light and Minerva crossed the street into the shadow of a neighbor’s garage. Robert was not the sort to cast a disillusionment charm before he apparated, and weak though the shadow was, it would be enough protection for Minerva to do it for him when he arrived. Which he did, with that crack that came from disapparating in a panic, while Jude stumbled out of the spin, too green to do it well.
Minerva cast the disillusionment on them both — with a particularly hard smack of her wand to her brother’s head as a reminder — and swept Jude into a hug. Like the lot of them, her nephew was stocky and short, but he was polite enough not to be shocked and he hugged her back immediately.
“I love you, Jude.”
“And I love you, Aunt Min. Are you all right?”
“Fine dear.” She gave him a quick pat and turned to Robert. “You brought the papers?”
“Of course, and Jude because this kind of thing is supposed to have two witnesses and his internship with my practice is good enough for him to qualify.” Robert handed them over to her outstretched hand and, with the sort of inborn knowledge that only came to a McGonagall boy, he explained without any questions. “The first one is a forfeiture of parental rights and it requires a signature here and here.” He pointed out the lines while Minerva flipped from the documents. “The next is a magical forfeiture of rights. Doing that to an underage child requires a judge’s approval to get it finalized, but that’s the paperwork to get it started.”
Minerva slipped out those papers from the stack and handed then back. “They’re Muggles.”
“Well that certainly simplifies things, then. That’s your assumption of guardianship, as well as the forms to get you started on a legal and magical adoption. I can probably get you in front of a judge this afternoon if you’d like.”
If they were a different family perhaps Robert would have suggested she contact their older brother Malcolm before even contemplating inviting someone into their family magic, but despite the rules of polite Wizarding society, only a fool would assume that Minvera wasn’t the head of the McGonagall family, despite Malcolm’s official place as the firstborn son.
“Forfeiture and assumption of guardianship will have to be enough for the moment. I won’t appear before a judge until I know they’re going to side with me.” Minerva plucked a waiting quill out of Robert’s breast pocket, while he twisted Jude around and tipped him over so Minerva could sign the papers across his back. Minerva slipped the paperwork into the storage charm on her broach. “The two of you will come along with me, but be my lawyers for a moment, not my family.”
“We’ve got you covered, Aunt Min.” Jude nodded, and Minerva just raised eyebrow until her nephew blushed. “Miss McGonagall.”
Minerva gave him a sharp nod and a quick kiss to his forehead, because today of all days she couldn’t bring herself to properly scold him. Vernon Dursley had left for work in the short time Minvera had been waiting, which was an excellent prospect. While Vernon’s hatred of Harry could only put him on their side of the argument, Minerva knew she would stun the foul mam the moment he opened his mouth, which would make her a bit less persuasive.
A wall of screaming child met them at the door, and Minerva may have given her knock an extra touch of sonorous to cut through the din. Petunia answered the door with her fat baby in her arms and Harry crying somewhere in the background. The blood drained out of Petunia’s at the sight of their robes and Minerva didn’t even need to elbow the woman out of the way as she strode straight into the house and to tiny Harry, curled in a disconsolate ball in one of the those baby cages Muggles were forced to use. Minerva plucked him up and the poor boy collapsed into her arms without bothering to check who was holding him so great was his relief.
“You… you people aren’t supposed to be here!”
“And you’re not supposed to shake children, so here we both are.”
Petunia’s eyes grew three sizes. “You were watching us.” She shut the door behind them, still managing to keep from slamming it so no neighbor would have call to look out their door and ask questions.
“Did you honestly believe that we would entrust any magical child to your care and not verify that they were being taken care of?” For a long moment Petunia met Minerva’s glare head on, two women as different as they could possibly be: tall and short, young and middle-aged, magical and Muggle, but both of them cradling an Evans boy. Petunia knew with that one unflinching look that Minerva would neither be moved by her plight nor bullied into ignoring what she’d done. It was a quick transition from one to the other, but Minerva saw it still, and they understood one another.
“He left a baby on my front porch in the middle of the night with nothing but a letter telling me that my sister had been murdered, abandoning me with a child that I never knew existed and looks every inch like the man who took her away from me. And now I’m supposed to treat the little monster like he’s mine, pretend like I love him like my Dudders and I’m not going to do it. I don’t care about that old man’s threats.”
“In Dumbledore’s letter, I assume?”
“Letter,” Petunia spat. “It was a threat, plain and simple.”
“I will be blunt with you then, Mrs. Dursley, I’m going to take Harry me. My solicitor has brought paperwork that will absolve you of any legal duty to the child. However, before I can get you out of any magical duty you might have accidentally taken on, I need to see the letter.”
Keeping Dudley on her hip, Petunia went into the kitchen and pulled the papers out from underneath a basket she had on top of the fridge. Robert immediately replaced them with the forfeiture of rights and began laying the document out in the clearest of terms. Jude was staring at them all like there must be another orphaned, black-haired baby that his aunt might lay claim too, while Robert simply did his best to make sure that no one would throw out the forfeiture on a technicality. As she could with so few people in her life, Minerva trusted her brother to get the job done.
Minerva took a moment to adjust Harry so his head could rest properly against her shoulder and turned all her attention to the letter she could feel saturated with Albus’ magic. The first paragraph succinctly laid out the existence of Voldemort and explained that the madman had hunted down the Potters because of their good work in defying him and saving lives. He explained that the Potters had met their end by the aptly named Killing Curse. Albus chose to gloss over the shattered wreckage of their home, the bloody spatter in the living room that said He Who Must Not Be Named hadn’t started with the Killing Curse. That James Potter had died bloody and fighting for his family. But he did choose to share that Lily had died beside her son’s crib, putting herself between her baby and the madman who’d been hunting them. And then Albus shared with this Muggle woman one of the most valuable pieces of information in the entire magical world.
“Lily sacrificed herself trying to save Harry from Voldemort, and I believe it was Lily’s love for young Harry that saved him from dying by a Killing Curse as well. Love is a powerful magic of its own, and Lily’s selfless love for her son saved his life. As Lily’s only living relative, I am entrusting you with her son and entrusting that the love of a mother for her child and one sister for another will continue the protection that Lily gave to her son.
“You see, Voldemort may be defeated, but he has many followers that are still abroad in the world. Your sister’s sacrifice will protect young Harry from any of those followers from finding or hurting Harry, and it will also protect you and your family while Harry is in your care. If you were to turn Harry out before he turns seventeen and becomes of magical age, I’m afraid I won’t be able to guarantee your protection, or your continued privacy.”
“By taking Harry into your home you will magically adopt him, with your love and your blood tapping into Lily’s protection, both for yourself and for your family. I trust that you will honor both your sister’s memory and this magical pact.”
The blood ward surrounding the house was obviously the leftover remnants of whatever Albus thought Lily had accidentally triggered with her sacrifice. The fact that it wasn’t wavering at all despite the abuse Harry had suffered since he arrived was proof that despite Albus’ warnings, Petunia’s love wasn’t a necessary component of its maintenance. Considering that no Death Eater had ever turned up at Petunia’s door over the entire course of the war, it appeared to her that Petunia’s hatred of her magical sister had inadvertently protected her from being killed. It was an isolation that Minerva was confident could be maintained, with a ward or two to notify the DMLE just in case. As for the potential magical ramifications of flouting the blood ward that would protect Harry from Death Eaters so long as he stayed in his Aunt’s house, they were nothing compared to the price he would pay for living under this roof.
“You’re right, Mrs. Dursley,” Minerva interrupted Robert’s soft voice trying to cajole her into signing. “Dumbledore overstated things. If you’re concerned, I’ll have protections put up around your home, but there are only a handful of people in the entire Wizarding World who are aware of your existence, so your continued safety shouldn’t be a problem. As soon as you sign the documents I’ll take Harry with me and Dumbledore’s threats will be subverted.” Petunia was at the kitchen table, Dudley still in her lap and distracted from further attempts to rip at the paper by a biscuit. Jude had ceased standing around like a lump and found a Muggle pen for Petunia to use, but still the documents sat unsigned.
“Do you have any questions?” Robert tried to break their staring contest to no avail.
“Just the one. Why are you doing this?”
“Because Lily and James were my students, and once upon a time they told me that they’d like me to be Harry’s honorary grandmother. I’ve lost too much in this war Mrs. Dursley, I won’t resign myself to leaving my grandson behind.”
“The magical world took everything from me,” said Petunia through clenched teeth.
“And you intend to punish Harry for the wrongs the world has done against you?”
“I want to know why I should give you another piece of my family when you already killed my sister.”
“A piece of your family you don’t want, Mrs. Dursley. I heard you screaming. I saw your husband shaking him.”
“And you read Dumbledore’s letter. I remember him, Lily used to talk about him all the time back when she used to care one speck about anything outside your magic. She told me all about what a great wizard he was, how powerful. And you expect me to believe that any one of you would actually take that child away when Dumbledore is the one to put him here?”
With a flick of wrist Minerva conjured multi-colored sparks to soar around on the left edge of the table, distracting the boys from the memory Minerva extracted from her temple and set swirling on the right. Minerva kept her eyes on the boys, she didn’t need to see the images again to know that the miniature version of herself was approaching a shattered, still smoking cottage. The roof had been blown away from the inside, and the walls splintered up like jagged rock.
Inside, there were two children, or what only a woman could still name as such given they were twisted on themselves, trapped forever mid-writhe, like a sculptor had pushed their little bodies too far and frozen them that way forever. Between their shattered bodies and the door was a man, his bright red hair now brown from blood. His chest was a perfect mirror image of the open roof above him, a gaping hole where his heart had been ripped from his chest and dropped to the floor beside his body.
Minerva didn’t have to watch to know that the image of her had dropped to its knees beside the man’s body. “I won’t let it happen to another child, Mrs. Dursley. Voldemort killed them all because they were Muggles. I won’t have you hurt Harry because he’s a Wizard.”
“We’d never kill him.” Petunia could barely summon the breath to make words through her horror.
“And when you let him leave with me, you won’t even have to pretend to care.”
“I haven’t said yes.”
“You will. Because I will love him as my own, as your sister would have wanted, and as you know full well that you aren’t capable of.”
“You won’t. Don’t force yourself into it because of Dumbledore’s threats or because you want to prove me wrong. This is what you want to happen, and it is one of those rare cases where what you want is also the right thing.” There was a long moment where Minerva thought that Petunia might refuse to sign simply to be contrary, but with a sharp swirl of her pen, it was done. With Harry asleep in her arms, Minerva was out the door without bothering to accio the sad little basket that Harry had been brought in.
Minerva supposed she ought to give Jude credit for waiting until they made it all the way to the street before he asked, “Uh, Aunt Min, did we just help you kidnap The Boy Who Lived?” And more credit still for not asking about what he’d just seen play out in her memory.
“No. Now back to work with the both of you.”
“But what are you going to do—”
Robert covered his son’s mouth. “We can’t give away what we don’t know. I imagine that at some point someone is going to realize that magical blood pact or not, Mrs. Dursley needs to sign some official paperwork to adopt Mr. Potter. They’ll have a jaunt around her memory and suddenly you and I, my boy, will find ourselves being interrogated.”
“But we’re her barristers! They can’t make us tell something about a client.”
“I imagine that they’re not going to care a jot about that when it comes to Harry Potter. I’d rather not know something sensitive and accidentally give it away before Minnie is ready.”
“What else does she need?”
“If you two will excuse me, I’ll leave you to give Jude a lecture on the difference between assuming custody and actual adoption.”
“And lecture is all I’ll be able to do, Min. Take the all adoption paperwork with you, but once you get where you’re going you can’t trust that my practice won’t be watched. You’ll need to get someone else to arrange the meeting with the judge, and I don’t know how they’ll sneak you in without tipping off Dumbledore.”
“Considering that you still can’t remember to dissolution yourself before you disapparate, we’ll leave the sneaking to me.”
“Yes, sass your brother who risked life, limb, and reputation to come straight to your side when you called.”
“Sassing is how we show our love, Robert. If you haven’t figured that out by now, I can’t help you.” Minerva dropped a kiss on her brother’s cheek with a soft thank you in his ear and did the same to Jude with another reminder that she loved him.
Minerva made it a whole ten steps down the street before Jude gave an entirely unnecessary shout at her to wait. “Honestly Jude, I’m right in front of you.”
“I had to make sure.” Jude smirked at his aunt and pressed a kiss to Harry’s forehead. “Welcome to the family, little cousin.” He gave his aunt a wink and didn’t flinch when she disapparated with a smile.
- - - -