A/N: This is my seventh-year HHr saga that starts about an hour after Dumbledore's funeral. It's called "Muggle Summer" because it involves a lot of muggles, and muggle/wizarding world interaction. Oh, and the Royal Family, as well, as you'll see. Like all of my fics, the story has a pushed-forward timeline that has Harry turning 17 in 2006, rather than 1997, so please don't flame me about the pervasive use of mobile phones and high-speed internet connections. Hope that you enjoy it.
Disclaimer: Not my characters, no money being made, etc., etc.
Chapter 1 – Back before he left
Friday, June 1
"Wotcher, Harry. Headmistress McGonagall needs you in her office."
Harry reluctantly opened his eyes. He didn't bother asking Tonks how she had found him. She was an Auror, and used to finding wizards who didn't want to be found.
So much for the avoidance planning:
After jumping the queue and pre-boarding the train using his quidditch team captain's badge, he had split off from Ron and Hermione when they headed to the prefect's car. He then found an empty compartment, cast Silencio spells on both the outside and inside of the compartment door, and topped it off by charming the door window with the illusion of a student-filled compartment.
It had bought him five minutes of quiet.
"Argh," muttered Harry. "The train will leave before I even make it back to the castle!"
"Imagine so," she replied. "But I'm sure the Headmistress will get you to London somehow."
He didn't really want to meet with anyone, but he lacked the energy to argue about it.
Tonks wrapped an arm around his shoulder. "I'll let your friends know what happened, and see to it that your trunk makes it to your Aunt and Uncle's house."
"That's okay, Tonks" replied Harry, as he reluctantly pulled out his wand and released Hedwig from her cage. "I'll just shrink it and carry them with me."
"And do what once you do make it to the Dursleys?" asked Tonks, as she turned him around. "Still an underage wizard, you know."
Harry looked at her with a tinge of annoyance. She was right; Harry couldn't legally do magic outside of the grounds of Hogwarts for another eight weeks. In spite of his destination he packed his school robes into the trunk, and shoved the invisibility cloak into his sweatshirt pocket. With Hedwig on his shoulder for company, he stepped back onto the platform and started the long walk back towards the castle.
Dumbledore's password still worked.
The Headmistress of Hogwarts was sitting behind the large wooden desk, lost in thought and gazing out the window. She looked like a balloon whose air had been released.
Without turning towards Harry, she conjured a comfortable chair and asked "Tea?"
"Yes, please," Harry said, as he fully entered the room. "Erm…I'm sorry, but I wasn't quite sure what to do with Hedwig."
"No matter," replied the Headmistress. "Fawkes's roost is empty."
Harry tried to shoo Hedwig towards Fawkes's perch, but she wanted no part of it, and flew instead to the window sill. Harry looked around the office as the Headmistress poured two cups of tea. On the whole, it still appeared as if Dumbledore should be behind the desk, rather than hanging on the wall.
He looked over the Headmistress's shoulder at the portrait of the former Headmaster.
She noticed his gaze. "He hasn't woken yet...the other portraits tell me that it might take weeks."
Harry let out a sigh and sat down. There were so many questions, so many needs, and so little hope….
McGonagall interrupted his thoughts. "That said, he's apparently still found a way to reach out to us."
She picked up a piece of parchment and passed it across the desk. Harry immediately recognized the neat handwriting of his former mentor.
Please forgive the brevity of this message. There is someone you should meet prior to your return to the Dursleys. The sword will come in handy. More to say once I get used to this portraiture.
Former Headmaster, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
"When I returned from the memorial service I found that note stuck on the portrait frame," the Headmistress said.
Harry frowned. "Do you think it could be a trap?"
"That was my initial thought," McGonagall replied, "but even with Dumbledore gone I can not imagine how Voldemort could arrange to have a note written in Albus' hand placed within this office."
Harry thought about that for a second. "Can't imagine Voldemort asking me to bring the Sword of Gryffindor to our next get together either."
He rose from his chair and began to pace in front of the desk.
Headmistress McGonagall chewed on her lower lip. "Harry," she asked, "will you sit and talk with me for a few minutes?"
He furrowed his eyebrows as he sat back down. Harry had never seen her so tentative before.
The Headmistress took a few moments to compose her thoughts.
"They say that if you want to truly know a wizard you need to fly a mile on his broomstick," she began. "While I've always thought myself highly sympathetic to your situation, it's only been in the past few days that I've truly come to appreciate the burden that you carry."
"How is that, ma'am?" Harry asked.
"Well, it's just that…. Dumbledore's dead, Snape's betrayed us, Voldemort's chasing after my students and Hogwarts could well close its doors for the first time in over 700 years," she replied. "And in an emergency meeting earlier today, the Hogwarts trustees removed the "Interim" portion from my title. Apparently, I am now their own "Chosen One," - the person who is supposed to prevail against all that."
The Headmistress looked down at her desk. "Frankly, Harry, I don't feel prepared to meet their expectations. And yet I don't feel I have any other choice but to try. Does that sound familiar?"
Harry could see the vulnerability, and accepted it for what it was. A very small voice in his head told him to resent the fact that she was asking for his compassion, given all that he'd been through himself (it was, he noted, a voice that sounded a lot like Draco Malfoy's.) It wasn't hard to ignore it.
"Yes ma'am," he said with his own eyes moistening. "That does sound very familiar."
"Harry," she continued, "over the past six years I doubt that anyone would characterize my interactions with you as maternal."
"Oh don't say that, ma'am," replied Harry, "unless you've bought a new broomstick for every new seeker on your house quidditch team."
"Yes, well, that was a happier time for all of us, wasn't it," she said. "A time when taking the House Cup from Snape's office was more important than…"
"Than taking his head from his shoulders?"
"Quite," she agreed simply.
"What I'm trying to say is that just as I was Deputy Headmistress, I always found myself also being deputy surrogate parent."
Harry looked at her quizzically. "Ma'am, I'm not sure I understand."
"I always let Albus make the important decisions about your care, even when I strongly disagreed with him," she replied. "Did you know that I was perched on their fence the day before he placed you on the Dursley's doorstep? I watched them…dreadful people…I did not want you in their care."
"No, I didn't know that," Harry said. "Don't suppose Professor Dumbledore ever admitted you were right?"
"Well, yes," she replied, "Albus was trusting to a fault, and it took him a long time to accept the possibility that blood relatives would treat you so badly. Though once I learned of the protections that your mother's sacrifice provided I understood there was incentive to hope for the best."
"But now that he's passed on," she continued, "there are things you should know."
McGonagall shuffled through the parchment on her desk, and pulled out a single piece from the pile. She looked down at it, then looked up at Harry.
"Before their deaths, your parents made arrangements for your care in case…well, they knew they were in great danger. Their wills designated your Aunt Petunia as your legal guardian and Professor Dumbledore as the trustee of your estate. It was fortunate that they structured things that way; had they not, your Aunt and Uncle would have been given their Gringott's key when your parents were killed."
Harry's face turned pale. "They would've cleaned out the vault in a minute, if they could have gotten past working with the goblins."
"Yes, I imagine so," she said. "Now, as legal guardians the Dursleys should have been making decisions on your behalf not just in the muggle world, but in the wizarding community, as well. Luckily for you, they renounced that control during your first year at Hogwarts."
"They did?" Harry asked.
"Yes, they made it quite clear that they wanted to know nothing about your well being during the school year. Didn't want to see an owl from us unless it notified them of your death."
"I'm not surprised," Harry said. "They've never been too keen on owls."
"Hmmph," was the Headmistress's reply. "In any event, their request effectively made the Headmaster of Hogwarts your legal guardian while you were within the wizarding community."
Harry thought about this. "So that means that right now, while I'm still at Hogwarts…"
"…and while you are still under seventeen years of age…yes, Harry, I am your legal guardian in the wizarding world." She paused for a moment. "I hope that isn't too upsetting an idea for you."
"No ma'am," Harry softly replied. "It isn't." He looked up at her. "Not upsetting at all."
"Well then," she said, "that brings us back to my maternal instincts, doesn't it?"
"Don't start, ma'am," Harry replied. "You've been far more of a mother to me that Aunt Petunia ever has."
"But not as much as Molly Weasley, I'm certain of that. Or Miss Granger, for that matter."
"Mrs. Weasley, I'll grant," said Harry, with a pause. "But Hermione?"
"Yes, Harry," said McGonagall, "Hermione. Or have I been wrong all these years in assuming that she's done a great deal to keep you on the straight and narrow?"
Harry thought back to all of the times that Hermione had made sure his homework was done, all of the times that she kept him from making rash moves, and all of the time she spent with him during his frequent trips to Madame Ponfrey's infirmary. Even with everything that happened the past year, with their arguments over the Half Blood Prince's potion book, and Malfoy, and Ginny….and Ron…
"Well, she's tried to keep me out of trouble, at least," Harry finally said. "Can't say that she's always been successful."
That drew a smile from the Headmistress's face. "No, I couldn't either," she replied. "But I daresay that neither of you would be alive today were it not for the other. And it's been a long time since I've ever seen two people in my House that cared more about each other."
She was about to tell Harry that the last two were his parents, but thought better of it. Which was a good thing, because Harry was wondering why she said what she did. Surely she knew that he had been dating Ginny, and that Ron and Hermione had feelings for each other?
"Ah, but forgive me, I've gotten us off track again," the Headmistress said. "With your trustee…gone...well, when your parents designated Albus as the trustee of your estate, they also designated a rather lengthy list of alternates in the event of his passing. Again, this was prescient. Had they not designated alternates your Aunt would be trustee by default."
"So if my Aunt isn't legally in control of my vault right now, who is?" asked Harry.
"Your parent's will designated Sirius as the first alternate. Some might have thought it surprising, given his somewhat wild character, but for the few months he was with you I certainly saw a level of parental responsibility I thought I'd never see in him. I'm sure that your parents saw that as well."
Harry thought about how much he missed his godfather, and it showed.
"Had it not been for Remus's condition your parents no doubt would have made him an alternate as well. The Ministry's position on the legal status of werewolves is indefensible. But as it stands, your parents listed as second alternate...me."
Harry considered this for a moment. "So that means that you are both my wizard legal guardian and the trustee of my estate?".
"Yes, Harry, although again, for not that long," she replied. "Once you turn seventeen you will gain control of the remainder of both your parent's estate and your inheritance from Sirius. I was told by one of the goblins attending the service this morning that you are also mentioned in Albus's will."
"I'd rather have Dumbledore alive than any of his gold," said Harry.
"Wouldn't we all," the Headmistress replied. "Wouldn't we all."
"Now, after all this, to my point," she continued. "I had a chance to talk with some members of the Order this morning. Amazingly, some still think that even with Albus dead and your seventeenth birthday approaching that you should leave fighting Voldemort and the Death Eaters to the so-called adults."
The Headmistress leaned forward, as if to share a secret. "You should know that I no longer live in that camp."
"Ma'am?" Harry asked, uncertain what he had heard.
"What I'm trying to say is that…well…" She paused and gathered her thoughts. "I'm telling you, Harry, that while I may now have a good deal of legal control over your life that I have no intentions of exerting it. Unless, of course, you ask me to. What I'm trying to say is that I trust you…your ability to tell me what I can do for you, rather than expect you to trust me to decide on your behalf."
"Wow," was all that Harry could say. "Erm, thank you, ma'am. I don't know what to say."
The Headmistress stood and walked to the front of her desk. She leaned back and sat on the front edge, so that her knees were almost touching Harry's as he sat in the chair.
"What I hope you'll say is that you forgive me for not treating you this way sooner. What I hope you'll say is that you'll be willing to accept any maternal advice I might offer as freely given, and free to ignore. What I hope you say is that you won't mind if I give you a hug that would make Molly Weasley proud."
Harry stood, rather awkwardly, given how little space there was between them.
"Okay," Harry said. "First, I forgive you, even though I don't think you should apologize for doing what you thought was best. Second, I can't imagine how I'll defeat Voldemort without the benefit of your advice and support, so I am thrilled to hear you say you'll offer it. And, third…." Harry finished his answer by wrapping his arms around his Headmistress.
"Thank you, Harry," she said, after breaking the embrace. "You…….you should get going now on whatever adventure Albus has planned for you. But before that…some advice?"
"Of course," said Harry with a smile.
"Thank you," she replied. "First, I'm afraid that you can't count on the Order's help right now."
"Why not?" Harry asked.
"The Order was created by Dumbledore," she replied. "All of the loyalty oaths were predicated on his leadership, and, unfortunately, we never created any bylaws or contingencies for its continuation if he died. And even if we did, there's Snape's membership, and whatever knowledge he brought to the Dark Lord."
"So what does that mean?"
"Well," she replied, "in the short term that means you shouldn't expect to have someone from the Order watching over you at the Dursleys. Not that it always made a difference…still think we should've fed Dung's guts to goblins after that dementor attack…"
Harry smiled again.
"Now, that doesn't mean that someone won't be there but…well, I talked with Miss Granger this morning and she told me that she and Ronald Weasley intend to stay with you at the Dursleys. I hope you let them. You might be underage, but they aren't, and I'd feel more comfortable knowing that they were watching your back even with the blood protections in place."
"Oh," she continued, "and don't be surprised if you see a tabby cat perched on their fence now and again. The Board is going to wait until August to decide on whether Hogwarts will open this fall, so I might have some time even with my new responsibilities."
"I'd like that, ma'am," Harry replied. "Am I'm sure that Crookshanks would enjoy the company."
"Now, Mr. Potter!" she said with a sly grin. "Second thing – based on how Scrimgeour and his flunkies treated me this morning, you should worry about the Ministry."
Harry thought for a moment. "Was there anything in particular that he said?"
"Nothing officially," she said, "but it's clear that they think they can roll over me in ways they never would have dreamed to attempt when Albus was Headmaster. Dolores Umbridge and Percy Weasley acting so smug – they probably see as much opportunity to grab power now as Voldemort does."
Harry nodded. "This morning Scrimgeour asked me again to join forces with the Ministry. He wasn't too happy when I brushed him off saying I was still Dumbledore's man."
"Oh, Harry," she replied. "While I am proud of you, I'm afraid what that will mean…you see, there are some in the Ministry that believe that you are as much of a threat to the wizarding community as Voldemort."
"I'm not surprised," Harry said, "but what can they do?"
"They can track your use of the floo network and owl post, and also come down hard on any legal missteps," she replied. "You haven't forgotten your visit with the Wizengamot, have you? Without Dumbledore's help, they may make another run to break your wand."
"No magic use until I'm seventeen," Harry said. "I'll try."
"Well," said the Headmistress, "I wouldn't go that far. You are not allowed to use your wand to cast spells outside of these grounds until you are seventeen. I emphasize the phrase 'use your wand;' I do not think that those who fashioned the law ever imagined an underage wizard capable of performing wandless magic…occlumency, for example. Am I making myself clear?"
"Yes, Headmistress, I understand exactly what you mean," said Harry, arching one eyebrow.
"Also, do not forget that there are very few restrictions on the underage use of magical items."
"Oh," said Harry, "guess I never really thought about that being raised by the Dursleys."
Headmistress McGonagall's eyes suddenly lit up with inspiration. With a smile, she pointed her wand across the room and an unmarked door opened. "Harry," said asked, "would you mind helping me clean out the closets of my new office?"
When Harry turned towards where her wand had pointed he smiled.
"Why yes, I'd be happy to help out, ma'am," he said.
The Headmistress reached into a desk drawer and pulled out a rucksack. "Well then," she said, "you might find this useful."
Harry took the offered rucksack and walked over to the closet filled with items he guessed Filch had confiscated from Hogwarts students. As he began sorting through the stockpile, McGonagall excused herself from the office, saying that she had just thought of a few other places in the castle that needed some cleaning.
With the office to himself, Harry did a careful inventory of the closet's contents. He was delighted to find a pen knife similar to the one Sirius had given him (and he had lost at the Department of Mysteries); that went straight into his jeans pocket. Harry sorted the other items into two piles; things that might be useful in a fight, and things best used to annoy his cousin Dudley. As he began to fill the pack with portable swamps and nice assortment of whiz-bangs he realized that the rucksack McGonagall had given him had a charmed interior; no matter how much he loaded into the pack there was room for more. A quick check of the three exterior pockets showed that they were similarly charmed. With that knowledge in hand, Harry filled the pack indiscriminately with everything from belching powder to a magical tent.
The Headmistress returned to her office with a trunk filled with items that she told Harry had come from Snape's former office. He initially recoiled at the idea of touching anything that Snape had previously handled, but found that many of the items predated his tenure as the Defense Against the Dark Arts professor. He saw the broken foe-glass, some secrecy sensors, and the extra-sensitive sneakoscope that Mad Eye Moody's imposter had played with. He also noticed several books that the Headmistress had pulled from Snape's private library. She told Harry that while the aurors investigating Dumbledore's death had taken Snape's notebooks and other writings, Madam Pince had successfully argued that all of the other texts in his office had been on loan from her library.
The Headmistress shrank and lightened the trunk, and gave it to Harry with a strict reminder to have someone of legal age restore it to size. Once Harry packed the trunk away, he hoisted the rucksack onto his shoulder. As he expected, it weighed no more than an ordinary rucksack.
With a flick of her wand McGonagall opened the glass case that protected Godric Gryffindor's jewel-encrusted sword. The Headmistress then turned towards Harry.
"While Albus's note doesn't mention it, I suspect that transportation has been pre-arranged."
"I image you're right," replied Harry with a smile. "But do you think it's safe? I mean, not so much where I'm going, but how…like you said, the last thing I need right now is some harassment from the Ministry."
"Well," she replied. "I believe that the crime lies in the unauthorized making, rather than in the using, particularly if it was an unexpected journey, so…"
"So they'd have to ship the portrait off to Azkaban?" Harry asked.
The Headmistress glanced over at Dumbledore's portrait with a terse grin. "I dare say that the Ministry would find it easier to remove Mrs. Black's portrait from the wall."
Harry swung his rucksack onto his shoulder, drew out his wand, and walked over to the sword's case.
"Be careful, Harry," the Headmistress said.
Harry nodded. When Hedwig added her hoots of concern, Harry laughed, and asked the Headmistress to send his familiar to the Burrow with a quick note telling them of his plans. He then grabbed the sword's hilt, and felt the all-too familiar hook in his gut sensation produced by an activated portkey.