A/N: Sorry about the late update everyone! I have been working all summer long and have just purchased a new laptop. Now here you all are.

Chapter 15: Relief

Severus paced outside Dalen's room. His heart in his throat. Narcissa would probably yell at him for being out of bed, but he was frightened. What if they hadn't reached Dalen in time?

The panic that he had felt when he saw Narcissa rushing from his rooms, wand in hand and almost begging to his potions bag. Dalen had been brought in to the manor near four in the morning, struggling to breath and tainted with Black Magic. The feeling of dirtiness that the taint left behind made Severus' skin crawl.

The healing had gone well into the morning and afternoon. Now, Narcissa was resting and Marvolo had been sitting with his son for the entire ordeal. Lucius had only just looked in to see how they were doing.

The door opened. Lucius looked less worried than before, but no less concerned for the tiny child that had captured their hearts.

"Well? How is he?"

"He is sleeping still. But better. He wheezes occasionally still, but in no danger of dying. Cissa says that if he makes it through tonight, he will be fine." Severus breathed a sigh of relief. Dalen was going to be all right. He was going to live. He would be fine.

"You need to get back to bed Severus. You will want to be better before Dalen is, so you can sit with him without being in pain." Lucius grabbed Severus by the shoulder and supported him, guiding him back to his rooms. Severus made to protest, but thought better of it. Narcissa would have his head if he even tried to go into Dalen's room when he was still injured. And Lucius would end up on the couch for not trying to prevent him hard enough.

"Come old friend. The sooner you are better, the sooner you will see him."

~~~~FROM THE DARK~~~~~

Marvolo cradled Dalen's tiny hand as he slept. He had been praying. He hadn't prayed since the sisters in the orphanage had forced him to. Not since he had realized that he didn't need some higher power to help him if he had magic. But now he was. Dalen had been subject to horrendous torture and been the victim of a black magic ritual. He needed all the help he could get.

Narcissa had left not even an hour ago, exhausted but relieved, and already Marvolo felt a touch of fear for his son. She had said that if Dalen survived the night, he was on the road to recovery. But there was always that chance that he wouldn't survive the night. And didn't that terrify him. He feared falling asleep and he feared leaving. If he wasn't there when Dalen woke up, or even if he… if he…died. What kind of a parent did that make him?

He knew that there were other responsibilities to his country, but he couldn't leave his son. Not after losing him so soon before. Magical Britain could wait. Black could wait. Everything outside of this room was irrelevant.

There was a light knock on the door.

"Enter." Marvolo called out, his voice hard. Lucius carefully pushed into the room. He moved carefully, like he was approaching a wild animal.

"I have sent Severus back to his rooms for rest, my lord. Is there anything you wish me to do before I go to check on Draco?"

"No Lucius. Thank you for your assistance in rescuing Dalen. I… appreciate it." Marvolo was not good at thanking people. He was even worse at apologizing, but thanking was difficult too.

"No thanks needed Marvolo. I love him like you do, and he is Draco's best friend. How couldn't I?" He gave a rye chuckle, "Draco would never have forgiven me."

The two shared a moment of silence before Lucius turned and left the room. Marvolo looked again at his child, so tiny and vulnerable, snuggled deeply into the enormous bed. He would never forget this moment, ever. And even when Dalen was older and didn't appreciate his doting, he would always remember this picture of his tiny, fragile, beautiful child.

~~~~FROM THE DARK~~~~~

Draco knew that there was something going on in the manor. He had received a letter the previous night explaining that there was going to be a raid. That they were going to find Dalen. But he had heard nothing after that. There had been only silence.

The other Slytherin's were quiet too. Those who had parents in the Dark Lords ranks were on edge. The entire school had noticed the silence of the green and silver banners.

Draco tried to focus on his astronomy report, but found that his mind kept wandering to the stricken face of Dalen Riddle as Black floo'd away with him in tow. Nicholas Evans had been quiet too. He kept to himself and said nothing to anyone, even his old friends. The Weasley's had been less friendly and understanding than the great Nicholas Evans had even considered. Ron had gone out of his way to persuade Nick that Dalen had gotten what was coming to him. Draco had earned himself a detention for punching the brat in the face when he had heard the accusations.

McGonagall made excellent tea he learned.

~~~~FROM THE DARK~~~~~

Lilly paced in front of the fireplace. Her thoughts had been causing chaos in her mind ever since Dalen had been captured. She wanted her second child back, badly. But what her mind had been concocting was nothing short of kidnapping. She would not be Black. She would not cause the pain that she had felt when she had realized that Dalen was her Harry on another parent.

She had Nicholas and that was enough.

"Lilly? Lils are you home?" Remus Lupin's face appeared in the floo. His expression was a mixture of joy and deep betrayal.

"Yes Remus? What is it?" Concern for her long time friend was her only emotion. Had something happened, had he found out.?

"Lils. They've found Dalen. They healed him long into last night and this afternoon. They say that if he survives tonight he will be on the road to recovery. But Lils. They found Sir- Black! They are going to kill him and then I will be on my own. Again!" Lilly could sympathize. Remus, Sirius and James had been inseparable since Hogwarts first year. Now, Remus was forced to see the true depravity of their minds. He was going to lose both of his best friends.

"Oh Remmy. Come through. We can talk properly here." There was only seconds between his face vanishing and Lilly having her arms full of sobbing werewolf.

"I know I should hate him! I should hate what he has become and what he did, but all I can see is the fun loving boy who played with me on the full moons."

"Oh Remus. No one expects you to just forget your past; they know that you two had a history together. No one can look down on you for crying over your best friend." Lilly held him as he cried out his pain and betrayal and pure loss. As they sat she too began to cry. For her lost chance and her lost husband who had provided her with a beautiful baby boy. But she cried even more the child she had never known, and would never know.

~~~~FROM THE DARK~~~~~

Dalen woke to warmth. The cold days in his cage had been familiar, but gut-wrenchingly difficult. Now however, there was only warmth and comfort. He was painless. There were aches in his bones and a fair amount of discomfort, but he no longer hurt all over.

He could feel something squeeze his hand. He tried to open his eyes, but was forced to close them when the light shone directly into them. He must have made a noise of discomfort because a second later there was the sound of closing curtains and the sensation of a hand on his cheek.

"Come on my boy. Just open your eyes child, it's alright." There it was. That comforting voice that he had feared he had lost forever. His father had come for him His father had rescued him. Master Black was not nearby, his cruel voice or deranged laughter echoed only in his memories.

He opened his eyes carefully.

The room was his, from the manor. There was even a stuffed animal on the shelves and books too. But beside him, was his fathers' worried face. His blue eyes were wide and full of hope.

"Oh my child. My precious precious child. You made it. You made it." Dalen was confused, what had he made? Was it bad? Had he been bad already?

"I'm sorry." He rasped out in a flood of desperation.

"You have nothing to be sorry for. Nothing at all. Go back to sleep dear heart." Dalen could feel his eyes getting heavy, and they stung a bit, but he didn't really want to go to sleep. He wanted to see his…

~~~~FROM THE DARK~~~~~

"Daddy…" Dalen whispered as he drifted off. Marvolo smiled a wet, but happy smile. His child had survived the night. He was on the road to recovery, and by no means was it going to be easy, but the worst had passed.

Everything was going to be all right, for the time being. Circe knows it would be trying and even impossible at some times. But for now, Dalen was happy, moderately healthy, but alive and getting better.

He could deal with everything else later.

~~~~FROM THE DARK~~~~~

Narcissa found Dalen fast asleep the next morning but with good vital signs and strong breathing. And his father passed out next to him, draped over the bed.

This was one for the photo album.

A/N: And there we go. Finished. There may be an epilogue if I can get around to it. But I have so many other stories I need to finish or at least wrap up in a good place. Please check out my profile for my other works and give me a review.