A/N:"Professor Trelawney... announced... that Harry was not going to suffer an early death after all, but would live to a ripe old age, become Minister of Magic, and have twelve children." (OotP, pp 582-583, US)
This story takes place on the way to fulfilling that prediction...
Chapter 2 -- The Department of Orphaned Magical Children
Harry Apparated into the atrium of the Ministry of Magic with little Bridget McFadden still clinging to his torso like a baby monkey. Various arriving and departing witches and wizards, more than he would have expected for a Sunday, gave him second and third glances. It wasn't unusual to see the great Harry Potter striding through the halls of the Ministry, but not with a child who didn't have either black or red hair.
Harry adjusted his hold on the little girl, supporting her bottom with his left forearm and covering her right ear with his right hand as her left ear was pressed into his chest. He hoped she wouldn't waken as he walked quickly to the lifts, nodding at the security wizard. He took an empty lift to the fifth level. Stepping out, he made his way down the corridor to the Department of Orphaned Magical Children.
The DOMC had risen out of the last Dark War against Voldemort. The number of underage witches and wizards left orphaned by the Death Eaters' brutality had reached staggering proportions, and the department had been formed to organize the independent efforts of several witches, Andromeda Tonks and Molly Weasley among them. The department's principal purpose was to immediately place orphans with foster wizarding families, then determine if the child had any relatives capable of caring for them. If none were identified, then the child would be adopted into a wizard family. The process didn't stop there, however. Ongoing counseling services were provided, both to the adoptive parents and the adopted child. The department also sponsored a big-brother, big-sister program, "borrowed" from the Muggles by Lavender Thomas, the current Head of Department. Even though the influx of orphans had greatly decreased since the war ended, the other services kept the entire staff busy.
Entering the office, Harry was greeted by a reception area done in soothing neutral tones. Off to the side was a glass-paneled door leading into a playroom, filled with squashy child-sized chairs in primary colors, and balls, toys, and games organized in large blue, red, and yellow bins. Bright blue plush carpet mats covered the floor. Fluffy white clouds scuttled across the charmed sky-blue ceiling.
Since the Ministry deemed the Department of Orphaned Magical Children to be "essential" Harry knew that someone would be on duty there today. The front desk was vacant, however. He bent down to push the bell with his elbow and heard a faint chime sound deeper in the office.
Harry breathed a sigh of relief when he saw the witch coming toward him. Parvati Finch-Fletchley had officially been Lavender's assistant for the past five years, but for all practical purposes she was essentially the co-director. They worked brilliantly in tandem and the department thrived under their untiring work with the orphans. She was still as beautiful as ever, her dark exotic features set off magnificently against her red and gold sari-styled robes. Gold bangles tinkled pleasantly from her wrists, and gold tear drops twinkled from her ear lobes.
"Harry!" she exclaimed in surprise. He rarely ventured into her department but she knew he made regular contributions to their emergency funds, although he thought he was being anonymous. Her gaze quickly fell on the little girl, still clutching Harry tightly to her.
"Parvati, am I glad you're on this weekend!" Harry breathed in relief. "This little girl's parents were killed by a rampaging mountain troll on the Orkney Isles, of all places. She won't let go of me but will need to be placed."
Parvati walked around the desk and touched the little girl's head, stroking the soft hair. "Poor little thing. Let me see if I can take her," she said, taking Bridget's hand in her own. Thoughts of available foster families filled her mind as she gently tried to prise open the little girl's clutching fingers from Harry's robes.
Bridget began to struggle awake. "No, no, no," she muttered.
"Come on, darling," coaxed Parvati. "Don't you want a nice lie down with a soft furry bunny to sleep with? Or some hot chocolate?"
Bridget started screaming, clutching Harry just as tightly as she had when Smythe attempted to take her. Jiggling her as he had last time, Harry sat in one of the arm chairs and rocked her back and forth, chanting soft nonsense rhymes and rubbing her quivering back until she calmed. "Da! Da!" the child whimpered.
Parvati looked on in pity. "Harry, you have a problem," she understated when Bridget had calmed down. "I've seen this before, just not this severe. When children go through such a catastrophic event, sometimes they bond or, in your case, latch on to the first kind parental figure they find. The younger they are the tighter the bond, and she's very young. If I were to force her to come with me she'd be even more traumatized than she is now, and may forever lose trust in adults or authority figures. Is there any way you and Ginny could foster her for a while?"
Harry thought about it. He already had ten children, six at Hogwarts and four at home who attended a local magical nursery school. Ginny was four months pregnant with their eleventh child. How could he ask her to take on another? Then again, what was one more? On the other hand, what if Bridget never let him go? And how much would adding Bridget upset the other children? His youngest, Hannah, had just turned five so she would be closest in age and they could become friends and share a room. But what if another wizarding family that didn't already have children wanted to adopt Bridget? That thought gave Harry a sinking sensation in his stomach that was interrupted by a soft watery hiccup from Bridget. It all came down to the child, he thought. There really wasn't any other choice.
"Okay, I'll take her to Ginny."
"You'll have to fill out some paperwork, but you can do it at home and bring it back with you, along with any birth documents."
"Just shove them in my pocket, would you?" he asked. Once both his pockets were filled with parchment forms and information, Harry made his way back to the atrium and the departure fireplaces. After enlisting the aid of a passing witch to toss in the Floo powder, he stated "Potter's Folly," stepped into the green flames and felt the rush of wind as he and Bridget were whisked home.