DISCLAIMER: J.K. Rowling owns Harry Potter. I don't.
Hand Delivered Letter
Chapter One – You're a Wizard
Minerva McGonagall, Deputy Headmistress at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Transfiguration teacher, and head of Gryffindor house, sat at her desk as she began her pre school year work. Namely, sending out letters to all of the first year students and making note of which ones were muggleborn since she would need to hand deliver those letters and explain to the children and their parents about the magical world, as well as show them how to get to places like Diagon Alley and Platform 9 ¾.
She was basically working on automatic, having done the job for so many years now, that she nearly missed a very important name.
Seeing his name on the list of students to begin that year brought up a well of emotions she had not felt for nearly ten years, and she could not help but think back to that night when she, Dumbledore, and Hagrid had left the recently orphaned Harry on the doorstep of his only living relatives. This also brought back memories of her spending the day watching that family while disguised in her cat animagus form and remembered how awful they had seemed. She had promised herself that she would check in on Harry on a regular basis, just to ensure he was adjusting well in his new home and after the death of his parents.
Unfortunately, her responsibilities at Hogwarts had prevented her from doing as she wished and so she sated her curiosity about Harry by asking Albus how things were, knowing that he had placed a friend of his within the neighborhood in order to keep an eye on young Harry.
Checking her schedule, McGonagall found that she had a few extra hours during her time allotted for meeting with the new muggleborn students and their families, and so she decided that she would kill two fwooper's with one stone and personally deliver Harry his Hogwarts letter and see just how he was doing for herself.
It was just a little over two weeks later when McGonagall had finished visiting the muggleborn students, her last one a young witch named Hermione Granger, who had spent nearly the entire time asking as many questions as she could think of. It was only during the tour she gave the Granger's of Diagon Alley and when Hermione came across the bookstore did her questions cease, though only because she started grabbing almost every book that she could.
As McGonagall had watched Hermione attempt to talk her parents into buying the very large pile of books she had selected, she could tell that the young girl was obvious Ravenclaw material.
Double checking to make sure she had Harry's letter, McGonagall walked up the path towards the front door of Number Four, Privet Drive, passing the mailman as she went.
Within seconds after McGonagall knocked on the door, she heard someone shout from inside, "Don't just stand around there boy, answer the door."
This gave McGonagall a moments pause as the tone of voice didn't sound like a request, but more like the way most pureblood wizards sound when ordering their house elf to do something.
When the door opened, McGonagall almost staggered back as for a moment she could have sworn she was looking at James Potter when he first came to Hogwarts all those years ago. She quickly regained her composure and looked Harry over. He was almost the spitting image of James, only a little skinnier than he had been and Harry also had the same shocking green colored eyes that his mother Lily had. She knew that if he grew up to be just as handsome as James had been, along with those eyes, he could possibly be even more of a ladies man than the traitor, Sirius Black, had been during his time at Hogwarts.
"Hello?" asked Harry.
"Harry?" asked McGonagall.
"Yes," said Harry, sounding a little surprised that this woman knew who he was.
"My name is Minerva McGonagall," she said. "You may not know me, but I was friends with your parents."
"My… My parents?" asked Harry.
"Yes," said McGonagall. "They were students of mine at Hogwarts. I'm sure your aunt and uncle told you about Hogwarts."
"I'm sorry," said Harry. "But I have never heard of such a place."
"Never?" asked a surprised McGonagall. "But… Then how did they explain everything to you?"
"I'm afraid I don't understand what you mean," said Harry. "All I know about my parents is that my dad was a no good drunk and my mum was a whore and that they died in a car wreck. It's how I got my scar."
Harry lifted up his bangs to show the lightning bolt shaped scar that was famously known in the wizarding world.
"Drunk?" asked McGonagall, feeling her anger starting to rise. "Whore? Car wreck?"
"Boy, who is at the door?" came a female voice from down the hall. "If they're selling something, send them off."
Petunia came into view and gasped when she laid eyes on McGonagall, who she still remembered from all those years ago when the woman had come to her parents' house with the news that her freak sister was a witch.
"VERNON!" Petunia shouted, the fear in her voice quite evident.
Vernon Dursley came waddling out of the kitchen with a sandwich as big as his head in his hand.
"What is it?" he asked.
"You two have a lot of explaining to do," McGonagall said as she stepped into the house.
"Madam, I do not know who you are, but you cannot just barge into…" Vernon started to say, but went very quiet and still when McGonagall pulled her wand out of her robes.
"I suggest we all sit down and you can explain to me why it is that you not only kept the truth from Harry all these years, but told him such horrible lies about his parents," McGonagall said.
Both Vernon and Petunia felt like small children being scorned by the teacher with the way McGonagall was speaking to them, and they slowly made their way into the sitting room and sat down.
Harry followed them, but remained standing in the doorway, watching the odd site play out before him.
"Now," McGonagall said. "Who would like to go first?"
"We swore when we took him in, we would put an end to the freakishness he had in him," Vernon said, starting to feel a little confident.
"Freakishness?" asked McGonagall, sounding a little surprised.
"It's unnatural," Vernon said. "I wont have it in my house."
"What did you do to him?" McGonagall asked, afraid of what her suspicions were starting to tell her.
"Nothing he didn't deserve," Vernon said.
McGonagall looked at Petunia, who was shrinking in her set, hoping to not be noticed. She knew what the woman could do if she so desired, and was afraid that if her husband didn't keep quiet, the woman would use her wand on them in some way.
"Harry?" McGonagall said, turning to look at the young boy. "Could you come here please?"
Harry slowly made his way over to the strange woman.
"Tell me Harry, did they ever hit you?" she asked, trying to sound as calm and caring as she could, even though right now she was feeling quite angry. Not only at the Dursley's, but also at Dumbledore, who she had warned him all those years ago that it was a bad idea to leave him there.
Harry looked over at his uncle, who was glaring daggers at the boy, trying to convey that if he said anything, he would pay for it later. Harry didn't know what this woman could do to help him, or even if she could, so he just lowered his head and remained silent.
However, after years of dealing with all sorts of students, McGonagall was able to read Harry's actions and the truth he was ashamed to admit. Unfortunately, she also knew that if she tried to force him to talk about it, he would just retreat further into himself, shielding himself from her and any chance she had of helping him. She needed to gain his trust first.
So instead, she reached into her robes and pulled out a thick yellow envelope with emerald green writing on it.
"Harry," she said. "The truth, that your aunt and uncle have kept from you all these years, is that you are a wizard."
"A what?" asked Harry, looking up at her in surprise.
"A wizard," repeated McGonagall. "Your father, James, was a wizard as well, and your mother was a witch. One of the most brilliant witches I have ever had the good fortune of teaching in all my years at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Everything your aunt and uncle told you about your parents was a lie. Including the way they died."
"ENOUGH!" shouted Vernon as she stood up. "I will not allow that boy to be an even bigger freak than he already is. He will be going to Stonewall High like a normal person and as soon as he's eighteen, he's out the door to let life deal with him as it pleases."
McGonagall didn't say a word. This was exactly the reaction she had been hoping for, and so she flicked her wand, which caused the table between the couch and chairs to transform into a very large lion that roared at Vernon, who squealed like a small girl before jumping over the back of the couch and hiding.
For the first time that he could ever remember, Harry laughed.
"That was amazing," Harry said. "Can I do that?"
"Maybe," said McGonagall. "After, of course, you are properly educated in Transfiguration, which is what I teach… Now Harry… I know this must be difficult for you. But please… Are things as bad as they seem here?"
Harry lowered his head again, but this time instead of remaining silent, he nodded his head a bit.
"How bad?" she asked.
"They… They hit me," Harry quietly said. "When things happen that I can't explain or even know why they happened, they get mad at me. They call me a freak and hit me before locking me in my cupboard."
"You're cupboard?" asked McGonagall.
Harry nodded again and pointed at a small door built into the side of the stairs that had a lock on it.
McGonagall stood up and made her way to the door, which she opened and looked at the small, confined space. She was shocked at what she was seeing. On the floor was a small pile of ratty blankets, including, she noticed, the very same one Harry had been wrapped in when he was a baby and left on the Dursley's doorstep. She then noticed that the blankets were arranged in the shape of a bed, and where a pillow would be was a dirty looking mop. In the far corner she spotted a bucket, which upon closer inspection, discovered it had been used as a toilet. A quick wave of her wand vanished the contents of the bucket and another wave removed the smell.
She had seen enough, and just as she was about to close the door, something caught her eye. Any doubt someone would have about Harry telling the truth would have vanished when they saw that carved into the wall were the words 'Harry's Room'. She traced her fingers along it and guessed that the young boy had done this in some attempt to make this hellish place feel like home.
McGonagall returned to her seat and looked at Petunia, who was sitting stock still, and Vernon, who was peeking over the back of the couch, afraid to move with the lion still sitting there and looking at the large man as its next meal while licking its lips.
"I cannot even begin to explain how upset I am at this moment," McGonagall said, sounding quite calm despite the rage boiling inside of her. It was only because of Harry's presence that she didn't outright curse the two muggles. "You were asked to look after this child after his parents were murdered, and instead you treated him like most purebloods treat their house elves. If it had been you two that died and your son left with Lily, she would have raised him as though he were her own… How you could be related to her, I have no idea."
Petunia flinched back slightly at hearing that, knowing that what the woman had said was true.
"It isn't like we were asked," Vernon said from his place behind the couch. "You lot just dumped that fre…" The lion started to snarl. "That boy on our doorstep without so much as a how-do-you-do or by-your-leave. We never wanted him to begin with, and he should be grateful that we allowed him to live under our roof and gave him the food from our table."
"Believe me, if it had been my decision, I would not have allowed him to be placed here all those years ago," said McGonagall. "And now I can see that I had been quite right… Harry." She turned to look at the young boy standing nearby. "As much as I know that this… Place is not good for you, I cannot just take you away from here."
Harry looked down, feeling the bit of hope that he was about to be rescued from the nightmare of his life vanish with those words.
"That is, unless you ask me to help you," said McGonagall.
Harry lifted his head and looked at her so quickly, she was afraid he would give himself whiplash.
"Do you mean it?" Harry asked.
"I do," said McGonagall.
"Please," said Harry. "Take me away from here. I… I've never felt like this was home to me."
Unbeknownst to those in the room, that statement caused the wards around the home to suddenly come crashing down. The only indication of it happening was the sudden stop of nearly a dozen silver instruments sitting on a table in an office inside a castle far to the North.
A small smile crept onto McGonagall's face, before she schooled her features into a neutral expression.
"Very well," she said. "Please, gather whatever belongings you wish to take with you."
Harry smiled a huge smile as he ran to his cupboard and started to grab the few changes of clothes that he had as well as the small blanket he had been wrapped in when he was a baby. He then reached up and pulled away a loose board to reveal a small hiding place, in which he kept a book that he found. He had kept it hidden, knowing that if the Dursley's ever knew he had it, they would take it from him.
McGonagall used her wand to change a nearby vase into a small suitcase for Harry to place his belongings into. When she saw Harry place the book into the suitcase, she couldn't help but smile as she read the title.
"Is that everything?" McGonagall asked as Harry closed the suitcase and picked it up.
"Yes ma'am," Harry said.
McGonagall nodded and then looked at the Dursley's. "I cannot say it has been a pleasure," she said before turning and starting towards the door.
"Hey," said Vernon. "What about… That?"
She turned to see him pointing at the lion.
"No transfiguration is permanent," said McGonagall. "Mr. Whiskers should return back to your table in a few hours."
"A few hours?" asked Petunia. "What are we supposed to do with a huge lion till then?"
"I would suggest that you avoid any sudden movements," McGonagall said before turning and leaving with Harry following behind her.
As soon as the door closed behind them, McGonagall let out a deep breath and said, "I apologize for my behavior in there. Normally I do not use magic to punish anyone. Especially students," she added, just to make sure that he wouldn't begin to worry that when he started Hogwarts that he wouldn't find himself facing a lion or something.
"I… I think I understand," said Harry, who glanced back at the house as they walked down the street. "They'll be okay, won't they? That lion won't eat them?"
McGonagall was a little surprised by Harry's worry over the welfare of the Dursley's. After the life he had led growing up there, she had more expected that he wouldn't care. The fact that despite what they did, that he still didn't want to see them hurt spoke volumes about the type of person he was.
"No," she said. "While it might look and sound like a real lion, it is still just a table. In fact, if they were to get up and run, all it would do is stand there and roar at them. When I cast the spell, I made it to gain their attention, not to harm them."
"Amazing," said Harry, a hint of wonder in his voice. "Is that all magic can do? Change things into other things?"
"Not at all," said McGonagall. "Magic can do almost anything. Transfiguration is just one aspect of magic. One of many that you will learn at Hogwarts."
Harry stopped and suddenly looked said.
"What is it?" McGonagall asked, kneeling down so she could look into his eyes.
"I don't think I can go," Harry said.
"Why not?" asked McGonagall, quite surprised by his statement.
"I… I don't have any money," said Harry, who then pulled out his Hogwarts letter, which he had secretly looked at while McGonagall and the Dursley's were talking. "I won't be able to afford any of these things on the list."
McGonagall smiled gently at Harry and said, "That will not be a problem."
"It won't?" asked a slightly confused Harry.
"No," said McGonagall. "From what I understand, your parents left you quite enough money to last your seven years at Hogwarts. I am not sure of the exact amount, however I do know that your tuition has already been paid for in advance, so whatever is inside your vault will be for your supplies and perhaps a little left over in order to be able to buy yourself a few little extras now and then."
Harry stood there with his mouth hanging open.
"Close your mouth Mr Potter, unless you desire to capture flies," McGonagall said, slipping back into her usual professor mode.
Harry closed his mouth, yet still stood there in shock.
"I'm sorry," he said. "Did you say vault?"
"Of course I did," said McGonagall. "Where else would you keep your money?"
"In a bank," said Harry.
"That is where the vault is," said McGonagall, who then remembered that Harry had no idea about anything regarding the wizarding world. "My apologies. I forgot that your relatives have kept you ignorant of the magical world. There is much that you need to know, so if I might suggest, I can tell you about it while a healer I know looks you over."
"Healer?" asked Harry. "Is that like a doctor?"
"Those butchers?" asked McGonagall. "Merlin, no. Healers do just as their name says. They heal without resorting to cutting people open or doing weird things to them."
"Wow," said Harry, who then started to grin. "Magic is so wicked."
"Indeed," said McGonagall. "Now, if you take my arm, we can apparate."
"Apparate?" asked Harry.
"Magical transportation," answered McGonagall.
Harry took a hold of McGonagall's arm with his free hand, and suddenly felt like he was being sucked through a very narrow hose. Before he had a chance to even attempt to get used to the sensation, the two of them were suddenly standing in the corner of a dark and slightly old looking tavern.
"Hello Minerva," a bald, toothless man said from behind the bar. "The usual gillywater for you, or is it business today?"
"Business, Tom," McGonagall said as she led Harry over to a very large fireplace.
"We'll start with your first lesson here," said McGonagall as she grabbed a small clay pot next to the fireplace. "Floo travel. This is one of the more common ways witches and wizards get around. What you do is take a pinch of floo powder, toss it into the fire like so."
McGonagall tossed the chalky black powder into the fire, causing it to flare up and turn green.
"Then you step in and say your desired destination," McGonagall continued. "It is very important to speak very clearly, otherwise you could end up hundreds of miles away from where you wanted to be. Understand?"
Harry nodded his head.
"Good," said McGonagall. "Then go ahead and step into the flames. Don't worry, while they are green, they cannot harm you in any way."
Harry slowly and hesitantly stepped into the middle of the green flames and felt a gentle warmth surround him.
"Now, our destination is a place called the Three Broomsticks, so call it out," she said. "And it is best to probably close your eyes. The trip can be a little disorientating for most people."
Harry nodded and said, "Three Broomsticks."
Just as he closed his eyes, it felt like the floor had given out underneath him and that he had been sucked up into the Earth. He could feel a very powerful gust of wind rushing past him as he spun around and around before it all came to a sudden stop and he fell onto a hard wood floor.
"Oof," Harry grunted as he landed, most of the wind knocked out of his lungs.
"'Ere, let me help you up," someone said.
Harry suddenly felt a pair of very large hands grab him and yank him up from the floor before setting him back down on his feet. He then looked up at the giant of a man wearing a large coat that looked to have been made out of moleskin. He had a very bushy beard and large beetle black eyes.
"Blimey," the man said. "You look just like James."
Just then, McGonagall stepped casually out of the fire.
"Ah, Hagrid," she said. "What a surprise to see you here."
"Just came down fer a quick drink and to say 'ello to everyone," said the large man.
"Well, it's good that you're here," said McGonagall. "You remember this young man, don't you?"
"He looks just like James," Hagrid said. "But it can't be. James… Well, you know."
Hagrid pulled out what looked like a small spotted blanket and wiped the tears now leaking from the corners of his eyes. McGonagall patted Hagrid on one of his very large arms, knowing that any mention of what happened to James and Lily caused him some sadness.
"Hagrid," she said after he blew his nose and tucked his hanky back into his pocket. "This is James and Lily's son. Harry."
"HARRY?" Hagrid almost shouted, drawing the attention of the few people in the tavern. "Blimey, I haven't seen you since you was just a baby. You sure have grown since then."
"Um, hello," Harry said.
"I remember the last time I saw you," Hagrid said. "Sleeping so peaceful as we flew on a motorcycle over Bristol as I took you to Dumbledore."
"A flying motorcycle?" Harry asked, remembering a dream he had had about a month ago. "I… I thought that was just a dream."
"You remember it?" asked McGonagall, a little surprised.
"Not really," said Harry. "I just sort of had a dream where I was sitting on a flying motorbike."
"Interesting," said McGonagall, who was now wondering if his subconscious could remember that night, did it also remember when You-Know-Who had tried to kill him.
"Anyways, I need to take Harry up to see Poppy," McGonagall said.
"Poppy?" asked Hagrid. "Is everything alright?"
McGonagall looked around, noticing everyone listening in, before she leaned in close to Hagrid, who leaned down, and whispered, "We can discuss everything later with the Headmaster."
Hagrid looked around and noticed everyone before nodding as he stood up.
"Right then," Hagrid said, a little loudly than normal. "Everything's perfectly fine. Nope, nothing wrong at all."
McGonagall closed her eyes and sighed as she thought that Hagrid was about as subtle as a dragon in the Great Hall.
As Hagrid made his way over to the bar and ordered his usual, McGonagall and Harry left while everyone started whispering to each other.
"Miss McGonagall?" Harry asked.
"Professor McGonagall," she corrected him.
"Professor," Harry said. "That Hagrid person. He was… Kind of big."
"He is," she said. "You see, Hagrid is a half-giant. His father was a wizard and his mother was a full blooded giantess. Though, please do not ask me how their union was possible, as it defies all logic." McGonagall then cleared her throat, realizing what she had just said to a young boy that was almost eleven years old. She glanced down at him and saw the look on confusion on his face, indicating that he didn't understand what she had meant, and mentally sighed in relief. "Anyways," she continued, "his parentage doesn't really matter. You probably will never find a kinder, more gentle person than Hagrid… Though, just be careful if he asks to show you any of his pets. He has a tenacity for thinking that some dangerous creatures are cute and cuddly."
Harry couldn't help but laugh at that, and then he suddenly gasped as he saw one of the most amazing sights he had ever seen.
McGonagall smiled at the look of awe and wonder on Harry's face. She never got to see the looks on any of the first year students faces when they got their first glimpse of Hogwarts. It was no wonder that Hagrid eagerly looked forward to the first of September each year.
"Welcome," she said as she started to lead the way up a long road leading to the castle, "to Hogwarts."