A cold stonewall in the middle of a muggle neighborhood was the last place McGonagall would have liked to spend her day, and yet, here she sat. Watching the now darkened house with narrowed cat eyes. Her animagus form granting her much better sight than normal for a human. She had seen the overly large man leave for work that morning, had been shooed away by the horse face woman and very nearly grabbed by her son who then spent the remainder of their walk having a screaming tantrum his mother wouldn’t allow him to pet the cat.
To put it lightly, McGonagall was not impressed. She let out a soft huff of air, standing to pace the length of the wall again, however, she froze when something caught her attention. Whiskers twitching she fixed her eyes on the street light that had just gone out, another one nearby soon followed and McGonagall slowly sat down, watching and waiting until the street had gone completely dark.
“I should have known I would find you here, Minerva,” an elderly wizard said, looking over his half-moon spectacles, meeting her bright yellow cat eyes.
Jumping down from the wall, never taking her eyes from him as she shifted back into human form, she fixed the elderly man with a stern gaze.
“I've been hearing the rumours all day, Albus,” she said.
Looking at the older wizard imploringly, silently begging him tell her that they had just been rumors, that people had been mistaken after all.
“I'm afraid I can't give you the news you are looking for, Minerva. The rumors are true, the good, and the bad,” Dumbledore said sadly.
McGonagall's face fell and she shook her head in disbelief.
“I didn't want it to be true, I refused to believe anything until I heard it from…”
She trailed off, closing her eyes and sighing softly, taking a moment to collect herself, she would grieve the loss of Lily and James Potter later, however for now, the only thing she could do was give them a moment of silence.
“What about the boy?” She questioned, following Dumbledore up the pathway towards the muggle house she had been watching all day.
“Hagrid is bringing him,” Dumbledore said.
“Bringing him here? You don't really mean to leave him with these people, do you?” McGonagall tried to contain her outrage at the very idea, but something must have slipped through, because Dumbledore was now giving her an all to knowing look.
“They are his family, the only one he has left,” Dumbledore said.
“That may be true, Albus, but these people,” McGonagall caught herself from saying what she truly thought of them from a single days observation. ”They're just the worst sort of muggles I've ever seen, the way they treat their own child… surely there is someone in the wizarding world willing to raise the boy,”
“There are plenty who would happily take him, I have indeed been approached by multiple people already, including the Minister himself.” Dumbledore explained.
“Then choose one of them to raise him,” McGonagall insisted.
Dumbledore sighed and shook his head. “Being raised in our world, being so famous before he can barely walk and talk, that is enough to overwhelm any child,” Dumbledore insisted.
“That is what you are worried about?” McGonagall questioned.
She could see his point, as reluctant as she was to admit it, the poor child wouldn’t be able to go anywhere in the wizarding world without being recognized, no matter who raised him, no matter how sheltered he was, raising him in the wizarding world really would not be the best option for him.
“Then find him someone who will live in the muggle world with him,” McGonagall said, knowing she was grasping at straws now, however she couldn’t sit back and let Dumbledore put an innocent child in the hands of these muggles. She didn’t know how to put it into words, she simply had a bad feeling about leaving him there.
“Raise him away from the spotlight,” she insisted.
“He will be protected here.”
Dumbledore was looking at her sadly, as if he really did want to agree with her, but there was something holding him back, something bigger that was making him believe that Harry Potter would be better off with muggles than with others who would at least understand him, someone who would be able to answer the numerous questions he was bound to one day have. Questions that no muggle could even hope to try and explain.
“I will take him,” McGonagall said insistently, the words falling from her lips so fast that she surprised herself as well as Dumbledore. Though the Headmaster’s shock faded quickly, replaced by that familiar twinkle in his eye that McGonagall recognized all too well, having seen it in her students when they were up to something mischievous.
“I will not argue with you on this, Albus,” she said, though she got the feeling that arguing was the last thing on Dumbledore's mind. “I will take the child, and I will raise him,” she insisted firmly.
“I would never dream of arguing with you, Minerva.”
Dumbledore smiled, the twinkle still present in his eye as he turned his back on the house they had been standing in front of, he pulled out his watch, looked at it briefly, before gazing up at the sky.
“Hagrid is late,” he said.
McGonagall stood next to Dumbledore, wondering if she should comment on whether or not it was a wise choice to trust Hagrid with something as important as this, when the silence of the night was broken by the sound of a motorbike, gazing around before lifting her eyes to the sky as well when the sound grew louder. She couldn’t help the feeling of trepidation she felt as the bike landed in front of her and the headmaster.
She was now only vaguely listening to what was being said between Hagrid and Dumbledore, her eyes having been drawn to sleeping bundle that the half giant was holding in one hand.
“If yer gonna be the one ta look after him, could I maybe come see him, from time ta time?” Hagrid asked.
McGonagall looked up at him, locking eyes with the man, the request was a simple one and McGonagall couldn’t help but give him a gentle reassuring smile.
“Of course, Hagrid,”
It was easy to agree and she was unable to stop her smile widening as young Harry was handed over to her. The innocent child sleeping soundly, even after everything that had happened to him over the last twenty-four hours. In some ways, McGonagall almost envied him. Able to sleep so peacefully, unaware and unbothered by the fact that his life had just been so drastically changed.
Harry shivered, making a soft noise in his sleep and McGonagall tucked the blanket tighter around him, holding him closer to keep the cold about bay. It was getting cooler now, as the autumn weather set in. She glanced at Dumbledore when the headmaster started speaking again.
“There is still much to be done,” Dumbledore said. “I will help you find accommodations in the muggle world, somewhere where others won’t think to look, where Harry can grow up as any normal child should be allowed.”
McGonagall nodded her head in agreement, following Dumbledore back down the street, carrying Harry far away from the Muggle house that had nearly become his permanent home.
The years seemed to pass by far too quickly for McGonagall, watching Harry grow up, happy, and healthy had been worth leaving her post at Hogwarts. At least until Harry was old enough to start attending school himself. She had missed teaching, and missed the children, some of who she knew were worried about her sudden leaving, however her duties as a mother now came first.
Watching Harry walk into Hogwarts at eleven years old, still a little nervous, but head held high had been one of the proudest moments McGonagall could ever remember. He had been raised to know who he was, to know what the wizarding world had thought of him, however had been kept out of that celebrity spotlight Dumbledore had been so worried about.
Of course, Harry Potter was still the son of James and Lily, and had proved this time and time again where one second he would be flying through school work quickly enough for a passing grade, showing off how smart he was, then in the next he was sneaking out of Gryffindor tower to help smuggle a dragon out of Hogwarts.
McGonagall would willingly admit that she had spent more than a few sleepless nights when she realised how quickly Harry was befriending most of the Weasley children, and there were times he got on far to well with the twins for her liking. It was no surprise to her when the grey hairs started to crop up sooner than she had anticipated.
She had worried about his safety as he grew, worried about the danger that seemed to follow him, however as she stood here now, looking across the back garden to her now sixteen year old son, saw the unusual group of friends he had managed to forge for himself, she knew he was going to be alright no matter what fate threw his way.
“You’ve done a good job, Professor.”
The rough voice of Sirius Black said as he came to stand next to her, and McGonagall still felt the hairs on the back of her neck stand up whenever this man was close by, even though he had been wrongly imprisoned, and was now clear of all charges, thanks in part to Harry’s quick thinking back in his third year. But for all that, there was still a darkness that surrounded Sirius Black, something that only more time away from the dementors would really cure.
“I am no longer your Professor, Black,” McGonagall said, smiling at him.
“You’ll always be my Professor, Minerva,” Sirius grinned, giving her a wink and a glimpse of his younger, fun-loving self She simply rolled her eyes at him.
“What do you want?” she asked him flatly.
“What makes you think I want something?” Sirius asked.
Almost looking offended by such an accusation, however as soon as McGonagall fixed him with a stern look he knew all too well, Sirius caved, his shoulders drooping and his head lowering slightly, reminding her very much of the young boy she had once taught all those years ago.
“I was just wondering, if I could take Harry with me this weekend.” Sirius requested, “I was going to the coast, decided it was about time that I have a look at some of the Black properties out there, see if any of them were worth salvaging.” Sirius said.
McGonagall looked at him for a moment longer, letting her eyes drift back over to Harry when her son let out a surprised laugh.
“You’ll have to ask Harry if he’d want to go with you,” she said. “He has been old enough to make his own choices for a while now, something he has taken to reminding me off quite often,” she said.
Sirius laughed and nodded his head. “I’ll do that after the party, Harry seems to be having a lot of fun at the moment,” he said. “Now if you excuse me, I have a very, sexy werewolf to find,” Sirius said, excusing himself quickly.
McGonagall paid him no attention as her former student hurried away, her attention on Harry and his group of friends as they all played with the new snitch he had gotten for his birthday.
“Draco! Look up!” Harry called out.
The blond teen looked above his head, his grey eyes narrowing when he saw the snitch hovering just out of arm's reach.
“There it goes! Someone catch it!” Ginny giggled.
Harry took off after his snitch, using a chair to jump up onto the table, and give himself that extra boost to dive and grab the golden ball.
McGonagall was ready to chastise him for standing on the table, however stopped when she saw Harry land on an unsuspecting Charlie, sending the two of them tumbling to the ground. The garden exploded with laughter, and McGonagall hurried over to make sure that Harry had not injured either himself, or one of his guests.
“Oh Merlin! I’m sorry!” Harry said quickly, scurrying to get off Charlie as fast as he could, the red-headed man stopped him, his hands on Harry’s waist.
“Harry, slow down, I’m alright,” Charlie laughed. “I’ve been trampled by dragons that were a lot bigger than you,” Charlie assured him.
Slowly he sat up and gently removing Harry from his person, so he wouldn’t end up with one of Harry’s bony knees or elbows in an unpleasant place.
Harry was kneeling on the ground when McGonagall came over to them, he looked up at her sheepishly, giving her half a smile.
“Uh… Hi Mum,” he greeted.
McGonagall gave him a stern look, hands on her hips and Harry’s smile widened, which just earned a sigh from the professor, who turned her attention instead towards Charlie.
“No broken bones or bruises, Professor,” Charlie assured her, standing up and dusting his trousers off.
“Yes, well, perhaps next time my son will think twice before diving off a table,” she said, looking back towards Harry.
“You know thinking twice isn’t really my strong suit,” Harry admitted, standing up and dusting himself off as well.
“I’d say thinking in general isn’t your strong suit,” Draco added as he came to stand next to Harry, the rest of the group of teens soon followed, all still looking highly amused at what had just happened.
“If you’re making a habit of jumping on hot men, can I line up to go next?” Blaise asked.
Putting an arm on Harry’s shoulder, only to have it shrugged off, the birthday boys cheeks tinting red as he turned to glare at Blaise.
“I’d sooner jump on Draco than you,” Harry shot back ducking out from under Blaise’s arm.
“Please don’t,” Draco said, earning an outburst of laughter from the rest of the group.
Minerva restrained herself from rolling her eyes at her son, deciding that no true damage had been done, and was sure that Harry wouldn’t be jumping off any more tables today, she turned to go back into the house, intending to help Molly start with some of the clean-up.
“I really am sorry about jumping on you, Charlie,” Harry said, turning to look back at older Weasley.
“Charlie doesn’t mind!”
Fred piped up as he came to stand on Harry’s left. George flanking him on his right, the two of them wearing identical grins as they started to lead Harry away.
“Now, if you excuse us all,” George said looking over his shoulder to the group of confused teens, “Harry here has one more present that he needs to open.”
Harry groaned, though didn’t fight to free himself from the twins grasp.
“Oh no, what do you two want from me now?” he questioned.
He wasn’t truly worried, as he had never been the subject of the twins pranks before, at least not directly.
“Nothing much,” Fred assured him, “we just have a new product for our joke shop, and we decided that the best person to have the first sample, is you.”
They led Harry further away from the curious guests and any adults that might be nosy about what they were doing, before George pulled a small vile out of his coat pocket.
Harry looked at it skeptically. “It’s not going to turn me into a giant chicken or something, is it?” he asked as he took the vile to inspect it closely.
“I’m truly hurt that you’d even think us capable of something like that,” George put a hand over his chest acting as if Harry’s words had wounded him.
“Indeed, I’m so insulted right now,” Fred continued. “A chicken? There’s nothing funny about turning someone into a chicken.”
“Exactly, a spider, a parrot, even a rabbit, but never a chicken,” George said.
“Somehow your words fail to comfort me,” Harry said flatly as he popped the top to the bottle and sniffed at it. “So what DOES this do?”
“It’s a luck potion,” Fred said, grinning widely when Harry’s head whipped around to stare at him.
“Serious?” Harry asked mouth pulled into a wide grin, he held the vile up to the light, peering at it closely, “...It doesn’t look like Felix Felicis,”
“It’s not,” George admitted. “It’s our own special mix, it’s based loosely off Felix.”
“But we decided it needed a bit more… flare,” Fred concluded and Harry was looking even more skeptical now.
“Of course,” George reached for the vile, “if you don’t want it,”
Harry pulled it out of reach. “I never said that! Besides, you said it was a birthday present, you can’t take that back,” he stuck his tongue out at the twins, popping it open and downing the single dose in one go.
Fred and George were watching him closely now, and Harry had a momentary flash of regret before he felt physically and emotionally lighter, so much so that he had to look down at his feet to make sure they were still on the ground.
“Well, that feels strange,” Harry commented with a giggle, slapping a hand over his mouth, giggling again.
“Uh, is that supposed to happen, Fred?” George questioned, both of them watching Harry with growing concern.
“Don’t think so, George… maybe we should…” Fred started suggesting something, but Harry turned sharply, laughing as he almost fell over, managing to catch himself by grabbing onto George’s arm.
“Alright there, Harry?” George asked.
Harry looked up at him, grin plastered on his face as he nodded. He glanced towards Fred for a moment, the grin fading slightly he motioned George to lean in closer. George glanced over his shoulder at his twin, before obeying Harry’s silent request.
“Don’t look now, George, but I think your doppelganger is following you,” Harry said in a loud whisper.
George sniggered only to have Fred slap the back of his head.
“Why do I have to be the doppelganger? You sure it’s not him?” Fred questioned, pointing at George.
“No, it’s definitely you,” Harry said nodding his head confidently.
“What makes you say that?” George asked.
“‘Cause if anyone was going to take over the world, it would be Fred,” Harry insisted.
“Oh drat, now my cover’s blown,” Fred snapped his fingers.
Harry shook his head. “Nah, your secret's safe with me,” he grinned, then looked at George. “Sorry, looks like you’re doomed after all.” he grinned, turning on his heel and walking away.
Leaving a very confused set of twins standing there.
“Should be worried, Fred?” George asked.
“No, I think everything will be fine,” Fred said, the two of them watching as Harry made his way back over to his group of friends, pulling Draco into an unexpected hug. “Though, perhaps we should make ourselves scarce… just in case.”
“Lead the way,” George said, the two of them slowly turning, making a swift get away before McGonagall discovered Harry’s inebriated state.
Harry had never truly been drunk before, tipsy perhaps, he was sixteen after all and had managed to sneak some alcohol a time or two, but he had been smart enough not to overindulge to the point of drunkenness.
Despite his lack of experience with it though, Harry was fairly sure that what he was feeling now could be easily compared to being drunk. The giddy feeling that was filling every fiber of his being was certainly a new and fun sensation.
Stumbling his way over to his group of friends, Harry draped himself over Draco’s shoulders, earning a short shriek of surprise as Draco whipped his head around to stare at Harry.
“What in Merlin’s name do you think you’re doing, Potter?” Draco sneered at him.
Harry lifted a finger and pressed it against Draco’s lips, staring into his grey eyes as he leaned closer. Watching said eyes widen as their noses touched.
“Draco…” Harry started to say, his expression going very serious. “I’ve always wanted to ask you this… but I’ve never had the courage to do so, until now,”
Draco simply blinked at him, his cheeks tinting red and Harry smiled, slowly removing his finger to trace along one of Draco’s cheeks.
“Did someone bleach you?” He asked.
Draco blinked once, then twice, his face morphing from one expression to another before he finally shoved Harry away from him.
“No, someone most certainly did not ‘bleach’ me! That is rude, and disgusting!”
Harry blinked as he stumbled backwards, landing on his ass, though didn’t take his eyes off Draco.
“Are you sure?”
“I am quite sure I have never been ‘bleached’ by anyone, nor do I intend to be,” Draco stuck his nose up in the air.
Someone nearby giggled, drawing Draco and Harry’s attention over to Hermione, who was standing with Ron and Blaise, hand covering her mouth.
“Draco, bleach is a cleaning product muggles use, or a chemical they also use it to lighten their hair” Hermione explained, obviously attempting not to laugh more.
Ron however, didn’t even try, throwing his head back and laughing loudly. “Mate, I think Harry just implied that you need to be cleaned.”
“First off, Weasley, I am not your ‘mate’. Secondly, if anyone needs to be ‘bleached’ it’s you!” Draco insisted.
“Ron doesn’t need bleach, he needs a fire extinguisher,” Harry piped in, once again drawing everyone’s attention back on him, grinning widely as he tried, and failed, multiple times to pull himself up to his feet again.
“And why does Ron need one of those?” Blaise questioned, looking far too amused by the situation.
“‘Cause his hair is on fire,” Harry said, finally giving up and just letting himself fall back onto the ground, staring up at the sky, oblivious to the looks his friends were exchanging, or the fact that Hermione had handed off her cup and hurried into the house.
“My hair isn’t on fire, mate,” Ron said, coming to lean over Harry, looking down at him.
“You sure about that, Weasley?” Draco questioned. “It would explain why your brain has melted,”
“Oi! My brain isn’t melted!” Ron glared at Draco, the two of them stood narrowing their gaze at one another as Blaise reached down to help Harry off the ground.
Harry stumbled forward, catching himself on Blaise, his face pressed against his chest, his eyes closing.
“Hmmm… you’re comfy…” He mumbled.
Blaise gently pushed Harry up straight. “You alright, Harry?” He asked, showing genuine concern.
“Fit as a fiddle!” Harry grinned. “And don’t ask me what that means, ‘cause... I really don’t know,” he admitted.
Hermione came back to the group, Charlie right behind her. Harry caught sight of the tall muscular redhead.
“Charlie!” He waved excitedly, nearly falling over as he did so, Blaise catching him easily. “Whoops!” Harry laughed.
“See,” Hermione said looking up at Charlie. “He’s not acting normal… I think someone might have hexed or jinxed him as a joke or something…”
“No,” Harry giggled. “I wasn’t hexed,”
“Well, something happened to you,” Blaise said.
Ron nodded his head in agreement. “Yeah, mate, I’ve never seen you like this before.”
Harry however ignored Ron, keeping his eyes on Charlie, he gently pushed Blaise’s hands away from him, stumbling as the world spun around him after the first step.
“Hmmm, nope! Bad idea!” Harry said, feeling himself start to topple over once again, clenching his eyes shut to brace himself for the impact.
One that never came. Instead, he had the strange sensation of falling upwards, crying out, he latched onto the closest person.
“Easy, Harry, I’ve got you,” Charlie assured him.
“Don’t let me fall!” Harry said, clinging to Charlie.
“I won’t,” Charlie said soothingly. “I think the party is over though, so why don’t you all head inside, and McGonagall will see you all through the floo,”
There was a murmur of agreement before Charlie said. “You too, Ron,”
“Seriously? But I-”
“Just go, I’ve got Harry,” Charlie insisted, there was a huff of annoyance and had they not been outside, Harry was sure he would have heard Ron stomping his feet as he walked away. “Alright, Harry, it’s just us now,”
Harry still didn’t open his eyes, quite content to remain in Charlie’s arms, gripping onto the dragon handler.
“Harry, I need you to tell me what you drank,” Charlie said. “I can help sober you up, before your mother finds out,”
“Didn’t drink,” Harry pouted.
“I’ve been drunk enough times in my life, Harry,” Charlie insisted.
“I didn’t drink though,” Harry opened his eyes finally, pout still firmly in place as he looked up at the red head.
Charlie was still giving him a skeptical look though and Harry smacked his arm.
“You had something,” Charlie pressed.
“I had pumpkin juice, and luck potion, that is the only things I’ve drunk all day,” Harry crossed his arms over his chest, glaring at Charlie.
“Luck potion?” Charlie questioned, looking surprised by this new bit of information. “Who gave you a luck potion?”
“Your brothers,” Harry said.
Charlie shook his head, letting out a long sigh. “I’m afraid you’ll have to be a little more specific on that Harry.”
“I think it was the doppelganger that gave it to me…” Harry’s face scrunched up as he put some thought into it. “Yeah, it was the doppleganger,”
Charlie let out another sigh, closing his eyes, and Harry watched him, realizing for the first time that he had never been this close to the dragon handler before. He truly had a handsome face, at least Harry thought so, his hair seemed to be a slightly darker shade of red from most of his siblings, though upon closer inspection Harry could also see that the tips of his hair were starting to become lightened by the sun.
A light breeze ghosted by them, and Harry’s eyes widened, transfixed as the red locks flowed and danced with the wind, truly looking like fire. It was an oddly fitting feature for the dragon handler.
Harry stopped himself from reaching up to touch the hair, just barely, deciding to turn his attention to other features for now. Taking in the shape of Charlie’s face, how each feature came together so perfectly to create such a strong yet gentle visage.
Lowering his gaze further, Harry’s eyes finally settled on Charlie’s lips, something that Harry would have originally guessed to be the only flaw in the feature, because surely working around fire breathing dragons would have left them dry and cracked. However this was not the case, they looked smooth, and Harry found himself wondering if they were as soft as they looked.
“Harry?” The lips moved, saying his name, though instead of breaking his attention from them, they seemed to captivate him more. “Harry what-”
Harry was curious about what those lips were about to say, feeling a pang of sadness that he had cut them off by pressing his own against them. There was a sharp intake of breath, strong arms tightening around him as Harry’s eyes slid closed, those wonderfully soft lips pressing more firmly against his own, kissing him back.
It was just for a moment though, and then it was broken, Charlie pulling back, pushing Harry away gently to put some extra distance between them. Harry opened his eyes, staring up into Charlie’s shining blue ones and smiled.
“Harry what did… why did…” Charlie seemed flustered, his perfect features colored by a hint of red and Harry most certainly did not giggle at the redhead’s reaction.
“I wanted to,” Harry answered. “I’ve always thought you were pretty hot, but… I hadn’t noticed how handsome you were too,” he admitted, his mouth opening in a wide yawn, his eyes feeling heavy.
“Uh… thanks?” Charlie said, and Harry snorted in amusement again, reaching up to touch Charlie’s cheek.
“I want to kiss you again,” Harry admitted.
“I… um…” Charlie’s larger hand reached up to grab Harry’s, gently lowering it. “I’d like that, Harry,” he said.
Harry was quickly leaning forward to do just that, but Charlie stopped him again.
“You said you wanted to…” Harry pouted.
“I did, I do,” Charlie smiled. “How about, we save it for your next birthday,” he suggested.
“Oh,” Harry grinned. “Okay,” he agreed easily, yawning again. “Next birthday then,” He said, his eyes closing. “It’s a promise,” his voice getting tired as he drifted off, still being held by Charlie.
“It’s a promise,” Charlie agreed, leaning down and kissing Harry’s cheek, before turning to take him into the house.