Title: Kneazle’s Kitten
Prompt: Every Fandom Bang 2021
Fandom: Harry Potter, vaguely Lord of the Rings
Content Rating: PG-13
Word Count: 6442
Warnings: AU, implied character death, canon level violence, Dumbledore’s underhanded dealings,
Summary: Minerva McGonagall never allowed any man to dictate the path of her life. And she didn’t intend to start with that meddling fool and let him get away with leaving poor Harry on the doorsteps of those horrible muggles, even if she had to take care of the little boy herself.
AN: For my sister and her newly adopted (and adorable as hell) cat. Thanks for inspiration to write this fic.
AN2: For Helgatwb, the best artist a writer could wish for. I loved working with you. You are brilliant and awesome being and your art is out of this world. Thank you!
AN3: The dverger belong to Keira Marcos. Her idea of Tolkien dwarrow evolving into dverger became part of my headcanon.
The cat sat stiffly high on the wall. Well… it was not an ordinary cat. If anyone with even a drop of magical blood was around, it would be recognized as a kneazle and subsequently left alone to do its thing. It was widely known in the wizarding world not to get in the way of a kneazle, else risk getting scratched or worse. The magical species of a cat was a vicious predator, unforgiving of any perceived slight, liable to exact revenge sooner or later on anyone foolish enough to offend him or her. And Merlin saves anyone who touched their kittens without permission.
As such, a kneazle was a perfect form for a witch, currently intently observing the ongoings on the ordinary muggle street below her. It was fortunate her favourite student trusted her with the exact location of her mundane sister and her family. Privet Drive, how quaint. These muggles were quite an unimaginative bunch in naming the places. Boring name for the boring street in the boring neighbourhood. And that begged the question if it was wise to leave a magical child here of all places.
When she heard the rumours about the events of the last hours, she didn’t delay and came directly here, half-hoping, half-praying, she was wrong and her esteemed colleague wouldn’t do what she suspected him to do. Alas, she was right, as it turned out in the next few minutes.
The kneazle almost lost her balance and fell from the wall when Hagrid arrived on the flying motorcycle that had the audacity and a certain amount of craziness of Sirius Black written all over it. The contraption made horrible noises in the quiet night, as Hagrid landed it none too gracefully right in the middle of someone’s lawn. It was a wonder he didn’t wake up the entire street with the way he parked the motorcycle.
The animagus was embarrassed to admit, she was a bit preoccupied with Hagrid’s arrival, and missed the moment when Headmaster made his appearance. The old wizard used one of his myriad little inventions to put out the lamp-lights and the muggle street engulfed with the darkness. Thank Merlin, the kneazles were blessed to see perfectly in the dark, so she used it to her advantage and watched closely the exchange between two wizards.
The large man spoke briefly with Professor Dumbledore, handing him over a little bundle, before leaving again on that noisy contraption. The witch in her animagus form leaned over to take a better look at the moving pile in Headmaster’s arms, and almost fell victim to the gravity. At the last possible moment, she regained her balance and hissed when she realized her worst fears were becoming true.
With the toddler’s parents dead, his godmother hiding under Fidelius and his godfather currently wanted for questioning about his part in last night’s tragedy, Dumbledore was going to leave him with his last blood relatives.
Suddenly, the old wizard looked around, scanning the muggle street suspiciously, as if he sensed her watching him from her perch. The kneazle slunk back in the shadows to avoid being found out, cursing silently her curiosity. The wizard’s eyes briefly flitted over her hiding place, fortunately without lingering there. Satisfied, he was alone, Headmaster waved his wand in a complicated manner over the child sleeping fitfully in his arms.
The multicoloured tendrils lit up the dark street. Professor weaved them around one of the houses, before tethering the wards on the poor child’s magic. The kneazle hissed angrily at the old man’s audacity. The little boy’s skin shimmered for a while as if fighting against forceful bonding to the wards. The child sniffed, several tears falling down his cheeks, as his juvenile magic lost the fight against the seasoned will of the adult wizard. With another blinding flash, the darkness enveloped the immediate surroundings, hiding the old wizard and the child from the sight of the mundane people.
“Good luck, Harry.” Dumbledore wished upon the child, as he carefully put him on the porch of that unassuming house. His work was done. Without any further delay, he turned on his heel and with a soft pop disapparated. In the next moment, the lamp-lights flickered on, chasing away the lingering shadows.
The kneazle seethed at the recklessness of the old wizard. How dare he. How dare that senile fool to abandon a defenceless baby in a muggle neighbourhood in the middle of a cold November night. Was it so hard to ring the door and deliver the child directly to his new guardians’ custody, if he insisted on leaving him here at all?
Oh. No. No, for Merlin’s sake. The kneazle refused to entertain that train of thought and focused rather on the problem at hand. The poor child was drifting under the sleeping charm, unaware of his most likely unwelcomed arrival at his last relatives’ doors. The heightened instincts were prodding her to do something about the situation. And the time was running out, as the first windows in the muggle houses lit up, signalling the arrival of the morning.
It isn’t right to leave Harry here. The animagus meowed and made a split decision. The kneazle jumped down, changing in a mid-leap into a severely-looking woman. Minerva McGonagall had never allowed any man to dictate her decision and she certainly wouldn’t be starting now. The witch briskly walked up to the little boy, snatching him from the porch and unceremoniously disapparated, never to return.
Minerva hid her too-recognizable face under the cape, as soon as she apparated near the Leaky Cauldron. It was one of the downsides of long years spent teaching in the most prestigious wizarding school in Britain. The witch entered the pub purposely and navigated through the rowdy crowd with a predator’s grace. Her sensitive hearing caught the snippets of conversations between the wizards and witches riotously celebrating Voldemort’s defeat, just before the wall leading to Diagon Alley closed behind her. Fine hair on the back of her neck rose, and if she was in her kneazle form, she would be hissing at them for the uncouth manner the people were celebrating the death of her favourite former students and their orphaned child.
Looking down at the little boy in her arms, she shook her head in disgust. The Boy-Who-Lived? What nonsense. Who had ever heard about a toddler defeating an adult wizard, a dangerous dark lord to boot, and escaping only with a scar? Really, the magical people nowadays were lacking common sense. It was more likely his parents, Lily perhaps, did something, considering Sowilo carved on the child’s forehead. The dverger would be able to tell her more, for a right price of course, if she was inclined to pursue the matter. She was more worried about black magic radiating from poor Harry; it was rubbing her kneazle side wrong.
And speaking of dverger… Here she was, standing in front of the seat of their power in Britain, the Gringotts. The witch inclined her head in greeting and stuck out her wand arm towards the nearest guard, wandlessly activating a charm on her bracelet. Both dverger, previously supremely bored with their duties, went on alert. It wasn’t often, more like never, that a human magical was desperate enough to ask for the sanctuary inside the bank. Calling for an attendant, they ushered her inside the bank and forced the gates to close.
Just in time. Minerva sighed in relief, as she caught sight of a certain old meddler on the steps before the dverger, with a certain amount of glee, closed the gates directly in front of his overly large nose. Carefully holding little Harry against her chest, she briskly followed after the attendant through the twisting hallways to the door of her account manager.
“Minerva Ross.” The stately dverger greeted her. “Let the piles of gold grow unhindered in your vaults.”
The witch frowned. For decades, she urged the dverger to use her father’s surname in their dealings with her; with no avail. They continued to address her by her mother’s name. As one of few matrilineal lines in the wizarding world Ross surname had precedence over any other name she could claim. And after the decades of the squabbling, she was going to take up the mantle of Lady Ross. For Harry’s protection. Nevertheless, she should be gracious to her vault manager, even if he was finally going to get his way. “Vault guardian. Have our joint endeavours bring us the piles of gold in our coffers.”
Vakr steepled his fingers under his chin, silently taking in the witch, his eyes stopping at the child in her arms. Rising his prominent eyebrow, he asked. “What could the Gringotts do for you today, Lady Ross?”
Minerva sat down on the highly uncomfortable chair. She suspected the dverger used them as a deterrent for the wizards to stop them wasting their time. The time is money, as the saying went and the dverger took it literally. She would be paying through the nose for coming to see Vakr without an appointment. The little boy stirred in her arms briefly and settled back into an uneasy sleep.
Her severe face softened at the sight of the child. She looked up, suddenly determined to get her way at any cost. “I need you to arrange the custody of heir Potter to be given to me. I suggest you start with executing their will before Chief Warlock manages to force his way inside the bank. I suspect his agenda is to suspend the reading of late Potters’ wills, as he already abandoned their poor child in the muggle world before I rescued him.”
And that was probably the right thing to say because one thing dverger hated more than wizards, were wizards meddling in estate matters. In a flurry of motions, the relevant paperwork was brought in and witnesses summoned from his colleagues. As she said. The dverger were very efficient when it suited them.
Vakr frowned. The documents were preliminarily sealed with the order of Chief Warlock, but the permanent seal needed Wizengamot’s approval. The witch was uncommonly lucky to seek the sanctuary within the bank before Mr. Dumbledore could finish the process and seal the wills until heir Potter 17th birthday. “Let’s see, if you are able to open the wills,” Vakr said and pushed the sealed pile of parchments towards the witch.
Minerva adjusted the hold on the child, fortunately still sleeping undisturbed by the proceedings, used the tip of her wand to cut her finger. A drop of her blood fell on the parchments, and they started glowing softly. “Minerva McGonagall Ross.” She declared and the seal broke open, releasing the contents of the wills.
Vakr snatched the documents, quickly reading through them and making extensive notes on a spare parchment. Meanwhile, Minerva hummed a lullaby under her breath to little Harry, hoping he would sleep some more, through the more boring waiting. Vakr finally looked up from the paperwork and blinked at the witch still patiently waiting at his table. He cleared his throat and surmised succinctly. “Late Lord and Lady Potter made some minor bequeaths to several individuals that can be distributed at the later date, leaving the majority estate for their only child. As for the child’s custody… Lady Ross, as you are clearly on the list of possible guardians for heir Potter and you are willing immediately to assume the custody of the minor child in question, we may proceed.” The manager hesitated a little before making a suggestion. “If I may be so bold and recommend you to use Morgana’s Rites to adopt the child into your line.”
“Absolutely not. I’m not going in any way to replace poor lad’s parents in such a way. He had already lost so much.” Minerva resolutely rejected the option out of hand. It was unthinkable to her human side, although her more feral instincts were clamouring to claim the boy laying trustingly in her arms as hers.
“Not to replace, but add.” The account manager corrected her gently. The witch tilted her head, channelling the curiosity of her animagus form over what Vakr had in mind. “It’s the best way of making sure nobody would be able to contest your rights to the child when we take into account you are third in line after both of his godparents.”
Minerva thought it over once more. Unfortunately, Vakr was right. Every other option could be overturned at Wizengamot’s leisure. And she refused to risk it, as Dumbledore already showed he didn’t have the best intentions towards the lad. The Rites would make Harry literally her child. As it was an old blood magic ritual, it was irreversible and permanent. Reluctantly, she acquiesced. “Alright, Morgana’s Rites is it.”
Vakr smirked. He knew the witch was shrewd enough to see things from his point of view. He summoned Harry’s birth certificate and tapped the pen against the parchment. “Will you change the boy’s name? The Ritual might ask for it.”
Excellent question. His parents, Lady Magic rest their souls, were brilliant in magic, but less so in choosing the names. She looked down at the child in her arms, thinking over what she should name him. To her, he looked more like… “Hadrian.”
“Now that the formalities have been seen to, we may proceed with the ritual,” Vakr exclaimed, as he checked over the documents for the last time, finally satisfied that everything was airtight. Minerva sat primly on the uncomfortable chair, conjuring various stuffed animals for the currently awake child in her lap. With a full stomach and being sufficiently distracted, Harry paid little attention to adult dealings. The paperwork took hours to accomplish, as she refused to leave any clause for that old meddler to use against her and her future child.
“Now, Lady Ross, follow me,” Vakr said and twisted an ornament on his desk. It was decidedly ordinary, for a dverger-made item. A jawing passage opened quietly behind the manager, beckoning them to enter. Impatiently, he waved at Minerva to follow him inside.
The curse of all cats, and kneazles especially, was their insatiable curiosity. And the animagus was unfortunately afflicted with the same. Showing why exactly she earned her place in Gryffindor, instead of Ravenclaw, the witch squared her shoulders and marched inside. The passage closed behind her, forcing Minerva to continue. The narrow tunnel was a masterpiece of magic and dverger architecture, fitted into a tight space between the bank offices, as it winded down. And down. And down.
The witch flicked her wrist and put a warming charm on little Hadrian and herself, as they delved deeper into the bank’s bowels. They probably weren’t that far off from the actual vaults, if she had to take a guess, judging by the copious amounts of lingering dust and the musty smell she often associated with the visits to her vault.
Well… The ritual room wasn’t much impressive in comparison to the grandness of her current, but probably not for much longer, place of work. It was mostly bare, covered with hundreds of runes painstakingly carved into the walls and the lone basin standing in the middle of the room inside the most powerful ritual circle the female animagus had ever seen.
Minerva’s hairs stood up, as she approached the basin. The magic was heavily saturating the air, almost begging to be used. Vakr stayed at the entrance to protect the ritual space and the witch with her child. It was an immense honour to stand guard for the Rite for the kneazle-witch and her future son. Several of his kinsmen agreed, as they too came to observe the proceedings. The Rite wasn’t used in several centuries, at least not by human wizards. It was for a good reason.
The successful completion of the ritual asked for the unwavering certainty of the future parents’ purpose, the love for the child in question and the sacrifice of blood. Not something good little Light wizards approved of. Only very few attempts were made in the last millennia and even less managed to be successful. The ritual wasn’t outright outlawed, fortunately for everyone involved, just mostly forgotten, as most of the blood magic fell out of use after the spread of wand magic in the wizarding communities in recent centuries.
Minerva was determined to make the ritual work. For Hadrian’s sake, if not for hers. She didn’t fear she would fail because that word – failure – wasn’t in her vocabulary. The wild magic coiled around them, cradling them in its embrace, and Minerva sighed in relief. The sense of approval and expectation hung heavily around her. A sense of urgency prodded her not to waste any more time and start the ritual.
“Lady Magic. I come before you on this day, as a childless woman, to ask you for a boon.” She knelt on the hard ground and disarmed herself. Her faithful wand and favourite dagger were discarded on the ground and the ancient words fell from her lips. The chanting picked up on the volume. Minerva pursed her lips and with one quick move, she slashed her palm with her claw and let the blood flow in the offering, surrendering herself completely to the judgement.
The magic swelled to suffocating levels. The water-like substance rose from the basin, making a glowing circle around the woman and the child. Minerva bowed her head and the intensity wrapped around her mind and soul, searching for her intentions. It felt invasive, that scrutiny, as the waves of ancient magic bombarded her. Kneazle nestled in her soul bristled, deeply offended by something. A moment stood still… And then the circle expanded suddenly. The witch ignored the surprised shouts and shocked exclamations of the dverger observers, as the water-like substance stretched into every direction forming an impenetrable opaque dome, hiding Minerva and Harry inside.
The immense power coalesced into two caped beings, Minerva never hoped to meet. In her life, that’s it. Suddenly, it was very hard to breathe. That certainly wasn’t what she had expected to happen. A slighter figure, a woman, shrugged her cape first and summoned the strangely quiet baby into her arms. The protest rose on the witch’s lips, driven by her nature as kneazle. It was very pronounced at that moment.
“Peace, Lady Ross. I’m not going to hurt the boy your instincts claimed as yours. Come here, love.” The Lady said quietly and showed the child to the male. “Look at him. At our Hadrian. He is beautiful.”
“He looks like you.” The male said in surprise, as he shrugged his cape. His entire face softened, as he carefully trailed his finger down the child’s cheek. Curious little eyes were staring at him in fascination. “He has your eyes. And my hair. Poor child.” He murmured and frowned. “What’s this?” And touched the jagged scar on his forehead.
He hissed, as he encountered something he wasn’t expecting. He cradled little Hadrian’s head and pressed the entire palm against the scar. Little boy scrunched his face in pain and wailed. The man twisted his wrist, and slowly dragged a struggling black mist out of the child’s forehead.
Minerva surged, wanting to take her son from the male, but she was held back by invisible bonds rooting her in the place. She hissed furiously, her kneazle side on the forefront. “Peace, Lady Ross. It is necessary for Hadriand‘s continued good health. Helaine, please, hold him tight.” The melodic voice rumbled with power and reverberated through her. The animagus closed her eyes and backed down reluctantly, contrary to her instincts. You just don’t argue with the Lord of Dead.
“Athanasius. Please. I can’t bear it.” The Lady of Magic pleaded with her husband, tears in her eyes, so like the little child’s. She couldn’t stand to see Hadrian in the pain.
“Just a little longer, love. I’ve almost got it.” Her husband replied and finally dragged the entire sliver of the foul soul out of Hadrian’s scar. He glared at the quivering abomination in his fist and with a harsh whisper, he sealed it in an orb and banished it directly into his domain.
Teary Harry fell into an exhausted sleep in the Lady’s arms. She imprinted a loving kiss on his forehead and turned to Minerva, who was silently bristling at them for the pain they caused to little Hadrian.
“Daughter of the Ross line. Stand up.” The address resonated right to her bones. The witch obeyed, staring at the couple holding the toddler. Their power was blinding, as it enveloped Harry. “We judge you worthy to take custody of our greatest treasure. Your mind is clear, full of purpose, your heart is strong, credit to your ancestors and your nature unyielding.” The Lady started, smiling gently. “Your petition is granted. Come, and welcome your son, Lady Ross.”
Minerva didn’t wait and quickly approached the couple, almost snatching the child from the Lady’s arms. She straightened her back and braved to question them, proving why exactly she was a prime example of Gryffindor. “I think I need some kind of explanation.” Then she added a bow, almost in afterthought, “My Lady. My Lord.”
“Almost two years ago, a young couple in the midst of your little war came into our attention. Their marriage joined two ancient bloodlines and it was a spark that allowed us to gift a couple with a very special child.” The Lady of Magic brushed the hair out of the little boy’s face. The same intense green eyes, so similar to Minerva’s late student, the eyes that her son inherited glinted with amusement when the witch divined what was hinted.
“Our little treasure. Hadrian Pendragon.” Helaine revealed.
What a heavy burden to lay on the little child. Minerva frowned and bundled Hadrian against her chest as if trying to protect him from it. Fortunately, he was still sleeping off the aftereffects of whatever Lord of Dead had done to him. That reminded her. She looked up and glared fiercely at the male.
Athanasius just quirked up his eyebrow. “As my lady wife said. You are a credit to your house.” Then he continued seriously. “I think we were remiss of our duties here, my love. That foul creature managed to become more of a problem than we realized. He delved into the blackest of magic and shattered his soul in his attempts to attain immortality. Ah. I see, Lady Ross, you know what I am talking about.”
“So, he is still alive,” Minerva concluded, a foreboding clenching her heart with fear for what it meant for her son.
Athanasius shrugged noncommittally to the witch’s displeasure. He already helped as much as he was allowed under the circumstances. The rest depended on Hadrian. He narrowed his eyes at the kneazle-witch. Or maybe not… If he directed Hadrian’s new mother to take care of it before the dark wizard rose again. She looked like she was made of the stern stuff, so it was likely she would succeed. “I think you will find a common ground with Arcturus Black.” Athanasius said apropos. “And remember Tom Riddle.”
“What? Why?” The witch frowned but the couple was already gone. She rolled her eyes. Typical. Just once, she would like to get a straight answer to her questions.
“Take care of him, Lady Ross. Take care of our Hadrian. We’ll be watching.” The Lady of Magic called out. Her voice shattered the dome and it collapsed around the witch and her new son.
“Always a surprise, Lady Ross,” Vakr said wryly, as he entered the room. “The presence of Lady Magic and her Lord husband was very unexpected.” He said leadingly.
Minerva straightened her clothes primly and raised her eyebrow. “I’m not sure what you are implying. But we have a lot of work to do. I would like to talk to Arcturus Black as soon as you can arrange it. Then I will need to look over the list of unplottable properties in my vault and choose one as a new residence for us. Of course, a resignation letter to the Board of Governors wouldn’t be amiss. What am I forgetting? Ah. Yes. I invoke the seal of silence on the ritual and the rest of this day including.”
The dverger got serious, slashed his palm and wrote a rune in his own blood. ”As you will, Lady Ross.” The rune flared brightly and the seal settled on everyone in the vicinity.
“Thank you, Vakr.“ The kneazle animagus acknowledged her vault guardian’s efforts and decided to reveal the complicated truth. “According to the will of Lady Helaine and her husband, Lord Athanasius, my son was born and claims the name Hadrian Pendragon.”
The dverger startled at hearing true names of the guardians of all magical species tumble out of the witch’s lips as it was more than a thousand years since a human mage spoke them out loud. And it was nothing in comparison to the news concerning the young heir. “Your orders, Lady regent?”
“You are to be Hadrian’s Vault guardian. At least until he reaches the majority. Then, he may appoint another clan to manage his assets. You may choose your staff to help you out of the members of your clan, but I have to insist they all take stringent vows of silence. I won’t have my son to become a target for any unscrupulous being he encounters.” She took a deep breath and continued to lay the law. “And absolutely, under no circumstances, you or anyone in the know, are to give Albus Dumbledore any information about Hadrian’s or mine location, dealings with the bank or circumstances.”
The dverger smirked. He loved thwarting old meddler’s games. Dumbledore’s troublesome politics and his fanatical Light agenda was making him and his Chieftain nervous. Vakr appreciated the straightforwardness of the grey witch and her willingness to do anything for her new son. “Let’s get to work.” He agreed.
“Sirius Black sent to Azkaban. What nonsense is this?” Minerva murmured to little Hadrian and put away the Daily Prophet in disgust. It seemed the Dark Lord’s defeat was yesterday’s news and that rag was trying to find out some other juicy news that could be sensationalized.
The first several days as a new mother were full of trying to figure out how to take care of her new son. She was out of her depth, but it didn’t deter her from learning everything she needed. Harry deserved the best. The witch was grateful for Lady Helaine’s intervention, as it seemed she took it upon herself to bless Harry and heal his trauma of that night.
Also, Polly, the Potters’ nanny elf, was a god-send, as her father would have said. She popped into her unplottable house out of nowhere, and immediately took over most duties and left Minerva to muse what should be her next step in the rapidly changing circumstances.
The meeting with Arcturus was now more important than ever. There was no way young Sirius was a Death Eater and was put in Azkaban for it. He was too loyal to his cousin James Potter to betray him in such a horrible way. The witch frowned. It had all the characteristics of her ex-employer manipulative tactics. What was his agenda was a question, now. He had to notice her presence in the bank before he was unceremoniously locked out. Why he attacked Harry’s godfather was making no sense. Although, now that she was thinking about it, it looked like Dumbledore was trying to isolate her, taking her allies one by one.
An unfamiliar owl flew in and landed on the back of Minerva’s chair, imperiously sticking out the leg with the letter. Purebloods. She sighed and carefully removed the parchment. The owl immediately took off, not waiting for an answer. Definitely a pureblood. Her name was written with a precise cursive and the seal sang with the powerful magic.
“Let’s see what Lord Black has to say,” Minerva said to her son. Hadrian sat up, completely forgetting his toys, and stretched his arms towards his mother in silent demand to be picked up. The witch put him on her lap and tapped her wand on the seal. The letter unfurled in a flash of magic and Harry clapped his hands, excited by it. “Dear Mrs. McGonagall. Behind the times, Arcturus? Your spies should have already sniffed out, I’ve finally taken up my title.“ The animagus murmured and pointed to the line. ”See, Harry. Lord Black made a mistake. The correct address should be, Magic Bless you, Lady Ross… what do you think?”
The boy scrunched his face and brightened. “Red, mommy.” He declared seriously and waved his hands. Much to the ex-teacher’s amusement, the bottle of red ink she loved to use to correct her student’s essays quivered on the shelf. Inconspicuously, she wiggled her fingers and the bottle sailed from its place to the desk, much to Harry’s delight. “Red.”
The witch took out the quill, dipped it in the red ink and made a note on the margin. She missed the atrocious writing of her students. She missed her school. But her son was more important. Lord Black was purposely insulting. His favourite tactic, she heard. But she wouldn’t be deterred by his gruff demeanour. She had all advantages here, and the wily old wizard was aware of it.
Finally, Minerva with giggling Harry’s help reached the end of the tedious letter, and indeed Lord Black was in the rare form of what amounted to the long-windedly insulting grudging agreement to meet at Gringotts in… She looked at the clock and almost cursed out loud. That horrible old man. Hastily, the witch twirled her wand in a smooth motion and transfigured Hadrian’s and her clothing to something more appropriate for the formal meeting hosted on the dverger land.
Minerva smirked at Lord Black. She got to the bank in time and was not even winded, as she walked in the meeting room, with her boy on her hip, looking like she had no care in the world. Arcturus scowled and sat back, as he realized his little power game didn’t work. It was vexing. He hated when things didn’t go according to his plans. No matter. He would get the witch to cooperate. Just a little change in tactics was needed. He stood up and bowed. “Magic’s blessings, Lady Ross.”
“Likewise, Lord Black. And please… We have known each other for decades, so I think we can dispense with the formalities.” Minerva decided to be gracious. For now.
“Minerva.” He acknowledged the wishes of his fellow noble. The ex-teacher was proving to be much more cunning than he had guessed.
“Arcturus.” She returned shortly and continued. “First things first… My son’s godfather. What I was reading this morning in the Daily Prophet was a load of nonsense. I doubt young Sirius is a Death Eater. At least of his free will. He clearly couldn’t stand most of his own family and chose himself to be disowned rather than to bow to Voldemort. I can’t imagine he would change his mind on the matter because of his almost fanatical hatred of anything dark. Therefore, I would like to see the transcription of the court proceedings. I’m sure there are some irregularities.”
Arcturus sat back and frowned. “Now, that you are mentioning it, I don’t think I remember getting the summons to witness his trial.”
“Precisely.” Minerva volleyed back with a raised eyebrow. Black Patriarch was clever enough to understand what she was implying. And she didn’t even have to mention he was inducted in Dumbledore’s secret little club.
“I shall look into this matter as soon as possible. And if my grandson is innocent and I find out he was imprisoned intentionally and without cause, I swear everyone involved would dearly regret it.” Incensed Arcturus made a note on a spare piece of parchment. “And that leads me to ask about Sirius godson and to my knowledge an appointed heir Harry Potter.”
“Ah, yes. Harry Potter.” Minerva smiled sweetly and paused for the effect. She was starting to see why the Slytherins liked playing those games. “Such a person doesn’t exist.”
“Really?” The old wizard asked incredulously and glanced at the green-eyed boy sitting in the witch’s lap, thoroughly distracted by his favourite plush toy.
“I don’t think I introduced you to my son Hadrian.” The witch exclaimed victoriously. The little boy looked up when he heard his name, smiled disarmingly at the old wizard and waved guilelessly.
“Which ritual?” The old man narrowed his eyes thoughtfully. For a Gryffindor, the witch was strangely over-prepared and cautious, bordering on paranoid. The question was… Why?
“The oldest.” Minerva dashed his hopes, bowing her head gratefully to Vakr. He was right to suggest that ritual to her and the advantages it had, so far outweighed any disadvantages. Hadrian’s custody was secured and nobody, meaning mostly her ex-employer, would be able to interfere without some very unpleasant consequences.
Arcturus sighed. A missed chance then. Lady Ross neatly closed every loophole he could have exploited. He had only one card to play to gain sympathy from his adversary to get at least partial access to her son. “I don’t know if you are aware but young Hadrian is Sirius’s godson.” Seeing the witch nod, he added. “And more importantly, he has Black blood through his paternal grandmother Dorea. It makes him a possible heir to the Black title. Certainly a more palatable option than a son of that peacock Malfoy.”
“I am aware of all inheritances Hadrian is due,” Minerva said vaguely. “And what it means for him. I’m certainly ready to teach him the values, duties and privileges of his noble houses. Although, I would welcome it if you chose to instruct him in the intricacy of Wizengamot politics. The nuances sometimes escape me and it would be a pity if he goes into that snake pit unprepared when he is of appropriate age to take on his Wizengamot duties.”
“Aptly said,” Arcturus smirked. “Potter, Ross, Black. Quite a power amassed in the hands of one person. He’ll be eaten alive if we don’t prepare him thoroughly.”
And Pendragon. Minerva thought but refused to utter out loud. The most notorious of his lines. She wasn’t certain if it was wise for him to claim it, considering the fate of the last known Pendragon. It would be Hadrian’s choice, hopefully far in the future, whether he would be known under that name or not.
“He’ll be making friends and enemies by the virtue of his name long before he is ready to take up his mantle in the Wizengamot,” Arcturus stated, knowing the fickleness of wizarding politics.
“Unfortunately.” Minerva agreed gloomily. “And speaking of his enemies… What do you know about a wizard named Tom Marvolo Riddle? Or better known by Lord Voldemort? And his Horcruxes?” The kneazle animagus dropped the explosive news at poor Arcturus, startling even Vakr presiding over their little meeting with that little bit of knowledge.
Helaine was frowning at the image in her mirror. The meeting between Hadrian’s chosen mother and Lord Black grew heated, at the revelation she decided to drop in the middle of the conversation. The bank alarm was triggered by the mention of Horcruxes and for the second time in recent days, the bank closed its gates against the witches and wizards.
“That was blunt.” Athanasius’s voice commented dryly from his wife’s side. The kneazle-witch’s words sparked the chaos needed to change the path of their little treasure. With a bit of luck, Hadrian’s nemesis would be greatly weakened by his adopted mother’s actions by the time he would have to deal with him.
“What did you expect? She is Gryffindor through and through.” The Lady replied, just as dryly, as they observed the events rapidly unfolding in the mortal realm. “Don’t you think we should have told her more?”
“We revealed enough. Minerva McGonagall Ross is a very sharp woman. She had to be when she spent years avoiding the unsavoury designs of light and dark wizards alike on her person and estate. We choose her specifically to become a mother to Hadrian exactly for her unwavering will and stubbornness against prejudice prevalent amongst the mortal magicals.” Athanasius sighed and put his head on his wife’s shoulder, taking another look in her mirror. “We are already playing a dangerous game. Fate didn’t give us other choice but still… A little meddling is better than doing nothing and hoping for the best. We kept from interfering with Arthur, and remember how it turned out. That bitch almost succeeded in destroying our firstborn.”
“Do we have any chance at all to win against her?” Helaine sighed. The fate of their firstborn, to magical and mundane people known as Arthur Pendragon, wasn’t pretty. And it was that bitch’s fault. “Maybe if I disappeared from the picture…”
“No.” Athanasius declined his Lady’s proposition. “It wouldn’t solve anything. She hates you, and I think she hates me more. When I rejected her and chose you, she was furious and vowed I would regret it. And no woman is more dangerous than a woman scorned.”
“Right. Forget it.” Helaine leaned against her husband. “We should plan our next step. She’ll notice soon enough, her plans went awry and would try to correct them. I just hope she won’t make it worse than it already is.”
“We were lucky that Fate was thoroughly distracted when we meddled with the ritual the kneazle’s animagus underwent to adopt Hadrian.“ Athanasius murmured. ”We have to do something nice for Chronos and his sacrifice to serve as a distraction to that shrew.”
Helaine smirked. “I’m sure he suffered terribly.”
Athanasius returned her smirk. “Nevertheless, we should show appreciation for his actions. You know he hates her as much as us because her meddling caused his own son great harm.”
“What about our golden dragon?” Lady of Magic asked suddenly, a plan growing in her mind. More than a millennium had passed since Lord of Time’s son Merlin and their Arthur were torn apart by Fate’s hatred.
Athanasius frowned and checked the injured soul of their firstborn tucked away in safety. “He is still healing. But soon, I think. You mean…” He trailed off, not daring to speak out-loud his speculation.
Helaine smiled mysteriously and turned back to observe the ongoings on the little island where their second child dwelled under the fierce protection of the witch with a kneazle lurking in her soul.
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