Character: Mary Jane Swithford
Chapter Graphic by Jeanie at The Dark Arts
Another huge thanks to Alicia for the beta'ed chapter!
"Harry, I don't think you should be here," Remus whispered in a hushed tone. His worried expression gave away his true, inner feelings. He ran about his kitchen, closing the drapes. The shaggy haired man at the table gave a flick of his wand, rising from his seat, and the rest of the drapes yanked themselves shut. Remus scoffed at him. "Sirius! Not in front of Harry!"
Sirius merely shrugged. "Come on. Get over it. He knows about it, and he will study it soon enough. Seeing it won't harm him."
Remus grunted as he strolled to his kitchen counter. Sirius turned to Harry as he stepped in front of him. "Hi, I'm Sirius."
"Oh," Harry smiled. He laughed, if ever so slightly. "Your name is really Sirius? I thought Professor Lupin was just aggravated with you."
"Ha," Sirius laughed. It was suddenly so easy to loose his train of thought with Harry. All he could think about were his times with James. Sirius snorted. "Ha-ha, Professor Lupin.
make a great teacher. Smart little prick."
"Hey!" Remus almost laughed.
"He actually is," Harry complimented his teacher. Remus flashed Harry a quick smile.
Sirius, having never truly been in Harry's presence before, found himself in awe at the feel of having his godson next to him. Sirius wondered how Lily must have felt...
Sirius clutched at Harry's neck. He gazed at Harry's features, beginning to see how much Harry and James looked a like. Remus warned from the counter. He was at the ready, prepared to pounce the moment Sirius did something wrong. "Sirius..."
Harry squirmed in Sirius' grasp. Sirius had lost himself in his thoughts. There, looking at Harry and remembering his long, lost, dear friend, Sirius forgot about all his duties and what was right and wrong, what he should have done and shouldn't have. Lily shuffled from foot to foot, uneasy. She didn't want anything upsetting Harry. "Sirius, stop."
At the sound of her voice, Harry's eyes flashed at her. He still couldn't quite place the remarkable feeling. He couldn't help but to look at her with wonder, admire her beauty, and let his thoughts wonder to Harry's origin, his beginning.
Sirius didn't hear. Harry even had James' nose and long, narrow jaw. Harry had his father's broad forehead and straight eyebrows. "My, my. You really do look just like your father."
Harry jumped out of Sirius' grasp. He sprang against the wall, his palms spread out against the wood. "You know my father?"
"I don't know if know
is the right word anymore." Sirius smiled sympathetically.
"Sirius, stop!" Remus yelled. He had left the safety of the counter and was now pulling Sirius away from Harry. Remus stepped in between them and whispered to him. "We don't know all we can tell him. My home is not safe. We can't reveal everything."
Sirius rolled his eyes, yet gave in.
Lily stepped forward towards Harry. Despite her desperate urge to hold her son, who already towered above her, a full-grown man, she knew Harry did not think of her this way. Maybe, in time, he could. Lily sent him a smile; she did her best to win his acceptance. "Ignore them; they do this a lot. I guess I need to introduce myself. I think you know who I am though."
Harry nodded. "You're Lily Evans."
Lily pursed her lips and nodded. Harry didn't seem to be angry or enthusiastically happy. She was rather disappointed. But what was Lily expecting? A huge, welcoming hug from her long lost son? Of course not. Lily looked to the ground and hid her tears. She didn't even know what to say to her own son.
Harry didn't seem to want to talk either. Lily stepped away and slouched towards the table. She slumped into a chair and grabbed the open bottle of fire whiskey. Without bothering to pour it into her glass, she took a large swig from the bottle. Remus narrowed his eye brows and yanked the bottle from her hands. "No, Lily."
Lily glowered disapprovingly at her friend. Sirius turned on him. "Oh, come on, Moony. Look, you can't be everyone's father."
Remus glowered at Sirius for a few moments before they remembered their company. Harry stood, uncomfortable, against the wall and blinked. He turned away. "I guess I shouldn't have come..."
"Harry, wait," Lily had jumped up and dashed to her son's exit. She grabbed onto his hand and held him back. Before she could realize what she had done, Harry jumped at the feel of her skin. He let his arm slide out of her grasp. Her skin was warm and smooth. It had a tingle to it when it touched Harry. He would have thought it awkward, but he found himself utterly surprised, more than anything. He was astounded to realize the one thought that had flown though his mind at their touch: Mother...
"I'm sorry," Lily gasped. She yanked her hand away. "I'm not trying to win you over; I'm not trying to steal you or become you mother, because I know you believe differently. I...I," Lily faltered and held onto her head.
"It's okay, Lily," Harry reassured her. He smiled and touched her shoulder lightly. At first, his touch was faint. He was barely touching there, and then he let his hand rest fully over the curve of her shoulder. Lily let her son's large hand form the shape of her shoulder; she even let her body turn into it. Oh, how she had always imagined holding her son...
She had missed that part of his life. He had grown up before he ever knew who she was, and now here they were. The opposite. He was comforting her.
He smiled gently, ignoring Remus and Sirius who were quite awed at the situation. He spoke with growing faith. "It's okay. I understand that. Thank you. I don't want to push you away from me, but I can't accept you for who you are. Not now, at least."
"Thanks..." whispered Lily feebly.
Awkwardly, he embraced Lily quickly and murmured, "I'll go now."
"No," Lily stopped him again. This time she didn't bother to let go of his arm. His warm skin, the same shade as James', sent Lily sliding into her few memories she shared with Harry while he was an infant. She smiled to herself and then pulled herself out before she could forget why she stopped him. She turned to Remus and Sirius. "He can't go home."
"Why not?" Sirius asked; Remus looked at her in questioning.
Lily looked to Harry, placing the puzzle pieces together. "You said your friend, Ethan, died, yes?" Harry nodded solemnly. Lily went on, "He died from an unknown cause?
"Where did he die?"
"At his home."
"Did you have any relation to his home?"
"Well," Harry began awkwardly. He shrugged, finding Lily's questions painful. "I was staying the night there while my mother and father were on business trips."
"That's it," Remus gasped. He pointed a finger at Harry, plugging together what Lily had already realized. "Ethan's death wasn't by fault. They were looking for Harry, only he wasn't there, and they killed whoever got in their way." Remus turned back to Harry. "Did anything odd happen before that?"
"Well," Harry began uneasily. "There were people in my house."
"Merlin..." Lily gasped.
"Tell us everything, Harry." Sirius jumped forward. A fright Harry did not understand was pulsing through the three adults. Their tension made him even less comfortable. Almost scared.
"I promised my dad I wouldn't go home before I went over to Ethan's, but I forgot my things. So, I went home and packed my bag. I was feeding the cat when I heard the front door unlock. I thought this was odd; I had locked it when I came in out of habit. The lights were off. I was making sure the house was good to go to be abandoned for two or three days. And then I heard them come inside. I heard their voices. They messed with everything and I saw flashes of light. I guess I understand that they were using magic to destroy my home. I realized I had to get out; I crawled out through the cat flap and ran the ten miles to Ethan's home; I had left my truck at his house."
"Ten miles," Remus muttered. "That's plenty of time for them to apparate to the Courtenay's and kill Ethan. You were the first to find Ethan?"
"No," swallowed Harry. He rubbed his neck. It knotted with kinks as Harry felt the tension shoot up his back. These people were suggesting Ethan had been murdered. Harry couldn't believe it. Could that possibly be right? "Mary. Mary Jane. She found him first."
"Mary Jane?" Sirius asked. "Your blonde friend."
"Well," began Remus, "that's plenty of time for them to apparate to the Courtenays, kill Ethan, and still leave a space for Mary to show up."
"Mary?" Lily's voice was quicker than the others had been, cautious and worried. "Where is she now?"
"I'm not sure. Maybe the Courtenays with Ethan's parents or at her own home," shrugged Harry as horror washed over him. "Why?! She's not in trouble is she? She won't die too, will she?!"
"Sirius." Remus looked to Sirius, who had already stepped away from them. Sirius was already one step ahead of them. "Don't worry, Remus. I'm on it." And, with that, he vanished on the spot. Harry jumped at the crack and stared at the spot where Sirius Black had stood a mere two seconds ago. Harry gaped. "H-How...? What the hell?!"
"You'll get used to it," Lily ushered. She took Harry's forearm and guided him to the table. She set down the surprised boy and began asking him questions again. Harry felt like he was being interrogated for information on terrorists.
Oh, if only he knew...
Remus sat down on Harry's opposite side and asked, "The people who broke into your home. Did you see them at all? Did they say anything?"
"Erm," Harry racked his memory. He had trouble remembering it. He had gone through so much in such a small amount of time. "Yes; I saw them and heard them. They...Um, they were hooded. I didn't see their faces."
"What color hoods?"
"I don't know! It was dark!" shouted Harry.
"Harry, come on," Lily pressed. She gave his hand a squeeze and let emerald meet emerald. Harry looked feebly into her eyes and saw his own fright reflected in them. He nodded and continued on, "Black. They were wearing black. Long, big, black cloaks that made me feel like...they were death; something eerie."
Lily and Remus met eyes across the table - something had, apparently, been placed together too. Harry didn't notice; his eyes were catatonically fixed on a gouged hole in the table. "More, Harry. We need more," said Remus.
"Um, they spoke," Harry squeezed his eyes shut, as if it would help his memory. "There were four different voices, maybe? One made me feel...cold. He spoke like he was higher than the others; it was raspy and low. Almost like he was trying to talk fake. I can't remember the others."
"What did they say?"
"They said something about 'the Potter's taking on a smuggle
"Muggle, yes. Go on," Remus corrected.
"The leader - the cold voice - he called them idiots and said, 'Look for anything that stands out.' Someone read out the letter from my father that, I guess, I had missed on the kitchen table. Someone made a comment about my father having turned into a softy. Someone asked who Ethan was, and another person described him. That really freaked me out...They knew who my friends were, what they looked like! He also spoke of Mary Jane. That was when I left."
"You were right to leave, Harry. They have unimaginable ways of finding you," Lily whispered.
"You're not safe there anymore. You're not even safe here," Remus murmured.
"Please," Harry choked out. He looked to Remus and bit his lip, desperate for answers. Harry wasn't able to say what he had next. There was another crack and Sirius was back in the room, along with a shaken Mary Jane by his side. Quivering, the blonde spotted Harry and made a run for him. Harry jumped to his feet and took her sobbing form into his arms. She croaked into the warmth of his neck. "You're here too. Thank God! What's going on?"
"I don't know, I don't know," soothed Harry. He pressed his large hand at the back of her head and held her there. He could feel the eyes of Lily, Remus, and Sirius on him, but he didn't care. He pried Mary off of him and set her into the chair next to his. Mary inched her chair to Harry until their thighs were touching. Harry was grateful for her presence; he needed his friend.
"You said I'm not safe at home or here. Is Mary safe?" Harry asked, his voice hard and demanding.
"Not anymore, she isn't." Remus' voice was shaking.
"Well, then where can we be safe? I'm not going to leave her. We need each other right now," Harry said. Mary gave a sniff of agreement and dabbed at her swollen eyes.
"He can't go home," Remus thought out loud. "And my house is yet to be plotted, so they can't stay here. Grimmauld Place is definitely not suited for them either. Lily, what about your flat?"
"Oh," Lily looked to the table. Sirius squeezed her shoulder. His eyes flashed with his hidden feelings for here and he asked with more love than intended. "What happened, Lily? Are you not safe either?"
"No," Lily gasped. "They found my home two days ago. It was torn apart. I don't know what they were looking for."
" the men gasped together. Lily shouted an apology as Sirius and Remus each tried to talk over each other.
"Where have you been staying?!"
"Why didn't you tell me?!"
Smacking her hand on the table, Lily roared, "Because I didn't want anyone to worry! I handled it myself perfectly fine."
"Lily, we need to know these things," Remus' voice grew dark and unyielding. "Everything is turning around. From bad to worse. Everything we worked for is ruined now, and what we never thought would happen is coming."
Remus watched Lily hold her head, the eyes of the two teenagers resting upon her in confusion, and Remus turned back to Harry. "We're not done asking questions yet."
"We may not be, but we have to get them to safety first," Sirius intruded. Remus pursed his lips and considered. After a moment, he decided that Sirius, for once, had the better action in mind. "We have to find where they will stay. And we must contact James."
Harry's head shot up at the mention of his father. He began to pay more attention to Remus and Sirius instead of Lily. However, Lily immediately piped. "I will apparate to Molly and Arthur's. We need someone from the Order and, with their children at Hogwarts, they have open bedrooms."
Lily disappeared. Mary jumped at her sudden disappearance, and Harry placed a hand on her back to comfort her. She calmed down, but her breathing did not.
Remus turned to the two. "You two, if Molly obliges, which she most certainly will, will be staying at the Weasley's. They are generous people, and their home is safe. Arthur and Molly Weasley. They have seven children. Two remain at a school, Hogwarts. Ron is your age. Harry, you can borrow some of Ron's things, although they might be a tad big. Mary, I'm sure you could fit into Ginny's; one year younger than the two of you. Don't be scared of them; they aren't even on your list of worries."
"No need," Sirius said. "Mary packed her things quickly. They are shrunken in my pocket."
"And what should
be on our list of worries?" pressed Harry.
Sirius bit his lip and glanced to Remus. Sirius shook his head. "A list of things that you couldn't ever possibly imagine."
"Don't scare them," Remus scoffed.
Harry glowered and muttered sarcastically. "I think you're a tad late for that, don't you think?"
Sirius actually chuckled. "Probably. You're right."
"I don't think that's funny," sniffed Mary disapprovingly. Sirius clamped his mouth shut and his eyes met Harry's. Harry could see his hidden smile in his eyes, and Harry smiled back. He liked Sirius. He asked kindly. "How did you know my father?"
Sirius smiled and kicked back, his feet propped up on the table. "I've known him since we were eleven. We were sorted into the same house - at Hogwarts there are four houses, and upon arrival, you are sorted into one of the four. James, Remus, and I, along with another pesky little twit, were sorted into Gryffindor and we made quick friends. Best friends ever since. Well, until your parents split and James became too noble to continue contact with us."
Mary looked from Sirius to Harry. "Your parents are together though."
"Yes," agreed Harry, "but my mother isn't my birth mother. She's only my adoptive mother. The woman who was just here is my birth mother."
Mary's eyes went wide, confused and bewildered by Harry's screwed up family. She decided to play it sweet. She didn't want to hurt or offend him during this time. "She's beautiful!"
Harry chuckled. "I know."
"You have her eyes."
"I know," he said again with a smile. Harry opened his mouth to speak, but Lily was already back. She ushered everyone from the table quickly. "They easily agreed and are happy to take you in. Harry and Mary, you need to get out of here. Sirius and Remus, take them to Molly and Arthur. I will find James and tell him where they have gone."
Harry looked to his birth mother at that comment. He began to wonder if his father was still in contact with Lily. Did they still communicate? If they did, did they still share loving feelings for each other...? This question sent Harry into a mixed plague of emotions. He bit his lip to push back his thoughts. It was so hard to compare and contrast Claire and Lily. Harry had been raised thinking Claire was his mother. He loved her like his mother.
And now this new woman came into his life, taking Claire's place.
He didn't know what to think of that. He would be even more lost if he learned his father was still in love with Lily. He would be lost to an even greater extent if his father was having an affair...
"Hold on, kids," Sirius said. Harry touched Sirius' outstretched hand, and Mary looked uneasily towards Remus. She looked from Remus to Harry. Harry nodded, urging her to take Remus' hand. "It's okay, Mary. I know you don't know what's going on and we don't know these people, but they are helping us. They'll keep us safe."
She swallowed and nodded before latching onto Remus' arm for dear life, and in an instant they were gone.
Lily spun about the room, lost in her own dilemma. Before she could think anymore, she was gone and apparated into the women's bathroom inside the hospital at which Claire was staying. She didn't know where James would be, but she knew he had to be there somewhere. She roamed the halls until she found him slumped in a chair.
He appeared to be asleep, but as she approached, his head slowly lifted at the sound of her stride. He jumped from the chair and Lily blinked, confused at his appearance. He looked distraught, broken. James tried to engulf her into his arms, but she refused. She pushed against his chest. "I've only come here to tell you that Harry found Remus. Don't worry about him. Your home was broken into by Death Eaters and Ethan Courtenay was killed by them. I leave you to do what you wish with that information. Harry and Mary Jane are staying at Molly and Arthur Weasley's until it's safe again. I won't let my son be harmed, and you seem to be too busy here to take care of him now."
"Don't hurt him," was all James could muster.
"Listen, James," Lily shook her head in disapproval. "Harry will be fine. He will be safe with Molly and Arthur. You don't know what's been going on all these years. After you left and dropped contact, refusing information from me, Dumbledore organized a rank of Order members. We were trained under worse circumstances you could have imagined. We were trained to lose our feelings, we were trained to be constantly aware, know your enemies, know your friends. We formed the Guardians and we've been watching you all these years. Stationed outside your home, outside Harry's school, even your work, Claire's work. We are everywhere. We are awake night and day, protecting you from harm and from Voldemort. We watch every move you make. It's time you accept where you were born to stand and join the fight with us. Voldemort's out for Harry. You can't act like you're normal anymore, neither can Harry. He was born to be what we are. He was born to stop Voldemort, despite our attempt to change fate. He will be trained to kill Voldemort."
"What?" James was taken aback. With Lily's harsh words, everything James had ever imagined protecting Harry from now meant nothing. "You can't do that! He doesn't even know about you, about wizards. Anything! You can't just throw this upon him."
"I didn't throw it upon him. Neither did your old friends, Sirius and Remus," Lily glowered. Her gaze was set on James, strong and fierce. "You threw it upon him yourself. He heard every word you said to Claire. And I have just as much right to protect him as you do. He knows I am his mother."
James didn't say anything. He slumped into a chair and cried into his hands. "Everything...Everything has gone wrong so fast."
Lily stared at him and waited for him to continue. The wait wasn't that long. "Lily, Claire is pregnant. But not with my child. It's Carter Hewlett's. I should have known that bastard was sleeping with my wife."
"If you think about it, you've betrayed Claire as much as she's betrayed you."
"But you're not pregnant!"
"You're right," Lily murmured. "I'm not. But I am sick. Our relationship, all my worries, are tearing me apart. Remus and Sirius want me to see a healer."
James rose and strode to Lily. He cupped her face in his hands. He coughed and swallowed. "I won't tear you apart anymore. But I don't want her to know of us. I swore I would stay away from magic. Look what it's done to me, to my family, to my son now. Even my wife. Lily, I've made my decision. If Claire will still accept me after everything I've shared with her, then I will stay with her. I have to make my marriage work, my flower. I have to."
"Does she know that you've been sleeping with me?" Lily asked. Her heart had ripped into pieces. She knew James would, eventually, make a choice. She just hadn't ever thought about what she would do if James didn't pick her...
"No," James whispered. "And I know it's wrong, but I wish to keep it that way. Claire...I need her."
Lily knew she had told James to decide, but with Claire pregnant with Carter Hewlett's child, Lily couldn't believe his decision. With Claire pregnant, they could divorce and Claire could move on and start her family with Cater; Lily and James could have the family they had torn apart nearly two decades ago.
She shook her head. "Whatever you want. I want what's best for you."
"Thank you," whispered James.
With a light peck to her cheek, James disappeared into his wife's ward. Lily stood in the middle of the hall, standing as straight as a board to keep herself together. She sighed to herself. He'll come back to me. He has to...
He had said he wouldn't tear her apart anymore. But as she watched him fade out of her sight and into Claire's, she realized that he had already torn her into a million unrepairable pieces.
Upon arrival, Molly Weasley greeted Harry and Mary into her home. Molly was stunned; so, the rumors were true. Harry Potter looked everything like his father. "Harry, dear. I'm Mrs. Weasley. It's a pleasure to have you here."
"Thank you, Mrs. Weasley." Harry shook her hand and looked around the homily place. He liked it. It was small and comfortable with interesting, clearly magical, trinkets everywhere. A clock made of wood and spoons caught his attention the most. But what surprised him even more was that he found his own name. Molly caught his line of sight. She chuckled. "Oh, that old thing. It's not really a clock. It tells us where everyone is, and since you and Mary will be staying with us, we've added you to the clock. Welcome to the family."
"Er," Harry laughed lightly. "Thank you."
He wasn't accustomed to such generosity. Mrs. Weasley moved on to greet Mary, and Harry was introduced to Arthur Weasley. The red haired and balding man had an ecstatic look on his face. He shook Harry's hand enthusiastically. "Harry, my boy. Welcome. It's such an honor. My, you look like James. Say, you've been raised as a Muggle? Perhaps you would enjoy explaining to me exactly how microwaves work, yes?"
Harry laughed at him and nodded. "Another time, sure."
Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, with their kind welcoming and light-hearted smiles, Harry found it easy to forget his troubles. Even if it was for the smallest increments of time.
"Come," Mrs. Weasley urged, bustling forward. "It's late. You should be headed to bed. I will show you to your rooms."
Mrs. Weasley settled them in and left them for the night. Harry changed and climbed into the bed Mrs. Weasley had said was not her son Ron's. A knock came from the door and he muttered, "Come in."
Expecting Sirius or Remus, Harry was surprised to see Mary. Harry smiled and sat up and ushered her in. "Mary Jane," he whispered.
She closed the door behind her. Her blond hair was rippling down her back in waves from the braid she had released the locks from. She was wearing her white tank top and orange sleeping pants. She slipped towards him with a cry. "What are we doing here?"
"They're helping us."
"Why do we need help?" Mary questioned as she slipped into the bed with her friend. She let Harry envelope his arms around her. She shrank back into his warmth and sought solace in him.
"I'm not even sure."
"Well," Mary sniffed. "I'm scared. I'm scared of losing you like I lost Ethan. You won't leave me either, will you?"
Harry held onto her tighter and pulled her against his body until he could feel her everywhere. He blinked and thought to himself, Is this okay? Would Ethan hate me if he saw us like this...?
Harry told himself it was merely being in the situation where they needed each other. In the most drastic moments, you sought solace in each other. Harry remembered from stories, half the time that solace turned into something more.
But Harry pushed the thoughts out of his head. He felt like Ethan was speaking to him. Take care of her.
Harry smiled and drew her back against his chest until he could make her laugh. "Careful, Harry. You're crushing me."
"Sorry," he laughed into her neck. He kissed the back of her head like a friend. "Stay in here tonight, Mary. I need my best friend."
"I wasn't planning on leaving this room tonight," Mary confessed. "I need you too; I didn't feel safe by myself."
"Well, you can always feel safe with me, Mary," Harry comforted her. As he ran his hand up and down her shoulder, he wondered to himself if he was speaking the truth. She was only at the Weasley's because she was associated with Harry.
Harry continued to trace the circles on her back, copying what he had seen Ethan do multiple times. She shivered into his body, and Harry heard her croak beneath her tears. He soothed her and continued on.
He came to the conclusion that, as long as she was with him, Mary was not safe. Nor was Harry, or anyone else who was currently associating themselves with him. His father wasn't; Claire wasn't. Remus and Sirius weren't even. Neither was Lily, Mrs. Weasley, or Mr. Weasley.
Harry cursed himself. What was going on? What was the horrible matter that was causing everything to turn upside down? What was it, this horrible secret, that no one was telling him?
Why did it seem like, if Harry were found, the world would turn upside down and go to the dogs?
He held onto Mary tighter. He didn't want anything to happen to her. In this time of lies, Harry didn't know who he could trust. He didn't know who anyone was anymore. But he did know who Mary was. He squeezed her and buried his head into her neck until he forced his head clean of all worry. "I will never let anything happen to you."