|SIYE Time:10:30 on 23rd March 2018|
Harry Potter and Love's Changes
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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
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: 9862; Chapter Total: 817
Awards: View Trophy Room
Sorry for the delay in posting this chapter. On the bright side, it is a bit longer than the previous chapters. Thank you to all of those who have taken the time to review this story so far. I do read them all even if I don't respond to them individually.
Chapter 7: A First Step
Watching Harry leave his office, Professor Dumbledore leaned back in his chair and stroked his beard. He was a little disappointed that Harry had chosen not to confide in him, but the meeting was beneficial nonetheless. While questioning Harry, Dumbledore had cast a silent, wandless legilimens spell to check in on Harry and see what he knew. It surprised him to learn that Harry had actually been hearing the monster as it traveled throughout the castle. That piece of information confirmed Dumbledore’s theory that the “monster” was in fact a basilisk.
Dumbledore had suspected that Slytherin’s monster may be a basilisk since the time Tom opened the chamber fifty years ago. A basilisk simply made the most sense considering both Salazar Slytherin and Tom Riddle were Parselmouths and would have been able to use that skill to control the monster. Dumbledore was also aware of the roosters being killed and had noticed the spiders behaving oddly. Now that Dumbledore had figured that out, he just needed to decipher how Tom was managing to open the chamber again. Unlike last year when he knew that it was Quirrell acting under Voldemort’s orders, he wasn’t really sure who might be to blame this time. Dumbledore knew it was risky to keep the school open while a basilisk was on the loose, but he felt it was necessary that he find out how Tom was orchestrating everything. Thankfully, no one had died during the attacks as of yet, so Dumbledore had more time to try to figure things out before the Board of Governors forced his hand and closed the school.
As Harry left Professor Dumbledore's office, he shook his head as he wondered how his plan to be inconspicuous this year had gone so badly. The activities of the last three months had pretty much made him the most talked about person within the halls of Hogwarts. Unfortunately, after speaking Parseltongue in front of the entire school during dueling club, Harry was suspected to be the heir of Slytherin and therefore the most reviled person in the school. What's worse, he was the one who just discovered that Justin Finch-Fletchley and Nearly Headless Nick had been petrified. What were the chances that he would be alone in the corridor and happen to discover them? Why did it have to be him? Why did it have to happen to Justin when so many people knew that Harry had been looking for him?
Thankfully, Dumbledore had told Harry that he didn't think he was guilty, but the way Dumbledore looked at him when he asked if Harry had something to say still kind of creeped Harry out. Luckily it didn’t last very long and Harry still wondered if he should have said something about the voice he had been hearing, but Hermione had told him hearing voices wasn’t a good thing and he believed and trusted Hermione.
Harry glanced down at his watch and sighed as he realized he was already late for transfiguration. Since McGonagall was the one who had taken him to Dumbledore’s office, he wasn't worried about getting in trouble for being late, but he hated the idea of walking in when class had already started. Didn't people already have enough reasons to stare at him? Deciding he really didn't have a choice, Harry took a deep breath and walked into the Transfiguration classroom.
As Harry walked into her classroom, Minerva McGonagall paused her lecture and said, “Mr. Potter, thank you for joining us, please see me after class.” Harry nodded and sat down in his usual spot next to Ron and Hermione. Ron and Hermione both gave Harry curious looks, but Harry just shook his head and stared back up at McGonagall trying to listen to her lecture. Before he knew it, class was over.
“I’ll meet you guys later,” said Harry to Hermione and Ron as they left the room. Still sitting at his desk, Harry looked up and Professor McGonagall and waited for her to speak.
While she had hid it from all of her pupils, Minerva’s thoughts had been in turmoil since she discovered Harry with the most recent victims of Slytherin’s monster. She had remained outwardly calm as she took control of the situation and ensured that both Finch-Fletchley and Gryffindor’s ghost were properly taken care of. Her heart grieved for Finch-Fletchley as she thought about the fear he must have felt before he was petrified. She wasn’t sure who or what had caused it, but she knew it must have been a terrifying experience. She knew that student morale was already diminished so it had been especially crucial that she keep her stoic and stern persona intact while dealing with the students and events related to the Chamber of Secrets.
Minerva was worried about the fact that it might become necessary to close Hogwarts. She didn’t want the school to have to close especially since Dumbledore and Petunia Dursley were still Harry’s legal guardians and she didn’t fancy being forced to kidnap Harry in order to keep her promise that she would never allow Harry to return to an abusive home. Despite her need for more time to get Harry’s legal situation squared away, Minerva was beginning to believe that perhaps the school should be closed to protect the students. She was thankful that all of the damage done so far would be reversible, but she was beginning to question the sanity of letting things continue to escalate. Lately her stomach constantly churned with the worry she had for all of her students. Could she live with herself if another student was injured? And Merlin forbid, what if that student was Harry?
Harry already had too much to deal with considering all the things he went through at home and once again, school had become the opposite of a safe haven for him. Minerva had hated not being able to comfort Harry as she had walked him to the headmaster’s office earlier this afternoon. She was not blind to the fact that poor Harry had already been ostracized by the rest of the school and she could only imagine how hard it must be for him. She had scolded both Macmillan and Peeves when they started to accuse Harry of being the one responsible for opening the Chamber, but she knew it would do little to help Harry’s social status. Minerva’s heart nearly broke for Harry when she was forced to take him to Albus’s office instead of talking to him on her own. Unfortunately, Albus had made his wishes clear that he was to do any questioning of students that may have any information about the Chamber of Secrets including those accused of being the heir. Since there were so many other witnesses to the fact that Harry was with the victims when they were discovered, she had no choice but to follow Albus’s directive. Just as she had told Harry, it was truly out of her hands.
However, after leaving Harry in the headmaster’s office, Minerva began to consider what she should do for Harry once Albus had finished questioning him. Minerva knew that Albus was very confident that Harry had nothing to do with the Chamber of Secrets since he had been quite adamant on that fact to Severus during the staff meeting. At least she didn’t have to worry about Harry receiving any kind of punishment for simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Minerva decided the best she could do for Harry would be to have discussion with him as his Head of House. She knew in her heart with absolute certainty that Harry was innocent and she wanted him to know that. She wanted him to know that more than just Albus, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger had faith in him. She had asked Harry to remain after class, and now it was time to speak with him. In an unusual move for her, instead of sitting at her desk, she turned the chair around on the desk that was directly in front of Harry’s and sat with only a small student desk separating them.
“Mr. Potter, do you remember when I spoke about the house system last year before everyone was to be sorted?”
“Yes, Professor.” As he responded, Harry was worried. Did she know that the hat really wanted to put him in Slytherin? Was she about to say that the hat made a mistake putting him in Gryffindor? Harry felt his palms begin to sweat and his heart rate rise as he became more and more worried.
Minerva noticed that Harry seemed to be getting more and more nervous with this discussion, but she continued, “Do you remember what I said about the houses, Mr. Potter?”
“Yes, you told us about the traits of each house and that they were named for the founders of Hogwarts.” Harry was doing his best not to fidget as he responded, but he was having trouble because she made him nervous. He was trying to keep eye contact with her, but he found it difficult and could only maintain it for a couple seconds at a time before looking somewhere, anywhere else. Why was she asking him about houses? Why did she keep him here at all? Dumbledore had let him leave his office without any punishment, was he about to get in trouble now?
“You are correct Mr. Potter, but you missed one key point I made that night.” Minerva waited in silence until Harry brought his eyes back around to look at hers and then continued, “Harry, you missed the part where I said that your house would be like your family while you were here.”
Harry’s eyes had widened when Professor McGonagall used his first name. He was absolutely shocked. He had never heard her address anyone informally before. He was still looking at her and he began to notice that she looked a little different than she usually did. He couldn’t really pinpoint it, but she looked softer somehow. He didn’t realize that his jaw had dropped and his brow was somewhat furrowed in confusion as he continued to try to figure out why she was telling him this.
Minerva chuckled slightly as she took in Harry’s reaction. “Yes, Harry. I do know your first name in case you were wondering. I thought for this conversation it would be better to be a bit less formal. I want you to feel comfortable. Would you prefer that I not call you Harry?”
“Harry is fine Professor.” Harry finally managed to croak out. He was confused and a bit overwhelmed, but as awkward as it felt, it was much less intimidating for her to call him Harry rather than Mr. Potter. At least she wasn’t calling him “my boy” like Professor Dumbledore tended to call him. He hated that because Uncle Vernon often called him “boy”, plus it would have been way too weird to hear Professor McGonagall call him something like that.
“Okay Harry, thank you for allowing me to address you in such a manner. Back to what I was saying before, your house is like your family which by default makes your Head of House like a parent while you are here at school. Harry, I know this year can’t have been easy for you and I asked you to stay so that I could talk to you about that.”
Minerva watched as Harry’s shoulders slumped and he went back to staring at the top of his desk. She was doing her best to reach out to him, but he was already closing himself off. Keeping his head bowed, Harry mumbled, “I’m sorry professor.”
Minerva’s eyebrows knit together as she heard him. Why was he apologizing? “Harry, why are you sorry? Have you done something wrong?”
Harry continued to stare at the desk and responded, “I’m sorry, I really tried to stay out of trouble. I don’t want to be expelled and I tried to just blend in with everyone else, but I just couldn’t do it. I promise it wasn’t me that petrified those people. I know everyone thinks I did, but I really didn’t. I swear. Professor Dumbledore says he believes me, please don’t expel me.” Harry’s breathing became harsher as he spoke and at his last words he looked up at Minerva and she could see the fear and pleading in his eyes.
Upon seeing him look at her like that, something within Minerva broke. Her careful plan to stay somewhat removed from Harry to avoid any scrutiny or suspicion from Albus shattered as she looked back at him. Without even thinking about it, Minerva reached toward Harry to grab the hand that was lying on the desk between them. Her heart clinched when Harry flinched away from the contact and bowed his head, but she was still determined to provide him some form of comfort. Very slowly, with her palm facing upward she reached out and placed her hand just below his chin and applied gentle pressure until he relented and looked back up at her. She kept her hand in place as she spoke gently, “Harry, you are not in trouble. I am not going to expel you. I never thought you had anything to do with the attacks that have happened. Its just been rather unfortunate that you have been in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Minerva watched as some of the tension bled off of Harry at her proclamation that he wasn’t in trouble and she believed him. She moved her hand slowly away from his face and she was gratified when he didn’t flinch as she placed her hand on top of his. He still looked a little worried, but she continued. She didn’t quite feel like she had gained his trust so she said, “Harry, if I tell you something, do you think you could keep it a secret?”
Now Harry was really confused. A secret? From a professor? What kind of secret would he need to keep for a professor? “Yes, professor, I can keep a secret.”
Thinking hard about how she needed to start to build a relationship with him and gain his trust if she was ever going to take care of him, Minerva said, “Harry, I want it to be clear that this should remain a secret for your sake, not for mine. I am actually quite proud of what I am about to tell you, but if it became public knowledge here at school it will very likely make things even more difficult for you.” Harry nodded so Minerva continued, “Give me just a moment and I am going to grab something from my office to show you.”
A few seconds later, Minerva returned to the classroom with a picture frame in her hand. Harry was quite perplexed at the turn of events especially when he noticed that Professor McGonagall actually seemed to be a bit nervous as she walked back toward him. He had never seen her look nervous! What was going on? She looked almost fragile as she sat back down in front of him. Then she handed him the picture. His reaction was immediate. His jaw dropped and all thoughts seemed to fly from his head and then converge back in on him all at once. He couldn’t think straight. He had so many questions, but couldn’t get his mouth to move. His hands shook so violently as he held the picture that he could barely see the images anymore. He then realized that it wasn’t the shaking that was making the image blurry, but the tears in his eyes. Embarrassed, he sat the picture down and with an angry swipe of his hands removed the evidence that he had almost cried. Seeing this, Minerva reached back out and gently placed a hand on his shoulder. She waited for him to regain his composure before speaking again.
“As you just saw, Harry, I knew you before you started Hogwarts last year. That picture was taken shortly after you were born. It is my favorite photograph of all that I own.”
Harry continued to look at the photograph that was now lying on the desk. His eyes flitted between the three adults and the baby that were the subjects of the photo. His mom and dad were both standing and had huge smiles on their faces as they looked at each other, the baby, and back out of the frame toward Harry. He had seen several pictures of his parents, but seeing Professor McGonagall holding a baby (no holding him!) with a look of such happiness and awe was completely alien to him. It was obvious she was enamored because she never once looked away from the baby (no him!) that she was holding. He was also surprised to see that baby Harry held her gaze and didn’t look away from her either. Finally, breaking his gaze away from the photo, he looked back up at Professor McGonagall.
If there was one thing Harry understood, it was pain and he could see the pain in Professor McGonagall’s eyes as she stared back at him. He had no doubt that the tears he saw running down her cheeks were genuine, but Harry didn’t know what to feel. It had been almost a year and a half since he started Hogwarts so why was Professor McGonagall showing this to him now? If she cared for him when he was a baby, why hadn’t she visited? Why had she never given a single indication before now? As the questions continued to swirl in his head, Harry began to feel angry. He would never forget how his first letter from Hogwarts was addressed. That told him all he needed to know about Deputy Headmistress Minerva McGonagall. Sure he had always respected the Tranfiguration professor, but she had still addressed a letter to him in “the cupboard under the stairs” and never once asked about it or checked on him. Despite the emotion she was showing now and the fact that she had been close to his parents, he knew he couldn’t trust her to be different than any of the teachers he had in the muggle world. They would all act concerned when they saw Harry moving slowly or when they watched Dudley pick on him, but they never changed a thing. Harry knew deep down that the only person he could really and truly count on was himself. Everyone else was destined to desert him.
Keeping that in mind, Harry finally broke the silence and asked, “May I be excused, Professor?”
Harry saw Professor McGonagall sag at his question. He could almost feel the hurt emanating from her as she leaned back until she was sitting up straight in her chair again. “Of course you may be excused Harry, but before you go please let me say a little more to you.” Harry nodded so she continued, “I can feel that you are angry at me, and I believe that you are justified in feeling that way. I want you to know that I am sorry that I have failed you in the past. Part of the reason I didn’t have this conversation with you last year was because I was afraid. I know I am a Gryffindor, but I was a coward. I’m sorry that my actions have hurt you. I want you to know that I do care for you a great deal. I can see in your eyes that you don’t believe me when I say that, but I hope to prove it to you someday soon. If you ever feel the need to talk to someone please know that I am here. Even if you just want to hear some of my stories about your parents, please come and talk to me. I will happy to share that with you. Good day to you, Mr. Potter.”
Recognizing her switching back into addressing him formally as a dismissal, Harry got up and walked out of the room. He scratched his head as he walked toward Gryffindor tower. He clearly had a lot to think about.
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