A/N:

Hey, so many reviews! More than I expected, not that I would complain. I was already worried, that I'm taking the story to a horrible early death with the rubbish I'm writing. And sorry, I was really stressed and then I got the flu, and yep, I admit, I got this chappie finished later than planned. I still got the flu, but I wanted to finish and post, so, I hope it is not too bad.

Well, and here we go again...

oooooo Chapter 31 oooooo

Never Say Never

The sound of the rain against the window panes was making him sleepy. Slowly he moved the tea spoon through the dreg at the bottom of his long emptied cup. He wondered where the other boy was, and if he was well. Was he listening to the rain and thinking of him right now, just like he did?

"Are those slippers I see on your feet, darling?"

Startled, Draco let the spoon fall from his fingers and looked up to meet cerulean eyes. Narcissa Malfoy subtly raised an eyebrow, as she gave him a motherly once-over. Embarrassed, Draco pulled his stretched out feet beneath him to hide his muddy house shoes from her scrutinizing look, and got up to greet his mother.

"You're looking lovely, mother," Draco said, as Narcissa planted a peck in the air beside his cheek.

The svelte woman seemed to have put on weight, but to Draco's surprise it was becoming her. She looked healthier and happier than ever before. Her radiant smile was so very opposing what he felt inside, and frighteningly enough it reminded him of the weasel's mother.

"Thank you!" she beamed at him, as she took her seat and stowed her umbrella away. "And you're looking...well."

A grooming spell later, Draco's hair was impeccable.

"Mother!" the pregnant boy yelped indignantly, mussing his hair up once again.

He must have been six or seven years old, when his mother had last used this spell on him. What was possessing that woman to treat him like a small child in public!

"Being pregnant does not mean that you can go around unkempt," the blonde woman scolded him softly. "You must never neglect yourself. Especially married people tend to forget how important it is to keep their appearance well-groomed. You don't want your husband to go astray, do you? By the way, where's Harry got to?"

Draco's mood darkened in a twinkling. So he was fat and sloppy. But was that any reason for Harry to cheat on him with Severus Snape of all people? Severus was not exactly an attractive person as well! Once again he wondered how his mother could have dropped somebody like Lucius Malfoy for a shady Potions teacher, a Potions teacher who was shagging his own student before slipping into his mother's bed.

All of a sudden Draco was not hungry any longer, shaking his head, when his mother offered to order for him. They both kept silent, until Madam Puddifoot had placed a cup of coffee and a piece of cake in front of Narcissa Malfoy. Draco stared out the window, while his mother was quietly sipping on her brew, her arms propped up on the table in a very relaxed manner, something else he had never seen her doing before. She had changed alot. But then, they had all changed alot during the last months.

"So where is Harry? Don't tell me that he left you here without protection," his mother said with accusatory undertones, watching him intently over her cup.

The rain was still coming down in torrents. For a moment Draco had to fight the urge to jump up and escape into the rain. All the words said and still unsaid were swirling around in his head, making him jittery with discontent.

"I'm able to fend for myself, mother," Draco grumbled.

"Oh, I know that, Draco!" she placated him, as she placed her cup on the small table between them. "But it is really not safe for you to run around all alone! So what do you need my help for? Do you want to buy something for Harry? A romantic surprise perhaps?"

Draco swallowed, regarding his fingernails with great interest. One of them actually had a bit dirt under it.

"Draco?" his mother asked, gently laying her hand over his. "What happened?"

Swallowing down the lump blocking his throat, he looked up.

"I left Harry," he breathed, blinking back tears.

Bugger, he was such a crybaby, he thought angry with himself. The blond woman looked around, before casting a mumbled "Muffliato!"

"I don't understand," Narcissa said, aghast. "You are married for some months only. What happened?"

Draco gave his mother a blank look.

"I thought...I thought you already knew, that he was cheating on me," he choked out, cringing at the shame he suddenly felt.

"He did what?" the blond woman hissed, her rosy cheeks slowly catching a red tint. "Oh, I'll strangle that boy when I get my hands on him!"

Confused Draco was rubbing the spot on his forehead behind which a splitting headache seemed to hatch. Why did she pretend not to know about it? It made no sense, as he had clearly heard them talking about it. He was no fool! They had all tried to keep it from him! Yet his mother was looking sincerely scandalised.

"But...Severus said, he had to keep you from telling me...What was it then that you wanted to tell me?"

Her face once again lit up with a beautiful smile. For a moment he suspected that it was pity, that she was trying to cheer him up, but then he realised that her eyes were gleaming with true joy. In view of his own misery, his mother's happiness was short of untoward, Draco thought, slightly miffed.

"Oh yes, I wanted to tell you for some time already, but we were not sure how you'd take it... You have to promise me not to get upset!"

Expectantly the blond woman looked at him. Her slender hands were shifting her cup to and fro, betraying her nervousness. Was this still about the affair Severus and Harry had had? Or was it even worse than he was thinking? Then why did she look as if she was happy about whatever it was? Oh Merlin, please, don't let her say she wants to marry Severus, Draco thought, clenching his teeth together. He had come here to ask her for help, not to be showered with more terrible revelations. He was not ready to hear it, whatever it was.

"Just tell me. I can take it," Draco said against his better judgement, schooling his face into a mask of stone.

For a moment his mother looked at him with doubt, then she gave a curt nod.

"Well, Severus and I, we, that means I- "

A loud bang from the street interrupted her. With a frown she turned around in her chair, before she faced Draco once again.

"What I wanted to say was...I'm expec- "

The detonation came as a shock. Plaster was fluttering down on them like snow, when the first scream arose in front of the small tea shop. A smell of burning was filling Draco's nostrils, convincing him for a hopeful moment, that it was only lightning, which had been striking. His chest seemed to constrict, when he saw dark figures moving through the rain, leaving him gasping for breath. A table was crashing to the ground, knocked over by a young wizard with a ridiculous hat, who landed right next to it, just to disappear in the onrush of fleeing wizards and witches, whose squeales were reminding Draco of pigs on their way to the slaughterhouse, as they tried to push and shove their way out of the cramped tea shop.

"Death Eaters! We have to take flight!" his mother called out over the deafening chaos of screams and bangs, as she jumped up.

Draco could not help the awkward sensation of being caught in a very bizarre and terrible dream. His legs seemed to be made of jelly, and his arms were hardly obeying his will, as he pulled his wand out of its pocket. Panic was roaring in the back of his mind, rapidly taking over. He had to get away from here. Right now! Raising his wand, he pointed it at himself.

"Appa- "

"Don't!" his mother screamed at him. "You'll splinch yourself! There are anti-Apparition wards on every shop, Draco! We have to reach the street first!"

Staring at his wand, he let it slowly sink. The idea to end up with his body parts strewn over the floor of a doily-infested tea shop sent a shiver down his spine. With big eyes he took in the chaos around him. Bugger, where was Harry when he needed him? But then his husband's words came to his mind. ...He's weak and emotionally unstable... Angrily Draco shook his head, gritting his teeth, as he tried to slow his heartbeat with deep breaths. He could do this! He would prove that he was anything but the whimpering coward Harry thought him to be! On shaky legs he stepped over to his mother, who seemed ready to blast a hole into the mass of tangled limbs blocking the front door, and grabbed her arm to pull her deeper into the small tea shop.

"Mom, let's take to the back and over the hills!"

His mother nodded her approval and threw open the door to the kitchen. They both froze at the sight of a wand pointed straight at them. With a sigh of relief Madam Puddifoot let her shaking hand fall to her side, as if she had been holding up a too heavy weight.

"Oh Merlin, I thought it's them!" she wheezed, before taking a generous swig from an open bottle of Irish Mist, which she had been holding in her other hand.

"Is there a backdoor?" Narcissa Malfoy asked impatiently.

"Of course! But you cannot go out there!" The woman cried hysterically. "They are everywhere! They'll kill us all! Each and everyone of us!"

The words reminded Draco of the stories he had heard about Professor Trelawney's notorious prophecies. Even though he knew Madam Puddifoot's warnings to be no more than the voiced fears of a scared woman, they made his skin crawl with a sense of foreboding. His mother had already rushed ahead through the kitchen and a large, dark storage room filled with shelves full of cakes and bags of tea, into a narrow passage lined with a single window and three doors, one of them leading to the back of the house.

"Hurry up!" Narcissa Malfoy called over her shoulder, before she unhinged the door with a blast of her wand and rushed outside.

Draco knew that something was amiss, when his mother froze in her tracks, her eyes unblinking in the pouring rain.

"Look at whom we have here! The traitor's whore!" a deep voice hissed maliciously.

"Avery," Narcissa Malfoy said almost pleadingly, as she slowly brought up her wand.

"Where is your brood?" the man bit out harshly.

The blond woman stepped back, slowly shaking her head. "I don't know what-"

"Crucio!"

Narcissa's own curse died on her lips, as she was engulfed by the cruel force of the torture curse. With a suppressed scream she fell to the ground, her face a mask of agony. For an endless moment Draco could do nothing but watch the proud woman writhing on the muddy ground, as panic-stricken fear of once again ending up in the clutches of the Dark Lord rendered him paralysed. Then he tore himself out of his torpor, swallowing back fear tasting of bile, and stepped into the rain, his wand gripped tightly in his trembling hand.

"Reducto!"

Draco's curse caught the bulldog-faced man off guard and hit him head on, making him explode like an over-ripe watermelon. Taking in big gulps of air, Draco tried to suppress the urge to throw up - or to faint - whatever would come first. He should have used another curse, he thought, running a shaky hand through his sodden hair. Obviously the Reductor Curse was not supposed to be used on humans. But then he had never been in combat. Nothing had ever prepared him for the everything devouring fear which was erasing all conscious thought, leaving him with nothing but instinct and scattered remnants of long ago memorized spells and curses. The sight of the bloodied Death Eater was not for a faint-hearted, weak-stomached pregnant boy like him. Turning away from the ghastly sight Draco offered a shaky hand to his mud-covered mother.

With a groan Narcissa Malfoy struggled onto her feet, just when a man in dark robes came dashing around the corner of the house. He was skidding to a halt as he became aware of Draco and his mother, who were both aiming at his blotched face. The wizard's eyes widened, as he noticed Avery's remains on the ground, then they swivelled back to regard the two blondes with horror. Narcissa let her wand sink with an uptight "Goodday, Mr. Flume!" while Draco still contemplated, if the black-clad owner of Honeydukes was not in fact a Death Eater in disguise.

A nerv twitched beside the wizard's left eye, as he very slowly raised his wand, cautious not to trigger any reaction from the trembling blond boy...and Apparated. For a moment Draco thought that the flash in the sky was a sign that the heavy rain had turned into a thunderstorm. But then sparks fell to the ground, leaving behind a head with gaping eyes right where the hapless wizard had stood a mere second ago, and a body, which was slowly sitting up in a patch of primroses. Draco shuddered, only too aware of that he had twice escaped the wizard's fate only narrowly.

Narcissa Malfoy pushed her son back into the house, swearing very unladylike.

"They're searching for you," she whispered, her fingernails digging deep into Draco's upper arms. "And we cannot Apparate out. They must have put an anti-Apparition ward on the whole village! Only the Dark Lord himself could work such complex magic within this short time."

Water was slowly dripping from the tip of Draco's nose, as he met his mother's anxious gaze. But all he saw was a dark room filled with snakes. He would rather die than go back! Never again the Dark Lord's touch would make his skin crawl! The baby was kicking in his womb, reminding him of that he had sworn to raise his child far from all this madness. Draco placed his hand on his belly, wishing that he would be able to keep his promise. His son should not grow up in that dark place, his mind poisoned by the inhuman insanity of his creator!

Suddenly the blond woman struggled out of her robes and held them out for him. "Put these on!"

"What? Nuh! Why?" Draco stuttered, staring with consternation at the proffered robes.

"We need to make you unrecognisable. Now be a good boy and stretch out your arm," she commanded adamantly.

Growling his displeasure, Draco slipped his right arm into a dripping sleeve. Not only were they purple and soiled with mud and dashes of Avery's blood, the wet robes were also clinging uncomfortably to his body, making the simple task of putting them on an arduous one. He was still pulling at the hems of the too short sleeves to force them to cover his longer arms, when his mother's wand took aim at his head. His scalp immediately started to tickle in an alarming way. Draco's eyes observed with dread, as his blond hair rapidly gained length and changed color, until it lay around his shoulders in a curly dark mane.

"You made me a girl!" he protested, unhappily pulling at a strand of hair until it sprang back into a perfect corkscrew curl. "A girly girl! I'm looking like Pansy when she was five!"

Draco did not like the entranced look his mother gave him. Her smile was by far too rapt.

"You know, I've always wanted a girl," she said smugly, before she cautiously peeked out of the door. "They are everywhere...I doubt we can make it far enough. We have to split up. They will expect us to be together."

"I cannot let you go alone, mom! Two wands are better than one," Draco insisted, unsure himself, if it was his need to protect her or his fear of being left alone in this pandemonium of screaming people, flying curses and burning houses, which was speaking out of him.

"Draco, you have to think of your child! We are only two against maybe twenty Death Eaters. If you fight they might hurt or even kill you," The blond woman paused for some seconds to listen to the voices which were coming closer, while she nervously twirled her wand between her fingers. "It will be for the best if you stay hidden."

Madam Puddifoot's shrill cry resounded in the house, before it was cut off by a shouted curse. The Death Eaters were in the kitchen now. They were searching...searching for him. Decidedly Draco gripped his wand tighter.

"I won't hide like a coward, pregnant or not!" Draco hissed at her, even though his heart was hammering in his throat.

"I know, Draco. You've become too much of a Gryffindor," his mother said with a sad, little smile. "Stupefy!"

His world exploded in a flash of red light, before it turned into black nothingness.

There was nobody to witness Narcissa Malfoy, as she levitated the limp body of her pregnant son into the pouring rain and dropped him unceremoniously in the mud, face down, before she hurried away.

ooOoo

Harry woke up with a start. He had had a weird dream of Draco and him fighting in the middle of a thunderstorm. The frail blonde had taken him apart, but in the end it had not been him but Draco lying in the mud. Even now he could still feel the slowly fading phantom pain of the injuries he had sustained in his nightmare. With a soft groan he reached to the other side of the bed, but where he expected to find warm skin under his seeking hands there was nothing but cold linen and empty air mocking him.

"Draco?"

Disoriented he sat up, looking around the dimly lit room while he held his aching head. Rain was lashing against the high windows, blurring his view on the green hills around Hogwarts. What was he doing in the hospital wing? He gasped, when his memory of the past events came back, churning in his guts like lava. Why the hell had Sev brought him here instead of patching him up? He could vaguely remember telling the Potions master that he had to search for Draco, but the rest was only a big blank.

"Bastard, slimy bastard, dropping me off in the hospital wing, as if I had done more than banging my head, when he knows I have to find Draco," Harry swore quietly, as he slowly slid off the bed.

On shaky legs he staggered to the next bed, where his wand was sitting atop his clothes, which somebody had deposited there in a neatly folded pile. They had left him only with his underwear and socks, dressing him in one of these ridiculous hospital gowns.

"Already up and about again I see," Poppy remarked, as she bustled out of her office with a tray in her hands. "Right on time for a light supper."

"I have to go," Harry panted, fighting a sudden bout of vertigo as he stepped into his jeans. "Where's Snape?"

"Professor Snape is not here," the nurse replied with a frown, "Narcissa went to Hogsmeade after receiving an urgent owl this afternoon. He followed her right after we brought you here. But I'm sure he'll be back soonest. Until then you will lie down and eat your supper. You have a severe concussion, plus a series of fractured ribs and a cracked skull to boot. The fractures all mended well, but for some time I feared that you had sustained a cerebral hemorrhage. This is not something to be taken lightly. It needs monitoring."

Harry snorted and buttoned his jeans. Poppy was exaggerating, as always. Granted, he was still feeling rather weak and sore, but a headache was no reason for keeping him in the hospital wing. Nothing could hold him here any longer when Draco was out there alone and defenseless, not even a glaring nurse.

"Mr. Potter!" Madam Pomfrey said sternly. "Nobody leaves the hospital wing before I discharge them."

"How long ago did Snape leave?" asked Harry, as he reached for his longsleeve, blatantly ignoring the nurse's threatening stance.

The nurse sighed and put down the tray with Harry's supper.

"He left about twenty minutes ago, but you are in no condition to do the same, young man, unless you want to risk fainting at the most inopportune moment. Concussions are a wicked thing not even magic can heal within a minute. You need to rest."

No rest for the wicked, Harry thought with grim amusement. He needed a map to work the tracking charm he had secretly put on Draco. The dim memory of a fuming blonde tearing off the necklace he had given him last week was tying his stomach into an intricate pattern of knots. He gave a damn on hormons! Draco had been over-emotional, foolish, rash, ugh! Why did the prat have to put on his drama-queen act exactly then, taking the possibility from him to simply use the portkey he had created to take him to his twin? But there was always a plan B. Harry started, when the great double doors flew open, revealing a red-faced Ronald Weasley.

"Hogsmeade is under attack! Professor Dumbledore wants you to get ready for any patients which might be brought to Hogwarts," the freckled boy panted forth, while he darted a hostile look at Harry.

"Oh my goodness, oh my goodness!" the matron called out and bustled back into her office, from which the clinking and clanking of medicine bottles could be heard shortly afterwards.

For a moment Harry met Ron's hostile stare, frozen in a weird position, half in and half out of his navy sweater. His thoughts were running a hundred miles per hour. Narcissa and Severus were in Hogsmeade. Why would she throw all caution to the winds and go to Hogsmeade all alone? With a pained grunt Harry pulled the sweater over his head, his hands suddenly shaking uncontrollably. Narcissa had received a letter ... someone had sent her an urgent message ... someone ...

"Shitshitshit," swore Harry, struggling to put on his shoes without falling over. He was only too sure of why the village was under attack. "Ron, I need your broom!"

Ron just narrowed his eyes, before turning around to leave the infirmary. Hurriedly Harry grabbed his wand and pushed it into his back pocket.

"Ron!" he called out, rushing after the tall red-head to place a halting hand on his shoulder. "Please, Ron, I need to borrow your broom."

Harry could not believe his own ears. He could simply curse the ruddy moron and accio any broom he wanted. Ron froze, staring at Harry's hand as if it was a cockroach, before he shook it off his shoulder.

"Why would the great Harry Potter need my broom? Can't conjure one? Must suck to be a Dark wizard," Ron sneered, his blue eyes sparkling with contempt.

Suppressing the urge to crucio the arrogant ass in front of him, Harry mumbled, "Draco's in Hogsmeade."

Ron's angry eyes bore into Harry's for long seconds, then they softened to the baby blue the boy hero knew so well.

"But make sure to bring it back in one piece!" Ron grumbled.

"I'll try to," Harry promised with a sly smile, as he followed the red-head.

They were making their way quickly and quietly down to the Quidditch Pitch, with a quick side-trip for Ron to retrieve two jackets for them. By the time they had reached the broom shed, the steady downpour was slowing down to a soft rain. Once again Harry wondered, why he had not simply come here alone to 'borrow' the fastest broom. Why could he not shake the feeling that he needed to do this the right way if he wanted to get Draco back? Nervously he observed the Dark Mark floating in the gloomy sky above where the village had to be. He clenched his hands at his sides to stop them from trembling, while Ron unlocked the broomshed and brought out his Cleansweep Eleven. Hesitantly the red-head looked at his broom, then at Harry, and again at his broom, before he handed it to Harry.

"Nought to seventy in ten seconds," Ron said with pride in his voice. "You better hold on well."

"Thanks, Ron," Harry said quietly, cherishing the feeling of the smooth oaken handle under his fingers.

There was no reason to point out that his own Firebolt, which was stowed away in his closet at Grimmauld's, was accelerating with 150mph, Harry thought, as he was swinging his leg over the Cleansweep's handle. After all, the red-head had just handed him his most valuable possession, the racing broom he had gotten for being made a Prefect.

"I really appreciate this, mate."

The words were feeling awkward and good at the same time as they were rolling over Harry's tongue. Ron smiled sheepishly and shoved his large hands into his trouser pockets.

"Take care, mate."

Ron's mumbled words were almost too low for Harry to hear, who had already taken off into the darkening sky.

The lake was a blur beneath him, as he sped across it on his way to the village. Snape was nowhere to be seen, having Harry confident that the man had already reached Hogsmeade. He hoped that the former Death Eater had found not only Narcissa, but also Draco on time. Harry infinitely trusted in the man's abilities to fend off a whole swarm of Death Eaters, if need be, but the closer Hogsmeade drew, the more he got a sinking feeling. The attack was over, the Death Eaters gone, replaced by Aurors.

With his left arm Harry wiped those damnable raindrops away, which were burning in his eyes, as he circled over the devastated village. Smoke columns were rising from several houses, but the fires had been doused by the rain. Curses had blasted holes into walls and shattered doors. Debris was caking the muddy street, which was haunted by wizards and witches who made the impression of Inferi. And inbetween all this there were bodies lying in the dirt. Harry's heart was hammering in his chest, as he finally made out a tall, haggard figure which was checking fallen body after fallen body. His knees threatened to give out under him when he landed. Severus Snape was right in front of him, his black robes billowing in the wind as he came towards Harry at a brisk pace.

"I have to find Narcissa. She has to be here!"

Severus' voice was rough and breathless, and his eyes were mirroring the emotions Harry was trying to hold at bay. Afraid to lose the little control he still had over the panic raging within, Harry gripped Ron's broom tighter.

"Did you see Draco?"

"Draco?" the man asked, preoccupied. "Here?"

Sev's eyes were already straying to a chubby woman in a dotted dress who was just sitting up with a bewildered face, before they moved on with a spark of disappointment. Harry did not need to see the man shaking his head to know that his question was pointless.

"I suppose he was the one who has sent the owl," Harry said, abruptely turning around to make his way down the main street. "Let's search for Narcissa."

He could not stand to look into Sev's face any longer, a white mask of barely veiled anxiety. There was no use in standing around either. They had to find Narcissa ... and Draco.

"Why did you take me to the infirmary?" Harry snapped at the much taller man.

Anything to distract him from the guilt and fear, which were churning in his bowels. Too late. They had taken Draco. The trembling in his hands spread to his belly muscles, his legs...yet he walked even faster, when Severus catched up with him.

"You did not regain consciousness," Severus replied, his eyes roaming over the place. "I feared that you were severely hurt."

Harry would have liked nothing better than to shout at the Potions Master, to blame him for letting Draco go, for wasting precious time. He refused to believe that he could be punished like that for one lapse. He refused to believe in Karma and there was no God! He had done nothing wrong for which he needed to pay. He and Sev had shagged only once, and then he thought Draco ... no, he wouldn't even think that word. Even though Draco had gotten something right by getting something wrong, this was not fair! They were going to be a family, just like Sev and Narcissa and their child ... Please, God, please ...

"Harry?"

A bout of hope was shooting through Harry as he turned around, even though he knew that the voice, which had called out his name, didn't sound like Draco's. An Auror with pink hair stomped through the mud, almost stumbling over a piece of wood.

"Tonks!" he called out with a small smile.

His heart dropped into his gut, when he realised the expression on her face. Snape was shuddering beside him.

"Professor Snape!" she greeted the Potions Master.

Tonks seemed to struggle for words, then she simply stretched out her hand and pointed towards the side street, where a crying woman with black curls was rocking the lifeless body of a petite woman. Harry could recognize none of them, as mud-covered as both of them were.

"Over there," Tonks said haltingly.

Harry had never before seen the Potions Master running. Slowly he stepped closer, afraid to interfere as the man reached out a shaking hand to sweep sodden hair aside before he pulled out a handkerchief and started to clean the woman's face. He had obviously found Narcissa, Harry thought. A cold shiver ran down his back. There was a pool of blood merging under her with the grubby water standing in small puddles on the street.

"She's still alive," Harry heard Sev whispering, then his voice gained volume, "She's alive!"

The trembling man was ablaze with relief, pushing his arms under the unconscious woman's petite body ... and froze.

"Draco?" he asked with disbelief.

The dark-haired woman raised her tear-stained face. Harry's heart missed a heartbeat when grey eyes locked with his, then the moment was gone and the girl let her head fall.

"She stunned me ... I couldn't do a thing."

It was Draco's voice, Draco's hands holding onto his mother's body, Draco's pale face.

"That is what I should have done to you too, foolish boy!" Severus barked, as he raised the petite woman with a grunt into his arms and stood up. "I'm taking her to St. Mungo's!"

A popping sound later Severus and Narcissa had disappeared into thin air, leaving Draco and Harry behind. They both seemed frozen, unsure how to react after their quarrel. Draco's sobs had subsided, but now the pregnant boy was swaying on the spot.

Harry wanted to ask if he was okay, but to his horror he heard the honest but very unfortunate words "You're a beautiful girl," coming out of his mouth instead.

Draco shot him a murderous glance, then he looked away again. Slowly the pregnant boy pushed himself off the ground, uncaring that his hands were sinking deep into the mud. He looked angry and lost and close to fainting, and Harry wanted nothing more than to lock him in his arms.

"I have to know if she's okay," Draco whispered, more to himself than to Harry.

"Draco-"

Harry pulled back his hand, cringing at the coldness in Draco's eyes. He wanted to insist that Draco would Apparate along his side. The boy simply looked too shaken and weak not to splinch himself. But it was as plain as the nose on his face that Draco didn't want anything to do with him right now. Resigned he watched as Draco Apparated, thankfully leaving no body parts behind.

"Tough times, huh?" Tonks said, clapping his shoulder.

"Yeah," Harry sighed, "Tough times."

oooOooo

...level four, spell damage...

Since a grave looking nurse had uttered these words, they were running around in Draco's head in a never ending circle, like background music to his gloomy thoughts.

...level four, spell damage...

That is where they had taken his mother to.

...level four, spell damage...

That is where he was standing now. Far away from the others. Waiting for news. Waiting for the others to blame him openly.

...level four, spell damage...

Severus was pacing like a madman, refusing to even look his way, while Harry was staring at him whenever he thought he wouldn't notice it.

...level four, spell damage...

Draco couldn't take his eyes off the sign beside the entrance to the staircase, reading the same cruel words. The words were ringing in his head, getting shriller and shriller.

...level four, spell damage...

"Are you well?"

Confused Draco looked at the elderly nurse, who was regarding him with furrowed brows.

"Maybe you'd want to sit down," she suggested, already pushing him into a visitor chair. "How long do you have still?"

"What?"

"When is the baby due?"

"Oh...almost two more months, I s'pose," Draco mumbled.

"You're rather big already. Expecting twins?"

Horrified, Draco shook his head.

"Did someone have a look at you already?"

"Me? No. I'm just waiting here. My mother- "

"You've been in the Hogsmeade attack, didn't you?"

Draco nodded, his shaking hand rubbing over a stain on his robes, his mother's robes. Mud and blood. He was dirty all over.

Out of the corner of his eye he could see Harry hovering in the background, observing them closely.

"Not been hit with anything, have you?" the nurse inquired again.

"No, I'm fine, really," Draco assured, wishing that she would leave him alone.

"You should grab a bite to eat, perhaps. You're pale as death," she went on. "Pregnant women shouldn't skip meals, and I bet you didn't eat supper."

Harry was stepping closer, then stopping abruptly with an awkward jolt, as if he had run against a wall.

"I'll bring something for him - her, I mean."

The nurse looked at Harry, as if she had seen him for the first time, then she turned back to Draco with a curious smile.

"Well then, you're in good hands, I see," she said, before she hustled down the passage.

"So - what should I bring for you?" Harry asked.

"I don't want anything," Draco said, grumpily.

"Don't be ridiculous! You've heard the nurse. You have to eat," Harry replied, even more grumpy.

Draco folded his arms and turned his head aside, refusing to meet Harry's angry stare. An exaggerated huff later, hurried footfalls told him that Harry was on his way to the visitor's tearoom nonetheless. Draco's rolling eyes came to rest on the shining brass plate once again.

LEVEL FOUR - SPELL DAMAGE

For a moment or two the words on it were performing a mocking dance. Warily Draco rubbed his eyes. The worry about how badly his mother was 'damaged' was eating at his insides. When he had woken up with his face in the mud, unscathed as luck would have it this time, all danger had been past. His mother's scheme to keep him safe had worked, but he was feeling more of a useless sissy than ever. Tiredly Draco shook his head. He was so frigging tired. Tired of being Draco, tired of being pregnant, tired of being weak. With his father backing him up, he had always felt strong, almost invincible. Then only Harry had been able to beat him, but now...now he was hiding in the guise of a woman and was married to the one who had always gotten the better of him. He had become a helpless, pathetic, despicable creature. Even Severus despised him now. He had seen it in his black eyes. Surrepticiously Draco studied the pacing Potions Master. If, as the nurse had said, he was looking pale as death, then Severus himself looked like death. His face had a greyish tinge to it, and his cheekbones had never before been this prominent. Within an hour he had acquired the look of someone who had spent years of his life in Azkaban. The man looked positively sick and ailing.

"Cucumber, chicken or tuna and apple?" Harry's voice tore him out of his musings.

A slightly tanned hand holding three wrapped sandwiches appeared in front of his face.

"M'not hungry," Draco mumbled and turned his head away; the thought of eating was turning his stomach.

"Severus?" Harry asked, holding out the sandwiches to the tense wizard.

"No, thanks," Severus said, and continued his pacing. His dark, haunted eyes stood in stark contrast to his pinched face, reminding Draco in a horrible way of Lord Voldemort's head, resembling a skull.

"Okay, please yourself," Harry groused.

He threw the sandwiches on the small table beside Draco and let himself fall into the chair next to it. Then he levitated the three paper cups, which were floating in the air beside him, onto the table as well. Draco could smell that they were containing coffee. Hesitantly he reached out for one, scowling at the pleased look Harry gave him as he took his first sip.

Time seemed to stand still, as the passage emptied, until only the three of them were left waiting. They all looked worse for wear, as the day had long turned into night. Even Severus had stopped pacing, and was now leaning against the wall, his head drooping as if he had fallen asleep standing.

"I don't understand why it takes this long," Harry mumbled. "Won't they at least tell us what's going on?"

As if on cue, a door not far from them opened, revealing a nurse with tightly tied back hair, carrying a tray with vials. Eagerly, three pairs of eyes were following her every step, until she disappeared behind another door down the passage. Draco had just sunken back into his stupor of weariness and dark thoughts, when the door was opening once again. A plump man with friendly, red face stepped towards them. With his light green robes and white hair, which was sticking out in all directions, he looked like an overgrown daisy.

"Elias Tew," he introduced himself. "I'm the healer-in-charge of the Anwell Deere ward. You are here for Mrs. Malfoy?"

Harry had jumped up, before Draco could push himself out of his chair. He was feeling as if a Troll was sitting on top of his stomach.

"How's Narcissa?" Severus asked, unable to hide how wrecked he was with tension. "Can we see her?"

"In a moment. First you have to know that her condition is grave. There is evidence that she was exposed to the Cruciatus Curse for a prolonged time. Coupled with several other curses, which had caused lacerations and fractures all over her body ... the strain on her body was immense. We did all we could, but we couldn't save the baby."

"She has lost the child?" Severus asked, sounding as if he was choking.

"I'm afraid so," the healer said. "During the first three months of pregnancy spontaneous abortions are rather common, and in such cases as Mrs. Malfoy's it is almost unavoidable. Nevertheless, we have to concentrate on Mrs. Malfoy's recovery right now. She's not out of the woods yet. I do not wish to decry it, but if she doesn't wake up within the week we will have to face the fact that she might never do so."

"Mom was pregnant?" Draco breathed, his eyes shifting from the healer to Severus, who looked paler and paler by the second.

Severus' words rang loud and clear through his head, as if he was speaking the words which had caused all this once again.

"How long should I wait? Until the child is born? Since Narcissa found out she is eager to tell him. How shall I keep her much longer from telling him? I don't think it would be better if he heard it from somebody else. We have to tell him!"

Draco shook his head in denial.

"Draco should be aware of that we had sex. It was not planned, but it happened and it is his right to know -"

It had not been about Harry, it had never been about Harry. Draco's legs threatened to give out, and he stumbled against Harry, holding onto him for support.

Until the child is born...

He had not only to answer for his mother's condition, but also for the death of his stepbrother or -sister. He had never meant to ... all he had wanted ...

"Draco! Calm down! You're hyperventilating!"

Foolish boy ... She has lost the child ... Foolish boy ...

Harry's voice was only a faint rumble amidst the thunder of Severus' accusatory words echoing in his mind.

"What have I done?" Draco whimpered, his wheezing breath overly loud in his ears.

While Draco allowed Harry's arms to keep him save, to hide his pain and shame from the world, a dull thud resounded in the passage.

Severus Snape had fainted.

ooOoo

For a long time now I didn't reply to reviews or listed my dear reviewers at the end of the chapters. Sorry for that! I guess it's time to make up for it. I hope I didn't forget anybody...

Thanks everybody for your interest and for reading, and a special thanks to those who took the time to review the last chapters and made me keep on writing!

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