Chapter Thirteen: Reintroduction
Harry squirmed under his mother's intent gaze as she straightened his dark green robes and attempted to flatten his hair. It was the first of September and Harry was anxious to see the students. He had loved the last two weeks of flying with Aunt Manda and talking with Uncle Albus and meeting all of the other teachers. Hagrid was the only member of the staff who was more like a student than a teacher, and Harry enjoyed spending time with him meeting new animals and such. Still, Harry wanted other children to be around, even if they were a little older than him. He had just turned six years old in July, so in his eyes, he was not much younger than the first years.
"Ma, can I be Sorted too?" he asked for the tenth time.
Sighing, Minerva replied, "Harry you're too young. Once you start school you can be Sorted."
"But I already know what House I'll be in too!" he said proudly.
"And which one is that?" she asked as she took his hand and led him out of their rooms.
"Gryffindor!" he exclaimed, excited with the zeal of a six year old.
Grinning, Minerva asked, "And what will you do if you're Sorted into another House, hmm?"
"That's not gonna happen, Professor Snape said so."
"Oh did he now?" she asked warily, "And what else did he say?"
"He said I was the etipone of Gyrffindor standers."
"The epitome of Gryffindor standards," she corrected as he nodded, "he would say that wouldn't he?"
"But I don't mind if I'm put in Ravenclaw or Hufflepuff," he continued, "As long as I'm not in Slytherin. Professor Snape said he'd quit and leave if I was put in it."
Minerva grinned, realizing that this must be the reason for the odd occurance this morning. She mock-gasped, "No! And what did you do?"
"Well, I said he can't leave and then I hugged him to make sure he wouldn't. And then he took me to you, remember?"
Minerva nearly giggled as she remembered the events that took place that morning.
A few hours after breakfast Severus Snape was found pounding on Minerva's door. He stood there, in her doorway, livid, with Harry Potter, the son of his worst enemy, clinging to his leg as if the man might vanish if he released him. It was one of the funniest sights she had ever seen.
"I do believe the boy's quite taken with you," she commented neutrally, refraining from losing her composure completely.
Glaring at her, he turned to the growth on his leg and snapped, "Release my leg, Mr. Potter."
"Are you gonna go away?" the boy demanded as he looked up with huge, pleading green eyes.
The potions master closed his eyes then (Minerva could virtually see him repeating a calming mantra over and over in his head), and bent down to unclasp the boy's body from around his leg. Harry, however, had other plans and wrapped his arms around the man's arm instead. Sighing in resignation, he straightened and steadied the boy in his arms.
"I promise I won't leave," he said through gritted teeth and attempted to dislodge him once again.
"Even if I get put in Slytherin?" the boy demanded and tightened his grip.
"On the unlikely event that you are Sorted into Slytherin, your father will be rolling around in his grave and your ma will throw an epileptic fit. But, if you insist, I will stay, even if you are placed in my house," he sneered.
Minerva couldn't help but notice that his sneer wasn't half as vengeful as it normally was, and that his features were just slightly softer as he gazed at the persistent child in his arms. Covering a small, satisfied grin with the back of her hand, she had said, "Let go of Professor Snape now, Harry, I'm sure he has much to do before the students arrive."
As they entered the staff room, Harry grinned at all of the teachers and released Minerva's hand as he ran and leapt into Amanda's lap. The witch was seated beside Severus, who cringed as the boy leapt onto the woman. She caught him with ease, as if he were nothing but a quaffle, and continued to converse with the ever bubbly Professor Sarah Sprout on her other side. Harry smiled his infectious smile at the surly man beside him, who couldn't help the upwards twitching of his mouth, no matter how hard he tried.
"Will you be bringing up the first-years, then, Minerva?" Albus asked from beside her. Tearing her gaze away from the impossibly adorable sight of Snape and her boy, she met his amused eyes.
Grinning slightly as his knowing gaze, she gestured to the tiny professor seated across from Snape and asked, "Shouldn't Filius do it?"
Professor Flitwick had replaced her as Deputy at the school and had since taken over that particular honor, among other tasks.
"Haven't you missed it?" he inquired, again leveling her with his omnipotent twinkle.
Only barely restraining herself from rolling her eyes at his non- answer, she turned to Harry, "Stay with Uncle Albus, alright, Harry?"
"Where're you going?" he asked, looking up in alarm.
"I'm just going to get the first years, I'll only be a moment."
"Ok," he nodded as she swept out the door.
"Don't you think you're be hitting the older kids with a sense of d骠 vu a little too enthusiastically, Albus?" came Amanda's wry comment. The headmaster twinkled back in silent response.
Professor Minerva McGonagall made her way down to the steps leading up from the lake to lead the first years into the Great Hall. Peeking into the Hall as she passed, she saw the stool, the Sorting Hat, and a thick scroll on the dais before the high table. The older students were already making their way up the front steps and into the Great Hall. When she reached the top of the steps decending to the shore, she could already see the first of the new students clamber out of their boats, gazing around in awe at the magnificent castle above them. They reached the top of the stairs before Minerva in a huddled mass, each face bearing a look of varying degrees of terror. Once they had settled down, which was a very short period of time as soon as they caught sight of the stern witch at the top of the stairs, Minerva began a well-remembered speech.
"Welcome to Hogwarts," she said, not needing to raise her voice as they were all staring at her intently, "Now, in a few moments you will join the other students and the feast will begin. But first, you will be Sorted into your Houses. The Houses are Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin. Each house has produced outstanding witches and wizards and has its own unique history. While you are here," she continued steadily, "your house will be like your family. You will have classes with your housemates in your year and you will sleep in your house dormitories. Triumphs will earn you house points, while any rule breaking will lose points. The house with the most points at the end of the year is awarded the House Cup."
She paused for a moment, giving it a minute to sink in, then said, "Wait here quietly while I see if we are ready for you."
Leaving the first years alone in a new environment was never an idea she supported, but no harm had come of it as yet, so she was not at liberty to voice her opinions. Peeking into the Great Hall again, she saw rows upon rows of black-clad students speaking to each other in low voices creating a rumbling sound that echoed off the walls. Glancing up at the head table, she saw Harry sitting next to Albus and chatting eagerly and grinned. Turning, she made her way back to the first years.
"Make a line, now," she commanded, "and follow me."
She led them up through the entrance and through the huge doors of the Great Hall. The older students virtually sighed as one when they saw the first years, knowing that it would be only a short while longer until they could stuff themselves. The sixth and seventh years paid no attention at first, they had seen plenty of Sortings during their time at Hogwarts. However, one Gryffindor seventh year did a double take at the tall witch leading the first years, puzzled at first, then whispered hurriedly to his neighbor. Soon, the two senior classes of the school had all craned their necks in order to get a glimpse of the woman.
As Minerva reached the dais, she told the first years, "Line up along here, please." As the Hat began its song, she glanced up at the rest of the student body. There were at least a hundred pairs of surprised eyes on her and at least that many hanging jaws. Beating back an amused grin, she turned slightly to catch Albus' eyes. He twinkled secretly back at her and she turned back around, resisting the urge to laugh aloud. The Sorting Hat finished its song and she told the only slightly-less terrified newcomers, "When I call you name, you will come sit on the stool, I will place the Sorting Hat on you head, and you will be Sorted into your houses."
And then the list began.
The young girl with curly blonde hair almost jumped out of her skin as the hat shouted her house. Minerva had always pitied the first of the year, as they more often than not had no idea what was going to happen.
The mass of children at the bottom of the dais shrunk slowly as she passed the R's. Already, twelve Gryffindors, twenty two Ravenclaws, twenty Hufflepuffs, and fifteen Slytherins had been Sorted. Behind her, she heard Harry whisper to Albus quietly, as to not disturb everyone else.
"How much longer, Uncle Albus?"
"Not much, Harry," came the amused reply.
"How much longer now?"
"Harry," she turned and admonished quietly. Seeing him clap his hand over his mouth, she winked and put a finger to her lips as the Sorting Hat announced,
With that, the Sorting ended and Minerva picked up the stool and the hat and made her way to a door to the side of the dais. She grinned as she heard Albus say, "There is just one important announcement I would like to make before the feast." Minerva emerged from the side room and walked over to Albus, who beckoned her to his side. "I would like to welcome back Professor McGonagall - " the rest of his sentence hung in the air as the Great Hall erupted into applause, the younger students following the elders' example. Harry, bursting with pride as the strangers cheered for his ma, clapped as well, beaming at her from his spot behind the headmaster. Once the applause died down, he continued, "Professor McGonagall will be returning to teach transfigurations and will also be returning to her posts as Head of Gryffindor House and Deputy Headmistress. And so, without further adieu: poggledrum, eclectia, mordone." He grinned as he sat back down and motioned for Minerva to sit on his right hand side.
Fuming quietly, Minerva sat stiffly on the offered chair and told Harry, "Go sit with Aunt Manda for a moment." Recognizing the pent up flashes of anger in her eyes, he scooted out of the way and ran to his aunt, seated on the other side of Snape. Although the new location was only a seat away from his peeved caretaker, he felt better with Snape's body shielding his slight form effectively.
"Deputy?" Minerva questioned levelly. "I do NOT remember being approached with this."
"Minerva, I didn't want you to refuse, so I told you tonight, in front of the students, so I would be out of immediate danger," he reasoned, still twinkling merrily. "I promise these duties will not interfere with your teaching schedule or with Harry."
Shaking her head in resignation, she gave up and settled back into her role of Deputy Headmistress. 'Oh what joy,' she thought bitingly.
Severus was about to begin his meal when a soft tug on his right sleeve made him look up. "Professor Snape, is it ok for me to go back by my ma now?"
Turning to Minerva, he said silkily, "Your son wishes to know if you are finished beating our beloved headmaster to a pulp."
Narrowing her eyes, she met the saucy glare of the young potions master sitting next to her. "Tell him he can come back now."
Harry didn't need to be told twice, and he rocketed around Snape in a flash, scooting up onto his chair between Albus and Minerva.
"Is classes gonna start tomorrow?"
"Are classes, Harry."
"Yes, Harry, the classes will start tomorrow, and your ma will need to teach."
"Can I go exploring?"
"May I, Harry. And absolutely not."
"Minerva, he's a boy, he needs to explore."
"And I can take care of myself, Ma."
"Now, Harry, I didn't say that," Albus said in an effort to quell Minerva's stern glare directed at him, "Of course you can't go exploring all by yourself."
"Then what do I do?" he asked, his lower lip trembling.
"Would it be acceptable if he spent the day with Hagrid?" the headmaster suggested tentatively.
"Actually, I have a proposition concerning Mr. Potter's schooling," Snape commented from Minerva's other side. Turning to the young man beside her, she raised her eyebrows.
"Oh?" she questioned.
"Seeing as how you intend to teach Mr. Potter the basics on your own, I have discussed an alternative plan with a few select members of the staff and they seem to agree."
He paused, baiting her, and gave a satisfied smirk when she snapped, "Well, what is it?"
"Minerva," Professor Flitwick called from Dumbledore's other side, "some of the other teachers and I would like to help you teach young Harry." Seeing her impassive look, he added, "It was all Severus' idea."
"And what would you teach him?"
Severus shot an annoyed look at Professor Flitwick and the tiny man immediately shut his mouth and turned his attention back to his food. Picking up the explanation, he replied, "I would teach him mathematics, Professor Sprout - science, Professor Flitwick - basic Latin, the headmaster could teach him history, and you English and grammar."
"Why am I, and not our esteemed Professor Binns, teaching him history?" Albus inquired, immediately interested in the idea.
"I had considered allowing the boy to spend an hour everyday with Professor Binns, but his previous students' academic failures led me to believe that those lessons would not be entirely fruitful," he replied sarcastically.
"You really have put a lot of thought into this haven't you?" Minerva questioned, her gratefulness evident in her eyes.
"Yes, well I did not want to boy to start here in five years and not be able to read and write because he received no proper schooling," came the drawling reply.
Minerva bristled at the suggestion that she would allow her son to become illiterate and was about to snap, but Harry chose that moment to pipe up, "I already know how to read and write."
"Oh really?" Snape sneered. "And I suppose you know your numbers and histories as well?"
"The history not so much," he replied brightly, ignoring the man's condescending sneer, "but Perce taught me my numbers."
"Perce?" Snape inquired, looking at Minerva.
"Percy Weasley, Charlie and Bill's younger brother."
"There are more of them?" he asked in disbelief.
Amanda, who had remained surprisingly silent throughout the exchange, chuckled at his tone and said, "Of course there're more! There's Charlie and Bill, whom you've already had the pleasure of teaching, and then there's Percy, Fred, George, Ron, and little Ginny."
"Indeed," he commented evenly.
"I like the idea for Harry's schooling," Minerva cut in, barring Amanda's uncouth retort. Shooting a stern glare at her friend, the deputy headmistress drew Severus' attention away from the impish witch. "When would he be learning all of this?"
"Each of the teachers has a free hour set aside during the day to tutor some students or simply grade papers. The way our teaching schedules have mysteriously worked out this year," here he shot a hostile glace at the twinkling headmaster, "all of our designated hours are staggered. It works out so that the times would come out like this." He reached inside his robes and brought forth a piece of parchment with a tentative schedule scribbled upon it in Severus' miniscule handwriting. Frowning at the chicken scratch, Minerva accepted the piece of parchment and fished around the pocket of her robes for her glasses. Slipping them onto her face, she read as Harry stood on his stool and read over her shoulder, squinting at the words, but not making any sense of them.
"What does it say, Ma?" he asked.
She turned to him, ignoring Snape's muttered, "And he says he can read and write."
He climbed into her lap as she read, "9 o'clock - science with Professor Sprout, 10 o'clock - mathematics with Professor Snape, 11 o'clock - history with Professor Dumbledore, 1 o'clock - Latin with Professor Flitwick, 2 o'clock - English and grammar with Professor McGonagall."
"This is very well planned, Severus," Minerva commented as Harry tugged on her sleeve.
"Ma, Professor McGonagall, that's you, isn't it?" he asked with wide eyes.
Albus chuckled and Minerva replied, "Yes, that's me. And I'd like you to start making a habit of calling me that during your lessons, all right? I can't have you calling me 'Ma' during your first year of transfigurations."
"Yes, Ma," he answered dutifully, smiling his winning smile at her. Grinning, she shook her head at his lovable nature and kissed him lightly on the nose.
Supper had been cleared away and dessert was being finished as the headmaster turned to Minerva and nodded. Giving Harry her spoon, she said, "Tap the glass cup there gently, Harry. No, a little harder. That's it," she praised as a royal ring sounded through the hall. Harry grinned, put the utensil down, and leaned back onto his mother as he listened to the headmaster's beginning-of-the-year speech.
"Before you all trudge off to bed, I have a few more start of term notices to give you. All students please note that the Forbidden Forest is strictly out-of-bounds. I have also been requested to remind you that no magic is permitted in the corridors. Quidditch trials will be held during the second week of term - all interested student please see Madame Hooch for the details," he gestured to Amanda, who waved, and continued, "And finally, I would like to introduce you to a young man that will be staying here at Hogwarts, Mr. Harry Potter." Harry blushed and waved shyly at the students straining to get a good look at him, earning a few "aaaw"s from the majority of the female student population. "That is all. I wish you the very best of luck in the coming school year. Now off to bed with you."
Harry giggled in Minerva's arms as she sighed and leaned back in her chair.
"Uncle Snape?" Harry asked, tugging on the tall man's black robes. Minerva bit back a giggle while Amanda choked into her pumpkin juice.
"Professor Snape, Mr. Potter," he snapped.
"Severus," Minerva said warningly.
"Yes, Mr. Potter," he sighed, following Minerva's example and leaning back in his chair. He placed an elbow on the arm of his chair and rested his chin on his fist as he regarded Harry with a mixed look of annoyance and amusement.
"When do my classes start?"
"With everyone else's I suppose."
"Will you teach me mutications?" he asked excitedly.
"Multiplications?" Severus repeated faintly, "Shouldn't you learn your numbers first?"
"Harry, why don't you go get some hot chocolate with Uncle Albus while I talk to Unc- Professor Snape, all right?" Minerva interrupted. With an enthusiastic "Ok," he jumped out of his seat and trailed after the headmaster, taking his hand as they exited the Great Hall.
"Severus," she said in a tone that forced him to sit up straight and look at her, just as it had when he was a student, "I do not, under any circumstances, want to hear of you tormenting my boy during his lessons."
"Damn straight," Amanda concurred, putting her uninvited two cents into the conversation. "And if I hear otherwise, I'll - "
"Amanda," Minerva said sharply, "would you mind leaving us alone?"
Muttering "sorry" the gray haired witch collected the hapless Professor Flitwick, who had been listening intently to the conversation, and left the two persons in the cavernous hall.
"It's not just because he's my son, Severus," she continued in a slightly gentler tone, "He's six years old and you'll see he tries so hard. You can still be yourself, just please don't belittle him. Challenge him, yes, but there is a fine line between your interpretation of challenging and terrorizing. Just try to be less harsh, he's just a child. I promise when he begins to have lessons in Potions you can teach him however you deem necessary. Please give him a chance, Severus," she finished, studying the younger man's face for any form of expression.
Finally, he nodded, "I'll try, Professor."
With a grateful smile, Minerva replied quietly, "Thank you."
They rose together and walked out of the Great Hall, their footsteps echoing in the empty space. As they began to part ways, Minerva stopped and called, "Severus?"
Turning, he answered, "Yes?"
"I never got to tell you this before all the. . . Well, what I wanted to say is that. . . I'm very proud of you," she finished in a soft voice. He stared at her and she at him for a long time. Suddenly, he gave a curt nod and briskly walked away, but not before Minerva caught a glimpse of over bright black eyes and a minute upwards twitch of the corner of his mouth. She smiled at his retreating figure with sad eyes.
"I tried to be there for him, for all of them," came a low voice from the shadows.
She nodded silently and turned to the speaker, saying "I know you did, Albus."
The figure came forward and offered the woman his arm with all the gentlemanly gusto of the Victorian era. Chuckling she accepted the arm and they slowly strolled towards the transfigurations wing.
"I can't help but worry though," she continued.
"I know, neither can I, but we must believe in them and their abilities."
"And then what?" she asked quietly.
"Then we hope. We hope that we have taught them enough to live, and to live well. We must remember, Minerva, that we are not always the ones at fault when things do not turn out as planned. Life has a rather aggravating tendency to throw us off course on a number of occasions."
They both knew exactly who the other was referring to and walked on in silence.
"I never, in all my years knowing him would have thought-."
"I know," he responded quietly, "And neither would I. It is decisions like his that make me question my abilities. . ."
"I still can't believe it," she said resolutely, "There has to be another explanation. We just haven't looked hard enough for it."
"Minerva, you have to stop rationalizing his actions," Albus said firmly, coming to a halt in the middle of a deserted hallway, "He did it and there is no other explanation."
"Where did we go wrong?" she whispered.
Grabbing her firmly by her shoulders, the tall man gave her a little shake, "We did nothing to push him to Voldemort. He chose that path on his own."
"But why," she snapped, not at him particularly but to the past, pulling away to stand before the huge window overlooking the lake. "Why did he do it? He had so much in his future, Albus. It just doesn't make any sense!"
He came over to stand beside her, staring out the window at the waning moon. "Why has this come out all of a sudden?"
"You know very well why. I saw Remus, he is coping as well as can be expected. And now every day I see Severus Snape. They both remind me of him."
"Then do what I do," he told her gently, "remember the good times. Remember Sirius the Marauder. Remember Sirius Black, master prankster."
That drew a soft laugh from her. Together, they continued their walk up to her rooms in silence.
"Where's Harry?" she asked suddenly, realizing her charge was last seen with the headmaster.
"I left him in your rooms with Amanda. I believe he wished to write a letter to the Weasleys."
Shaking her head, she replied, "He's been sending them owls nearly every other day and getting one back each and every time."
"He misses them?"
"More than he cares to admit. But he's adjusting here much more easily than I had anticipated."
"He's a strong boy. You've done a good job with him."
"Thank you," she replied blushing slightly, "It means a lot to hear you say that."
"I'm sure," he replied twinkling. "Just as I'm sure it has nothing to do with the fact that you have now officially made me eat my words."
Laughing, they came to a halt before the painting of Sir Cadogan.
"Good evening, fair lady, noble sir," the short knight greeted as he bowed low in the saddle. "All is well in the castle, sir?"
"Yes, indeed, Sir Knight," the headmaster twinkled and turned back to Minerva, "Good luck with your classes tomorrow, not that you'll need it. Goodnight, Minerva."
Smiling, Minerva replied, "Goodnight, Albus." Then she turned to the knight and muttered "Bringer of Conflict."
Albus, contrary to what many believed, had excellent hearing and guffawed loudly upon hearing Minerva's password. Trying to muster up a stern glare, she failed and joined in the laughter, waving a last goodnight to the headmaster before stepping into her rooms.
"What's so funny?" a voice came from her desk.
"Nothing, nothing," she replied absently, noting the mess that covered her once organized working space. "Amanda, what are you doing?"
"We're writing a letter, Ma," Harry stated from his seat in Amanda's lap. "Aunt Manda's writing it for me and I'm telling it. We've got two pieces of parchment already!"
"I hope it's one-sided," she said wryly.
"Don't worry, we're almost done."
"Good, because it's almost time for bed."
"Aaaw, but Ma," Harry protested weakly, knowing it was useless.
"Harry you've got your first real lessons tomorrow, you want to be wide awake for them don't you?" Minerva reasoned.
"Oh yeah! Just one more thing," he replied, "I'm gonna tell Ron about that."
"All right, all right," she sighed, and went into her own rooms. Twenty minutes later she emerged, clad in a warm cream-colored nightgown, an open green tartan robe and slippers. Her hair was draped down her back, reaching three inches past her shoulders, brushed out and shining in the warm glow of the fire. "Come on, you," she said to a widely yawning Harry, "Off to bed."
Amanda rose from her seat behind the desk and passed the already half- asleep six year old over, kissing him on the forehead and saying, "Goodnight Harry" and received a murmured, "NightanManda."
"'Night, mummy," she teased and side stepped a swing at her arm as she stepped out the door.
Shaking her head, Minerva balanced Harry in one arm and pulled out her wand with the other. With a quick muttered charm, her desk was back in order, the letter and suspicious-looking accompanying package sitting on the bare center.
Walking back down the small hallway, Minerva pushed open the door to Harry's room. Poppy had been right in saying Minerva wouldn't appreciate it. The entire room was a bright, sickeningly vivid orange. Everything from the thick comforter with "CC" embroidered in black letters to the dozens of Quidditch posters on the walls was a shrine to the Chudley Cannons. Charlie and Ronald Weasley would have been proud.
Thankfully, Amanda had thought ahead and Harry was already dressed in his pajamas, so Minerva simply laid him down on the bed and tucked him in. After she kissed his scar as always, she made to leave, but was stopped by a murmured, "Ma?"
"What is it, love?" she whispered, sitting down beside him.
"Will you stay 'till I fall asleep?"
Grinning, Minerva lay down beside him and brushed his hair away from his face. Her son was growing up, but he was still her bebay.
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