A/N: Chapter Warning: Please proceed with caution, some scenes of this chapter will be hard to read and may provoke an emotional reaction. It is not my intention to upset or offend anyone, I have never personally suffered such a situation or loss and I deal with grief in a way that doesn't apply to everyone, so I'm going off what I think I would feel in such a situation coupled with what I know of the characters I've created for this story. Please heed this warning and read with care, especially if you know you may react badly to certain triggers.
Everything was quiet and they didn't have anything to worry about and nothing was pressing, they had a funeral coming up soon, they had the trial to deal with a little after that and they would have to get back into a working mentality, a working schedule yet again now that their schooling was over and done with. Draco and Blaise would want to look for jobs soon and Harry entertained the thought of a small job for himself, but maybe not just yet. He didn't know what he wanted to do and there was really no rush at all, he was only just eighteen, he'd deal with the most pressing matters first, the unavoidable obstacles, and then he'd entertain the thought of jobs and careers, until then, he had nothing else that he needed to do, it could all wait for the morning.
Chapter Eighty-Three – Poison
Alexander's birthday came and went on the twentieth of August and with it the end of the summer approached fast and Harry felt relaxed and calm as September came upon them. A far cry from this time last year when he was only just pregnant and had a two week old Braiden when they were due back in Hogwarts. Though the holiday to Guadeloupe was extraordinary and Harry didn't think that he'd forget that holiday for as long as he lived.
The first of September had brought some bad news, but it was the morning of the fifth of September that they received the harrowing, tear stained letter from Kimberly. Alexander's very unwell Mother, Evelyn, had passed away. Alexander was inconsolable and couldn't stop sobbing.
Harry floo called Mrs Weasley immediately and he asked her through his own tears if she could babysit for a couple of hours. The kindly woman who he saw as close to a Mother as he'd ever get readily agreed without question and bless her she came right over, still in her house apron and she took charge as Harry tried to rally around a bone white Max, who was devastated that he'd lost his great-grandmother so suddenly and out of the blue.
Harry remembered Evelyn from Alexander's birthday party last year, he hadn't realised that he'd met her, but when he'd been introduced to her properly at Alexander's birthday party this year, he recognised her as one of the elderly ladies who had fussed over a newborn Braiden as they sat under a parasol eating cakes and drinking iced tea. The same group of ladies that Harry had snatched Braiden from when Draco had made a comment about them smothering Braiden and he'd flown off the handle like a fool. But Evelyn had been so lovely, so kind and generous and loving that Harry had fallen in love with her easily. It was no wonder that Alexander himself was so loving and kind and so laid back with a Mother like Evelyn and now, just as he'd been properly introduced to her, she was gone.
They flooed over to Alexander's home, to find it full and buzzing with activity and noise. It seemed that the entire Maddison brood had turned out…there were no children in sight.
Max forced his way through his family members to find Alexander sobbing hysterically on the settee and Max sat down heavily next to him and dragged his Grandfather into a hug, sobbing himself.
Harry didn't know what to do, they already had one funeral to attend this month, Severus Snape's, now they'd have yet another one, a more personal funeral and Harry swallowed hard. He hated seeing any of his mates upset, he hated it more if they started crying, but seeing Max's devastated face as he received the news of Evelyn's death was the worst thing in the world.
Harry was at a loss for what to do, he'd never really had to deal with someone else's loss, only his own and he knew that what he found helpful, might be the worst thing possible for someone else. The closest that he'd come in this sort of situation was helping to comfort Nasta and Blaise when the subject of parents came up, Nasta having lost his Mother and sister and Blaise losing his Father, but he hadn't been there for the initial loss. He'd never had to see anything like this, but he remembered feeling this way when he'd lost Sirius. He remembered the shock and devastation that that had made him feel and he went light headed with the mere thought that that was how Max was feeling right now.
He breathed in deeply and he turned away from the room of grief and huddled into Draco, it broke his heart to see so many people whom he loved and cared about hurting so much.
He could see Cassander and Julius, Keanu and Enrique just behind them and Lydia and a pregnant Shae. All of them were crying and Shae was openly sobbing. Xerxes, the oldest of them, was dealing with his grief differently. He was standing tall and strong, his mouth a severe line and his fists were clenched tightly. He was angry and Harry recognised that type of grief as his own. He'd gotten angry in public at any and every one and he'd sobbed on his own in private where no one could see or hear him.
Harry slipped away from Draco and made his way over to Xerxes and he touched him lightly, flinching back automatically as Xerxes turned sharply to him, one fist raised. He had reacted the same when Dudley had interrupted his grieving once, and he had recognised the tight tension in Xerxes' shoulders, thrumming all the way down his straining arms to his tightly clenched fists.
"I'm sorry, Harry." Xerxes grumbled. "I'm not the best company right now. I didn't mean to frighten you."
Harry smiled wanly. "I know. You didn't frighten me though; I knew you'd react like you did. I was the same when my Godfather died. I felt like I could take on the world in a bare knuckled blood bath and that was before I knew that I was a Dracken and that I'd have claws to help me."
Xerxes looked down at him and gave him a grimace that was mostly a pained smirk and he pulled him into a hug. He was almost Myron's twin, despite the age difference. Xerxes definitely looked older, but he was also a few inches shorter than his youngest sibling.
"Only you have been able to get a smile from me today." Xerxes said with a shake of his head. "Even my own mate, Holly, has avoided me since I got the news. She doesn't know how to handle me when I'm like this."
"Lucky for you both that I do." Harry said. "We grieve in the same way it seems."
"Have you…are you better? I can't seem to shake it off, my sisters, my brother, my own children and now my grandmother. It's all just piling on top."
Harry laughed humourlessly. "No. I'm not better by a long shot. It never goes away."
"Over three years now and if I think about it too much or if I allow myself to wallow, then it feels like I'm drowning in the grief." Harry admitted. "But that said, the pain of it does get better. It may never go away, but it…lessens. It becomes less sharp. You just have to get over the initial loss, but then I wasn't allowed to grieve naturally, so maybe it's just the two of us stuck in this angry stage of grief."
"You weren't?" Xerxes said with a frown.
Harry shook his head. "I had lost my Godfather, I'd killed someone, actually killed someone and I was just fifteen. Instead of grieving for Sirius and getting therapy for killing Voldemort, I was thrust into the limelight. I had interviews left and right, I had people looking to me for strength and guidance that I couldn't possibly give them when all I wanted to do was curl up and cry. The strain of it was immense, the pressure was incredible and I had to stand under that on my own, while inwardly grieving my loss, putting a face on for the public and crying myself to sleep while in private. I was always angry, I wanted to punch everyone who came near me, I wanted to cry and rage at everyone who congratulated me, I still feel like that when random strangers approach me, but you learn to deal with it."
"I had no idea." Xerxes muttered. "I knew you were always thrust into the papers and in front of reporters until you went home for the summer, but you looked so…so…"
"Happy? Normal? I made myself look like that for the pictures, but inside I was stabbing out all of their eyes so that they couldn't look at me, so they couldn't see me when all I wanted was to rage and scream and cry at them to leave me well enough alone. I destroyed half of my possessions and some of Dumbledore's too. I was just so angry."
"Did you ever harm yourself?" Xerxes asked curiously.
Harry shook his head. "Not purposefully, there were a few incidences of cutting my hands and fingers when I was picking up all my broken stuff after my rage and I punched a few walls and doors and I almost broke my foot kicking my trunk, but no, nothing where I consciously thought 'oh this is sharp, I want to hurt myself with it.' I've never thought of suicide either, in case that was your next question. My mates already asked me that before. Have you ever hurt yourself?"
Xerxes sighed. "When I was much younger. I was twenty-one when I mated to Holly. I'm her only dominant and I tried my very best for her and our children. We had our first son, John, with no problems, then Hannah and Joel came along and everything was perfect, then the problems started. I don't know what changed or what happened, but Holly started miscarrying. Seven now, but the first baby after Joel was…was stillborn and I…" Xerxes sighed heavily and looked off into space. "I was so strong for Holly, comforting her, protecting her like a good dominant should, but I needed a release myself, I needed comfort and relief from the pain in my heart. I found that release with cutting spells. It was always my upper arms, never my wrists; it wasn't about killing myself, I would never have left my submissive and our children alone, it was just about the release of the sorrow and anger that I felt that I couldn't show in my need to be strong for Holly. Needless to say I sought out professional help when I realised that what I was doing wasn't healthy, then my Father found out and he all but wiped the floor with me, but by then I had already stopped and had gotten onto the road to recovery. It was all over and sorted quickly when I had his help and I was better able to then deal with the miscarriages after that. Holly hasn't had a heat period in ten years now. I think her Dracken realises that one more miscarriage or stillbirth will destroy her."
"That's so sad." Harry said sympathetically, looking up at Xerxes with his mouth puckered, trying to keep from crying.
Xerxes smirked anyway, knowing exactly what that face meant, and threw a huge arm around him and pulled him into a tight hug. It was hard to believe that he was a seventy year old man with the strength that Harry felt running through his muscles, but he was steadily coming to understand Dracken physiology and the difference between what he had grown up thinking an old man was, to what an old man meant in Dracken terms.
Alexander was ninety-three now, he was so strong, his back was unbent and his knees didn't shake. He could run and jump, laugh until he had to hunch over and he was as energetic as Harry himself was at eighteen, perhaps more so at the moment because he was always so tired what with being pregnant and looking after six young babies.
"Holly and I have both made our peace with it, Harry and we love the three children that we have got, even though our oldest is now forty-eight and doesn't need us as much. John is actually only four years younger than my youngest brother Myron."
Harry chuckled at that. Myron must feel so strange, having a nephew who was only four years his junior, but then how did he feel knowing that Xerxes was fifteen years older?
"You remind me a lot of Myron. You're both calm and strong."
"It doesn't help that we look like mirror images of one another." Xerxes chuckled. "But naturally as the elder, I'm also the better looking."
Harry grinned and had a little chuckle with Xerxes. He was glad that he could make the older man laugh and feel less rage and overwhelming anger. He knew from his own experience with grief that if he laughed, even just a little, then he felt a lot better afterwards and he couldn't even begin to understand the type of pain that Xerxes must have been in to lose so many babies, to lose a brother and two sisters and now to lose his Grandmother, a beloved Grandmother it seemed, apparently very suddenly, despite her being unwell for some time, it was just too much to bear thinking about. Evelyn had seemed so strong at Alexander's birthday party, if a bit pale and tired, but certainly not so close to death as to just die out of the blue only two weeks later.
She had delighted in the babies that he'd not only allowed her to see, but had encouraged her to hold and cuddle, introducing them properly as half of the submissives had clutched their babies to their breasts, though another exception, like him, had been Shae, who was a born Maddison, not to mention that she had fourteen children and was pregnant yet again, she couldn't hold them all, but she didn't even try as she set them free on the garden and the other guests, only several of them were young, a few were still babies, but Shae's oldest children were well into their teenaged years and were very well behaved…well, mostly well behaved.
Evelyn had thoroughly enjoyed herself however, being allowed to hold and play with babies and children, even if it was only Harry and Shae allowing it, though Amelle did let Evelyn hold Eleonora, but being pregnant, just a month and a half from carrying to term, it was hard for her to not hover over her baby girl. Evelyn had seemed so strong and so full of life and lustre at the party, laughing and joking and giving him, Shae and Amelle tips on how to handle their dominant mates which had had all four of them laughing hysterically with actual tears running down their faces, it was hard to believe that just two weeks later she was dead; it was a surprise and not a good one.
Draco and Nasta had gone back home, they couldn't leave Mrs Weasley with all six of their babies all day and expect her to look after them fully, but Harry and Blaise stayed with Max, among the grieving adults. Blaise tried to do what he could, helping Harry make tea and coffee and then all but forcing the Maddisons to drink them, but he was still uncomfortable in this situation. He had lost his Father, but like Harry it had been before he'd even known him.
Harry had tried to comfort Max, but his mate had shrugged him off viciously, which had hurt, but Harry understood. He had shrugged his friends off sometimes when he was upset too, when he hadn't wanted any fuss or anyone to talk or comfort him, when he'd just wanted to think and remember. He understood, he really did, but it still hurt.
He was seven weeks pregnant now, just five days from being a full two months pregnant. He would be going for his first scan soon. He was already booked in with the Healer at St Mungos, but before then he had five Dragon Pox vaccinations to oversee.
His quintuplets were eight and a bit months old and Braiden was twelve and a bit months old. They would need their Dragon Pox vaccines and then a few days later he would be going for his first scan of this pregnancy. He rubbed his belly gently, foolishly he was trying to feel the babies within, despite knowing that he wouldn't be able to feel anything for months ahead yet, he just couldn't stop himself from doing it, he couldn't have another set of quintuplets, hell he couldn't have quadruplets, he just couldn't handle so many young babies. He prayed for just the one.
"Are you well, Harry?" Myron asked him.
Myron had turned up to the grieving party shortly after they themselves had arrived. His eyes were red rimmed, not like he had been crying but more like he was preventing himself from crying and holding his tears back with as much force as he could muster, which was then irritating his eyes.
"Fine." Harry said quietly, but his throat was constricted with tears that he wouldn't let fall.
Myron sighed and pulled him into a hug.
"Max doesn't deal well with grief." Myron told him softly. "He doesn't like being upset; he's too much of an insufferable happy person. He doesn't like anyone making a fuss over him and I know, as his mate, that that will be the first thing that you'll want to do, but just let him get it all out on his own first and then when he's calmed down and he feels empty, then he'll need some comfort to make him feel more like himself again."
Harry nodded, brushing his tears away. This wasn't about him. It was about Max. Myron was right, the only thing that he wanted to do was comfort Max, but that wasn't what his mate wanted or needed, it was what he himself needed and this couldn't be about him, it had to be about Max.
"I understand." Harry said, sniffling to get himself back under control.
"You can take comfort yourself, Harry, you knew her too and it just so happens that when I grieve I need someone to take care of before I have a complete breakdown. I usually use Richard and Ashleigh, but Richard is in work and Ashleigh is trying to talk Julinda out of taking her from her birth certificate, I need to feel needed and useful in order to process and deal with my own loss, will you let me help you and in turn help myself?"
Harry nodded and Myron pulled him back into rest on his chest and Harry couldn't prevent the tears that started falling again as he cried. He cried for Evelyn, he cried for Alexander and Max and Myron and Xerxes and all of the Maddisons who were so devastated by the loss of Evelyn. He cried away his fear of the coming trial, the uncertainty over his pregnancy, the nerves he felt at dealing with having more children. He cried out the stress of Ashleigh's stubbornness, for the confusion with Remus and the baby godson that he'd never met and he let Myron comfort him all through it, let him hold him and touch him, the older man taking comfort from helping him through his tears. He fell asleep on Myron feeling drained, worn and raw, but so much better and lighter for drawing out all of the poison that had been weighing him down for the last several months.
When Harry woke up he didn't know where he was or what had happened or how he'd gotten to where he was.
He was on a bed, he could see that much, but he didn't recognise the bedroom he was in or any of the scents around him.
Confused and on high alert, he inhaled deeply and then deeper again when he couldn't decipher anything. He slipped from the bed and pulled on his Dracken to break the surface of his body and he shifted himself to his Dracken form. He didn't like this.
A hand fell to his pregnant belly, still flat and not showing just yet and he growled softly. They had to protect their unborn clutch by any means necessary.
He inhaled as deeply as he could and held the air inside his lungs as he tried to pick up on any scents on the lingering air, but his head felt like it was stuffed with cotton wool and the skin on his face was tight and itchy. He couldn't remember what had happened to him, his memories were blank. He didn't like this at all.
He moved carefully to the door and tried the handle. It was unlocked and there was no magic on it or the surrounding area. He pulled open the door onto an unfamiliar landing with an unfamiliar colour scheme. He didn't recognise anything. There were no windows.
The corridor seemed to go on forever and there were open doors on either side that showed rooms identical to the one that he had woken up in, there were no windows.
The corridor carried on and on, it twisted and turned, on and on until he rounded a final corner and came out onto a balcony landing that overlooked a spiralling, square staircase that wrapped like a block around the wall, going down and down into the depths of an unknown manor house.
He listened hard and inhaled deeply, but he couldn't hear anything and he couldn't smell anything. He carefully made his way down the stairs, picking his way down each step, keeping his back to the wall as he wound his way down each carefully measured stair. He couldn't hear anything, he couldn't see anything and he couldn't smell anything. Where were his mates? His children? What had he been doing before he'd gone to sleep? Why had he been left in an unfamiliar place, surely his mates wouldn't have left him, especially not when he was pregnant, where were they?
He wanted to call out to them, but he didn't even know if they were here, he couldn't smell them, what if they weren't here and whoever was here heard him and got to him first while he was unprotected? He swallowed around a dry mouth and tried to figure out a plan. If he could find a window then he could fly away, but everywhere was dark, there didn't seem to be any windows at all in this place and he felt panic claw at him, the walls closing in before he shook it off and calmed himself down. He was good at dealing with this sort of pressure, he could deal with this sort of situation, he'd done it a thousand times…only when he reached up his sleeve for his wand he found it missing.
He searched his whole body, but his wand had definitely been removed. Then he panicked. He was no good at wandless spells, he couldn't do it consciously! He'd only managed it a handful of times and none of them had been intentional or controlled.
Moving faster down the stairs, he hoped to find a door, anything that led to the outside, but the staircase kept going on and on, down and down and with every flight of stairs, his panic grew, his footsteps quickening until he was all but running down the stairs. He stopped to catch his ragged breath, hand on his pregnant belly, a stitch in his side and his lungs burning from lack of oxygen.
He didn't know what to do, he was torn. He wanted his mates, he needed them, but he couldn't call out for fear that someone was here. He had a feeling that someone was here and that that someone meant to cause him harm, but he couldn't get out, there didn't seem to be any sort of exit here.
He inhaled deeply and tried to find any scents, anything at all, but nothing he recognised came to him, the winding staircase made him blind at every corner as he couldn't see far before a wall cut off his sight. He was trapped in an unfamiliar place, with no wand, no protection, with no windows and no exit, pregnant and on his own without anyone around him, where were his mates? What had happened? Had he been drugged? He thought as he rubbed at his itchy eyes and tried to think past his cotton wool stuffed head. He looked down the stairs as far as he could, but he couldn't see an end, what sort of magic was this?
A noise behind him on the stairs had his eyes widening as he realised his mistake too late and he spun around to see what had snuck up behind him only for him to scream as he caught sight of what had been following him, stalking him through the house and down the stairs, and he leapt backwards in horror and fright, only to tumble down the endless flights of stairs, the vile creature behind him following with a manic grin, just waiting for his battered body to come to rest to claim him, and quite possibly his unborn baby, as his prize.
Harry was ripped from sleep in a cold sweat, panicked and finding it difficult to breathe, his face and eyes were tight and itchy and his head felt like it was stuffed with cotton wool, his memory was blank and softly fuzzy and when he calmed enough to look around himself, he found that he was on the very same bed that he'd been on in his dream, in the very same windowless room and he screamed in distress. He screamed until he thought that his throat might tear and his eardrums would burst.
In his panic he saw the door and refused to even go near it, instead he turned and ripped the tapestries and fabrics from the walls, one of them had to be hiding a window, it had to! He heard pounding feet and his fear leapt up another level. The monster on the stairs was running to come and get him instead of stalking him through the house. It was coming for him and his unborn clutch!
He screamed in severe distress, his voice breaking as he held the call for as long as he possibly could before his shrivelled lungs demanded air as he pulled down another floor length piece of heavy fabric and his heart almost burst as he found the window at last. He flung it open, thankful that it wasn't locked, and as the footfalls came louder down the corridor, getting nearer and nearer to him, he flung himself out of the window and into the open air. Into freedom.
Flying wasn't so bad, he decided as his powerful wings beat the air in fast, rapid strokes. He'd stopped calling as soon as he hit the air and his wings had unfurled, twisting around and flying off over the roof so that the monster couldn't see him through the window he'd uncovered.
It was peaceful out here, there was nothing to worry about, nothing to do but fly, he had nothing to do and no one to look after. It was just him, the white, fluffy wisps of cloud below him, the endless blue sky ahead and the burning sun that felt amazing on his scales and wings.
He had outsmarted his captor, the monster from his nightmares, and he was free. He was following the ingrained scents that his children had left on his mind at their birth and he was following the almost minute directions that he could pick up on. He was going back to his mates and his children. His captor would not be able to fight off his mates, they were too strong and too powerful, they would protect him, he knew it.
The only problem was that he was getting tired. He'd been flying for an hour or more now and he ached fiercely, the strain on his wing joints especially was almost excruciating by now and he was hungry and in need of a good, long drink of cool water, but he still had a way to go yet and he couldn't stop. What if the monster caught up to him when he was resting and still so far away from his protectors?
Just the thought of the monster on the stairs had him beating his wings yet faster, despite how very tired he was and how much his muscles protested. He wanted his home nest, he wanted his mates and he wanted to hug his children, especially his Faerie baby. He rested a hand on his pregnant belly as his whole body rose and fell rhythmically with every beat of his wings. It was almost soothing, a balm to the panic and fear that he'd felt an hour or so ago. He never wanted to feel like that again, he never wanted to see such a sight again. He wished now that he had killed the monster, so that he might sleep easily, but he had been too panicked, too distressed, his first thought to his unborn clutch and the fall he'd had down the stairs in his dream. He couldn't risk his clutch, better to draw the monster out and have his mates kill it rather than take the risk upon himself and lose his unborn clutch and maybe his own life too. It was too great a risk and he trusted his mates to deal with the monster, he trusted them to protect him and their children with their very lives.
He was covered in a sheen of dewy sweat when he finally reached the place that his inner navigation system was telling him was his home nest, the place where his mates and children were…only he could smell his children, but not his mates.
Panic gripped him yet again at the thought that maybe the monster had beaten him here, that the monster had taken his children hostage and he landed quickly with that thought, panic tearing through him as he ripped the door from its hinges and rushed into a more familiar setting, he recognised this place, the smells, the sights, he knew where he was.
He rushed to his children to find them with four humans. He hissed dangerously and he could smell the fear pouring off of them. It was so potent that he could almost taste it on the back of his tongue.
He advanced and chased the humans away from his babies, one step at a time. He flared his wings in warning; he snapped his jaws at them and bared his teeth as they tried to slip out of his home nest. Were they working for the monster? Were they here for his children? Where the fuck were his mates and why had they left their children alone and unprotected like they'd done to him?!
He picked up the baby who had called out to him and he nuzzled his child, inhaling his scent deeply to make sure that these humans hadn't hurt him. His little child clutched at him as if terrified and it made him growl deeply, he felt his venom secrete then, with just the thought that his child had been hurt or scared and he twittered to him comfortingly, placing him down and turning his attention to the humans, baring his coated teeth at them. Their fear racked up another level as a glob of venom welled up over his bottom lip and dripped off of his chin. They knew what he was and what his venom could do to them.
The male human had bravely stepped in front of the three female humans; he had a stick in his hand like a weapon. He cocked his head slightly, more venom leaking from his mouth at the action, he remembered this human male from his last birthing, he remembered the stick that shot hot sparks at him too, almost blinding him. He growled dangerously. This was twice now that this human male had threatened him and his children and he wasn't going to stand for it. He wouldn't live to do it a third time.
One of the human females squawked loudly in distress and he snarled. She was calling for backup; he couldn't protect all six of his children by himself, he was pregnant too, he couldn't handle this himself. He let out his own distress call, louder and longer than the human female and he felt his mates rumble back to him, they weren't too far away from him now and he trilled at them to hurry them along. They knew he was pregnant; they would be here to protect him soon.
He gathered all of his children up, they had gone still and silent from his first snarl, he had very clever children; they knew not to move and not to make a sound, that this was a dangerous time and he needed them to be as still and as quiet as possible.
He got them all behind him and put them down, letting out a soft rumble for them to stay where they were before he straightened up and glared at the humans, who had slipped further towards the door while he had been gathering up his children to better protect them.
He stalked forward; if they worked for the monster then they had to die.
"Harry, please. Let's not do this again." The male human jabbered at him nervously.
He growled and he smelt salt water, one of the human females was crying. He bared his teeth again and hissed; darting forward only to be stopped by sparks. He swiped at the human male warningly as he rubbed his face free of the sting from the sparks, watching the human male as he backed the three women up to the back of the room, still using himself as a fronted shield.
A whooshing noise had him swinging around, but it was too late. He was tackled to the floor and he screamed in distress, thinking that the monster had grabbed him, only for him to smell an unmated dominant Dracken. His thoughts flew immediately to his unborn baby and the fall he'd just taken…was this Dracken trying to kill his cutch to impregnate him with his own? He screamed louder in distress and fought back harder, it was not going to happen, not while he still lived.
He dug his claws in and clenched his jaws tight around the nearest body part that he could find, he would have liked the neck or throat, but he got a wrist instead and he bit down, clenching his jaws together rapidly and repeatedly until he felt his teeth grate on bone and then he worked his jaw back and forth, over and over, depositing his venom into the blood stream and into his attacker's very wrist bone causing the Dracken above him to yell out in absolute agony. His attacker tried to yank his arm back, used his fingers to try and pry his mouth from his wrist, but he refused to unclamp his teeth as he sunk his claws deep into whatever flesh he could to keep his prey where he wanted it, pushing more venom into his body from his claws, secreting more and more venom as he wrestled with the Dracken above him, feeling the excess liquid numbing his lips as it dribbled out of his mouth and rested on his face.
One of his babies cried out and that was all it took to get him to let go of his prey as he scrambled out of the tangle of limbs that he and his attacker had become and he rushed to where he had left his children and he rammed a balled up fist into the face of the new threat, another unmated dominant Dracken, that had been holding his little boy. He caught his baby around the waist and snarled as ferociously as he could manage to get the threat to back away from his babies as he stood protectively in front of them, his fifth born child nuzzling into his shirt, calling for him.
A familiar scent entered his home nest then and he called out, a soft cooing roar and then comforting arms were around him, large wings wrapped around him, shielding him, comforting him and out of sight, he turned and buried himself into his mate's chest and clung to him, rumbling and growling, telling his mate how afraid he had been and how glad that he was now that he was finally here.
He smelt all of his mates around him, heard their reassuring rumbles and then he was released to be held and nuzzled by his three other mates as his top dominant turned to get rid of the Dracken and human threats in their home nest.
Only when they were alone did he start calming down and as he calmed down, the tears came. He cried and cried until his human form washed over him and then he bawled his eyes out, safe in the arms of his mates in their home nest with all six of his babies around him and completely safe.
He didn't think about anything, he just got rid of his pain and his fear and the anguish he still felt over the events of the last few hours with his cleansing tears and when he had no more tears left to cry, he stood resting, tired and bonelessly on who he thought might have been his second mate and he felt and thought nothing. He just stood there against his mate, the three others around him.
"Harry?" Someone called out. "Harry?!"
He blinked and turned to look at the noise, staring blankly at his top dominant who was stood with such concern and worry on his face, but the threat was gone now, there was nothing to be worried over yet, unless they already knew about the monster.
"Do you want to talk about it?"
"Do you remember how to talk?" His top dominant asked him gently.
"He's been in Dracken form for hours, Nasta; it's his first distress shift where he hasn't calmed down immediately or shortly afterward. It's going to take a while for him to get recalibrated."
Nasta nodded. "I suspected as much. Harry, do you want to go to sleep?"
He understood that and he felt his eyes widen at that very suggestion and his hands balled up tight into the shirt under his hands.
"Alright, love, no sleeping." Nasta soothed him, petting his hair gently to calm him down.
His mates got him sitting down on a soft seat and they helped him to drink a liquid from something they called a cup, he recognised it, though he didn't remember how to drink from a cup, so he instead used the tip of his tongue like a cat to drink the warm liquid, but he was calming down more, relaxing more as his mates touched and soothed him, though their worry was like a sharp blade underneath their care and love.
He fell asleep without meaning to and his mates covered him over and tucked him in, never straying far from him just in case he woke up again as they fixed up the house and checked on their napping children and had a hell of a lot of floo calls to receive and take care of.
Nasta rubbed his face with his hands as he made sure that his older brother, Sanex was alright. This was the second time that Sanex had come up against a feral Harry in Dracken form and twice he had come perilously close to dying, only this time Max's three younger sisters had been in the house with him.
Max's Uncle, Cepheus, was being cared for after the surprising amount of damage that Harry had done to him after he'd heard and reacted to the distress calls from Alayla. The bite to his wrist was very bad and very, very deep, it had gone down to the bone apparently, which had been chipped and fractured by the force of Harry's bite and his four fangs, which had gone into the bone and infected it with his venom and it was taking some expert medical treatment from an actual Dracken Healer to fix it, yet Cepheus was still fevered, hallucinating and talking gibberish. The expert Dracken Healer from the Counsel was unsure whether he would live or not, Harry's venom had not only gotten into his blood circulation, but had been deposited into his bone too, which was spreading to other bones like a poison. Even if he lived he might never have the full use of his hand again.
Nasta had never felt so much fear for anyone in his life than when he'd heard the highest pitch of Harry's distress call and then when they'd reached the bedroom he'd been in only to find him missing. He'd honestly thought that someone had taken him, his pregnant submissive mate.
The fear and the panic he'd felt as he tried to follow Harry's scent, the destruction of the bedroom he had been placed in to rest. None of them had given up for a moment as they called in the back up, as they called in all of their family members to help search for Harry. They had left Sanex, Julinda, Talia and Alayla at their home to look after their children as they searched for an, assumed, abducted Harry.
He had gone half crazed in his need to find him; he couldn't get the echoes of Harry's distress call out of his mind. Harry had never called out in such a state of distress and fear before, it made him ache to tear into something, knowing that someone had put Harry into such a state of distress as to give a call such as he had.
Nasta looked to Harry now, sleeping peacefully, Blaise sat right by him just in case and everything seemed fine, but he knew what was lurking beneath all of their minds, in their hearts. They needed to know what had happened to Harry, what had made him scream in so much panic, fear and distress and where he had gone, what had happened to the bedroom and who had hurt him so badly.
Nasta's fists clenched and he took another gulp of green tea. It was laced with calming draught that Max had snuck into all of their cups of tea, to keep them all from shifting and going out to claw up any and everyone their Drackens even suspected of hurting Harry, they needed both the tea and the calming draught and he knew it, Max knew it too which is why he had laced all of their tea with calming draught, courtesy of his potions stash; Draco had gulped his tea down in just four large swallows, somehow just knowing that it contained a calming draught and knowing that he needed it, but then, after Max, he was the expert on potions, so Nasta wasn't all that surprised that Draco knew that the tea contained a calming draught.
"How are you feeling?"
Nasta turned to look at Max and gave him a small, wry smile. "That should be my line." He said gruffly.
Max had been in a state before Harry had gone missing. He'd just lost his beloved great-grandmother and then hours later he lost his submissive mate…his pregnant submissive mate, from his own Grandfather's house no less, when he'd been right there, just down a couple flights of stairs.
"I'm fine. Calming draughts work a treat." Max said, pulling a face.
Nasta sighed and pulled Max into a long, lingering hug. "We'll sort this and we'll find out what happened, we just need Harry to remember how to talk and to come back into his human self before he talks to us."
"What if he doesn't want to talk about it?" Blaise wondered aloud.
"I'm sure he will." Nasta answered. "Something happened and whatever it was, it was bad. I've never heard him call in such distress before and from the way he was sobbing earlier, something happened to absolutely terrify him."
"I just want to know how anyone knew that Harry would be at my Grandfather's house." Max said. "He's distraught thinking that Harry was kidnapped because of him."
"I'm more concerned with who knew that the Maddisons are Drackens." Nasta said darkly. "Was it a coincidence? Was it just Harry they were after because of who he is and what he's done in his past? Or were they poachers who somehow knew that the Maddison family are Drackens and lay in wait for the first opportunity they could get to snatch a suspected Dracken?"
Max bit his lip. "My Dad had the same thought, but Oliver was on his own in the library, Kyra was alone in the attic and Philip was actually out in the garden, if they wanted a Maddison Dracken, why not snatch one of them? Why Harry?"
"Oliver and Philip are large men." Draco answered gruffly. "Kyra is visibly a dominant. From what I know of these poachers, they prefer submissive Drackens. Easier to work with and easier to overpower and manhandle and Harry is obviously a submissive and he was sleeping at the time, it would have been easier to snatch him groggy and half asleep than to try and overpower an awake and alert dominant."
Nasta's hands clenched at the logic in that and he snarled before he could stop himself. Harry let out a soft rumble and turned in his sleep towards Blaise.
"How did he get away though?" Blaise asked softly.
"We need to ask him when he's awake." Max answered. "It's very rarely that a Dracken can get away from poachers unscathed and virtually never without any sort of outside help. They know they can't take a Dracken one on one, so they make sure they have the numbers to overcome us before they even consider approaching a Dracken."
"How did they get off the Maddison property, with Harry, without any of us noticing them?" Nasta asked. "If Harry was calling for us, then he was awake enough to know what was happening and he was scared. We know that from his call. He would have fought them, he would have shifted and fought them, how did they fight him, overpower him and get him out of that room before the Maddison family, who were just down a few flights of stairs, reached it?"
Max groaned in frustration, but when the floo flared and a voice called out from the fireplace, he got onto his knees to talk softly, keeping the family updated on what had happened, but no one knew anything, there were more questions than answers and those questions wouldn't start to be answered until Harry woke up.
Harry woke up slowly and he frowned as he blinked open his eyes and he was surprised to see the ceiling of his living room. It wasn't often that he fell asleep downstairs and not in the middle of the day either, which the sun through the front window seemed to indicate. He sat up and stretched and opened his eyes to see Blaise staring at him.
"What's the matter?" Harry asked, frowning harder as his throat was dry and sore.
"Are you alright?" Blaise asked, leaning in to nuzzle at him.
"I feel a bit fuzzy and a little sore, but otherwise I'm okay. I need a drink though."
"Max! Harry needs tea."
"Is Max here? I thought he'd be at Alexander's."
Nasta rushed in, Draco not far behind him and they held Harry tightly, Blaise squashed to him by Nasta's unyielding arm. Max came in only moments later with tray of tea. He'd already been making the tea when Blaise had shouted to him.
"How are you feeling?" Nasta pulled back to ask.
"Fine. A bit fuzzy and sore, like I told Blaise, but otherwise I'm fine."
"Here, this has a bit of calming draught in it." Max said as he handed Harry a cup of his favourite honey tea. Max was an expert at making it perfectly now.
Harry looked at him a little strangely, but he drank it anyway and felt the calming effects hit him almost immediately and the built up tension in his shoulders melted away and he couldn't hold back the pleasurable sigh as his whole body relaxed.
"What happened, Harry?" Nasta asked him.
"With what?" Harry frowned as he lowered his tea cup.
Nasta sighed. "What's the last thing that you remember?"
Harry pursed his lips as he thought back, the action harder than it should have been, which confused him, but he eventually found the memory he wanted. "We were at Alexander's house, I fell asleep on Myron and then I woke up here. What's going on?"
"You don't remember anything that happened after you fell asleep?"
"No, I was asleep, how do you expect me to remember?" Harry deadpanned sarcastically.
"You woke up before you did just now, Harry." Max told him gently. "You woke up at my Granddad's. You fell asleep here after you almost killed my sisters and Sanex again."
"Don't tell him that!" Blaise hissed angrily as he wrapped his arms around Harry's shoulders protectively, as if he could shield Harry from what he'd just heard, but Max had jogged something in his memory and he frowned as he explored these memories that were, as far as he could tell, from when he was in his Dracken form.
"I went feral." He said softly. "I…I don't…I didn't mean it. I didn't recognise any of them, I just…I was scared and I was so happy to be home and I thought that you'd all be here, but I only scented our children and I panicked when there were humans around them. I thought…I thought the humans were trying to hurt my babies or trying to take them from me. I couldn't allow it."
"We understand, Harry, everyone understands."
"Someone attacked me. A Dracken. I bit him."
"Cepheus. He's going to be…fine." Max said more than a bit strained.
Harry shook his head. "He's not. I wanted him dead. I bit right down to the bone and still I didn't stop, I was trying to bite his hand off and I didn't want to let go. Oh god, what have I done?"
"It's not your fault, Harry and Ceph might be fine. He's got one of the Counsel's Healer's with him." Max assured him.
"Do you remember what happened before you arrived at the house?" Nasta prompted.
"I was flying." Harry nodded as he took comfort from Blaise who was still holding him. "I…I think I flew all the way here. I remember thinking that I needed to land to have a rest, but…but I was scared in case…in case I was caught up and captured when I was still away from you all."
"Caught by whom?" Draco asked him desperately.
"The monster." Harry replied with a swallow.
"The monster?" Draco prompted.
Harry nodded before he stopped, his stomach dropped and he felt completely empty. He flushed heavily when he realised exactly what had happened and why. He buried his face in his hands.
"I think I need a mind Healer." He told his mates softly. "Or at the very least I need to talk to someone."
"Talk to us." Nasta encouraged.
"I need a professional." Harry insisted.
"Whatever you think happened…whatever those people did to you, we'll get through it." Max soothed him.
"That's just the point, no one did anything to me." Harry whispered. "It was all me. This is my fault and I need help or it's going to happen again."
"What…what do you mean, Harry?"
"I had a nightmare." Harry admitted bitterly. "Everything that's happened…it stemmed from one nightmare."
"A nightmare?" Max asked incredulously, his anger flaring up. "My Uncle Cepheus is going to die over a goddamned nightmare?!"
Harry flinched and clenched his hands together. "I said that I didn't mean to do it."
"Do you think that's going to matter at all to Cepheus?!"
"Max, stop it." Nasta ordered harshly.
Max's jaw clamped shut with the full order from his top dominant, but he growled instead, turned on his heel and then stormed over to the fireplace. He threw a handful of floo powder into the flames and then left them.
"He's just upset over Evelyn dying." Blaise insisted, holding him tighter, his fingers digging almost painfully into his shoulders.
Harry shook his head. "I need help. These nightmares are getting worse and if I did all of this from one nightmare, then what happens the next time I have one? Will I hurt you the next time? Myself? What if I hurt our children?! I can't live like this. I need help…immediately."
"Can you talk to us first?" Nasta asked him. "I just want what's best for you, I want to help you; I want to understand what happened. What monster were you talking about?"
"The monster from my nightmare." Harry told him ashamedly. "I thought it was actually real and I panicked. I actually believed that it was real even after I had woken up, Nasta!"
"What did it look like?"
"Like all of my fears rolled into one." Harry explained. "It had strange legs, in a dress that I think I saw at the last Dracken meeting; it had my Uncle's upper body and Voldemort's head. But it…Leolin's face was in its chest, like he'd been sucked into the body of the monster. It's getting worse, Nasta, I need help. I thought it was real, I actually, honestly thought that that thing was real and I completely lost my mind and the ability to think rationally. I destroyed the room that I was in because I actually believed that there were no windows in the house, I believed that I was trapped there like I was in my nightmare and I went bat shit crazy because of it."
"You were scared, Harry, people believe all sorts of things when they're scared. You aren't going crazy."
"I've lost Max! He's gone! What else am I supposed to think?"
"You haven't lost him. He's grieving."
"They're all going to hate me for attacking Cepheus, I know it, I do, I hate myself for it."
"Harry, Cepheus is a fifty-seven year old man, he knew you would attack him as soon as he touched you, but still he did it."
"Because I was going to kill his three nieces and Sanex!" Harry shouted.
"He still knew how you would react! The both of them did!"
"Both of them?" Harry demanded, his voice lilting in panic.
Nasta sighed. "Nicodemus came over with him. They stayed at their Father's house just in case you went back there and they were the closest when Alayla let out a distress call."
"What…what did I do to him?"
Nasta looked uncomfortable for a moment but he sighed in defeat. "You punched him in the face, but that's all. He's got a broken nose, but he's completely fine."
"I killed his twin brother!"
"Cepheus is still alive and he's with one of the best Dracken Healers that we have, he's going to be fine."
"You hope." Harry said glumly.
Nasta seized his shoulders and shook him a little. "No, Harry. This wasn't your fault! You were in Dracken form. We all know what happens when we're in Dracken form. You weren't in your right mind, you didn't know who you were attacking, if they were friend, family or foe, if Cepheus had been an enemy and you'd hesitated then he could have killed you! You did the right thing listening to your instincts and no one can hold that against you. No one!"
"I should have had more control…"
"No. No, Harry, I will not have you pinning the blame of this on yourself! Your control is amazing for your age. You were scared, we heard it in your distress call, everyone heard that you were frightened. They knew, Harry and they knew how you would react to them before they even flooed over here."
"Max hates me." Harry said rubbing his eyes, trying not to let his tears fall.
"He doesn't hate you, he's grie…"
"If you say that once more!" Harry growled at Blaise. "He was fine with me until I told him that it was a nightmare that set me off and then he left!"
"He'll calm down." Nasta assured him.
Harry blinked then as realised that his hand had been absently playing with the hem of his jumper. He pressed a hand to his belly panicked as he remembered something else that had him infinitely more worried than anything else.
"Cepheus tackled me to the floor. The baby!" He cried out.
"He did what?!" Blaise demanded furiously before turning to Nasta. "We have to get him to the hospital!"
Nasta picked him up in his arms and before Harry could get his bearings back, Nasta had taken him through the floo and they had arrived at Saint Mungos.
"They'll stay there won't they?" Harry asked Nasta. "The other children…"
"They'll stay." Nasta nodded as he demanded to be seen by Healer Almus. The witch behind the desk looked through a book in front of her that was magically updating and tried to tell Nasta that Healer Almus was booked up, but his mate would hear nothing of it.
"I can get you an immediate appointment with Healer Morrisey…"
"I don't want an appointment with Healer Morrisey, I want Healer Almus. Now!" Nasta hissed, releasing the pheromones that induced fear in others and Harry saw when it hit the welcome witch as she gulped hard and shifted her chair back a little.
"I…I'll see what I can do."
"I want it within ten minutes." Nasta told her irrationally before he turned and sat down in the seat, right in front of the witch's desk.
"That was horrible, Nas." Harry told him with no real heat behind his words. He was too worried to be angry or disapproving and he trusted Nasta as his top dominant to do his all to make sure that he and the baby were safe.
"I'm not messing around with this. You are pregnant and you've been injured. I will have that appointment with Healer Almus no matter what it takes me to get it."
Harry could have laughed if he wasn't feeling so upset and miserable when a harried Healer Almus followed the nervous welcome witch into the waiting room and he almost deflated at seeing them.
"How did I know it would be you?" He shook his head. "Come on then, let's see what you've gotten up to in just four weeks."
Nasta carried him into Healer Almus' private office, very few patients ever got an examination in the Healer's private office, but Harry qualified for the honour.
"What's happened then, I assume it's the pregnancy?"
"I got tackled by a well-meaning relative because I was trying to kill four other relatives." Harry nodded.
Healer Maximilian Almus blinked and then blinked again, before he nodded as if everything was normal and he heard such statements daily as he started moving, using a series of spells to check on him and the progressing pregnancy. Harry held himself as still as he could, letting the Healer work. He wasn't worried about the spells, they had been created for pregnant witches and wizards and Healer Almus knew exactly what he was doing. He was a senior Healer after all and Harry trusted that he knew what he was doing and he trusted that Nasta would protect him if anything happened or threatened him and the baby.
"Well you seem to be fine and there are no adverse reactions to the pregnancy. I can do a scan if you wish."
Harry nodded. "I think I would feel better if you looked at what little you'll be able to see."
Healer Almus set up the equipment and Harry grimaced as the cold gel was rubbed all over his belly. Harry squinted at the black, white and grey grainy picture on the monitor, but if he thought it had been hard to see the quintuplets, this was near enough impossible, even Healer Almus was pulling a face trying to force himself to see what was on the monitor.
"I hate doing early scans." He grumbled good naturedly. "You have no idea how many parents I meet that come in demanding a scan when they're three or four weeks pregnant because they want to see their babies. Do you know how difficult it is to see an embryo that small?"
Harry shook his head. "Is that what's wrong here? I can't see anything, but then I have a lot of problems seeing anything in scan photos."
"I can just make out the sac surrounding the baby and I can just about see a heart beating, if I'm seeing things right though, then this is a second heart right here."
"That means two babies, doesn't it?" Harry asked curiously.
"That means twins, yes. I can't see any evidence of any more hearts, so it looks like it might be just the two…but if you could wiggle onto your side for me…that's it."
Harry twisted onto his left side and Healer Almus dug the transducer as deep into his body as he could. He did the same to his other side before digging it back into his abdomen.
"No, I'd say definitely two, but we'll have a better idea of if that is accurate or not in another couple of weeks and from what I can see, these two are fine. Oh, there's the one heart, beating strong." He said as he pointed out a throbbing white blob that was no bigger than the nib of a quill.
"Where's the second heart?" Harry asked, leaning up on his arms to see the screen better.
"It could be that we just can't find it, Harry, I assure you that my spells told me that nothing is wrong inside of you and it would have picked up a dead embryo."
Harry nodded and calmed himself. "So nothing is wrong and the tackle to the floor didn't hurt the babies?"
"No, you and your maybe twins are fine."
Harry smiled and let out a sigh of relief.
"Five months to go and then these two will be out, but first I need to survive two funerals, Christmas and three birthdays, one of those for quintuplets."
"I would advise you to go slow for a week or two, just in case. Dracken pregnancies are delicate from what I've learnt, I've been reading so much and learning from other Dracken Healers and from what I've been told, you're lucky that you aren't just a few more weeks along or you could have had a miscarriage. So take it easy for a bit and rest when you can."
Harry nodded his understanding and then Nasta helped him wipe off his stomach and pull his shirt back down and then they were thanking the Healer for his time and making their way back home, at least Harry could tell them now that he wasn't having another set of quintuplets, even if his pregnancy didn't stay with twins.
Max stayed away from all of them for the next two days and nights, this would be the third day and he was sleeping over at Alexander's with most of his Aunts and Uncles and a hoard of his cousins and Harry was feeling more and more unhappy about it the longer it went on.
Cepheus was going to live according to Nasta, who had heard it from Aneirin who had heard it from Myron as apparently none of the Maddisons wanted to come near him, even Aneirin was keeping his distance, yet he understood. He'd tried to kill Sanex again, Myron and Richard's three human daughters had been separated from him by Sanex, another human, and he'd almost killed Cepheus and he had broken Nicodemus' nose. He was surprised the Maddison family hadn't launched a lynch mob after him for what he'd done to their family, no, he could very well understand their behaviour towards him, but Max was his mate, one of his dominant mates and regardless of what he'd done he should have been here, he didn't have to speak to him or even look at him, Harry would even stay in a separate room if it helped, but he should have been here for the sake of their children if nothing else. They knew that something was wrong and they missed their Daddy Max and it broke his heart having to tell them that Daddy Max wasn't here every time they looked around and asked for him.
Harry held Calix on his lap and tried to get him to swallow a small syringe of medicine, but his fever red face was screwed up with his crying and he pushed away anything that went near his mouth. Harry felt ready to cry himself, but he swallowed it back down and carried on trying to comfort a fevered Calix. The last thing that his son needed was to see his Mother crying right now, even if it was the only thing that he felt like doing in that moment.
It didn't help that he was on his own either. Nasta had been called into work urgently just before lunch as one of the female dragons had just suddenly turned and started killing and maiming her juvenile offspring, the keepers were trying to save as many of them as possible and they needed as many hands as they could get as the juvenile dragons were attacking the well-meaning keepers as their mother attacked them and the keepers. Draco was on a planned visit to Malfoy Manor with Farren and Regan and Blaise had gone job hunting again. Calix had been fine that morning and none of the kids were playing up, everything had been calm and quiet and going fine, until Calix had woken from his after lunch nap with cherry red cheeks and a burning fever. He felt useless, utterly useless.
He'd put a sleeping Leolin upstairs and he hoped that was enough to spare his little son from the virus that had caught Calix, but Braiden and Tegan were crawling around the floor and without Regan to distract her, Tegan was throwing things at Braiden and trying to get close enough to hit him.
"Tegan, stop it!" He snapped, sharper than he had intended, which made him close his eyes as Calix's cries picked up another pitch.
He'd contemplated sending out a weak, non-urgent distress call, but the only mate who was free was Max and at the moment, Harry wasn't sure that Max would come and he didn't want to feel the pain that he knew he would when Max didn't come at his call. He didn't want to give anyone any more ammunition to use against him either when they found out that he'd given a distress call because he couldn't cope with his own children. He felt useless enough without that.
He swallowed the lump in his throat and blinked away the tears. He redoubled his efforts to get the medicine into Calix and he actually managed to do it when Calix threw his head back to cry, his arms flinging out to the sides, which gave Harry the opening he'd been waiting for to get the syringe into Calix's mouth and depress the plunger, finally getting the potion into Calix's little tummy. Calix cried harder.
"I know it tastes horrible, Calix, but it'll help you, I promise."
Harry offered Calix a bottle and his fifth born son turned his head away and cried until he was very nearly sick, which would have brought the potion straight back up and he would be back to where he started.
Harry got him up onto his shoulder and rubbed his back softly to calm him down, walking around the room with him as he moved Tegan away from Braiden on every other circuit of the room.
"Tegan, I'll put you in the playpen in a minute, stop trying to hit your brother!"
Calix drifted off into a fitful sleep and Harry carefully eased him down into a travel cot and covered him over.
He dealt with Tegan and used the sides of the playpen to separate them off from one another, so that Braiden could play on one side of the room happily and Tegan could play on the other, unable to reach, and therefore hurt, Braiden.
He went up to check on Leolin, who had been very quiet while he was dealing with Calix, only for his heart to stop at the sight of cherry red cheeks on his pale, unmoving baby.
He snatched him up and rushed down the stairs. He all be ripped the potion's case apart looking for the infant fever reducer that he'd given to Calix, before remembering that Leolin couldn't take it just as his hand closed around the small dosage vial. He ran to the living room and fell to his knees in front of the fire and he floo called Saint Mungos and Healer Cole, who had given him his personal and professional floo addresses when Leolin had been born. He explained as best as he could to the man, but he was so deathly afraid for his little son that he couldn't stop the tears or the warbling of his words.
"Can you come through right now? He needs to be seen immediately."
"Give me a minute, I have three other babies, one of them has the same fever I think."
"Bring that baby with you, but try not to infect the other two."
Harry nodded miserably. "I'll need to get a babysitter; I'll be over with them both as soon as I can."
Healer Cole nodded and severed the call and Harry immediately called Mrs Weasley. He explained as quickly as he could and she dashed right on over and took charge of Tegan and Braiden as Harry packed a quick nappy bag for Calix and Leolin.
"Where are your lovers?" Mrs Weasley demanded angrily. "They should be here with you."
"I…Nasta's in work, Blaise is job hunting, Draco's got Regan and Farren at his parents and Max isn't speaking to me at the moment. I'll be back as soon as I can, I promise, I just…I need to get them to the hospital."
"I more than understand, I'll stay here all night if I have to, dear, just get them to the hospital and keep me updated if you can."
Harry nodded and then he was gone. He flooed directly into Healer Cole's office, who rushed him away immediately into another room.
Leolin was taken straight from him and Harry clutched Calix tightly for comfort, wondering how this had happened, how he could have been so careless just because he was feeling upset. His little Leolin could die from this and he felt sick and shocky.
The door burst open and Healer Almus rushed into the room looking panicked.
"I got your message, what's the…Harry?"
"Cal…Calix got a fever and he…he passed it to Leolin." Harry huffed out.
"Let me take Calix and have a look at him while Healer Cole see's to Leolin, where are your lovers?"
Harry couldn't speak anymore, he just shook his head.
"Come on, Harry, let's see to Calix."
Harry was pulled from the room and he felt torn. He wanted Calix seen to, but he didn't want to leave Leolin, who was in a quarantined area he saw as he was led out of the room.
"There's nothing you can do hovering over Leolin." Healer Almus told him firmly. "Come with me and we'll look at Calix, the less people around Leolin at the moment the better."
Harry nodded, but he didn't feel any better and he felt his chin wobbling with the urge to cry, but he bit his lip and took Calix into a different room down the corridor and he watched as the Healer checked him over and settled him down in a tiny bed with sides.
He felt terrible and his throat ached to release a distress call so much that he trilled softly. Healer Almus looked at him sharply but Harry shook his head.
"Dracken thing. I'm calling my mates and hoping they'll come."
Harry was forced to wait outside the room then as Healer Almus examined Calix and he had resorted to pacing the corridor agitatedly in tight, dizzying circles, wringing his hands and playing over the afternoon and everything that he could and should have done to prevent this from happening in the first place. He was worried about his sons, he was so terrified that he felt like he could vomit and he hadn't even seen Leolin since he'd brought him in fifteen minutes ago. He couldn't believe that it had only been fifteen minutes, it felt like hours had passed, it felt like time was making a mockery of him and he yanked on two fistfuls of his hair harshly, why was this happening?
It took ten minutes before Nasta, sweat soaked, soot covered and his tee-shirt missing came barrelling down the corridor to meet him.
"I came straight from work when I realised that your call came from the hospital, what happened?! Are you alright? Is it the twins?"
"It's Calix and Leolin! They have a fever!"
"Leolin has a fever?" Nasta asked, his eyes widening in panic and fear.
Harry nodded. "Calix got it first, right after his nap and I separated them straight away, but it wasn't soon enough, when I went to check on Leolin he had the same cherry red cheeks as Calix. I brought him right here after I called Molly to watch Tegan and Braiden. I called out for you shortly after I arrived."
Nasta held him tightly and placed a kiss on his forehead. Blaise arrived moments later and Nasta filled him in, then Draco arrived and Nasta filled him in too and then they were finally allowed in to see Calix, who was sleeping peacefully in just a nappy, though he was still fever flushed.
"He's going to be fine." Healer Almus assured them. "He's got bronchiolitis, he's just a little fevered and a bit congested, though he is thoroughly miserable about it. You reacted very quickly in getting the potion into him, Harry, he's already getting better, but it's a very bad virus and it could have been so much worse if left undetected for a few more hours."
"What about Leolin?" Draco demanded.
"I'll see what I can find out, but it would be best if you didn't see him just yet."
Harry shivered and hunched his shoulders up as he turned to smooth out Calix's hair. Max hadn't come. Blaise seemed to be thinking the same thing as he kissed Harry's cheek and touched Calix's hand.
"I'll be right back."
"Where are you going?" Draco demanded. "Two of our children are in the hospital, you can't leave now! What are you thinking?!"
"I'm thinking that Max needs to be here. He should be here!" Blaise hissed as he turned and left.
Blaise stormed out of the hospital and flooed right over to the Maddison's house. He was staying at Alexander's still as the whole family were grieving and Max still wasn't speaking to his Mother, or at least he hadn't been when he'd last heard from Max, but Ashleigh was sat on the settee when he arrived, though no one was talking to her, she tried to talk to him when she saw him, but he walked right past her angrily.
He stormed through the house to where he smelt Max the most strongly, he found him sat at the kitchen table with what looked like half his family, Blaise noted that a pale, sick looking Cepheus was also there.
Blaise pulled Max away from the table and he looked at his lover, whose eyes widened and the smile on his face slipped just as Blaise brought his fist down into his stupid mouth.
"What the fuck was that for?!" Max shouted loudly, jumping to his feet while simultaneously wiping away a smear of blood from his lip.
"You ignored Harry's distress call you bastard!" Blaise screamed at him, his French accent thickening. "How dare you ignore a distress call from our submissive mate, our pregnant submissive mate. You're supposed to care for him and drop everything and anything and go to him when he calls! I left in the middle of an interview when he called for me, an interview that was going wonderfully well, but he called and I ran to him, as we're all supposed to!"
"I didn't think that he'd want to see me when I'm in such a mood." Max said softly. "His call wasn't distressed; I thought he was just calling to get me to go back."
"Calix and Leolin are in the hospital you selfish prick, he couldn't call any louder than he did or the humans would have heard him! Calix, your own son, has bronchiolitis and Leolin is in an isolation ward and he could actually die but you're too selfish to care!" Blaise yelled as loudly as he could, before turning and leaving as quickly as he'd come.
He rushed through the hospital, but Max was following just half a step behind him, demanding answers and Blaise ignored him until they reached the room where Calix was, Harry was crying silently by his bedside, holding a tiny hand.
"What the hell happened?"
"Get out!" Draco hissed.
"I want to know what happened!"
"And we needed you with us for the past three days!" Blaise told him angrily. "Yet you were nowhere to be found!"
"Why are Calix and Leolin in the hospital?" Max asked, sounding terrified.
"Calix has a bad viral infection and he got a fever from fighting the virus. Leolin caught it from him before I could separate them." Harry said softly, not taking his eyes from Calix.
"Where's Leolin, why isn't he here?"
"He's being kept in quarantine, we haven't…haven't been allowed to see him yet." Harry said, his voice breaking.
"I am so sorry." Max said with a nervous swallow.
"It's fine, now go away." Harry said quietly.
"I…I can't leave!" Max said shocked that all of his mates seemed to be suggesting the same.
"You were happy to leave them for the last three days!" Harry stood to hiss at him. "You didn't give a shit what it would do to them, you didn't care when Braiden turned around and asked us where 'Dada Ma' was yesterday! You didn't even come to visit them because you were so busy wrapped up in your own little world! You can be angry at me all you damn well want to, but why would you ignore your own children?!"
"I…I'm not angry with you!" Max said. "I just…I needed to get my head straight. I didn't mean to take it out on the kids."
"Well you did." Blaise snapped. "You should have been home with Harry and the kids today, you should have been there when Harry found Calix and Leolin fevered, he had to waste time floo calling someone to babysit before he brought Calix and Leolin here. Leolin could die, Max!"
"Don't." Harry warbled out, shaking his head. "I can't hear you say things like that…I can't…I can't think that my little baby is going to die. Please, I can't."
Nasta wrapped his arms around Harry's shoulders and bent to kiss his head, standing tall and offering silent comfort without any empty promises or words.
"We all rushed from where we were to get to Harry, you didn't even move a muscle." Blaise snarled. "Nasta rushed from a disaster at work to get here! But you wouldn't have known that he was even called into work, would you, because you weren't there. He injured himself to get here!" He hissed referring to the hideous burn that Nasta had on his back that he'd gotten when he'd turned his back on the dragon and just ran when he'd heard the call.
"I didn't…I'm sorry, I've been so absorbed with my grandmother's death that I forgot everything else and then the whole thing with Uncle Ceph…"
"I know your family hate me now, but what does that have to do with you not coming to see your own children?!"
"My family don't hate you!" Max said surprised. "Cepheus is even joking about the force of your bite and he asked me how you give blow jobs. My Dad almost put him back on bed rest."
Harry shook his head and sat back down, turning back to Calix.
"Calix is your biological son; Farren is your biological son. You claim that Braiden, Tegan, Regan and Leolin are like your own sons and daughter, yet you were happy to leave them for three days and two nights. I can't bear to be apart from them for a few hours. They were asking for you, calling for you, Regan even went looking for you, we found him crawling around the kitchen as if you'd be hiding in there. How did you think they would take you just upping and leaving them?"
"I didn't mean to." Max said and Harry could hear the tears falling in his voice.
"Did you even think of them? Have you thought of them even once for the past three days?"
"Of course I did! I thought of them all the time!"
"Then why didn't you come and see them!" Draco demanded.
"I didn't think you'd want to see me. Not after my harsh words. I didn't mean them, I know you've been suffering badly with your nightmares, I'd just lost my great-grandmother and I couldn't bear the thought of losing an Uncle too, not so close together."
"You shouldn't have let that stop you from seeing your children." Harry told him calmly. "Even if I hated all four of you and couldn't stand to be on the same ground space that you had stood on, I would still put up with it for a mere hour with my children."
"Is this a bad time?" An orderly in her pale yellow robes asked as she looked from Harry to Max and then back.
"What do you want?" Blaise asked her, too tired to even make the statement sound rude.
"I…I'm doing my rounds of this floor, I'll just need to check…Calix over." She said as she looked at the name on the clipboard.
Harry nodded and the poor orderly checked Calix over while dealing with five, stony silent men who were watching her every move critically, almost glaring at her as she touched their sick son.
She recorded her findings on the clipboard; both the one in her hands and the one at the end of Calix's little bed.
"He's doing well and he's started to show an improvement." She told them before leaving the room very quickly.
Harry huddled up in his own skin as he controlled the shiver that wanted to wrack his whole body. Nasta noticed and wrapped his arms back around him.
"He'll be alright, love. He's improving already."
"What about Leolin?" Harry asked him quietly. "We haven't heard anything."
"No news is good news." Draco encouraged him.
"I just can't help thinking that he's in a different room, all alone and I can't go and see him, I can't comfort him, I can't hold him!" Harry said trying to hold back the tears that wanted to fall.
"It's going to be alright, Harry." Max said softly.
"Are you still here?" Blaise hissed poisonously.
"I'm not going anywhere! Calix and Leolin are my children too, I have as much right to be here as you!"
"Glad to hear it." Draco sneered. "Too bad you didn't remember that three days ago."
"I've said I'm sorry. How much blood do you want?"
"How much do you currently have in your body?" Blaise asked him spitefully.
"You can't get blood from stone." Harry put in softly.
"Please, I am sorry. I just wasn't thinking. I swear I never meant for this to happen or for any of what I've done to come across this way."
"How did you think we'd take you abandoning us, your own mates, and the kids? Your own children!" Draco demanded.
"Enough." Nasta cut in gently, but firmly. "This isn't the time or the place. We'll do this later, at home; we can't forget that we are in public. Anyone can walk in on us at any time and if we shout then they'll hear us."
Calix squirmed in his bed and as one; all eyes were upon him as he blinked open his jet black eyes and squinted up at them, lifting his hands to scrub at them tiredly.
"I'm right here, Calix, love. I'm right here." Harry murmured softly as he sat forward into Calix's line of vision.
"Mama ba." Calix told him as he squirmed on his back and rubbed his arm over his face and head in obvious discomfort.
"I know you feel bad, Calix, but you're in the hospital, the hospital is going to make you all better."
"Did he just call you dumb?" Blaise chuckled.
Harry glared at him. "No he didn't. He's asking for his dummy. I'm not sure I picked it up, I think it's on the mantelpiece." Harry said panicked as he dug through the nappy bag that he'd brought with him, practically tearing it to pieces to find Calix what he wanted.
"I'll go and get it." Max offered immediately.
"He wants the green one, the darker one, he likes that one the best." Harry gushed out. "Hurry!"
Max sped out of the room and Harry tried to distract Calix by offering him a bottle, him having refused his earlier feed.
"Dum." Calix whined as he pushed the bottle away.
"I know, love; Daddy Max is going to get it now."
"Yes, love, he's here too. He'll be right back with your dummy."
It took Max what seemed like an age to come back and Harry was dancing on eggshells by the time he darted back into the hospital room, Calix's favourite green dummy in hand.
Harry took it from him and waved it in front of Calix, who grinned weakly when he saw it, but still lifted a pale hand to reach for it. Harry placed it to his lips and watched as Calix took it into his mouth and started slowly sucking on it, his eyes closing immediately, his hand dropping back to the bed.
"You took your sweet time." Draco growled, not willing to give an inch.
"Everyone's congregated at ours to wait for news, I updated them on what was happening and then Braiden wanted a hug and Farren and Tegan and Regan wanted one after him. The pale green dummy was on the mantelpiece, the darker one was on the kitchen counter."
Harry made an angry noise and pulled at his already stuck out hair. He looked like a mad man. "Of course it was! I left it there after Calix's nap when I rushed to get the fever reducer! I took it from his mouth and left it on the side. I'm sorry."
"It's fine, Harry, it took me minutes to find it, it's fine." Max assured him quickly.
"Did…did anyone say anything?" Harry asked nervously.
"What do you mean?" Max asked.
"I think that Harry might be worried that your family are blaming him for Leolin and Calix getting sick." Nasta put in perceptively.
Harry nodded. "I've been…inattentive in the last few days. I've been thinking more of myself and my feelings than that of my children and now this has happened and it's all my…"
"Stop." Blaise hissed at him. "You have not once been inattentive to them. Your first thought was always and will always be for them, we all know that, Harry. You're hurting and the meeting with that mind Healer scrambled you up a bit. This is a virus, it's airborne and they didn't catch it through any imagined inattentiveness, they were going to get it regardless of anything that we could have done, even if we'd known about it. They have probably had it for days before the fever started, or at least Calix would have, I'm not sure how long it would take to show up in Leolin." He added looking questioningly to Nasta.
Their oldest mate shook his head. "It would have shown up almost immediately in Leolin the moment that he got it. He has next to no immune system, what little he has would start to fight the virus, giving him the fever, but the virus would have been far too strong and would have overwhelmed his antibodies in minutes, half an hour at most. That he was still fever flushed when he was admitted to the hospital is a good sign, he wasn't yet overwhelmed by the virus and then the Healers would have dived in to help him fight it off with potions, we've given him the best chance of survival that we could."
"I should have noticed that Calix was sick sooner!" Harry cried, not yet willing to forgive himself. "He was quiet during lunch, but he ate everything so I didn't look into it, I thought he was just missing Max. He was right next to Leolin throughout lunch; his fever hit him after his nap a few hours later."
"It's not your fault and no one blames you, especially not my family." Max told him. "They're worried, not accusing you behind your back; they know things like this can happen at a moment's notice."
Harry nodded, feeling a little more reassured. "I just don't want this to be happening, please tell me that this is another nightmare."
"It's not, Mio Amore, I'm sorry." Blaise said, coming to nuzzle him.
"You…you said that you had an appointment with a mind Healer, I didn't know." Max said softly.
"You weren't there to know!" Draco snarled.
"I'm getting therapy for my nightmares." Harry told Max, ignoring Blaise and Draco. "I'm talking it all out with my mind Healer, my fears, my dreams, my memories. Though apparently when Myron carried me upstairs to the bedroom was I partially awake. The Healer told me that my dream emulated where I was because I was awake enough to see it, but not conscious enough to take it in, so I knew where I was enough to visualise it, but I didn't recognise it or see it as familiar. All the dark fabric covering the walls, the matching floor length curtains covering the windows, I remembered them in my nightmare, only it made it seem like there were no windows, which made me feel trapped, so when I woke up and saw the room from my nightmare, lying on the bed from my nightmare and in a room covered with dark fabrics with no windows, I lost my mind."
"When…when's your next appointment?"
"In a few days. We're going to talk about how I was treated after I killed Voldemort and dig out all the festering pain left from having to shut it all up inside due to being in the media limelight instead of letting my thoughts and feelings come out at the time."
"I…I want to be there for you, Harry, please let me."
"I haven't stopped you from being anywhere, Max; you made that decision on your own." Harry told him.
Max nodded and came to hold him. Harry let him. "I'll make this up to you. I swear."
"It's not me you have to make it up to, it's the kids and at the moment we could lose one of them." Harry told him seriously. "I'm not exaggerating just to make you feel bad when I say that they missed you a lot and all of them have been calling for you. Calix called for you just now when he woke up, none of the others, just you when you left to get his dummy. How could you punish them so much?"
"I didn't…I didn't think, I've been trying not to think for the past few days, but I missed them terribly, I missed you too, and those three even though none of you are happy with me, I've spent most of my time crying on my own. My Grandmother has been there for me through every step and milestone that I've taken in my life and it's hard to believe that she's gone. It was so sudden and I just can't wrap my head around it. I didn't want you or the kids to see me sobbing or just breaking down randomly throughout the day."
"We're your mates!" Harry told him. "We want to help you through this, we wanted to be there for you, no matter what happened or how you felt or how you reacted, we wanted to be there for you, we wanted to comfort you and hold you and tell you that it would pass and everything would turn out fine, but you didn't even give us the chance to try!"
"I don't like anyone seeing me like that, I feel like I have to hide it, how can I be a dominant if I'm the one having a break down?"
Harry blinked at that and then he panicked and rolled up Max's sleeves and checked his arms carefully, with eyes, fingers and by scent.
"What's the matter? What is it?" Max asked confusedly.
"Your Uncle Xerxes told me something similar when I was talking to him, he told me that he felt useless and like he couldn't take care of his mate if he was the one crying, so he used to get his emotional release by using a cutting spell on his upper arms."
Max looked thoroughly shell shocked. "Uncle Xerxes used to cut himself?!"
Harry nodded. "He felt like it was the only way that he could deal with it at the time, he went to get himself help and then Alexander found out and wiped the floor with him apparently, you echoed pretty much exactly how he said he was feeling, I had to check."
"I haven't been staying away because I'm hurting myself, I promise." Max told him, cuddling him tightly.
"Will you come back to us then?" Harry asked.
"If you'll still have me there."
"I told you, it wasn't my choice to keep you away, you did that yourself."
"But do you want me back?"
"I never wanted you to leave and I'd be happy to have you back."
Max picked him up out of the chair he was sat on and then sat on it himself and held Harry on his lap, holding him and inhaling his scent.
"You've missed so much." Nasta told him.
"It's been three days, how much could I have missed?" Max asked dumbfounded.
"I found out that I'm having twins." Harry told him with a smile.
"Your scan isn't for another two weeks. The twenty-fourth." Max said, looking upset that he'd missed it and worried that perhaps he'd gotten the wrong date.
Harry sighed. "Cepheus tackled me to the floor in his attempt to save Sanex, Julinda, Talia and Alayla. Nasta took me for a scan to make sure that everything was alright and that I wasn't having a miscarriage."
"He did what?" Max growled as his hand fell protectively to his belly.
"Why do you think I tried to bite his hand off instead of just clawing him up? He tackled me to the floor with that hand, that and it was closer to my mouth than his neck."
"I'll kill him!"
"I think he's been punished enough." Harry said darkly. "I almost did kill him."
"He knew you were pregnant! He knew better!" Max snarled.
"You're missing the big deal here, we have twins! Not another set of quintuplets, not quadruplets, not even triplets. Twins. Though the Healer did warn me that they might not stay twins."
"How can they not stay twins?" Draco asked with a frown.
"Vanishing twin syndrome." Nasta told him. "Where one isn't viable or something happens, if they're under ten weeks then sometimes the one twin is absorbed by the other or by the Mother. So even though the scan showed twins at seven weeks, doesn't mean we'll end up with twins. The next scan, which is on the twenty-fourth, will show us a better picture more clearly of what we're having."
"What else did I miss? Was it just the mind Healer and finding out about the twins?"
"Tegan learnt to say pea. Though she says it like quadruple 'E' so it comes out more like peeee, but she means the vegetable. We tried her on some mashed peas the day before yesterday and coaxed her to say it and that's what she came out with."
"She likes peas?" Max asked softly.
Harry nodded. "Calix likes them too, but Regan absolutely hates them. Oh and we gave them some avocado, I think we may have actually found a food that Farren does not like."
Max smiled at that. "I can't believe I stayed away for so long. I wasn't thinking."
"So you've said." Draco huffed.
"Draco, please. This is the wrong time and the wrong place. We're trying here." Harry pleaded.
Draco scowled but he nodded curtly as he touched a little foot with the pads of three fingers.
"I hate this." The blond muttered.
"I know." Harry nodded.
Hours passed in quiet conversation, the orderly in her yellow over robes and her clipboard came in to check on Calix again and she smiled and told them that he was improving steadily.
"He should be showing visible improvements soon, the potions are doing their job." She said as she marked down the improvements on both clipboards.
"Can you…can you tell us anything about our other son, Leolin?"
"Leolin?" She questioned as she looked down the names on her clipboard.
"Leolin Siorus Potter." Harry elaborated.
"I…I don't have him on my rounds. Hold on one moment, I'll be right back, I'll ask the head nurse for you immediately."
Harry shared a look with his mates. He did not like that he hadn't heard anything and now an orderly was saying that he wasn't here, he was in a room just down the corridor to his knowledge.
The orderly, bless her, came back quickly.
"I don't have him on my rounds, but he's on our check in book. He's in quarantine so no access is allowed to him except by two cleared Healers. Healer Cole and Healer Almus are both in the room with him, they haven't come out yet to update us, I could try and get one of their attention to ask, if you'd like."
"I'd like an update, but I'd rather not interrupt." Harry said with a grimace. "I'd rather let them both work."
The orderly nodded. "I'll let you know as soon as I know anything if a Healer doesn't do so first."
"Thank you." Harry said gratefully and almost sagged into Max.
"Can I get you anything? Tea? Coffee? Maybe some sandwiches?"
"That would be great, thank you." Nasta replied with a nod.
The orderly left them and they stayed in silence, wondering what it meant that Leolin was being seen to by two experienced, senior Healers and they hadn't come out of his room once for hours.
The orderly came back with a tray of tea, a jug of milk, packets of sugar and even a large teapot and a pile of packaged sandwiches and a pack of biscuits.
"Thank you so much." Harry said.
"I'll come back to check on Calix in a few hours and again, I'll let you know as soon as we hear anything about Leolin."
Harry nodded and then they were left alone again as Draco set everyone's tea up more for something to do with his hands than anything and he handed the cups out to them, though Blaise took his tea black with no sugar, so he just picked up a cup and drank after it was made.
They ate on automatic, the sandwiches first and then the biscuits. They spoke quietly and Calix woke up once more because he was wet and Harry dealt with him quickly as Max kept him distracted, their little boy giggling tiredly and he was visibly happy to see his Daddy Max again as he babbled 'Dada ma' over and over again in a croaked whisper they had never before heard from any of their children. Their little son was so exhausted and he'd been sleeping for most of the day, it was heart wrenching to see him, to hear him so tired when he was usually so energetic.
They spent the night in the hospital; Blaise slipped home to tell everyone congregated there that they were going to be in overnight and they still hadn't heard anything about Leolin, but that Calix was doing better.
He came back with more nappies and two new bottles for Calix and he had picked up the blanket from Calix's cot to help make him feel more at home and his favourite soft toy, which had been given to Braiden last Christmas.
"I hate this." Harry growled.
"He's going to be fine." Nasta soothed. No one voiced the thought that Leolin might not be, they just couldn't handle those sorts of thoughts being said out loud, they couldn't think that their baby boy might be snatched from them after such little time spent with him. It didn't bear thinking about.
Harry woke up stiff backed and aching. He grimaced and wondered why he felt this way when the memories of the day before slammed into him.
He snapped his head to the little hospital bed in panic and he found Calix sat up and playing quietly with his favourite stuffed dinosaur teddy. He let out a loud, shaky sigh which drew his son's attention.
"Mama." Calix called out when he saw that Harry was awake.
"Oh baby, how are you?" Harry said softly as he picked his little boy up and cradled him, feeling his forehead consideringly.
Nasta had transfigured their sandwich packets into temporary beds for them last night to sleep on when three in the morning came and there was still no news about Leolin. He wanted to go and hammer on the door to Leolin's room and demand answers, but then he'd thought about what could happen if he disturbed the Healers and his disturbance became the difference between life and death for Leolin and he stayed in his seat.
"Baba go." Calix asked, patting his face.
"Your brother's and sister are at home love, you're in the hospital to make you feel better."
"Daddy Max is here too." Harry turned and pointed out a sleeping Max to Calix who screeched…loudly.
His mates were awake like a shot, which made Calix happy as he reached out for Max happily, who took him gently and cradled him.
"Hi baby. I missed you so much." Max said almost tearfully as he squeezed Calix firmly, but not tightly.
Calix babbled to Max then, odd words, sounds and he went from almost whispering one moment to almost shouting the next as he bashed around his stuffed dinosaur.
Harry offered him a bottle but he looked at it confusedly and the looked around him and then he frowned.
"I think he's confused as to why it's daytime, but he's getting a bottle. It's usually in the evenings when he has a bottle; he has his cereal in the morning." Nasta told them.
"You need to eat, Calix, you need your strength, just one bottle, I promise." Harry encouraged as he scooped Calix back up into the crook of his one arm and pressed the bottle teat into his mouth.
Calix sucked and swallowed happily enough, but halfway through he slowed down and his eyes started drooping, he fought the sleep, but it came as no surprise when he finally lost his battle and dropped back off to sleep. His little body too exhausted to fight for long when it was still fighting the virus on the inside.
Harry sighed and put him down on the bed, covering him over with his blanket and making sure his stuffed dinosaur was cuddled up close to him for comfort.
"I'm going to find the bathroom a minute." Harry explained as he stood up and stretched.
"Thank fuck, I really, really need to go, but I didn't want to leave." Max explained as he stood and then groaned, holding himself through his jeans.
Harry laughed at him. "That's ridiculous, you should have just gone."
They left and went to find the bathroom, which was around the corner from their room. They washed their faces in the sink while they were at it too and found a waiting room with a kettle and tea bags.
They made Blaise a cup of coffee while they were at it, anything to keep them all happy in this situation.
"Has there been any news on Leolin?" Harry asked the nurse, in his pale blue robes, at the desk on their way back.
"The child's name?" He asked them.
"Leolin Siorus Potter."
He did a double take at him then and seemed more interested in the search than before. Harry didn't like him, he wanted the kind orderly from last night back, but he knew logically that her shift would have ended by now.
"There's still no news and the Healers with him have not come out nor have they been relieved by any colleagues. What did you do to him?"
Harry's mouth dropped open.
"How dare you insinuate that we would do anything to our child!" Max growled dangerously.
Max hurried Harry away before either of them could shift and attack the man in public, but they were both shaking in temper. They went back into the room that held Calix and Nasta rushed to them the moment he saw them.
"What is it? Is it Leolin, did you hear anything?"
"No, that fucking nurse at the desk asked us what we did to Leolin." Max growled.
"But we haven't done anything to him." Blaise replied with a frown.
"Exactly!" Harry burst out furiously, his temper rising. "He made it sound like we had and that we were the reason that he was here in the hospital. He had no right! I'm going to go claw him a new fucking hole."
"I'll sort him out." Nasta assured him as he grabbed Harry around the waist and bit his neck lightly in warning, running his fingers through Harry's hair to calm him before putting him down and he left the room after a last, soft kiss.
"I smell coffee."
"It's not your usual stuff, but we thought that you'd rather have coffee than more tea." Max explained.
"This is wonderful, but I need a piss too, I think this cup will go right through me."
"There's a bathroom just around the far corner, we washed our faces a bit in the sink too." Harry told him and Draco. "We could all use a splash of water."
"Nasta needs a razor more than a wash, there has to be half an inch of stubble on him already and it's only going to get worse the further into the day he waits." Draco chuckled.
Harry smiled a bit at that. Nasta did look quite scruffy and rugged today. Haggard too, but Harry more than understood that one.
Nasta stormed back into the room and he calmed himself down visibly as Harry handed him his cup of tea like a peace offering. Nasta smirked at him and pulled him into another kiss.
"I sorted him out and the head nurse turned up as I was flaying him alive and she took off where I left off. I've been assured that he's going to have a full disciplinary."
"I'm going for that piss." Blaise told them and Draco followed.
"I went before I started shouting at the nurse." Nasta told them. "I glared at him as I went past, made him squirm a little first."
Max chuckled and kissed Nasta's hairy cheek. "Seriously, love, go home and shave your face. I feel like I'm kissing a carpet. Do you still have that electric one that I bought for you all those years ago?"
Nasta laughed then. "Of course not, I burnt the motor out using it twice a day for three years. I do need a shave though." He grimaced as he scrubbed a hand over the beginnings of his beard.
"You're the only man I know who can grow a beard in a day." Harry smiled.
"We can't all be baby faced and smooth like you." Nasta teased as he pulled Harry up into a hug only to rub his beard all over his smooth cheeks. That made him laugh.
"I have more hair on my arse than Harry has on his face." Blaise said with a grin as he walked back into the room.
Harry rolled his eyes. "Me and Draco both." He grinned.
"Draco has to shave once in a blue moon; you don't have to shave at all."
Harry rolled his eyes again before sighing. "I miss the kids. This is killing me."
"And all of us too." Blaise assured him. "Hopefully Calix can go home today, then we just need to see what's happening with Leolin."
Harry bit his bottom lip nervously. "I'm worried by how long it's taking, Healer Cole and Healer Almus haven't even taken a break, it's been fifteen hours. I'm really, really worried."
"It'll be okay, love, take this as a positive thing." Nasta encouraged.
"How?!" Harry demanded.
"If they're still working on him, then he's still alive." Nasta told them with a grimace. "Truthfully speaking, most Faerie babies would have died from a virus like this one by now. Leolin is in good hands."
Harry swallowed and nodded. "There is that." He allowed bitterly.
It took another few hours for an orderly to come around and check on Calix again. He was discharged now that he was better, though they'd been told that he would be a bit sluggish and a bit tired for the rest of the day, but he would start showing improvements in the next coming days.
It was a waiting game then, Draco took Calix home after he'd been discharged and left him in Granddad Myron's capable arms and he was forced to tell the family that they still had no news on Leolin. It was destroying them all.
Draco was gone for an hour, talking to the family and catching a few quick hugs with the kids and he'd only been back at the hospital for half an hour when a ragged Healer Almus came into the waiting room they had taken up residence in after they had left Calix's now empty room to be cleaned up, sterilised and ready for a new infant patient.
"Healer, how is he, please." Harry begged, his nerves frayed and his hands aching from how hard he'd been twisting his fingers together.
"We're doing all we can. We've had to take a break because we've reached the limit for energising potions."
"How is he?" Nasta asked sharply.
"He's alive, but not in a good way at the moment." Healer Almus admitted sadly. "I think…I think it might be best if you come and see him now…to say goodbye."
Harry felt his eyes widen. "No." He denied. "No! No, this can't be happening! This can't happen!" He screamed.
Nasta grabbed him around his waist and picked him up, shoving his face into his neck and he held him there until Harry had breathed in enough of his calming pheromones to relax, but then the tears came and the wracking sobs shook his whole body violently.
"Come on, Harry. Let's do this now. We need to say…we need to say goodbye." Nasta told him, his voice breaking as he sniffed hard, trying desperately to cling onto his hard won control.
"I can't. I can't do it!" He sobbed.
"You'll regret it for the rest of your life if you don't."
"If…if we say goodbye, it sounds…it sounds like we're just giving up on him." Harry said. "I won't give up on him. Never."
"It's not giving up on him, love." Nasta told him. "We're just going to see him after waiting nineteen hours for any news about him."
A door opened and Harry squeezed his eyes closed tighter when his mates gasped. He knew it would be bad but he felt his own gasp rip out of his throat when he opened his eyes. It was like someone had just crushed his lungs.
Leolin looked terrible. His skin was almost translucent pale, his blue spider web of thin, delicate veins showing through prominently. His eyelids were bluish-purple bruises with black bags around the sockets. He was wired up to machines, like in a Muggle hospital, then he reminded himself that excess magic couldn't be used on magical babies, but right then and there he wouldn't have cared if Leolin was made a squib through magical overuse, as long as it saved his life.
He was breathing too rapidly and he felt shocky as he was the first to step forward and touch one little hand, which was too small, too pale and unmoving. He didn't like seeing his little boy like this; even his previous cherry red cheeks had gone colourless, leeched of all vibrancy and signs of life. He looked grey. He looked like he was dying…or like he was already dead.
He almost choked on a sob that forced its way out and he shoved a hand over his lower face, mouth and nose both, to try to keep from making a noise. He didn't want to wake Leolin, he needed his rest.
"It's going to be alright, Leolin." Harry said thickly, swallowing hard and blinking away his tears so that he could see his son clearly.
"We've done all that we can for him." Healer Cole assured him and Harry spared him a glance to see that he looked worse than exhausted. "But bronchiolitis is a very serious virus for a baby of Faerie blood to get, his lungs are already underdeveloped from being born premature, he's at a disadvantage because of his Faerie blood and the bronchiolitis virus has inflamed the small airways of his lungs. Leolin is having some very serious problems breathing on his own."
"Is he in…is he in any pain at all?" He asked shakily. He needed to know that his baby wasn't suffering.
"No. He's been crying weakly on and off for half the night, he's as exhausted as we are. He needs some sleep to recover his strength, I'm glad he's sleeping at all with the cough he has, but he needs something to eat now. He refused any sort of milk last night, he was too distressed."
Harry swallowed. "I could get him to eat, but which is more important for him now, sleep or food?"
Harry closed his eyes so he couldn't see his mates crowded around their son lying in a glass bassinet and hooked up to all sorts.
"How long has he been asleep?"
"An hour or so now. He hasn't slept for any longer than two hours at a time though."
Harry nodded and he took the bottle from Healer Cole and grabbed the only chair in the room, which had been moved well out of the way, and he placed it by the bassinet.
He tested the milk and checked it over, before he scooped up Leolin gently, watching the wires and his fragile little body.
"Leolin love, wake up baby." Harry coaxed stroking a pale, pale cheek gently, trying to make his voice as even and calm as he could, even though his heart was beating out of his chest and he just wanted to cry his eyes out. Leolin's skin was paper thin and felt dry and flaky. Even on his cheeks Harry could see the pattern of his veins and he could easily trace them with his eyes.
Gold eyes cracked open to scowl tiredly at him, but when Leolin saw who it was who was holding him he opened his eyes fully and he tried to smile at him, making nonsense noises, but he tired so quickly that Harry was afraid that his little boy had died in his arms at how still and silent he'd gone so quickly.
Draco even looked over his shoulder in panic, but Harry relaxed when he saw his little chest raise and fall slightly.
"Come on, love, I know you're excited to see us, but you need something to eat right now."
Harry got Leolin awake again and placed the bottle into his mouth and it truly was the strongest that Harry had ever seen him suck in his short life.
He couldn't even manage a quarter of the bottle before he fell asleep again, but Healer Cole looked mightily relieved that he'd taken that much.
"That could really help him, we just couldn't get him to drink, it seems that he wanted you to feed him, a familiar face to keep him going."
Harry felt better at that, but he still couldn't stop his heart from pounding, the fear from infecting his every thought. He felt sick and half crazed with the need to protect his baby, yet how could he when there was no way to protect him from what was already in his body.
He cradled Leolin as tightly as he dared; laying his lips on Leolin's forehead and leaving them there, tears escaping from his eyes as he tried not to start sobbing, which would jostle Leolin from his much needed sleep.
"There's nothing more you can do now." Healer Cole told them. "Go home, get some rest, see your other children. We will floo call you immediately if anything changes, my office is just a few doors down, you could be here in moments, but there really is nothing that you can do now."
None of them liked it, they didn't want to leave, but they all needed a shower, they needed proper food, all they'd had in the last twenty-three or so hours had been a few cups of tea, a sandwich each and a pack of biscuits shared between them. They needed some proper sleep and Harry really wanted to cradle his five other children to him tightly. It didn't help that they were reminded that the more people around Leolin the worse he could get and they were all dirty and needed a good wash.
"Goodbye, Leolin, we love you and we'll be waiting for you to come back home with us soon." Nasta told him, kissing a little cheek softly, mindful of his new beard.
Harry cried harder, but silently, as each one of his mates said goodbye to Leolin and gave him a farewell kiss. It seemed too permanent to Harry, too much like giving up, but he murmured his own goodbye, telling Leolin how much he loved him, how proud he was of him and all he'd achieved in his short life and he couldn't breathe at all when he kissed him for a final time and laid him back in his hospital bassinet.
He covered his mouth and nose again, sobbing and trying to muffle it so that he didn't wake his baby son and he let Nasta lead him out of the room and away from his baby. He couldn't stand it.
They flooed home to questions, but Draco stalked off in sullen anger, Max all but ran to find a quiet place to cry in private, Blaise went straight to the top cupboard in the kitchen and grabbed a bottle of Firewhiskey and took it out into the back garden, Nasta muttered about going for a shower and a shave, which left Harry standing in the middle of the room, crying still and feeling lost.
Myron was there then, holding him and comforting him and easing him onto the settee.
"They shouldn't have left you like that." He growled.
"I understand, we all need to deal with this in our own way, I don't begrudge them that. We all need to come to terms with everything." Harry warbled out.
"What's happened?" Aneirin asked him. He'd been crying too, or at least rubbing his eyes a lot. They were red and puffy.
"We…the Healers said…we had to say…say goodbye to him. They've done…they've done all they can for him." Harry said shakily as he quivered like a leaf in a high wind.
He couldn't stand it and he broke down into his hands and he cried so hard that he gave himself a headache. Myron held him tightly and Aneirin crowded him from the other side as he heard Mrs Weasley sniffling quietly, he heard some others crying and Amelle came to sit on her knees in front of him, an extraordinary feat as she was very big with baby now. She'd be nesting soon.
She wrapped her long arms around him and rubbed his back as he hiccupped and sniffed hard between Myron and Aneirin. He felt numb and like he'd been battered.
"If you need to talk it through, Harry, you know that I've been through this myself. I've lost a baby too, you can come and talk to me whenever you want to, I won't turn you away, just please don't shut it all up or it'll take you ten years to heal from it like it took me. Don't drag it out for as long as I did, Harry, your other children need you too. I didn't have other children, I didn't have a mate to help me, I was left alone to deal with the loss of my baby, you have mates, you have family and you have other children. It does happen sometimes, but I can tell you from experience that it gets better too."
Harry nodded as he swiped at his tears and tried to control his huffing so that he might be able to breathe properly.
"I just…I can't…I didn't want to say goodbye to him. I know that sounds…sounds terrible, but it seems like…it just seems like giving…giving up on him, but Nas said that I'd regret it if I didn't."
"He's probably right, Harry." Richard said gently, not even the hint of a smile on his face. He looked old.
Harry nodded understandingly. He knew why they wanted him to say goodbye. They all thought that Leolin wasn't going to make it, they thought that he was going to die and that he'd regret not saying goodbye to him while he had the chance, but even though he'd gone through the motions, even though he'd said goodbye to his little baby, he was never going to give up on him while he still drew breath. Never. They could get him to say goodbye every single hour of every day and he would do it, but he wouldn't believe it, not until his sweet little Leolin drew his very last breath for the very last time. He wouldn't believe his goodbye until then.
A/N: I refused to post this for Christmas as I refused to ruin Christmas for you, my readers, as you can see, this chapter hits a few sore points and a lot of emotional buttons, but please remember that if it isn't in the main fic, then it's not set in stone, even if it is in the Scaled Bits or I've mentioned it on Facebook or in authors notes, it doesn't matter because I can change my mind. I've said that all along, so please bear in mind that anything could happen, despite the Scaled Bits that aren't directly linked to a specified chapter or the ones that are reminiscing of the past.
The next chapter is titled 'Goodbye' and may cause even more emotional distress, but from my early plans it'll only last for half the chapter, not the whole chapter like this one, so it'll be worse in some instances and better in others.
Don't think that Max is going to get away with leaving his family for three days either, he's had a slap on the wrist so far for doing it, but regardless of the situation, he shouldn't have left and he should have come when Harry called for him, the entire purpose of a dominant Dracken is to procreated and to protect, he can't do either if he's not with his submissive or his offspring. So expect dominant on dominant punishment to come.
Robyntalks: Most of them don't get normal jobs, some will go into Dracken specific careers like a job at the Dracken Counsel, others make up their own businesses like Aneirin did and then keep them in the family so that their children and grandchildren have a secure job like the Maddisons. Nasta's work days and hours are flexible to him and he can offer to take paperwork duties for as long as he wishes. Max's job is harder, but he can refuse any 'project' he likes, say if an epidemic broke out and he was asked to do several batches of one potion, but he knew it would interfere with Harry's heat, he would decline the project or pass it on to an apprentice. They need to keep their mates and families in mind when they pick their chosen jobs and careers, they couldn't be in any profession where they couldn't take any sort of time off or get flexible hours, so they just wouldn't go in for such jobs. It's even been known for a family member of the Dracken to take Polyjuice potion and go in to do their job for them instead. There are ways around it, but they're careful when choosing a career path and careful in how they conduct heats and emergency leave for any distress calls. They have to be or they risk being found out.
Elementicy: They're over those childish instincts now lovelie. They won't kill one another just because someone reached Harry first on his heat period, but they would have while they were all still settling down into their roles and hierarchy, this settling in can take anything from a couple of months, to a year, even for as long as they live if the two dominants don't get on with one another and are constantly fighting and posturing to one another and the main focus of the heat period should be on the submissive, not on one another, so the submissive calls out to them and the top dominant would then be overwhelmed with the need to take his/her submissive, which is why the top dominant would always be the first to take the submissive in this settling in period, but the guys are over all of the posturing and the dominance battles and they've settled well, they know they all have a chance of impregnating Harry no matter the order and they know they'll all get a chance to love on Harry and in the meantime, they'll love on one another because they're secure enough to do so and they love and respect one another where some dominants don't and reject having a second dominant near them.
Venus914: They all have separate accounts at the moment and they all buy different things. Max pays all the bills at the moment because they are living in his house, Nasta does give him half of his wages every month to help out, but Harry, Draco and Blaise aren't expected to pay for anything yet as they don't have jobs, even though they have money, Max wouldn't ask or demand anything from them. Harry buys most of the things the babies need. He bought the cots, the nursery furniture, everything because he wanted to choose what he wanted. Draco and Blaise have brought presents, they've given money towards food, but until they get jobs, they aren't expected to contribute much as their savings would be eaten up easily. This will all change when they move into a new, bigger house where they'll all start contributing and they'll set up a new, joint account where all of their wages will then be deposited, which will leave them all with their own personal savings vaults as well.
As for Max's sisters, Myron and Richard are married as well as mated, they are Maddison-Seppen themselves, but the first born sons are always named for their biological Fathers, daughters and any sons after that will then be the hyphenated name of Maddison-Seppen. It's playing on the Pureblood 'need' to have a male heir to carry on the name and line. Harry's children are the same, they have heirs for the first born of each of them and the rest are hyphenated between Potter and the biological Father.
ChrisVags: This has come up before and no. None of Harry's children will be able to speak Parseltongue as it's impossible for them to be Parselmouths. The ability is passed down through the genes, but Harry's Parselmouth abilities came from the Horcrux in his scar, not from his genes, so because the ability isn't present in his genetic make-up, he therefore cannot pass it to any children as he doesn't have it to give to them.
Marie: Snape died at the end of chapter seventy-six, it was impossible to miss. He had the whole last scene to himself and he died at the end of it. I tried to do it respectfully and lightly to show that it was what he wanted, what he needed after suffering for so long and that it wasn't a spur of the moment thing, that he knew it was happening, but it just seems to have confused a handful of readers. I just didn't want to take away from his character at the very end by having him doing something so severely out of character at the end of his life.
I hope you've all had a lovely Christmas and I'm sorry to say that I am taking a few weeks off from writing now to enjoy my own holidays, I'll be back in the New Year with new chapters for all of my stories, though I'll likely be on my Facebook page now and then throughout, I love my readers too much to stay away from you all for too long, but family and friends come first at this time of the year, so I'll see you soon, take care of yourselves,
StarLight Massacre. X