Author's Note:

This story was written in 2011 as a celebration of the birthday of my favourite character in the Harry Potter series. It also turned out to be the first, brief instalment of my Epithalamium series of stories chronicling the life of Minerva McGonagall.

A few notes:

There is no McGonagall tartan; I made it up, along with the names of Minerva's parents and grandmother (Pottermore be damned.)

The song Morna sings, and from which this story takes its title, is from Scottish poet Robert Burns's 1791 poem "The Bonie Wee Thing". You'll find several renditions on YouTube, but my favourite (not on YouTube, alas, as of this writing) is by Scottish soprano Marie McLaughlin on her album Songs of Scotland (Hyperion, 2000).

Bonie wee thing, cannie wee thing
Lovely wee thing, wert thou mine,
I wad wear thee in my bosom,
Lest my jewel it should tine.

~ Robert Burns, "The Bonie Wee Thing"

"You have a wee girl!" cried the midwife, holding the squalling infant up for her new parents to see.

The big man with the ginger hair and beard wept with unabashed joy as he kissed his wife's still-damp brow.

"A girl, Morrigan. Think o' that! We have a daughter," he said, wiping his sleeve across his leaking eyes.

"Aye, and healthy as can be, by the looks of her," said the midwife, who had wiped the baby off and wrapped her in a soft blanket. After she handed the bundle to its mother, she took her wand and changed the blanket's colour from yellow to pink.

"There," she said with satisfaction, "she's a properly attired little lassie."

"None of that, now," said Morrigan. "She'll be no pink, prancing princess, our daughter. Give her some swaddling more appropriate to a McGonagall witch, Thorfinn," she said to her husband.

Thorfinn McGonagall drew his wand and touched it to his daughter's blanket, which immediately filled with the ribbons of yellow, maroon, and black against a background of deep green that formed the McGonagall tartan.

"Better?" he asked.

"Aye, much," she said.

The midwife withdrew discreetly to allow the little family to get acquainted.

Drawing back the blanket, Morrigan McGonagall ran her fingers gently over the black fuzz that covered her baby daughter's head.

"She has your hair," said the child's father, reverently touching the downy head.

"Aye," said Morrigan. "But it'll fall out, and then we'll see what she ends up with."

"Not my ginger, I hope," said Thorfinn, putting a hand to his own head. "Far better she should look like her mother."

Morrigan just smiled at that.

"Her eyes are bonnie blue like yours," said Thorfinn.

"They might change, though," said Morrigan. "I rather hoped she'd have your great, brown cow's eyes."

Just then, the wee girl decided to add her two Knuts to the discussion of her appearance, issuing forth a piercing cry of indignation, her little legs attempting to kick free of the tight swaddling that held them.

"Oh, and she has your temper, too," said Thorfinn, gently teasing his wife.

"And your great, bellowing voice," said Morrigan. "I think she dislikes being bound so tightly. Help me here," she added, and together they unwrapped the angry legs so they could pedal and kick freely.

The baby immediately calmed herself.

"She'll be no shrinking violet, that's certain," said Thorfinn.

There was a gentle knock at the door.

"Come in," said Thorfinn.

The door opened to reveal his mother-in-law.

"May I see my first-born grandchild?" asked Morna McLaughlin.

"Of course, Mother," said Morrigan. "Come have a look at her."

Morna approached the bed and took a few moments to inspect the baby. "Och, Morrigan, she's absolutely beautiful!"

"Isn't she?" said Thorfinn. "Looks like her mother, I think."

"Aye, that she does. She's the very image of Morrigan as a baby," said Morna, tears coming to her eyes. After reassuring herself that her daughter was well, she asked, "May I hold her?"

Morrigan nodded, and Morna gathered the baby in her arms. The child began to make fussing noises, and her grandmother started to sing to her:

"Bonnie wee thing, cannie wee thing,
Lovely wee thing, wert thou mine
I would wear thee in my bosom,
Lest my jewel I should tine."

The baby continued to fuss, though, and Morna said to her in hushed tones, "There now, lass . . . it's hungry you are, I think. Shall I give you back to your mother, then?"

Morrigan took the baby, and after a few false starts, put her to the breast.

When the baby was finished feeding, Morrigan gently rubbed her back to coax a burp from her tiny belly. The child presently obliged, making her parents and grandmother laugh in delight at her trick.

"She has a healthy appetite," said Morna.

"Aye," said Thorfinn. "I'll have no dainty, bird-like eaters in this house."

"You haven't held her yet, Thorfinn," said Morrigan. "Here, come take her a minute."

"Oh, no . . . I . . . I don't think so," stammered the man.

"What, afraid of a wee baby, are ye, Thorfinn McGonagall?" asked Morrigan. "Here, take her. She won't break, I promise you. You're made of stronger stuff than that, aren't ye, my lamb?" she cooed at the baby. "Here, Thorfinn."

Knowing that his wife would brook no objection, Thorfinn tentatively took his daughter from Morrigan's arms. "Well, hello there," he said to the baby. "I'm your daddie," and it was clear to everyone in the room that the man was immediately smitten.

"I'll teach you your letters and your numbers, lass," he crooned at his daughter, gently swaying back and forth on his large legs. "And I'll show ye how to change a matchstick into a needle, and how to . . ."

Thorfinn's lullaby was cut off when the midwife came back into the room.

"Sorry to interrupt," she said, "but I have to have another look at the baby now."

Thorfinn reluctantly handed his daughter over.

As the midwife examined the baby, she asked, "Has she fed yet?"

"Aye," said Morrigan, "and had a grand burp after."

"Excellent," said the midwife. "And now I think you're ready for a wee nap, my dove," she said to the baby.

She placed the baby back in Morrigan's arms and began to tuck the blanket back around the child's legs.

The baby let out a squawk, and the blanket suddenly, forcefully, whipped itself back and off the child's legs.

The room was quiet with shock for a moment.

"Did you do that, lass?" asked an awestruck Thorfinn, bending over his child.

"I think she did," said Morrigan. "She doesn't like swaddling," she explained to the midwife.

"Evidently," the astonished woman said. "It's a powerful witch you have there, I think."

Morrigan nodded.

"Does she have a name yet?" asked the midwife. "I need to register it."

Morrigan and Thorfinn looked at one another for a moment, then Thorfinn said, "Minerva. We're calling her Minerva."

More in the Epithalamium Series

For anyone who is interested, there are links and information on the backstory for characters and events in the "Epithalamium universe" on my website ( ).

If you'd like to know more about Minerva and Albus's adventures, you might enjoy the following stories, set in the same universe.

Bonnie Wee Thing | Epithalamium #0.5 ~ A short story that takes place on the day of Minerva McGonagall's birth.

One to Keep an Eye On | Epithalamium #0.72 ~ Young Minerva has her first Transfiguration class. It does not go as Albus expects.

From Jupiter's Head | Epithalamium #0.75 ~ Thorfinn McGonagall observes his daughter, Minerva, as she grows up, and finds that she is a very unusual witch.

Epithalamium | Epithalamium #1 ~ An epic romance novel that follows Minerva McGonagall from her seventh year at Hogwarts through her first year of teaching.

1945 | Epithalamium #1.5 ~ An excerpt from Epithalamium. Albus Dumbledor travels to Germany to confront Gellert Grindelwald.

Come Autumn, Sae Pensive | Epithalamium #3 ~ A novel following Minerva McGonagall and Albus Dumbledore through an unexpected pregnancy and its aftermath.

Winterreise | Epithalamium #3.5 ~ A short story about tension between Minerva McGonagall and Albus Dumbledore.

Familiar Rituals | Epithalamium #3.6 ~ A short story about some end-of-term rituals and how Minerva McGonagall became Head of Gryffindor House.

Mammals of the Order Chiroptera | Epithalmium #3.7 ~ A short story in which Severus Snape observes members of the Order of the Phoenix at closer range than he would perhaps like.

Ca' the Yowes | Epithalamium #3.8 ~ A fluffy short story featuring Minerva McGonagall just after the Stunner attack in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

Because It Is Bitter, and Because It Is My Heart | Epithalamium #4 ~ A novella about the lengths Minerva McGonagall and Severus Snape must go to in the prosecution of the war after Dumbledore's death.


This work of fiction is based on characters and settings created by J. K. Rowling. All recognisable characters, settings, and plot elements are copyright © J. K. Rowling.

The author believes this work falls within the scope of the Fair Use Doctrine as a transformative work. For more information, see the Organization for Transformative Works.

All original characters, settings, and plot elements are copyright © 2011 Squibstress.

This work of fiction is available for use under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) license.