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19 Years by marauder5
Chapter 78 : Year 8: Professor McGonagall's Plan
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 13


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Mornings are stressful when you are Minister for Magic—well, any time of day is stressful, really, but mornings are the worst. Mrs Burke used to tell her husband, “You’ll get ulcers if you don’t slow down, dear,” but there was something she didn’t quite understand. There was not enough time in a day to slow things down.

So Hamish Burke continued to set his alarm on five a.m., to eat his breakfast standing up and get dressed in a hurry, often leaving the house with his shirt done up wrongly (and on a few occasions, with his pyjama bottoms still on under his dressrobes). Luckily, the Ministry was usually empty when he arrived, giving him time to sort out his buttons, or tuck his pyjama trousers into his socks so no one would see the plaided fabric sticking out from under the hem of his robes.

It was pure luck, he thought, that the missus had been snoring so loudly on the one morning when he wasn’t the only one at work by five a.m. that spring. Being woken up extra early meant that he was properly dressed, had left his pyjama bottoms at home (foldly neated next to his pillow) and had even had time for a sit-down breakfast before heading off. As he rounded the corner in the corridor leading to his grand office he was surprised—but not embarrassed—to see two men waiting for him just outside the tall double doors.

“Minister Burke!” said the taller man quickly, straightening up a little as Burke approached them. “How are you this morning?”

“Fine, Weasley,” replied the minister, raising an eyebrow at the second of the two men. “I must say I am surprised to see you here,” he said. “Percy Weasley, sure, but may I ask what Harry Potter is doing out of bed and at work at this hour?”

Harry Potter smiled faintly. “I’m rarely in bed at this hour. Our little one has not been sleeping half as well as his brother used to.”

“Albus, isn’t it?” Burke said, smiling too now. “Yes, I remember what it was like…”

“Oh,” said Percy. “I didn’t know you had children, sir.”

“Two girls,” said Burke, and continued quickly: “So your baby got you out of bed, Harry. But I assume there’s a reason you are both here, specifically? As in, waiting outside my office?”

“We were hoping to talk to you,” Percy said, “before things get too busy around here.”

The three men stepped inside the big office and sat down, Burke behind the old desk and Percy and Harry in the puffy chairs across from him. Harry’s eyes swept over the room; he had been there a handful of times before to talk to Kingsley, but Burke had changed it. His decorating style was much more held back, very clean and impersonal. In fact, the only item that let on that an actual person was using the office, and that it wasn’t some display room in a shop, was a picture frame hanging on the wall behind Burke. The photo was of Burke himself, though ten or so years younger, a brunette that Harry knew as his wife from pictures in the Daily Prophet, and a girl about Harry’s age who had to be their daughter.

“So, let’s hear it,” said Burke, stealing Harry’s attention away from the picture frame as he leaned back in his chair and clasped his hands together. “You’re here to give me a piece of your mind, Harry, aren’t you?”

“You could say that,” Harry replied, “but not in the way you would think. See, Percy and I were talking… and I need to apologize to you. I mean, what you’re doing is controversial—I think that’s why it’s taken me this long to wrap my head around it—but you are trying to help people. I can see that now.”

Burke’s watery eyes suddenly looked bigger than usual. “Really?”

“Yes,” Harry continued. “I was being very narrow-minded before, Percy made me realise that. And if we can help non-magical people… if we can make the world a little more equal, then I want to be a part of it.”

Now, Burke’s lips grew into a wide smile as his eyes flickered between Harry and Percy’s faces. “Brilliant!” he said. “Absolutely brilliant. You are a clever man, Harry, I never doubted you would come around eventually! Well done for speeding up the process, Percy.”

Percy, who had never been called by his first name by any Minister for Magic before, seemed to grow a few inches in his chair next to Harry. “It was nothing, sir,” he mumbled, and Burke let out a strange laugh.

“Quite the contrary, my boy. Now, since you’re both here, we may as well get started. Here’s what we’re going to do…”





“You are making a what?”

Hermione was currently sat on her sofa with Rose in her arms—which was probably lucky, Harry thought, because it was quite possible that the baby was the only thing keeping her from exploding right then and there. He had placed himself in one of the armchairs a safe distance away from her and was now watching cautiously as Hermione inhaled and exhaled, again and again, shaking her head slowly as she processed what he had just told her.

“A registry of blood status,” she repeated to herself. “Burke can’t be serious, Harry…”

And she began rocking Rose, who was already calm, but perhaps it was Hermione herself who needed settling.

“I know,” Harry said, “but Percy and I think we have to play along for now—“

“And then what?” Hermione interrupted him. “Do you actually have a plan? Or are you just going to see what happens, like you always do? You’re not always going to be as lucky as you have been in the past, Harry.”

Harry blinked; he had not expected her to attack him when he brought her the disturbing news that he and Percy had learned at the Ministry that morning. “Look,” he said harshly, “I didn’t hear you complaining when I stopped Voldemort all those times–“

Hermione sighed loudly enough for him to stop mid-sentence. She stood up and took a few steps towards him, then bent down and placed her daughter in his arms. Straghtening up, she then tucked her hair in behind her ears and, much to Harry’s surprise, smiled.

“I know you’ve done great things, Harry. I’m the last person who needs to be reminded of that. But this is politics, and it’s complicated, and… I did help you out a few times too when we were younger, didn’t I? I’m just saying that it wouldn’t hurt for you to hear me out.”
Harry looked down at his niece, who was half asleep now. Her tiny mouth formed the shape of an ‘O’ as she yawned, and it was as if all frustration washed off of him. He adjusted the soft blanket she was wrapped in and leaned back in his chair, raising his eyes to meet Hermione’s.

“You’re right,” he said. “So what do you suggest we do?”

“I think we need to win over the Wizengamot. They hold the power to remove him from office, right?”

“Percy thinks that’s what we should do too,” Harry admitted. “The only problem is, I haven’t got a clue how we can win them over.”

“Well, I wouldn’t know either,” said Hermione lightly. “But I think I know who can help.”





And it was Hermione’s latest idea that had brought them here, three days later: into a small compartment of a train travelling north. Outside the windows, the landscapes were beginning to look familiar. They were richly green and vast, and Harry felt like he knew the shape of the hill that had just passed and those trees and that mountaintop in the distance. He leaned closer to the train window, so that the tip of his nose was touching the glass. As if to confirm his thoughts, the train began to slow down. Only minutes later, it came to a halt, and a warm sensation spread through Harry’s abdomen as he looked out the window again. The vast landscapes were gone, and what he was looking at instead was Hogsmeade station, the road leading down to the village, and the other one, which he knew led up to the school. Behind it was the lake over which Hagrid took the first years every September when the students arrived for a new year at Hogwarts.

Speaking of Hagrid—he was standing at the platform and waving enthusiastically as Harry and Hermione climbed off the train. As soon as his feet met the ground, Harry found himselves squished in Hagrid’ strong embrace. He breathed out in relief when he was finally released, rubbing his ribs as he beamed up at his old friend.

“Harry,” Hagrid said. “Hermione. Yeh don’t come ‘round enough, d’yeh know that? Now let me take a look at this sweet little girl, will yeh?”

“You are so right, Hagrid!” exclaimed Hermione as the large man bent down in front of her to get a good look at Rose, who was in a baby carrier on Hermione’s chest, wrapped in a blanket with only her little face and mouth showing as Hermione brushed her own hair away. “You are so right, Hagrid. I wish we weren’t here on such sombre business. We would much rather just spend time with you.”

“Yeh an’ me both, Hermione,” said Hagrid, standing back up and herding the three visitors towards the road. In the next moment, Hermione stopped abruptly.

She hadn’t seen the Thestrals before; they had been hidden in the forest every time she had been at Hogwarts since her mother’s passing. But there they were now; tall, black, and boney. Hagrid and Harry had almost reached the two Thestrals and the carriage when they realised she wasn’t with them.

Harry spun around on the spot and hurried back towards her. “Hermione—I didn’t realise—I can’t believe I forgot…”

In the next moment, he had grabbed her arm and was gently pulling her forward. He was still holding onto her when she approached the animal, and reached up a shaky hand to touch it.

“Hello,” she whispered, and Harry’s grip around her arm tightened.

They rode up to the castle in silence, Hagrid trotting next to the carriage and Harry still holding onto Hermione as the Thestrals pulled them out of Hogsmeade and down the winding road.

Professor McGonagall met them at the grand entrance. Her hair was a little less black and a little more silver than when they had last seen her, which somehow made her look even more impressive. After adjusting her pointy hat slightly, she reached out both of her hands to grab Harry and Hermione’s.

“Professor McGonagall,” said Harry, just as Hermione said, “Minerva.”

McGonagall smiled. “I do think we can call each other by first name now that I am no longer your teacher. Good to see you, Harry. And you, Hermione.”

“It is,” Hermione agreed. “Are you well? How is Hogwarts?”

“Hogwarts couldn’ be better, could it?” said Hagrid gleefully, and one of Professor McGonagall’s eyebrows moved just a little bit upwards.

“It could always be better, Hagrid,” she said, but it was evident she was trying to hold back a smile. She nodded in Rose's direction. “We may as well head up to the office while she is asleep,” she said, sounding a little disappointed, as though she had secretly been dying to hold the baby.

Harry noted that she hadn’t called it her office. Was it because she, like him, still had trouble thinking of it as anyone’s office but Dumbledore’s?

They made it to the large stone gargoyle that guarded the entrance to the office, and McGonagall gave it the password (“Glynnis Griffiths!”) to make it move aside and let them in. And somehow, nothing was off with the sight of McGonagall striding through the circular room and placing herself behind the desk; she looked like she belonged there just as much as Professor Dumbledore had.

“Who’s Glynnis Griffiths?” asked Hermione as she followed the others through the door. On a shelf on the wall behind Professor McGonagall, the Sorting Hat twitched, and Harry smiled at the sight before meeting the gaze of Dumbledore’s large portrait on the other wall. The old headmaster’s eyes were not as piercingly blue in painting as they had been in real life, but he did tilt his head sideways in a knowingly way, and Harry was filled with warmth as he realised it was the first time he had been there since Albus’ birth.

“Glynnis Griffiths?” said McGonagall as she reached forwards and grabbed a ceramic jar that was stood on her desk, removing the lid and pushing it towards Harry and Hermione. “She was a brilliant Quidditch player when I was young. Played for the Harpies, like Ginny. A Seeker.” She paused. “There are biscuits in the jar. And how about a cup of tea?”

“Yes please,” said Harry, and while Hermione conjured two chairs for them, Professor McGonagall flicked her wand and made a tray holding a teapot and three cups appear out of thin air just above the desk.

“So you want to talk about the Wizengamot?” she asked while everyone helped themselves to tea and biscuits. “I don’t know as many of the members as Albus did, of course, but I met a fair few of them through him.”

“Any chance they wouldn’t be Burke supporters?” asked Harry hopefully while he poured an extra teaspoon of sugar into his cup.

“I’ve been trying to guess,” McGonagall replied. “There are at least ten, maybe twelve, who will definitely be on our side. Five or six I am unsure of… and probably just as many who are likely to have voted for Burke.”

“We need a majority,” said Hermione quickly. “The Wizengamot can’t impeach the Minister for Magic without a majority vote.”

Professor McGonagall nodded. “Correct, as usual… I think the three of us combined can convince a few of them to support us. But we need to remember something. Most of the members of the Wizengamot are old, conservative purebloods who have held their seats for decades. They won’t jump at the idea of plotting to remove the Minister for Magic from office, especially not if the suggestion comes from Harry Potter, Hermione Granger-Weasley… or one of Dumbledore’s closest allies.”

“Most of them would have voted for Eunice Millais, don’t you reckon?” Harry said. “Then again, they’ve been working against me my whole life. Old habits die hard.”

“So what we need is an ally they will actually listen to,” said Hermione, slowly bringing a half-eaten biscuit to our mouth. “Someone like…?”

“How about Andromeda?” Harry asked. “She’s a pureblood—she’s a Black. Surely some of the members knew the Black family back in the days.”

“Ah!” shouted a voice behind him, making his heart jump into his throat as he spun around. The portrait of Phienas Black, one of the old headmasters on the wall, was stood up in his frame, his chest puffed out and his lips curled into a content smile. “I was close friends with the lot in my time. And my father—“

“Some of the current members would have known the Blacks too,” Professor McGonagall interrupted. “But Andromeda was disowned by her family. I was thinking about her nephew.”

Harry snorted, and Hermione dropped the remainders of her biscuit on her lap. While she brushed the crumbs off of Rose’s blanket, Harry straightened up in his chair and shook his head.

“Not Draco Malfoy,” he said.

“Didn’t their family lose all ties with those people after the war? His father is still in Azkaban,” Hermione pointed out.

Professor McGonagall reached forwards to lift a bunch of parchment rolls off the side of her desk, revealing a pile of copies of the Daily Prophet. She pulled one out from the middle of the pile, starting going through the pages, and finally stopped on one, turning the paper around so it was facing Harry and Hermione.

“Draco Malfoy is a successful business man now,” she said, pointing at the bottom half page in the family section that was dedicated to the birth of Draco and Astoria Malfoy’s son. “He’s an investor for Gringotts and is making shiploads of gold for his father’s old associates. In those circles, the Malfoy name has almost regained its former glory. He married a woman from another well-respected pureblood family and they had a son.”

“The day after you had Albus, right?” said Hermione interestedly, leaning forwards to examine the picture of Malfoy standing next a beautiful but tense-looking woman with a small baby in her arms.

“Yeah, I think so,” Harry nodded. “If you… if you talked to him, Hermione, he might do it. And if he won’t, we could ask Andromeda to try.”

Phineas Black stayed out of the rest of their conversation. Once everyone had finished their tea, Professor McGonagall said that Hagrid would probably expect them to have a second cup down at his hut, so Harry and Hermione stood up to leave. On his way out, Harry couldn’t resist pausing next to Snape’s portrait. The thin man in the painting had been pretending to be asleep until then, having let his chin fall to his chest so that his greasy, black hair was covering most of his face. Now, he straightened up and met Harry’s eyes.

“Professor,” Harry greeted him.

“Potter.”

And even though he knew it wasn’t the real Snape inside that frame, Harry leaned close to it and said, so that no one else in the room could hear, “He’s got her eyes too—Albus Severus. He’s got my mother’s eyes.”

Rose woke up while they were at Hagrid’s, and he spent a good hour just holding her, talking to her in a baby voice that reminded the others of what he had sounded like talking to his baby dragon, Norbert. After leaving the school grounds, Harry, Hermione and Rose took a stroll through Hogsmeade before catching the train back to London. When they passed by Weasleys’ Wizards Wheezes, Lee Jordan came running out after spotting them through the window, carrying his daughter Bryony on his shoulders and grinning widely at them.

“You should have told me you were in Hogsmeade!” he said. “I would have made you dinner! Living alone has made me an excellent cook.”

Harry smiled suggestively. “I would have thought you would be eating down at Three Broomsticks every night.”

After all, Lee had had an affair with the landlady, Madam Rosmerta, right after breaking things off with Bryony’s mother Katie. Now, leaning against the storefront, which stood out from all of the other buldings in the village with its bright purple façade, he shrugged and raised an eyebrow.

“I do, occasionally,” he admitted. “Is that Rose you’re carrying, Hermione? Ah, this is perfect, I haven’t got to meet her yet!”

Handing Bryony over to Harry, he quickly walked over to be introduced to the newest Weasley, who was still awake but looked a little surprised to suddenly find herself in the arms of a stranger.

After hanging a sign that read Closed on the door to the shop, Lee and Bryony proceeded to walk the others to the train station, where Bryony kissed first Harry, then Hermione, goodbye, and waved enthusiastically through the window until the train was out of sight from where she was sitting on her dad’s shoulders again.

This time, Harry and Hermione were sharing a compartment with a suspicious-looking witch with purplish skin and a handbag that she was holding onto so tightly that Harry spent half the journey trying to figure out what might be in it. Only a few minutes after leaving Hogsmeade, Hermione’s fell asleep, her head dropping to Harry’s shoulder, and Harry yawned.

He wasn’t thrilled about the idea of having to rely on Draco Malfoy when it came to the whole Burke thing. At first, he had been furious at the thought of ever sending Hermione back to Malfoy Manor—but Hermione had calmly pointed out that she could go see Malfoy at Gringotts, where he worked. Harry had accepted this, but as the train made it back through the same vast landscapes they had travelled through earlier that day, he couldn’t shake the feeling that something was going to go wrong.

He glanced down at Hermione, and then at Rose, who was once again asleep in the baby carrier that her mother was wearing. He smiled and leaned his head back against the seat, yawning again as the steady sound of the train engine filled his ears. It wasn’t a perfect plan, he thought, but it was the best they had.

 

 





A/N: Happy new year! I never really make new year's resolutions, but I've got at least one this year: I'm going to try to upload at least once chaper every month. I can't promise that it's going to happen, especially with the crazy intense spring I've got to look forward to at uni, but I promise that I will try.

Every person who reads this story and every person who takes time out of their day to write a review and share their thoughts on the chapter or the story in general is what motivates me to never stop writing. Thank you so much for that! Xxxx

(Side note: if anyone is interested in a more direct dialogue with me, or if you just want to check to see how the new chapters are coming along, I've created a Twitter account solely for this story. Go follow @marauder5HPFF on Twitter if you want!)


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