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Chapter 39 : Mary Ann's Family
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"You look bored. You're not even in school and you're studying." she commented, as she stretched out sideways in an armchair while levitating Tonks's schoolbag...which has been laying in the hall ever since the end of last term...dangerously close to the cookie jar on the counter.
I wasn't bored. I was disgusted. Handling Voldemort's journals always makes me about as happy as fingering the contents of a toilet. I suppose it is somewhat interesting, getting in insider's view into how his mind worked...works. He kept information on people that he knew, who they were related or otherwise allied to, what their blood status was, any particular talents they had, and any dirt he could find on them. I don't think he had any real friends. The people who were closest to him are referred to like servants or useful trained animals. Why would anyone want to follow someone like that?
Even as a teenager it's obvious he was already a psycho so I'm not putting anything past him. I'm obsessing over every detail, looking for meaning beyond the obvious, things that might be construed as codes. There are a few pages full of equations that interest me. There's no title on them to tell what they are, but if they were arithmancy homework I wouldn't think they'd have been put in his journal. They must have some other importance.
Maybe they're figures that he did when creating potions, although he doesn't seem to have been fond of potions. He seemed to have thought that potions slowed things down, that spells were easier.
All of those numbers must mean something. A combination to get past some sort of security measure on the chamber? Some sort of code that gives directions for navigating the sewers? I can't overlook any possibility so I've been working through all of the equations, trying to find some sort of pattern or get some idea of what they pertain to. I can figure out what "X" is numerically, the problem is that it doesn't mean anything to me.
I was poring over the numbers when all of a sudden a brick came crashing through the front window. I shot to my feet, the fragile diaries and loose pages of equations scattering everywhere. Mary Ann dropped the stool she'd then been levitating and it fell to the floor with a clatter. I just had time to snatch up my wand when Sheila, Mary Ann's mother appeared in front of the broken window. "Mary Ann, get your ass out here now!" she shouted.
"No!" Mary Ann angrily yelled back, furiously charging toward the window. "I don't want to ! Go away!"
Sheila reached through the window, heedless of the shards of glass, and grabbed Mary Ann by the hair of the head, trying to yank her out of the house. She looked more like a wild animal in human form than I'd ever seen a werewolf look before. She was completely unhinged.
Mary Ann shrieked with pain and rage and she twisted violently in her mother's grasp, looking like she was trying to claw her eyes out. Sheila turned her face away but kept pulling on the fistful of Mary Ann's hair, still trying to drag her through the window. I hit her with a disarming spell which blasted her back a few feet, forcing her to let go.
"Go lock yourself in the bathroom." I told Mary Ann before charging out the front door to confront Sheila.
Sheila was already on her feet. "I want my daughter right now!" she snarled at me. "Stay out of this."
Before I could stop her she had lightly jumped the window sill, heedless of all the glass, and gotten in the house.
"Get away from me!" I heard Mary Ann shout. I reentered the front door just in time to see her running for the bathroom with her mother in pursuit.
"Don't you dare!" growled Sheila, kicking the door until it shook. "Get out here now!"
" Incarcerus!" I shouted, wanting to only secure the woman, not knock her unconscious. She was Mary Ann's mother, after all.
She was also very fast, like an animal that was used to having to dodge blows. She shifted aside, avoiding the ropes I'd conjured and pounded on the door with her fists, shouting threats of things she would do to Mary Ann if she didn't unlock the door and go home with her now.
This time when I cast the spell, she lunged at me which resulted in her becoming entangled in the ropes. This did not slow her down very much as she seemed completely crazed, intent on tearing me to shreds with her bare hands...at least that's what she told me amongst all of the incoherent swear words that she flung at me.
"Petrificus totalus!" I snapped, finished trying to play nice. Her arms and legs went rigid and she toppled over, grazing her head against a corner. I wasn't sure if she was knocked out and didn't especially care as I stepped over her, and knocked on the bathroom door. "Mary Ann -- it's under control. You can come out."
There was no answer.
"Alohomora." I said impatiently, unlocking the door and pushing it open.
A quick glance at the tiny room showed me that it was empty. The high, narrow window was open, the screen pushed out. I didn't blame her for running but I wondered where she'd gone. Probably into the woods and up a tree. I'd have to find her later. In the meantime...what was I going to do with Sheila? If Fenrir hasn't quite decided whether to attack me or not, I had a feeling that he would if I turned any of his people in to the authorities. Somehow I didn't think it would do any good to reason with her either, but I was at least curious to find out what had set her off.
I returned to the hall where she was laying awkwardly, half against the wall and half on the floor. I removed the body bind and propped her up to a more comfortable position, though taking care to tighten the ropes around her. I've seen her lose it before and although she's a lot smaller than I am, I have a lot of respect for her strength. I eyed her cautiously as she was already straining to get free.
"I don't suppose you thought of knocking on the door if you wanted to see her." I said sarcastically.
"I want my daughter back, bitch." she answered, contorting herself fantastically as she struggled to get out of the ropes. "She's not yours --- she's mine."
"Why are you so concerned about her all of a sudden? You haven't been to see her once in all the time she's been with me. You haven't really acted like you care."
"I - will - kill - you." she said clearly, baring her teeth at me. Incredibly, she snapped the ropes and jumped at me, screaming bloody murder.
I was ready for her and quickly performed a shield charm which she collided with in her fury, knocking her back to the floor. Undeterred, she sprang to her feet and tried again. I finally just knocked her out with a well placed stunning spell.
The front door burst open and Mary Ann, her Aunt Kim, and a tall, thick young man that could only have been Fenrir's son came running in. At the time I wondered how she had managed to find them so quickly and only learned later that they had known that Sheila was off the deep end and were already close by looking for her.
Fenrir's son was laughing, looking hugely amused by the situation. "Still have your face, I see." he said as he looked at me.
Mary Ann streaked past him, her wand trailing red sparks, shrieking as madly as Shelia had done earlier. I realized she was about to attack her own mother and quickly grabbed hold of her just in time. Her feet came up off the ground as she aimed a savage kick at Sheila before she went still in my arms and burst into tears, her wand dropping to the floor.
"Who the ruddy hell gave her a wand?" Fenrir's son wanted to know.
Sheila was getting to her feet very slowly, eyes narrowed and focused on me as though I was a zebra and she was a lion. She charged me again but Fenrir's son matter-of-factly stopped her by grabbing her throat.
"I'm sorry." said Kim, her eyes riveted to the carpet as her spitting, biting, scratching, kicking sister was wrestled out of the house.
"Is she drunk?" I asked, over the top of Mary Ann's head.
"No. That's what she's like when she's sober. Don't worry though. She'll get drunk again and forget all this ever happened."
"I hate her." choked Mary Ann savagely.
Kim awkwardly patted her arm and then turned to leave. "You should get her out of here." she mumbled, as though afraid Fenrir's son would return and overhear. "And if you do -- don't tell me where you sent her. I don't want to know."
It took some time for me to calm Mary Ann down. I sank to the floor there in the hall and she buried her face in my lap, still in tears. I've never seen tough, smart mouth, Mary Ann break down before.
"I promise I will find a safe place where you can get away from both of them." I told her. "Even if I have to take you to Hogwarts with me next year." And then what would I do with her while I went home for the summer? Take her with me? What would my mother do if I came home with a volatile teenage werewolf in tow? I sighed under the weight of the responsibility I had taken on when I'd decided to rescue the girl. Well...Celestia had tried to warn me.
"My head hurts." Mary Ann complained, putting a hand to the place where Sheila had grabbed her.
"And you have a few scrapes too. They don't look deep though." I coaxed her to sit on the sofa and was about to get what I needed to clean the cuts when Remus appeared in the door that Kim had left hanging wide open. He looked horrified at the sight of the window smashed in. I probably looked horrified too, as my heart seemed to have stopped beating. There were all of Voldemort's old journals laying around in full view with Remus standing just feet away from them. Despair turned to panic.
"Fenrir?" he asked tensely as he advanced further into the room.
"No. Sheila -- her mother." I answered, holding fast to Mary Ann in case she decided to storm off. She didn't seem to be in the mood for more drama though. She just looked away from Remus as though he was something that made her feel sick. He was making me feel sick too, but for an entirely different reason. He was probably going to freak out and leave me again.
A muscle was twitching in Remus's jaw but otherwise he was remarkably composed. "I thought the windows were reinforced."
"They were, but only from outside intruders. Mary Ann accidentally broke it from the inside a while back and I guess we didn't think to put the charms back on after we fixed it." I said in a slightly defensive tone, because I now felt like an idiot in addition to terrified that he would get a good look at Voldemort's diaries and papers which were strewn all over the place.
He removed his wand from his pocket and said grimly, "I'm going to fix all the windows in this house so that no one ever does this again."
I was annoyed that he seemed to think that I needed him to do it for me but decided to let him so as not to bruise his male ego. This was no time to go picking fights anyway. "I'll patch up Mary Ann while you do that." I told him.
Remus nodded and we both set to work with me trying not to hyperventilate and to appear calm. My first instinct was to cover myself and hide all of the diaries but I knew that Mary Ann had to come first.
"Is this yours?" asked Remus, returning from the hall with Mary Ann's wand just as I was administering a potion for the headache.
She didn't answer but just snatched it away without looking at him directly. Either she's starting to warm up to him or she was just in shock.
Remus was looking at me very intensely and I knew he wanted to talk to me alone. I dreaded it, remembering what had happened the last time he'd felt that Mary Ann's presence put me in danger, but knew it had to be done. "Mary Ann, do you mind letting Remus and I talk in private?"
"Whatever." she answered, getting up and going to the bedroom without looking at either of us.
I half wished that I hadn't sent her away. Whatever was going to happen with Remus, I knew at least that Mary Ann would be on my side. Trying to look casual about it I began picking up journals and scattered papers. Frustratingly, Remus began helping but he was looking more at me than at what he was doing. I could feel his eyes watching me and I waited in dread for him to say something.
"Are you hurt?" he asked at last, pausing in his collection of the papers.
"No. I'm fine." I answered, diving under the loveseat after a stray page. It was one of the those full of equations.
"I wish you would stop that and talk to me."
"That's all, I think." I said, reaching for the ones that he had. He handed them to me and I stuffed them into the nearest drawer out of sight.
Remus righted the tipped over stool and sat down expectantly on the sofa. Reluctantly, I joined him. "You aren't going to leave me again, are you?" I asked.
"If I thought it would make you safer I would. I know you're going to see this through no matter what I do, and I think it would be better for me to help you get it doneas quickly as possible. I wish I could make you take Fenrir and his followers seriously. I can't be here all the time to ---"
"Don't say 'protect me'." I shuddered.
Remus sighed heavily. "You are in over your head."
"I handled it."
"How will you handle her on the next full moon? She's every bit as dangerous as Fenrir, and perhaps more so because of all the drinking and illicit potions that she takes. Her mind is completely addled."
I looked at Remus in some surprise. It's rare that he talks that viciously about anyone.
"You do realize that you have no legal right to keep the girl if her parents decide to take her back?" he asked in a softer tone.
"Like Fenrir will go to the authorities and complain."
"No. He'll just kill you and kidnap her."
"Remus, you know I don't have any choice." I said, trying to keep my voice calm. "She needs help. You know that's no way for a girl to live. Her mother's behavior today just proves that. She tried to pull Mary Ann through the window by the hair of her head, for crying out loud. I can't just stand by and let that go on. I don't have any choice."
"I know that. I'm just worried about your safety." said Remus, sounding very unhappy.
I sat quietly, staring at my hands in my lap. For all of my recent consideration of dumping him to avoid telling him about Voldemort, the thought of really losing him was making me sick. I guess it comes down to deciding which option is worse -- dumping Remus and losing him for certain, or telling him the truth and risking the possibility of him dumping me.
I opened my mouth, changed my mind, and closed it again.
"I'm not going to leave you again." he told me. "I feel as though it's my fault that you've gotten so deeply entangled in werewolf affairs, but leaving you won't solve the problem. Kerri, are you sure you're not hurt?"
I don't think he believed me. He took my face between his hands and leaned forward almost cautiously before he kissed me. It worked better than Severus's draught of peace ever would have. I finally believed that he wasn't furious and wasn't going to dump me again after all. I feel guilty about worrying him so much. No wonder he's going gray already.
"The problem is that there are very few suitable people we could place Mary Ann with." said Remus, sensing that I'd calmed down and going back to the matter at hand. "Assuming that we want to place her with other werewolves, which I think is best."
"Too bad Royal and Celestia don't want an extra kid."
"They won't endanger the children they have, which is a large part of the problem. There are some couples who wouldn't mind adopting an unwanted werewolf child. Most werewolves elect not to have children of their own for fear of passing on the disease, though that doesn't mean that they don't want to. The problem is that this is Fenrir Grayback's daughter and people are terrified of attracting his fury. Otherwise placing her might not have been so difficult."
"Fenrir doesn't seem to care. It's the mother that's the problem."
"It's only a matter of time before he changes his mind." said Remus, sounding certain. "I hope he waits until after you go to Hogwarts. You'll be safe there."
Mary Ann came wandering back in again, sitting down at the counter to listen to our conversation. Well, it was her life we were discussing anyway. Why shouldn't she listen in?
"Maybe we should consider singles as well as couples." I suggested. "Of course a couple would be ideal but we can't be too choosy."
"I'm not going off with some strange man." said Mary Ann loudly.
"Of course not." Remus agreed. "Single women in that case.I think I'll talk to Vashti the next time I see her. She has a lot of connections and may know someone. I think there's a young couple in her building. Maybe they'd be interested."
"Vashti?" I asked in disgust. "After what she did to us at the Howl Off?"
"It would be childish to hold a grudge."
"My head hurts." Mary Ann complained. "I feel kind of dizzy."
Remus and I looked at each other. From his expression I could tell that he also thought she was exaggerating in the hope that he might leave. His back was to her so he mouthed, "Chaperone."
I bit my lip to keep from laughing and walked with him to the door. "I'm bringing Mary Ann to magic lessons tonight." I warned him. And since my back was now to her I mouthed, "God help us."
You'd think that Mary Ann setting Basil's room on fire would have been the only thing I had to worry about after the adventure with her mother. No, nothing can ever be that easy, can it? We weren't done with dramatics caused by Mary Ann's relatives yet.
We arrived at the werewolf commune that night to meet a large group of people armed with knives, boards, mops, brooms, pans, and anything else they could lay hands on as they herded two men toward the gate. One was Yestin, yowling that he had the right to at least take his things with him. The other was Fenrir, who looked more amused at being the center of such mayhem than anything, despite the fact that he had a black eye.
"And there's my useless daughter." he said as he caught sight of Remus, Mary Ann and I. "With a wand in hand too. What, not a squib? Let me guess, you're hoping to arm her and set her against her old dad. Well I don't want her back -- you can keep her."
"Shut up and keep walking." said Royal, who was at the head of the mob. The side of his face was bleeding and he looked angrier than I'd ever seen him.
"You'll be sorry." Fenrir answered. "First chance I get I'll take off your wife's pretty face or tear your kids into so many pieces you'll never find them all."
Mary Ann held her wand tighter and glared at her father's retreating back savagely. We watched as Fenrir and Yestin were marched to the gate. The mob then all hurridly got away from Royal, looking at him as though he had some sort of disease that they didn't want to catch. In groups of two and three they all went back inside, whispering among themselves.
"What was that about?" asked Remus.
"Yestin came walking inside with him." answered Royal grimly. " I didn't have a choice -- I had to do something." He sounded regretful.
"Did you get into a fight with him?" asked Remus, and I heard horror in his tone as he tried to keep his voice calm.
"I didn't have a choice." said Royal again. "I couldn't have him walking loose around here. He knows he isn't welcome."
"I'm sorry." said Remus, sounding as though someone had died. "What will you do?"
"Right now, go upstairs and confess to Celestia what I've just done. She doesn't know yet." said Royal, starting to walk back. "I don't think I really have to worry about him attacking my family, at least not on a full moon. He'd never be able to get that far up the stairs before everyone jumped him. No, he'll probably pull strings with the Goyles and have me sacked or something."
"You weren't the only person involved." I pointed out.
"No, but I'm the one he'll blame. I challenged him first and everyone else came to support me."
"They don't seem to be supporting you now." I said darkly as we started up the stairs and several people looked at him and quickly averted their eyes.
"I don't blame them for that. If it came to protecting my family, I'd do the same thing." answered Royal, his eyes drifting toward Mary Ann with mild disapproval.
"I think Fenrir's bark is worse than his bite." I told him.
Royal's step faltered as he and Remus exchanged glances.
"Do you see what I mean?" asked Remus, as Mary Ann predictably added,
"You're so stupid, Kerri."
"You're in over your head, Kerri." said Royal, echoing Remus's warning earlier in the day. I guessed that meant that they'd already discussed the incident between themselves.
"You heard him a while ago. He doesn't care about Mary Ann. He said that he doesn't want her back, so what's the problem? Why would I be in danger from him?"
"How about this?" asked Mary Ann, halting in the middle of the stairs and hiking up the hem of the robe she'd borrowed from me. There was a scar from an old bite wound on her leg and the radius of it was huge. It was almost as big as the mark made by Fluffy on Severus's leg last year. "He's nuts." she told me, letting her skirt fall back into place once more. "You think I did something to deserve that? The perv...that's how he gets his kicks. He likes attacking people. He's going to get you if you don't watch out, especially if he hears you saying stupid things like you just did. He'll want to teach you better."
"He likes creating new werewolves." said Royal, looking at me very seriously. "We're the minority, right? He wants to make us the majority so that laws will be changed in our favor. And you -- he'd love to get a Hogwarts teacher."
"I'm not a teacher yet."
"He knows Dumbledore has promised you the post -- everyone knows it." said Remus, sounding frustrated. "And frankly, he'd probably enjoy attacking you just to spite Dumbledore."
"It was way back in the sixties when he attacked you, Remus. He's getting up there for a werewolf."
"And we know for a fact that he has attacked people within the last year so that means nothing."
"I'm a Hogwarts graduate, not a seven year old. I can handle him."
"Oh my God." said Mary Ann incredulously. "You are the stupidest person I've ever seen in my life."
Royal and Remus looked troubled. For the second time today I felt partly responsible for Remus's gray hairs. It's just as well that I never told him that Fenrir used to harass me sometimes when I was leaving for work. That would really freak him out.
Celestia was waiting outside their apartment door, looking anxious. "There's no privacy around this place." Royal growled under his breath.
We continued on up to Basil's flat, leaving Royal and Celestia to fret over Fenrir in peace.
We found the boys all on their hands and knees, crouched around something on the floor. Mel was waving his wand at whatever it was that had their interest.
"Look - look." he said excitedly. "This is cool. Look what I can do."
Mary Ann unobtrusively settled in a corner, leaning against the wall with her arms folded over her chest, looking sullen. Remus and I went to peer at the floor in the middle of the ring of hyper werewolves. There was a pile of silvery needles there.
"Watch." said Mel, setting a toothpick down beside the needles. He waved his wand and transfigured it into a needle.
Remus and I looked at each other in amazement. "I think we have a prodigy on our hands." he said.
"Where did you learn to do that?" I asked. "We've only been teaching you charms."
"From your old school books. I've been practicing."
"Well I could have done that too." said Basil resentfully. "But I lead the band so I have extra jobs to do that take up my time."
"Like chase women." said Streak. "And believe me, he does have to chase them because they sure do run. Like Tonks. We haven't seen her in weeks."
"You're out of the band." said Basil angrily.
"Just cool it, okay?" said Augustus, rolling his eyes. "Look -- this is better than his stupid transfiguration trick."
He handed me a picture of a two year old girl sitting in front of a Christmas tree among a pile of presents.
"Is this Felicia?" asked Remus, looking over my shoulder.
"New pictures taken at Christmas."
"You're a deadbeat dad." I scolded.
"No. I'm a very good dad for not ruining her life by letting everyone know that her father is a werewolf." Augustus calmly corrected. "Ask Remus, he'll agree."
"He agrees that we should kick Streak out of the band." Basil cut in.
"Actually, do you know what just happened downstairs?" Remus asked, distracting him.
Remus explained about the situation with Royal and Fenrir. Mel called Fenrir a lot of nasty things and Brand tried to shush him with a gesture toward Mary Ann who looked like she was ignoring us all.
"I don't care. She's probably a wacko like he is." said Mel loudly.
Knowing Mary Ann as I do, I would have expected her to start cursing or jump at him. Instead, she waved her wand, said "Wingardium Leviosa." And sent the largest of the dumbells in Basil's weight set zooming at Mel's head.
Remus and I quickly cast shield charms with which it collided, hitting the floor with a heavy thud.
"See what I mean?" asked Mel.
"You big, ugly, red-haired scarecrow!" said Mary Ann, swelling with rage.
"Kerri -- you're out of your mind. She's a --- "Mel began.
"Silencio." I said, shutting him up. "You wanted to start them on that, Remus. Now you have an example. Come on Mary Ann, let's take a walk to cool off." I added, seeing that she looked like she was getting to the cursing and jumping on people stage.
"I don't want to be in that pigpen with those jerks anyway." she answered, storming out the door.
"You can't attack people that way." I told her. "There are a lot of responsibilities involved in using magic. Do you I need to remind you about the law on underage magic again? You have a little more leeway since you're being privately taught, Hogwarts students are only allowed to do magic within the confines of the school." She looked thoroughly bored already with what I was saying. I need to work on my technique or my students will fall asleep during class. "You can have your wand taken away and be forbidden to use magic ever." I cut to the part that was most important.
"So? I've done without it before."
"If you don't want to do magic then I'll stop teaching you."
"Of course I want to do magic!" she snapped.
"Then don't abuse it. Remus told me that when he was young he knew that people would always look down on him and expect him to be horrible just because he was a werewolf. He made up his mind to live the best way he could and prove them all wrong. Your situation is even worse than his because your father has given you a bad reputation even among other werewolves. If you don't want people thinking you're horrible you have to show them that you're not."
"Well Remus is stupid. I'm not going to let people step on me. What good has it done him?"
"People like and respect him." I pointed out the obvious.
"There are people who like and respect my dad too, believe it or not."
"I don't think so. I know people who are terrified of him and people who live with him because they're too desperate to do anything else. It's not the same thing."
"I don't care. I'm not letting anyone step on me." said Mary Ann stubbornly. "That's one thing my dad taught me at least."
"If you attack anyone else that way ever again, I'll stop teaching you." I warned her.
"Whatever. I don't care." said Mary Ann, although the red sparks that burst from her wand said otherwise.
"It's your choice." I told her, turning back to Basil's room.
"Silencio!" Streak was just saying, pointing his wand at Mel who immediately sprouted antennae from his ears.
"It was worth coming back in here for that alone." Mary Ann laughed.
Author's Note : Reviews and chocolate are always appreciated.
Next Chapter : "The Sewers." Kerri and Snape go basilisk hunting and use the seclusion to practice unforgivables.
I spotted another rat on an upper ledge on my side of the corridor. As inconspicuously as I could, I pointed my wand at it and thought, "Imperio! Jump on my brother's head."
The rat made a fantastic flying leap, arching over my head in a jump it probably would not have been capable of without the aid of the curse. It collided with an invisible shield charm that Severus had cast nonverbally, slid down what appeared to be thin air, and landed in the canal with a splash.
Severus was smirking and I couldn't help but laugh. "How did you know?" I asked.
"All these years of teaching have made me more alert and suspicious than being a Death Eater ever did."
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