.

Chapter 8

.

The hospital wing. Why is she here? The smell is so familiar, so distinct. Why the scent of antiseptic prevails in a world where it is unneeded, Poppy cannot even begin to guess. The material beneath her is soft to the touch, as if every fabric in the wizarding world. At least those that aren't meant to be rough for magic-related reasons.

"Miss Evans? Good you're awake. You were found passed out on the third floor." Damn it. How the hell had she passed out?

Poppy's mind scrambles, trying to cast back to what she'd been doing on the third floor. She'd been at the library, she recalls, searching for a book that'd help with her transfigurations assignment. Had she found the book? Yeah, she had. She can recall the weight of the tome in her arms, can remember walking down the corridor. Remember leaning against the ancient stone walls when a sweeping dizziness had hit her. It hadn't been the first one in the last two months or so, and she'd resolutely settled against the architecture, ready to wait it out once again.

Then, then nothing.

Scrubbing the heel of her palms into her eyes, Poppy sighs, toes wiggling and there's not a part of her body that isn't fully functioning. She's good to go.

The removal of her hands from her eyes however, proves her fellow Poppy isn't about to let her go anywhere.

Madam Pomfrey, the woman who shares her first name, scowls down at her with an impressive level of critique, judging her.

Evidentially, Poppy has been found wanting.

"I'm good to go?" Poppy tries, even though she can see with that oh so very serious look that such a thing isn't the case. It isn't the case at all.

"Not in the slightest, Miss Evans. You are so very far from 'good to go' that it is laughable." Well shit.

"I've got things I nee-"

"What you need, Miss Evans, is to sit down and listen to me. You should have come to me straight away when the dizzy spells first started."

Double shit, how does she know it's happened more than once? Poppy's no medical professional, her knowledge on anything more than basic healing (and fast, emergency first-aid) is woefully lacking. Pomfrey can probably conclude it's happened more than once, and if magic can't let her do that, then certainly the defeated look upon Poppy's face can.

"And then I would ask why you have triple the recommended amount of Wideye and Invigoration Draught running through your system, but I'm reasonably certain I already know the answer to that. And that's not all." Triple shit… wait, triple the recommended amount? That's, that's probably not good.

By Pomfrey's face, it's unquestionably not good.

Sucking in her bottom lip, Poppy's brain whirls. Not all? She doesn't have some kind of Horcrux residue on her, does she? How long would such a thing last, if so? How would she get rid of it if that were the case?

But no, that can't be it, if that were the case, Pomfrey'd have already called the Aurors, the Aurors or Dumbledore. That kind of magic, it's dark, tainted. She wants to liken it to an ink splatter on blank canvas, but Poppy can hardly be as pure as a blank canvas now, can she? Not with some of the spells she's used to try destroying the Diadem. Oh, she knows Fiendfyre would work, but she doesn't want to risk the Room of Requirement just yet and Basilisk venom is more expensive than she can afford.

"Miss Evans!"

Snapping to attention, Poppy forcibly does not quiver, instead lowering the wand she has instinctively pointed at the nurse.

There's a moment of tense silence between them and Poppy can only wonder what the other thinks of her. Caught with too much potion in her system (she had no idea the residue remained in the body so long) and with a hair-line trigger temper, pulling her wand on the first thing that startles her… it's not looking too good.

"I need to be paranoid," Poppy hastily points out, not quite storing her wand but instead bringing it down to rest beside her thigh, "political climate as it is, and given that I'm a muggleborn-"

"And pregnant."

"-and pre-" Poppy chokes.

What.

She heard that wrong, didn't she? She can't have just heard those two words, no, because-

"I had my period last week!"

"Your body is completely out of sync thanks to those potions you've been religiously chugging, Miss Evans! You're lucky your eyeballs haven't popped out." That's, that's not a serious worry, is it?

Not entirely sure if Pomfrey is joking, Poppy instead turns her gaze down upon herself, staring at her stomach in wide eyed horror. There can't be another life in there, can there?

"It was just one time," the whimper passes through her lips with little thought and Pomfrey's lips thin in the corner of Poppy's vision. "I thought it took more goes than this."

God, the only family Poppy can recall popping out children effortlessly is the Weasleys. She'd even done a miniature study on it in her third year; conclusion being that witches and wizards had a much harder time conceiving than muggles.

"Perhaps it's a small blessing in disguise you've remained on those potions, Miss Evans; your own magic has been fighting the foetus; were that not the case it'd never have gotten past the second week."

She's gonna be sick.

It must have shown on her face because there's a bucket before Poppy a moment later and then she's throwing up, upchucking the contents of her stomach again and again but that's not going to bring the baby in there up. Her midriff quivers, shaking and spasming, unsure if it has finished with her or not. Poppy remains curled over the bucket, grimacing at the vomit that invades her nostrils but hell, she can't find the energy to depose of it. She's even let go of her wand, has left it lying beside her leg on the mattress and she can't remember the last time she'd done that, not had her wand to hand she means.

"Miss Evans, if this is a problem, there are options-"

"I'm well aware, Madam Pomfrey. But I can handle it."

The low humph, the disbelieving stare and the pity- fuck, Poppy doesn't need the pity. She doesn't want it either.

"I can handle it," Poppy repeats, one hand clenching into the bedsheets as Pomfrey removes the bucket from her lap, the other going for her wand again. The elder wood ('been a while since I sold an elder wand, bit of a reputation for being mischancy and destined for highly unusual personals') thrums beneath her fingertips, cool and giving no indication of the dragon heartstring that lies beneath.

She needs to reconsider her priorities, needs to get a plan together but there's one very obvious thing she has to do right now.

"I need to see the Headmaster." And doesn't it sting to admit that.

.

Her Hufflepuff year-mates stare at her when she packs her belongings with a flick of her wand but Poppy's past the point of caring. It's not that they've never gotten along, she's just never had a need (or a desire) to interact with them and after the first month, they'd stopped trying. They'd just politely ignored her from then on, only offering her a place with them for the big events, such as the first Hogsmeade visit. She'd turned them down of course, too interested in exploring the village on her own, disinclined to follow them from shop to shop like a lost little puppy dog. No, she'd kept to herself.

And speaking of keeping to herself, Poppy had pointed out Pomfrey was bound by oath to not share any information in regard to a patient, which included Poppy's status of being… being pregnant.

Her hands curl into the thick material of her jumper, the castle cold even in this mid-March weather.

Dumbledore had stared intently at her throughout the entirety of her talk with him, but not once had she felt that fleeting brush against mind. He'd tried to talk her out of it, but Poppy had been unmoving in her insistence.

She was leaving Hogwarts to protect her family in these rough and troubled times. What she didn't say was such a thing wasn't the only reason she was going. She can always apply to sit her NEWTs at a later date. She can't postpone a... a baby.

A laugh escapes from between her lips before she can stop it and Poppy comes to a halt by the gates of Hogwarts.

She cannot stay here.

There's too many supporters of Voldemort waiting in the wings, ready to join his ranks when they graduate. If they haven't already. She's no doubt marked as a target because of the trouble Lily and Potter have been causing the Dark Bastard, adding a baby to that?

No, it's better she go into a form selective of hiding. She'll still keep in contact with the family, with her parents and Lily and Petunia…

What are her sisters going to think of her? They're both married, married to men who treat them both right (even if Poppy herself is not particularly fond of either man) and yet it's her, it's the youngest of them that's pregnant. The one who's single, who hasn't even started to get her life together and it's all just piling up and piling up-

"Miss Red?"

Drawing in a sharp breath at the unexpected voice, Poppy lowers her wand, the tip having been pointed right at the tender skin resting between wide eyes.

"Dolly?"

"Miss Red! The elves says youse is leaving!"

Blinking slowly, Poppy casts a telling glance to her trunk, charmed weightless and pulling along behind her.

"Yeah. Yeah, I'm leaving. I've, well," Poppy trails off, dropping her trunk in order to scrape her hair up into a magically bound pony.

"Then Dolly be's coming with youse! Miss Red be's needing Dolly's help, yes she's is."

"Okay." She's not about to turn down an offer of help, not about to ask Dolly if she's sure. A house elf would be incredibly helpful (Kreacher had proven that in a book once, aiding Regulus beyond what any wizard would do) and most importantly, house elves are loyal. "You'll be my elf?"

"Dolly'll be's Miss Red's elf!"

"Good. That's good. Thank you, Dolly."

.

.


.

.

The charred husk that once held a thousand years history is sat on Regulus' new desk. Until recently, it'd also held the slithered soul of a mad-man. Or rather, part of it.

Prodding the remains with his wand, Regulus leans back in his chair, satisfied.

The Dark Lord is once again made mortal, made mortal by Regulus' own wand. Kreacher had suggested Fiendfyre, and so they had apparated out to a small, uninhabited island in the very north of the Scottish waters. The flames had finally ceased burning four days after they were first given life, swallowing much of the island whole. The sea had claimed the rest, quenching the fuel-less fire, the tendrils of flames disappearing into the hungry depths.

That's it.

He's done his part in this blasted war, risked his neck (and nearly been killed because of it) and now he sits and he waits. It will not be safe for him to resurface in society until the Dark Lord is dead, but the Horcrux has been gone for two months now.

Surely someone will have gotten a hit in on the Dark Lord by now?

No, no they wouldn't have, of course not.

The only one who dares to duel the Dark Lord is Albus Dumbledore, the very same man who had defeated Grindelwald but failed utterly at killing the man. Even now he remains locked up in his former stronghold.

Problem is, that's not going to work with the Dark Lord. He stronger than Grindelwald, that much is clear. Either that, or Dumbledore has grown weaker in his old age.

They are evenly matched and should Dumbledore falter for a second, then there shall be no one left to destroy the Dark Lord, mortal as he is now.

What good is mortality when one cannot land the killing blow? The Curse of Achilles, a man made invincible against all things, barring one weakness. The only man capable of striking through that armour refuses to use a killing blow.

It's the height of vexation, it makes Regulus' teeth grind.

If Dumbledore fails, Regulus'll never be able to return to England, to his identity.

He is a Black, a proud one. He refuses to live in a world where he has to hide that. Such a thing means, however, that he cannot continue on with the Dark Lord out there living.

The Dark Lord may push the agenda of blood purity (Why doesn't he use his name? Aunt Cassiopeia made such a valid point, why doesn't he use his name?) and Regulus still believes that mudbloods belong beneath him.

The thought of Evans beneath him, cheeks flushed, spine arching, is one he hastily pushes away.

It would appear that he's going to have to come up with a back-up plan.

The Dark Lord believes himself immortal and thus, his arrogance with such a thing will know no bounds.

Still, the man is paranoid, clever and suspicious. If Regulus is going to kill him, he's going to need to do this properly. The true Slytherin way. With cunning and resourcefulness in spades. It'll take time, but it is not as if he hasn't got anything but that on his hands already.

"Kreacher! I need you to go and fetch some books for me!"


Well, a few of you have already seen it coming (I hope that was from the whole plant thing because that's the big hint I was dropping) but hey-ho. Why pregnant? Because life always throws you curve-balls and I wanted to have Poppy struggle a bit more.

Thanks for reading,

Tsume
xxx