Hello All, and belated Happy New Year! (for many calendars anyway!) Hope it was a good (and safe) one!
Herewith is the next chapter of this story - just to make you aware though, I have taken a bit of a liberty with Mac's dad's rank (I know he was a Private during the war but who says he couldn't have made it to Major before retirement). Also, if his mum's name isn't Millie please blame as the only source I could find naming her! :)
Thank you to everyone still reading this story, and to everyone new and willing to tackle the number of chapters my brain has come up with (I promise a rewrite when it's finished to reduce the number of chapters - though not necessarily the number of words). And to everyone that thought to hit that button at the bottom of the page and leave me comments or alerts - thankyou! I hope I've replied to you all but I think I have to check ~d'oh~
And to crazikido2 - thank you for the reviews, I hope you weren't too sleep deprived but I am very grateful for the comments you've sent!
Millie Taylor watched her son carefully as she handed him the cup of coffee and took the seat opposite him at the kitchen table, smiling as she thought of the many conversations that had taken place at that same table over the years. Though Millie couldn't remember her son ever looking so uncomfortable before - even when he'd stood there asking permission to take the car to drive his date to the Prom and the Major had responded by giving him 'The Talk'.
She waited patiently, sipping at her own drink, giving Mac the time to find the right words for whatever it was he wanted to say. When she'd first opened her door to reveal her son standing there Millie's first thought had been that something dreadful had happened. The memory of how broken he'd seemed after the Towers fell when he'd finally been pulled off the evidence was still fresh in her mind and Millie knew she wouldn't be able to bear seeing her son hurting like that a second time.
Thankfully those thoughts had been swept away the second he'd smiled and hugged her, the smile truly reaching his eyes and lighting up his face in a way she hadn't seen for years. The hug had been warm and Mac had even looked more relaxed than she'd ever seen him - that was until they sat down to talk. Now, nervous tension was emanating off the younger Taylor in waves as he fidgeted with his cup - another thing she'd never seen in relation to her son before. Millie gently reached out a hand to still his own and gave Mac a soft smile as his head shot up to look at her.
"Whatever it is Mac, you know you'll have my support." She told him reassuringly, hoping to ease his mind about whatever it was that was bothering him enough for a personal visit - perhaps he would finally tell her all about the new person in his life.
"I hope so, but this is unusual and I just want you to hear me out before you make any judgements." Mac began, the earnestness in his voice startling his mother. "I've met someone."
"I knew that," Millie told him quietly. "For quite a few months now I've known there was someone in your life. You've been happy lately when we talk."
"His name's Danny Messer, he works at the Lab with me. He's one of my best criminalists, though I'm not sure I tell him that often enough, and he's an outstanding detective. He's resilient and brave, dedicated and loyal, annoyingly stubborn, and at times hot-headed, but he's also got this strong sense of justice that makes him look for the truth even if there's no official case or the case is over.
"The hardships of his past have made him a stronger person, and that person is a caring, warm, devoted man that I spent the best part of two years trying to ignore my attraction to. Our friends decided we were too busy hiding our feelings for each other to act on them so they set us up. That was a year ago and Danny and I have been happy together since, we've also been living together for the last several months."
Mac paused to see his mother's reaction to that part of his news. Sexuality had never been a topic of conversation In the Taylor household and while he knew that he could never have told his father about Danny he wasn't entirely certain of his mother's views.
"Does this mean I finally get to meet him?" Millie asked with another smile and she watched as some of the tension drained from him at her simple acceptance - some, but not all she noticed.
"I'm hoping you'll want to." Mac said softly with a small smile of his own before continuing - his mind bringing up the carefully worded explanation he'd spent the morning perfecting. "There is more though, and that's where it gets complicated. You see, we met someone else."
"So you're breaking up? Mac -" Millie interrupted only to be interrupted herself.
"No mum, Danny and I aren't breaking up."
"Then what? You're fighting over this person? Risking your relationship - your happiness! - for someone you can't know half as well?"
"No, and she'd be horrified if we were. She believes in the sanctity of a commitment and would never get between Danny and me. We've had to spend some time convincing her that her presence doesn't change how Danny or I feel about each other. If anything, our relationship is better now than it's been before and it's because of her." Mac told her honestly, keeping his eyes locked on his mother's so that she could see his sincerity. "She's one of the kindest most generous souls I've ever met, she's brilliant and gentle and fierce and beautiful. She gives Danny more confidence in himself than he's ever had before and she makes me -"
"Poetic?" His mother interrupted with a smile. Millie was watching her son as he talked and couldn't help but see how open and expressive his face was and how it brightened the more he spoke. Mac had always been so serious and disciplined - frankly older than his years - when he was growing up and Mille knew that was a product of being raised by a Marine. When he'd met and married Claire he'd been happier than she'd ever seen him, but there was still a sense of the regimented soldier about him. The man in front of her now was very different, changed for the better as he smiled easily at her remark.
"Maybe." Mac acknowledged with a chuckle. "All I know is she makes life lighter. She takes away the darkness the job shows us and lets us see the brightness of life again. Hermione -"
"Is that her name?"
"Yes, Hermione Granger, and she somehow balances us. Don't get me wrong mum, our relationship was good before but since we started seeing Mia we're both … I don't know how to describe it, we're more relaxed, more comfortable, more ..." Mac trailed off as he tried to find the right words to convince the woman in front of him of how well the relationship worked between the three.
"I think I can see what you mean." Millie told him softly as she reached once more for his flailing hands to still them. "I take it your visit today means I get to meet Danny and Hermione?"
Mac exhaled the breath he hadn't realised he'd been holding since his mother had grasped his hands and relief swept through him at the simple remark.
"I was thinking perhaps you'd like to stay with us for Christmas, maybe just before - if you don't have any other plans?" Mac asked feeling less tense now that his mother seemed to be at least willing to accept the new people in his life. "It will give you all a chance to meet, and it'll be our first Christmas together. It will also be the first Christmas since Hermione's parents died and I hoped, if you two get along, that maybe having you around might make it a little easier on her."
"Perhaps, but you should be prepared for the fact that the presence of another mother may make her feel the loss of her own more." Millie warned him gently before answering. "But I would love to visit and meet them both. I don't have any plans, at least non that can't be cancelled, so I can come to New York whenever you like, and stay for however long I'm wanted."
"Thanks mum." Mac sighed before speaking his next words. "I'm glad you're trying to accept this because I honestly don't think I can give either of them up - I won't give them up. For anybody. I love Danny and Hermione with all that I am mum, I can't live without them anymore."
Mac spent the next hour telling his mother what he knew about Danny's family, along with the fact that he hadn't actually met them yet, and the basic version of how Hermione's parents were killed while on holiday in Australia. Although it had been agreed that neither he or Danny could tell anyone else about magic, nor about Hermione being a witch, in actuality that fact never entered his mind in all the time he was talking with his mother. Mac simply told her the truth of their lives together - that he was in love with Danny and Hermione.
Which brought him to last night's argument.
"I messed up mum." Mac admitted after explaining what the argument had been about - mostly.
"I'd say you did. Being in a relationship does not give you the right to dictate Hermione's - or Danny's - actions, I raised you better than that MacKenna. Being the boss at work doesn't make you the boss at home."
"I know mum, and I apologised. But I need to make it up to her as well. Preferably before I ask them to marry me." Mac looked uncertainly at the woman opposite him as he said this and waited for her reaction.
"Oh Mac!" Millie cried happily as she moved to embrace him - her son was getting married again! "But how is that going to work?" She asked a moment later.
"Well, obviously it won't be a legally recognised marriage, but we can have a commitment ceremony which would be similar to a common-law ceremony. It would be nice if we could have family there as well as our friends." Mac suggested, leaving his question unasked in his (by now) needless caution.
"Of course I'll be there - I wouldn't miss your wedding for anything!" Millie exclaimed as she hugged her son once more.
"Thanks mum." Mac whispered into her ear as she held him before letting go. "I just hope Danny's family are as understanding as you."
"He hasn't told them yet?"
"No. I know he doesn't have the best relationship with his father, and I admit I'm a bit worried about Danny telling him about us alone."
"I'm sure you'll both be there for him no matter how they react." Millie told him certainly. "And he'll always have his mother-in-law there as well - as will Hermione. Which brings me to when do I get to meet them?"
Mac chuckled at his mother's enthusiasm.
"How about in a couple of weeks? We can see how it goes from there."
"Perfect - I'll phone you just before that with my flight arrangements. When do you have to go back this time?" She asked after catching Mac look at his watch.
"Actually, I should probably be getting back now. I sort of wanted this to be a surprise if you agreed, so everyone thinks I'm in meetings this afternoon." Mac explained, slightly abashed at admitting he was playing hooky as Millie quietly chuckled. "It's not like I normally make a habit of this!" Mac suddenly felt like he was fourteen again having to explain a bad grade to his parents.
"It's okay honey, I'm sure you don't." Millie replied in that tone only mothers can achieve before giving him another brief hug and a light kiss to his forehead. "I'll see you in a couple of weeks."
Mac managed to retain the rest of his dignity (as well as remember that he was now an adult) and left his mother with a goodbye and a promise to pick her up from the airport. He fished out his phone as he walked down the steps of the house and called Harry in New York to arrange to be picked up. The conversation was extremely brief as Harry simply told Mac to meet him where he'd been dropped off.
Mac had been standing underneath the flyover for a few minutes when he thought he heard a quiet 'pop' sound and looked around for the younger wizard just as he revealed himself - that is, he revealed his head. The rest of him was still hidden and Mac couldn't help be startled by the sight of Harry's floating head asking him how things had gone.
"Oops, sorry." Harry said apologetically as he took the cloak from his shoulders revealing the rest of his body to the gaping detective. "How did it go then? With you mum?" He repeated.
"Went fine." Mac answered distractedly as he reached out a hand to the general vicinity of Harry's arms and his fingers encountered a soft, almost velvet-like material that his eyes couldn't see. "What is that?"
"It's my dad's invisibility cloak - more reliable than a charm. It's kind of been locked away in my trunk for a while and I thought I'd get it out. Though, as it looks quiet," Harry added as he looked around the deserted street, "I don't think we'll actually need it."
"We're not flying then?" Mac asked and he honestly wasn't sure if that was disappointment or relief in his voice at the prospect.
"No, it'll be easier to apparate as it's not too far. Less risk of being seen." Harry informed him as he took a step closer to the other man. "Like the way Mione did it after the attack in Central Park - just close your eyes and concentrate on me."
Doing as he was told Mac closed his eyes, taking an instinctive deep breath at the same time, and felt Harry's arms secure themselves around his waist and then the familiar 'pop' which this time was accompanied with a sense of dizziness and nausea that took a moment to pass. When Mac opened his eyes again it was to find himself in Harry's apartment and most of the living area being taken up by a partly-made motorcycle and it's parts.
"How is, your project going?" Mac asked a little brokenly as he tried to settle his stomach and steady himself on wobbly legs.
Harry's tone was suddenly unusually steely and Mac turned to look at the younger man to find him staring at Mac with his arms crossed over his chest and a slightly hardened look on his face.
"So, how bad was the fight last night?" Harry asked his not-yet-Bonded, possibly-to-be brother-in-law. "Didn't ask earlier - what with going to talk to your mum and all - but that apparently well so no reason not to ask now."
'Oh crap' Mac thought before stopping himself from reacting like a teenager again - well, a normal teenager, as opposed to the rather intimidating pseudo-teenager in front of him.
"Are you seriously happy for her to meet with this woman alone?" The older man snapped back.
"Okay, one - it's Skeeter she's meeting, not a pack of Death Eaters. And two - she's not meeting her alone, she'll be with our friend Kingsley who also happens to be the current Head of the Ministry. Whatever it is Mione has planned for Skeeter, Kingsley won't let that old hag hurt Mione. It may be difficult for you to accept but Mione's faced a lot of dangers, has had to fight for her life, without the need for you to protect her - and frankly you can't protect her." Harry said in even tones, trying to get his point across without yelling, or resorting to demonstrations. Though he did resort to giving an example.
"When the person responsible for my parent's deaths was trying to evade capture he miscalculated a spell meant to stop the wizard chasing him - so he killed twelve innocent Muggles in the process. Apparently it was like a bomb went off, there would have been nothing any of the Muggles could have done to protect themselves, or stop him. And there is nothing you can do either, except get in Mione's way and get either her or yourself killed. You need to learn to accept that you can't protect her from our world."
"And if I can't?" Mac asked carefully.
"You don't have a choice anymore. You were told not to start this with Mione unless you could accept how things had to be. You want to stay with Mione and Danny you have to accept that you can't protect her from magic. Any more than she can protect you from a perp with a gun on the street."
"Now answer my question." Harry demanded after a moment's silence and dashing any hopes Mac had that he hadn't noticed.
"I screwed up." Mac admitted reluctantly. "I've already apologised."
"Good. Now how are you going to make it up to her?" Harry continued questioning.
"Are you sure you want the intimate details?" Mac asked slyly and watched in satisfaction as Harry blanched at the possible details.