Chapter One: Selfishness
It was two years since Harry Potter had been left for Petunia Dursley to find on her doorstep. Hogwarts had not changed a lot in the time since the war had ended, with the exception of less students declining places at the school.
Stella Sinistra was on her way to the Transfiguration office, half in a dream. She and Pomona Sprout were puzzling over what to get their twins for their birthday next week. Leo and Daisy were exited about their ninth birthday and had insisted, when Pommie asked them that morning, that all they wanted for their birthday was a baby brother.
Easier said than done.
She passed the door, stopped and backtracked. “Minerva, are you in there?”
“Mm.” Minerva looked up from where she was marking essays. “Stella, what is it?”
Stella flopped into the chair by the desk and sighed. “I’m out of ideas for birthday presents.”
“As godmother, you have a responsibility to help me think of something,” Stella said, her eyes laughing.
“Well, what do they want?”
Stella groaned. “They say they want a baby brother for their birthday.”
“They’ve already got Hazel!”
“I know, but they’re really insistent on this. They asked for a brother last birthday as well, and when they didn’t get one Leo threw a tantrum and Daisy didn’t speak for a week.”
“Well, it’s a bit late to have a baby in time for their birthday, and there’s only a fifty per cent chance it would be a boy anyway, so why don’t you adopt?” Minerva suggested.
“I – we – Minerva!”
“We can’t just give into their demands just like that! They have to learn they don’t always get what they want!”
“I know that, but you and Pommie both wanted another child, didn’t you?”
“Well … yes, but …”
“No buts. Talk with Pommie and go to the Ministry orphanage.”
Stella blinked, but thought perhaps Minerva was right. As long as they made sure the twins knew they wouldn’t always get their way. Well, she could think about that later. Minerva had gone back to her paperwork, but there was something wrong, Stella could sense it.
“Are you alright, Minerva?”
“Sorry?” Minerva looked up. “Just thinking.”
Minerva sighed. “I’m jealous of you two. I could be a mother now if it wasn’t for the damn Ministry and damn … never mind.”
“Why is the Ministry stopping you from being a mum?” Stella asked, confused.
“It’s not the Ministry, per say. I can’t have children myself, I’m too old. Albus and I wanted to adopt a couple of years ago, but …”
“We’re not eligible for adoption.”
“What, because you’re not married?” Stella said incredulously. “The Ministry really needs to modernise these rules -”
“No,” Minerva interrupted. “Because Albus is – just not to me.”
“I didn’t know he was married!”
“He’s been for years. His family and the Ministry pressured him into it when I was about fourteen. It was an arranged marriage; he didn’t even meet his damn wife till the wedding day. It was also the last time he saw her: she’s been living in paradise somewhere on the Dumbledore fortune ever since and couldn’t give a damn what Albus gets up to. He’s asked her for a divorce millions of times but she likes the money and the damn title of Lady Dumbledore too much.”
“Albus is a Lord? I didn’t know that either.”
“Officially yes, but he doesn’t like it – he prefers Professor, he says he earned it rather than inherited it.”
Stella leaned back in her seat, thinking. “Did you have anyone in particular in mind for adoption?”
Minerva nodded. “It was a choice between him being adopted or sent to those damn relatives of his. As we couldn’t, and there was no couples we could trust that we knew at the time, he went to the Dursleys’. I’ve kept an eye on him and he’s not happy there but what can I do?”
“You know you like being a godmother …?”
“Stella, we can’t just give the twins what they want every time they throw a tantrum, you know that!”
“Pommie, it’s perfect. Harry gets a proper home, Minerva is the next best thing to his mother, the twins get the brother they want and we get a fourth child which we’ve both wanted for years but never got around to discussing properly. What could be better?”
“Well … when you put it like that …”
“Pommie, please?” Stella made a childish pout. “Pretty please?”
Pomona groaned. “Why do you always get your way?”
“Because you can’t resist me,” Stella teased, playfully tugging on a loose strand of earthy hair.
Harry lay curled up and alone in his cupboard. He didn’t mind, too much. His cupboard was one place the Dursleys never went. As long as he was in there, he was safe.
He could hear the television in the living-room. His hand closed around his only possession: the blanket he’d been left with two years ago. Harry had vague memories of going to sleep under it with someone singing him a lullaby. It still smelt of his Mama. It always offered the comfort he never got anywhere else.
“Rock-a-bye baby on the tree-top,
When the wind blows the cradle will rock,
When the bough breaks the cradle will fall,
But safe will be baby, cradle and all.”
Lost in a peaceful dream, Harry didn’t notice when his door was opened, until a woman – not his aunt – cried out in surprise. He shot out of bed and pressed himself against the wall, clutching his blanket.
“Who you?” he whispered.
The woman peering at him had long grey hair with dirt in it and streaks of earth on an otherwise nice face. Seeing his discomfort, she smiled and Harry suddenly relaxed. “Harry? I’m Pommie. Will you come out?” she said gently. “It’s okay, there’s nothing to be afraid of.”
Harry slowly took her hand and crawled out of the cupboard. Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia were cowering before another woman, who unlike the first was tall and slim and frowning heavily, pointing a stick at them. She turned to see Harry and he backed away, but then she smiled too.
“Harry, I’m Stella,” she said in the same tone as Pommie. Shooting a glare at the Dursleys, she told them firmly, “We’re adopting Harry. We have the papers prepared and you don’t have any legal claim on him. You need never see your nephew again – unless, of course, you wish to visit him at Hogwarts,” she added in a tone that said she knew they wouldn’t. After a slight pause, she continued, “Well then, we’ll be off. The pleasure, believe me, is all yours.”
Harry didn’t understand what was going on and tugged on Pommie’s sleeve. “Where going?”
Pommie knelt down so Harry could see her friendly brown eyes. “You’re coming home with me and Stella, Harry. It’s your home now.”
Harry looked back at the Dursleys and Stella still holding her stick at them. Now he came to think of it, he remembered a stick like that. Another vague memory of chewing one came to mind. He could almost hear Dada’s voice, saying, “No biting wands, Harry! That’s what your toys are for.”
He pointed at the stick. “Wand!”
Both women smiled broadly. “Yes Harry, a wand. You’ll have one too one day.” Stella tucked hers in a pocket of her strange dress, nodded to the Dursleys and took Harry’s other hand. “Come on darling, you’re coming home.”
Harry’s eyes shone brightly. Finally, a word he understood. “Home?” he said hopefully.
“Home,” Pommie confirmed.
Harry toddled outside holding each of their hands, Pommie carefully looking after his blanket. He broke grip once to wave goodbye to Mrs Figg before they stopped by a car. There was a booster seat like Dudley’s in the back, but it was green whereas Dudley’s was blue. Stella lifted him up and fastened him in. Harry wriggled a bit. This was the first part of the new adventure he didn’t like. “Itches.”
“You won’t be in it for long,” Pommie assured him. She spread his blanket over his knees and tucked it in round the edges. “There, that’s better, isn’t it?”
Harry nodded, a question occurring to him. “Where home?” he enquired. “Mama and Dada home?” His eyes suddenly blurred. Was he going to see them again?
Stella and Pommie looked at each other.
“Not quite, sweetheart,” Pommie said at last and Harry’s face crumpled. “New home with …” she glanced at Stella, “new parents.”
Harry thought. He didn’t know you could get new parents when yours went. Would they be as nice as Mama and Dada? Or would they be like the Dursleys?
Pommie and Stella seemed to sense his anxiety, because they both took hold on one of his hands and Stella said gently, “Harry, you’re going to be living with us. We’re going to be your mummies.”
“Two mummies?” Harry thought this was a bargain. Mummies smelt safe and sung pretty songs. Pommie and Stella were nice too. A small smile crept onto his face. “Go home now!”
Pommie kissed him on the head and Stella squeezed his hand gently. “Let’s go home.”