AUTHOR'S NOTES: So since I decided to rewrite the sequel/backstory to 'The Bonds of Family', I had a choice to make about the ending which-for the sake of those who haven't read the original-I won't mention here. Let's just say the endings are very different.
HARRY POTTER: Fears
The first indicator Harry Potter had that there was a problem with his daughter, Camille, was how tired she looked when she came home for the Christmas Holidays during her first year at Hogwarts. She slept all the way home from the train station and the next morning, Camille spent almost half the day in the bathroom, trying to stymie a nosebleed.
Between his own experiences and what he knew from Leslie Evans—his cousin, Dudley's, wife—Harry knew that he couldn't afford to wait and see if his daughter just had a cold or something more serious.
And so, the next morning Harry took the middle of his triplet daughters to Dr. Leslie Evans, hoping that he was making something out of nothing even though deep down he knew that his worst fears had finally come to light.
Sitting in the waiting doom of the doctor's office early that morning Camille yawned, wishing her father could have just let her sleep in. Yes, she was tired, but she was a first year and the schoolwork was harder than anything she'd had before in her muggle primary school. All she needed was a good night's sleep and she'd be good as new. And the nosebleed the previous day was just because of the cold, dry air.
Although, that had just been the latest nosebleed. The past month, Camille had had 5 other such moments and she had to admit that lately she felt tired all the time.
But instead of letting her rest up at the start of the holiday, her dad had dragged her to the medical office of Dr. Leslie Evans for a full physical examination.
"Harry," said a woman with a heart-shaped face and strawberry-blonde hair in a doctor's coat. As she looked at the two Potters, Leslie wondered what had prompted the visit so soon after the start of the Christmas vacation. "What brings you two here?"
Harry got up slowly, favoring his left leg as he walked over to Leslie. Whispering in her ear, he said, "It's…" Not able to think about the reason he was there, Harry just glanced over at Camille.
Leslie sighed and gave her friend a sympathetic look. "I'm sure it's nothing, Harry… Remember when Addie was anemic two years ago? Or when James had that shin bruise the year before that?"
Harry nodded, knowing that he was starting to sound like a paranoid parent. "I know. But I just want to be sure…"
Leslie put a comforting hand on Harry's shoulder. "Okay. We'll run the usual tests," she said, giving him a smile. Looking over at Camille, she said, "Camille, honey? You want to come with me, sweetheart?"
Camille slowly followed the doctor down a hallway and into an exam room. After getting up onto the exam table, she looked over at her father who looked worried. "Daddy?" she asked, wondering why her father seemed so nervous. "What's wrong?"
Harry tried to give her a reassuring smile, but he couldn't stop the twisting feeling in his gut that this time his instincts were right. "Nothing, Cam… Just thinking about… things."
"Harry, why don't go to the waiting room?" Leslie suggested, smiling warmly at Camille as she grabbed a syringe and a vial.
"I want to stay here with Cam," Harry insisted. He didn't want to leave the room because if he did, he wouldn't stop thinking about all the possible worst-case scenarios.
"I'm just going to have a quick word with your dad, Camille," Leslie said, setting the blood-draw kit aside and going to Harry. Whispering in his ear, she said, sternly, "You're scaring her. Right now you don't know for certain that something's wrong and I need you to leave the room. Please?"
Harry knew that Leslie was right and so he tried to give his daughter a warmer smile. "I'll just be outside, honey," He said, leaving the room and closing the door.
Leslie took the needle and swabbed Camille's elbow before saying to the 11-year-old girl, "This will sting a bit. You can close your eyes if you want."
As quickly as she could, Leslie inserted the needle and grinned. "See? Piece of cake." Seeing that Camille hadn't even whimpered, she said, "You're braver than your daddy."
"Daddy doesn't like needles?" Camille asked, trying not to look at the blood collecting in the vial. She'd never liked the sight of her own blood. And it reminded her of the first nosebleed she had.
Camille had been coming out of her History of Magic class and it felt like her nose was running. When she went to wipe her nose on the sleeve of her sweater, however, she stared in horror as she saw the blood. She'd spent the next hour in the girls' bathroom trying to get the bleeding to stop.
"Harry had more than his fair share of needle sticks when he was a teenager," Leslie said, not wanting to give details, lest she scare Camille needlessly. Pulling the needle out and sticking a bandage over the injection site, Leslie took the blood vial and smiled at Camille. "You sit tight, kiddo. I'll be back in a moment."
Going down a hallway to the bloodwork lab, Leslie took a small sample of her 'niece's' blood and put it on a slide before securing it on the mounting platform of a microscope. To the untrained eye there seemed to be nothing wrong with the cells. But Leslie had a sneaking suspicion that this time Harry had been right to bring Camille in. There were too many white blood cells and not enough red cells. Pulling a small, locked case out of a cabinet, she pulled out a vial of cloudy liquid and added three drops of the liquid to the vial of Camille's blood, sighing as she saw a large number of tiny green luminescent specks in the blood.
In the waiting room, Harry paced anxiously as he waited to hear about his daughter. He wanted to be wrong… He wanted to just be paranoid… He didn't want Camille to be…
Ever since James had been born, Harry had been dreading the day when one of his children was diagnosed with cancer. He'd always felt that it was inevitable given not only his illness, but his father's as well. He'd always thought about how he would handle the situation and he'd decided that he wouldn't panic until he knew something concrete. But now that the possibility was becoming more likely, it was hard to keep the panic at bay.
Seeing Leslie's face as soon as she stood in the doorway, Harry's heart plummeted as his worst fears were realized. "Oh, God…" He breathed, not quite able to believe this was really happening.
"I am so sorry, Harry," Leslie said, giving Harry a hug. When he hugged her back, she asked, "Do you want me to call Luna?"
Harry pulled away, trying to think of what he needed to do now. He knew that Luna needed to be told and that he should do it, but he didn't exactly trust his voice right now when it came to telling his wife the bad news. "No, I'll call—Yeah. Call her. I-I don't think I'd be able to…"
Putting a calming hand on Harry's upper arm, Leslie said, "Harry, I need you to calm down and keep it together. I know it's hard, but please try. Cam doesn't know yet. Do you want me to wait until Luna gets here before I tell your daughter?"
"Um…" Harry's heart was racing as he thought. All the times he'd tried to prepare for this moment, suddenly he didn't have the slightest idea of what to do. "I, uh… what-whatever you think is best."
"Then you need to tell her, Harry," Leslie replied, honestly. "You've been through this before and you're her father. You're the best person to break the news to her right now. I'll call Luna and I'll have her meet the two of you at the hospital." Seeing Harry's questioning look, she said, "We need to do more extensive blood tests to determine what kind of cancer and how bad it is."
Harry nodded, trying to find enough inner strength to tell his little girl she was sick.
Camille knew something was wrong when her dad came in with a very solemn look on his face. "Daddy…? What's wrong?" She hopped off the table as Harry sat down in one of the chairs and sat on his knee. "Daddy?"
Harry took a deep breath before saying, "When I was 15, I was very sick for a while. There was something wrong with my blood and I had to get treatment to fix it."
"Sick with what?" Camille asked, looking at her father's right leg. "Does it have something to do with why you have an artificial leg?"
Harry gave a small wry smile as he thought about how quick she made the connection. "Partly. I had a tumor in my right leg. I didn't know it and some months later I was in a car crash. Because the tumor, the bones in my leg were damaged more severely that they would have been otherwise. The doctors had to cut my leg off." Looking into Camille's gray eyes that were just like her mother's, Harry said, "Dr. Evans did a test on the blood she took from you. You're sick, too, Cam."
Camille seemed to turn to stone. She barely breathed and her eyes got wide as those words and all that they might entail settled on her. Looking again at her father's prosthetic with an expression of horror, she asked. "Am I… Are doctors going to chop my leg off, too?" She asked.
Harry shook his head, quickly. "I don't think so, Cam. I was sick for a long time before I found out. And you're not necessarily going to be sick the same way I was."
"Am… Am I going to die?" Camille asked, scared. She was just a kid. She wanted to grow up and teach, just like her mother. What if she never got a chance to even be kissed by a boy?
"I-I don't know," Harry replied, honestly. He wanted to promise Cam that she would be fine, but the lie felt bitter to him. "But we're going to the hospital and the doctors there are going to find out how sick you are."
Luna didn't meet Harry at the hospital alone. The other two triplets—Addie and Gwen—came along as well along with James and Cedric, the Potters' oldest and youngest child, respectively.
Luna hadn't told her other children what she suspected about why Camille was in the hospital. She figured there would be time later to discuss things as a family.
Outside Camille's room, Luna's gray eyes were filled with worry and fear as she saw Harry standing by the window and when she saw the same look in Harry's green eyes she knew at once what was wrong "How bad?" Luna asked, noticing the curtains to the hospital room were closed.
"Leslie is doing a bone marrow biopsy right now," Harry replied. "They're testing Camille's blood… Dr. Walden already took x-rays and scans of her whole body."
"What's wrong with Cam?" James asked, looking at his dad. "Why's Aunt Leslie doing all those tests?"
Harry turned to his eldest son and realizing that he had to be frank with him replied, "Camille has cancer. We don't know yet what kind, but…"
"Is she going to be okay?" James asked, hugging his sisters who looked just as worried as their parents. "I mean, Cam's not going to die… is she?"
"We don't know," Luna said as Cedric backed away a bit, looking uncomfortable about being in the hospital.
Gwen pulled away from her big brother and pulled Cedric into a hug. "It'll be okay, Ced," she assured him, knowing her little brother was just trying to deal with his sister's illness.
"I don't want Cam to die!" Cedric said, firmly, holding onto the 'oldest' of his sisters.
"Oh, honey…" Luna said, hugging Cedric and Gwen close and ignoring the tears welling up in her eyes. "None of us do."
It was almost noon the next day when Leslie called Harry and Luna to ask them to meet her and her uncle at the hospital.
In Dr. Walden's office, Leslie wasted no time as she said, "I've got the results of Camille's blood tests."
"Okay," Luna said, calmly, holding Harry's hand and praying that the news wasn't as terrible as she knew it could be.
Walden opened the file he'd already started on Camille and said, "Camille has a very common form of cancer that's usually found in children about this age—acute lymphocytic leukemia. It affects the white blood cells. The good news is we found this very early so your daughter's chances are especially good."
"So what do we do now?" Harry asked, trying to think positive. Cam's illness had been detected early so he hoped she could avoid the hell Harry had gone through with the multiple rounds of treatment.
"I've spoken to Hermione already this morning," Leslie replied. "She just finished the tests on a new chemotherapy drug that's been developed for ALL in children last week. It's the best treatment available right now so that's what we'll be starting Camille on."
Wondering if his daughter would be in the hospital for the duration of the chemotherapy or if she'd be treated on an outpatient basis, Harry asked, "How long will Camille be in the hospital?"
Walden shrugged, not entirely certain of the time frame. "Because ALL affects the white blood cells that help the body fight off infections, Camille will have to stay in the hospital until we can get her through this. That way if she gets worse or picks up an infection of some sort, we can treat quicker. If she starts responding well with no complications, we'll see about putting her on an outpatient treatment schedule."
Seeing how scared Harry and Luna were, Leslie said, "I know it looks bad… But this type of cancer is easy to beat if it's caught in time. And the drugs we're going to start Camille on are the strongest out there right now. She'll be fine, Harry… I know she will."
Harry just nodded, still feeling numb. "So, I-I take it you'll also give Camille a central line?"
Leslie nodded in confirmation. "She's being prepped right now and the central line will be installed in about an hour or so." She watched as Harry absently itched at the spot on his own chest where his own central line had been years ago. Not for the first time she wished she could do more to help her husband's cousin get through this easier.
Late that night, James snuck out of the house and jogged the mile and a half over to The Malfoys' house and quickly climbed the tree next to Nick's window. It was something he'd been doing since the two of them were 7 years old and right now James wanted to be with his best friend while he tried to wrap his head around his sister's illness.
"Nick!" James said as he lightly knocked on the window frame before getting a more stable footing on the tree limb he was perching on. Thankfully, James' best friend was a light sleeper and woke quickly before coming over to the window.
"James?" Nicholas Malfoy said, as he opened the window and watched as his best friend climbed into the dark room. "What are you doing here?" he asked before turning on the desk lamp. "It's almost midnight, mate."
"I don't know…" James admitted, sighing as he stood in the middle of the room. "I just… I couldn't stay at home right now."
Nick had never known James to be so agitated and shoved some of his stuff off of the foot of the bed to make room and asked, "What's going on?"
James didn't sit down, instead preferring to pace the length of the bedroom. "You know how tired Cam has been lately? And then she's been having nosebleeds, too. She doesn't think I noticed, but—"
"James, what's wrong?" Nick asked, interrupting the ramble as he started to seriously worry.
"Camille has leukemia," James replied, not meeting his best friend's eyes although he did stop pacing. "She's in the hospital… They're starting her on chemotherapy the day after tomorrow." Kicking Nick's chair as hard as he could, he said, angrily, "It's not fair! 'Merry Christmas! Your sister's got cancer!' Son of a b—"
"Is Camille going to be okay?" Nick asked, concerned. He knew that of all James' siblings, he was closest to Camille.
"Aunt Leslie says Cam's lucky they caught it early… it's treatable…" James sighed and finally sat down on the bed as the fight went out of him. "I don't want to lose my little sister, Nick."
"You know, your dad had cancer when he was 15," Nick said, trying to be comforting. "And he's doing just fine."
"I know…" James replied, thinking of what he knew about his dad. "But why does it have to be Cam? She and I have always been so close and…"
Nick gave a warm smile. "She's going to be okay, mate. You know she's tough. She'll come out of this alright. You'll see."
James nodded as he got up. "Thanks, Nick. Don't know what I'd do without you."
Lying in her bed in the pediatric oncology wing, Camille felt a scared as Leslie Evans attached an IV drip to Camille's new central line. The device looked scary but everyone kept saying that it would make receiving treatments much easier. Looking up at the bag of medicine now hanging from the IV pole, Camille tried to think of Potions classes. Potions could cure things. So the drugs she was being given could cure her of this disease running through her system.
"This isn't going to be pleasant, Camille," Leslie warned as she started the IV drip. "It's going to make you feel really sick. But that just means that the drugs are killing the cancer cells in your body." She'd been an oncologist long enough to know that—especially for younger patients—getting through the first few treatments could be the worst. But once the kids she took care of knew what to expect, it made dealing with things ever so slightly easier.
Camille nodded in understanding, trying to feel brave but really she was scared to death. "I don't want to die, Aunt Leslie," she said, her voice more timid than she wanted.
Leslie smiled at the little girl as she sat on the bed and took her hand. "It's okay to be scared, Cam. But even though you're scared you have to try and fight this okay? Think positive… And one day this will all just seem like a bad dream."
Harry didn't feel like opening presents Christmas morning and while Luna took the kids to the hospital to visit with Camille, he went to the local Presbyterian church, coming in just as the 10am service was about to start. He wasn't sure why he was here, really. All Harry knew what that his daughter's illness had shaken him more than he wanted his family to know right now.
Looking around, Harry saw Dudley sitting with his mother, stepfather, and 5 kids, two of which Harry recognized as Dudley's own kids—Nicole and Simon. "Hey," Harry said, giving a faint smile as he went over and sat next down to his aunt.
"I heard about Camille," Petunia said, taking Harry's hand before giving him a comforting hug. "I'm so sorry, Harry…. Is that why you're here?"
Harry shrugged as he pulled away. "I don't know. I guess I just need to—to believe that this isn't some cruel irony…" He didn't say anything else, but only because it was hard for him to articulate just how he felt about the whole situation.
The Christmas service started a short while later and as Harry sat with his family, he realized that didn't feel any better than when he'd first arrived.
After the service, Petunia noticed that Harry was still sitting in the pew and she gave him an 'are you coming?' look as she, Dudley, and the others got up and started for the door.
Harry shook his head before saying, "But if you could tell Luna I'll be by the hospital later… Just tell her I needed some time to think or something."
Dudley nodded and turned to leave, unconsciously putting an arm around his own daughter's shoulders as he walked with her.
Harry stayed sitting in the pew, thinking, as everyone left the room. He wanted to pray or… find some meaning in all this. But at the same time he was afraid that if there was a reason Camille had cancer, it was only because he had given it to her. This was exactly the reason Harry had been so reluctant to have children in the first place. Because he'd been so afraid that if he had kids one or more of them would end up being sick.
Looking up Harry saw the priest, Father Michael Clarke, standing next to his pew. "Yes?" Harry asked, curiously.
Father Clarke sat down next to Harry and said, "Your cousin, Dudley, just told me about your daughter. I just want to let you know my prayers are with you and your family through this difficult time."
Harry nodded his thanks before he turned back to look at the front of the church. After a while, he said, "When I was 15, I was in a car accident. I lost my left leg—the doctors told me later that it was in part because of a tumor growing up the bone. I had multiple rounds of chemotherapy, packed-cell transfusions to counteract severe anemia… I could barely keep any food down and I lost all my hair. And as terrible as it all was, I'd do it all over again in a heartbeat just to keep my little girl from going through the same kind of Hell."
"Harry, the only thing that's constant in life is that things are always in motion," Clarke said, calmly. "And as much as I believe that God has a hidden plan for everyone… sometimes life breaks that plan. Nothing is certain. Nothing is completely set in stone…" Putting a hand on Harry's shoulder, he added, "But do not ever believe that you are alone in this."
"I want…" Harry said, not sure what he wanted to do. Cry? Deny that his child's life was at risk? To be able to accept this? "I-I don't know what I want…"
"You want your daughter to be healthy. You want your family safe and happy…" Clarke supplied. Glancing upwards, he smiled. "God listens, Harry. Yell, scream, cry… He can take it. It's true that sometimes we don't always get the answer we want…. But He's always listening."
As Harry drove towards the hospital, he turned the radio on, listening to the music as he made his way down the road. The song currently playing was from a young American country music artist, and as he listened, Harry found himself letting out all the tears and grief and fear he'd been holding on to. He knew now that he couldn't help his daughter win her battle, unless he resolved his own inner struggles.
'I know it's hard on a rainy day
You want to shut the world out
And just be left alone
But don't run out on your faith
'Cause sometimes that mountain
You've been climbing is just a
Grain of sand
'And what you've been out there
Searching for forever is in your hand
'And when you figure out love
Is all that matters after all
It sure makes everything else
Seem so small'
When Harry finally came into Camille's hospital room later that afternoon, Luna saw the look on her husband's face and quickly shooed everyone out of the room, leaving father and daughter alone. Harry pulled a chair next to Camille's bed and when she sat up and looked at him, he said, "I know I never really told you or your brothers or sisters about how I was sick when I was younger. And there's a reason for that. I'd put it behind me. I let my missing my leg be the only sign that I'd had cancer. I thought that once I was healthy again, the disease couldn't touch me again." He paused for a moment, and then added, "But at the same time, I was afraid that you or your brothers and sisters would get sick. You see, your Granddad James had cancer, too. And between him and me, I knew that it was a very real possibility."
"It's not your fault, Daddy," Camille said, trying to comfort her father. "You didn't know I'd get sick. Maybe you thought about it, but you had no way to know for sure." Giving her father a smile she said, "And I'm going to be okay."
Harry didn't want to say what he was thinking, but he owed it to his daughter to be honest. "But you might not be. You might not make it, Cam."
Camille was young, but she was starting to understand that her dad needed her to be strong. He was having as hard a time dealing with the reality of the situation as she was. "Dad, it's okay to be scared," she said, echoing the words Aunt Leslie had told her before. Thinking on a line from one of her favorite movies, Camille suddenly realized that she knew what it truly meant. 'Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.' She didn't need to be strong for herself… but because her father wasn't strong enough to deal with this alone. Even though both of them had the rest of the family to help them, the cancer was something that only Camille and Harry could truly understand.
When Harry took Camille's hand, she gave him a warm smile which he returned. After a few moments, he strengthened his resolve and said, "I think if you want to hold on to me, Cam, I can try to be strong enough for the both of us. How's that sound?"
5 Years Later
Camille stood outside in her bathrobe and slippers, watching the big, puffy snowflakes falling silently from the sky. She'd just gotten home earlier that week on her Christmas holiday and every night she'd spent at least an hour standing outside staring at the clear winter sky or watching the snow fall. It was quiet tonight and the air felt crisp and pure… Everything was perfect and the fresh snow was untouched… It was perfect.
She'd gone to her aunt Leslie last week for a check-up after spending 3 hours in the bathroom at Hogwarts trying to stymie a bloody nose and it hadn't been good news. The cancer was back and even with further rounds of chemotherapy Cam likely only had another two years at best. Her parents didn't know yet and Camille didn't know how to tell them that her illness had gone from in remission to most likely terminal.
She knew she should go inside, Cam realized, as she shivered slightly, but she wanted to stay outside for a little while longer. Her Aunt Leslie had said before that at this stage, Camille's only chance at survival was a bone marrow transplant but that there were risks involved with the procedure.
"Cam?" James said as came out of the house and stood next to his sister. Looking at her for a moment, he asked, "What are you doing out here? It's cold."
"I was just thinking about stuff…" Camille said, vaguely. Looking out at the snow, she said, "It's beautiful, isn't it?"
"Yes, it is," James agreed, quickly, shivering. "It's also very cold and we could get sick if we stay out here."
"Too late," Camille muttered, pulling her bathrobe tighter around herself.
"Cam…" James said, a look of dawning comprehension on his face as he stared at his little sister.
Camille smiled at her big brother. "Don't tell the others. Please? Not until after Christmas…"
"Camille, you can't hide this," James insisted, glancing up at the house as he thought of his other brother and sisters. "If you're sick again…" Seeing the serene look on his sister's face, he felt numb and it wasn't because of the cold. "Oh, God," he breathed as his heart gave a painful clench. "It's bad, isn't it?"
"Please don't tell Mum and Dad," Camille said again. "Let's all have a nice Christmas… before we have to deal with this."
"'This'?" James said, shocked by his sister's complacency. "Camille, how sick are you? I mean, what did Aunt Leslie say?"
"Two years, if I'm lucky. And that's if I spend it on chemo." Camille replied. Taking her big brother's hand she said, "Only real option right now is a bone marrow transplant. Aunt Leslie told me she's double checking if Gwen or Addie are matches and she'll get things going the day after Christmas."
James' head was spinning. Yes, Camille was a little tired lately… and she probably thought no one had noticed the nosebleed she'd had before the end of term. With a deep sigh, he said, "Cam, you can't wait on this. If you're this sick, then you need to be in the hospital now."
Cam paced a bit and sighed. "Look, if I tell Mum and Dad then everyone's going to worry and I likely won't be able to enjoy Christmas because I'll be attached to an IV in a hospital bed."
James tried to keep his cool, even though he felt like he was losing his mind. Pulling Camille into a hug, he said, "I'm not letting you die, Cam. I'm not."
Christmas morning, Harry groggily limped into the kitchen and he stopped dead when he saw Camille making breakfast. Frowning at his usually late-sleeping daughter, his eyes were twinkling as he said, "Who are you and what have you done with my daughter?"
"Morning, Daddy," Camille chirped, handing her father a mug of coffee. "Heavy cream and sugar… just the way you like it. I've got Mum and Gwen's favorite scones in the oven and I was just getting ready to make that casserole Aunt Petunia made last Christmas."
Harry wasn't an idiot. He knew what was going on right away and he wasn't fooled by his little girl's buttering up. "Camille… what's going on? Are you—?"
"Don't say it, Dad," Camille warned, quietly. "Now go have a seat in the living room. I'm doing breakfast this morning and—"
Harry set his coffee mug down and held his daughter, looking into her gray eyes… God, she looked just like Luna… Addie and Gwen looked more like him, but Camille had her mother's eyes and when her hair had grown back it was straight and pale blonde, just like Luna's. "Camille… tell me the truth," Harry said, quietly.
Camille didn't answer right away. Instead she just gave her father a hug and pressed her face against his shoulder, just like she used to after a particularly bad day when she'd been on chemo.
And Harry knew. He knew Cam's cancer was back and he knew that it was serious. Wrapping his arms around her as tight as he could, he never wanted to let go. "Please tell me this is just a bad dream…" he whispered.
"Daddy…" Camille said, quietly, as she looked up at her father. When Harry's eyes met hers, she said, "Don't tell Mum?"
Tears filled Harry's eyes. "Don't tell her that you're…? Look, I'm sure there's some new treatment you can try…" Seeing the set look in his daughter's eyes, he said, "You have to keep fighting, honey… You can't just give up."
"Dad…" Camille said, and for the first time since she heard the news, she felt tears in her eyes. "I'm not giving up. And Aunt Leslie is making arrangements for me to go back into the hospital tomorrow morning. Just please don't ruin everyone's Christmas because of me."
"How long?" Harry asked, fighting a catch in his throat.
Camille shrugged. " A year or two… maybe a bit more with chemo…"
Harry hugged his daughter again, crying openly now. Camille's cancer had started to become terminal. He felt like his world was crashing down around him.
"Harry?" Luna asked from the bedroom.
"In the kitchen!" Harry called, wiping his eyes quickly. Giving a nod to Camille to say that he was reluctantly respecting her wishes, he grabbed his coffee and headed for the living room as the rest of the kids started coming down.
When Dudley, Leslie, Nicole, and Simon arrived for Christmas dinner later that evening, Harry pulled Leslie aside to talk.
"She told you, didn't she?" Leslie asked as she and Harry stood outside on the back porch, coats zipped up tight against the wintery chill
Harry sighed as he nodded. "How bad is it? Cam wouldn't tell me exactly."
"She's been sick for about 3 months now," Leslie replied, sadly. "Camille was doing a good job of hiding it but after a bad nosebleed a few weeks ago she came to see me. I ran the usual tests and it wasn't good. The leukemia is running rampant… Chemo would only buy her time." Leslie paused for a moment to let Harry absorb that information before she added, "She's going to die, Harry… maybe soon. You need to be ready for that."
"How am I supposed to be ready for this?" Harry asked, running a hand through his messy black hair. "Why didn't she…? She could have had more time! Isn't there anything you can do?"
"The only real option right now is a bone marrow transplant. Addie and Gwen are matches so they could donate marrow."
Harry was about to agree to let his daughters do the procedure, but he was stopped by his youngest son.
"Dad!" Cedric shouted, frantically, as he opened the back door. "Camille just collapsed!"
Harry wasn't far behind as he followed Leslie into the kitchen where James was kneeling next to Camille who was lying unconscious on the floor. "What happened?" Harry asked when he noticed the blood on Camille's face.
"Nosebleed," James replied, trying to stop the bleeding. "Then she passed out."
Harry looked at everyone gathering around and then at Luna. "We need to get her to the hospital."
When Camille woke up, she groaned when she heard beeping. She didn't even need to look to know that she was hooked up to an IV but looking at the label on the bag she groaned when she recognized the medicine as chemotherapy drugs.
"Why didn't you tell us you were sick again?" Addie asked from the doorway as she came in with Gwen. Both of them looked haggard and it was clear that they'd been crying.
Camille sighed as she sat up a bit. "Because there's nothing anyone can do about it."
"What about the transplant?" Gwen asked, sitting on Camille's left side as Addie sat on the right. "Aunt Leslie said that either Addie or I could do it."
"Look, I was going to tell you guys," Camille said, weakly. "After Christmas." After a long pause she added, "And as for the bone marrow transplant… I'm dying, guys. And we don't even know if it'll work…" Tears filled her eyes and she started to cry.
Hugging Addie and Gwen, Camille couldn't do anything but as the crushing reality finally hit her. After about 5 minutes, she let out a derisive laugh. "And I was worried about the two of you falling apart on me." Seeing that her sisters were still trying to look hopeful and optimistic, Camille added, "I'm not going to get better."
Addie held her sister's hand and tried to hold onto the image of Camille alive and well. She couldn't believe that her own sister wasn't even willing to try something the might save her life.
Gwen gave a forced smile as she voiced Addie's thoughts. "You're going to fight, Cam. You've got to fight…"
Camille shook her head and squeezed her sisters' hands. With another weary sigh, she confessed, "I'm tired of fighting…"
The first part of the bone marrow transplant was the chemotherapy.
And not even a week into it, Camille had started throwing up.
Harry, Luna, James, Adrienne, and Gwen had started taking turns sitting with Cam while the chemo did it's job of eliminating Camille's bone marrow. But as soon as Leslie started the infusion of the new marrow taken from Gwen and Addie, Camille was transferred to the Isolation ward.
Two weeks after the transplant, Harry felt an overwhelming sense of relief as he saw Leslie smiling as she headed towards Harry and Luna who were waiting outside Camille's hospital room while James and Cedric sat with their sister. "I just got Camille's blood tests back," Leslie said, holding up a file as she joined the Potters. "It looks like her bloodwork is returning to normal."
"The transplant worked?" Harry said, hopefully, even though a part of him was almost expecting a second shoe to drop.
Leslie nodded as she smiled warmly. "So far I'd call it textbook. Camille will still have to be in isolation for another few weeks and she won't be able to return to Hogwarts until next school year because of crowds." When Harry and Luna looked concerned about that, Leslie tried to be reassuring as she explained. "It'll be months before Camille's immune system is back to normal. So she needs to stay away from crowds until her system is strong enough to fight off the usual bugs."
The two parents nodded in understanding and both of them breathed a sigh of relief as they looked at their daughter.
A Year and a Half Later…
It was a sight that Harry had feared he would never get to see.
The sun was just starting to set when Cedric, Gwen, Addie, and Camille got off the Hogwarts Express at King's Cross station.
The triplets had just finished their 7th year at Hogwarts and Cedric had just finished his 5th.
As she grabbed her trunk from the end of the train, Camille turned to smile at her father and gave him a wave before brushing her hair out of her eyes.
Watching his kids as they said good bye to friends, Harry smiled as well. His children were happy and healthy again and his family had gone back to their normal routines.
There was still a part of Harry that would always be afraid that Cedric, James, Gwen, or Addie would succumb to the disease that had plagued him and Camille.
But for now, Harry would push all that aside. He would enjoy his life with his family and he would be grateful for the fact that they were safe.
With that in mind, Harry waited for his son and daughters to join him before they headed home.