SIYE Time:15:10 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: 12553; Chapter Total: 1439
Awards: View Trophy Room


Chapter 8: A Ray of Hope

Poppy Pomfrey had been somewhat reclusive since poor Colin Creevey had been petrified. While she knew that there was absolutely nothing she could do for the boy until the mandrakes were prepared, she still did not feel right leaving the hospital wing unattended while he was there. Because of this, she almost never left the immediate proximity of the hospital wing. She even took her meals in her quarters instead of joining the rest of the staff and students in the great hall. She barely saw any of the staff anymore and only had contact with the sick or injured students who would come into the wing for healing.

On Christmas day, Poppy felt the same reluctance to leave the wing as usual, but Rolanda Hooch had convinced her that even if the students (now there were two with both Creevey and Finch-Fletchley petrified) were awake, they wouldn’t begrudge her going to the Christmas feast. In an effort to keep her promise to Rolanda, Poppy summoned Mimsie, her favorite house-elf, and asked her to attend to the wing while she was gone. She then headed to the Great Hall to join the few students and staff that had not gone home for the holiday.

When Poppy sat down, she noticed that there were very few students remaining at school this Christmas. There were only a handful of Slytherins, Hufflepuffs, and Ravenclaws still at school. Gryffindor had the most students remaining with all five Weasleys plus Harry Potter and Hermione Granger.

“Poppy, I am so glad you actually decided to join us. I wasn’t sure if you would keep your promise or not.” Rolanda Hooch said with a smile as Poppy sat down next to her.

“I still hate leaving the wing.” Poppy sighed. “I just hate to think of those poor kids laying there petrified and alone.”

“That is why you are the perfect person for this job. These kids are lucky to have you, but please try to take a bit of time for yourself today. I know you are struggling with it, but you have to give yourself some time off or I’m afraid the stress might become too much for you.” replied Rolanda as she reached out and patted Poppy’s arm.

“I will do my best to take your advice, Rolanda. I’m looking forward to this meal.”

As Rolanda and Poppy continued to chat, Albus Dumbledore opened the Christmas feast as per tradition and all the sumptuous food prepared by the elves of Hogwarts appeared on the tables. Most of the conversations became much more muted and segmented as the attendees started to eat. As she was eating, Poppy was looking around and noticed something odd. Her eyes fell on Minerva and Poppy became concerned as she watched her friend. While Minerva didn’t look much different than she normally did, Poppy was concerned by the looks that Minerva was giving Harry Potter. When Poppy caught Harry glancing nervously at Minerva as well, she could only wonder what was causing the tension between the two.

After dinner was over, Poppy pulled her friend aside. “Minerva, I really want to get back to the hospital wing as soon as possible, but would you mind stopping by as soon as you get a chance so that we can chat?”

“I have a few things I need to do right now, but you can expect me within the next hour or two.” Minerva replied.

Two hours passed rather quickly as Poppy tasked herself with checking her inventory of potions and making a list of things she might need in the near future. Before she knew it, Minerva walked into the wing. Bypassing the wing itself, Minerva walked right by Poppy and took a seat in Poppy’s office. Poppy chuckled as she followed her friend and closed the door to the office behind her. Poppy knew that Minerva’s actions meant that she had a lot to say so she simply sat down and looked at her friend expectantly.

After waiving her wand to set the privacy charms, Minerva began to tell Poppy about the conversation she had with Harry Potter in which she admitted to knowing him as a baby. Tears fell as Minerva described Harry’s response. “I knew he would hate me,” continued Minerva, “but I didn’t realize it would be so hard to have him look at me like that. I didn’t fully realize how much it would hurt to have him walk out of the room like that. What am I supposed to do now? How do I prove to him how much I care?”

“What makes you think that he hates you? Think about what we know about him. As far as we know, he has never had an adult in his life that he could count on. We also know that Harry has extremely low self-esteem. For Merlin’s sake, the child has gone from being practically worshipped to completely shunned by his peers in a very short period of time. Imagine how that must seem to him. How could he possibly understand that someone might genuinely care for him? Especially when he must feel like he was abandoned all those years ago to a life of hardship and pain. I think you did the right thing to approach him like you did, but I also think you need to do much more before you actually take custody of the boy. You need to find a way to earn his trust. Think about it, what promise can you give him that will both show him how much you care as well as prove to him that you can be trusted?”

“I can promise him that he will never have to go back to the Dursleys. Even if I can’t get custody like I want to right away, I can at least promise him that he won’t go back to live with those horrible people.”

“Exactly. Now we just need to make sure that you and he are able to have another conversation in which you can make that promise to him. Harry is still under my treatment for his malnourishment. The last time I checked on him was when that idiot Lockhart removed his bones when he botched healing the boy after his quidditch injury. I swear that man should be prosecuted for assault instead of allowed to continue to teach here. It is time that Harry has another check-up with me, and as difficult as it will be, it is also time that we speak to him about the physical abuse he has suffered. I didn’t bring it up last time he was here because that was the same night poor Mr. Creevey was petrified, and I hate to admit I haven’t checked on Harry since then.”

Minerva slumped in her seat as she felt the weight of responsibility crash down on her. It was difficult enough just to admit to Harry that she had known him as a child, how was she going to manage conversing with him about the fact he was abused? Minerva knew Harry had nearly shut down completely when Poppy spoke to him about the malnourishment and she was having trouble imagining how Harry would react to the more difficult conversation ahead.

“You are right, we definitely need to talk to him. Let’s wait just a little bit longer to let him enjoy his holidays and we will talk to him before the rest of the students return to school. Plus, I think he could use that time to try to come to terms with our previous conversation.”

A week passed by and just after the New Year, Harry nervously approached the hospital wing. He had been down several times over the last several days to visit Hermione since she was still stuck with a tail after the debacle with the cat hair in her polyjuice potion. However, this time was different since Madam Pomfrey had asked him to come back for a check up regarding the potions she had him taking every day. Harry tried his best to convince her that he felt better than he ever had before and had noticed he had a lot more energy these days, but Madam Pomfrey still insisted he come in for an appointment with her.

Harry took a deep breath and steeled himself as he walked into the wing. Madam Pomfrey immediately noticed his entrance and waived him over.

“Mr. Potter, I believe that we will be best served to meet in my office today. There is no need to have you dirty one of my beds since you are just here for a check up. Please follow me.”

Harry nodded and followed as she walked into her office. However, when he saw the other occupant of the room, he stopped dead in his tracks. Ever since she had shown him that picture, Harry felt extremely awkward around Professor McGonagall. Thankfully she had not acted any differently in the few classes he had with her before the term ended, but he still wasn’t sure what to think or how to act in her presence. Harry felt ambushed and overwhelmed.

Minerva watched as Harry stood frozen in the doorway. It was obvious he didn’t know what to do so she spoke, “Mr. Potter,” softening her voice she continued, “Harry, will you please come in and have a seat? Madam Pomfrey and I would both appreciate the opportunity to speak with you if that is okay.”

Harry was somewhat confused. Professor McGonagall made it sound like he actually had an option. Unlike most of the time when a professor or adult had “asked” him to do something, this actually sounded like a request and not a veiled demand. A little more at ease by the request, Harry entered the room and sat in the seat Professor McGonagall indicated. He gulped as looked at the two formidable women sitting with him. He had never been comfortable directly addressing figures of authority and he wasn’t really sure what Professor McGonagall and Madam Pomfrey expected of him. Unable to hold eye contact with either one, Harry simply sat in his chair and stared at his hands lying on his lap.

“Harry,” began Poppy, “Professor McGonagall and I both wanted to check in on you and see how you are doing. You have been taking the nutrient potions for four months now and we wanted to talk to you about that and check on things. Would it be okay if I run a quick diagnostic spell on you?”

After seeing Harry nod his consent, Poppy waived her wand and smiled as she began to speak, “Harry, I’m glad that you have done such a great job taking the potions I had prescribed. Of course, I had checked you when you were here in October with your injured arm, but I can see that you have continued to follow my instructions over the last couple of months as well. I’m happy to let you know that your weight and muscle mass is nearly normal for someone your age. As I am sure you have noticed, you are still shorter than most of your classmates, but I have confidence that you will catch up with them over the next year or so. As long as you promise to eat at least three meals a day, you shouldn’t have to continue taking the potions. I’ll need to check you again in about a month to make sure that you are eating enough to maintain the progress you have already made. Now that your nutrition and muscle mass is at normal levels, how are you feeling, Harry? Any problems with getting tired or low energy?”

“No, Madam Pomfrey, I haven't had any problems.” Harry mumbled, “I have actually felt really good and I have noticed that I don’t get nearly as tired walking around the school. I really do feel better than I can ever remember feeling. Thank you very much for your help.” Harry smiled and looked up at Madam Pomfrey briefly, but he dropped his gaze after only a few moments.

“You are very welcome, Harry. Thank you for being such a wonderful patient, but Professor McGonagall and I both have something more we would like you to do for us.” Harry was bewildered by the idea of a request from Madam Pomfrey and Professor McGonagall, but when he nodded, Madam Pomfrey continued, “Harry, would you please allow us to help you more?”

Looking up from his hands, Harry’s eyebrows were knit in confusion as he looked back and forth between the two ladies. Both of them were looking at him with compassion. He was wary and not entirely sure how he was supposed to respond. He was afraid to question them so he simply said, “I’m sorry. I don’t know what you mean.”

“Harry, although you are still angry at me for not showing you sooner, I really do care for you and I want to be here for you. I know I haven’t earned your trust yet Harry, and that is okay, but I still want to help you.” Minerva said as she watched Harry’s continued look of confusion.

“I’m not angry at you Professor. I wasn’t sure what to think or feel when you showed me that picture, but I’ve thought about it a lot since then. I know you had more important things to do than worry about me. I’m not angry. I’m just not sure what you want me to do.”

Harry didn’t know it, but he had probably said the one thing that hurt Minerva more than anything else. She could handle him being angry at her, but the idea that he obviously felt that he wasn’t worth her worry or time crushed her. “Oh Harry!” Minerva cried, “that is completely untrue. You are more important that anything else. I have worried about you since the very day your dad and mum told me they were going to have a baby. I worried about you for ten years while you were with your relatives, but I had convinced myself that things would be easier and better for you if I stayed away. I worried about you when I found you after facing a mountain troll last year. I worried about you as I sat next to you while you recovered from your injuries from your encounter with Professor Quirrell. I worried about you when you flew here in an enchanted car and then managed to crash it into the whomping willow. I worried about you being hit with a bludger during your quidditch match only to have another professor injure you more by vanishing your bones. I am worried about you because most of the school is treating your poorly due to this whole heir of Slytherin debacle, and I am worried that you might get hurt by whatever has hurt Messrs. Creevey and Finch-Fletchley.” Her tears were flowing freely as Minerva described several of Harry’s more harrowing experiences, but Harry continued to simply stare at his hands and fidget slightly in his chair. It wasn’t until she paused, that she heard him.

“I’m sorry.” Quieter than a whisper, Harry’s voice was barely audible. It wasn’t clear if he even realized that he was speaking out load as he continued to repeat his apologies.

Realizing that Harry was probably afraid she was angry with him for all the things she mentioned about his past, Minerva moved in front of Harry and knelt down so that she was looking up at him from her position in front of his chair. Despite her attempt to move as slowly and gently as possible, Harry still flinched slightly as she carefully placed her open palm on his knee. “Harry. Harry, please look at me.”

Keeping his head bowed, Harry raised his eyes slightly to look at his professor. “I’m sorry.” He said more loudly as he made eye contact with the formidable witch.

Minerva reached up and took both of Harry’s hands in her own. “Harry, please listen to me for a moment.” Minerva said softly. “Please stop apologizing. I didn’t say all those things to upset you and I’m not angry with you. I only said all of that so you would know that nothing is more important to me than you.” She gently squeezed his hands in encouragement as he continued to look at her.

“But why?” Harry asked meekly. “I’ve caused so much trouble.”

“Harry, I love you and that won’t change no matter how much trouble you cause young man.” She smiled through her tears as she mentioned him causing trouble.

Minerva watched as torrent of emotion seemed to swirl behind Harry’s eyes. His mouth was agape and he seemed frozen in place. Seconds that seemed like hours crawled by as Minerva quietly waited for some sort of response from Harry. Minerva reached a hand up and stroked it through his hair as she spoke, “Harry? Love, are you okay?”

A single tear escaped the corner of Harry’s eye at the unfamiliar words and touch of Minerva McGonagall. He had heard the words “I love you” many times before in his past, but he had never once heard them addressed to him. He looked into the eyes of his Transfiguration professor and saw no sign of deception. Her light green eyes were soft, kind, compassionate, and full of love as she stared back into his bright emerald orbs. Suddenly, Harry sobbed as tears began to freely fall down his cheeks. He had learned at an early age that crying did no good and only made things worse, but his professor’s words and touch had shattered the dam that held back his pain. Unlike most children, he did not lean forward to seek comfort from the adult in front of him, but began to shrink back into his chair. He tried to draw his legs up to his chest, but firm pressure from Professor McGonagall’s hands pushed them back down.

Watching Harry try to collapse into himself, Minerva used Harry’s legs as leverage as she rose up from her kneeling position and sat straight up on her knees. Her new position put her at eye level with Harry and she reached out and grabbed him in a tight hug. She felt him tense up at the unfamiliar contact, but after a few agonizing moments he relaxed and then latched on to her. He sobbed into her shoulder. Despite the fact he was completely distraught, his sobs were nearly silent as he trembled in her arms. She ignored the building pain in her knees as she held him with one hand while she ran the fingers of her other hand through his hair. She kissed his temple and whispered in his ear, “Oh love, it will be okay. I promise, whatever it is, it will be okay.” Minutes passed as she continued to to whisper nonsense and do her best to comfort him. She was so focused on Harry that Minerva never even noticed Poppy leaving the room.

Finally, Harry’s sobs slowed and his breathing became more regular. He released his grip on Minerva and sat back up in his chair. He was mortified that he had broken down like that. How was he ever going to look at Professor McGonagall in the eye again after crying like a baby on her shoulder? How embarrassing! He leaned back in his chair trying to get as far away as he could from her and bowed his head low in order to avoid looking at her.

Saddened by Harry’s retreat, Minerva reached up and gently lifted his chin. She wasn’t sure how to ask her next question so she thought directly would be her best option. “Harry, its okay. Can you tell me what caused you to be so upset? Whatever it is, its okay. I already told you, I just want to help you. What happened?”

Despite Minerva’s hand on his chin, Harry managed to avoid eye contact by moving his eyes to look straight down. His voice was rough and shaky as he answered quietly, “No one has ever said that to me before.”

It took a couple heartbeats for Minerva to figure out what Harry meant, but then the realization crashed down on her when she remembered what she had said before Harry’s breakdown. Unable to stop herself, she pulled Harry back into a hug as she responded, “I’m so sorry, love. You should have heard that from me every single day of your life. I know your parents told you that they loved you all the time. They were so smitten by you that their joy seemed to bubble up all around them. We were in the middle of a war, but I had never seen two people happier than your parents were whenever they were with you.”

“You captured my heart as well, Harry. I’ve loved you since before you were even born. Your dad was my godson and I loved him the same as if I were his actual mother. That same love goes to you as well Harry. I know I’ve failed you in the past, but I really do love you as if you were my flesh and blood grandson or son. I’m so sorry I didn’t show you that when you were younger. I honestly thought you would be better off in the muggle world with your Aunt Petunia. Love, we are eventually going to have to talk about how your aunt and uncle have treated you, but that can wait a little while longer. That is what Poppy and I were talking about when we said that we want to help you more. We want to help you see that how you have been treated in the past is wrong, Harry.”

Minerva watched as Harry seemed to be searching for something in her eyes. His eyes moved back and forth looking from one eye to the other as he stared at her. She wasn’t sure what he was looking for, but she hoped that he would find it. She hoped he could see the truth in what she was saying. “Harry, the main reason I wanted to speak with you this afternoon was so that I could make you a promise. I promise you that no matter what else happens, I won’t allow you to go back to stay with your relatives. I promise you will never have to live with them again. You deserve better, Harry, and I promise that you will get it.”

Upon hearing Professor McGonagall’s promise, Harry felt an inkling of something he hadn’t felt in a very long time. He started to feel a little bit of hope. He tried to quash it back down. He tried to tell himself that he couldn’t trust her; he’d been lied to before. But a small ray of hope simply refused to relinquish its hold over him. A few minutes later, as Harry was walking back to Gryffindor tower, he noticed that he had a smile on his face.
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