Harry Potter and all characters, etc. belong to J.K. Rowling, not me.
Harry Potter-McGonagall – Chapter 1 – A Summer of Change
A/N: This is the sequel to my story, Harry McGonagall. If you haven't read it, this probably won't make any sense to you.
"Throw down your wand, Potter, or she dies!" Voldemort was holding Hermione Granger hostage, pointing his wand at her throat. "NOW!"
Harry McGonagall's eyes opened and he nearly jumped out of bed. He was soaked in sweat from the nightmare he'd awoken from. He'd been reliving what had happened just a few days earlier, when Voldemort had returned. He wiped the sweat off his brow, pausing to feel the lightning-shaped scar that had re-emerged when Tom Riddle had touched his forehead. Realizing he had an urgent need, he got out of bed and ran to the bathroom.
He was currently staying at McGonagall Manor. After the final task of the Triwizard Tournament and its repercussions, his aunt had decided that it was time for the Hogwarts group to leave France. Classes were over anyway, although the seventh-year Hogwarts students who'd spent most of the year at Beauxbatons had to take their N.E.W.T.s at Hogwarts anyway. However, Aunt Minnie had allowed the sixth-years like Cedric to go home. Harry (as well as fellow champion Cedric Diggory) hadn't had to take final exams, so they didn't even have to worry about their results. Hermione and Brianna had returned to Hogwarts for their final, completely useless week of doing nothing but waiting for test results, so that Minerva wouldn't appear to give too much favoritism. The Headmistress also returned to Hogwarts, but Harry's mother had come to stay with him. After what had happened she'd insisted on seeing her son as soon as possible.
She'd nearly suffocated him with a hug as she cried about how worried she'd been about him. She asked him several times if he truly was alright, which he'd vehemently claimed. Aside from the nightmares, he was, and there was no way he'd talk about them. He'd even started silencing his door, just in case he woke up screaming. She'd commented on his new hair color, but didn't actually say anything about his scar, and he'd caught her trying to not look at it, but it was hard not to notice. She'd started crying when he relayed the thank you that the 'shadows' of his birth parents had asked him to pass on, telling him that taking him in hadn't been a burden, that she'd never regretted that. She considered it one of the best decisions she'd ever made.
While Harry was washing his hands, he stared at the mirror, still not used to his new appearance. His new hair color, as well as his scar, did make him look different, but he'd decided to keep both. As he gazed at the lightning bolt on his forehead, he remembered what he was going to do today. Aunt Minnie would be leaving Hogwarts for the morning to take him to the Ministry of Magic so he could finally hear the prophecy he'd learned about four years earlier. He hadn't visited the Department of Mysteries earlier, because he'd have had to reveal his identity. Now that the cat was out of the bag, he had no reason not to listen to the bit of bad poetry that had cost his birth-parents their lives. With that in mind, he walked into the dining room.
"Good morning, Harry," said Cindy McGonagall, who was already sitting at the table with a plate of pancakes.
"Morning, Mom," he replied as he sat across from her. Within a few seconds, a plate loaded with pancakes, sausage and eggs appeared in front of him. "I see Blinky is awake," he commented before picking up his fork.
"She is quite efficient. What time is Aunt Minnie coming?"
"In about a half hour. She figured that the students won't even notice she's gone if she eats breakfast with them."
"I just hope the newspapers won't find out about the prophecy," his mother commented, sounding a bit concerned.
"Me, too, but we've got it all worked out," he answered honestly. "There will be a record of our arrival, of course, but we don't want people knowing we went to the Department of Mysteries. We're only officially admitting my birth name so that the Ministry will recognize my claim to any Potter inheritances. Gringotts already does, but they don't control the Ministry. That's all that most people will know. Our detour to the DoM will be off the record. Unspeakables like it that way, according to Aunt Minnie, so it should work. No one else should find out about the prophecy today."
With that said, Harry returned to his breakfast. Just as he was finishing up, the floo lit up with green flames, and Minerva McGonagall stepped out of the fireplace. "Good morning, Harry, Cindy," she said when she caught sight of her grand-nephew. "Are you ready?"
"Good morning, Aunt Minnie," he replied while putting down his fork. "Yes, I am."
While waiting in line with his aunt, Harry looked around the atrium of the Ministry, amazed at the size and sheer amount of magic being used around him, yet appalled at a statue that depicted several sentient magical beings, even a Centaur, gazing up at a wizard in respect and awe. He thought to himself that he'd love to see a Ministry employee try to arrest a Centaur and see what the prideful half-horses really thought of most wizards. He found it amusing that a wizard-created and wizard-run government actually believed that other magical beings would acknowledge its sovereignty over them. The Ministry of Magic employees actually were surprised when other races rebelled.
Another thing that appalled him was that the Daily Prophets available for sale proclaimed that he was probably working with You-Know-Who. After all, he'd helped bring the dark wizard to life by giving his blood. He'd brought him back to the tournament, endangering over a thousand lives. Although Hermione claimed she wasn't being bothered at Hogwarts, Padma told him that she was being harassed by half the school for being his girlfriend. He wondered what Draco Malfoy thought of all this, hoping he'd give Hermione an excuse to humiliate him yet again.
When they got close to the front of the line where you checked in, Harry moved a few fingers on his right hand, causing his British wand to come into his hand. Over the last few days, it occurred to him that if he were silenced, he wouldn't be able to summon his wands out of their holsters, so he did some enchanting. Now, in addition to the passwords, if he moved his fingers like Spider-Man did to produce webs, his wands would come into his hands.
"Next," said the rather bored-looking man at the desk.
"Harry McGonagall," he replied, since it was his turn.
The man's eyes widened for a moment before flicking up toward his scar. "Yes, Mr. Potter. May I inquire the purpose of your visit?"
"To officially claim my status as the Potter heir. Also, I would prefer to be referred to as Potter-McGonagall, as that family has raised me since I was a baby. The McGonagalls are the only family I've ever known."
"Of course, sir. May I inspect your wand?"
"Yes." Harry handed the man his wand, which was confirmed to be holly and phoenix feather, in use for four years. It was then handed back and Harry replaced it in its holster while waiting for his aunt, whose stated purpose was to accompany him, was finished. They then boarded the elevator and rode it to level two, and walked past several Ministry personnel until they came to the Office of Records, a division of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement.
"Good day," said the woman behind the desk. She was middle-aged and dressed in purple robes. According to the sign on the desk, her name was Martha Noweetalle.
"Good day to you, Martha," said Minerva, who was obviously acquainted with her.
"What can I do for you, Headmistress McGonagall?"
"This is my adopted grand-nephew, Harry McGonagall, whose birth name was…"
"Harry James Potter," Martha concluded.
"I'd like to register the fact that I am a Potter by birth so that the Ministry won't call me a thief if they catch me with Potter property," said Harry with a grin.
"Yes, that would be rather a nuisance, wouldn't it?" the woman agreed. "I'll just need to have you fill out this form and sign it with a blood quill."
"What's that?" asked Harry.
"A blood quill is a device used for signing magically binding forms. Its use is heavily monitored by the Ministry because it is considered a dark but necessary object. It is only allowed to be used to sign official forms that require blood to bind the magic. Using one for any other reason is punishable by no less than five years in Azkaban."
"Why?" asked Harry.
"It's quite painful as it causes small cuts to appear on your hand when you write with it. They heal quickly, but repeated use, which is considered a particularly sadistic form of torture, can cause scarring. That's why it's illegal to own one or to carry one out of the Ministry building."
"How painful is it?" he asked. A few minutes later, he found out as he signed in blood, proving that he was in fact Harry Potter. It hurt even worse than when the goblins took a blood sample from him four years before.
Martha looked at him sympathetically as she said, "I'm sorry. I know it hurts, but it was necessary. This should help you feel better." She opened a drawer and took out a container of essence of murtlap.
A few minutes later, after treating his hand, he and his aunt walked out of that office. Just before they left, Martha assured them that she didn't believe he was a dark wizard. Then they made their way to the much-speculated-about Department of Mysteries.
"Good morning," said a sallow-skinned wizard with a mournful countenance. He was wearing a black robe with a hood half-obscuring his face and spoke with a monotone voice. "You may call me Bode." After arriving at the main entrance to the Department of Mysteries, Minerva had knocked on the door. She and Harry had been waiting quietly for ten minutes. Just when the Boy-Who-Lived was about to suggest his aunt knock again, the door opened, revealing this pleasant fellow.
"Hello. I am Headmistress Minerva McGonagall and this is Harry Potter-McGonagall."
"Ah, yes. The much-speculated-about-Boy-Who-Lived," Bode replied in the same monotonous voice. "We have long wished to examine you to see how you survived the Killing Curse when you were a baby. We have also learned that you recently survived it again…"
Swallowing a bit in apprehension at the thought of becoming a guinea pig, Harry replied, "That's not why we're here."
Minerva said, "We're here because it has come to our attention that Harry is one of the subjects of a prophecy."
"Oh, yes. Row ninety-seven in the Hall of Prophecy if I'm not mistaken. S.P.T. to A.W.P.B.D. Dark Lord and Harry Potter. Follow me."
Without another word, he turned and walked back into the door he had emerged from, moving quickly so that Minerva had a hard time keeping up. Harry, who had been exercising regularly for nearly a year, had no problem, but would still admit that Bode was walking very fast. He suspected it was so that they wouldn't get more than a glimpse of the other things in that department. If that were true, he thought it might've been smarter for them to just blindfold people and lead them to their destination, but logic wasn't the way of wizards.
They soon found themselves in the Hall of Prophecies, which was a room with seemingly endless shelves of crystal balls, that he knew were actually thought spheres. Each was labeled with initials of the seer who gave the prophecy and the one it was given to, in addition to the name of the subject or subjects of the prophecy. He briefly wondered if the prophecy Trelawney had given him about Voldemort returning was somewhere in here – whether prophecies were automatically registered or if people had to bring them in. He decided to ask Bode.
"People have to bring them in, of course," he replied in a monotone voice as they continued making their way toward row ninety-seven. "I wish that the Ministry had wards or spells that went off whenever a prophecy was given and then placed a copy here without human intervention, but that's simply impossible. Someone who hears a prophecy must come to the Ministry and submit the memory of it. We thank them and let them leave. We don't evaluate it in their presence because, for the most part, the hearer of a prophecy is far too biased to interpret it properly. Then, an Unspeakable will watch the memory and decide if it appears to be fraudulent or real. We have several criteria to make such an evaluation. If it seems genuine, then it will be placed into a thought sphere and sorted here." He stopped walking. "I believe we've arrived at the prophecy about you, Mr. Potter-McGonagall."
Harry looked where the Unspeakable was indicating and read the label. S.P.T. to A.W.P.B.D. Dark Lord and (?) Harry Potter. After taking a deep breath, he picked it up and held it in front of him. Bode instructed him how to play the message and walked out of hearing range.
"The prophecy isn't about me, is it? So, it's really none of my business," he explained.
"I'll leave also, if you'd like," volunteered Minerva.
"I'd like you to stay, Aunt Minnie."
"Thank you, Harry."
The subject of that prophecy activated the orb. The image of Trelawney formed above it and said in an other-worldly voice:
"The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches....Born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies...and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not...and either must die at the hand of the other for the Dark Lord can't live while the other survives...The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies."
The two McGonagalls stood there in silence for about five minutes before Harry finally exclaimed, "That's it? That's all? Talk about vague! How is that supposed to help me?!"
"I must admit I was hoping for more, myself," agreed Minerva, sounding disappointed. "Vanquish could mean what happened in 1981 or it could mean completely killing him off at some future date. That is assuming that the Dark Lord really is You-Know-Who. How do we know it isn't an Australian Dark Wizard that will arise in a hundred years?" She took a deep breath. "This does nothing to dissuade my opinion on Divination being a wooly discipline."
"Here's a question. Will having this prophecy help Voldemort at all?" asked Harry.
After flinching slightly at the Dark Lord's name, she replied, "I can't honestly answer that, Harry. If it is true and has been interpreted correctly, then it could mean that You-Know-Who can't be killed by anyone except you. That could make him bolder."
"Which could get him beaten much more quickly if the prophecy isn't true," supplied Harry. "But if it is true, he must never learn it. Otherwise, he'll hurt and kill even more people." He then motioned for Bode to join them.
"You have heard the prophecy?" he asked.
"Yes," Minerva replied.
"Then you may put it back."
"I'd rather not," said Harry. "If Voldemort were to listen to this, we believe he would become bolder and kill even more innocent people."
"I take it the prophecy doesn't contain good news, then?"
"Not really," answered Minerva.
"If that much is at stake," Bode replied, still in his monotone voice, "we could switch it with a different prophecy. That way, if You-Know-Who somehow comes to retrieve it; he'll lose his power of speech and think he's a teapot for awhile." The other two laughed. "Unfortunately, that curse isn't permanent, but it will be a good shock to him."
"Excellent," replied Harry as he imagined Death Eaters dragging their lord back to their lair while he was standing with his arms in the positions for, "I'm a little teapot, short and stout…"
"Then let's do it." He pointed his wand at the shelf and a different orb moved into the correct position. Harry placed his prophecy into the newly vacated spot. "The subjects of this prophecy are already dead, but since it was never fulfilled, it's still active."
"By the way," said Harry, "I heard a prophecy that I believe was fulfilled just a few days ago."
"Really?" Bode asked, actually sounding mildly interested. "May I have a copy of your memory of it?" Harry then supplied his memory of Trelawney telling him and Hermione how the Dark Lord would return with his servant's help on the day he took his third year final exams. After that, Bode bid them a good day before they left to return to McGonagall Manor.
"That's it?" said Cindy McGonagall after she was told the prophecy. 'Power the Dark Lord knows not?' That could mean anything. A type of gun he's not familiar with. A spell he doesn't know. Anything!"
"Dumbledore has frequently spoken of the power of love. I wonder if that's what he believes it is," added Minerva.
"So I should walk up to Voldemort and snog him? Is that Dumbledore's plan? I think I'll stick with snogging Hermione; thank you very much."
"He already encountered a power he didn't know in Godric's Hollow," said Cindy. "…which leads more credence to the theory that it's already fulfilled."
"Whether or not the prophecy's fulfilled or is actually real doesn't even matter," said Harry. "Voldemort will keep coming after me until one of us kills the other, so I need to be ready."
"Which means even more training," concluded his mother sadly.
A few days later, Harry found himself standing with his mom waiting at Kings Cross Station, in Platform Nine and Three Quarters. He'd told Hermione the prophecy over their mirrors, and her reaction was remarkably similar to his mother's. The prophecy was completely worthless because it was too vague to be of any use. It contained no advice, no hints, nothing of value.
Cindy and Harry were there to pick up Brianna and Hermione. The latter had gotten her parents to allow her to spend the evening with the McGonagalls, who would then return her to the Granger residence. They would be visiting a house that belonged to Sirius Black. Although he was still in America, he had allowed the Order of the Phoenix to use the residence. It was then put under the Fidelius Charm, with Aunt Minnie as the secret-keeper. She had been reluctant to let Severus Snape know the secret, but Albus insisted that it was vital. After she'd discussed it with Sirius, they decided to let him know the address, mainly because Padfoot didn't care if Snape destroyed the house. After that, Dumbledore himself went through the house checking for cursed objects and to make sure it was safe.
"There you are!" exclaimed Brianna from a distance away. Harry looked to see his sister walking side-by-side with his girlfriend.
"Hey, Brianna," he said when she got there first and gave him a hug. "Hello, Hermione," he said when he let go of his sister.
"Hi, Harry," she replied before pulling him into a kiss.
"Get a room," suggested Brianna.
"I'd prefer if they didn't," said Cindy. "It's good to see you again, Brianna." She then hugged her daughter tightly.
"WHO DARES DISTURB THE HOUSE OF MY FATHERS?! MUGGLES, MUDBLOODS AND BLOOD-TRAITORS, ALL…"
"Who is that?" asked Harry while covering his ears. He, Brianna, Hermione, Cindy and Minerva had just entered Number Twelve Grimmauld place. His aunt had told him the secret about a minute before when she met them outside the house.
"Just a despicable painting," answered Aunt Minnie, who pointed at a portrait with curtains hung about it. His eyes widened when he saw that the black curtains were being closed over the painting by none other than Severus Snape. Their eyes met as the portrait quieted. Harry would've bet that the look in his former professor's eyes would've killed a basilisk.
"I should've known it was the son of James Potter who would disgrace me as you did - daring to lie about my ability to teach potions and costing me my job."
"You're the one who disgraced yourself, but I'll be glad to take the credit for it," Harry replied with a smirk. Something about that greasy man dressed in all black got under his skin. No matter which side of the war he was on, Harry still hated Snape. His companions were trying to get him to remain silent, but he ignored them.
"I see you've colored your hair like your father, and are now proudly displaying your scar for the world to see. You're just like James Potter, arrogantly strutting around…"
"Then I take it he was your role model as well," interrupted Harry. "Because I've never seen anyone strut around as arrogantly as you. You're nothing but a Death Eater who weaseled his way out of Azkaban by betraying his friends, yet you act like…"
"That's quite enough. Both of you." They both turned to see none other than Albus Dumbledore, wearing light purple robes, watching them. His hand still hadn't healed, and he did not seem to have a twinkle in his eyes. "May I remind you all that we are on the same side here, and that the past is the past."
"Was quite correct to complain about your teaching methods," interrupted Albus amicably. "Let's face it, Severus. You never enjoyed teaching and made sure your pupils didn't enjoy learning. I should've realized it myself. You must admit that you much prefer your current circumstances." Harry then remembered that Snape was now brewing potions to be sold at an apothecary."
Glaring at Harry, he replied, "I do prefer brewing potions to teaching dunderheads, and make far more galleons, so I did win after all."
"And for the first time in over ten years, Potions is actually taught at Hogwarts," Harry couldn't resist adding with a smile.
"Enough of this bickering," said Dumbledore. "This fighting amongst ourselves is exactly what Voldemort wants. Severus, Minerva, we have a meeting to attend. The rest of you may make yourselves comfortable. Dinner will be ready shortly after the meeting adjourns. One of our Order members, Mrs. Molly Weasley, is an excellent cook. Good day."
As they were leaving for the meeting, Minerva commented, "I believe there is a library on the second floor, Hermione. Perhaps you would like to wait there."
Harry couldn't help but grin at the excited look in his girlfriend's eyes as she immediately headed for the stairs. At a much slower pace, he followed her while noticing his sister and mother walking off in another direction.
As he took his first step onto the staircase, he noticed a rather old and ugly house elf walking around, muttering, "Now even muggles are infesting the house of Black. The long-bearded half-blood thief stealing from Master Regulus wasn't enough. Mudbloods wasn't enough. Now even muggles is walking free in the House of Black. They is belonging in the dungeons where they is being punished by my Mistress and her husband. Oh, how mad they'd be if they was knowing…"
Harry briefly wondered what the elf was on about, until he nearly fell over as none other than Fred and George Weasley appeared in front of him with two loud pops.
"Hello, Harry," said Fred.
"Thought we heard you down here," said George.
"Telling off the greasy git," they said together.
"What are you doing here?" asked Harry once his heart started beating at a normal pace.
"Our parents are in the Order," said Fred.
"So the family is staying here until better wards are put up at the Burrow," said George.
"Our house," they finished together.
"Ginny and Ron are here, too," said Fred.
"So, which would you prefer, following your girlfriend to the library," said George.
"Or listening in on the Order meeting with us?"
Harry blinked a few times as he processed what they'd said. He still wasn't used to twin-speech. "Listening in?"
"Yes, young one. We have invented devices we like to call Extendable Ears," explained George.
And so, a few minutes later, Harry found himself standing atop a staircase with the four youngest Weasleys, listening in on a top secret meeting.
"Of course the writer of those articles is Rita Skeeter," said Dumbledore. "With how badly she disgraced her reputation a few years ago in the Lockhart matter, she cannot use her real name because no one believes her. Therefore her editor lets her use a quill name.
"Instead of making sure she never writes again," added Molly Weasley.
"Truthful or not," said Arthur Weasley, "Her articles sell a lot of newspapers."
"Who cares whether that brat's reputation is ruined or not," sneered Severus Snape. "It serves him right for publicly ruining my reputation."
"You ruined your own reputation, Severus!" shouted Minerva McGonagall. "Never in all my years have I seen a more unprofessional teacher than you!"
"That boy, with your help, cost us a huge advantage in this war," countered Snape. "Instead of spying at Hogwarts hearing useful information, I am reduced to brewing potions for the Dark Lord. I would've been much closer to his inner circle if you'd not interfered."
"It was your own childish attitude that interfered," countered Minerva.
"Enough," Dumbledore loudly exclaimed. "Let us move onto the next order of business – guarding the prophecy."
"Harry has already seen it," said Minerva, "and a trap has been set for You-Know-Who if he dares to take it. He's the only one beside Harry who could retrieve it. An Unspeakable told us that only the subjects of prophecies can remove them from the shelf."
"No doubt his ego has grown even more after hearing it," sneered Snape.
"Enough, Severus," interrupted Dumbledore. "Minerva, it is good news that a trap has been set. Therefore, I see no reason to waste our precious few resources guarding it. The next item on our agenda is…"
"What are you doing?" asked Hermione, who was glaring at her boyfriend and four Weasleys while holding a book in her hands. "You're spying on that meeting, aren't you?"
"Hi, Hermione," said Ron, who appeared a bit nervous around her. She, however, was completely ignoring everyone but her boyfriend.
"How else will I learn anything?" asked Harry innocently.
"There's a prophecy about you, Harry?" asked Ginny, who seemed to be looking at him in a way she never had before. She seemed to especially like his scar because she kept glancing at it.
"It's nothing, really," said Harry. "A load of rubbish Trelawney made up when Dumbledore was interviewing her for her job. You know how she is."
"Yeah, she is full of rubbish," Ron agreed.
"They talked about the prophecy?" asked Hermione.
"Yeah. Not what it said, but about guarding it," said one of the Twins.
"That's ridiculous," said Hermione.
"I know. Aunt Minnie talked him out of it," said the Boy-Who-Lived.
"What does it say, Harry?" asked Ginny in a manner that was unmistakably flirtatious. He noticed Hermione frown.
"Nothing important, just that I'd have the power to kick Voldemort's…"
"Harry, language!" interrupted Hermione.
"Butt. I was gonna say butt."
"Wow," replied Ginny in almost reverence.
"It was probably already fulfilled the night my birth-parents died, anyway. In any case, I'd rather not talk about it." Wanting to change the subject, he noticed the large tome his girlfriend was carrying. "What's that book you're holding?"
"You shouldn't have been spying," she said blandly, however her facial expression changed quickly to excited, "but I did want to talk to you about this. I found the book C.A.R.E. has been looking for."
"What?" asked Harry, hardly daring to believe it.
"That book that contains the House Elf Contract."
Shortly after that, the Order Meeting ended, and dinner was served. Molly Weasley's cooking was good, but somehow he preferred his own mother's. Ron Weasley displayed his usual table manners, practically eating his plate as he shoved mouthful after mouthful of mashed potatoes and roast beef into the black hole he called his mouth. His mother tried correcting him many times, but nothing could dissuade him from convincing everyone at the table that he was part swine.
When the meal was finished, the McGonagalls and Hermione left for Aunt Minnie's mansion, where Hermione was able to happily read through the book she'd found. After she'd studied it for a few hours, reading a full account of the war that wizards had forced on the peaceful elves until they were thoroughly defeated and forced into their servant contract, she was anxious to discuss it.
"It would seem at first glance that the contract the elves were forced to sign is air-tight, without any loopholes. However, I there is one possible way to free them all. Tell me if you agree. Here's the way it's worded.
'We, the English elves, in order to end the hostilities between us and the English wizards, hereby pledge the complete servitude of ourselves and all our descendants forever to the following families until they free us by giving us clothes directly from their hand:…'
"What's left is a list of names designating which elves belong to which families. Do any of you see the loophole?"
"I don't," replied Aunt Minnie.
"Neither do I," agreed Cindy.
"It says hostilities instead of war," pointed out Brianna. "Is that what you're talking about?"
"Exactly," replied Hermione.
"Hostilities could mean a lot more than just war," said Harry excitedly. "Hermione, you're a genius!"
"Every time any wizard has so much as spit at an elf could be counted as hostility," said Minerva in awe.
"It could even be interpreted to mean yelling at elves," said Hermione. "And that part of the contract doesn't even specify that it has to be a particular wizard being hostile to a particular elf. If any English wizard has ever been hostile toward an English elf since this contract was signed, which we know has happened more times than we could count, then the contract is null and void, so the magical consequences of elves breaking the contract no longer exist. They can all leave their masters today!"
"If only we could convince them of that," added Harry.
"Hmm," said Hermione as she bit her bottom lip. "That could be a problem."
"Yeah," agreed Brianna. "The elves that get confiscated by the Ministry because of abuse simply end up with different, non-abusive owners."
Aunt Minnie added, "They accept that because they're still serving a family, as they believe is right and proper."
"What would probably be best for them is to somehow convince them to accept wages for their services so that they continue acting as butlers and maids if they wish, but can leave anytime they want."
"Begging your pardon," said Blinky, the McGonagall family elf. She looked nervous to be interrupting, but Harry took it as a good sign that she'd interrupted at all.
"Yes, Blinky?" said Minerva.
"But even if the contract is being void, house elves is still being happy as slaves. At least when we is not being abused. We isn't wanting money or freedom."
"We know, Blinky," said Harry sympathetically as he got down on one knee so he could look her in the eyes, "even when we try to help. We don't want you to suffer. What could we do to change the minds of elves like you to happily accept proper payment for the wonderful, valuable services you provide?"
"Blinky isn't knowing," the elf replied, almost seeming on the verge of tears because she couldn't provide an answer.
"That leaves us back at square one," commented Hermione miserably.
"Not quite," said Harry. "At least now we know that elves won't suffer any consequences if they do come around." He sighed. "We should include all of this in the next C.A.R.E. newsletter."
"Naturally, and we can ask for ideas on how to convince elves to want freedom."
Shortly after that, everyone went to bed, Hermione sleeping in Brianna's room. The next morning after breakfast Hermione went home (after thoroughly kissing her boyfriend goodbye) and the McGonagalls went to the International airport to floo to America, where they were met by Mark McGonagall, Sirius Black and Remus Lupin. Of course, the latter two, being wanted fugitives, were disguised as the same people they'd been the previous summer - redheaded brothers named Seth and Ralph Wilder, cousins of the McGonagall family.
By this time, they both had a house of their own, along with their own muggle woodworking business. They would take orders to make literally anything out of wood, but would never let the customers watch them work. What they'd actually do is transfigure wood into whatever shape was needed in a matter of seconds, although they'd pretend it took them a week to do it, so as not to arouse suspicion. That was also the reason that they did have a functioning muggle workshop filled with the proper equipment, kept in a condition that indicated that it was used (not too clean to be believed). They could also fix anything brought to them as well with a simple Reparo. They were quickly earning reputations as master craftsmen. However, they absolutely refused to teach anyone else their techniques and they didn't open other shops, despite the fact that many customers wanted them to do both. They both loved the fact that they could finish all their work for a week in less than an hour with magic and just pretend to be busy the rest of the time. That way, Remus always had plenty of time to deal with his furry little problem each month without calling off sick, as had lost him several muggle jobs in his past. He had finally learned to brew his own wolfsbane under Cindy's firm tutelage, so she no longer had to brew the potion for him.
"Dad, Cousin Seth, Cousin Ralph!" exclaimed Harry as he hugged them each in turn. "I'm glad to see you."
About an hour later, after stopping off for a quick bite to eat, Harry found himself entering his childhood home for the first time in several months. They'd already worked out what they'd tell their muggle friends about Harry's new look. He'd simply dyed his hair black and was in a car crash that caused his scar. No doubt his magical friends already knew his true identity, as the Triwizard Tournament was an International event, covered by virtually all wizarding newspapers. Harry briefly wondered how that would affect his friendships in America, but realized that those friendships weren't very close anymore since he'd started Hogwarts. Now, he only saw those people a few times a year.
While he was levitating his trunk up the stairs, the doorbell rang. He hurried up to get out of sight in case it was a muggle while his mom declared, "I've got it."
After he'd carefully placed his trunk on the floor in his room, Harry made his way down the stairs to see the visitor that he found had the attention of every occupant of the house, including Sirius and Remus (who were still in disguise). He gave the visitor his full attention.
It was a woman who appeared in her mid-twenties. She was wearing blue jeans and a colorful t-shirt. What stood out the most about her was probably the fact that her hair was hot pink. Noticing him, she spoke.
"Wotcher, Harry. I'm Tonks, a member of the Order of the Phoenix. I'm also an auror on holiday."
"Really?" he asked.
"Yeah. I'm here to provide some extra security. Once my holiday's over, others will be taking turns guarding this house, but my job is to make it as secure as possible. It's unlikely that Voldemort will come all the way over here, but it's better to be safe than sorry." She went on to explain that she would be adding more warding the house than the goblins had done the previous year, including the floo, with everything short of a Fidelius Charm. She also gave them each emergency portkey necklaces to a house nearby that she had put under the Fidelius. Harry's was a silver chain with a tiny golden snitch (non-animated) on it.
The Boy-Who-Lived was quite fascinated by the different wards Tonks put up and watched her do it, taking copious notes so that he'd be able to properly explain them to his girlfriend on their nightly call.
A few days later, Harry got an owl that let him know that the same carnival they'd attended workshops at the previous year was back that summer. However, they had the very same workshops of the year before so Harry didn't plan to attend them again, although he would be using his lifetime pass to enjoy the rides there. He did, however, tell Padma Patil about the offered classes. Her family had been planning to visit the McGonagalls during the summer anyway, so they allowed her to spend the required month there rather than just the planned two weeks.
"Of course I don't have a problem with it," said Hermione over the mirror when Harry explained that Padma and Parvati would be staying at his house (in the guest room) for two weeks before their parents arrived. He had been worried she might be uncomfortable with him spending more time with the Patil sisters. "I trust both you and Padma, and know Padma will keep her sister in line. I know you won't be doing anything behind my back." She smiled at him. "Besides, if you do cheat on me, that means you were never really mine to begin with."
"You know I love you and would never do that, don't you?" he replied.
"Yes, I do. Besides, you'll be calling me every night like usual, right?"
"Of course, Hermione. I could never sleep without talking to you first," Harry replied, trying to sound romantic.
"I put you sleep, do I," she replied with a smirk.
"No, um, er, you know what I meant. I…"
"I know. Good night, Harry."
"Good night, love."
"Hi, Padma!" said Harry enthusiastically at the airport when she and her sister emerged from the secret area. "It's great to see you!" Their parents would arrive in two weeks, at which time they'd all be staying at a nearby hotel.
"It's good to see you, too, Harry," his friend replied. "It's hard to believe it's been about eight months since we've seen each other in person. With that scar and hair, it's like you're a different boy. You didn't seem as different talking on a small mirror but now, it's like you've changed a lot. I think you're a bit taller, too."
"I agree," said Harry's mother, the only McGonagall to accompany him to the airport. "I noticed that when I saw him in England."
"He's also gained a bit more muscle, if I'm not mistaken," said Parvati while eying him up and down. "To think I knew Harry Potter all this time but never knew it."
"Well, I still am the same person, even if I look a bit different," he replied uncomfortably.
"I still can't believe Padma didn't tell me," complained the Patil in Gryffindor.
Harry replied, "She, like my girlfriend Hermione, was sworn to secrecy." He hoped that reminder might discourage Parvati from making any advances toward him. He'd had enough of that in France.
"But you could trust me with your secrets, too," replied Parvati flirtatiously.
Wanting to end this conversation quickly, he said, "We'd better get going."
During the course of the next two weeks, the Patil girls attended the workshops during the day and spent the evenings with the McGonagalls. Parvati did a bit of flirting every few days, but seemed to not really be trying at full force. That might have had something to do with both Brianna and Padma making sure Harry was never alone with her. The night before Hermione arrived, however, the Gryffindor Patil did manage to corner Harry in the kitchen.
"Hello, Harry," she said as she opened to kitchen door to find Harry looking in the refrigerator for a midnight snack.
He stuck his head out to see that the girl was dressed in a rather short pink sleeveless nightgown that showed most of her legs. He swallowed before replying, "Hi, Parv," and sticking his head back into the fridge while trying to regain his composure. He heard her step closer to him.
She placed a hand on his shoulder, gently prodding him to the side, before saying, "Mind if I take a look, too?"
"Help yourself," he replied, pulling his head out and turning toward the door. "I'm not really that hungry."
"Why are you avoiding me?" she asked before he left.
Sighing, he turned around to face her. "Because you keep flirting with me. I have a girlfriend that I'm very happy with and don't like it when people try to get me to betray her. I do like you as a friend, but if you're going to always try to flirt with me, I can't be in the same room with you. That's how I stayed faithful to Hermione in France, and it's what I'll do here if I have to."
"Don't deny it, Parv. Please don't insult my intelligence."
Her expression seemed genuinely repentant. "I'm sorry, Harry. I didn't realize how serious you are about Gr…Hermione."
"I love her, but that's not the point. The point is that any guy who would cheat on his girlfriend to be with you will cheat on you with the next girl he fancies the moment you're not around. Why on earth would you want that kind of guy?"
"I never thought of it that way before," she admitted.
"Then you have something new to think about," he quipped rather harshly. When he saw how hurt she appeared, he said, "I'm sorry I was so harsh. I just want to be very clear with you. I am in love with Hermione Granger; therefore, I am not interested in anyone else." He took a deep breath. "I won't tell Hermione about your attempts to…gain my attention, but you've got to stop. I'm not going to betray her trust. Besides, if she sees you flirting with me, she'll hex you until your whole body is covered with zits." He smirked as he said that. "Goodnight, Parvati."
"Aguamenti!" said Brianna in the magical section of O'Hare. It had been about five minutes since the Grangers had arrived by international floo and Harry had been kissing Hermione since then. The jet of cold water hit both their faces, causing them to separate immediately, both glaring at the culprit.
"Brianna, I'm gonna…" said Harry.
"Gonna what?" she replied with a smirk. "I'll bet Mr. and Mrs. Granger wished they'd done it themselves." The couple in question did seem pleased with the results of Brianna's spell.
"Well," said Adam, "You two were getting pretty…er…affectionate."
"We simply missed each other, Dad," defended Hermione.
"I just think you're father is forgetting that his daughter is nearly sixteen – not six," interrupted Marissa. She'd had a long mother-daughter talk with Hermione over the summer about Harry, whom they both expected would become the man Hermione would one day marry. The girl in question had been both embarrassed and informed about many subjects that her mother believed would soon come up between the couple. She never mentioned that conversation with her boyfriend. "By the way, I think your new hair color suits you very well." She didn't comment on the light scar that was on his forehead. Her daughter had explained the whole situation to her parents, both of whom were pleased he hadn't kept that secret from her, even if he had from just about the rest of the world.
"Thanks," he replied uneasily, rubbing his hand through his hair. "It's still hard to get used to seeing black hair in a mirror though."
The Patil parents were also there being hugged by their daughters, who couldn't stop talking about how wonderful the magical workshop they'd been attending was. Padma especially enjoyed the enchanting class while Parvati loved the dueling class. Their parents then introduced themselves to everyone and they decided to stop off at a restaurant together.
The party of twelve (5 McGonagalls, 4 Patils and 3 Grangers) ended up waiting about fifteen minutes while tables were set up together with the kids (although they didn't like being called that) at one end and the adults on the other at the restaurant, where they enjoyed the meal and conversation. It was obvious to everyone that Harry and Hermione had moved their chairs to be next to each other and probably would've preferred to share the same one. Luckily, no one, not even Brianna, commented on that. The Patils and Grangers had both rented cars, and Harry persuaded the Grangers to let him ride with them.
"It's hard getting used to driving on the wrong side of the street," commented Adam as the 'caravan' moved forward.
"I'm sure you'll manage," replied his wife. "It's not like this is the first time we've been to America."
"I know," he replied. "I just wish that one feature was the same everywhere. It would simplify things incredibly."
In the back of the car, Harry and Hermione were snuggling together more than talking. They'd kept up with each other every day with their mirror-phones, but missed each other's actual presence and were hardly paying attention to anything else. When Mr. Granger noticed this in the rear view mirror, he wasn't sure whether to be pleased or upset. He genuinely liked Harry, although it was hard to get used to his new – apparently genuine – appearance. The only trouble was that he knew he was no longer the most important man in his daughter's life.
The whole group arrived safely at the McGonagall house. Even though the Patils would be staying at a nearby hotel, they had a few hours before they had to check in. Padma almost immediately grabbed Harry and Hermione, saying she had something she wanted to talk with them about, claiming it was 'Ravenclaw stuff' when her sister wanted to join.
Once they were alone, the girl said, "I waited until I could show both of you; that's why I didn't tell you, Harry." She then stood still, concentrated and her body morphed into that of a raven and began flying around her best friends.
Harry chuckled, "I guess that is Ravenclaw business." After a moment, he added, "That's what we should call you – Ravenclaw."
"Assigning Marauder names, now?" asked Hermione while Padma changed back into a human.
"Why not?" he asked with a grin. "It's what Cousins Seth and Ralph want. They told me." Of course, all three of them knew the true identities of those individuals – fugitives Sirius Black and Remus Lupin.
"Then we'll call Harry, 'Furball,' quipped Padma, causing Hermione to start laughing hysterically at the look on her boyfriend's face.
"Actually," he said, sounding frustrated, "I was thinking more along the lines of 'Claws.'
"Whatever you say, Furball," replied Padma.
"You do realize that eating birds is in the nature of cats, don't you," he replied, looking rather put out.
"I'm sorry, Furball. I didn't mean…"
Seeing that this joke was going on a bit too long, and despite the fact she thought it was cute, Hermione interrupted. "What about me?"
"How about, 'Gorgeous?'" asked Harry, glad to change the subject and make his girlfriend blush at the same time.
"I'm serious, Harry."
"Oh? Did you Polyjuice into Hermione, then, Cousin Seth?"
"Sorry, dear," he replied, not looking the least bit contrite for his little joke. "How about, 'Whiskers?'"
"I suppose that'll do," said Hermione. "It's harder to come up with these names than you'd think."
"We could always change them later," said Padma, "unless we permanently write them on a map or something."
Shortly after that, the trio left the room, satisfied that now all of them could change form. They soon showed Minerva as well, who expressed great pride in all of them. "You've all achieved a form just in time for me to begin teaching Brianna." Although Harry had some fears about the kind of pranks his sister would perform as an animal, he wisely kept his mouth shut.
The next major event of the summer was Harry's birthday party, which was now on July 31st instead of the fake date they'd used before. Harry received much Quidditch-related merchandise, some Game Boy games, as well as a few prank items in disguise from the Marauders. They instructed him privately to use them well. It was basically an entire box full of Zonko samples, including dung bombs, joke candy, etc.
Right after the party, Minerva asked to talk to Harry alone. Once they were in the room she was staying at, she said, "I suppose I'll just get to the point. Mr. Dumbledore wants to begin meeting with you in my office approximately once per month for some sort of training."
His curiosity peaked, he asked, "What kind of training? Powerful spells? Ancient rituals?"
"I'm afraid he was quite tight-lipped about it. I told him I'd relay the message and abide by your wishes."
He took a deep breath. "I do have some problems with certain decisions he's made, but there's no question that he's quite knowledgeable and powerful." He shrugged his shoulders. "I suppose I'll try it out, but it had better be worth my time or I'll stop."
The next month seemed to fly by. Minerva was pleased to personally deliver a prefect badge to Harry, Hermione and Parvati, commenting that Neville Longbottom would be the male Gryffindor prefect. Aunt Minnie did warn the Ravenclaws that if she even suspected they were misusing their position to find extra snogging time, she'd give Hermione's badge to Padma, who was Flitwick's second choice from that house.
She also warned him that Minister Fudge was forcing her to hire one of his lackeys in the Defense Against the Dark Arts position since she couldn't find someone to replace Moody, who'd gone back into retirement, claiming he was too old to be teaching and would be of more use to the Order without a job taking up his time. She told Harry that she believed he would be that person – Delores Umbridge's – main target and she'd try to start trouble with him.
Fudge had decided that the best way to welcome their savior back to Wizarding Britain was with distrust and libel. He'd been misusing his influence with the press in an attempt to turn everyone in the country against him. Harry said he was confident his real friends would stick with him and didn't care what others thought.
The Grangers and Patils left for England in the middle of August, leaving poor Harry with no one to kiss for a few weeks, a fact his little sister teased him about relentlessly until their mom put a stop to it. Harry was very happy when the month ended and he returned to England, at least until he reached Platform Nine and Three-Quarters.
Please review. Thank you to those who have.
Yes, I slightly changed the prophecy on purpose. I changed 'Neither can live…' to 'The Dark Lord can't live…' because Harry McGonagall has lived and will continue living happy and with a family that loves him. Whereas Dumbledore in canon made certain that Harry Potter didn't live; rather he existed miserably with a family that hated him. Even coming to Hogwarts was a mixed blessing and curse because of all the dangers he faced at the 'safest place in Britain.'
Also, I don't think Umbridge would've been able to send Dementors across the ocean after Harry, so that incident didn't occur.