Saline and Victoria watched silently as Narcissa levitated Draco and the crib back into the window. The soft cover of pitch black night hid them from view and they kept the lights out in the room so that no one would see the silhouettes. After closing the windows and shutting the drapes, Saline waved her wand, lighting all the candles before all three women rushed around, looking for the baby. Victoria found Salem between blankets, a trickle of blood running down from his head. Tears came to her eyes and she looked up at Narcissa.
Gabriel poked his head from Saline's room.
"Is Daddy okay?" he asked softly and Victoria let out a sob, holding the tiny body against hers.
Saline led Narcissa to a seat as she looked ready to faint in shock. She then waved her wand at her room, closing the door so that Gabriel was locked inside. Her face was stony as she glided slowly across the floor to where Draco's body lay and she kicked him onto his back. A groan escaped his lips and she watched as the darkness in his arms slip away until only his hands were black and still scaling. Most of his body was blue and purple from bruises and probably broken bones as Saline sat down in front of him, taking his head and placing it into her lap.
His eyes flickered open for a moment before she placed her wand against his left temple and her other hand against his right.
"Don't think," she whispered, her voice filling his head.
His eyes slipped closed and the sounds of both sobbing women filtered into the background of Saline's mind as she focused her power on healing him.
"Don't think…operor non reputo…"
Harry and Hermione sat quietly in one of the sheltered courtyards with a glass roof the next morning, Harry watching Hermione closely. She had slept straight through dinner and had woken up this morning and asked if Harry wanted to go on a walk. He figured that she was trying to get her mind off of the incident with Malfoy and her baby, which they still hadn't gotten any word on as of yet.
She ran a hand through her hair and rubbed her eyes ruefully.
"I really need to focus on my studies more," she muttered. "I've been neglecting them of late."
Harry looked at her, surprised.
"That's what you're thinking about? You're school work?!"
"What am I supposed to think about, Harry?" she snapped back, looking away from him. "I don't want to think about…I just don't want to think about it, alright. I need something else to think about, okay?"
Harry sighed and looked towards one of the outside halls and frowned.
"Is that Ginny?"
Hermione turned in the direction Harry was pointing and blinked, leaning forward for a better look.
"I think it is. She looks awful. Come on, let's go see what happened!"
The couple rushed over to where the redhead was standing against the wall, eyes red from crying. Hermione touched her shoulder.
"What's wrong, Ginny?" she asked and Ginny shook her head, closing her eyes before sighing and wiping her eyes angrily.
"I hate my family and I'm not talking to them ever again," she spat, walking away from them and disappearing around the corner. Harry and Hermione watched this display and he turned to Hermione.
"What do you think happened?"
Hermione's eyes softened and she sighed.
"Dean broke up with her, Harry," she told him and Harry frowned.
"She wouldn't have said those things if Dean hadn't broken up with her. It would take a lot for Ginny to say she hates her family. Hate is a strong word, Harry."
"Do you really want to finish that question?"
Harry nodded and then looked around.
"Maybe I can talk to Dean."
"Forget about it, Harry."
They both turned around to see Dean appear in the courtyard and sit down at one of the benches. They walked over and Hermione sat down next to him as he kept his eyes fixed on the ground.
"Before you start telling me about how I'm making a mistake and whatever, I just want you to know that Ginny and I breaking up had nothing to do with her dad almost strangling me yesterday, okay?"
"Then why the hell would you break up with her?" Harry asked and Dean glanced up at him, sighing.
"Her…Her parents talked with my parents and they're saying that if I keep seeing her, then…well, let's just say that your parents and my parents are not exactly best friends right now. Pretty things were not going to happen to either me or Ginny. And my Dad works with the Spell Department at the Ministry, so he could just about…It wasn't safe, okay. So I ended it. That's it. No other reason."
"Does Ginny know?" Hermione asked softly and Dean shook his head.
"No. And don't tell her. I don't really want her knowing about that."
He then got up and walked away, leaving Harry and Hermione in the courtyard again. Harry sat down in Dean's spot and sighed.
"Things aren't going well, are they?" he muttered.
"They're about to get worse," came Blaise's voice and Hermione leapt to her feet, eyes wide with fear.
"What happened?" she asked.
Blaise kept his eyes on the ground, not wanting to look her in the eye.
"I was just talking to my mom. She…Hermione, Salem…he…"
Her body experienced a brief form of rigor mortis. She couldn't breathe and her stomach clenched on itself. She could not feel the ground beneath her as she began sinking to the ground and only then was she aware that tears were flooding down her face. Her lungs were on fire and her gasp brought enough air for her to realize what Blaise was saying.
She pushed herself up and rushed out of the courtyard, her robes billowing out behind her as she climbed the stairs to the parents' quarters. Blaise and Harry were right behind her, calling her name frantically. But she could not hear them as her own tears blinded her. But she knew where she was going. Skidding to a stop, she pushed open the door and stumbled into the room, breathing heavily. Victoria looked up from where she stood over the restored cradle. Hermione felt her knees weaken at the redness of her mother's eyes.
She pushed her mother aside but as soon as she looked into the cradle, a scream ripped her throat and she sank to the floor, sobbing uncontrollably. Harry and Blaise came into the room and stopped at the sight of the brown-headed know-it-all pouring her heart out, or what was left of it, onto the floor as she tipped to the side, holding her head as pain coursed through her. It ran deeper than any Unforgivable could go, burning through her very soul.
Victoria moved away, tears in her own eyes as she sank into a seat next to Narcissa, who had not even bothered to look up when Hermione had come in. Her own tears were still falling. Gabriel was in the Slytherin Common Room so that he didn't have to see any of this.
Harry closed his eyes, leaning against the wall as he listened to Hermione. Then both he and Blaise looked over to the couch, where a comatose Draco Malfoy lay healing. Saline stood in front of him, watching the two men.
"An infant death is the worst of all," she whispered, eyes on Hermione. "Do not try to punish him. When he wakes, the rest of his life will be lived in punishment. It is not his fault, remember this. You must remember that none of this is his fault."
No matter how much Harry wanted to walk over and throw Malfoy out the window again, something in Blaise's mom's voice pulled at him and Hermione's past words about how Malfoy has to change. His eyes passed to Hermione before nudging Blaise and walking out. Blaise closed the door behind him and glanced at him.
"You hate his guts, don't you?" he asked softly and Harry turned to him.
"I've always hated his guts. But I do listen to what people tell me and if Hermione tells me that the way he's acting isn't his fault, then I'm going to believe her."
Blaise nodded and then glanced down the hall.
"You should probably go before someone sees you hanging around here."
Harry nodded, eyeing Blaise warily before holding out his hand. Blaise raised an eyebrow.
"You're a friend of Hermione's and you've helped her just as much as I have. If I'm going to be seeing more of you, I might as well get along with you. Besides, knowing people might help in the long run."
"You mean like the War against the Dark Lord?"
Harry eyed him and then nodded. Blaise glanced down at the hand and then held out his wand.
"I'm not a Death Eater."
"But you know things."
"Yeah, I know things."
Harry nodded slowly and held out his wand.
"How do I know you're not lying to me?" he asked as they exchanged wands. Blaise smirked and pocketed Harry's wand.
"Quaero preteritus," he said and Harry raised his eyebrow.
"And that means?"
Blaise winked at him and then disappeared back into the room. Looking down at Blaise's wand, he noticed that it looked a bit like his. Waving it around, he pointed it down the hall.
"Pyro," he muttered and flames licked out of the tip of the wand. Smiling wanly, he left the hallway.
Victoria sat next to Hermione as she lay in her mother's bed, not having the strength to walk back to her own room. Hermione wanted to cry, but no tears came. Her chest felt tight as she stared at the far wall, her mother gently stroking her hair as she shivered.
"You're too young for this," Victoria said softly. "This shouldn't be happening to you."
"He was so small," Hermione murmured. "Just small. And he never did anything…"
The door opened and Saline poked her head in, face grave.
Hermione's eyes grew wide and she leapt out of bed, rushing out. Draco was sitting up on the couch, rubbing his face sleepily. Then he looked up and was sent backwards into couch as Hermione attacked him, suddenly finding where the rest of her tears had gone.
"YOU KILLED HIM!!!" she screamed, pounding her small fists into him as tears began streaming down her face. "MURDERER!!! YOU KILLED HIM!!!"
He shoved her away, glaring angrily. Narcissa could see the darkness start to creep up his arm again.
"What the hell are you yelling about?!"
Victoria and Narcissa hurried forward and pulled Hermione away from him as her heart gave out and she broke down sobbing into Narcissa's arms. Draco watched her for a moment and then looked up at Victoria.
"What is she talking about?" he asked and Victoria lowered her gaze.
"Salem is gone, Draco," she whispered and his eyes widened.
"He's dead, Draco…"
His gray eyes turned to Hermione, who looked up at him.
"You killed him," she moaned, rocking back and forth. "You killed him, you murderer…oh no, no, no…"
She choked, her eyes closing. Narcissa pulled her closer, kissing her forehead.
"Shh, just cry it out. Just cry it out."
Draco stumbled to his feet and looked over to the crib.
"No," he breathed. "No, he was alive…he was breathing…"
He walked over slowly and looked down at the tiny, pale face of his own son. The small child was dressed in tiny dark green funeral robes and his eyes were closed. Draco didn't even realize he was shaking as he reached into the crib and picked up the child, watching as his arms dropped limply. He closed his eyes as a terrible noise gurgled in his throat. And then silence. He could feel nothing. The darkness in his arms deepened as the scaling moved from his hands up to his lower arm.
"He was alive…"