TPH13

Disclaimer – Just rearranging events to suit myself with JKR's awesome characters.

Chapter 13

Shadows were beginning to lengthen in the small courtyard, and the Order began taking their places. I had tried to think of any loopholes in their plans – any escapes that Voldemort might make use of that we hadd overlooked. In spite of my Slytherin outlook on it and Moody's suspicious nature, neither of us could see any flaws.

I had given all of them a very clear picture of what Lucius' Death Eater mask looked like so they wouldn't accidentally harm him. Albus, Rufus, James and Lily were still the only ones that knew his identity, but hopefully Lucius would be okay.

I had discussed exactly how they were going to kill Voldemort with Albus, Rufus and Moody. Then I'd pulled James and Lily aside and asked their opinion. I'd even asked a suspicious Sirius Black and an apologetic Remus who hadn't liked to plot anyone's death.

Lucius, Narcissa and Marlena had talked with me for a time, trying to think of something that Voldemort wouldn't expect or guard against.

We threw ideas back and forth, but what stuck in my mind was that Voldemort still intended to take Nagini with him to this raid – to make his 'last Horcrux'. Over the past year Lucius had whined more and more about the snake – how Voldemort spent a lot of time 'enhancing' her venom – making it more powerful and painful. Her venom didn't kill instantly; you suffered horribly for the half hour it took to die. There was no antidote, as her venom was changed out of recognition for any of the usual antivenins.

Voldemort had a used her on a large number of muggles 'to try her venom out on', and then when he was satisfied, he'd killed a 'blood traitor' with her. He'd had someone shove a bezoar down the unfortunate wizard's throat to see if it worked. The man's death had slowed – it had taken several hours for him to die, which had seemingly pleased Voldemort, as he'd snickered all evening over it.

The only mercy had been that the serpent wasn't big enough to actually eat a person – though Lucius had said that was the next thing the Dark Lord intended to work on.

Albus and James, along with Moody intended that the four of us get the Dark Lord in a crossfire and down him while the rest of the Order would hold off any of the Death Eaters that accompanied him. Bellatrix, at least, was likely to be there.

I didn't necessarily have a better plan – but I did have an idea or two in case things got ugly. I'd looked up a few spells and contemplated whether my 'plan B' would work … I was uncertain that they would be able to contain Voldemort and kill him. The Dark Lord was avoiding Albus like Albus had spattergroit. When he realized he would be facing off with Albus and the Order … He would be scrambling to leave.

I intended to ensure that we incapacitated him before he could escape and regroup.

The sun was setting in a fiery glory, and I mused that is was nearly the color of blood. Well, blood was likely to be spilled this night, so it was appropriate. Muffled 'pops' of apparition were heard. I tried to count them, but they were too close together.

Voldemort strode confidently into the courtyard, making me sneer. Overconfidence was something that Slytherins always tried to avoid, with varying degrees of success. Voldemort shouldn't be strutting until he had actually defeated his foe.

James and Moody stepped forward to block his path when the Dark Lord reached the center of the courtyard. Nagini coiling beside him in confusion. James waved the anti-apparition and anti-portkey wards into use, which made Voldemort laugh.

"Blocking your own escape, fool?" Voldemort snickered. "You and your mudblood bitch, along with your half-blood whelp will be dead soon … then I will kill you and your Auror friend."

Albus stepped up to Voldemort's left, while Moody eased down to his right. I carefully walked toward his back, keeping my eye on Nagini, who hissed in reflection of her master's sudden anxiety.

"You won't be successful in this task, Tom." Albus said rather quietly, while Voldemort looked around him with a frown, realizing he was surrounded. He looked at Albus, obviously trying to regain his poise and confidence.

"You will all die, and I will lead the wizarding world into the traditions that they should have embraced in the first place." Voldemort bit out the diatribe while looking around at the wizards. Hexes and curses could be heard outside of the courtyard as the Order confronted the Death Eaters that had come with the Dark Lord.

Voldemort abruptly fired a curse at Moody, surprising us – we had expected him to try for Albus. Moody went down, clutching at a partially severed leg. James dove across the courtyard to assist him. I frowned – the Dark Lord had taken two of us out of action with one curse – clever.

Voldemort and Albus started battling in earnest, while Nagini made a sudden lunge toward me. I managed to cast a containment charm on her, but it didn't hold for long. She seemed to have a shield of some sort cast onto her. I didn't intend to kill her right away, so it made no difference for now. I quickly cast several hunger hexes onto her, making her ravenous for food. I then quickly sent a charm that soaked Voldemort's pants leg with warm rabbit blood.

He looked down in puzzlement for a moment, and Albus glanced at me quizzically. This had not been mentioned in our strategy sessions. I released Nagini from the containment charm I had repeatedly recast and she hissed in agitated hunger, tongue flicking in the air at the scent of warm blood – rabbit blood, her favorite food.

Voldemort hissed at her in question while casting another fiery curse at the Headmaster. He obviously didn't understand the danger as yet. Nagini was too intent on getting food to answer. She wasn't able to understand very complex situations. She only knew she was ravenous and she could taste the warm blood of a wounded rabbit on the air. The fact that the scent was coming from the area of her master might not make sense, but she was too hungry to care.

She struck, stunning Voldemort and Albus both. I could hear James gasp in astonishment and Moody bark out a pained laugh.

Voldemort screamed as the venom coursed through his veins, and Nagini struck again – knocking the Dark Lord to the stones of the courtyard. She continued to strike, confused as to why her prey was not dead as yet and hissing in hunger.

A pair of cutting curses hit her hard – one from James and the other from Albus, killing her. I rolled my eyes – I'd been prepared to let her bite until he was dead. Noble Gryffindors – unwilling to watch even Voldemort get bitten by Nagini … well they would have to watch him die even slower by the venom, then, which was fine with me.

I summoned Voldemort's wand and Albus went to Voldemort's side hesitantly. There was little he could do help, if that was his intent.

I spun around, hearing Lucius roaring my name – Remus and Sirius had him cornered and Lucius had removed his mask to shout for me. Apparently the fact he was wearing the mask I'd said the spy would have was not enough for Black. The other Death Eaters, except for Bellatrix were down. She was cornered as well, but was distracted by Voldemort's screams and unable to mount a decent defense. I ran to Lucius and yelled at Sirius and Remus to help James while Albus shouted that, yes, Lucius was our spy.

Remus laughed after a stunned moment – enjoying the joke, but Sirius slumped in unhappiness … another enemy proving to be an upright supporter of the light.

Lucius strode over by Albus to watch the Dark Lord die from a closer range. At last Voldemort sucked in a last rattling breath and died with a final hissing moan. He had ended quicker than most of Nagini's victims – likely due to the repeated bites. I incendio'd her body – I didn't want anyone getting their hands on her venom.

Bellatrix screamed in the background, apparently recognizing that her Lord was dead. Our moment of triumph was interrupted by Lily racing into the courtyard.

"Sev! … Narcissa …" I looked over at her in fear. "She and the baby have decided that tonight is the night …" She grinned at me.

Narcissa had been nesting lately with a vengeance – she even tried to go into my lab to rearrange things. My warding the lab against her had almost turned into an ugly fight, but my whining that the fumes would harm her and the baby had saved me a painful hexing. Yesterday the back pain had started, but the Healer had just said that could go on 'for days'.

Now, in the middle of the final confrontation with the darkest Dark Lord in centuries, our baby had decided to arrive. I raced to the floo, with Lily's delighted giggles following me. The network seemed to prolong the travel forever. I had plenty of time to curse the floo system inventively before I emerged from the huge hearth with the name Hawthorne carved into it. I rubbed the name for luck and ran for the stairs.

I got to the bedroom door just as Narcissa screamed during another contraction. She finally stopped and took a few panting breathes. She caught sight of me during the panting and I was treated to a lengthy diatribe concerning my parentage and my general lack of any redeeming qualities - heavily spinkled with swear words I'd never have guessed she even knew.

I threw a desperate look at the amused Healer and she shrugged. "Just don't let her get her hands on her wand – the last new mum I delivered cast a few hexes it took a week to remove."

I decided I needed reinforcements and sent the elf to fetch my Grandfather, mother and Great-Aunt Claudia. No need to keep up the fidelus charm, now. Besides, my Great-Aunt Claudia was an expert duelist and I might need her protection from Narcissa.

I hesitantly introduced my family to my wife while she panted between contractions. Grandfather assisted me in cringing by the door and wringing my hands. Mother and Claudia hurried to stand on either side of Narcissa and patted her hands and encouraged her. Any continued verbal abuse aimed at me or the male gender in general was met with agreement from them and they even added a few inventive phrases regarding the overall failings of those with Y-chromosomes.

At last there was a final push demanded by the Healer and a baby's lusty cry was heard. The women ceased their harangue and started oohing over the child. Narcissa's angry look melted into a look of adoration as the blanket – wrapped infant was placed in her arms.

"Severus, look … he's perfect!" Narcissa beamed at me in joy. It seemed that whatever wrongs I had done were instantly forgiven, now. I rushed forward while my reprieve was in effect and sat beside her to peer at the tiny face with its eyes blinking in wonder.

His chubby cheeks showed some hint of the cheekbones he would one day have. The hair was blonde – the darker blonde that Narcissa had, but his eyes were mine – black as night. The Healer and Great – Aunt Claudia were already exclaiming over the unusual combination. I was just glad that his nose appeared to be a size appropriate to his tiny face.

"Have you decided on a name as yet?" I braced myself, hoping that she'd found a constellation with an acceptable name.

Narcissa gave me another brilliant smile and at that particular moment I would gladly have let her name him anything … even Sirius. Well, maybe not Sirius – but almost anything else.

"Draco …" She breathed. "Draco Severus Prince …"

I sighed in relief and nodded, the rest of the family making approving noises.

The others melted away, leaving the three of us to bond. That night we slept peacefully with the knowledge that Voldemort was gone for good and our child had been safely delivered in his wake.

By the next morning the entire 'Harem' and several of the Order arrived to announce that the wizarding world was one giant party and Lucius had been rushed before the ecstatic Wizengamot and with Albus as his advocate he'd been declared a hero. He would be an unusual Malfoy – the first in a century that would not need to buy his Order of Merlin first class.

Somehow the story of Lucius and I conspiring for the Dark Lord's downfall was blazoned across the front page of the Daily Prophet – Narcissa and Marlena were now considered the most valiant of heroines with only Lily's tale rivaling theirs.

The parties, banquets and jubilation lasted for weeks – long enough the Marlena gave Lucius his heir at the end of June while they were still going on. Little Alexander Lucius Malfoy arrived with the usual white blonde hair and grey eyes, demanding milk at the top of his voice.

Lily sat beside me while Narcissa helped Marlena. Lily had taken to sitting most of the time, her feet tended to swell and no amount of muscle relaxant would ease her back pain.

"Do you think you or Alice will be next?" I asked.

"Don't care as long as it is soon." Lily groaned. "He's killing me with the kicking."

"He?" I asked. "You did a test?"

"Yes, we talked the Healers into copying the muggle sonograms to check for problems." Lily smirked. "He is definitely male … I've decided to call him Harry." She smiled that brilliant smile I'd come to expect from new mothers.

"Henry, Harrison … or is it short for Heracles?" I asked with a smile.

"No, Harry … just Harry." She answered. "I like it that way … simple, but strong."

I turned back to watch our friends make much of the children. James and Frank looked at them and speculated on what their own children would be like. Sirius was even smiling … I had heard that he was contemplating marriage – if only to keep up with his friends. Remus had several of the Harem eyeing him … I needed to improve the Wolfsbane before letting them get serious, I thought.

I looked down at the yawning Draco. At least the future looked much less hazardous for all concerned.

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A/N – At last – finished.