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Chapter Nine: Of Potential Changes

Minerva sat in shock reading and re-reading the letter at least four times. Halfway through the fifth time, she put the paper down very slowly, as if afraid it would disintegrate. Nearly five years had passed without any type of correspondence between the two teachers and now, out of nowhere, an apology note. Granted, it was long overdue, but it was there, lying on her desk, pleading with her to forgive, if not necessarily forget.

"Well, that was unexpected," she absently thought to herself. Remembering the cause for the need of such an apology, she bristled. "Five years," she began to fume, "Five years without any word whatsoever and he suddenly decides to drop this in my lap."

Scanning the contents once more, she focused on the words "come back." Come back to teach in Hogwarts. To teach. Oh, how she missed it. The challenges, the triumphs, the students. She missed it all with a fierce passion that arose whenever she was by herself, writing a book rather than correcting papers. Writing the texts had eased her pain for a time, but she had finished the final installment the year before and it was now in print. She sufficed her yearn for teaching by helping Charlie and Bill Weasley with their transfigurations homework over the summer, but Bill had graduated two years before, and Charlie had just completed his final year at Hogwarts. Percy wouldn't start for another year, so from now until next September, she would be thoroughly bored out of her mind. Granted, she'd been teaching Harry and the younger Weasleys the basics - math, science, grammar, reading, and writing - but it wasn't the same. She never allowed them to practice magic (though the twins begged her to), since they were not of legal age, and to tell the truth, she missed the half-transfigured teapots and turtles.

Even so, she wouldn't trade the last four and some years for anything in the world. She loved the life she had now - the relaxed pace was a welcome change, and Harry was her life, her whole life, without him, a part of her would have died. And now, Albus Dumbledore was offering her a chance to live both lives. To teach and have Harry with her. Still, she had her misgivings.

Almost five years of being a parent had led her to become more willing to swallow her pride and beat back her stubbornness. Plucking a long grayish quill out of its rest, she pursed her lips, trying to phrase her acceptance of his apology without sounding too pleased. After staring at a blank piece of parchment for nearly an hour, she heard light footsteps coming down the stairs. Placing the quill back in its holder, she rose and walked over to the foot of the stairs.

Harry, dressed in light blue pajamas, came down the steps slowly, alternately rubbing his eyes with both hands. "Ma?" he yawned, opening his green eyes just enough to make a hazy sort of eye contact. "'m hungry," he mumbled as he reached the third step. Stretching his arms out in front of him in a silent request, his eyes closed of their own accord and refused to open.

"I'm sorry, love," Minerva apologized, gently picking the small boy up. "I thought that watermelon would fill you right up, what with the dozens of sandwiches you had for lunch."

Making her way to the kitchen, she settled the boy on her left hip, her left arm supporting him as he locked his arms around her neck. She reached into the fridge and took out leftovers from the day before: macaroni and cheese with carrots on the side. Pulling out her wand, she pointed it at the plate and warmed it up. She levitated the plate into the dining room as she retrieved a fork and a glass of water. Absently, she sat down at the table with Harry in her lap and gave him the fork, which he accepted, slowly waking up enough to feed himself a very late supper.

As she sat in the dimly lit room with her son on her lap, Minerva's thoughts immediately returned to the letter. 'What will happen to us?' she wondered silently, 'Will we be able to live at Hogwarts? Will Harry accept the fact that he'll need to share me with almost eight hundred other students?' For the last five years, Harry had been the center of her life. She was always there to care and comfort him whenever he needed it. Not only would moving to Hogwarts take some of her focus away from him, but there were so many other things to take into account. There were no children his age there; he would be leaving his best friend behind, if only for a few months out of the year; and he would be deprived of a redheaded partner in crime.

Shaking her head, she looked down at her boy, resolving to talk about this with Amanda. Harry had put his fork down after finishing nearly half of the food on the plate, and was now leaning against Minerva, sound asleep. Picking up the fork, she played with the macaroni left on the plate, wryly noting that the carrots hadn't been touched. Forking some of the food into her mouth, she chewed and again thought back to the letter. 'He sounded so sincere,' she mused, 'but why now?' She absently stabbed at the plate again and again without coming up with anything, until she looked down and realized that it was empty, except for the carrots. Rolling her eyes at the "Eat your vegetables, Minerva" that echoed in her head, sounding suspiciously like her own mother, she ate the carrots without further complaint.

Rising, she deposited the plate in the sink and carried the soft bundle in her arms back up to his bedroom. Laying him down on the orange bed, she tucked him in once more and left, patting vigilant Tate and Spud on their heads, she crossed the hall into her room. Gently unwinding her hair from the thick bun, she summoned her nightgown and placed it on the bed. She changed and climbed onto the soft mattress, stretching out to her full length beside the black and white spaniel taking up the other half of the bed. Too tired to reprimand the dog, Minerva closed her eyes and immediately drifted off into a dreamless sleep.

Harry awoke at six the next day, surprisingly refreshed after his tiring day in the sun. Grinning at the black ball of fur beside him, he nudged it saying, "Come on, Spud, let's go get Ma." He nimbly slipped out of bed and tried to fold the light blanket neatly at the foot of his bed as the furry ball jumped onto the floor. The finished product was less than adequate, but it would do for now. Tip-toeing across the hall with the small terrier at his heels, he peered into his mother's room.

Minerva was stretched out on her back, hair covering the pillow beneath her head, her right leg bent with the foot resting behind her left knee. Her right hand lay beside her head on the pillow while her left rested on her stomach, rising and falling with each breath she took. A very thin blanket covered her from the waist down and a medium-sized spaniel lay beside her on her right. Her face was turned left towards the doorway and Harry crept up beside her. Changing his mind to wake her, he climbed into the bed, snuggling up beside her. With a small grin, Minerva rolled onto her side and snaked her arm around the small boy, shifting so that his head rested on her left arm. Sighing contentedly, the boy intertwined his fingers with the hand about his middle, tracing the veins and bones that made up the tanned, softly calloused hand.

Just as he was about to drift back to sleep, a sing song voice called, "Where's my favorite flyer?"

"Aunt Manda!" he yelled, leaping off the bed and barreling down the stairs, the spaniel, terrier, and bloodhound at his heels.

Groaning, Minerva pulled another pillow over her head, blocking out the noise and refusing to move. A few moments later, Harry bounded into the room and leapt onto her bed.

"Ma! Aunt Manda's here!" he said loudly, trying to pry the pillow from it's position, "You've got to go let her in!"

"Tell her to go away," Minerva groaned, "It's six o'clock in the morning - in the summer."

"Maaa," he started, "Please? I promise I'll be good for the rest of the summer. And I'll eat all my vegetables - I promise!"

Minerva cracked her eyes open and lifted the pillow off of her head so she could meet Harry's pleading gaze. Sighing, she sat up as he wheeled around and took off down the stairs yelling, "She's coming!"

Fumbling for her wand and yawning, she summoned her bathrobe and threw it over her before heading down the stairs to the living room. Without leaving the stairs, she leaned over the banister and pointed her wand at the fireplace, taking down the wards once again. A wiry witch jumped out of the fireplace and scooped up the giggling child before turning to grin evilly at the tussled witch on the stairs.

"Good morning, Minerva!" she greeted chirpily. Minerva frowned darkly before mumbling that she was going back to bed and retraced her steps to the bedroom. Turning to the boy in her arms, Amanda planted a very loud kiss on his cheek to which he responded with one of his own on her cheek. He giggled again as she batted her eyelashes at him then marched into the kitchen.

"Let's see what sort of grub you've got," she suggested, placing the boy in a sturdy-backed stool beside the countertop. She proceeded to rummage around the kitchen loudly, "accidentally" banging pots and pans together and shutting the cupboard doors far noisier than necessary as Harry giggled in his seat.

Upstairs, Minerva drifted back to sleep peacefully, having cast a silencing charm on her room, but knowing that it would only be a matter of time before her friend gave up and came upstairs to forcefully drag her from her bed.

Back in the kitchen, Harry pointed and asked, "Aunt Manda, what's that on your belt?"

Glancing down at the offending trinket, she sighed, "It's a snake, Harry." As part of her deal with Severus, she had to wear some sort of Slytherin ornament for the remainder of the Hogwarts term. Come the following Quidditch season, she had to give private lessons to the entire Slytherin team. Wincing as she remembered the deal, she took out her wand and transfigured the buckle into a plain one - she wasn't at Hogwarts anymore. "Don't tell your mother," she warned, knowing that Minerva would suspect something if she found out and the woman hated to be manipulated.

Grinning, Harry nodded, then pointed to the highest cupboard in the kitchen, above the refrigerator. Amanda let out a squeal of delight at finding her favorite breakfast in the back of the cupboard, behind the rest of the more nutritious cereals.

"Yes!" she exclaimed dramatically and Harry laughed at her wide-eyed expression as she pulled a bright blue box out, "Frosted Flakes!"

Summoning two bowls from another cupboard, she poured the pair breakfast, dousing the flakes in milk and an extra spoonful of sugar on hers. They spoke all through the meal, laughing and telling each other about their exploits since the last time they had seen each other during the Easter holidays. As they finished, Amanda sailed the bowls over to the sink and raced Harry upstairs to Minerva's room. Coming to a halt at the doorway, Harry stopped short, almost making Amanda careen into him. She caught herself just in time as Harry turned and looked up at her.

"Aunt Manda, Ma's real tired, we should let her sleep," he whispered, unaware of the silencing charm on the room.

"Nonsense, m'boy," she replied with a smile, "She wants to wake up, she just doesn't know it yet."

Lifting her wand, she muttered something and lifted the charms. "Come on, Harry," she whispered with a grin. Creeping over to the bed, she leaped, landing on the bed with a jarring thump and yelling, "Wake up!!!"

Minerva, who knew she was going to do something like that, didn't even stir, her eyes remained closed and the peaceful expression stayed on her face. Worried now, Harry climbed onto the bed and started to shake her softly calling, "Ma? Ma, wake up!"

Hearing the worry in her son's voice, she sighed and spread her arms wide. Smiling, Harry fell into her arms and spoke into her ear, "Ma, Aunt Manda's gone batty. Can you get 'er?"

Laughing, she sat up, setting Harry in her lap and reaching for her wand.

"Minerva, I swear I didn't mean it," Amanda said carefully, backing away from the bed as her friend raised her wand. She continued to coax, "Go on, now, back to bed." Meeting Harry's gaze as he giggled in her lap, mother and son shared a knowing glance. Pointing her wand at the cowering witch in the doorway, she muttered a charm. Immediately, Amanda's silver hair turned black and her robes turned a brilliant orange.

"Ack!" she yelled, mock-gasping for breath, "The Cannons! NOOOO! You shall pay for that little one," as she raised her own wand.

Harry scrambled out of range and dove behind Minerva, but not before the charm hit him in the leg. Emerging from behind the raven-haired witch, he glared and giggled at Amanda. His pajamas had turned a deep royal purple and his hair a shiny silver.

"Ack!" he yelled, mimicking his favorite aunt, "The Stars! NOOOO! You shall pay!" Then he nudged Minerva, whispering loudly, "Get her Ma!"

"All right, all right, that's enough you two," Minerva said sternly, and with a wave of her wand restored the original colors of the two combatants.

"I propose a truce, young wizard," Amanda said dusting herself off and extending a hand towards the bed. "Now let's get you dressed, shall we?"

"Ok!" Harry replied, hopping over Minerva's leg and jumping into Amanda's arms. Together, they left, animatedly chatting about their favorite topic, Quidditch. Minerva quickly dressed and hurried downstairs, remembering the letter she needed to discuss with her best friend.

An hour later, the two women relaxed on the deck, Amanda sprawled on the long lounge chair while Minerva sat comfortably in the chair next to her. Harry was playing fetch with the dogs, throwing what looked to be a tennis ball, but it's zigzagging course through the air suggested that it was no ordinary toy.

"That boy'll be a chaser one day," Amanda said, watching the small boy heave the ball as far as he could.

"No, he'll be a Seeker," Minerva commented, "He's got the eye for it."

They sat in silence for a while before Minerva pulled out the letter and passed it to Amanda. Keeping a neutral expression on her face, the other witch accepted the letter and read it. 'Wow,' she thought to herself, 'This is good. I knew he apologized, but this is really good.' Allowing her eyebrows to raise, she turned back to Minerva.

"So you forgive him then?" she wanted to know.

"Of course I do," Minerva replied, "I would have forgiven him even if it were half that eloquent, I'm not the stubborn prick he is."

Amanda refrained from commenting and instead asked, "What're you going to do?"

"That's just it," she sighed, "I don't know. I want to teach. I love teaching, but I love my life here as well."

"Well what wouldn't you have at Hogwarts that you have now?"

"Peace, quiet, friends, the Weasleys," she smiled as she remembered her "adopted" family, then added lamely, "My dogs."

"Minerva, you've left them by themselves before, when you used to teach - I don't think it will be that much of a change for them. Besides, maybe you could bring them."

The other witch snorted uncharacteristically, and replied, "Four dogs running wild about a school. I'm sure he'll be fine with that."

They sat in silence for a few minutes until Minerva spoke again, "And what about Harry?"

"What about him?"

"Well, he's grown up here, his best friends are all here. Do you think he'll ever understand if I take all of that away from him?"

"He'll have me," Amanda replied grinning, "And Hagrid really wants to meet him."

"The castle may be too dangerous for him, he's only five."

"He's almost six. And you know as well as I do Hogwarts is VERY well protected."

"There won't be any children his age to play with, he may not like it there."

"He'll always have you," Amanda pointed out quietly. They fell silent once again. Harry, his arm getting tired now, walked over to the two witches and climbed into his mother's lap.

"What were you talking about?" he asked. Both women turned to one another. Inclining her head towards Harry, Amanda silently suggested telling him.

With a sigh Minerva complied, "Harry, how would you feel about moving?"

His eyes opened wide and he quietly questioned, "Where?"


"Where Aunt Manda works?" he asked, his face lighting up at the prospect, but then it fell. "What about Ron? And George? And Fred? And Ginny? And Percy?"

"Well, they won't all be there, Harry, but Percy will be starting in a year, and then the twins will follow soon after."

"Then it'll be your turn," Amanda put in.

Harry thought for a moment, then asked, "So you forgave him then? The headmaster?"

Throwing an exasperated look in Amanda's direction as the other witch ducked her head, she replied, "Yes, Harry, I've forgiven him." While she would have preferred to explain the situation to him herself, she was grateful Amanda had told him, she would have been able to give a far less biased description.

"Will we come back for Christmas and Easter and the summer?"

"Of course we will."

The boy fell silent, thinking hard.

"We don't have to make a decision right now, love," Minerva told him quietly, "We have plenty of time to figure out what to do, all right?"

"Ok," he replied softly.


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