Chapter Seven: The Problem and the Solution

            Five days later, Harry was becoming incorporated—not so easily—into Minerva's life.  The adjustments that needed to be made to accommodate him were still being made, but less often, and not so drastically. 

            Harry, though she had corrected him often at first, had decided on calling Minerva "Mama."  He had tried several mutilations of her name, but Mama seemed to be the one that he was most comfortable with, so it stuck.  Minerva gave up on trying to correct him, and instead focused her attention on making sure he knew the difference between "Mama" and "Mummy."

Minerva and Harry had returned from their Hogsmeade shopping trip laden with several finds, including a real crib and highchair, and several new outfits for Harry.  Rady the house elf had squealed with delight as he sorted through all the bags of colorful clothes and toys.

Rady had been a huge help in integrating Harry into Minerva's life.  The small elf was always available to bring food for the growing boy's appetite, or to watch him during Minerva's lessons when Albus was unavailable.  Rady had even brought several new toys to keep Harry entertained.

Albus, though he made changes than Minerva, still made some adjustments.  Minerva and Albus both agreed that it would be best for Harry if he weren't bounced from person to person around the castle, so they tried to rearrange their schedules so that one of them could always be with Harry.  This hadn't been too much of a problem—Rady's baby-sitting services had only been called upon a few times—but the object the two professors found to be the most aggravating was the journey between their respective chambers.  What with carrying Harry and all his things that went with him from room to room, Minerva and Albus were realizing just how far apart their rooms were.  And during the day the halls were full of jostling students, which didn't make the trip any easier.  Most of them gave the professors and baby ample room, but some were less thoughtful, as students will be.

The students had been told the truth about the newest addition to the castle population—sort of.  They had been told that the boy was the child of some friends of Minerva's who had been killed in the war.  They had also been told, however, that his name was James Leason.  Added to this, Harry's hair was charmed to be blonde and his scar was covered up with a small glamour whenever he was out where the other students could see him.  This was also a hassle of moving Harry between rooms.

Minerva considered this very problem one day as she trudged wearily toward Albus's office after a particularly harrowing class in which a fifth year Hufflepuff had set his desk on fire, and then drenched his neighbor with water in the process of trying to put it out.  She, however, didn't see any solution to the problem of taking Harry back and forth between rooms.

Turning down another corridor, Minerva almost ran into the boy and would-be-boy she was on her way to see.  The latter's eyes shone brightly.  He didn't look nearly as tired as Minerva felt.  She eyed him suspiciously as she took Harry from him.

"Albus," Minerva said, as Harry amused himself with her earring, "why is it that you look so well rested?  That is, if you're willing to share your beauty secrets," she added, a smile pulling at her mouth.

Albus smiled back.  "It's no secret, my dear: sleep.  You forget," he added, in response to the confused look crossed her face, "when I have Harry, you teach.  When you have Harry, I have ample time to nap."

Minerva sighed and took the bag of Harry's toys and such from Albus.  "I strongly dislike you right now," she said tiredly.

Albus smiled again.  "No, you don't.  Now, let's go down to lunch.  Here," he said, taking the bag back from Minerva, "we'll take these things back to your rooms on the way."

"Oh, more stairs," Minerva groaned, but even as she said it she swung Harry up over her head making him squeal with laughter.

Albus watched Minerva out of the corner of his eye as they headed back towards her rooms.  She looked much more energized than she had a few minutes before.  She seemed to draw energy from Harry.  It had been a long time since Albus had seen her as happy as she was when she was with Harry.  Perhaps this situation is as good for her as it is for him, he thought.

After they had reached Minerva's rooms and deposited the bag, Minerva turned toward the staircase leading to the Great Hall, but Albus stopped her.

"This way; there's a shortcut down this hallway."

Minerva stared at him.  "I've lived in this hallway for how long and you haven't told me about this shortcut?" she said in mock rage.

Albus smiled as they walked in the direction opposite Minerva's chosen route.  "I only just found it.  It's through one of the doors that move."

Minerva inhaled sharply.  Albus looked at her in alarm, but Minerva just stared wide-eyed at him.  "Albus," she said slowly, "if doors can move, can entire rooms?"

Albus didn't catch her point.  "Yes, I suppose they can.  The castle has been rearranging itself since it was built."

"So, it would be possible to move our rooms closer together?"

Albus gasped then, too.  "I do believe so!  I can't believe we didn't think of this before!"

Minerva felt Harry's stomach growl.  "Maybe it's because we were running on an empty tummy," she said tickling Harry.  "Let's go down to lunch."

*          *            *

            Albus and Minerva set to work later that same day.  They had decided to meet in the middle—literally.  They had chosen a spot right in between their respective chambers. 

The spells required for the task weren't too difficult.  They mainly involved basically asking the castle to shift itself.  It was short work for Professors McGonagall and Dumbledore, along with Professor Flitwick who had volunteered his service.  Flitwick even managed to tweak the spell so that their rooms moved but the doors stayed in the same places, so students wouldn't realize the Headmaster and his Deputy were living together and assume the worst.  When anyone walked through either of the doors, he or she would find his or herself in an office nowhere near the hallway they had started in, none the wiser.

As an afterthought, the professors moved another room, an empty bedroom, usually used for guests staying at the castle.  They moved the room to the spot they had chosen for Albus and Minerva's rooms and connected to both.  This would be converted into Harry's bedroom, so he wouldn't have to share Minerva's room.

Work completed, Minerva and Albus went to their respective office doors to test their work.  Stepping through the doorway, no difference could be seen.  Minerva was afraid for a moment that the spell hadn't worked, but then she reminded herself that no change was supposed to be seen, not in the office.  Walking through to the living room, she saw the new door that led to Albus's living room.  The door opened and Albus appeared.  Minerva smiled at him, and then proceeded to her bedroom.  A new door had appeared there as well, on the right wall, next to her armoire.  Opening it, she found herself in Harry's new bedroom, directly across from another door, which once again opened to reveal Albus.

"Ta-da," he said softly.

Minerva smiled.  "Just like magic."

In unison they walked towards the foot of the bed and sat down.

"We'll be just like next-door neighbors," Minerva said, mostly to herself.

"My dear, I don't think most next-door neighbors have houses joined at the living and bed rooms."

"True.  But speaking of living rooms, do we really need to keep both of them?"

Albus looked at her confusedly.  "What do you mean?"

"Well, I was thinking we could keep your living room as such, and turn mine into a study or whatnot.  Sort of combine our apartments to form one large apartment?"

Albus considered this.  "A wonderful idea!" he proclaimed.  "We can work on that later."

Minerva closed her eyes and sighed.  "Much later.  I'm drained."  Albus put his arm around her shoulder sympathetically, and she opened her eyes to smile at him.

There came a noise from the doorway leading to Minerva's room.  The professors looked over to see Rady holding Harry and bending to pick up the toy broomstick that the boy had just dropped.  When Rady looked up, Albus and Minerva could see a strange look on his squashy face, as if he had just discovered a secret and was both thrilled and guilty that he had done so.  Minerva looked at him suspiciously, but Rady didn't see.

"I is bringing Harry Potter back to you before dinner, as you is asking, sir and madam."

"Thank you, Rady," Albus said.  Rady asked if they would take their meal in their rooms, but Albus and Minerva decided to go down to the Great Hall, so Rady bowed his departure.

Once he was back in the hallway, Rady smiled gleefully.  He had heard talk of something more than friendship between the Headmaster and Deputy Headmistress, but he hadn't really believed it.  Now, having seen the way they had looked at each other just when he had come into the room, Rady knew there was at least some truth to those stories.  And he had a plan to help more of the tales become truths…

AN:  Howdy, y'all.  I hope you enjoyed the chapter : )  I'm not sure I quite like how this story is going.  I like parts of it, but I'm not sure how I feel about it as a whole.  What do you think?  Review, please, and let me know.

A super big huge thanks to everyone who has reviewed already!  You guys are the best!!  Thanks so much: Aeryn Alexander, Linz, petriebird18, GEM, MK, Selene, VoyICJ, Athenia McGonagall, JerseyGirl03, PrincessWitch, Lemon-Drops, MJ, SailorSakuraChi, Sagittarius, Desertrain, AngelDes1313, Child-of-the-Dawn, CarmenSandiego, and BryteTwilight!!  You guys are why I feel guilty for not writing for so long.  : )

Today is my 18th birthday!! Woohoo! And now I'm done : )