SIYE Time:15:16 on 17th December 2018

Harry Potter and Love's Changes
By ScubaDoc3

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Category: Pre-OotP
Characters:Dumbledore, Harry/Ginny, Hermione Granger, Minerva McGonagall, Ron Weasley
Genres: Angst, Drama, General
Warnings: Mental Abuse, Mild Language, Spouse/Adult/Child Abuse, Violence/Physical Abuse
Rating: PG-13
Reviews: 45
Summary: After Harry is injured protecting the philosopher's stone, Minerva McGonnagall promises herself that she will do a better job looking after him. That promise will eventually lead to large changes in Harry's life. This will ultimately be Harry/Ginny, but since it starts at the end of Harry's first year, it will take a while for any romantic relationships to develop.

This is my first fanfic and I have no idea how long it will be or how long it will take me to post.
Hitcount: Story Total: 12557; Chapter Total: 1074
Awards: View Trophy Room


Chapter 6: A Difficult Discussion

Minerva McGonagall sat curled up in the fetal position and rocked back and forth on her bed. Sleep had completely eluded her. She rested her forehead on her knees and forced herself to breathe deeply to try to regain her composure. She felt like she didn’t have any more tears to cry. Part of her was surprised that last night’s events had hit her so hard since she was already aware that Harry had suffered abuse during his childhood; however, actually seeing the scars on his small body was exponentially worse than reading about his injuries on a medical report.

Last night, Poppy had used the excuse of not wanting Harry to put any weight on his healing ankle to keep him in the hospital wing overnight so that she could run a complete diagnostic on him. Thankfully, Albus had believed the excuse and left immediately after Harry and Ron’s punishment was decided. Minerva had left with Albus to check in with Filius and thank him for covering for her during the feast. After healing both boys and allowing them to eat, Poppy dismissed Ron from the wing and gave Harry some potions which included a sleeping draught.

Once Harry had fallen asleep and Minerva had returned, Poppy began working. With a wave of her wand, Poppy transfigured Harry’s clothes so that he was wearing only shorts and moved him so that he was lying on his stomach. Minerva was horrified when she saw the scars on Harry’s back. Poppy then explained to Minerva that she had put Harry to sleep because the diagnostic spell she was going to use was a visual diagnostic that would recreate any injuries sustained over the past 3 months. Poppy assured Minerva that there would be no pain, but that any injuries would look real and fresh so it was best that Harry slept so that he didn’t know what was happening. Minerva and Poppy had hoped that nothing would show up with the diagnostic; they hoped that Albus had kept his word and ensured Harry was not abused anymore by the Dursleys. Unfortunately, with quick wave of Poppy’s wand, their hopes were dashed as dark purple bruises formed along Harry’s back and legs. Upon seeing the damage, Minerva sobbed and collapsed onto the chair next to Harry’s bed.

The consummate professional, Poppy had continued working. The only indication of Poppy’s emotional distress was an infinitesimal quiver of her hand as she documented the injuries Harry had sustained in what could only be described as a beating. Poppy ran further tests to determine Harry’s diet and nutrition levels over the summer. She sighed as she found that Harry had not taken the potions she had prescribed at the end of the previous term. She also ascertained that Harry had experienced malnutrition and a period of near starvation over the summer, the timeframe of which matched that of when he had received the physical injuries. Despite eating well for the past couple of weeks, Harry’s weight was lower than it had been when he left school two months ago.

Finished with the examination, Poppy had conjured a chair and sat down next to Minerva. No longer working, Poppy allowed her calm facade to vanish and her face crumpled with emotion. It took a long time before either she or Minerva was able to speak.

Thinking back to last night, Minerva was still somewhat torn over the decision she and Poppy had made. They had decided that Minerva would not be there when Poppy talked to Harry about his situation at home. They knew that Poppy would have to discuss at least some of her findings when she explained to Harry that he would be expected to take potions for an extended period of time. Poppy and Minerva both knew Harry was too intelligent to fool into thinking the potions were for his ankle injury, so Poppy would need to discuss the evidence of malnutrition. It was sure to be a very difficult conversation, but Poppy was prepared to do it.

Minerva rationalized the decision to allow Poppy to handle the discussion by telling herself that she didn’t want Harry to feel overwhelmed by the fact that both she and Poppy were aware of the abuse. Minerva knew that abused children often felt ashamed and considering Harry had never complained or mentioned anything to the staff, she assumed Harry did not want anyone to know about his life at home. While her rationalization made sense, Minerva was torn because she knew that she was partly avoiding the conversation with Harry because she felt she had lost the opportunity to be a confidant for him. She felt like she needed to earn his trust before she could approach him about anything personal. As a healer, Poppy was more neutral so it made sense that she handle it until Minerva developed a better relationship with Harry.

Sighing, Minerva stood up from her position on her bed and began to get herself ready for the first day of classes. In that moment, Minerva decided that she had to move forward instead of constantly berating herself for her past decisions. Looking up at the ceiling she spoke, “James, Lily, I’m so sorry.” Her voice wavered as she continued, “I promise you that I will figure all this out. I don’t know how yet, but every moment I’m not teaching I will be working to figure this out. I promise you that I will protect him.” She had a lot of work to do to if she was going to make things right.

At the same time Minerva stepped into the shower, Harry Potter awoke confused. With a furrowed brow, he looked around the room and it took him a moment to remember he was back at Hogwarts, but in the hospital wing. Glancing at the windows, he saw that it was still quite dark outside so he knew it must be very early in the morning. He was alone in the wing as Ron had been allowed to return to Gryffindor tower last night and Madam Pomfrey was not yet up and about for the day.

Harry rotated his foot experimentally and discovered there was no longer any pain when he moved it. It was the first time since Uncle Vernon had grabbed his foot to try to keep him from escaping Privet Drive that Harry felt absolutely no pain from his ankle. It had almost completely healed over the last couple of weeks, but yesterday’s crash into the whomping willow had reaggravated the injury. Harry had thought he was hiding the pain well, after all, nobody at the Burrow had noticed him favoring his ankle in the weeks he stayed there so he was shocked last night when he heard Professor McGonagall tell Madam Pomfrey to make sure she checked his leg as it had clearly been injured. While he was somewhat annoyed that Madam Pomfrey had insisted he stay overnight in the hospital wing, Harry had to admit that she had done a brilliant job healing him.

Taking a deep, cleansing breath Harry felt himself smile. He was back home at Hogwarts and couldn’t help but feel joyful about that. Thinking about yesterday, the smile slid off of his face as he remembered the sickening guilt he felt when he saw Professor McGonagall look at him in disappointment. Thankful that she was actually giving him a chance to explain, Harry had told Professor McGonagall and Dumbledore, who happened to walk into the room while Harry was speaking, about the barrier onto Platform 9 3/4 sealing which prevented he and Ron from making the train. He described their worry that Mr. and Mrs. Weasley might not be able to get through to help them so they decided to take the car. When McGonagall mentioned the option of using Hedwig to notify the school of their situation instead of stealing the Weasleys’ car, Harry felt terrible. How could he have been so stupid? Harry was deeply ashamed of his actions and hated the fact that he had disappointed both Professors Dumbledore and McGonagall.

Nearly overwhelmed with guilt, Harry had been stunned when Professor McGonagall meted out punishment. He felt he deserved something much more severe than just detention, and was astonished that McGonagall had agreed not to take any house points. Not for the first time, Harry was grateful that he had argued with the sorting hat and kept it from putting him in Slytherin; he was sure that if things had been left up to Snape, Harry would have been expelled. Lying on his back with his hands clasped behind his head, Harry contemplated the upcoming school year. He hoped it would be a good year and that he might stay out of trouble since Professor Dumbledore made it clear that more trouble would lead to expulsion. Harry watched the window as the sky lightened with the rays of dawn. He then heard someone approach his bed and sat up to greet her.

“Mr Potter, how are you feeling this morning?”

“I feel great Madam Pomfrey.” Harry smiled, “Thank you for healing my ankle.”

“You are welcome, Mr. Potter.” Poppy then waved her wand over Harry muttering diagnostic charms as she did so. “Yes, Mr. Potter your ankle has completely healed so you will be able to walk on it normally from now on.” Poppy then shocked Harry by sitting down in the chair next to his bed letting her wand rest across her thighs. Harry had never seen the matron sitting with a patient, and the serious look on her face unnerved him. Taking a deep breath and focusing on not allowing her voice to shake as she did so, Poppy spoke compassionately, “Mr. Potter, you and I need to chat for a moment.”

Harry was bewildered by Madam Pomfrey’s sudden change in tone and behavior. He found that he could no longer hold eye contact and stared at his own feet as he responded. “I’m sorry Madam Pomfrey. I know I shouldn’t have taken the car, we should have owled for help. It was stupid. I’m so so sorry.”

Poppy leaned forward to touch Harry on the arm to try to help calm him. Seeing movement out of the corner of his eye, Harry flinched violently and leaned away. Holding back her own tears and emotions, Poppy continued to slowly move her hand toward Harry and with extreme gentleness placed her hand on his forearm squeezing softly. The unfamiliar touch caused Harry’s head to jerk up and he looked at Madam Pomfrey in surprise.

Relieved by the eye contact, Poppy spoke again, “Harry, I’m not upset at you.” Harry’s eyebrows lifted and his eyes opened wider at the use of his given name. Poppy continued, “You have already been assigned your punishment for yesterday’s actions. That isn’t what I want to discuss with you.” Keeping her tone gentle to make sure she didn’t sound accusatory, Poppy asked, “My first question is why didn’t you take the potions I prescribed to you over the summer?”

Harry looked completely bewildered and responded, “I’m sorry Madam Pomfrey, what potions? I’m really sorry. I must have forgotten you telling me about them. I’ll do better from now on.”

“Harry.” Poppy said gently, but he didn’t respond as he continued to apologize over and over. “Harry!” Poppy said a little more loudly but tried to keep her tone gentle as she did so. Ignoring his wince, Poppy gently placed a hand under Harry’s chin and moved his head so that he was looking at her once more. “Harry, I already told you that I’m not upset at you. It is me that should be apologizing to you. I didn’t personally tell you about the potions so you didn’t do anything wrong. I had explained things to Professor Dumbledore and I think we both assumed that the other had told you and given them to you.” Poppy knew that this was not the case, but she didn’t feel comfortable telling the truth about Albus breaking his promise to take care of things.

Relieved that he apparently wasn’t in trouble, Harry responded, “What kind of potions, Madam Pomfrey? Is there something wrong with me? Did Voldemort do something to me?”

Wincing at Voldemort’s name, Poppy responded, “No, he-who-must-not-be-named didn’t do anything to you. The reason you need to take potions is that you are malnourished. I assume that you have noticed that you are smaller than the majority of your classmates?”

Harry slumped and lowered his eyes. Madam Pomfrey allowed his chin to fall away from her hand, but she reached out and grabbed his hand instead. “Harry, it’s okay. This isn’t your fault. I have prescribed a regiment of strengthening and nutrient potions for you. I’m afraid they won’t taste very good, but they will help you grow and gain weight. I’m sure meals in the great hall will help a great deal as well.” Poppy watched as Harry seemed to fold in on himself. The boy that had moments ago smiled and thanked her for healing him seemed to disappear completely. Poppy’s heart wrenched as she thought about everything he had been through. She wasn’t sure how to proceed. Should she mention the scars and the physical abuse? Harry was already closed off, wouldn’t that just make it worse?

Sitting in silence, Harry didn’t know what to say or what to do. Yes, he knew he was smaller than others and he knew that he often had to go hungry at home, but how could he explain things to Madam Pomfrey? How could he tell her that no matter how hard he tried he was always a freak and freaks don’t deserve to eat with decent people. If there was one thing he had learned from Uncle Vernon, it was that silence was usually the best answer. So Harry remained quiet and waited.

Poppy broke the silence, “Harry, I want you to know that I am here for you if you ever want to talk. You won’t get in trouble for anything you say to me. My goal is to make sure you are okay. I want you to be both healthy and happy. Please know that you can come to me if you need anything.”

Harry continued to avoid eye contact with Madam Pomfrey. Sure he had heard what she said, but he just didn’t want to talk to her. Why couldn’t he just go to class like everyone else? Why couldn’t he just blend in to the crowd?

Realizing that Harry wasn’t going to say anything, Poppy decided not to push any further. “Mr. Potter, here are today’s potions. I have arranged for a house elf to leave each day’s potions by your bed each morning. That way, no one else will know that you are taking them unless you want them to. Please just take them the very first thing each day. Don’t be surprised if you get a note asking you to come to the hospital wing in a few weeks. I will need to check how well the potions are working. There is a change of clothes for you and some toiletries here so you can go straight to the great hall for breakfast if you would like. I’m sure you would like to see your friends as soon as possible.” Squeezing Harry’s hand once more, Poppy turned and walked away.

Harry was immensely relieved as he watched her go. He was thankful that she didn’t ask a lot of questions. He was determined to be as inconspicuous as possible this year. He couldn’t afford to get into trouble. He didn’t think he could handle being kicked out of Hogwarts. With that in mind, Harry got up to get ready for his first day of class.
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