7 – Flying
"Albus, you're causing me to get upset. What are you going to do with Harry? I don't want to hide him. I want him to stay with me," Minerva replied in an upset voice.
"Yes Minnie, I know that, and it's all right," Albus told her in a soothing voice. "However, in order to hide him from the numerous curious eyes, we thought that it would be best if you blood adopted him, so he could be your grandchild."
"All right," Minerva agreed, feeling slightly surprised at her husband's suggestion. "What do I have to do in order to blood adopt him?"
"Poppy needs to take three drops of your blood, and then Severus will brew a potion for Harry," Dumbledore explained gently. "According to Severus he can only give him the potion when he is completely healthy though. In the meantime, you can think of a story including the name of his parents, one of which was your child, and what happened to them."
"That's not difficult, Albus. Lily McGonagall was his mother, and she died because some of the remaining Death Eaters killed her a few weeks ago. Since his father was murdered by Voldemort when Harry was still a baby, I took Harry in," Minerva suggested, looking straight into his baby-blue eyes for confirmation.
"Very well Minerva, then we have to stick to this story and inform Poppy, Severus, Filius and Rolanda accordingly. As far as I know, no one else is aware of who Harry truly is and therefore do not know that he is not really your grandson."
"Maybe we also should change his birthday, even if it is only a difference of a couple of days," Minerva said thoughtfully. "Too many people know Harry Potter's date of birth. He is too sick today to enjoy his birthday anyway, so maybe we should have it be August the second."
"That's a wonderful idea, and we'll have a proper birthday party in the Great Hall, provided that Poppy deems him fit enough on the day after tomorrow," Albus replied in a soothing voice, before he leaned over pulling his wife in a passionate kiss.
Two days later, Harry's condition had improved greatly, and Poppy decided that he was well enough to take the adoption potion and eventually participate in his birthday party, which she and Rolanda were preparing in the Great Hall.
"Harry, I'd like to give you a potion, which will make you look more like your Granny Minerva," Poppy gently explained to the child. "It will also ensure that you'll be able to remain here with your granny and granddad and not have to return to the Dursleys ever again."
"Kay," Harry replied, throwing the nice Aunt Poppy an anxious look.
"Harry, the effects of the potion might be a bit uncomfortable and it will probably hurt a little. Please tell me immediately if you feel unwell or are in pain, so I can help you. All right, sweetie?" Poppy continued in her soft soothing voice, causing the child to give her a frightened nod.
'The poor boy; he's afraid,' Minerva thought, before she queried, "Wouldn't it be better to spell the potion into his stomach, Poppy?"
"I'll do that if you take him onto your lap and cuddle him," Poppy replied, causing Minerva to pull Harry up onto her lap and whisper soothingly into his ear.
"Really?" Harry asked unbelievingly as he turned around to glance into his new guardian's face, seeing that she gave him a confirming smile.
"Yes sweetie, today is your birthday, and we're going to have a birthday party for you, together will all my colleagues and friends," Minerva repeated aloud, while Poppy used the distraction to spell the potion into the child's system.
Minerva noticed that the boy nestled deeper into her robes and cuddled him close, while Poppy pressed a small phial against his lips. "Drink this, sweetie; it will help with the pain," she said soothingly, causing Harry to greedily sip the cool liquid, sighing in relief as he felt the effects take place.
Minerva carefully turned Harry around so that he sat on her lap facing her. "Oh sweetie, you are so handsome," she told him gently as she conjured a small hand mirror so Harry could see himself, frowning as Harry backed up startled as he saw a face in the small thing his granny held in front of him. "Harry, that's your own face. Have you never seen a mirror before?" she asked in confusion.
"No," Harry replied anxiously. "Me?" he queried surprised, pointing at the face in the mirror.
"Yes sweetie, that's you," Poppy said gently, observing that Harry's unruly hair had straightened out a bit, the structure of his face had slightly changed, and he kept his beautiful emerald green eyes. She unobtrusively cast a diagnostic spell over the child, nodding contentedly, before she asked, "Now Harry, do you feel well enough to accompany us to the Great Hall for breakfast?"
"Bweakfas?" Harry repeated unsurely, causing Minerva to groan inwardly. 'He thinks he has to make breakfast for us,' she mused, observing how the child's face darkened at the thought.
"Yes sweetie," she said in the happiest voice she could muster, "you saw my house-elf Malcolm at home, didn't you? Here at Hogwarts there are lots of house-elves and they make delicious food. Let's go and have breakfast together with all the other teachers, who are staying in the castle over the holidays, and with Granddad Albus."
"Gwanda Abu," Harry giggled, finding the old man with the long white beard extremely funny.
Minerva gently pried the child off her lap and took him by the hand, so Poppy and she could lead him down to the Great Hall. Harry looked around with no small amount of interest as they walked through the empty corridors. Harry would giggle when the nice witches and wizards in the paintings kindly waved at him. Sometimes, he stopped walking to speak with people in the pictures or to point scenes out to Poppy and Minerva, so that it took them ages, before they finally reached the Great Hall.
Minerva's colleagues had done their best to turn the Great Hall into a playground that was safe and enjoyable for a toddler, and Harry looked in amazement at the huge slides, the ball pool that contained hundreds of colourful small balls, and the red tricycle that stood there waiting for the toddler to mount it.
Harry's eyes widened as he recognized it as similar to the one Dudley received for his birthday only weeks ago. He hesitantly pulled at Minerva's robes, until she gently leaned down to speak with him. "Can I wide?" he whispered, pointing at the tricycle in excitement.
"Yes sweetie, that's for you to play on," Minerva replied gently, "but we need to have breakfast first."
"Kay," Harry said obediently and followed his grandmother to the Head table, where he was introduced to the Hogwarts staff as Harry McGonagall, Minerva's grandson.
"Harry, you do remember that you're allowed and even expected to sit at the table with us, don't you?" Poppy whispered gently, sensing that his steps became smaller as they came near the table. She gently led him to the empty seat next to Rolanda, who gently ruffled his hair, as he sat down next to her watching in amazement as the chair magically adjusted his height, so he could see over the table.
"Happy birthday, Harry!" Rolanda cheered. "Now you're three and already a big boy, aren't you?"
"Yes," Harry replied shyly, throwing the nice lady, whom he remembered meeting before, a grateful glance, looking around bewildered when everyone began to sing 'Happy Birthday' to him.
"Can you blow the candles out, Harry?" Minerva, who had taken the seat on Harry's other side, queried gently, knowing that the child's breathing was still slightly laboured.
Rolanda showed Harry how to blow the candles out, and the boy obediently tried but couldn't blow strongly enough. Throwing Rolanda a pleading glance, he whispered hesitantly, "You hewp pwease?"
Together they blew the candles out, causing breakfast to appear on the table. Minerva placed a bit of everything onto Harry's plate, and Harry unquestioningly tried to eat a small breakfast until his stomach felt completely full.
"Now Harry, let's go and have a look at your presents," Rolanda invited him, pulling the small boy with her to a small table, on which several colourful presents were arranged in a pile.
The first present Rolanda handed him was a booklet with a light blue cover, 'The Tales of Beedle the Bard,' and Harry eyed the small book in absolute excitement. "Fow me?" he queried unbelievingly.
"Yes my boy, that's for you. This is a book with small stories everyone in the magical world has read to them as a child," the old man, whom Harry had gotten to know as Granddad Albus, explained gently, while his eyes were twinkling merrily. "If you behave well for your granny, I'm sure Granny won't mind reading you a bedtime story," he added, smiling at the child.
"Fank you," Harry replied happily, before he turned to the next present Rolanda opened for him. Several more books, sweets, and a brilliant soft ball that changed its colour each time it was caught later, Rolanda handed him the last present, which was much larger than the others and held a toddler's broom.
"A bwoom?" Harry eyed the thing in his hand questioningly, causing Rolanda to laugh; only slowly becoming aware of the frightened expression that spread across the boy's face. 'What do they want me to clean?' he mused, slightly beginning to panic.
"That's a broom for flying, Harry. Flying on a broom is a lot of fun, and if you want me to I can teach you how to fly on it," Rolanda explained gently.
"Yes pwease," Harry gave back in absolute amazement. 'That sounds fun,' he thought, throwing the kind lady a huge smile. 'Aunt Rolanda is her name,' he remembered, 'but that's difficult to say.'
"Harry, after a nice long nap after lunch you may go flying with Aunt Rolanda if you wish," Poppy told him, causing the child to jump up and down on both feet in excitement.
While Harry was taking his nap, Minerva was sitting on the edge of his bed trying to concentrate on a book. However, she couldn't help as her thoughts drifted back to her own childhood.
Flashback 9th of September, 1937
Since they had arrived at Hogwarts, Rolanda had been bothering Poppy and Minerva that they should go flying together; however, during the first week of classes, they had been so busy that they hadn't been able to find the time. However, on Friday evening in their second week at Hogwarts, the three friends decided to head out onto the grounds after curfew.
As soon as they had left Gryffindor Tower, Minerva transformed into her cat form and ran ahead to make sure they wouldn't meet anyone, while her friends hid in an alcove only moving on when she signalled them that the coast was clear. Finally, they arrived on the Quidditch pitch, and Rolanda ran ahead to fetch three school brooms from the broom cupboard, leaving Poppy and Minerva to wonder how their friend already knew where the brooms were stored.
"Can any of you conjure a Snitch?" Rolanda queried, looking helplessly at Poppy and Minerva.
"I'm not sure," Minerva replied thoughtfully, pulling a tissue out of her robe pocket. She waved her wand at the tissue, causing it to change into a Snitch. Seeing her friends hold their stomachs laughing, she hurriedly slid it into her robe pocket and huffed, "Well, feel free to try and do it better."
"It's all right, Minnie, the Snitch is brilliant; I just didn't know that a Snitch could be red," Rolanda laughed, while Poppy gently laid an arm across Minerva's shoulders.
"Respect Minnie, you did that really well. I wish I was so good at Transfiguration," Poppy said gently, holding her hand out for the Snitch, which Minerva hesitantly handed over.
The three friends spent nearly two hours flying, unaware of the fact that it had become completely dark while they were enjoying the fresh air. The sky was cloudy, and only faint moon light lit the dark Quidditch pitch a bit. It was nearly midnight when Rolanda finally caught the red Snitch, which could barely be seen against the dark blue sky. She just held the struggling ball up into the air for her friends to see when a strict voice from the ground caught their attention.
"Come down here immediately!"
Minerva turned her head, recognizing the voice of Professor Malkin, the Potions Master and Slytherin Head of House. 'Oh no!' she thought, terrified. 'We're going to lose a lot of House points, and Professor Dumbledore will be so disappointed.' She hurriedly turned her broom towards the grounds, unable to properly estimate the distance in the dark, and crashed into the ground full force, before everything went dark.
The next thing she knew, she found herself in the hospital wing that was dimly lit by a few torches between the windows, causing her to realize that it was still night. Poppy, Rolanda, Professor Malkin, and Theresa, Poppy's grandmother, were standing around her bed, watching her in obvious concern.
"No Minerva," Theresa said firmly, pushing her back as she wearily attempted to sit up. "You have broken your right ankle and your left arm, and you have a bad concussion. I'm going to keep you here for at least a few days."
After an absolutely annoying week in the hospital wing that was only half-way endurable because Poppy and Rolanda spent all their free time with her, the three girls had to serve detention in the Potions classroom every evening for six weeks, causing the three friends to resolve to never let themselves being caught again.
End of Flashback
Minerva was pulled out of her memory when Harry stirred and opened his innocent green eyes.
"Hello sweetie," she cooed, gently stroking his soft cheeks that were still warm from sleep, "did you have a nice nap?"
"Yes," Harry smiled, "me go pway big haww?"
"Yes, you may play on your birthday playground in the Great Hall, Harry. Let's get you dressed and head down to the Great Hall. We also need to eat your birthday cake," Minerva said softly, before she gently changed the boy's clothes to a comfortable light blue jumpsuit with green dragons that matched his eyes. Harry looked down at himself in awe as he noticed that the small dragons made sounds and breathed fire from time to time and giggled as one chased his finger around his small stomach.
By the time Minerva and Harry reached the Great Hall, the other teachers were already waiting for them to arrive having tea, in order to eat Harry's birthday cake that was an exact replica of Hogwarts.
"Let's have cake first," Minerva suggested, causing Harry to look at the cake in amazement, before he hesitantly shook his head.
"Fank you, Gwanny, but I'm no hungwy. Can pway dewe and wide twicy?"
"Don't you want to eat cake?" Minerva queried in surprise, frowning as Harry shook his head and looked longingly to the playground.
"Minerva, I can take him over to the slides and keep an eye on him," Severus offered, relieved to see that the child didn't resemble his father as much anymore as he had before he took the blood potion.
"Very well, thank you Severus," Minerva replied gratefully, turning to Harry. "Harry, do you remember Uncle Severus? He came and made you all better with his potions the other day, didn't he?"
"Yes," Harry replied, smiling, and reached out for the tall man's hand, happily walking over to the playground at his side.
Harry spent the whole afternoon playing on his playground, while Severus and Rolanda took turns watching him. Rolanda even offered to take Harry flying, but Poppy instructed her to give him another day to recover from his illness and promised the child that Rolanda would teach him to fly in the morning.
That night, Harry spent the first night in his own room. "Do you think he'll be all right on his own?" Minerva queried as she nestled into Albus' embrace, causing her husband to soothingly wipe errand strands of hair from her face.
"Yes, Minnie, he'll be all right. Remember, he slept in a dark cupboard for the last two years, and you placed a spell on him that alerts you if he is in trouble, didn't you?"
"Yes," Minerva replied, sighing.
"Then everything will be fine. Go to sleep, Minnie," Albus said soothingly, gently caressing her face until her breathing evened out.
Several hours later, after the Headmaster had returned to his office to do some late night work, Minerva dreamt about Harry's first flying lesson with Rolanda.
Rolanda showed the child how to properly sit on the broom, and without even bothering to listen to her explanations Harry took off into the air. In spite of all the safety charms and spells that had been cast on his toddler's broom, he went further and further upwards towards something golden that looked like a Snitch but was in fact a sunray. Suddenly however, he couldn't breathe anymore as he reached a height, in which the air was considerably thinner, and Harry tumbled down several hundred metres, before he hit the ground full force.
At that point Minerva woke up with a sudden jerk and in a cold sweat, terrified as she remembered her dream that seemed so very vivid in her mind. She scrambled out of her bed and headed into Harry's room to confirm that the child was all right. She then lit the fireplace in the living room, transformed into her feline form and curled up in front of the fireplace, craving the warmth of the fire as she slowly drifted back to sleep.
When she woke up in the morning lazily opening her eyes, she had to keep tight control on herself in order not to scream aloud at the sight of something huge and black right next to her that was even covering parts of her body.
Thank you for your kind reviews that encouraged me to write on!
Thanks to Mushcorn for her invaluable help, advice, and editing.
All recognizable characters belong to J. K. Rowling, and I am not earning anything by writing this story.