A/N: I apologize for taking so long to get this chapter written. This story, however, has just taken an entirely new direction. It was not planned like this at all, until I began writing this chapter. I do like this new plot better though, so that's why I'm keeping it.
Dedication: I'd like to dedicate this chapter to Moromu, who got me working on this story again. Thanks for all you've done for TLIA!
The next morning at breakfast, Andromeda thought to use her sister’s predicament to teach her daughter a valuable life lesson. Jasmine could only wish her current state was due to alcohol consumption, as Andromeda believed. In fact, she would go so far as to say that she would willingly give herself the greatest hangover known to mankind if it god her mind off the sent letter and situation at hand.
When the morning post arrived, she eyed the owl as if she expected it to attack or explode, even though she knew it was impossible for Remus to have gotten her owl and sent his own back in so short a time. That knowledge also did nothing to comfort her when Andromeda passed her a letter. Only when she saw the unfamiliar handwriting covering the envelope did Jasmine allow a deep breath to escape her lungs.
Quickly scanning the letter, she muttered, “’Deepest regards,’ my ass.”
“What was that?” Andromeda asked distractedly.
“Nothing,” Jasmine replied. Thoroughly p.-o.-ed, she left the house barefooted and without bothering to change out of her pajama bottoms and tank-top, or even to throw an actual bra on underneath.
All thoughts of Remus were pushed far from her mind.
The distance being too far to walk, Jasmine apparated, then entered a Muggle park somewhere in Surrey. She inhaled deeply, surveying the scene, as anger rose within her. Distraught Aurors, an Evans-Dursley, and her godson – up a tree! – were all present and waiting. The only positive thing, she noted, was Dumbledore’s absence. This would all be so much easier without him around.
Jasmine stormed to the nervous looking, horse-faced Dursley woman.
“What the hell did you do to him, you bitch?!” Jasmine was certain she had dropped a couple of f-bombs to emphasize her point, but she paid little attention to her own language at this point.
Her late best friend’s sister looked, if possible, even more frightened at the approach of this mad witch.
“I-I didn’t do a-an-anything,” Petunia stuttered, looking anywhere but at Jasmine, hands nervously wringing her purse.
“You left him up a tree all night!” Again, Jasmine was she that what she had vocalized was actually much worse that what she originally planned to say. Not that that was very decent either…
The woman muttered something even Jasmine’s enhanced-by-Animagus ears couldn’t pick up, but she dared not to repeat it.
“Um, Mi-Miss Black?” A wizard from the Ministry – dressed as a rather unconvincing Muggle – approached her. “We need you to, uh, to grant . . . grant consent.”
Jasmine guessed that he was new to the Ministry. Those who hadn’t been there long were the only ones who would ever believe she could be spoken to reasonably when she expressed herself in the manner she currently was. They were also the only ones with a low enough ranking to be bullied into speaking with her.
She turned to face him, arms crossed and an eyebrow raised.
He took a step back.
As if he had been asked to explain himself, he rambled on. “His, uh, Mr. Potter’s, Muggle relat- guardian, refuses to give consent for Mr. Potter to be magically removed from the tree he has, um, unfortunately, rather unfortunately, magicked himself into. And, um, Muggle methods were not deemed safe enough, and he refuses to come down on his own. So-”
“So you need another guardian to give permission.” She nodded as if considering what the man had told her, and noted his invisible breath of relief at her gentler tone. He probably wished it had stayed. “Fuck you assholes!” she shouted for all present to hear, knowing what words came from her mouth that time. “I won’t be his guardian just whenever the hell it suits you, only to give him back to that cow!” Judging by the looks on everyone’s faces, her language hadn’t improved much. Jasmine also doubted if the last word she said really had been ‘cow’, but she continued anyway. “You want me to be his guardian, that’s great. But he comes home with me.” Her language finally did calm down, as she was waiting for an answer from a wizard of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, specializing in children’s cases.
But that wasn’t where the answer came from.
“I think that is a very reasonable request, Miss Black,” Albus Dumbledore’s voice responded from behind.
Jasmine spun around fast enough to give herself whiplash. “Sir?”
“If you wish to take on the responsibility of guardianship over Harry Potter, I will see the matter is considered.”
Jasmine felt something within her, and it took her a while to recognize it as a small bit of hope that had risen in her chest, as she stared almost unbelieving at the elderly wizard before her. But hope in her had so long been absent that her heart warned against it. “Just considered?”
“You will consider; guardianship, after all, is a heavy responsibility, especially with a child so young. I will do whatever I can to ensure your decision happens,” Dumbledore clarified.
“But, sir. . . why?”
“Perhaps you should ask your sister once you return home,” he said, a twinkle in his blue eyes.
Jasmine smiled, her grey eyes felt wet, and she swallowed the sigh that threatened to part her lips. Nodding, she said, “I’ll get him down.”
“As long as you understand legal matters must be resolved first.”
“Yeah. . . yeah, I know.”
She went over to the tree, which had to be over two stories high, and hoisted herself onto the first branch. As she swiftly climbed upwards to where her four-year-old godson was, Jasmine could only assume, and be grateful, that none of the idiots below her could get up a tree without magical aid (such as levitation or a broomstick) which was why they hadn’t just come up there themselves.
It didn’t take her long to find him, the small child hugging himself tightly to the large trunk, frightened to the point of tears.
“Hey,” Jasmine said softly when the emerald green eyes spotted her.
Harry squeaked a ‘hi’ back after looking her over. It was obvious he didn’t remember his godmother (after all, Jasmine made sure he would be too young to remember when she visited him on Privet Drive), and her presence did little to comfort him. Manners were all that compelled little Harry to return the greeting, even at this altitude.
Jasmine positioned herself near Harry, but not too close. Her back was to the trunk as she casually leaned to it, one barefoot flat on the branch she sat on, the other hanging over the branch’s edge. With one hand, she held a smaller branch above her head, and her other arm lay across her bended stomach.
“So how’d you get up this tree?” she asked.
The small boy looked even more nervous when he was addressed a second time. “I-I climb here.”
“You climbed up, huh?” Jasmine said, raising a skeptical eyebrow much friendlier than how she had before. She leaned over the branch, looking to the ground, her hand holding on above her head all that kept her from falling out of the tree. Pulling herself back into her ‘seat’, she said, “That’s a pretty long way to climb, isn’t it?”
He nodded fearfully, refusing to let his eyes meet hers.
“You want some help getting down?”
Harry looked at Jasmine this time, and nodded again.
“Okay.” She smiled. “Here.” Jasmine carefully moved closer to the terrified child, who tried to move back from her, and into the tree.
“Who-who are y-you?”
“My name is Jas,” she answered, still smiling.
“Jas?” Harry asked.
The witch nodded this time.
“Why you try to-to help me?”
This kid talks pretty well for four, was the first thought that crossed Jasmine’s mind. The best response, she decided, to give the child was, “I knew your parents, Harry.”
Harry looked up with shock evident in his features, the fear in his eyes dimmed, but was not extinguished. “You did?”
“I did. And I want you to come and live with me, after we get out of this tree, of course.”
Jasmine had to smile as she saw hope and wonder overpower and replace what was left of the diminishing fear in her godson’s eyes.
“You-you do? Really?”
Harry smiled up at her.
Jasmine thought that was all a bit too easy, but considering what she had seen on her ‘visit’ not all that long ago, she wasn’t surprised.
“Now what do you say we get out of this tree?”
Harry’s smile vanished as he looked around nervously. “O-okay,” he said, fear creeping back into his voice. They were, after all, very high up.
“Okay.” She gently reached over and guided the boy to her, cradling his small form against her chest. It would have been easier for her to get down with Harry on her back and two free hands, but when she told him to ‘hold on tight’, he put her neck in a death grip and buried his face below her chin. Jasmine kept a tight arm around him, and slowly, carefully, brought the two of them back down to the world below.
A/N: So that's the end of TLIA. I'll be putting up a sequel (hopefully) before or right after the New Year. It will probably be called 'One Step Forward' or something like that, but I'm still working on the name of it.