Chapter One: What Child Is This?
When attempting to leave Harry at the Dursleys, Dumbledore is thwarted by Petunia's loud rejection and must find someplace else to hide the infant hero.Rating:
None just yet, but who knows what'll happen as the kids grow up.Warnings:
AU, AR, non-Christian beliefs (for those of you who object to the idea).Fandom(s):
Harry Potter, Stargate SG-1, & Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Others are possible, but those three are already in the works.Disclaimer:
None of these fandoms belong to me, more's the pity. I'm playing with the characters without permission, concent or foreknowledge. And if Joss, MGM or JKR knew, they'd probably have a hissy fit!Author's Note:
Once again, there's no telling when I'll be updating. Feel free to leave offerings of chocolate and vanilla pepsi to my muse.~ I. What Child Is This? ~
Naunine McClay sighed into her apron as she used it to clean the flour, sugar and other dry ingredients from her face and hands. Why did the few, random visitors always show up while she was trying to get the baking done? Once assured that her hair was swept away from her face, the light glisten of perspiration was wiped away, and her well-used apron was hung behind the door, she peeked behind the checkered curtain at her unannounced guests.
On the ancient wooden porch stood two men and a woman, each radiating magical auras stronger than any she'd felt since her beloved Granny Potter had died a dozen years ago. The older man wore a beard down to his waist, spectacles, and a suit that would have been dashing back in the 1930's, but which looked practically new. His companions were dressed in more modern attire, but seemed uncomfortable in their clothes. The younger man couldn't be much past his majority, yet had an air about him that told of hard work and unforgiving hours. The woman's pinched face belied her anxiety, and her eyes kept darting down toward the bundle in her arms.
Swinging the door open, she gave a polite smile as she greeted the trio, "Good morning. What can I do for you?"
"Mrs Naunine McClay, I presume?" The older wizard was evidently the spokesperson. At her nod, he smiled brightly. "Oh very good! We've had a devil of a time finding you. My name is Albus Dumbledore, and my companions are Minerva McGonnagal and Severus Snape. Might we have a few moments of your time?"
She knew those names, of couse. Well, at least the first two. Granny had often recounted stories from her youth, of the grand times she'd had at boarding school and the truly magical realm it created. It had always made Granny sad that her only son refused to allow Naunine or her brother go off to school, even the small country building for county's children. Being schooled at home was hardly the same thing, but Naunine felt grateful that her beloved grandmother had required every member of the family to be able to read, write, cypher, and think for themselves. Ah well, the best of a strange situation. And speaking of...
"I'm sorry, of course you may come in." Holding the door open, she took a moment to be thankful for having tidied up before she'd begun baking. Not that her home was any sort of an embarassment, but for visitors such as these, she wanted to make the best impression. "Please make yourselves at home. Shall I bring tea for you?"
"That would be most appreciated, Mrs McClay, thank you," Dumbledore replied as he helped the witch to her seat and checked the child to ensure it was still asleep. The young man called Snape perched himself gingerly on a stool near the cooking fire, while the woman settled into Naunine's comfortable rocking chair.
Never satisfied with her adopted culture's methods of brewing tea, Granny Potter had insisted that all of her family learn to brew 'a proper cuppa'. Naunine sent a silent prayer of thanks for that idiosyncracy as she spooned in the correct amount of loose leaf tea into a pot and poured boiling water into it. She brought a tray into the living area and carefully lowered it onto a low table. Returning to the kitchen, she added a plate of fresh muffins and a saucer of 'finger foods' for the infant as well.
"Now then, you folks rest yourselves for a minute while I bank the fire. Wouldn't want my pies to burn," she chuckled an apology. It took little time to settle the potbelly stove down to a cooler temperature, one that would continue cooking at a much slower rate without the risk of scorching her peach pies.~ * ~
With their hostess out of the room, Minerva whispered to her employer, "I must say, this woman is a vast improvement over that dreadful Dursley person! But Albus, are you sure the hereditary line of magic is strong enough for the wards? I'm afraid I can't sense much more than a hum-"
"Professor," interrupted the youngest of the party, "there's plenty of magic here. It's just... more grounded? No, more earthly
than what we're used to. Hogwarts and all the parts of Great Britain where magic is strongest are of a different type of mystical energy, but no more powerful."
Nodding in agreement, Dumbledore said, "You are quite right, dear boy. Now Minerva, please don't worry about young Harry. If his third cousin is willing to take him in, all your worries will be addressed." He paused to stroke his beard, then the twinkle in his eyes doubled in intensity. "I suspect that this solution will be best for everyone involved. Including Mrs McClay and her young daughter."~ * ~
Their voices were lowered, but not whispered, allowing Naunine to eavesdrop without guilt. Her first concern was what had occurred to leave the babe, Harry, an orphan. Her second, how would her husband react to this situation. She had little doubt that he would allow her to keep the boy, but would he insist on raising little Harry in the same manner as their own sons? If so, perhaps it would be best not to... No, she couldn't think of refusing to shelter the parentless infant. She would have to somehow insure that Randall didn't ruin the child by turning him into yet another mindless, bullying bigot like himself. Somehow.
Sighing, she wiped her hands on the hanging apron and rejoined her guests.
"Well, the tea should be steeped by now. Shall we sit down and relax for a bit, or would you prefer to get down to business first?"
As if her voice called to him, the baby began to make uncomfortable noises. Naunine approached the older woman and asked, "Would you like for me to tend him, Ma'am? I've got one not much older, and all the necessities still on hand."
Thankful of the assistance, Minerva gently handed the squirming baby to their hostess. "If you wouldn't mind, thank you. I'm afraid I've gotten out of practice with the younger ones. School age is more to my liking."
Naunine laughed lightly as she unwrapped the tiny boy. He was so light! And the poor thing looked nearly as haggard as that Snape man, as if he hadn't gotten any decent sleep in weeks. She smoothed the hair off his forehead in a calming gesture, nearly dropping him as she felt the residual evil
lingering in the fresh scar. "What happened to this poor child?!"
She didn't wait for an answer, rushing to her Granny's enchanted trunk. The canny old witch had taught her only granddaughter everything she knew about healing magics and shielding against evil, not only from her time at Hogwarts, but from her travels across the world as well. Praying to every deity she could remember that the correct herbs were available, Naunine's nimble fingers searched deep into the bottom of the trunk. She felt nearly faint-headed as she grasped the small, intricately carved box of rowan (1).
Without turning back to face the alarmed trio, she hissed under her breath, "I'm not sure what evil has befallen this baby, but surely someone could have spared a few minutes to remove the curse from him! Now please, step away from the couch while I see what can be done." Her voice softened as she laid the child down on the lumpy cushions, "And you, young sir, just lay there and be good for Nonna, hmm? Let's get you rid of whatever evil has attached itself to your handsome little head."
Their attention thoroughly centered on the surprisingly sure actions of their hostess, none of the British visitors noticed the small girl coming into the room.
"Momma, can I help?" the offer came in a shy, hushed whisper.
Smiling gratefully at her only daughter, Naunine motioned the girl closer and gave her a quick hug. "Of course you can, Tara. Do you remember the song we sang for Reverend Hackson's wife?" At the soft affirmative she went on, "Good, that's what we'll sing for this young one. You get to start while I add a few herbs, alright?"
The girl wasn't more than four or five, with soft flaxen hair and huge eyes. She stood close to her mother without getting in the way, then placed her small hands on the baby's feet and began to croon:
"Around the Circle, Throughout and about,
Healing within, healing without.
All health come in, all illness flee,
And by our will, So Mote It Be!
On the third repetition of the chant, Naunine joined in with her pleasant alto voice. The visitors witnessed a shimmering golden aura encapsulate the child, growing in intensity until it imploded with the last note. The McClay witches' energy seeped into young Harry's body, and the infant let out a delighted giggle at the lingering sparkles around his head.
Shaking out of her spell-induced trance, Naunine petted the child's forehead approvingly -- it was now clear of the black-aura'd blemish. She pressed a kiss into her daughter's hair and draped an arm around the thin shoulder. "There is probably a fascinating
story to go along with the child's state, I'm sure," she directed a stern gaze at the older wizard. "Which we will hear over tea, yes?"
Dumbledore chuckled and returned to his seat, offering Minerva a pat on the hand and a reassuring glance at Severus. "Of course, of course. This little lady must be your daughter? Her magic is very strong, very light."
"Naturally! There is very little darkness in my line, Headmaster." Addressing the old wizard by his title (one he had not given her) seemed to shock the trio, which was exactly what Naunine intended. "My grandmother told me many stories about her days at Hogwarts, sir. Although at the time, I believe you were the Transfigurations instructor."
The old wizard smiled and bowed his head in acknowledgement. "I do indeed recall your grandmother, Mrs McClay. She was very... committed
in her pursuit of gleaning every scrap of information to be had. Very much a Ravenclaw," he finished on a chuckle.
Naunine returned his smile, accepting the olive branch. "Yes, she spent the remainer of her life in study, and made sure that those of us with the gifts were also taught what we needed to know. I'm sure it isn't the same as having gone to that fancy school of yours, but we -- I -- learned everything she had to teach."
Pouring the strong tea into cups, she passed them around before taking a quiet sip of her own. Tara sat at her side, petting the baby's tiny hand and grinning when he tried to catch her fingers. "Now, I believe you have a story to tell...?"
"Ah yes, so I do." Albus drank half of his cup before placing it on the coffee table. "You might not be aware of the recent troubles we have had in Great Britain, but it all involves a very Dark wizard who called himself Lord Voldemort. His birth name, Tom Riddle, might have meant something to your grandmother, but has little bearing anymore. Few who knew him as such would dare to repeat it in his hearing. Although, now... perhaps that might change." Looking around at the faces of his audience, Albus cleared his throat and apologized, "Forgive an old man's rambling, if you will. We should not wish for that which we cannot change."
A dignified snort interrupted his meanderings. From his corner of the room, Severus broke into the conversation. "Headmaster, we do not have as much time as would take for you to relay the entirety of the Goblin Wars. Would you prefer one of us to take over?"
Suitably chastised by his youngest teacher, Dumbledore gave in. "Very well, the heart of the matter is this: James and Lily Potter were killed by Voldemort three weeks ago, mainly because he believed they were the focus of a prophecy. In all actuality, this prophecy concerned little Harry much more than his parents, but Voldemort believed in being thorough, if nothing else. However, when he attempted to kill Harry, the curse somehow rebounded and... well, we aren't quite sure what happened after that. Voldemort's body was destroyed, and all of Wizarding Britain rejoices, but we fear he is not entirely defeated. Our first thought for Harry's safety was in the blood bonds of his remaining relatives -- that would be Lily's sister, had she agreed. Alas, a more disagreeable woman I have yet to meet."
"Which brings you to my door," Naunine interrupted. She felt the logic was right, but there was more to it, things the old man had glossed over or omitted entirely. "I have no problem taking him it, of course. But I must ask for certain allowances to be made for his benefit, and for my daughter as well if possible." She had their full attention, and while she hated imposing on another (or anything that might be near to 'charity'), there were facets of raising a magical child that simply could not be dealt with in their backwater community. It can't be helped, so suck it up and make your demands!
"First, I request that both children have yearly check-ups with your most trusted healer. Muggle vaccinations will cover only so much, and if either of them ever hope to join the Magical world they will surely need to be innoculated from the less mundane diseases." She received immediate agreement, and feeling more confident continued, "I would also like to be under this 'medical insurance' if I am to be the sole guardian. Again, Muggle medicine has its limits. If the worst were to happen, who else could protect Harry with your blood wards?"
Before he had a chance to retort, Minerva elbowed her employer. "Really Albus, she has a valid point. And I for one believe she is being most consciencious." Turning to the younger woman, she gave an approving smile. "Please do continue, Mrs McClay."
"Of couse," Naunine was thrown offguard by the older witch's support. "There is also the subject of relocation... I... I'm not sure how to put this, delicately, but my husband is rather harsh
in regards to anything mystical."
Seeing and feeling
her mother's nervousness, Tara spoke up for the first time. "Papa doesn't like magic, doesn't trust it. He gets grumpy and then starts yellin' and hittin'."
"Hush, sweetie. Papa doesn't always
yell or hit," she stroked the girl's hair, calming her daughter as best she could. "But Tara is right -- Randall doesn't like magic at all. If we are to take Harry into our home, I must request some talisman or charm to... dull his reactions. Or to make him not notice it at all. There are Muggle-repelling charms, I know, but it takes several fully trained wizards working together to cover any decently sized area." She paused again, taking a breath for courage. "Or we could move ourselves, just me and Tara and Harry, somewhere he can't find us. Somewhere noone knows of or about us."
Looks passed between the three visitors while Naunine once more tried to sooth her daughter.
"Dear lady, there are few things we would not attempt in making sure young Harry was secure and well-cared for," Albus assured. "If this means moving you all to New Zealand, then so be it. However, I believe that to be a bit over the top," he chuckled lightly, trying to shatter the dark mood threatening the room. "With your own magic confirmed, you will have access to the Potter vaults in order to provide whatever is needed for yourself and both children." He quickly held up a hand at her immediate protest. "Your grandmother married into a very wealthy family, Mrs McClay. When she moved to America with her son after Lawrence passed on, she took very little with her. Leaving the bulk of her estate in trust for any heirs to claim. Her only son chose not to do so, which leaves the vault in your hands, my dear. Not to mention Harry's inheritance, of course. Lawrence and his brother Richard -- that would be Harry's grandfather -- were the last two Potters, having only one son a piece. With James gone and your father unwilling to assume the inheritance, it falls to you."
Naunine's eyes were as big as saucers. She vaguely remembered Granny's tales of mansions and estates in foreign places, but never had she thought to be able to join that world. Looking down at her daughter's wide-open face, she made a decision that would change everything for the last three Potters-by-blood.
"Tell me how to contact this magical bank please."(1) The Rowan is a smallish tree (sometimes growing into more of a bush-looking plant) with greyish leaves and red berries. It is often considered by many pagan groups to be the best basis of healing and grounding. And yes, that's one of the top reasons why I chose my name ;)
(2) This particular Healing Chant was found at http://askhagatha.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=214&Itemid=30 but it is only one of several that will be used throughout this story. I'll post urls as they come for the curious.