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Thomas Hadrian Hagrid

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Rubeus Hagrid currently had a very good idea as to what Harry Potter always felt when he fell into one of his troubling adventures. He had just gone to Diagon Alley to buy a few books on creatures for his godson, Albus, when he had seen a group of children being dragged into Knockturn Alley. None of the other shoppers were paying any attention to the scene, which meant there was magic at work, that his half-giant heritage was negating.

Rushing to save the children, Rubeus had attacked the kidnappers, forcing them to release the kids and fight him. The shoppers, noticing the fight, were quick to contact the Aurors, even as a few of them joined the foray and started to help Rubeus protect the children, all of whom were crying and scared of the event happening around them.

Magic flowing left, right and center, the Aurors arrived and added to the chaos. Amidst the flying spells, a few joined together in a quirky manner and targeted the children hiding behind their protectors. Rubeus jumped in front of the spells, even as a few protective spells were sent to shield the children. A combination of offensive, protective and Rubeus' own heritage came together and created a blast that hurled Rubeus through time, and left him in 1925, Britain.

At least, that was what Rubeus believed. This was the kind of luck and trouble that Harry boasted of. Not Rubeus. And yet, here he was, in a time when he wasn't even born yet. How troubling.

Rubeus did not care about the how's and whys. It lead to heartbreak and depression. Not something he wanted to experience. He had always been pragmatic that way. Instead he focused on living to the best of his abilities, something he had planned on doing anyways, only in a different time.

The first order of business was food and shelter, for which he needed money. Thankfully, he still had his money pouch, with which he had been shopping. Considering the time, and the difference in economy, he had enough to sustain him till he found a job. He knew that there was a vacancy as a groundskeeper at Hogwarts soon, so he planned on applying for it. Or maybe he could something with the knowledge he had about Magical Beasts, he had always wanted to work with them. Regardless, till then he would see about getting a house in Hogsmeade.

He mourned for what could have been, the life that he had to leave behind. A god son he loved, a family he had become a part of, the proving of his innocence in Chamber of secrets debacle, buying a wand, learning magic in the open, getting his certificate to become a full-fledged Magical Creatures Professor, all that and more, gone. He could, and would, build a new life here, but it would not be the same, just a different continuation of the life that he had lost. He would remember them, move on and live.

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It has been an year now. A year to the day when he found himself in the past. An eventful year, spent gathering information and trying to find employment. He has been lucky. Working now as an exotic creatures' ingredients gatherer, Rubeus has become the go-to guy for potion masters in Britain.

Knowledgeable about how to deal with even the most dangerous creatures, and in a way that lets both him and the creatures to live, Rubeus has become a well known figure.

He is happy. He is content. He is lonely. A year now he has spent, travelling, earning, and discovering new ways of treating the animals and beings he comes across. An adventurous year, but lonely. He has friends now, but his past as they know it, is a lie. Home-schooled, orphan, traveler.

It is November now. Christmas is coming, and with it comes the many memories of celebrating it at Hogwarts, and later on with Harry and the Weasleys. Laughter, joy, ale and good food. Presents shared and enjoyed, memories recalled of the ones lost to time and war. Christmas is coming, and he is lonely.

At least, that's his excuse for what he is doing, and he is going to stick to it when asked about it later. It is madness, he has spent many instances listening to Hermione lecture about time and how it must not be meddled with. But what was Rubeus to do, when he saw a heavily pregnant girl, shivering in the cold alleys of Knockturn Alley, and looking starved?

He could only do what he did. Take her home, feed her, and give her a warm place to stay. By the time he realized that she was Merope Gaunt, carrying the future Dark Lord, well. He would have done the same, even if he'd known beforehand.

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It'd been almost a month now, since he had given sanctuary to Merope, and Rubeus could not find it in himself to regret it. Merope was a wary and skittish creature, frightful that the safe haven she had found would be snatched away. That Rubeus' kindness came with a time limit.

Rubeus tried to disabuse her of these thoughts, but wasn't very surprised when she could not believe him. He was used to abused creatures being wary of kindness, trying to find the catch, unable to trust warmth when all they had known was pain. He wasn't irritated by the lack of trust, nor by the suspicious way she viewed him. He was patient, it was one of the first things he had learnt when it came to caring for magical creatures. Humans, abused humans, were not that different, in his opinion. And so, he would be patient and wait for Merope to trust or not trust him.

Truthfully, her trust did not matter all that much to him. As long as she allowed him to care for her and to provide her with shelter and food, he was fine. She needed the energy for her unborn child, anyway, and he would protect them for as long as he was needed.

He did not ask her any questions. He knew her name and that she had no where to be. At least that was what he knew from her. He knew a lot more about Merope from the things Harry had shared. The Gaunt family, the madness brought about by intermarriage, the pride and craze of being related to Slytherin. The Riddle family, upper class people who were not very well-liked by the common people, but respected for their wealth regardless. He knew about Merope Gaunt, the loveless and abused almost-squib daughter, and about Tom Riddle, the well-loved and handsome muggle son.

He knew the suspicions of Dumbledore as to how these two came together. Love potions and elopement. He knew that Merope had been abandoned in London by Tom Riddle, to fend for herself, when he came to know of her magical deception. Though he did not know whether Tom Riddle knew of the babe Merope carried, Rubeus did not wish, nor want, to ask.

Merope was here, he would help her. In the memory of a dark-haired boy, who felt pity for another dark-haired boy, despite that agony the latter had caused the former.

Yes, he would help Merope for Harry. And for Tom, who had not been given a chance when he needed it. Even if it did break many laws of time-travel and interference.

Rubeus Hagrid never did care for the so-called rules and regulations anyway. The people who made those rules didn't know what they were talking about when it came to Magical creatures, so who was to say that they did when it came to time?

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It wasn't supposed to be this way. Rubeus had thought he would continue on as he had, take care of Merope and then after Tom was born, be a benefactor to them both. Make sure they had a place to stay, and enough to live on. He had even been contemplating offering Merope a job, maybe as an assistant, after she had regained her strength post-birth. He was supposed to have been distant. Kind but distant.

So when had she become important to him? When had she become almost-family?

It wasn't supposed to be this way. Merope was healthy, Rubeus had made sure of it. Instead of being a starved and homeless girl, who died giving birth on the steps of an orphanage, this Merope was healthy. She had been taken to St. Mungo's regularly for her check-ups once a week, ever since she had come under Rubeus' care. Passed off as a cousin, Rubeus had made sure that Merope gained the weight and health she needed.

So, how had this happened?

It was not supposed to be this way. The thought wouldn't leave Rubeus as he sat, stunned by the news the grave-faced Healer gave him. Merope was dead, and that was how it was, but it should not have been. There was an amalgamation of feeling swirling in Rubeus' mind - sorrow, grief, horror of the maybe-inevitable, and helplessness.

If Merope died, in spite of the care she had been given, then what of Tom? Was his future written in stone? Rubeus did not know, and right now he did not have the emotions to care. Merope was dead, and he was left alone again.

It was not supposed to… the child was placed in his arms. A squalling, wrinkled babe announcing his displeasure to the world. Rubeus took in the dark hair, and scrunched up eyes. The tiny, tiny body of the child. How fragile this babe was. So small, especially compared to Rubeus' own size.

It was a cliché, like all good things in the world are, but Rubeus knew in that moment that the child was his. His to love, his to cherish and his to protect. He had been unable to protect Merope, but that did not mean he could not protect Tom. He would give the child a childhood, he would give the child love, regardless of what the future might hold.

Merope had told him that she wanted the child to be named Thomas, if born a boy, and Clementine, if she had a girl. She had also requested that Rubeus give the child his/her second name.

And now, holding the child in his arms, Rubeus whispered the name Thomas Hadrian Hagrid. Named for the man Merope had loved, named for the boy who had been family to Rubeus, and named for the new family the child was becoming a part of. Perhaps it wasn't supposed to be this way, but what-the-hey, it was the only way Rubeus could walk without regret. So.

Thomas Hadrian Hagrid, adopted son of Rubeus Hagrid. Yes, that did have good ring to it, didn't it?

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Rubeus Hagrid was currently having a heart attack, what with his heart trying to leap out his chest and in the process shatter his rib cage. Rubeus had no doubt that his heart was well on its way to its bloody freedom.

At least that was what he felt as he took in the sight of his son (his son, Oh God! Hes'tiny, so tiny! 'is five y'ar old son!) surrounded by hissing snakes, winding in-between Tom's legs like mischievous kittens. Rubeus had to wonder if this was the reason Mrs. Weasley (Call me Molly, dear, honestly!) always seemed to have so many grays in her hair by the time Ron had been born. The war had only increased those white hairs. He could empathize with Mrs. Weasley (Molly!) now.

The instinctual need to snatch Tom (My Son! God, what if one of 'em bites 'im?) was only, barely, halted by the simple joy on his son's face. Tom looked so happy surrounded by the snakes, that Rubeus had to control himself, lest he make Tom wary and fearful. He knew, in his mind, that Tom would not be hurt. He knew that Tom was a Parselmouth, and as such could understand and talk to the snakes. He knew. But what did knowledge mean when it came to the safety of his son?

Still, when Tom looked up at him, with joy in his eyes and voice filled with curiosity and a desire to share what he had learnt from his snake friends (Papa! Papa! Look! Aren't they pretty? Can we keep them!? Please! Look this one says his name is Ssss, and this one says she's SSss, and then this ones SsSSs, and that one…), Rubeus knelt down and listened. It was only after Tom had introduced his Papa to every one of the snakes (nine of 'em, where did they come from?) that Rubeus told Tom about his gift, and how Rubeus had only heard hissing when Tom said the snakes' name.

Tom (curious, accepted and loved Tom), shrugged and agreed to act translator between Papa and the snakes (so can we keep them? Please Papa! I'll take care of them meself! I promise, please please please). Looking into the bright eyes of his son, Rubeus could only give one answer (Yes), even though the sight of his son with the snakes had given him a heart attack.

Rubeus, at that moment, also realized the reason for Molly's (Finally!) laugh lines and the quiet love that shined in her eyes all the time. Because, no matter the heart aches and crushing fear of his son getting hurt, it was worth every loving smile his son gave him. His heart still ached, but it was an ache that made living all that much sweeter.

Though, he still needed to remind Tom to give the snakes names Rubeus could pronounce.

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Tom hates. He hates this with a viciousness that startles his young body and mind. But he can't stop. He thinks that maybe he doesn't want it to stop either. He hates it so much, that he knows that if it were personified before him, he would kill it and rejoice over its death. He hates.

He hates, because if he doesn't hate, then he'll start bawling and his papa would be sad (sadder) and he doesn't want that, so he hates.

He feels helpless in the face of his papa's mourning. Papa says he's mourning over the people lost to him (Like Tom's Mum) and who he misses. It's only a few days in a year that papa becomes sad, and mourns, but it's still a few days too many in Tom's eyes. His papa is supposed to be happy, always. And he is happy, Tom knows, papa says so. Papa says Tom makes him happy! It always gives Tom a thrill when papa says that, it makes Tom feel happy and proud and a little shy.

Papa sometimes tells him about the people he's lost - Harry, Hermione, Ron, Albus, Merope (His Mum!) and others. Papa's smile when he talks about them is weird, so Tom asked why (Papa always answers Tom's question, even if he doesn't know the answer). Papa told him it's because he's both sad and happy talking about them. Sad that they are no longer there, and happy that they had been a part of his life for so long.

Tom doesn't understand that. He is only five, and there's a lot he doesn't understand (Papa says that it's okay, that Tom'd understand as he grows). His snakes (Nagini, Sheba, Ruby, Rald, Cleo, Willow, Ouro, Loki and Anna) say that life is circle of life and death, that everyone dies at some point. The snakes don't feel bad about it, it's not the way they are.

He feels a lot better though, when papa looks at him and smiles, and says softly- "Am glad you're here, Tom. Love you."

Tom thinks that it okay now that he doesn't understand death and mourning and the circle of life, because the thing he does understand is that Papa loves him, and he loves Papa. And that?

That is enough to kill the hatred mourning brings.

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Rubeus adores the days he can bring Tom with him to his office.

He has, with the help of Harry, Ron, Molly and Neville, come to understand that not all creatures are safe for all beings. Some are very unsafe for humans, and as such need to be treated with caution. It had taken a while for Rubeus to understand that not all fear of dangerous creatures that humans had was unfounded. It was not prejudice that made humans label creature as dangerous beings, but merely preservation. While an Acromantula's venom did not have much of an effect on giants, even half-giants, for a human it was nearly fatal. Similar to how certain magics had no effect on Rubeus, certain venoms and fatal substances did not harm Rubeus, but it would harm humans. Humans like his son, Tom.

And while Rubeus himself has no fear of creatures that can even harm him, he has found that when it comes to Tom, he is almost overprotective. Almost because Tom's snakes help ease the fear Rubeus has when it comes to his son's safety. A little bit.

So, when the days come where it is perfectly safe for Rubeus to bring Tom to works, Rubeus is over-joyed. Tom's curiosity and his thirst for knowledge are matched with how Rubeus remembers Hermione's to be. The way Tom's eyes light up with delight at every answer Rubeus is able to give, and the way Tom is eager for the books Rubeus provides on these subjects is heartening and humbling. Rubeus knows a lot about magical creatures, but answering Tom's questions has helped Rubeus gain a better understanding for them. The research Rubeus does in order to help Tom to gain knowledge has advanced his own.

At only seven years old, Tom is very well read, and quite intelligent. Rubeus has encouraged Tom's thirst for knowledge, though also made sure to instill morals, when and where possible. An advantage of working with animals all the time, is that Rubeus is able to instill a sense of kindness in Tom's actions. It helps that Tom is able to speak with the snakes, who in turn are able to communicate with other animals, and are willing to translate. Though much is lost in translation (animals are not the same as humans and do not have the same desires), it has helped Tom to realise that every being has feelings and are capable of hurting and being hurt. Life as such is a wonderful teacher to Tom.

When Rubeus brings Tom to the shop he owns, it is to the joy of those employed by him. A rare ingredients acquirer and an animal shelter (both normal and magical), Rubeus' business has grown beyond what he had initially imagined. He blames his manager for that. Livia Helga Sprout, who was the mother (Rubeus had been shocked to find out) of Pomona Sprout, the future Head of Hufflepuff. Livia had been working as a clerk in the realtor office Rubeus had gone to, when searching for a house to buy. She had been the one to show him around the available houses, as the office had been under the impression that Rubeus had come there to waste their time and money (adults see the half-giant heritage more easily than kids).

A friendship had been born that day between Livia and Rubeus, and it had continued on even till now. When Rubeus had mentioned his skills, Livia had used her Hufflepuff contacts to get him in touch with Potion Masters and suppliers with whom he could conduct his business. Once they had come to know that Rubeus was good at his work, word had spread, and business had bloomed. So much so, that it necessitated the need for a shop and employees. Rubeus, though good with animals, did not know how to handle an office. Livia had once more helped. Tired of her job at the realtor office, she had offered to manage the business side of Rubeus' work while he concentrated on the physical side of it. And thus, a partnership was born!

Today, Tom was not the only child in the office. Livia had bought her daughter to work as well. It was adorable to see Tom take care of the toddler. It was equally heartwarming to see Pomona toddle behind Tom as he went from person to person asking his questions. Everyone could see that the two-year old had Tom wrapped around her finger, and that Tom didn't mind. He loved her as he would a sister, and did not mind caring for her whenever possible.

(Rubeus found it ironic that the person who had been Pomona's boggart in one life, had become her protector in this one. It was an irony that Rubeus definitely enjoyed.)

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Albus Dumbledore was a great man.

It is something Rubeus has always said, always known, and what he maintains. Albus Dumbledore was a great man.

But. It had been Harry, after the war was over and repairs under way, who had questioned Rubeus' statement. Or rather he had spoken what Rubeus had left unheard. Albus Dumbledore was a great man, but he was not a good one.

It is a difference most do not see. Indeed, most feel that to be great it is a must to be good, and therefore a great man is synonymous with a good one in their minds. But for people like Rubeus and Harry, there had been a wealth of difference to be found in the two simple words. Great, for them, was a man willing to sacrifice a few for the sake of many. Great was the man who had held secrets close to his heart and had played a game of chance with their lives, while hiding his intentions under the chess board. Great was the man who allowed a child to walk to his death so that adults could live for their children.

Albus Dumbledore was a great man, but not a good one.

A good man, according to Rubeus and Harry, would have been one who would not have turned a blind eye to the dangers the students under his care faced due to prejudice. A good man would have stopped the bullying of the many students at the hands of the powerful few. A good man would not have blamed the victim of the prank for his actions almost getting him killed (Snape was a sore point to Harry, it hurt to know that you sympathized with your abuser for the actions against them at the hands of your loved ones). A good man would not have allowed Rubeus to go on with his misconceptions about the toughness of humans.

(It had been hard for Rubeus to realize, to completely understand, the difference between human and half-giant physiology. Molly had sat him down and explained to him the reasons why certain creatures were harmful to humans, and not just because of prejudice. The knowledge that Rubeus' had been putting so many students in danger due to his love for the creatures was a sobering one. The fact that despite that many of these students loved him was humbling.)

A good man would not have left a child to an abusive environment, especially when, as a teacher he had to have been knowledgeable about the signs (Tom, Harry, Severus, Sirius, Remus, to name a few). He would not have allowed abuse to occur in his school, especially abuse that was as open as the conflict between the houses (Severus being turned upside down in public, Regulus being caught four to one by his brother and his friends, Lily being verbally abused in the corridors by the Pureblood students, Dark arts being practiced on others by those with Death Eater sympathies, the list goes on).

Albus did what he thought was right to win the war, but he also forgot the ones who fought the war were people, humans with feelings and emotions, with memories, a past and a future. Or maybe he chose not the remember that.

It is for these reasons, and more, that they say, Albus Dumbledore was a great man, but not a good one.

It is also for these reasons, that Rubeus is currently contemplating throwing Albus Dumbledore out of his home by the ear.

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Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore, the Deputy Headmaster and Professor of Transfiguration at Hogwarts, had the habit of seeing himself in the actions of others.

If he came across an intelligent boy, Albus would immediately think of how intelligent he and Gellert had been at that age, and from there, Albus would remember the chaos they had brought to the world. And the tragedy Gellert was still heaping upon it.

All Albus would see were the similarities, and not the differences between him and the child. At least, in the beginning. He would, unknowingly and unthinkingly, place the burden of unearthing the differences between them on the shoulders of the child. The child would have to constantly prove himself to be different from the boy Albus had been, Gellert had grown into, or be judged for his actions by an authoritative Albus. It was a struggle. The struggle eased soon enough, once the child proved to be different from both Albus and Gellert.

Thankfully, child geniuses were rare, and therefore no one had yet to suffer the full prejudice of a man who could not forgive himself.

Thomas Hadrian Hagrid, of course, was a child genius.

 


 

When Albus came to the Hagrid Household, with a letter to deliver, he admitted to himself he had no reason to be here. Thomas was a pureblood. He belonged to the Magical World, and therefore, needed no introductory visit from the faculty. And yet, Albus was here. No one knew he was here, including the Headmaster. It was one of the duties of the Deputy to post the letters and to assign Introductory Visits, and Albus was taking advantage of the duty to satisfy his curiosity. He was here because of the rumors.

He had heard, of course, when a new shop had opened in Diagon Alley, selling rare ingredients. He had also heard that the shop took in requests for the procuring of materials that were hard and dangerous to gather. He had took notice when the shop had no trouble gathering these materials. It was then he paid more attention to the shop, and therefore the shop-keepers.

The owner: Rubeus Hagrid - home-schooled, rumored to be a half-giant, excellent with all sorts of creatures, a father to a very bright son.

The Assistant and Manager: Livia Sprout, Huffelpuff, Kind with a spine of steel, excellent at management and customer service, a mother to an adorable daughter.

The Temps: Sixth and Seventh Year Hogwarts students, working part-time in the summer, belonging to all houses, no prejudice shown by the shop.

He had heard how the shop only hired part-timers during the summer, and how not many workers were needed to run the shop the rest of the year. It was a successful business, but not one that needed too many employees, especially when Livia took care of the Office work and Rubeus took care of the Practical work.

Albus had found out all of these out of the desire to ensure that it was not a base for something dark and nefarious. It hadn't been, but he had found something that made him fear nonetheless. He had found Thomas Hadrian Hagrid.

 


 

The child of Rubeus Hagrid and the late Merope Gaunt. A little digging had revealed how the mother had died at childbirth and how the father had been almost lost to despair, before coming alive at the sight of his son. (Nurses were gossips, especially for stories that had heartwarming endings. The sight of a giant man, holding a new born babe as though the babe were made a glass, is a sight not many could forget.)

It had also revealed that Merope had belonged to the Slytherine line.

Albus learnt about how the boy had snakes for pets. How, through his mother, he might have the power to speak Paseltongue.

He learnt that the boy was curious and had already read numerous books on Magic and Creatures, in order to help his father. He heard how the boy was advanced for his age, and that he was highly magical. Albus had heard the story of how Thomas had saved Pomona Sprout by halting her mid-air as she fell from a ladder, and then gently bringing her down to the ground. He had heard how the boy was practicing wandless magic, and could create colorful bubbles for Pomona's amusement.

Albus heard this, but only took in half of the information.

He saw a boy who came from a Dark heritage (ignored the fact he was being raised by none of them). He saw a boy who might speak to snakes (ignored that his father was known for his kindness in dealing with creatures and had taught his son the same). He saw a boy who read far beyond his age (ignored the fact it was to help his father in his job). He saw a boy who was highly magical (ignored how Tom had used magic to save not harm). He saw a boy who had good control over magic (and ignored that he used it for making his sister-figure happy, and not for getting away with trouble).

He saw a boy who could be dangerous (he did not see the boy who was helpful and kind).

Albus saw, and yet he did not see. (Wasn't that what he usually did?)

 


 

When Albus knocked on the door of the Hagrids' home, he expected many things. He expected to see a sullen boy, hiding his impatience behind a polite mask. He expected to see a boy using his knowledge to hide his lack of morals and understanding of human nature. He expected to see an Albus, but a crueler and more amoral version of him.

What Albus saw was a very tall and strong man almost ripe the door of the hinges, and lose the welcoming smile on his face for a longsuffering one. Indeed, it looked almost as if Rubeus Hagrid (for that was who the door opener was) was contemplating the merits of shutting the door on Albus' face!

'Oh, dear, what in Merlin's name did I do?' was what Albus wished to know.

 

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Rubeus Hagrid is polite, distant and calm. He has an iron clad hold on his temper right now, and the only reason he is not letting his temper go, is Tom. The thought of Tom having to face Albus for the next seven years, is the only thing holding Rubeus back. He can't do anything that might harm Tom's chances of having a good Hogwarts experience. If it hadn’t been for that, well…

Death has a way of making the living forgive a lot of faults. It had not been a problem Rubeus has ever thought he'd ever face, that of forgiving an Albus who was alive, for the crimes he had yet to commit against those Rubeus loved and loves (Tom, Harry, Tom, the Weasleys, Tom, Hermione, Tom). Rubeus has to remind himself that this Albus is not the same as the Albus he had known. But it is hard, when already Rubeus can see the signs of that Albus in this Albus. It is eye-opening to Rubeus to realise that he has been able to forgive Tom easily, while forgiving Albus is so much more harder. What did it say about him and Albus, that a Dark Lord is easier to forgive than the Light Leader?

 

(Though, this Albus is giving him more than enough reason to be angry, what with the way he is staring at his son.)

 


 

Tom is excited! He is also concerned. He can see that Dad (he is eleven now! He can't keep calling Papa, Papa!) is distracted by something, and that he is being distant to Professor Dumbledore, but still! Tom can't contain his excitement! He is going to Hogwarts! Hogwarts!

He has heard so many stories about Hogwarts from Aunt Liv and the people at the office! Aunt Liv has told him numerous tales about her time in the Hufflepuff House, the adventures she had, the number of times she had snuck into the kitchens for a midnight snack, the time she went exploring the common rooms of the other Houses, she has told him of the secret passages she had found, the Library and so many beautiful and exciting things that made Hogwarts that much more special.

He has heard stories the different Houses from the students Pa-Dad hires. The Riddle giving knocker of Ravenclaw, the cozy underground rooms of Slytherin, the cushy couches of Gryffindor! He has heard about the rivalries between the Houses (it frankly concerns him that the rivalry has been known to become violent on occasion). He has heard of the classes and the Professors, and he just can't wait to see and experience it all for himself!

He got his Letter! He honestly feels like jumping up and down, or maybe spin in a circle like his snakes! (He just knows he has stars in his eyes, he also knows that Pap-Dad is going to tease him mercilessly, and that Papa (Damn it!) is going to tell Aunt Liv and Mona, and that they are going to tease him as well, but!) He is just so Excited!

 

(He also wants to know if there is something on his face. Why is the Professor looking at him so?)

 


 

 

Albus cannot stop staring.  He knows that it is impolite. He knows that Mr. Hagrid is a few moments away from declaring him a creep and throwing him out. He knows he is currently confusing the child and might be giving the child a wrong impression. He knows. But, he cannot stop.

Tom is smiling. Tom is open in his expressions. Tom is curious, but he is aware of boundaries. Tom's curiosity seems to be geared toward magic that can help rather than just curiosity of all types of magics. He is different from Albus' expectations. He is different from what Albus was. From what Gellert is. Tom is different.

Tom is a child. Tom is Tom.

And looking at this child, Albus finally has an inkling as to what he had been doing. It has taken the complete shattering of his preconceived and solid notions he has made about a child he has never met, for Albus to realize that he has been very egoistic in his approach to any child he perceived as threat.

The obvious protectiveness Mr. Hagrid is showing towards his son, and the very obvious look of permanent harm Mr. Hagrid is aiming towards him, are also contributing to Albus' realization that perhaps he has been hasty in his assumptions about Thomas Hagrid.

 

(He still can't stop staring. He is going to be kicked. He knows this.)

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Albus did not get kicked, nor was he forcibly removed from the Hagrid Household. This was not due to any feelings of mercy on Mr. Hagrid's part, indeed the protective father had looked very close to asking Albus to leave, but rather due to the unexpected arrival of Mrs. Livia Sprout and her daughter. Never has Albus been so glad to see a former student of his. Nor has anyone looked as put out as Mr. Hagrid at the thwarted opportunity to kick Albus out. 

Albus is more than happy to use the distraction provided by Mrs. Sprout to make his own excuses and leave, before he puts his foot into his mouth again. (Mr. Hagrid is still glaring at him!)

"Goodbye, Mr. Hagrid, Tom, Mrs. Sprout and young Miss. Sprout. It was wonderful meeting you. And Tom? I look forward to seeing you on the 1st", a general sentiment, one that Albus has said many a times, but he is surprised to find that he truly means it this time. Albus is looking forward to seeing Tom again, to have him as Albus' student. He knows now that his preconceived notions about the boy are no longer valid, and while it will take him some time to recover from his unintentional hubris, Albus is looking forward to seeing Tom for who he is. He is sure that however Tom may turn out, it will be interesting.

Yes, Albus is going to enjoy having this bright boy in his class.  Maybe Tom would turn out to be in his house as well. That would make things even better.

So, it is, that Albus leaves the Hagrids and co. with a completely different mindset than the one he came with. A better one, a more hopeful one, and definitely a happier one.

 

(He prays that Horace never finds out about his staring. That man would never stop teasing him if he were to find out. Merlin forbid!)

 


 

Rubeus is very happy to see Albus leave his home. Though he is a little regretful that he could not kick the man (literally and metaphorically), he contents himself with glaring at Albus as much as possible. Livia's presence is both an hindrance and necessary. Hindering because he cannot be violent. Necessary because he cannot be violent. Rubeus is rapidly losing self-control (Stop Staring at me SON!) and Livia is a much needed reminder that he cannot act on his violent instincts. Seriously.  Not only is Tom's future education at stake here, but the reputation Rubeus has built will also be harmed if he were to give in to his urge. So. He must stop. (Glaring is completely acceptable though, especially since Albus seems to realize that he is doing something wrong, if that guilty face is any indication). Therefore he is relieved when Albus makes his excuses and leaves.

It is always wonderful to see Livia (Call me Liv, dear, we are going to be working together after all!) and Mona. These two had become family to both Tom and Rubeus, and for that Rubeus was very grateful. He cannot imagine a life without them now, and he knows that Tom adores his Aunt Liv and sister Mona with all his young heart.

Rubeus still remembers the first time they had met (almost 12 years now), and how, later on, both Rubeus and Liv had come together to start their business. It had been around that time when Merope had entered his life, and Rubeus had been unable to help as much as he should have. Liv had not held it against him, rather she had taken charge, and by the time Rubeus had settled Merope into his home, Liv had opened their shop "Quixotic" to great success. She had orders ready for Rubeus to take care of, while she dealt with the paperwork necessary to make everything legal. Rubeus knows that half the reason he is successful is due to Liv and her Hufflepuff contacts. Without that his method of working would have continued to be on a mouth to mouth basis. Rubeus had made her Co-Owner of Quixotic immediately, even though she had insisted he not do so, as the business was built on Rubeus' savings and work. When Rubeus had refused to reconsider, she had agreed to become the co-owner on the condition that she be responsible for the hiring of the staff. Rubeus had no objections to that. And thus, their business had been born.

Liv had been there for Rubeus after Tom's birth. She had known that Tom was not his biological son, but had not said a word about it. Indeed, she had helped Rubeus to gain complete custody and adoption of Tom, to make sure no dispute could arrive in the future regarding Tom's adoption. While Rubeus had started to learn how to care for a babe, Liv had taken to finding ways to ensure that their business would not be hurt, due to Rubeus' temporary absence. It was during one of their combined brainstorming sessions that they had hit upon the idea to breed and raise the magical creatures themselves, instead of going to find them in far off places. With Rubeus' capabilities, and Liv's legal understanding, they were able to buy a manor and its surrounding acres of forest-land, and convert it into a breeding ground cum sanctuary for the magical creatures. Warding it and making the place safe had taken time, but it had been worth it.

And now, after all that work, Quixotic had become a famous business, known for their ability to gather any ingredient, as long as it was legal.

Rubeus was grateful indeed for Liv in his life. The godmother to Tom, and a sister-figure to Rubeus himself, she had helped ease the ache left behind by the family he had lost. Being made Mona's god-father had been one of the happiest moments in his life. They helped him live in this time without regrets, and that was wonderful!

 

He does wish, though, that he had not bought that Merlin-forsaken kneazle for Mona. It was a being from Hell, and no one was going to convince him otherwise. Especially since he had already began his favorite game of trying to shred his boots. What had he done, exactly, to gain such enmity from Rue the kneazle, Rubeus will never know.

 


 

Livia has known for a long time (has it really been 12 years? How times flies!) that Rubeus had a secret he wasn't willing to tell. Maybe not a secret, but a past he never revealed, not to her, not to anyone. It doesn't matter to her though. Rubeus' present is all too clear to her, and she adores this man who has become family to her.

The first time she had met him, she had been surprised by his appearance. A part of her, she is ashamed to admit, had judged Rubeus on it, just like her colleagues had. She is forever glad that she had not allowed her prejudice to bleed into her professionalism. She had helped him find a house, and in that process had come to know just how wrong her judgement had been. One only needed to look Rubeus in his eyes, and see the kindness shining brightly in them to know his nature. It had been the start of a tentative friendship, and Livia has never regretted it since.

The friendship has given her so many things to be grateful for. She has gained a brother in Rubeus, a son in Tom, and had even met her dear husband while working with Rubeus. She had been heartbroken at his death, but had learnt to live with the help of Rubeus. Tom and Mona had helped heal a lot of the ache left behind, and in the days when she could not bear the weight of her sorrow, Rubeus would take Mona in and let Livia mourn, without having to worry about her daughter's well being. In turn, Livia would take care of Tom whenever Rubeus had to go away to collect his ingredients. He never stayed away for more than a week though. No matter the difficulty in obtaining what he wanted, Rubeus always made sure to come back in seven days, an unwritten promise to his family, to never stay away for long.

The business that she had started with Rubeus had been a whim, a whim that had paid off. Quixotic had gained a success the likes of which she had never imagined. She was proud of it. And remembering her earlier prejudice, and what it might have cost her, Livia ensured that she always remained open-minded about the people she hired. Truthfully, the main shop only needed her and Rubeus throughout the year. It wasn't a difficult job to take orders and then relay the goods to the customers. But every summer Livia hired at least four to five part-time workers, students who needed a little extra money on hand. Mostly sixth years and seventh year, while occasionally hiring fifth year students, if their need was great. Livia could well recall those students who were in Hogwarts studying on Scholarship, the way they would stare at the shops in Hogsmeade, but rarely ever bought anything. She had not known the reason then, she had been a child herself, but now, as an adult, those longing looks took a different meaning. One she could understand, and do something about. Rubeus, bless his heart, never questioned her decisions. Indeed, he always made sure to add a little extra to the children's paychecks, on the pretext of them doing an exceptional job.

No, her true pride (other than her children - Tom and Mona) was the farm. She had listed the farm as a breeding ground in her application to the Ministry. It was true. But what made her fill with joy were the employees who worked there. Werewolves, Squibs, disinherited Purebloods, and Muggle-borns with no place to go. It was not only a sanctuary for the magical creature they were breeding, but also a sanctuary to those beings whose existence the Wizarding world ignored or reviled. Those who were prejudiced against due to their birth, due to their ailment, or because they did not agree with their families. These were the people who worked at the Quixotic Farms and who had a home to go to at the end of the day. She and Rubeus had done that. She took pride in that. Oh, she knew it wasn’t enough, but it was a start and she intended to continue to help those who needed it.

For now though, she needs to congratulate her little Tom-Tom! He is going to Hogwarts! He is going to be so brilliant! He looks so cute, waving his letter at Mona! He is going to Hogwarts! (She is going to miss him. Mona is going to be depressed when she understands what Tom going to Hogwarts truly means. Sigh, one step at a time. Excitement first, emptying nest sadness later).

She wonders which House he is going to be in. Oh, it doesn't matter! She knows that Tom is going to define the House by his attributes, instead of the other way around. She can't wait for the storm that is Tom to hit Hogwarts. The changes he would bring. It was going to be exciting!

 

(Perhaps she should remove Rue from where he is attacking Rubeus though… Nah, Rubeus is going to be just fine.)

Chapter Text

Rubeus hated shopping. Rubeus loved shopping. There was a reason for his love and hate relationship with shopping, not counting the lingering trauma of the fact that it had been a shopping trip that had sent him swirling into the past. No, it wasn't that that made Rubeus hate shopping (nor was it what made him love shopping). What made him hate shopping was the crowd. His bulk gave him an upper hand in mowing through the crowds (a fact that Livia took shameless advantage of), but that didn't mean he liked to be boxed in by the busy people. What made him love shopping was the unexpected treasures he usually ended up with, whether for himself or to gift it to someone else (treats for Aragog, good fertilizer for his garden, Hedwig for Harry, snake food for Tom, Rue for Mona, and so on). What made shopping even more enjoyable was when he went with his family. Usually.

Turns out shopping for Hogwarts was actually a good deal more important than Rubeus had ever thought.

Who knew? Rubeus could barely recall his own Hogwarts shopping the first time around, all he retained now was the memory of his dad joking as to how he didn't have to worry about losing Rubeus in the crowd. And later when he had taken Harry shopping, he had been more concerned with making sure that Harry did not end up buying the pure gold cauldron, the whole book-store, the diamond and ruby studded telescope, and other things that would have bankrupted the lad. And when Rubeus was re-enrolled into Hogwarts, to finish his schooling, Harry, Ron and Neville had decided to make it into a celebratory outing, which had led to Hermione buying the materials Rubeus needed, as the boys and Rubeus had been too hungover to do it.

But, according to Livia, Hogwarts shopping was almost a rite of passage for the young witches and wizards entering a new chapter of their lives. It is also a time when the new students might get a chance to meet each other, as many of the students would be in Diagon Alley for their school shopping. Honestly, Livia has a List, detailing exactly what they are going to do and when. As such, the shopping for Tom's school things called for a completely different mindset than the one Rubeus initially had. The trip that Rubeus had thought would be a couple hours at most, has now turned into a day-long trip. Beginning with a breakfast at 8 and ending with a celebratory dinner at White's, the magical restaurant, with all the shopping to be done in between (with a break for lunch at the Leaky Cauldron). It is to be a busy day.

Rubeus can hardly wait. (He is careful to be only sarcastic in his mind. Livia can be terrifying if given a reason).

(Tom, on the other hand, is honestly very excited for this trip! He's going to Hogwarts! He wonders if he'll be allowed to bring one of his snakes with him to the trip.)


 

Livia has a List, and Merlin help anyone not under the age of 15 coming between her and her List (yes, the capital letter is needed). Even Rubeus, with his half-giant strength and immunity to most grievous spells and potions, trembles at the very thought of denying Livia and her List. As it is, it is only the fact the Minerva McGonagall is a eleven year old girl that saves her from Livia's formidable wrath at interrupting the properly Listed and Scheduled Shopping Trip (again, capitals are needed). That, and the adorable and highly intelligent (seriously, aren't the kids eleven?) debate both Tom and Minerva dwell into over their shared love for knowledge and the proper ways of gaining it (book-reading with a side of supervised and safe experimentation. Safe and Supervised being the key words).

They had bumped into the McGonagall family at Flourish and Blotts. Or rather, Tom had bumped into Minerva, literally, as he had been very distracted, having been allotted only an hour (just one Hour!?) to do his book shopping. As it is, Tom would have been quite happy to go on his way ("I only have 45 minutes left! So many books still to choose! Have to hurry!") if not for the fear he had about facing Aunt Liv's wrath over not minding his manners ("I would rather slather myself in honey and kick a beehive, than go through Aunt Liv's Lectures on Manners again. No, I am not joking.") The apology had somehow turned into insults, which had then turned into the aforementioned debate over the merits of taking things at book-value v/s experimentations.

Kids, who knew what went on in their heads? Livia certainly didn't. What she did know was the fact the her List was now no longer useful, unless she wanted to snub the parents of her godson's soon to be best friend and whisk her family away to maintain the Timing of her List. Which she didn't. Oh, well.

Wait. Wasn't that Isobel Ross? Livia had wondered what had happened to her, they had been in Hogwarts together, though in different houses and years. Last Livia had heard Isobel had cut all ties with her family. Looking at her husband staring at Rubeus in astonishment, Livia could divine the reasons why. So, Isobel had married a Muggle, and left the Magical World behind for him. Isobel looked happy enough, maybe a little lonely. Perhaps Livia should stop contemplating her, and go over and make conversation. And just maybe, Tom wouldn’t be the only one to gain a friend today.

Decision made, Livia scooped Mona from where she was trying to shadow jump Tom, and made her way over to Isobel.

(The brightness of Isobel's smile, as Livia talks to her without prejudice or pity, cements the fact that Livia has made the right decision. And, yes. She does gain a friend that day, a friend who soon becomes a beloved sister.)


 

Isobel misses magic. Don't get her wrong, she loves Robert and the family she has made with him, but the need to constantly hide a very big part of her has taken its toll. She misses Magic as she would a limb. Curiously (heartbreakingly) the magic she misses most is not the flashy ones, but rather the ones she used every day. She misses Charms. The spells for doing the dishes, for cooking, for maintaining the household. These were the spells she missed. She had never realized how much of her life had been immersed in magic, until she caught herself from instinctually doing it. She doesn’t regret marrying for love, but a part of for does long for the freedom to use her magic as freely as she had done before.

Minerva being magical and going to Hogwarts is both a point of pride and envy for Isobel. Minerva would have the chance to be and use her magic freely, and that make Isobel happy and jealous at the same time. Isobel is used to this longing though and she puts it out of her mind, as she takes her family to Diagon Alley to buy Minerva's school supplies. They have left the boys, Malcolm and Robert Jr., with their paternal grandparents for the day as Isobel doesn’t want to gain the scrutiny of the prejudiced Magicals today. It is good that Robert has a stoic face that only those close to him could read, otherwise the increasing astonishment and awe with which he viewed Diagon Alley would have made a lot of Wizards suspicious. As it is, the sight merely makes her smile. Especially since Minerva is sporting the same look of astonishment and awe.

Isobel takes them to the bank first, exchanging the muggle money for the wizarding one. While making sure that her family doesn't gawk too opening at the goblins, (they had only heard about them from her, seeing them was different from their imaginations) she started planning for the shops they needed to visit. Deciding to keep Ollivanders as the last stop, Isobel steered her family towards Madam Malkin's Robes for All Occasions for Minerva's school uniform. Isobel would hand down the trunk she had used for her own schooling to Minerva.

It was as they were in Flourish and Blotts that Isobel's life changed once more. Knowing her daughter's thirst for knowledge, Isobel had put a monetary limit on how much Minerva could spend on books (Minerva had come very close to pouting at that). Isobel had expected many things at the shop -like stopping Minerva from camping out at the store, to stopping Robert from camping there. She had not expected to meet a sister in the form of Livia Sprout, a brother in Rubeus Hagrid, a nephew in Tom and a niece in Pomona. She had not expected to find friends who would soon become her extended family. To find a place where she would not have to hide a part of her.

Not that Isobel knew this at that time. She had merely been amused at the debate between her daughter and the young boy who had bumped into her. She had later been overjoyed at not being the object of pity or prejudice when Livia comes to greet her like an old friend.

(Isobel can never express in words how good it felt at not being scorned for choosing love over tradition and prejudice. Livia understands anyway.)

Chapter Text

Tom has never looked forward to shopping as he has today. Today's shopping is brings him one step closer to becoming a full-fledged wizard and to becoming either a Healer or a Magizoologist (Or maybe a Veterinarian? He did like working with animals, be they magical or otherwise…). Whatever his future profession, though, Tom knows that his family would support him, so he isn't worried. He just wants to learn for now as much as he can. Magic is so interesting! So is muggle Science. And Tom is forever finding new things to be curious over, and learning new and interesting things about the world (both Magical and Muggle!).

And today, it all begins! Shopping for the uniform, getting his very own trunk, buying the potions ingredients (most of them being procured by Rubeus), and getting the rest of his school stuff, slowly helps settle the fact that Tom is going to Hogwarts. And the fact that he is finally going to get a WAND! His very own Wand! He can do a little magic without it, but Tom really wants to know if using a wand for magic feels any different from wandless magic. Wandless magic makes him a little tired, but there is no way he is going to stop conjuring bubbles for Mona. At least not until she gets tired of it.

(Long into the future, Mona and Tom babysit their respective grandchildren and entertain them with colorful bubbles. They receive the bubbles with just as much joy as Mona had done.)

Tom knows now that he is different from the other kids. Dad had sent him to a muggle school for a while, when Tom had expressed interest in learning non-magical subjects. Tom had soon realized that his understanding ability and intelligence had far out stripped his age-group. It had been a bit lonely for him to realize that the children his age were willing to put him on a pedestal due to his genius, and both revel and praise him for it (''teachers'-pet'', ''show-off", "awesome", "this must be easy for you, right Tom?"). He didn't like it, but didn't know how to get down from it without losing his personality. He had enjoyed learning non-magical subjects, but the children there made it difficult for him to truly enjoy school.

(It had another point that set him apart, the fact that he enjoyed school for the knowledge he was gaining, and not for the play-time.)

Tom hopes that Hogwarts will be different. He has heard so much about it already, and he can't wait to experience it first-hand. Deep down, he finds himself wishing that there would another by his side as he experiences Hogwarts. He really wants a friend. Mona, his snakes and Rue are wonderful friends, but Tom wants one who is his age, and with whom he can share the things he has read. Mona tries, but she is still seven, and as clever as she is, her interests lie in plants, not animals like Tom. Magical theories also don't interest her, unless they are about Horticulture.

Meeting Minerva is one of the best things that Tom recalls from his shopping trip. He will never admit it, but the meeting even trumps getting his wand. The debate they get into is so interesting, that Tom even forgets to keep a look out for Mona, who seems to be trying to emulate Rue and his hunting. It is a good thing that Aunt Liv is there to distract Mona, otherwise Tom might have ended up carrying Mona over his shoulders and not even notice it (the debate is really interesting, okay? Minerva has some good points that Tom has not even thought of!)

 

It truly was a spectacular day. Aunt Liv had even deviated from her List!


 

Mona wants to jump on Tom! She has been watching Rue hunt for his food (even the ones that had been put in a bowl for him), and has noticed how he seems to hide in the shadows before pouncing on his prey (even if said 'prey' is a bowl). It looks like fun, and she wants to do it! Only problem is, Tom always seems to be aware of where Mona is! How can she sneak up on him, if he knows where she is! No fair!

She is also excited about Tom's excitement over going to Hogwarts. He looks so happy, that she is happy by default! She knows he is going to be great at Hogwarts, he is her brother after all!

At the Bookshop:

Yay, Tom is distracted! He is talking to the girl he mowed into, and they seem to be deep in conversation and ignoring the world around them. This suits Mona perfectly! She can finally startle Tom and climb onto his shoulders! She will conquer his ever-knowing-where-Mona-is sense, and be victories! This is a glorious day! Such a good day!

Mona prowls slowly along the shadows of the bookshelves (just because Tom is distracted, doesn't mean she can be noisy), bends her knees in readiness, prepares to jump right onto Tom's back.

Mona leaps… and is caught by her Mom, as she makes her way over to the couple who came with the girl Tom is talking to. Aw Man! I was so close! Mona despairs, even as she gets comfortable in her mother's arms, Soon, big Brother! Soon I shall have my Scare! Muhahahahah!

 

("I really should stop Mona from reading those muggle comic books", Livia thinks, as she carries her daughter,  "she seems to be getting some weird ideas. Oh well, as long as she doesn't hurt anyone, I suppose it's fine." Tom would like to disagree with that.)


 

Minerva McGonagall is so very excited! She is going to Hogwarts. Though she is worried about her parents and leaving her mom behind to hide Mal's and Rob's magic by herself. Minerva had helped her mother hide her brother's accidental magic from her father for so long now. Minerva knows her father doesn't hate magic, but that he just doesn't understand it. But she also fears his reaction if he were to find out about the less than good side of magic (an unnecessary fear, but then again, fear needs no logic).

She has high hopes for Hogwarts. She has never completely fit in at her local school, she has friends there, but their friendship was always weighed by the knowledge that Minerva would be going to a different school at 11. The fact that she couldn't be honest about the school did not help her friendship. But now! Now she can go to a school where she doesn't have to hide, and that is amazing! She can't wait!

Meeting Thomas Hagrid was a trip! Literally! The boy had run into her at the bookshop, and his apology had come a few seconds too late! It had almost felt as though he had apologized to escape a chore, rather than because he had felt remorseful! She had insulted him and he had insulted her back, and somehow their trading of insults had turned into a debate over books.

Their debate in turn had led to this. A dinner at White's where his family and hers were gathered together at the same table. Minerva is a little confused though, much to the amusement of those around her, when had they come here? It helps that Tom looks just as confused as her!

 

(Tom is a little arrogant and a lot intelligent. Minerva is the same. It is the start of a beautiful friendship!)

Chapter Text

Tom wants to cry. He wants to throw all his newly bought things and shatter them into pieces. He wants rip the pages of his lovely books and set them on fire. He wants to behave so badly, so loudly, that his father would have no choice but to ground for the rest of eternity, and he want, he wants…  

He doesn't want to leave home. He wants to stay. Surely, his papa wouldn't mind if he stayed? Surely, Aunt Liv would let him stay? Surely, Mona would stop crying if he promised to stay? Surely, it is alright if he wanted to never-ever leave his family? Surely… 

Why does he have to go to Hogwarts, anyway? His papa and Aunt Liv can teach him everything, and what they don't know, Tom can learn from the books! So, why is Hogwarts needed? It is not! Is it? 

Tom is torn. He doesn't want to leave home (Papa, Aunt Liv, Mona, Rue, my Snakes! I don't want to leave them! Please, let me stay!), but he cannot deny that he is not excited about going to Hogwarts, but why did the school have to be a boarding one? Why couldn't it have been a day-school! At least that way, Tom could have had the best of both worlds!  

 

It is not fair. Most things aren't. 


 

Tom leaves for Hogwarts tomorrow, and for all that he is still hesitant about leaving home, he is also very excited about experiencing Hogwarts for himself.  

He can't wait to meet Minerva either. Ever since their first meeting, both Tom and Minerva have stayed in touch via letters. They had used Muggle Post to keep in touch, in consideration of Mr. McGonagall (the fact that the McGonagall family resided in a muggle village also contributed to the children using the muggle way of communicating). 

The letters have helped Tom and Minerva become better friends, and they have made many a plans to explore Hogwarts together, regardless of the House they end up in (Minerva wants to be a Gryffindor, while Tom is torn between Hufflepuff and Slytherin). Tom knows the importance of hard work and loyalty. He also knows that his career path is quite ambitious and would need a lot of cunning, especially when it comes to the treatment of wary animals. He figures he should just let the Sorting Ceremony decide where he will be place. Though he does wish that someone would tell him what the ceremony entails!   

It aches to think about it though. The ceremony, and the classes he will see and attend, without the presence of his family. H knows that they will be but a letter away, and that if he needs them, they will come in a heartbeat, and yet, Yet, it is a sadness Tom thinks that won't leave him, but will merely be buried under everything else. 

He finds that he doesn't mind that. He is learning to be and accept things as they come. He is not there yet, but soon he will be.


 

 

Aunt Liv looks worried, but Tom is unable to console her, too busy consoling Mona as she clings to him and cries. She has finally realized what Tom leaving to Hogwarts entails, and she is not happy about it. He honestly feels like crying with her, but knows that if he were to start, then both Papa and Aunt Liv also join, and his last day home would be spent in tears. He doesn't want that. So, he consoles his sister as much as he can, with promises of letters and photos of the school. He has a clunky camera with him, and for Mona, he will take as many pictures as he can.

He also wonders if can't just hide Mona in his trunk and take her with him to Hogwarts. His trunk is big enough, and surely, no one would notice?

"No, you can't take Mona with you to school. The trunk isn't big enough for both her and your things."

Sometimes, Tom gets the feeling that Aunt Liv is a mind-reader.

"I am not," she says, with a smile, "I just know you very well!"

At least the conversation has distracted Mona from her crying. Tom's Papa looks on with a sad smile and proud eyes. 

(Tom knows he is going to be missed by his family, as much as he is going to miss them. He is glad he has his own owl, otherwise the school owls would rebel with the amount of letters he is planning to send. As it is, he has stocked up on owl treats so that his own owl doesn't go on strike!)


 

 

The family decides to have a dinner filled with Tom's favorite dishes. Tom muses on the many people and beings he is going to miss. His family and his snakes. It is sad that Tom can't bring even one of his snakes to Hogwarts, but papa said he was trying to gain permission from the school for it, so hopefully he can bring a snake next year.

If he does get permission, he plans to get a different snake for every year of his studies at Hogwarts. He wants to know if he can get away with it!

Aunt Liv gives him a Look, but refrains from saying anything. (Seriously, she has to be a mind reader! Look! She's rolling her eyes now!!)

As dinner comes to an end, Papa and Aunt Liv give him things they believe he would find useful at Hogwarts. The is a shakily drawn map, just bare outlines, that his father gives him with a wink. Papa explains that the map is: "Something to keep you busy. A project of sorts. Map out the Hogwarts that you see and find, it'll be fun, don't you think?"

And yes, Tom truly does think it will be fun! Already his mind is going over the protections he will place over the map, to make it avoid as much of damage as possible, and as accurate as possible! He can't wait!

(It was in the small things, Tom realised as he went to bed that night. The small things his father did, seemingly unimportant things, but in reality very profound. Tom was no longer sad about leaving. The project has lit a fire of inspiration in him that has swept away all the feelings of hesitance he had about Hogwarts. A small thing in the grand scheme of things, but important because his father noticed, and did something to help Tom in his own way. Was there ever a doubt as to why he loved his Papa so?)


 

Morning comes, and with it comes a hurricane of "did you remember to pack"s and "don't forget to"s and "Oh Merlin! I can't believe I forgot"s. It is chaos, with everyone running around, hoping to make the station on time, tripping on Rue, and cursing the cat to high heavens, while Mona looked on with a smug smile.

This is what Tom is going to miss. This is what Tom is going to come home to every Christmas and Summer. This is home.


 

They reach the station with time to spare, ("A miracle" Aunt Liv calls it), and go through the barrier for Tom and Mona's first look at the Express. 

It is beautiful, this train that will take Tom away from his family, into a place he knows only two people, and a place that will help him find his way in the world.

It is beautiful, and Tom turns his back on it to hug Mona once more, to lean into his father, to hold Aunt Liv's hand. 

It is beautiful, but Tom has grown up (in this time, in this life) surrounded by a love that is even more beautiful. He is used to beauty in life now, it doesn't tempt him.

As the McGonagall family joins his, and as he and Minerva go in search of a compartment, and as they settle into an empty one, with their fathers stowing their trunks onto the luggage holders, Tom sees and breathes, and imagines what it would have been like if he hadn't met Papa.  

(He knows he is adopted. He hadn't needed his father, gently sitting him down and telling him the truth about his birth, when he was ten. He had known since he was six, and had started Muggle school. He had known when he had seen the other children look so much like their parents. He has a picture of his mother, his father had it painted from memory, he doesn't look like her, for all that he has her eye colour. He has grown up with his father, and knows that he doesn't look like him, for all that their smiles match. He looked, and he saw, and he knew. It had hurt. But, that evening, his Papa had come to pick him up, ignoring the stares he had gained, his eyes only on his son, and Tom had realised, it didn't matter. Papa was Papa, and he was Thomas Hadrian Hagrid, regardless of any other name he might have once gotten.

He is Thomas Hadrian Hagrid, and he ready to live his life.)

Tom waves goodbye to his family, Minerva on his side waving to hers, and looks into the future with a steady heart of one who knows that when they fall, there will be someone to catch them.

Hogwarts will not know what hit it!

Chapter Text

Tom and Minerva settle sown in their compartment, swapping stories about their respective younger siblings and how much of headache those lovable tyrants are. The stories soon fade into magical theories and a debate into the differences between the magical and the non-magical.

They are deep into their conversation, not noticing the time passing, before being interrupted by a knock on their compartment door. Bewildered into reality, it takes them a moment to understand what is going on. Meanwhile, the visitor knocks again, enabling Tom to answer with a polite “Come in”. Minerva settles back into her seat, having been phasing back and forth when debating with Tom.

The compartment door slides open, revealing two boys (a blond and a dark-haired one), already wearing their robes along with a hint of superiority. Minerva curiously wonders if the boys had practiced that look in front of the mirror, while Tom asks (again politely, he wouldn’t put it past Aunt Liv to find out if he were not polite) “Hello. May we help you?”

The boys glance at each other, and then look at the two inside the compartment. Tom and Minerva are still in their Muggle clothing, having decided to wait before changing. It is clear from the boys’ expressions that they don’t want to do this, but a resigned look passes between them, and the silvery blond steps up, “Good Morning. I am Abraxas Malfoy and my companion is Alphard Black. We were wondering if you would mind our company for the rest of the journey. The compartment we were in is no longer feasible to us.”

While Minerva lost herself in the thoughts of why an eleven year old would use words like “feasible” and would talk so politely in a conversation, Tom took it upon himself to answer. He did not mind the company, and by the curious light in her eyes, neither did Minerva, as such, “No, we do not mind. Allow me to introduce myself and my friend. I am Thomas Hagrid, and my friend is Minerva McGonagall. Please be welcome.” He bowed.

Tom ignored the slightly amused smile Minerva sent his way. Just because he didn’t talk formally all the time, didn’t mean he couldn’t. Aunt Liv had made sure that he knew all the ins and outs of a formal conversation. Whether he used it or not was left up to him, as Aunt Liv and his Papa said, ‘Better to know and not use the knowledge, than to be ignorant and need it’.

The boys acknowledged his greeting with a bow of their own, while giving a polite nod towards the only girl in the compartment. The nod was a bit frosty, but Minerva didn’t mind, more interested in trying to find out how the boys had managed to make a nod icy, and wanting to know if she could learn to do it.

Before she could voice that question though, Malfoy spoke up while taking a seat, “Correct me if I am wrong, but when you say Hagrid, do you mean you are related to one Rubeus Hagrid, the proprietor of Quixotic? The shop that boasts of procuring any magical ingredients as long as they are legal?”

Black looked interested in the answer as well, as he leaned forward to hear Tom. Tom smiled, and answered, “He is my father, so you would be correct in saying that I am related to the owner of Quixotic. Both of them, actually, considering that the co-owner is my godmother, Livia Sprout.”

(Tom really didn’t like the fact that people kept forgetting that Aunt Liv was also the owner of Quixotic. His papa didn’t like it either, always managing to mention that Aunt Liv was the only reason he had a shop to begin with, whenever his clients tried to complain about having to do business with a witch. The fact that they complained in a polite manner, made Rubeus angrier. Aunt Liv merely sighed at Rubeus’ behavior, but she also looked happy and never told him to stop. Tom wasn’t going to either.)

It seemed that these boys understood the hidden message, as they looked contemplative at the answer.

Minerva was getting tired of the overly formal speech floating around her. It made her want to shock these boys with the language she usually overheard when the villagers fought, not noticing her presence. Tom gave her a look, but didn’t stop her as she opened her mouth to say, “Naw, what chay you boys tell us why ya skeddadaled over her’ for? Was yer compartment nae comfortable enaw fur ye? I mus’ say, Ah am a wee curioos.”

Dear Lord, those looks are hilarious. They tried, truly, Minerva and Tom tried not laughing, but the scandalous and down-right shocked expressions on Malfoy and Black’s faces were too much for them to handle.

They burst out laughing, unable to stop, even as the other two started to look insulted, though on their eleven year old faces, they merely looked as though they were pouting. Tom hurried to explain before they could leave the compartment in a huff, for all their formality, he did like them, and didn’t want to hurt them.

“Min didn’t mean any insult, I assure you. She’s just doesn’t hold the same regard for formal conversation the most of the society does. She wanted the air to be more friendly, after all, we are eleven, and if we can’t be informal now, when can we be?”

“Aye,” Minerva continued, as the boys looked at her for confirmation, “Tom’s right. That is what I wanted to do. We are going to be spending the next seven years together, whether we be in the same house or no. It’ll get tiring to be formal for seven years, don’t you think? So, let’s do this over. I am Minerva, call me Min. He’s Tom. And we’ll call you,” she pointed at Malfoy, who startled, “Abe or Rax, you choose. And you,” she pointed at Black, who was starting to look amused, “you can be Al or Phar, up to you!” She smiled at the boys as Tom looked on, amused and resigned.

Since Abe was speechless for the moment, Al answered for both of them, “I like it! Though I prefer either Al or Alp. Phar sounds a lot like fur, and I don’t like it. Thank you, Min!”

Tom patted Abe on his back, as he sputtered out something that sounded like a negative. He gently whispered to the sputtering boy, advising him to let it go, as Min was a force of nature, and it seemed she had found a fellow force in Alp.

As Abe slowly started to calm down, Min and Alp started discussing about the houses (Gyrffindor or Ravenclaw for Min, Ravenclaw or Slytherin for Alp), and then moved on the virtues of fire magic, and if explosions were good for learning magic (Yes! Claimed both.)

After listening to them talk for a while, Tom wisely distracted Abe with a discussion on potions and ingredients. Solely so he could claim plausible deniability for any explosions that may occur in the future. Abe seemed to have caught on to Tom’s plan, as he seemed to latch on to the conversation with an enthusiasm Tom had not expected him to have.

It was the start of a glorious friendship between Min and Alp, founded purely on their ability to destroy and their shared love for fire. Similarly, the friendship born between Tom and Abe was one that was based on their need to escape from the insanity they called their best friends.

(In the future, the teachers of Hogwarts would often contemplate the use of illegal time travel just so they could prevent this meeting. If they stopped the meeting they would save their sanity. And the furniture. And the traumatized ex-bullies. And that poor, poor armor, whose only fault was that it was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Sadly, they couldn’t find a time travel spell strong enough to do so.)