Chapter Six: Binding by Love
A thick coating of snow covered the land surrounding the quaint cottage and gave the windows a frosted, sugary look. Cozy lights blazed on the bottom floor, setting off a welcoming warmth. Inside, two women, four dogs, and a raven haired baby sat around a roaring fire.
"Amanda, all I need is one more person to take part in the ceremony, please?" Minerva pleaded.
"Absolutely not, what if I do something wrong?" she shot back.
"Nothing will go wrong, alright? I know the entire ceremony by heart. I'll say it - you just need to sit there and toss the dust on our hands before they stop bleeding."
"And that's another thing, you know I hate blood."
"Yes, that's why you played professional Quidditch for twenty years, because you hate blood," the black-haired witch said sarcastically. "Tell me, how many times were you bleeding and broken by bludgers?"
"That's different," the other witch said stubbornly, "it's the heat of battle, you don't feel anything then."
"Amanda, please? There won't be that much blood and I'll let you convince Harry that the Sussex Stars are the best team ever."
"Oh come on," she stated firmly, "I know exactly what I'm doing, and this is the only way I can think of to bind us properly so I can set the same protection around here that Dumbledore used on his aunt's house."
Silence. "Fine," Amanda said shortly. "But don't blame me if you both get blown up."
"Oh that's very funny," Minerva said rolling her eyes.
It was Christmas, the first Minerva had with Harry, and he was sitting on the floor enjoying his presents with the four dogs watching him warily as he waved a small broomstick around. Over the past two months, Minerva had been researching bonding magic used by the ancient Celtic tribes who bound themselves to virtually everything. A few weeks before Christmas, she came across an ancient spell used by her own ancesters. It was an arcane magic - not used, or even heard of in the modern wizarding world. But that didn't stop Minerva from being convinced that it would work.
"I swear it'll work," she said yet again, "My ancestors used it to bind themselves to those that married into the family and those who were adopted into it. It will work."
"Fine, fine," Amanda replied, too tired to argue, "Whatever you say."
"It needs to be done on the Winter Solstice, right at midnight, that's five days from now."
"Yes, yes, you've said that about a million times already."
"Alright, fine. I'll just get Harry up to bed now."
"Nu-uh!" the baby on the floor said, shaking his head energetically, "'m not sweepy."
He rubbed his eyes with the back of his hand and Minerva scooped him up. "I'll be down in a minute," she told Amanda, then grinned mischievously, "help yourself to the liquor cabinet."
Amanda frowned at her friend's retreating back, who knew full well she needed a drink, but Minerva had no alcohol whatsoever in the house.
Minerva made her way up the stairs to the bedroom, cradling the sleepy child in her arms, humming softly to him as he settled his head on her shoulder. Instead of turning left into the master bedroom, she turned right, into the other room. She muttered a soft "Lumos," making the lights come on dimly as she settled into the rocking chair and gazed out the window.
Gently, she shifted his figure so she cradled him and rocked him to sleep. On the Winter Solstice, Harry would have been with her for two months. Taking care of the boy had come to her naturally - as if she had been ready for this responsibility her whole life. Every morning, she would wake before him, shower and change then spend the rest of the day entertaining him, a chore she never tired of. She knew that eventually her savings from when she taught at Hogwarts would run out, and she would have to look for work again. She wasn't worried tough, she had a plan to begin writing textbooks for students learning transfigurations, the texts they used now were pitifully inadequate.
Harry fussed in her arms and she leaned down to talk softly into her ear.
"Harry, go to sleep, love," she soothed, "It's alright, I won't let anything happen to you. I'll take care of you bebay, you'll be alright."
Half an hour later, she laid him down in the crib at the foot of her bed and covered him with a thick blanket. She tucked the sleeping Gryffindor lion in next to him and smoothed his hair away from his face as Tate walked in with two other dogs. The younger dogs were beginning to wean themselves away from the stoic bloodhound and now he was down to two shadows. Smiling as the trio made themselves comfortable at her feet beside the crib, she waded out of the mass and walked back down the stairs.
"Are you sure you can do this?" Amanda asked as Minerva walked back into the living room. The other witch took a seat in the armchair opposite Amanda and a small black and white blur hopped up onto her lap.
"Switch," she sighed, attempting to dislodge the dog from her lap, "you really shouldn't jump on the furniture."
"Minerva," Amanda said warningly, commanding her to answer the question.
The other witch looked up slowly, mulling the question over silently as she scratched the head of the dog in her lap.
"Yes," she finally replied, "I can do this. It's a part of me, Amanda, a part of my heritage. What?" she asked, seeing her friend's skeptical look, "You don't think I'm powerful enough?"
"For the binding yes," she replied, "For the other thing. . . no." They sat in silence for a while, both witched staring into the flames. Amanda sighed and said, "I know you're a very powerful witch, Minerva, but I can't see you focused enough to complete a charm as complex as that."
"Well, who else would do it? Dumbledore?" she spat out the name as if it left a bad taste in her mouth. "He would never agree to it. He never wanted me to take in the boy in the first place."
Amanda stared into the flames thoughtfully, wondering if Dumbledore could be convinced to place the spell on the cottage. Figuring that it was worth a shot, Amanda replied carefully, "Well, just don't do anything crazy, I'll see if someone else would be able to cast it."
"All right," Minerva sighed as Switch rolled over onto her back on her lap, her four paws sticking up in the air and her long ears flopped out to the sides of her head.
"Give me one week after the charm to find someone," requested Amanda, already deep in thought as to how she would convince the one someone powerful enough to cast it. She sighed inwardly; it was time for some mind games.
"Fine," Minerva agreed, "just make sure they know how to do it properly, alright? I won't know how to fix it if they botch the job."
Five days later, Minerva sat cross-legged in a symmetrical circle before the fire in her living room. Across from her in another circle sat a baby boy with bright bottle-green eyes. Amanda sat a little away from them, positioned right around the part where the two circles were closest.
"Are you ready?" Amanda asked quietly, as the minutes grew closer and closer to midnight.
"Yes," she replied steadily as the child watched her with eyes full of trust. Beside her lay a plain white dagger, made of the finest ivory, passed down through generation after generation of her people. In the past, Minerva had regarded it as nothing more than a family heirloom, but now understood and appreciated its importance. A bowl made of the same ivory sat in front of Amanda, filled with white sand from the seashore mixed with crushed amethyst, the most powerful binding crystal known to man. The soft purple sparkled calmly against the white of the sand, giving it an ethereal appearance. The sandy mixture was what formed the circles Minerva and Harry sat in.
"Harry," Minerva began as the clock would its way down to midnight, "This is going to hurt a little bit, but I need you to be a big boy and not cry alright?"
Harry nodded in response and Minerva took a deep breath. At the stroke of twelve, she whispered, "Lachemec" and the sand glowed with a soft white light.
Picking up the dagger, she pierced the skin on the palm of her right hand. Leaning over the outline of her circle, she reached for Harry's right hand and did the same to his palm. The baby's faced scrunched up with held back tears, but relaxed as the cuts began to glow in the same soft white as the circles around them. Gripping Harry's hand firmly, she placed her cut over his and intertwined her fingers in his. Squeezing his hand in reassurance, Minerva spoke the forgotten language to call upon the ancient magic of the land. Amanda's eyes grew wide as she heard a chorus of unearthly voices echo Minerva's words.
Faela di faela (Blood to blood)
Aiyan di aiyan (Heart to heart)
Reda coe aire ne coe immae (Bound by love and by fate)
Ni gienaire mente (Two separate now)
Lodonai ecren avae don mecha (Become one with each other)
Machen ne coen (Mother and son)
The circles began to glow stronger and white beams of light shot out from cracks between their joined hands. When she said "mother and son" the sands emitted a strong purple flash and Amanda tossed the sand in the bowl over their hands and Minerva said the final words of the ceremony.
The sand immediately vanished, swirling around the two sitting figures in a fading whirlwind before vanishing, leaving both Minerva and Harry glowing amethyst for a moment before all of the lights disappeared.
No one moved or spoke for a full minute, until Harry eased his hand out of Minerva's grip to study his palm. Nothing of the cut was left but a small white scar. Triumphantly, he held his palm up for Minerva to see. "All gone!" he said, his eyes twinkling despite the hour.
"It worked, didn't it?" Amanda demanded, wanting verbal confirmation from the castor.
Blinking, Minerva turned and looked at her. "Yes," she said, sounding surprised, "It worked."
Then she began to laugh. Harry got up and teetered into her open arms, wondering what exactly his new mother was laughing about. Amanda rolled her eyes at her friend's antics and announced that she had better be getting back to Hogwarts.
"Don't be ridiculous," Minerva said as she stood up without any trace of stiffness, "Stay the night."
"No, I'd best be going back. I have some work to finish up before the students come back." What she was really thinking was, 'Alright, one week. I have one week to convince Albus to cast that spell.'
After helping, or watching, Minerva put Harry to sleep (which was the work of about two and a half hours), Amanda Flooed back to the Three Broomsticks and waved hello to Rosemerta who was serving a late-night group of drinkers at the bar.
Pulling a toothpick and her wand out of her pocket, she walked outside and transfigured the former object back into her broom. Kicking off, she thought to herself, 'Mind games. I never was any good at them, but stubborn people can be stupid, and that stupidity can be manipulated.' It was with this thought that she approached the headmaster in his office late the next afternoon.
"Ah, Amanda, good evening," he greeted her cheerfully, his eyes twinkling with holiday cheer. "To what do I owe this visit?"
"Nothing negative, I assure you," she said wryly, remembering the last time she had something important to tell him. 'But I'm not _telling_ him this time,' she thought, 'I'm merely giving him a push . . . or energetic shove, in the right direction.'
Having rehearsed this conversation in her head and explored the different directions it could take, she began confidently, "I just came back from Minerva's this morning."
His face darkened almost imperceptibly. 'Bingo,' she thought. "Oh?" he replied, feigning indifference. "And how was she?" he asked politely.
"She was fine, but she had an eventful New Year's," Amanda chuckled, watching the Headmaster's face out of the corner of her eye.
Giving up his side of the charade, he questioned, "How so?" his voice barely succeeding in masking the stab of betrayal he felt for no particular reason.
Amanda knew exactly what he was thinking and threw him for a loop when she said, "She dug up some old binding spell and made Harry her son."
Albus stared at her in disbelief as his mouth dropped open. Giving a loud war-whoop inside of her head in congratulations, she continued, "You remember she's of Celtic descent, right?" and proceeded to airily tell him the whole story, finishing with, "She wants to perform that protection charms now so she can keep him safe. I told her she might as well since no one else with that kind of power would do it for her. She should be able to manage it, don't you think, Headmaster?"
Albus continued to stare at her in shock, his mouth dropping lower and lower until Amanda was sure his bottom jaw would snap right off. With a satisfied grin to herself, she bade farewell to the gaping headmaster. "I'll just send her an owl to make sure she's alright, she wasn't looking very energetic when I left. Good day, Albus," and walked out of his office with a definite spring in her step. She sighed happily and thought to herself, 'My work here is done.'
The headmaster sat behind his desk staring into space as Amanda left, unable to immediately process the information that was just dropped into his lap. He couldn't even think straight, his thoughts coming out in sputtered exclamations of surprise - not at all helpful. It was dark by the time he collected his thoughts enough to make one coherent sentence in his brain. 'Minerva is Harry's bound mother.' Even in his mind the thought seemed ludicrous, but he knew it was true. He'd known from the day she kicked him out of her house that she loved that boy enough to magically bind herself to him. He hadn't believed she would, a part of him refusing to accept the fact that she would give up everything she had for a boy she had just met.
Groaning, he folded his arms on the desk in front of him and dropped his head into the crook, remembering the fight that had preceded his ejection from her house. 'How could I have been so stupid not to see it then?' he bitingly thought to himself. He knew what would happen now - she would devote her life to that boy and, because he wouldn't let her bring him to Hogwarts, he would never see her again. 'Besides the parent-teacher conferences,' he mused with a dark frown. He had stubbornly refused to allow the boy to be protected at the school, backed by what seemed to be a perfectly valid reason at the time. He could not risk the lives of the rest of the student body. 'It still makes sense,' he thought stubbornly, sitting up straight, and realizing that this was the only way for everything to be alright. Sighing, he rose from his chair and swept out of his office.
Amanda watched him cross the grounds with a triumphant smile on her face.
The headmaster strode through the gates of the school and disapparated. He appeared on the road in front of Marian Cottage and stood still for a moment, taking in the crystal calmness of the evening. Glancing at his odd little pocket watch with planets and stars on the face, he saw that it was nearly eleven o'clock at night. Stuffing the shiny object back into his robes, he pulled out his wand and closed his eyes.
In his mind's eye, he saw the extent of the property, up to the road, back through the pond and the grove of trees, through the dense forest to the south, and across the vast plain to the north. Taking a deep breath, he began the intricate charm. He saw the two figures resting side by side in the large bedroom in the cottage and carefully drew on the strong tie of love, magic, and blood that bound them together. In his mind, the two figures glowed a soft blue/white hue, which was a good sign, the paler the blue, the stronger the bond, the more powerful the magic. Taking another breath, he muttered the ancient charm, watching as the cloud stretched and spread out over the entire cottage, over the property, and, since there was so much magic left over (as both were of magical descent), he placed a more dilute form of the cloud over the ramshackle house a few miles beyond the cottage. Opening his eyes, he saw the last vestiges of the magic fade into the snow.
With a satisfied twinkle, he whispered into the night, "Good luck, Harry Potter." Then, he turned on his heel, and with a swish of his cloak, he was gone.
Minerva woke the next morning to a soft tapping on her window. Forehead creasing in annoyance, she pried open one eye and glared out the window at a small, hyper-active tawny owl fluttering around on the other side of the glass. Pushing the window open, she snatched the letter off the creature's leg as it zoomed in. She ignored its prattle for a moment as she read the letter from Amanda.
A very good morning to you! Now don't go beating the stuffing out of my owl for waking you as I've grown rather fond of him. I just owled to let you know that the spell has been set around your house. It's a rather strong one, I'd imagine, given the caliber of wizard who set it and the strength of its two subjects. I wanted to get it up as soon as possible so you wouldn't try anything crazy on your own, and don't frown at me, you know you would have. Anyway, in case you wanted to send a thank you note to the castor, send it to Hogwarts, the headmaster's office, if you don't mind. And be cordial about it - he didn't have to agree to it. Cheers!
Your favorite flying instructor,
PS: Give Harry a kiss for me!]
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