House Elf Harry, Chapter 1
Professor Minerva McGonagall, Deputy Headmistress of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, stood in front of Number 4 Privet Drive as a human for only the second time in a decade. Her grey hair was pulled tightly back into a bun on top of her head, and her face was arranged in an expression much more strict and proper than friendly. With one last moment of hesitation (ostensibly to straighten the shirt of her Muggle suit), she stepped up to the door and rang the doorbell.
Or at least she pressed the button. Usually when she went to a Muggle home, she could hear the bell sound on the inside, but this time she hadn't. She hardly had time to consider this, though, before the door opened to reveal a tiny boy in ragged clothes. She searched above his brilliant green eyes and below his messy black hair to confirm that this, indeed, was the 'savior' of the wizarding world, the Boy-Who-Lived.
"Hello, Harry," she began, frowning angrily at the condition of the boy's clothes. "I'm—"
Harry interrupted her abruptly. "Please come in, Professor McGonagall, ma'am." He looked past her worriedly, as if checking to see if anyone was nearby. "Aunt Petunia wouldn't want anyone speaking about that on the front porch," he explained after she had come in and he had shut the door behind her, his movements apparently practiced. "Please, Professor McGonagall, ma'am, have a seat in the sitting room. Har—I'll call my aunt." The stern older woman blinked at the profusion of titles (not to mention the fact that he apparently knew her name) but took a seat as requested. An instant later, she heard Harry's voice, quiet and yet oddly not, calling, "Aunt Petunia, ma'am. In the sitting room."
A slender woman who was not particularly attractive (and actually bore a strange resemblance to a horse) bustled into the room a moment later. "Oh! A visitor!" she exclaimed in a falsely polite tone. McGonagall stood immediately to greet her.
"I'm Professor Minerva McGonagall, Deputy Headmistress of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. You'll recognize the name from the letters you've received?" she attempted to prod the unpleasant woman's memory.
"Petunia Dursley," the woman replied, only hesitantly offering her hand to be shaken and looking as though touching Minerva were something she would rather have avoided. "Letters? I don't believe we've received any—"
"In Har-my cupboard," the tiny black-haired boy supplied immediately. "I didn't want to disturb you, Aunt Petunia. I thought they'd leave it alone if I didn't respond."
"Leave it alone?" McGonagall echoed, raising an eyebrow disapprovingly. "Why would we 'leave it alone'? Your name's been down for Hogwart's nearly since you were born!"
"But I don't want to go to—" He broke off as a second visitor appeared in the room, directly in front of Harry. Petunia made a choking sound and gripped the arms of the chair she was sitting in, but didn't say anything.
"Master Harry Potter." Despite the honorifics, McGonagall had never seen a House Elf look so imposing. The strict professor felt suddenly that this one could give her mother a run for her money. The impression was amplified by the fact that the elf only stood a few inches shorter than Harry himself, and made it look as though she was glaring down at him rather than up. "What has Dovey told Harry, sir, about saying he is not going to Hogwarts?"
The expression on Harry's face looked like a cross between nervousness and terror. "Harry knows, Dovey," he began quickly, and then was cut off immediately.
"And what has Dovey told Harry Potter about speaking like he is an Elf?" Harry's little hands clenched into fists.
"But Dovey—Professor McGonagall—"
The motherly (and frankly, frightening) House Elf turned to face the older woman for the first time. She bowed respectfully and murmured, "Dovey is very sorry, Professor McGonagall, ma'am. Dovey has told Harry Potter, sir…"
"What are you doing in a Muggle house, Dovey? To whom do you belong?" Minerva began sternly, trying to regain control of the situation. Merlin, what was going on here?
The House Elf looked surprised. "Dovey is checking in on Harry Potter, sir, like Dovey has been doing since Dovey's little Slinky has known Harry Potter, sir. Dovey belongs to the House of Bones, and as Dovey's House is not needing her and Harry Potter is, Dovey is coming immediately."
Harry scowled. "Har—I don't need you. I'm not going to Hogwarts. What is the--will the House do without me?" Stubbornly the boy's green eyes remained on Dovey rather than his future professor.
"Mr. Potter, look at me," Minerva began sternly. His eyes snapped to her and then down to the floor as he assumed a subservient posture. "No, at me." He dragged his eyes up to hers, but they were wide with surprise. "I don't know what you have been told or what has been going on here, but you are not a House Elf, Mr. Potter. You are a Wizard, and you are expected at Hogwarts in the fall. I am here to take you shopping for school supplies."
"And Dovey is sending Harry Potter on his way with best wishes, ma'am." Dovey gave Harry a shove from behind toward his professor.
"Don't we have any say in the matter?" a timid, high-pitched voice asked from the armchair. Petunia had finally found her voice, and now she had three pairs of eyes, two angry and one pleading, on her. "I mean, it's clear that the boy would rather stay and… well, he's been a great help around the house…"
Glaring down her spectacles at Petunia, Minerva replied, "Let me get this straight. You have been training this boy, who you knew from the day you took him in would be going to Hogwarts, as a House Elf, and now you want to keep him from his destiny so he can keep your house?"
"…If it's what he wants?" Petunia tried one last time, apparently overwhelmed by the pleading green eyes. Or maybe by her own laziness.
Dovey turned to McGonagall, apparently satisfied that this last was not worth a response. "Dovey has not let Harry learn how to bind himself to the House. Harry Potter is needing clothes, ma'am, and is needing to go to Hogwarts and to learn to be a Wizard, Dovey knows."
"Thank you, Dovey," McGonagall responded stiffly. "Professor Dumbledore may be contacting you again in the future. I am going to take Harry to buy his things now."
"Dovey will be very honored if Headmaster Dumbledore sir wishes to be speaking with humble Dovey." She turned to Harry. "Hairy is not Dovey's, and Hairy is a Wizard, and a great and powerful one. Hairy is needing to go to Hogwarts and learn how to be a good Wizard," she said with great emotion in her voice. Harry nodded reluctantly, and then waved his hand. To McGonagall's surprise, Dovey Disapparated as silently as she had arrived, but Harry didn't seem surprised. He waved once more at the place where Dovey had been, then turned to watch Minerva's feet expectantly.
"Now. We'll need to walk to the edge of the wards in order to take a Portkey to the Leaky Cauldron, which is the entrance to Diagon Alley." She held out her hand to Harry and looked toward his aunt. "We will be back by 8pm at the latest, but I do not anticipate that we will be so long." She was still waiting for Harry's hand to join her own, which caused her to huff impatiently.
Harry looked up at her innocently, and said, "But Professor McGonagall, we don't need to walk to the edge of the wards, ma'am… I can set them to allow the Portkey, ma'am."
McGonagall blinked down at him. "You can… what?" Wards were magic that was hardly even touched on at Hogwarts—students had to study on their own or go into a Mastery after graduation in order to learn how to cast or alter them.
"Change them, ma'am," he repeated slightly more hesitantly, as though realizing that this might not be an expected answer. "The wards are connected to H-me, and the House."
The Deputy Headmistress shook her head sharply. What in Merlin's name had she gotten herself into? "It will be nice to stretch your legs, don't you think?" Then she glanced at Petunia quickly. "He has been out of the house, correct?"
Petunia Dursley nodded quickly, happy to be able to have the right answer for once. "Harry has been going to school like any boy his age—he gets plenty of exercise walking to and from there every day."
McGonagall held her hand out more obviously and wiggled her fingers. "Hold my hand, Harry," she ordered finally, and the boy's hand quickly slipped into her own. "We shall return." And the two of them strode out the door that Minerva could hardly believe she had entered through only an hour before.
Minerva heaved a sigh as she and Harry finally appeared in the alleyway behind the Leaky Cauldron. The eleven-year-old was still as quiet as he had been on their whole walk toward the edge of the wards, and she had yet to see his beautiful green eyes again. He had been reluctant to follow her lead in leaving the edge of the wards, but had finally acquiesced when she had ordered him. Minerva drew her wand to open the entrance to Diagon Alley, but she had hardly drawn it when she heard a snap followed by the creak of the bricks rearranging themselves.
The Deputy Headmistress glanced down sharply at the tiny boy beside her, whose hand was still in hers. "Did you do that?" she asked sternly. Harry nodded hesitantly. "How did you do it without a wand?"
"Harry doesn't need a wand. House Elves have their own magic to enter Diagon Alley," Harry answered evenly, but the tone of his voice indicated that he did not expect a pleasant response.
"You're just full of surprises," she muttered under her breath, but the jerk of his head seemed to say that Harry had heard her nonetheless. At a more normal volume, she continued, "Underage wizards are not allowed to perform magic outside of Hogwarts."
For the first time since they had left the house, McGonagall saw those bright green eyes pointed up at her. Harry's mouth had formed into an 'O' of surprise and his eyes were glittering with frustration. He seemed about to speak several times, before he finally settled on saying, "Then Harry is glad that he is a House Elf."
Minerva pursed her lips until she knew that they were almost invisible and narrowed her eyes on those of the tiny boy. "You are not an Elf, you are a boy, and you are subject to Wizarding regulations. You will do no more magic until you reach Hogwarts, is that clear? I've no idea how your magic has gone unnoticed thus far."
Harry's eyes flashed angrily before breaking from hers and looking forward again. "The barrier closed," he pointed out dully.
"Indeed," she replied, staring down at the boy for a moment before deciding not to push the point at the moment. She drew her wand again and this time had the chance to tap the appropriate brick and watch with satisfaction as the barrier opened. Immediately she pulled Harry through the opening and off to the side of the road, where they walked in relative obscurity toward Gringott's.
The moment they entered Gringott's, Harry seemed more at ease. Minerva was surprised, as she was used to Muggleborns who were terrified at their first sight of a goblin, but then she remembered that this boy not only knew but imitated House Elves—why not smile at goblins?
And smile he did—and chatter incessantly at Griphook about everything he knew about Goblins (which was, surprisingly, quite a bit). It was the Deputy Headmistress' experience that goblins usually chose to stay aloof and answered as shortly as possible; Griphook was by no means talkative, but he did show some interest in what Harry had to say, which was more than Minerva could say for every other human-Goblin interaction that she had witnessed.
Events only became stranger when they reached the vault. Professor McGonagall knew that the goblins were always curt and impatient around the vaults, and always followed the same routine. She waited for the goblin to impatiently demand the lantern, before realizing that Harry had leapt up almost before the cart had stopped and had the lantern already held out toward Griphook. The goblin actually smiled; his sharp, uneven teeth made it almost frightening, but it seemed to be intended as pleasant. He didn't speak again until Harry had followed him out of the cart and handed him the key as well, waiting patiently while the door was unlocked.
A whole lot of green smoke poured out of the vault, the results of hundreds of security spells cast between the last time it had been opened and now. McGonagall was obscured from her place within the cart and her widened eyes went unnoticed when Griphook spoke gruffly. "Thank you, Mr. Potter. I have not had the pleasure of meeting such an understanding wizard in my many years."
"Har—I—Har—" The boy didn't seem capable of deciding how to start the sentence. "Harry is not a wizard!" he exclaimed petulantly, finally.
"You were a powerful wizard at a young age, and I've no doubt that you will be again. Do not, however, forget your friends."
"Harry won't," Potter responded firmly.
"Very well." The goblin's demeanor reversed itself in an instant. "Will Mr. Potter be making a withdrawal as planned?"
Minerva was almost disappointed that she was unable to see Harry's eyes widen in shock, when she heard the gasp that he emitted at seeing the contents of his vault unobstructed. "This is—it's all mine?" he nearly whispered.
"Your parents left you well-provided-for, Mr. Potter," she inserted briskly. "Now take a reasonable amount and let us be going. We have many errands yet to run." She filled the extended pause that followed with more information. "Gold are Galleons. Seventeen of the silver, Sickles, make a Galleon, and twenty-nine of the bronze, Knuts, make a Sickle."
Before she could believe it, Harry was seated back in the cart and they were making their way back up to the surface, the ride just as wild as on the way down. Minerva narrowed her eyes. Had he used magic? And how much had he brought? With a sigh of relief at the return to the surface, she decided to be hopeful that Potter had communicated further with the goblin, and that he had sufficient funds to take care of their expedition.
"Right," she said decisively as they exited Gringott's. "Robes, books, equipment, and a wand. Which would you like to take care of first?"
Harry scowled. "I don't need a wand or clothes."
Minerva pursed her lips irritatedly. "You will be purchasing every item on your list while I am here. Do not argue with me, Harry; I do not want to get off to a bad start with you."
Harry turned large, sad eyes up at her, and the stern professor couldn't see any deception in them. It seemed the boy was really disturbed by the thought of buying clothing and a wand. Minerva was accustomed to dealing with homesickness, but this was completely out of the normal range of reactions she had gotten from students. She sighed.
"Do you like to read, Harry?" Part of her was terrified that the boy had never learned to read, despite Petunia Dursley's claim that he had been to school. So when he smiled widely and nodded, she was relieved. "Then let's go to Flourish and Blotts first," she decided.
Harry bounced on his feet slightly. "I get to go to Flourish and Blotts?" he exclaimed excitedly. "I've never been in there!"
She smiled gently, happy to see him acting more like a normal human his age. She took his hand in hers before he ran off or gestured too excitedly and drew attention from the passersby, and began to walk toward the bookshop.
Once they got inside, McGonagall pulled out her copy of the first-year list and handed it to the boy. "These are the books you need, Harry," she said, keeping her voice down particularly low as she said his name. "You may pick one or two other books that you would like to read, but please don't take too long." Harry was already reading the list, and when he reached the end, he looked up at her in surprise and with the widest grin she had seen so far. "We get to learn Potions?"
Minerva preferred to attempt to keep an unsurprised demeanor in spite of the situation, but Harry seemed to have a special talent for keeping her off-balance. She raised an eyebrow in surprise. "House Elves have potions?"
Harry shook his head. "No, most don't know how to read—I taught Slinky, though, and Dovey gave me Potions books to practice on!"
"Well, that is.. excellent. You will have a headstart. Speaking of starting, we need to collect your books and get on to the next store, now. Perhaps we can get your Potions ingredients next?"
Harry nodded, glanced around, and then disappeared with a soft pop. Minerva gasped in spite of herself; she should have guessed that he would know how to Apparate from the House Elves as well, but she quickly looked around, hoping that no one had seen him disappear. Fortunately, the store was nearly empty, and no one appeared to have noticed. She then began walking briskly around the store, hoping to find where he had disappeared, but to no avail. Finally, she came out from behind a bookshelf to a position where she could see the front of the store, and Harry was standing there patiently, a small brick that was likely the books shrunken and temporarily stuck together in his hands. She walked over to him quickly, and he looked up at her innocently.
"Isn't Professor McGonagall, Ma'am, going to get any books?"
Minerva sighed. She never thought that she would have to correct a student in this direction, but... "Call me Professor McGonagall, or Ma'am, Harry, but not both, please." He looked uncertain but nodded. "And no, I am here to take you to get your own supplies. Please do not Apparate again; underage wizards are not allowed to do that and you could get in a great deal of trouble if someone from the Ministry sees you doing it."
"Apparate..?" Harry asked, looking confused.
"The way you disappeared and reappeared somewhere else earlier... where did you go?"
Harry frowned. "You mean Popping? Why can't Ha--I do that?" He seemed to register the question, and added, "To buy Harr--my books. The Flourish and Blotts Elves are very nice, Professor McGonagall, Ma--" He cut off before finishing the second honorific. "Can we go to get Har--my Potions ingredients, now?" Harry asked excitedly, bouncing on his toes again.
"Yes, Harry, but no more Popping, alright?" Harry looked confused.
"How do we buy anything without Popping? I don't know how to get to the Stores without Popping..."
"The stores?" McGonagall asked, as they walked. "You walk in the front door, like we just walked into Flourish and Blotts."
"But that's not where you buy anything... there aren't any House Elves there.."
"We don't need House Elves to purchase things at any of these stores, Harry.." Then she thought of something, "Where are there House Elves?"
"In the Stores!" He scowled. "Harry doesn't--I don't understand."
"I don't understand either, Harry, but I'll show you the way a Wizard or Witch buys things." Harry seemed torn between curiosity and frustration; McGonagall tried to ignore the emotions crossing his face and led him into apothecary. She led him to the front and asked the storekeeper for a supply of basic potions ingredients for a first year, who bustled pulled a box from behind the counter. "Where's your bag with your money, Harry?" she asked him, and he offered the bag to her immediately. "No, I'd like you to count it out.. 10 Sickles 7 Knuts."
Harry glanced at the shopkeeper, and Minerva saw that he had gotten distracted with another customer. Then she heard a snap and felt a weight in her hands. To her surprise, the appropriate amount had just appeared on the hand she had been holding out for him to place the money in.
Hurriedly she looked back at the shopkeeper, and to her relief he appeared to have noticed nothing. "Harry!" she scolded, then decided to wait until after they got out. She frowned at him, then turned and paid the shopkeeper. Then she took Harry's hand more firmly than before and led him out of the store quickly. She stopped in a nook, and pressed her lips together while she glared down at him for a moment before saying, "What did I say about doing magic, Mr. Potter?"
Harry flinched. "S-sorry, Professor McGonagall, Ma'am." He seemed very contrite, and she recognized the look in his eyes as the one that House Elves tended to get right before they began to bang their heads on the nearest hard object. She was ready to lunge and stop him from 'punishing' himself, but he didn't go that far.
"Alright. No more magic, or I will have to begin giving you detentions to be served once the school year begins. Do you understand?"
Harry nodded his wide, glistening eyes, and didn't say anything. Minerva stared into his eyes for another moment to make sure that he understood that she was serious, then sighed and took his hand again. "Time for your robes, at Madam Malkin's." She felt a shudder go through the tiny figure, and glanced down at him, but he seemed to be attempting to keep his face blank now, his lips almost as thin as she knew her own could get when she was angry. She didn't think he was angry; the shaking seemed to indicate that he was scared or upset. She hoped he would be okay, but didn't want to establish herself as a comforting figure. It was important that she been seen as strict but fair, showing no special care toward any one student, no matter the circumstances. Even toward the son of two of her favorite students... especially toward the son of two of her favorite students.
Just before they got to the store, McGonagall pulled them up short. "I'll need to transfigure your clothing into something more respectable. We're lucky no one who has seen us has known enough about Muggle clothing to notice how unusually ragged it is, yet." She raised her wand. "It will only be a temporary transfiguration, of course." She said several words and waved her wand, and Harry's clothing had no holes, fit him properly, and bright colors as though it hadn't been worn and washed until all color had been leeched from it.
Harry looked at her wand and then down at his clothes and shivered, but didn't say anything. She guided him the rest of the way into Madam Malkin's.
The store was nearly empty except a single witch looking through clothing at the far end, and Madam Malkin herself, who looked up when they entered. "Professor McGonagall, what brings you here?"
This was uncharacteristic; usually Madam Malkin immediately guessed when a child came in with Minerva that she was escorting another Muggleborn to get his supplies. "Another for Hogwarts," McGonagall repeated the phrase she had heard from the other woman so many times, and the woman blinked.
"Is the dear hiding behind—oh!" She seemed to suddenly see Harry. "Welcome, dear! You're small, but I've no idea how I didn't see you! Just step up here and we'll get you fitted up."
Minerva had her own ideas about why Madam Malkin hadn't seen Harry. House Elves had an ability to work and not be noticed; was it possibly a form of magic that Harry had picked up and unconsciously used? Other than Griphook, Minerva hadn't seen anyone react to Harry at all, now that she thought back. She waited impatiently for Madam Malkin to finish fitting Harry for his robes, and decided while she waited not to say anything. She didn't want to have to give him a detention before school started for using magic, especially if he didn't even consciously know he was doing it.
"Time for a wand," she said, and began guiding him to Ollivander's. Harry didn't seem to accept this as easily as he had the clothing, though.
"I don't need a wand!" he exclaimed, stopping in place.
"Yes, Mr. Potter, you do. Now come along," she said sternly.
Harry opened his mouth to give what appeared to be an angry response, before closing his mouth, lowering his head, and allowing her to guide him forward. They were in Ollivander's a few minutes later.
"Harry Potter," said the man as he stepped out from between the rows of shelves. "I thought I'd be seeing you soon... you have your mother's eyes. It seems only yesterday she was in here buying her first wand. Ten and a quarter inches long, swishy, made of willow. Excellent for charms work."
Harry hadn't looked up yet, but Ollivander continued. "Your father, on the other hand, favored a mahogany wand. Eleven inches. Pliable. A little more power and excellent for transfiguration. Well, I say your father favored it; it's really the wand that chooses the wizard, you know."
The eleven-year-old's head came up then, as McGonagall could have anticipated. "Harry is not a wizard," he said firmly. "Harry does not want a wand, and a wand will not choose Harry."
Minerva wasn't sure that she had ever seen Ollivander caught completely flat-footed before now. The eerie old wizard stared at Harry and didn't seem to be able to come up with anything to say. McGonagall stepped in immediately. "Well then, Harry, you won't mind waving any wand that Mr. Ollivander gives to you, will you?"
Harry looked surprised, but then shrugged. Apparently, he couldn't fight that logic.
Minerva was doubting her own logic when half an hour and dozens of boxes later, no wand had so much as shot sparks. Was it possible that Harry was somehow stifling his magic, or that he had done so much House Elf magic without a wand that a wand would no longer choose him? Harry hadn't said a word throughout the whole procedure, and Ollivander had stopped describing the new wands, giving in to Harry's obvious interest in getting through this as quickly and quietly as possible.
The uncomfortable silence of the old shop was broken, finally, by a cry of surprise from Harry. He had reached out to take and swish the next wand, but had drawn his hand back immediately after touching it. "Did you feel something?" Ollivander asked, luminous eyes wide with excitement. "Pick it up and give it a swish, Mr. Potter!"
Hesitantly Harry reached out again, and still seemed to be uncomfortable when he was holding it. He gave it a swish, and yellow and red sparks emerged from it. McGonagall let out a breath in relief. "How much will that be, Mr. Ollivander?"
"I don't want it!" Harry cried out, dropping it back into the box as though it was burning his hand. "I'm not a wizard, I don't want to be a wizard."
"Mr. Potter," Minerva began, but with a soft pop he had disappeared. Ollivander gaped at the spot where he had stood, then looked at her, raising an eyebrow.
"I have anti-Apparation wards all over this place, as old as my family. Not to mention Mr. Potter hasn't even attended Hogwarts, much less reached the age to learn to Apparate, and claims to not want to be a Wizard."
"He's apparently befriended at least one House Elf, and wants to believe that he is one."
Ollivander blinked his large eyes owlishly. "A House Elf? Intriguing. I have never heard of a Wizard who successfully performed House Elf magic." He put the lid on the box. "Perhaps you should take this to Hogwarts for him, then. I presume he will still be attending Hogwarts..?"
McGonagall nodded, her lips still pursed. "That is the plan. I should report back to Headmaster Dumbledore, now," she replied, taking the box from Ollivander's outstretched hand.
"Please also notify the headmaster that the only brother wand to that of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named has now been sold." McGonagall only allowed her eyes to widen slightly at this information, nodded curtly, and strode quickly from the shop and out of Diagon Alley, carrying the precious wand with her.
A/N: Yes, there will be more. I've had the first three chapters of this sitting on my computer for.. I don't want to admit how long. Anyway, I'm finally getting around to posting it.. that's gotta count for something, right?