AN & Plot Bunny Plea!
I've been searching everywhere for a non-slash, non-Wrong-BWL, non-Potters-Lived story where Harry is adopted by Augusta and raised as a brother to Neville. I think there's a lot of potential there and a nice alternative to Malfoy-, Voldemort-, or Maurader-raised Harry. Sadly, I haven't found anything yet, nor do I have it in me to start my own epic retelling. So instead, I offer this little one-shot prologue in the hopes that it inspires someone else to write such a tale, or at least to point me towards potential stories I may have missed. Thanks!
Now, on to the story...
16 July 1986
"Albus Dumbledore, you haven't been my Transfiguration Professor for over 40 years! What do you think you can do to me—give me a detention?"
Augusta Beery Longbottom bristled with rage from the bottom of her pointed-toe buttoned-down boots to the leathery head of the vulture sitting on top of the hat which had become the last present she would ever receive from her recently-departed husband. It was time to wag her finger at the patronising and meddling Headmaster.
"Listen here, 'Mr. Since-my-chocolate-frog-card-came-out-I'm-above-it-all'—I don't have to answer to you anymore, but you had better believe that I expect you to answer to me."
"Augusta, if you would please simply take a seat, then we can discuss..."
"Hmph! 'Discuss' is Albus-speak for 'I'm going talk in circles until the person asking the question is so muddled that they've forgotten what they've come for'!" He seemed somewhat abashed by her sing-song criticism, which Gussie took as a good sign. "I know your tricks and I won't have them, I tell you! Just because you use words instead of spells doesn't make your special brand of 'Confundus' any more moral, Dumbledore- though it certainly seems to keep your fan club in line! Your version of the high ground is to view things from so high up that people look like ants, and so you think you're entitled to treat them like ants. Harry Potter is Not. An. Ant! He's a little boy, and you won't dissuade me on this matter. My mind is quite made up."
Gussie watched with satisfaction as he visibly twitched at her reprimand. She'd never understand why Minnie always seemed to have such a hard time managing the man. Seeing that her point had been adequately made, Gussie sniffed derisively, nodded at the old goat, and then genteelly took her seat in front of the desk.
"And if you even think of offering me one of your damn Sherbet Lemons, I swear to Merlin, I'll..."
Dumbledore quickly jerked his hand back from the candy dish and then sat forward with his elbows propped on the desk and his chin resting on long intertwined fingers in his 'I'm being wise and meditative' pose. They viewed each other across the Headmaster's desk like two opposing war generals posturing challenge and searching for weakness. Albus, of course, made the first move.
"The blood wards..."
"Don't you give me blood wards you old coot! What in Merlin's name are blood wards plopped in the middle of muggles worth, compared to a wizard home nearly as protected as Hogwarts? What are blood wards compared to raising Harry with his heritage?"
Albus made another volley, "The Death Eaters..."
Gussie shot up out of her chair, quivering with fury as she leaned over the desk, placing her hands flat in front of Dumbledore so that she could yell directly in his face, the vulture on her head appearing ready to rip the twinkling stars out of his own hat.
"Don't. You. Dare. Albus Dumbledore, don't you dare! Where in the bloody hell was your concern for rogue Death Eaters when my Frank dropped the protections on his home to celebrate You-Know-Who's fall? The Death Eaters are gone, Dumbledore—or at least all those that would pose a danger to young Harry and my Neville. They're gone and may they rot in hell for all eternity! They should have been kissed, and you damn well know it."
She took a deep breath to steady herself, but didn't change her position of looming over that infuriating man.
"Now you listen here, and listen closely. My husband is gone, bless his soul, and now Neville just has me and Algie and it's no good for the boy, I tell you. He needs fun in his life—balance. Algie and I are two peas in a pod—too serious to be left on our own with a little boy who's got no one else around to liven him up. And Harry's a perfect fit. He's been with those muggles for almost five years and I'd bet my broom that he's ready for something new. Besides, any possible threat would have happened by now—to him or my Neville—and it hasn't."
Dumbledore tried to interject, but Gussie wasn't about to give him any leeway.
"Now I know that you wanted him to not get his head turned with all this Boy-Who-Lived nonsense, but surely you can see that he won't be having any of that with me and Algie."
"And I'm also quite certain that you probably wanted him to have a foot in both worlds so he'd be free from any blood purity garbage or muggle-fear, but it's been long enough, Albus. Five years there, and now I'm asking for five years in our world. That's balance, but if it's still not enough for you, well, I have no problem with giving both boys more time with the muggles... provided their home and their foundation is with us. I'll even send them to a muggle school—it'll probably be a lot easier on me in the long run than homeschooling and tutors, to tell the truth. They can have that during the holidays. Now, how can you object to any of this?"
"Albus, the boys were touched by fate in your thrice-cursed prophecy. It would be good for them to have each other to rely on. They'd be brothers... practically twins! It was what my Frank and the Potters wanted, after all. I've given you time, respected your wishes, and Frances and I did real well together—we were a team. And if young Harry is anything like his father, then he'll do for Neville what Frances used to—bring light into our old house. We need this, Albus. And I'd bet anything that Harry needs us too. It's time."
At some point during her impassioned plea, Gussie had stopped looming and started pacing. Rant over, she limply dropped back into the chair and tried to steal herself for another round with the Headmaster, who appeared to be deep in thought. As the silence stretched out, Gussie's nerves started to fray. When it got to be too much, she pulled a thick scroll out of her bright red handbag and tossed it onto the desk between them. If he was going to stall, she'd just move things along herself.
"Here- the adoption papers. Everything's in order except for your signature and that of the boy's relatives. Put whatever bloody wards or charms on our house that you want—we never entertain at home. But that boy is ours. I'll drag Gringotts and the Minister and even the Daily Prophet into this if I have to."
Dumbledore gave Gussie a rather startled and dumbfounded look which gratified her to no end. His gaze then wandered to the scroll, then to a couple of his whirring gizmos (irritating things, those), to the scroll again, and finally back to Gussie, by which point his trademark twinkle had gained a calculating gleam. Gussie didn't like that- no siree.
"What if he's happy with his family, Augusta? Surely it would be cruel to rip a small child away from those he loves?"
Gussie took a deep breath and counted to ten. She was nearly there, and it wouldn't do her any good to lose her head, now. After finally suppressing the urge to strangle, Gussie looked up at him and countered his calculating look with one of innocent sweetness.
"What child wouldn't love magic, Albus? Wouldn't want to know more about where he came from?"
At Dumbledore's stern glance, Gussie relented. Damn! It had been worth a try.
"Fine. You and I can go visit him and talk to Harry and his family. If they are truly as attached as you believe they are, then I will simply ask for magical guardianship and make arrangements for Neville to attend Harry's school. From there, we can work on shared holidays and whatnot. Does that seem a fair idea to you, oh Supreme Mugwump?" She couldn't quite keep the bitter sarcasm out of her voice by the end.
Thankfully, Dumbledore fell back in his seat, which was the international 'great wizard' sign of defeat.
"Very well, Augusta. I can see that you have given the matter thorough consideration, and you've made many valid points." The Headmaster sighed and appeared to gather himself for one final effort. "I will put through the paperwork for magical guardianship now, and then we can visit the boy and his family in two days' time."
She wasn't falling for it. "Why wait? I'm free, you're free. Let's go now. We'll get a better view of what's really going on if we arrive out of the blue." Gussie had never forgotten Minnie's assertion of "the worst type of muggles" and didn't want to give the old codger a chance to sweep under the rug anything nasty that may come to light on the boy's living conditions. If all went well, her grandson would have a 6th birthday present better than anything money could buy.
Dumbledore sighed again, nodded, and gestured to his office door. Gussie peered sharply at him, then with a firm triumphant nod of her own, she exited the office, quite unaware of the suddenly amused gaze that followed her.
Albus shook his head, sighed a third time, and rubbed his eyes wearily. It had been a good plan five years ago, but perhaps it was indeed time for a change. One thing was certain—Augusta Beery may not have been a top student, but she was certainly a spitfire.
From the HP Lexicon:
(early 20th century)
Hogwarts professor of Herbology when Dumbledore was a young Transfiguration teacher (so in the first half of the 20th century). He directed the one and only Hogwarts Christmas pantomime, based on "The Fountain of Fair Fortune". It was a complete disaster. After leaving Hogwarts, he taught at the Wizarding Academy of the Dramatic Arts, but he never again produced a play based on that particular story (TBB).
I liked the idea of Herbology being in Neville's blood, like flying is for Harry. I can see the cycle of crazy uncles starting with Augusta having an Uncle Herbie instead of an Uncle Algie, and I can also see how having a flamboyant presence in her life would both lead her to being a bit severe and strict, but at the same time also lead her to being attracted to someone who would dare put a gerbil in her handbag (see the Harry Potter wiki for more). I've stayed away from making Augusta snobby and upper-class. We know that she's pureblood and strict, but as the Weasleys demonstrate, that doesn't mandate that she be plum-mouthed (though I'm sure she can put on a good show when in public). Minerva (also a bit uptight, and easy to see the two "girls" as friends in school) has already stated that Augusta didn't get an OWL in Charms. Personally, Charms seems like one of the softer options at Hogwarts, so I've extrapolated that she really wasn't any great shakes at the book-learnin'. I'm assuming that Frank got his skills from his prankster father. Then again, I'm picturing Gussie as a sort of female Alastor, so maybe Frank did get it from her after all.